South America has a certain aura about it that you can’t find anywhere else. Of all the ancient worlds, the forests and jungles that once inhabited mystical peoples are sort after by modern travellers. Prepare yourself for the Tomb Raider adventure you want as when you go in search of Sun gods and mountain cities made from stone. The Inca people are not to be confused with Aztecs and Mayans. The Inca Empire came much later and arose from the 13th century eventually before collapsing three centuries later. The lands they expanded to still hold their mark, as modern-day Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Colombia and Chile have remnants of their existence. Peru hosts the Inca Trail; as you can imagine this trail is relatively small amounting to 26 miles. At the peak, you’ll be met with Machu Picchu a sight epic stoic resolve balanced on a ridgeline.

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Heart of the trail

Starting at a humble 2,800m above sea level, your four-day trek begins. On average you can expect to make progress up the Andes for around 5-6 hours per day. At the absolute peak of the trail, you’ll reach around 4,200m above sea level. Although small in length, this trail is not your average day outing, so be fit and ready. It’s a very popular trail for tourists, but due to the sheer number it has received over the years, erosion had made some parts dangerous. However, they have been restored, and a new set number is put in place of around 500 people a day may walk up until it. So getting your name on the list is vital as there simply isn’t any other way you can get the all clear. Bookings are easily done on which will also take you on a virtual guide on the various other treks. You’re surrounded by forests and jungles, but due to the elevation, you won’t be hot and muggy and instead enjoy the unfiltered sunshine and the clear blue skies.

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The point of it

The Inca Trail terminates at Machu Picchu which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A citadel sitting on a mountain ridge at 2,400 or so meters. Situated above the Sacred Valley, it’s modern-day reference is in the Urubamba Province of Southern Peru. Originally it was constructed as an estate residence for the Inca Emperor Pachacuti who lived and died in the 15th century. This magnificent feat of engineering was built in the classical Inca style with polished dry-stone walls. Its main purpose is the three rooms known as the Intihuatana which refer to the Temple of the Sun and the Room of the Three Windows. Estimates go as far as claiming around 700 or so people lived here at one time. A lot of work has been made to try and restore some of the citadel as nature is reclaiming the mountainside. Artifacts of silver statues, jewelry and ceramic, were once present inside but have now moved to the museum, Casa Concha.

The Inca people were colorful and their culture distinct from the past civilizations of South America. They were more modern than one might think as the construction of a large stone estate on a mountainside tells. However, they were expansive and thus built the Inca Trail which runs through the hardy terrain of the Andes. If ever there was a classic hike up the mountains of South America, the Inca Trail is it.