Booking a luxury tour is the easiest way to solve the logistical problems. These government approved tour companies can take care of all the paperwork, and they have the expertise and manpower required to provide a safe and guided tour of the Inca Trail. As a matter of fact, the 500 people on the trail include more support staff than actual trekkers. About 300 of them are porters, guides, cooks and other tour company staff.
It may be a bit of a reach to equate hiking through a South American jungle with luxury, but the relative difference is kind of a big deal. This means having access to chemical toilets and portable hot water showers, which the rest of the crowd will start missing dearly after a day or so. Not to mention porters to carry all the supplies, and cooks to provide lip-smacking cuisine and fine wines. There may even be a masseuse at hand, along with musicians to provide live entertainment.
None of this makes the trek any less authentic or challenging, but it does help reduce the discomforts of life in the outdoors. The luxury travel begins as soon as passengers land at the international airport in Lima. There will be stays in five star hotels and fine dining in upscale restaurants, along with a flight-class seat on a domestic flight from Lima to Cuzco.
The Inca Trail begins at Qorihuayrachina, which is Kilometer 88 - so named because of its position on the Cuzco-Quillabamba railway. It is a four day hike from the start of the trail to its end in Machu Picchu. Hikers will be going through a kaleidoscopic array of surroundings as the trail makes its way from the Urubamba River at Cuzco to the lush sub-tropical forests and then breathtaking scenery at 12,000 feet and higher up in the Andes.
The trek can be stretched, shortened or modified to match personal endurance levels. A hike on the Classic Inca Trail can be started from the 82, 88 and 104 km marks. The latter is a "short trek" which can be completed in one or two days at most.
The Mollepata route is the hardest choice. This is a challenging seven-day trek which snakes its way up into the snow-capped peaks of the Andes. Hikers need to be skilled, but will be rewarded with an up-close view of the beauty of Salkantay Mountain. Most tours focus on the Inca relics, tunnels and settlements in the Sacred Valley, but there are quite a few other choices including bird-watching and biking.
The star among all Peru trekking options is the Inca Trail, irrespective of whether it is the classic trail, the Mollepata route or the short trek. Throwing some luxury into the mix makes the adventure much more enjoyable, since it allows hikers to focus on challenging the trail instead of worrying about food and other necessities. The real prize for those who complete the trek and go through the Gateway of the Sun is the awesome sight of Machu Picchu, which makes the whole thing very much worthwhile.
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