Completing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a dream adventure for any traveler heading to South America. This trek is modelled on the original journey taken by Hiram Bingham in 1911 when he made the existence of the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu public. Over 100 years later is one of the top 10 best Peru tours, you can follow in his footsteps on a path that takes you to a height of 4,200 meters. With scores of trekking companies advertising trips on this infamous hike, picking the right one can seem a great challenge.
How to get from Cusco to Machu Picchu?, there are three general ways to go from Cusco to Machu Picchu, some of them quite expensive, while none of them are exactly easy. There is a reason why it took western archeologists until 1911 to find the lost city of the Incas. Strictly speaking, Machu Picchu is not very far away from Cusco.
Decide what type of service you require, Inca Trail prices can be confusing, especially since everyone is walking along the same route. But there are some luxury Inca trail trek services that brings more comfort and luxury as it is in the most luxury tours in Peru.
However, great care should be taken in choosing a tour company especially over the internet. There is also a very complicated way of allocating a permit to walk the Inca Trail to travel operators and if your travel operator does not obtain permits for your specified date then you may be shuffled around with other companies. For example, the permits initially go on sale in January for the coming year, and often the popular dates get sold out and then it is first come first served.
Obviously, if you don’t want to join up with other people that you don’t know or you have a small group of your own then you may consider taking a private Inca trail tour trek. If there are just two of you this option can work out to be very expensive (USD$1250 – USD$2000 per person depending on the service). However, if you have a group of more than ten then this is an option certainly worth considering.
Buying the trek in your own country offers the security of being able to make a reservation with a well-known travel company.
The best option is booking private Inca trail tours if you want to trek with your family or friends, sharing this wonderful experience.
Most of the travel agencies have groups until 16 people, when is shared service, if you are the kind of person who enjoy your privacy and also get a quiet sleeping time, you should take the private Inca trail trek.
Here some information about what you need to check before your trek
Wear trekking boots (light, comfortable and that have been broken); a backpack of good quality (light, small and comfortable); Water storage of at least 2 liters; 1 shirt (wick t-shirts work best); 1 pair of hiking pants; underwear and hiking socks; rain clothes and warm layers; and a change of clothes to walk around Machu Picchu.
In addition, you may want to bring a hat and sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellent, hand sanitizer, toilet paper, toothbrush and toothpaste, personal medications, bandages and / or moleskin, a camera, batteries additional snacks, energy Bars, chocolates, cash for souvenirs, drinks and tips, and a bathing suit for the hot springs in Aguas Calientes.
Finally, the day dreamed, the day where you will meet Machu Picchu, the highlight of the trek.
The trail from the Wiñay Wayna to Machu Picchu is clearly marked and takes about 1.5 hours. You wake early at 4.30am, have breakfast and set off on the trail again by 5.30am to get to Machu Picchu before sunrise. The sky starts getting light by 5:30am and the first rays of the sun reach Machu Picchu at about 7am. The trail contours a mountainside and drops into cloud forest before coming to an almost vertical flight of 50 steps leading up to the final pass at Intipunku (Sun Gate). Suddenly the whole of Machu Picchu is spread out before you in all its glory – a fantastic sight for all.
When you arrive at the ruins you’ll have plenty of time to take photos of Machu Picchu from the classic view point. When the group is back together again we descend to the main entrance where you can safely leave your large backpacks. You can also go to the toilet and have a quick coffee in the restaurant just outside the entrance. The group will re-enter the ruins with the same guide for a complete tour of the major sectors.
The group will then take the bus down to Aguas Calientes town for lunch or at the ruins there is only one restaurant and it’s very expensive, it is up to you. There are several small restaurants in Aguas Calientes to satisfy all budgets. You may also wish to pay a visit to the town’s famous thermal springs which feel great after having completed the trail. Entrance to the springs costs US$7, allow 2 hours to really enjoy them.
The train departs from Aguas Calientes by night and you’ll arrive back in Cusco.