Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is on most people´s bucket list item when they visit Peru. It’s regularly hailed as one of the most iconic treks on the planet and fuses ancient history and jaw-dropping natural vistas. The Inca trail takes you on a route through the legendary Sacred Valley of Peru, past ruined Incan settlements that date back 500 years, and snow-capped Andean peaks that spike through the clouds. The climax sees you stroll into Machu Picchu itself via the Sun Gate, following in the very footsteps of Inca emperors and nobles. So why is 2023 a great year to hike the Inca trail to Machu Picchu? Read on for more information.
Taking the time to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is worth every penny. The trek is considered to be one of the greatest adventure experiences on the planet. There are very few places where you have an opportunity to walk through awe-inspiring terrain while passing 500-year-old archaeological treasures. And at the end of your adventure, you are rewarded with a breathtaking view of Machu Picchu. The Inca Trail is one of the most important features of South America’s past and present, and the trek to Machu Picchu is unlike any other adventure in the world. There are very few trails where you can actually walk through history like this. On this adventure, you will continuously encounter 500-year-old Incan archaeological sites, and at the end of the trek, you receive a great reward as you ascend to the Sun Gate and reach the legendary Machu Picchu site.
There are many fascinating theories about the purpose of the connection of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, which was built at the height of the Inca Empire. Some researchers believe it served as an annual pilgrimage route to honor Inti, the Incan God of the Sun, who was thought to have been born on the Island of the Sun at Lake Titicaca. It is said that the Trail follows the path of the Sun’s rays during certain times of the year, from Lake Titicaca to Machu Picchu. The construction of the city of Machu Picchu spanned the reigns of two Inca rulers: Pachacutec Inca Yupanqui (1438–71) and Tupac Inca Yupanqui (1472–93). However, a little over a hundred years later, the city lay mysteriously uninhabited. Historians have disputed the reasons for this, with some arguing that invaders killed the city’s population during the Spanish Conquest, and others arguing that the city’s population succumbed to a smallpox epidemic, years before the Spanish arrived. In 1911, the American academic and explorer Hiram Bingham re-discovered Machu Picchu along the Inca Trail in Peru and conducted the first official archaeological research there. As a seasoned adventurer (due to childhood expeditions with his father) and a keen Latin American history scholar, Bingham spent time traveling the Spanish trade routes throughout South America. As a Yale University history professor, he organized a group of scholars to set out and find the ‘lost city.’
There are several Inca Trail trips you can take, which allows you to choose your preferred experience. Varying from one to 14 days in duration, each of these routes caters to different audiences based on their length, popularity, and availability of accommodations en route. The classic 4-day Inca Trail requires that you book in advance to secure a permit as they are limited to 500 permits per day for preservation reasons. You can also book the short Inca Trail which is 1 day of hiking the trail into Machu Picchu and the second day is the Machu Picchu visit, which means that there is no camping, as you spend the night in Aguas Calientes in a hotel. The longer treks are variations of other treks that connect to the Inca Trail at various different intersections, making them perfect for those who want a longer hiking experience.
The Inca trail permit availability is the highest it has been for many years and at the time of writing, there are still Inca trail permits available for June 2023 onwards! Usually, these permits have sold out by December 2022 however there is still availability which means that there is lesser demand than most other years! This means that there will be fewer people on the trail and you can enjoy a more authentic Inca Trail experience. There will also be less demand for the train service back to Ollantaytambo or Poroy meaning that you will have better time spots still available for the return journey. There will also be less demand for hotels in Cusco, Aguas Calientes, and the Sacred Valley! If you are looking for a trek with fewer crowds, then this year is probably the best year to hike the iconic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!
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