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Experiences Walking and Trekking Walking in South America Walking in Peru Walking the Inca Trail with Explore

Walking the Inca Trail with Explore

Walking the Inca Trail to the lost city of Machu Picchu is often at the top of must-see travel destinations and it is little wonder why. Machu Picchu is named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site - but words on paper can't do justice to the unbelievable feeling of seeing the site for the first time. Machu Picchu truly is one of the world's greatest feats of construction, perched on top of the spectacular peaks of the Andes mountains. You can visit Machu Picchu without trekking the Inca Trail, but most hikers would agree the trail is the perfect way to reach the site, building anticipation as the goal approaches.

The Inca Trail starts at an altitude of about 2,800 metres and ends four days later at Machu Picchu, at 2,500 metres. You'll hike over the notorious ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, which at 4,200 metres is the highest point of the trek. The Inca Trail is justifiably famous for its spectacular Andean scenery, with the mountain tops usually snow-capped between June and October. Altitude sickness is something a lot of people worry about, however by walking steadily, keeping well hydrated and drinking coca tea, most people encounter no problems. Your Explore Leader will be instrumental in getting you to the Sun Gate, so make sure you listen to what he/she is saying, and be open about any symptoms that you are feeling.

Trekking the Inca Trail requires a good level of fitness but with a little pre-tour training it should be well within the capabilities of anyone who leads an active and moderately healthy lifestyle. Endurance training is essential - walking up hills and climbing stairs are both great ways to get your lower body in shape, and as you will need to carry a daysack each day on the trail, we'd also recommend that you add weight to your hikes to get used to it.

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Walking the Inca Trail with Explore
Peru’s dry winter season runs from May to September, making this an ideal time to trek the Inca Trail. June to August is particularly cold at night, especially at altitude, and lots of layers are essential for taking you from day to night. March, April, October and November are warmer months but there may be some rain. Many people say that September and October are the best months to travel to Machu Picchu - there are fewer tourists, but the weather is warm and mild.

Whatever the season, the weather in the Andes can be unpredictable, and you will need waterproofs, sun cream and sturdy walking boots with you everyday.
 

Only about 200 trekkers per day are given permits to walk on the trail, so popular dates, especially July and August, sell out months in advance. We recommend that people book at least one year in advance to ensure of obtaining an Inca Trail permit. Fear not, however, as Explore also offers an 'alternative' Inca Trail route. The Salkantay hike is located in exactly the same beautiful mountainous location as the Inca Trail, but there are fewer tourists and you'll often get the spectacular Andean scenery all to yourself. No permits are necessary for this route and you still visit Machu Picchu at the end of the hike.

The beauty of hiking the Salkantay Trail is that you get a lot more contact with the local Andeans who live high up in the mountains. You'll wonder how they survive in such a hostile environment, some living miles from the nearest village or even their nearest neighbor. They'll often show you some of their weavings, or sell you a cold water or local Inca Kola, a bright yellow fizzy drink that is famous throughout Peru.

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