Cusco Journals

The Classic Inca Trail: Practical Guide

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A travel journal to Cusco by BOKI

Inca Trail: Day 1 Photo, Cusco, Peru More Photos
Quote: This journal describes the Classic Inca Trail, most popular of all routes in the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary, and provides a detailed four-day, three-night hiking plan based on my extensive experiences on the trail.

The Classic Inca Trail: Practical Guide

Overview

The Inca Trail Photo, Cusco, Peru
Quote:
Declared both a natural and a cultural World Heritage Site (UNESCO), the Machu Picchu Historical Sanctuary and its world-famous Inca Trail may be the most amazing place on the planet. Here, you can walk for days through cloud forests and over razor-sharp passes, passing extraordinary Inca ruins to reach the magical lost city of Machu Picchu. Sounds too good to be true? Read on...Quick Tips: For suggestions on how to get the most out of your hike also see the How to hike the Inca Trail journal entry. Possible changes in hiking policies await implementation by the government. This may include a ban on independent hiking. See the How to hike the Inca Trail entry for more information.Best Way...Read More

DAY 1: Km 88 to Llulluchapampa Camp

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Story/Tip

Inca Trail: Day 1 Photo, Cusco, Peru
Quote:
When the train stops at the Km 88 (Corihuayrachina) jump off, walk toward the river and follow the little path to the bridge and the Park Warden's booth where the entrance fee's are paid. Across the bridge, the main trail goes to the left (east), but there is a 30-minute hike to the right to the ruins of Huayna Quente and Machu Quente, which are seldom visited but worth a visit. The main trail heads down a small river valley towards the beautiful hillside ruins of Patallacta, about one hour from the pay booth. If you have time, hike over to the ruins and explore a bit. This is a great spot for lunch. Moving onward the trail heads southwest towards the village of Huayllabamba, about one and a half hour...Read More
Inca Trail: Day 2 Photo, Cusco, Peru
Quote:
From Llulluchapampa Camp, you can easily spot the Dead Woman pass (4200 m), the first and the most challenging pass on the Trail. It will take two hours to get to the top, and it's a grueling hike up, especially when the sun is strong. The one hour descent into the valley on the other side is almost as difficult, as the rail drops some 850 meters over about a mile. At the bottom of the valley is a large campsite called Pacamayo. Many people choose to camp here, but this site is also favored by the tour agencies and is often very crowded. I recommed pausing for lunch and then pressing on toward the second pass. Before leaving Pacamayo, fill your water bottles at the large stream here as it is one of th...Read More
Inca Trail: Day 3 Photo, Cusco, Peru
Quote:
This part of the Trail is among the most beautiful, with original Inca stonework and two impressive tunnels leading toward the Third pass (3650m), which is approximately two hours of hiking away. On the other side of the pass are the wonderful Phuyu Pata Marca ruins. Look for the six Inca baths which you'll walk through on your way through the ruins, then stay to the west and descend down the steps to continue on the main trail. (The path that stays level takes you to the part of the trail that is now seldom used.) The main trail continues to the most impressive set of Inca steps, 500 meters of them!, and then on towards the Intipata ruins, an agricultural outpost of over 50 terraces. Not too far furt...Read More

Day 4: Trekkers' Hotel to Machu Picchu

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Story/Tip

Inca Trail: Day 4 Photo, Cusco, Peru
Quote:
To see the sun rise over Machu Picchu, you'll need to wake up about two an a half hours before dawn, the time needed to reach Intipunku (the gate of the sun)being about two hours. To leave the hotel, you'll need to pass through a checkpoint and show your paid Inca Trail ticket. Then it's two hours of wonderful, mostly flat terrain hiking before you come to a bunch of steps leading to Intipunku. From there, the view of Machu Picchu is unparalleled, as the sun rays slowly illuminate it. If the day is foggy, be patient and wait for it to lift up. Often times, the fog will disappear for just a moment, and then the amazing, lost city of the Inka's will magically appear in front of you! From Intipunku, it's...Read More

Extra Information for the hike

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Story/Tip

Aquas Calientes Photo, Cusco, Peru
Quote:
Machu Picchu merits at least a two-day visit, so if you are hiking the Inka Trail consider staying the night in Aquas Calientes and returning to sightsee in the morning. First, you'll probably be too tired to fully enjoy Machu Picchu, second, you won't have enough time to see everything before the afternoon trains leave, and third, if you return early in the morning, prior to arrival of Cusco tourists, you'll have Machu Picchu all to yourself. Plus, Aquas Calentes is a fun small place to spend one night and hit the hot springs to relax your tired muscles. (See my Aquas Calientes entry under Machu Picchu for details). To return to Cusco, purchase a ticket for the tourist or local trains at their respec...Read More