Each year, some 25,000 hikers from all over the world walk the 43 km stone-paved trail, built by the Incas to get to the impregnable citadel of Machu Picchu, deep in the Cusco cloud forest.
The Inca Trail sets out from Qorihuayrachina, at Kilometer 88 of the Cusco-Quillabamba railway, and takes three to four days of tough hiking. The Inca Trail route runs through an impressive range of altitudes, where climates and eco-systems range from the high Andean plain down to the cloud forests. The Inca Trail climbs up through two highland passes (the higher of the two, Warmiwañuska, lies at 4,200 masl) before reaching Machu Picchu through the Inti Punku or Gateway of the Sun. One of the attractions of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is that it winds past carved granite Inca settlements (Wiñay Wayna, Phuyupatamarca), and is surrounded by breath-taking natural scenery.
The forests abound in hundreds of species of orchids, brightly-colored birds and dream-like landscapes, the ideal complement to this indispensable hikers' route.
Climate in Cusco and Machu Picchu:
Rainy during summer in the Southern Hemisphere (December-March). Sunny from May-September. Maximum temperatures reach 27° C, but rarely drop below 11° C.
Access to the Inca Trail:
The route starts out at Kilometer 88 of the railway. Organized groups set out from Chilca at Kilometer 76 of the same route.
Hikers will need to carry drinking water and food, in addition to full camping equipment.