Whether you’re a history buff, keen trekker or just a traveller up for a challenge and some epic scenery, the dream of hiking to Machu Picchu is a commonly held one. As recently as 2007, this UNESCO World Heritage-listed site gained status as one of seven New Wonders of the World and won ‘World’s Leading Tourist Attraction’ at the 2017 World Travel Awards.
But how to choose your route to this incredible site? Intrepid Travel have broken it down for you to help you decide – Inca or Quarry trail?
The Inca Trail is probably the most famous of all the different treks that lead to Machu Picchu, as it takes you along the trade route used by the ancient Incas. But choosing the Inca Trail doesn’t just take you Machu Picchu – you’ll see plenty of other amazing ruin sites along the way_ Llatapata, meaning ‘high town’, which dates back to the 16th century; the semi-circular shape of Runkurakay and village ruins of Sayacmarca. Aside from epic ruins, the natural wilderness, orchids and most famously, the misty cloud forests are an experience in its own right.
Over four days you’ll cover 45 kilometres (27 miles) with the highest point reached at ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’ at 4200 metres (13779 feet), but don’t worry, you’ll have the assistance of some of Intrepid’s local porters to help carry the camping equipment. At the end of the hike, you’ll finish at the Sun Gate with magnificent views over Machu Picchu.
You do need a permit to hike the Inca Trail (this is to limit numbers of hikers and prevent the devastation caused by overtourism), so you will need to plan ahead accordingly. When you book an Intrepid trip through Global Journeys, this will be taken care of for you.
The Quarry Trail might be less well-known than the Inca Trail, but one of the biggest bonuses of this is you’ll have less other travellers to compete with for the most stunning Andean photographs along the way. You’ll also visit three significant archaeological sites that are unique to this trail and get the opportunity to learn about how the ancient Incans quarried for stone.
The total distance is 26 kilometres (16 miles) over three days and the maximum altitude reached is slightly higher than the Inca Trail – the highest point at 4450 metres (14599 feet). But – you’ll have the help of some friendly four-legged friends. Horses will accompany you to help carry your bag and camping equipment.
Plus, since permits are not required for this trek, once you’ve booked you’re ready to go!
Both treks guarantee an incredible experience, with expert local guides, out of this world views and opportunities to interact with local communities. Meals and camping equipment are also provided along the way, with the option to hire additional hiking gear such as hiking poles.