In between the Sacred Valley of the Urubamba River and Machu Picchu lies the Inca Trail, one of the most epic hikes. The heart-pounding hike begins as one climbs out of the valley to cross the rugged mountains that pass over a height of 13,000 ft, and a distance of 45km, as the trail twists its way through the Andes. The hiker then passes through numerous Inca ruins that delight the inquisitive, before descending through the Sun Gate passage to reach Machu Picchu, a silent stone city. In short, hiking the Inca trail, which was previously a royal highway, is very scenic as well as being the authentic way to pay a visit to Machu Picchu.
Delving deeper into the nature of the Inca Trail, it affords more than just the hiking experience. When one embarks on this hike along the Inca Trail, it is a part of a greater network that unveils many such trails, as efforts will have to be expended to cross mountainous ranges, raging Andrean rivers, bleak deserts, with tunnels and suspension bridges all making their appearances during this wonderful trekking experience. To hike the Inca Trail is to fathom the overreaching architectural concept as well as experiencing the Incas love of nature, as the trail also lets into a national park that gets designated as that of Machu Picchu Historical sanctuary.
Most often, people complete either the 2-day trek, or the 4-day trek. The two day trek begins at kilometer 82 on the railroad leading to Machu Picchu, while the 4-day trek begins at the Chilca village, which is found in Urubamba Valley. If you prefer to begin at kilometer 88, a local train has to be taken, and you should be ready to jump off. After crossing the Urubamba along a footbridge at a height of 7200 ft, the Inca Trail entry fee will have to be paid to the custodian. The trail leads the trekker by taking a turn at the back and in the left direction, as it paves way for a ruin known by the name of Llactapata, where one can also access a ruin that is less visited by taking the trail found to your right at this place.
When beginning the trail at Chilca, the unpaved trail here follows a path along the left bank of the Urubamba gorge, where views of snow-capped mountains, terraced farmland across the river, and glacial valley become spectacular sights as one can also find a small Inca ruin. Trekkers can come by a fine campsite near the ruins at Llactapata, and though Llactapata is not as popular as Machu Picchu, it is also an archeological site that is worth hours of exploring. The Inca Trail, hailed by many as a scintillating trekking route, is also a World Heritage site, and offers one of the most exciting hiking trails to be experienced in South America.
There are two ways of walking to reach Machu Picchu, one through the 4 days/3 night path that is arduous, and the other which is the 2 day/1 night trail. Independent trekking along the Inca Trail is a prohibited activity, as an officially sanctioned agency must be sought as a guide along the Inca Trail.