With the centennial of Machu Picchu’s rediscovery quickly approaching, we wanted to highlight some of our own experiences at this remarkable site. This trip overview comes from our expert Latin America For Less travel adviser Jennie Duong, who trekked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in April 2010. Here she summarizes her best memories, her thoughts along the way, and personal tips for anyone wanting to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
First Person Inca Trail Adventures
Hiking the Inca Trail is something I’ve always wanted to do. Last year I was lucky enough to make this dream a reality. My friend joined me from (my native) England for my 24th birthday and for the trek of a lifetime. The great experience I had during the trek and in the Cusco area is one reason I decided to make Peru my home.
The first day of the trek began early, but waking up before the sun to do the Inca Trail was totally worth it. After a little drive and a short hike, my friend, Laura, and I reached the KM82 Piscacucho—the starting point of the famous Inca Trail.
Trials of the Trail
I found the hike to be pretty manageable on the 1st day, but it got really difficult on the 2nd day. By the 3rd day, I was used to the tough hiking and by the 4th day, we considered ourselves expert hikers, and greatly anticipated our arrival to Machu Picchu.
Every step we took led us to another beautiful view of the surrounding area: mountains, lakes, ruins, forest, and the rare opportunity of seeing wild animals.
Heroes of the Trek – The Porters!
While on the trek, we noticed many porters passing us with massive packs on their back. These men were not only strong enough to carry all this weight on their backs along the Inca Trail, but they were able to do it with such speed! During various parts of the trail, porters would run past us, leaving us huffing and puffing behind.
Final Payoff: View from the Sun Gate
The Inca Trail is one of the best things I’ve done in Peru, and something I would definitely recommend to those looking for a great adventure. When we finally got to Machu Picchu—one of the New 7 Wonders of the World—I was truly speechless. It made the hike so very worth it.
My personal tips for Inca Trail trekkers:
- Hire a porter to carry your personal belongs – this allows you to fully enjoy the trail, the stunning surrounding views, and also creates more jobs for porters, who depend on trekkers for their livelihoods;
- Pack as lightly as possible (bare essentials only), whether you have a personal porter or not;
- Make sure you have plenty of tissues, hand sanitizer, a flashlight, comfortable but sturdy hiking boots, and an extra camera battery;
- Carry a dry jacket or hooded top at the top of your backpack in case it rains or gets cold;
- Ensure you secure your space for the Inca Trail at least 3-4 months in advance;
- In my opinion, May through September is the best time to do the trail, as it is dry season. However I completed it in April and found that the rain added excitement to the adventure