Travel SOS – Walking the Inca Trails

Drew wants to trek to Machu Picchu but has heard it may soon close.

Travel SOS – Walking the Inca Trails

Drew has always wanted to trek to Machu Picchu but has heard that it may soon be closed. Thankfully, in Travel SOS, Kay O’Sullivan is able to put his mind at ease.

Q. Drew
I’ve heard lots of stories of Machu Picchu no longer being accessible to those who wish to take the trek – is this true? And if not, are there plans to close it? If it’s no longer accessible, can you suggest an alternative way to see it, or should I just accept I’ve missed my chance?

 A. Fear not, Drew, you have not missed your chance to see one of the wonders of the world.

The classic Inca Trail, the trek that most tourists take to get to Machu Picchu, will be open for business through most of 2016. It is always closed for repairs in February after the rainy season, and while there have been reports of further repair work during April, the classic Trail won’t be affected, nor will the Machu Picchu Citadel, the legendary lost city of the Incas. The work will focus on other trails in the region.

It’s all a bit complicated so it might help to know that in their entirety, the Inca Trails cover more than 40,000 kilometres, but the section that most tourists use is limited to the 42 kms that traverse the most famous archeological sites ending at Machu Picchu.

Most tourists hiking the classic Inca Trail opt for the four-day option that starts at kilometre 82 of the Cusco-Machu Picchu railway line, 42 kilometres from the Machu Picchu Citadel. But you can shorten or lengthen it and there are six other routes into Machu Picchu that range from one to 13 days. 

Fortunately for all of us, the Peruvian Government guards its precious treasure fiercely. Strict new laws governing tourism were introduced last year after visitor numbers surpassed 1 million in 2012. Now, everyone has to be guided on the trail and guides have to be licensed. The government only issues permits for 500 tourists per day so you really have no option but to join a group. There are hundreds of tour companies operating in the area, plus loads of reputable Australian companies, such as Intrepid Travel, World Expeditions and Peregrine Adventures.

The best time to visit is during the warmer months of June, July and August, but they are also the most popular, so don’t expect to have this Inca treasure all to yourself. The rainy months, starting now, are best avoided.

Every person I know who has done the trek has told me that you absolutely must time your trek so that your first glimpse of Machu Picchu comes at dawn.

Everyone also agrees you need to spend some time in Cusco, the one-time capital of the extensive Inca Empire, to acclimatize. Interestingly, Cusco is 3300 metres above sea level and Machu Picchu, which you seem to trek upwards to, is situated at 2400m.

So it’s go, go, go and time to hit the step master Drew!

The official Peruvian Government tourism website is www.peru.travel

See also:

www.worldexpeditions.com/au

www.intrepidtravel.com

www.peregrineadventures.com

Kay O’Sullivan is no accidental tourist. More than a decade ago, she decided to combine two of her favourite things – journalism and travel – and become a travel writer. Since then, she has written about travel for numerous papers, magazines and on the internet, both here and internationally.

 

Do you have a travel question for Kay? If so, email your Travel SOS  to newsletters@yourlifechoices.com.au


 

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Travel SOS – Travelling in Mongolia

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    COMMENTS

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    Lorrainehk
    19th Dec 2015
    7:42am
    Spending time in Cusco is a must to acclimatise to the altitude. We did the 2 day hike which gets you to the Moon Gate at sunrise. This is a MuST. You would miss an amazing experience by coming in the train with the hords
    Anonymous
    20th Dec 2015
    10:02am
    Rubbish.

    The train journey is great. It's one of the world's special ones.

    Just imagine if you're halfway along the Inca Trail and get sick - altitude or otherwise. If you want to prove you can hike, do it back here in Australia, not when you really need to stay healthy on holidays.
    Emps
    20th Dec 2015
    11:39am
    Depends which train, there are two choices
    Emps
    19th Dec 2015
    8:26am
    Time spent in Lima is worthwhile where there are ancient ruined,or not so ruined temples and forts/citadels of the Quechua, Mayan,and Incas. In the desert hills behind the city area, is a large fortress built by those, constructed even then to withstand earthquakes, using a technique where about every 6 mud bricks, one is placed vertical, allowing the structure to bend. Although Lima is a coastal city, it is situated in a desert. It almost never rains in Lima.
    Anonymous
    20th Dec 2015
    10:08am
    Ummm.

    The Mayans were in Mexico, over 3,000 km away.

    But I agree with looking around Lima, and much of the rest of Peru. They claim to have the world's biggest pyramids. One of them is right in Lima.
    Emps
    20th Dec 2015
    11:20am
    There is a Mayan museum in Lima
    Emps
    20th Dec 2015
    11:22am
    Also in Quito, Ecuador
    Emps
    20th Dec 2015
    11:53am
    Apologies, i got my ethnics mixed up. I appreciate your correction.The museums i mention are Aztec, not Matyan

    20th Dec 2015
    10:01am
    These places are south of the equator.

    The author is wrong. June, July and August are NOT the warmer months. They are the drier months, so still a good time to go.

    But make a point of seeing much more of the country than Machu Picchu. Other Inca ruins and pre-Inca ruins are amazing.
    Lorrainehk
    20th Dec 2015
    12:51pm
    Barak . We were not trying to prove anything as the hike is quite easy. You would not know what you have missed if you have not stood at the Moon Gate above Machu Picchu at dawn. (I did not expect to get sick hiking, or sitting on a train. If I expected to get sick I would not leave home!) We went in July which was great as the weather was dry and as we hiked there were no crowds.
    Anonymous
    20th Dec 2015
    1:12pm
    You know, after three weeks of getting up early or being rushed to a location in South America to see the "unforgettable" sunset or sunrise at various locations, I'm a bit over them.

    While every seat was taken on our train to Machu Picchu, they were reserved seats, with magnificent views through the roof windows. The journey was an experience in itself. Never felt crowded.
    Lorrainehk
    20th Dec 2015
    5:10pm
    Barak- I can appreciate what you are saying. That is exactly why we are independent travellers and never take an organized tour. We can choose the experiences we want
    Anonymous
    20th Dec 2015
    5:51pm
    How's your Spanish?
    Lorrainehk
    20th Dec 2015
    6:33pm
    Nil Spanish.


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