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The Inca Trail - Must do Travel Experience

Added 07 Apr 2011
The Inca Trail - Must do Travel Experience

The Lost Inca city of Machu Picchu often features on must do travel lists and it is little wonder why. It was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007 and is also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.

mpMachu Picchu is the most familiar icon of the Inca world and being set in a spectacular and awe-inspiring location affords it an air of mystery. Discovered 100 years ago, it is probably the most astounding feat of engineering in all of ancient America. Temples, stairways, palaces and gabled stone dwellings are scattered everywhere testifying to the energy and ingenuity of the builders.

Built around 1450 in the height of the Inca Empire, only to be abandoned 100 years later. The Spanish never discovered it and over the following centuries the surrounding jungle grew over much of the site resulting in few outsiders knowing of its existence. It was not until 1911 that it was explored by an American historian and announced to the world.

Being a company of travellers, many Explore staff have visited Machu Picchu - some many, many times! Read about their experiences of Machu Picchu and what they think makes the site so special. James Adkin, Product Manager has trekked the trail over twenty times and has written a blog about how he would still love to walk it again.

The Inca Trailicmp

The Inca Trail is the most famous and dramatic way to arrive at Machu Picchu. First opened for walkers in 1970, it is now the most famous hike in South America. The total distance is only 43km but takes four days to walk as the ancient trail laid out by the Incas winds its way up and down the mountains tackling three passes en route.  

Located in the Andes mountain range, the trail passes through a variety of Andean environments including cloud forest and alpine tundra. You will marvel at the exotic flowers, spectacular vistas and Inca ruins that you pass along the way before being rewarded with your first view of majestic Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate.
Find out more about what life on trek with Explore is like

Book early so you don’t miss out!
Only about 200 trekkers per day get passes to walk on the trail, so popular dates sell out many months in advance. To guarantee the tour and dates you want we recommend booking early.

We have various different ways you can trek the trail...

  • Simply trek the Inca Trail Our Peru Inca Trail  and Heights of Machu Picchu trips use different timings and campsites to avoid the crowds while our Inca Trail Trek is a week long trip for those with less time. Families with teenagers can enjoy the Inca Trail Teen Adventure.
  • Fancy more of a challenge? John Telfer, Operations Director recommends our High Trails of the Incas  trip - “as a keen trekker this is the best route without a doubt. The classic trail is fantastic, but this longer route is absolutely mind-blowing with excellent views of glaciers before crossing a 5000m high pass.”
  • Want to get more off the beaten track? Our eight day trek, Inca Pathways of Choquequirao spends the first two days reaching Choquequirao, a vast Inca complex that exceeds even Machu Picchu in size before spending another five days trekking towards Machu Picchu.
  • Interested in a shorter trek option? If you'd like the experience of arriving at the Sun Gate after trekking but would rather not do the whole trail, we offer the option of trekking the last day of the Inca Trail via the Sun Gate starting at KM104 on our Machu Picchu & Titicaca trip.
  • Not a camper but still want to trek? Explore Tailormade can put together a personalised lodge to lodge version of the Inca Trail for non-campers . Call the Explore Tailormade Regional team on 0844 875 1890.


We wouldn’t be able to walk the Inca trail without the porters, they rush ahead while you stop for a breather and then when you arrive at camp hours later, they have put up all the tents and prepared an amazing meal!

All the porters that we use for our Inca trail tours come from Misminay which is a village located approximately one hour from Cusco. We wanted to hire strong men who could do the job, but also help a community that would otherwise be stuck in its current situation of poverty. Today, our porters receive yearly training including safety procedures and taking care of the environment. Our local agent also works with the community to support their families and have brought in vaccination campaigns and a nursery school. They also buy their agricultural products providing them with an additional source of revenue and enabling our passengers to taste local food.

Don’t want to trek?

If you're not a trekker but would still love to experience this breathtaking ancient site, then worry not! You can still explore Machu Picchu without trekking as we offer a range of trips which arrive by train. Leaving from Cusco and winding your way up to Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu, you'll have amazing views of the ever-changing scenery as you make your way closer to the ultimate destination. Once in Aguas Calientes, a small bustling village, it's a short walk to the iconic site itself. You'll have time to explore the ruins and maybe even a chance to take advantage of the thermal springs of Aguas Calientes. Our non-trekking tours are Spirit on the Incas, Peru Encompassed, Atacama to Machu Picchu and Sacred Land of the Incas