There are several “official options” of trekking Inca Trail to Machu Picchu available from Cusco, Peru. The most popular are 4-Day “Classic Inca Trail“, 2-Day “Short Inca Trail” and 7-Day “Mollepata – Salkantay – Wayllabamba – Machu Picchu“. These treks are subject to Inca Trail regulations which require the presence of a licensed tour guide and purchase of a trek permit. The number of trek permits is limited to 500 per day, which includes everybody who is going: tourists, guides, porters, etc. It’s very important to book a permit in advance. So, the first step of your trip planning should be the search for a tour operator and reservation of a trek permit. You can check permit availability online in the official government database. It shows the real-time availability of trek permits for the Inca Trail. Go to www.machupicchu.gob.pe, click on ‘Consultas’, select ‘Camino Inca’ (Inca trail) in ‘Centro Arqueologico’ menu, and select the Month (Mes) you are looking for.
I have hiked 2-Day Inca Trail which starts in Vilcanota River Valley at a place called Kilometer 104 (it’s located 104 km along the railway from Cusco to Aguas Calientes). The trek goes along the mountains of beautiful Sacred Valley up to Intipunku (Sun Gate) located on the east slope of the Machu Picchu mountain. The hike combines a stunning mix of Inca ruins, mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest and rich subtropical jungle. The plant life was booming in March, which is one of the best months to see it along the Inca Trail. Can you imagine, over 250 species of orchid have been counted in the area!
I was surprised to know that much of Inca Trail is original Incan construction. During entire trek I was challenging my mind picturing Incas walking by the trail some 500 years ago :)
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