If you are exploring different options for Machu Picchu trips, the odds are good that you are at least considering a trek on the Inca Trail. This is a popular way to arrive at the famous mountain city of the Incas. Before we get there, though, let’s explore a few of the less time-consuming options.
The most popular means of reaching the Mountain City, by far, is by train. A four-hour ride from Cusco gives travelers ample time to enjoy the amazing scenery of verdant mountains and beautiful hillside villages.
Another popular option for Machu Picchu trips is a shorter train ride, departing from the ancient town of Ollantaytambo. Other options include buses and, for a truly memorable visit, a helicopter flight from one of the aforementioned departure cities.
For the most immersive travel experience, however, you’ll want to consider a trek along the famous Inca Trail. A walking trip along this trail will allow you to more fully understand the Inca culture, witness the majestic beauty of the Andes and Inca ruins, and contemplate the amazing accomplishment of constructing Machu Picchu. These trips usually last four days, and culminate with a visit to the Inca mountain city.
Routes along this trail are now quite popular, and as a result there is good infrastructure that functions to support trekkers on Machu Picchu trips. This offers many options for dining and lodging along the way.
To plan your trip, though, you’ll want to go with one of the many tour operators conducting tours on this route. Selecting a tour company can be a very difficult decision. While I’m not going to make any specific recommendations, I can give a few tips. First, you’ll want to make sure that your operator is licensed. Many companies claim to conduct treks, but not all are licensed by the Peruvian government to do so.
Next, you’ll want to be careful when hunting for the best price. If you see a tour operator offering prices lower than about US $450 for a complete trek, tread carefully. Odds are good that in order to offer such a low price, the company will be cutting costs in some way, often breaking the law to do so. Most commonly, these companies will be breaking minimum wage laws or requiring employees to carry too much cargo on their treks. Carefully consider whether you want to do business with a company that conducts itself in this way.
And keep in mind as you plan your Machu Picchu trips, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience – do you really want to cut corners? Go “all in,” experience it fully, and never forget this wonderful historical site.