Peru Hiking Trails

Machu Picchu and Its Environmental Impact

Being Peru’s most visited attraction and the most famous ruins in South America, Machu Picchu is traipsed by hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Home to several endangered species, this tourism boom has placed a strain on the environment, prompting the Peruvian government to take steps to ensure the protection of this magnificent place, including the creation of the Management Unit of the Historic Sanctuary of Machu Picchu (UGM) and the Programa Machu Picchu. When visiting, UNESCO encourages wearing soft shoes to reduce pressure on the ruins.  In seeing Machu Picchu, take in the beauty and significance of these ancient ruins, while also respecting the environment so that future generations will too have the privilege of being able to gaze upon this site.  

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Sun Gate

Inca Trail Hiking

While we may prefer the less-traveled spectacular Patagonia, no doubt the Inca trail is the most famous hike in South America. Despite the huge demand, only a maximum of 500 permits is allowed per day for the trek. Of this 500, 200 are designated for tourists, while 300 comprise of support teams – including cooks, porters, and guides. The distance of the 4-day trail is approximately 25 miles, following the ancient Inca’s from Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. This trek is somewhat arduous, winding up and downs (and around!) the mountains, snaking over three magnificent high Andean passes. You may opt for 2 to 4-day excursions, utilizing different stationing points and campsites.

Services

1 guide for 8 guests

Coordinator

Tents for Passengers

Tents with Electricity

Toilet Tent

Mattress

Sleeping Bags & Pillows

Sheets

Masseuse & Masseuse Tent

Walking Sticks

First aid Kit & Oxygen Tank

Porters for Equipment & Belongings

Champagne at Sun Gate

Inca Trial Entrance Fee

Meals – Premium Menu

Meals w/ Table And Chairs

Stainless Cutlery & Crockery

Alcoholic Drinks

Mineral Water & Soft Drinks

Satellite Phone

Bus tickets to/from ruins

Train Service

Premium

Yes

No

No

No

1 for every 8 guests

21 inches

Smaller

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

7 Kilos (Sleeping Bag Included)

Yes

Yes

Premium Menu

Yes

Yes

No

No

Yes

Yes

Vista Dome Train Aguas Calientes/ Poroy-Cusco

Deluxe

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

1 for every 5 guests

41 inches

Larger

Yes

Yes

Yes

Yes

7 Kilos (Sleeping Bag Included)

Yes

Yes

Deluxe Menu

Yes

Yes

At Guest’s Previous

Yes

Yes

No

Vista Dome Train Aguas Calientes/ Poroy-Cusco

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Inca Trail Tents

Intu Punku

While this hike would be no real challenge if it was located at a sea level altitude (think Chicago!), most of us experienced heavy breathing due to the thin air/high altitude. In addition, the uneven rocks on the trail (as in most trails in Machu Picchu) add another wrinkle, thus further taxing our efforts.

The hike follows an original Inca Trail that steadily climbs through Machu Picchu’s agricultural terraces high into the mountains directly south of the citadel. The trek is free to enter and takes about 3 – 4 hours to complete (round trip).

Difficulty – Moderate

A good level of fitness is required to hike the Sun Gate Trail, but the path is wide and not as steeply graduated as other treks at Machu Picchu.

Helpful Info

  • Time needed: 3 – 4 hours round trip (total time).
  • Terrain: Dirt trail and Inca stone pathways.
  • Altitude of Summit: 2,720 meters (8,924 feet).
  • Altitude to climb from Machu Picchu: 290 meters (951 feet).
  • Recommended footwear: Training shoes, lightweight walking boots.
  • Entrance time: Can enter anytime during the regular opening times of Machu Picchu. Not recommended to start any later than 2 pm.
  • Trailhead: Located close to the Caretakers Hut in the Agricultural Sector of Machu Picchu.
  • Tickets: Ticket not required, free to enter (at the moment).
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Sun Gate

Huayna Picchu

One of the most in-demand additional hikes available; the Huayna Picchu trek leads to a viewpoint overlooking the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu. The trail loops around the very top of the mountain, where architectural vestiges such as altars, narrow staircases tunnels, and terraces can be found. The lower trail (often forgotten), follows the base of the Huayna Picchu to the Great Cavern where the secluded and mysterious Moon Temple is located.

Difficulty – Moderate to Challenging

The short Huayna Picchu trail is accessible to most people of all ages and requires a reasonable level of fitness. The climb to the summit from the base of the mountain (about 40 mins) is more strenuous and you can expect to use your hands as well as your feet to navigate the trail. The full Huayna Picchu trail is a little more demanding due to the increased trekking time and steepness of the trail. From the summit to the Moon Temple (or vice-versa) there is a 1 story wooden ladder that you will also need to navigate.

Helpful Info

  • Time needed (short trail): 1h 20m – 2 hours.
  • Time needed (full trail): 3h30 hours – 4 hours.
  • Altitude of the summit: 2,693 meters (8,835 feet) above sea level.
  • Height to climb from Machu Picchu: 353 meters (1,158 feet).
  • Height to climb to the summit from Moon Temple: 427 meters (1,401 feet).
  • Terrain: Inca Trail stone path steps and in places grass/dirt (long trail includes a wooden ladder).
  • Recommended footwear: Training shoes, lightweight walking boots.
  • Entrance time: 7 – 8am & 10 – 11am.
  • Trailhead: in the north of Machu Picchu citadel.
  • Tickets: Limited to 400 tickets per day with 200 tickets allocated for the 7:00-8:00 a.m. entrance and 200 tickets 10 – 11 a.m. entrance. Tickets need to be purchased as a combination ticket with general entrance to Machu Picchu. Tickets cost 150 ea. and can be purchased from the official government website.

Warning

The Huayna Picchu trek is not for people with a fear of heights. In certain places, the trail is very steep. This is particularly true immediately after the summit where the trail descends through a series of steep and narrow stone steps.

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Huayna Picchu Hikers

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