:: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu
Located in the department of Cuzco, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is Peru's most popular trekking route and possibly one of the most spectacular walks in the Americas. It forms part of the more than 23,000 km of roads built by the Incas across South America. Each year, some 25,000 hikers from all over the world walk the 43 km stone-paved trail, built by the Incas to get to the impregnable citadel of Machu Picchu, deep in the Cuzco cloud forest.
The trail sets out from Qorihuayrachina, at Kilometer 88 of the Cuzco-Quillabamba railway, and takes three to four days of tough hiking. The route runs through an impressive range of altitudes, where climates and eco-systems range from the high Andean plain down to the cloud forests. The trail climbs up through two highland passes (the higher of the two, Warmiwañuska, lies at 4,200 masl) before reaching Machu Picchu through the Inti Punku or Gateway of the Sun. One of the attractions of the trail is that it winds past carved granite Inca settlements (Wiñay Wayna, Phuyupatamarca), and is surrounded by breath-taking natural scenery. The forests abound in hundreds of species of orchids, brightly-colored birds and dream-like landscapes, the ideal complement to this indispensable hikers' route.