Despite its remote location some 2,430 metres up on a mountain ridge, the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu is still one of the most visited historical sites in the world. Situated in Cusco in the Peruvian Highlands, the iconic ruins receive around one million visitors every year. The majority of tourists reach the famous monument through a combination of bus and train, however, it is far more rewarding to arrive at Machu Picchu having completed the Inca Trail, as outlined in the reasons below.
The challenge of the Inca Trail shouldn’t be underestimated. The 27 mile hike includes walking at high altitude for up to seven hours a day. In order to complete the entire trek it takes determination and a reasonable level of fitness. Unfortunately, some people who don’t come prepared fail to finish the Inca Trail. However, if ever there was a reason to encourage yourself to get fit, then hiking up to Machu Picchu is it.
Support the Local Community
Walking the Inca Trail is not cheap, however, a lot of the money you spend will go towards maintaining the trail and Machu Picchu, which are two of the biggest components of the local economy in Cusco. As well as the upkeep of these two famous attractions, your money will help to support the local people who work on them, such as the guides and porters.
Ruins and Sights along the Trail
But for the incredible draw of Machu Picchu, many of the ruins along the Inca Trail would be tourist attractions in their own right. Ruins encountered on the path include Phuyupatamarca, a former town in the midst of a cloud forest, and Huillca Raccay, a one-time Inca fort. The trail also leads walkers along a genuine Inca constructed road and goes through a variety of different environments, including sub tropical rainforest, mountain passes and alpine tundra.
The Best View
Being down in amongst the ruins of Machu Picchu is a captivating experience, however, the true beauty of the ancient city really becomes apparent from afar. The best viewing point from which to take in the entire site is from Sun Gate, a pass at the end of the Inca Trail that overlooks the whole of Machu Picchu.
Beat the Crowds
As one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world, it’s not surprising that Machu Picchu gets busy. The crowds at the site really start to build up from around 9am; however, if you walk the Inca Trail, you’ll reach the Lost City before sunrise, well before the majority of other tourists arrive. You’ll have the ancient settlement to yourself, with the peace and time needed to fully explore Machu Picchu.
Appreciate the Incas
The task of building an entire city without machinery or computer programs seems an impossible one by modern standards. Yet somehow the Incas managed to overcome the difficulties of working on a mountain ridge to construct Machu Picchu entirely by hand. Once you’ve completed the Inca Trail and are taking in the city at close quarters, you’ll appreciate this astonishing accomplishment more than most.