Machu Picchu- Hike vs. Train?

Old Jun 20th, 2012, 06:02 PM
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Machu Picchu- Hike vs. Train?

Hi All,

My husband and I are travelling to Peru for 12 days in August. We're in our late 20's and moderately fit. Is the Inca Trail hike an "essential" part of the experience, or can we skip it and take the train? I just want to ensure we have enough time for everything else we have planned in Peru. Not to mention we're heading to the Amazon right afterwards and I wouldn't want us to be exhausted.

Thanks in advance for your input!
Orlyd22 is offline  
Old Jun 20th, 2012, 06:30 PM
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I think you'll find most people here at Fodors take the train. My wife and I walked the Inca Trail from Km 88 in 1981, when we were about your age! Both of us still consider it one of our best trips, though I guess the rules and logistics have changed a lot since then. Arriving at Machu Picchu after hiking the route was pure magic.

We also went to the Amazon afterwards and were not exhausted.

But you'll have to decide if it's worth it to you. Do you just want to see Machu Picchu, or do you enjoy mountain walking? If not then it could be pure misery instead of pure magic! Have a great trip whatever you decide.
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 11:11 AM
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My husband and I are in our late 20s, moderately fit, and we just did the Inca Trail in May. It was an amazing experience. We planned our trip around it to ensure we had time. Our bodies were tired afterward, but not to the point of exhaustion. It was actually easier to climb up and down at other Sacred Valley sites after the Trail.

The hike was harder for me than my husband because the altitude affected me. But it was not impossible. It was beautiful. Really amazing sights and views and just an incredible experience. I highly recommend you go with a company recommended on these boards and/or TripAdvisor as you can ensure they treat their porters fairly.
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 01:08 PM
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Are you referring to August 2012? Because all permits for the Inca Trail are sold out for August of this year as well as September. The earliest availability is for dates in October 2012. You can see availability here:

(Just as context, 500 daily permits are issued and these sell out quickly for the high season of May through September).

If you'd still like to do a trek, you might consider Lares or Salkantay. There are also shorter 1 or 2 day treks such as Huchuy Qosqo.

Even without the Inca Trail or another trek, you'll get a good feel for the "essence" of the Andes by spending 4 or 5 days in Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, and Cusco. And because you're also going to the Amazon, you'll also get a great taste of Peru's diversity of landscapes, peoples, cuisines, and cultures.

Happy travel planning!
Peru For Less
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 05:15 PM
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At the risk of upsetting the train takers, our group of nine did the IT in January. We rarely talk about Machu Picchu, but we always talk about the trail - the climbing, the camping, the views, the challenge. Just before I saw this post we were talking about our guide, who is now a facebook friend of the kids.

If you click my name you will see we have been to a few places. The Inca Trail is what we talk about the most.
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Old Jun 21st, 2012, 08:15 PM
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I spent 3 weeks in Peru (which was still too short) and the Inca Trail was the highlight of my trip. There are a lot of ruins along the trail that only the hikers see. Unlike Machu Picchu, which is packed. But as another poster commented, this is now something you hem and haw over until the last minute. If you haven't booked it already, the decision has probably been made for you already. You're taking the train...
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Old Jun 22nd, 2012, 09:37 AM
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Hi, I think 12 days is enoughtto do Amazon and the Inca trail, but Unfortunately Inca trail is fully booked until the mid of Octuber.
I have been hiking on the all Inca trails to MachuPicchu for the last 10 years and more than 750 times at least and I still consider that all visitor must hike a few days to get to MachuPicchu just like Incans used to do.

Huchy Qosqo 3 days 2 nights would be the best option or maybe Lares trek 4 days 3 nights with a great valleys, river, landscapes waterfall and some local villages along the way. 4 days amazon is enought and some days to be In cusco.

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Old Jun 25th, 2012, 11:16 PM
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While I'm sure the hike is great, we went to Machu Picchu without hiking and had a wonderful visit. I don't feel like we "missed" anything, especially as I don't love hiking.

Instead, we did an all day horse ride in the Sacred Valley, and had enough time to spend a few days upriver from Iquitos on the Amazon.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 03:43 AM
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We did the trek in 2010 and looked upon it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. Do it and you will never forget the experience.
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Old Jun 26th, 2012, 07:54 AM
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Like lcuy we didn't do the Inca Trail either but loved Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, where did did a couple of long hikes. We also climbed up to the Intipunku or Sun Gate at MP for a sweeping vista of the ruins swathed in wisps of mist, what a wonderful start to the day
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