The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
Our visit to Machu Picchu began with a four day trek along the Inca Trail. We left Cuzco early in the morning and took a bus to the trailhead at Km 88 in the Sacred Valley along the Urubamba River. The other way to see Machu Picchu is to take the train to Aguas Calientes and then the bus up the switchbacking road to the site. 

The trek is an excellent way to prepare for the experience of visiting Machu Picchu. I think the difficulty of the hiking, the spectacular setting, and the sites along the way creates a frame of mind that helps visitors appreciate the special nature of Machu Picchu. This section of the website includes more personal reflections for that very reason.

The first day we hiked past Llactapata and camped below Dead Woman Pass. Llactapata does not exhibit the fine work of the ceremonial sites later along the trail but probably grew food that served those  sites. It began to rain and later snowed on us. The winter season is usually the dry season, but we had three wet days ahead of us. The early part of the trail climbs up through dry lowlands to the alpine mountains. 

The Inca Trail is very heavily used and very crowded at times. As the trail climbs towards Dead Woman Pass at 13,779 ft, hikers slow down. The ecological impact of so many visitors on the trail is obvious especially at campsites. Adequate bathroom facilities simply do not exist and we were very careful about where we got drinking water. The Peruvian government is implementing new restrictions on the number of trekkers and working on the trash and facilities problems.

The second day of hiking is the most arduous as you climb over Dead Woman Pass and most of the way up Second Pass (13,123 ft). There is a large campsite in between the passes. We camped just below Second Pass in an effort to make the third day a bit easier. As it turns out we were just above snowline.

Sacred Valley 3


Machu Picchu 2