Inca Trail
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Hiking the Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is perhaps the most famous trek in Peru. This is the road to Machu Picchu, an ancient route that leads from the Sacred Valley into the heart of the Andes. You must obtain a permit and hire an official guide in order to hike the Inca Trail proper. There are plenty of tour operators in Cusco that offer trips up to Machu Picchu, so you should definitely look at reviews before you choose. For better or for worse, the tours are all-inclusive. The local tour operators employ porters to carry your packs and set up a camp. A team of local chefs will prepare three meals a day, and many hikers come back raving about the delicious meals. Keep in mind that the trek can be tough, especially in the first few days. The trail is often narrow, and it flirts with formidable heights. The mountains in this part of the Andes can rise well over 13,000 feet, and many hikers find themselves suffering from altitude sickness. Make sure to take a few days (in Cusco or the Sacred Valley) to acclimatize before you begin the journey. Finally: make sure to plan ahead! The Peruvian government limits trail access to 500 people per day, including porters. This regulation protects the local ecosystem and the delicate ruins, and it ensures that the trail won't be too crowded. However, it also means that permits for the peak summer season sell out months in advance. If you aren't able to get a permit for the classic Inca Trail, never fear: there are various other trails that lead to Machu Picchu.
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