Located in the Andes Mountains of Peru is the beautifully constructed and extremely popular Inca Trail. Trekkers from all over the world converge onto these ancient roadways that cover most of Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia and Chile. The Inca road system was a sophisticated design that is still held in high esteem even today. With thousands of tourists taking the Inca Trail tour every year to Machu Picchu for its beautiful and challenging terrain, few actually understand the historical significance of the ancient road system they walk upon.
Constructed throughout the Cloud Forests, Andean Mountain Ranges, and various Valleys throughout Peru, the Inca Trail road system stretches for thousands of miles. The main attraction however, The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is 26 miles starting on the outskirts of Ollantaytambo, and ending of course at the sacred Inca site of Machu Picchu. Throughout the Inca Trail tour, trekkers will have the chance to witness and experience ancient Inca tunnel system going through mountains, thousands of Inca staircases ascending up the sides of great mountains, the chance to explore Inca constructions accessible only through the Inca Trail tour, as well as have a unique chance to glimpse the life of the Andean people as they still uphold their traditional living style even today.
Mainstream information sources will say that the Inca civilization lasted only 100 years, when in fact it’s more likely that it lasted much longer. The 100 years of Inca civilization history is referring to is the time when the Inca Empire was aggressively expanding all over the region before the Spanish arrived and ultimately put a stop to that. During that 100 year time period is when the main section of the Traditional Inca Trail was constructed. However, the paths in which the 4 day Inca Trail 4 day Inca Trail is built upon were probably there for hundreds if not thousands of years before the Inca ever arrived. The Inca Empire enhanced these paths by building a stone trail connecting most parts of Peru including Cusco and Machu Picchu. The Inca Empire had access to a large labor force, as every male in society had to do some kind of work project like the Inca Trail, or join the Inca military force.
Sections of the Inca Trail reach elevations of over 16,000 feet in some parts. The Classic Inca Trail tour that travelers and tourists trek however, reaches an elevation of only 13,000 feet. The 26 mile section of the Classic 4 Days Inca Trail usually takes up to four days and three nights to complete. In the time of the Inca however, they had specialized runners or “Chasquis” who could run the entire 26 mile stretch completing dozens of miles in just one day. These messengers would relay important information back and forth from Cusco and Machu Picchu. There is actually a temple located along the Inca Trail tour that is a shrine paying tribute to these amazing Inca runners. Running up hundreds if not thousands of stairs at elevations reaching 16,000 feet and along some pretty difficult Andean Mountain terrain is almost unthinkable by today’s standards. These Inca messengers however were very well trained and were respected by the highest Inca authorities.
Many people view the Classic Inca Trail tour as the one and only Inca Trail there is. This misconception is laughable as there are over 40,000 known “Inca Trails” that hold the same name. The Inca Trail tour is a small section of the 23,000km known Inca Trail road system covering vast distances all over the West Coast of South America. The Classic Inca Trail tour is the most preserved section of the Inca road system for sure, and attracts visitors by the thousands due to its final destination being the amazing Wonder of the World, the great holy sanctuary of Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an amazing glimpse into the history of the Inca Empire and what life may have been like more than 500 years ago in the Andean Mountains. The Inca remind us what humans are capable of with a strong will and unity. If you choose to take the Inca Trail tour as your path to Machu Picchu, be sure to take your time and pay close attention to all the details along the way. It is a true honor for us to be able to walk these same paths as this small 26 mile section of the Inca Trail was the most important section of all. Known as a holy and sacred pilgrimage for the Inca people, reserved only for the elites, enjoy your unique gift of being able to tread these same paths that Inca royalty embarked on generations into the past.