Our top activities

What to do while you're on the Inca trail

Hike up Huayna Picchu

The famous green peak which serves as a backdrop to Machu Picchu in thousands of photos around the world harbours its own hidden temples - including an arrow-shaped stone which points due south, and the Temple of the Moon, carved into a cave on the mountainside, which is believed to have been a royal tomb or possibly a place of sacrifice.
As you would expect, ascending the mountain is onerous, with exposed steps winding round sheer faces. The climb takes around two hours, and should not be attempted by anyone with vertigo. New regulations only give permits to 400 visitors, who climb in two morning shifts, so you need to arrive at Machu Picchu early to secure your spot on the "young peak".

Learn about the archaeology

The fascinating yet little-visited Museo de Sitio Manuel Chávez Ballón is dedicated to the history and exploration of Machu Picchu.

Virtually no information exists at the ruins themselves, but this little museum lies a half hour walk from Aguas Calientes, and has exhibits on the construction of this extraordinary city, as well as curious Inca artifacts. There's also a pleasant botanical garden to relax in after your hike.

Stay with your porters

Simon Forster is a co-founder of our supplier The Beyond Tourism Co., who offer homestays in the porters' villages. Here's his top activity for the Inca Trail: "We include an extra day at the beginning of the Trail where you spend the night in the porters' home village, so you get to know them before you go on your trek. This makes for more personal interaction so you enjoy your experience more, but it also gives you a better understanding of the porters' lives. Being a porter has actually become a culture and identity for people from the area, not just a day job, so we want to highlight that as well.
Often on the Trail, the porters can be overlooked or taken for granted. You may not understand much about porters' rights, the person you're booking your tour with might not understand it and their incredible hard work goes unappreciated. Staying with them creates better understanding and a better experience for both of you."

Discover that it's not all about Machu Picchu

Built into a precarious slope, this large site comprises houses connected by a sheer staircase, with agricultural terraces above and below. The setting is suitably dramatic, as are the views of the Urubamba River. Wiñay Wayna is not always on Inca Trail itineraries, but it is one of the most impressive detours, so try and book a tour that stops here. You can also hike there directly from Machu Picchu.
Photo credits: [Huayna Picchu: McKay Savage] [Porters: Madeleine Holland] [Wiñay Wayna: Celine O'Neill]
Written by Vicki Brown
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