Trekking to Machu Picchu

I have just returned from trekking to Machu Picchu. It has been my mission to trek the famous trail to Machu Picchu for 10 years now. I had planned to trek in 2020 and we all know what happened.


After spending quite a long time, actually years researching the trail. The Incan story is fascinating and I couldn’t get enough information on Inca history, culture, and traditions. I was really interested in the Inca sites in Cusco along the sacred valley all the way into Machu Picchu.  This trip was the best overall experience I have ever had.

I picked the 5 day classic itinerary as if offered more time on the trail to experience all of the famous Incan site. This is the way to experience the trek to Machu Picchu.

Trekking to Machu Picchu

Highlights of the Inca Trial

As an engineer the trail, sites and building were incredible to witness firsthand. I was extremely impressed Sacaqmarka, phuyupatamarca and Winyawayna you need to spend more time in these locations.

The team and staff are amazing looking after every need you will have along this famous trail.

The beauty of Ian’s itinerary is it offers you the best way to experience all the Inca sites the famous Inca trail. The itinerary was designed in this manner and it will not disappoint.

Trekking to Machu Picchu

Some History of Cusco

Cusco, a city of great history, culture and great food. The city of Cusco is known as the cultural capital of Peru. Visit in June and you will experience a new festival almost every day.

As the oldest living city in the Americas, Cusco has been inhabited continuously for over 3,000 years. It was the historic capital of the Inca Empire from the 13th to 16th century until Spanish conquest. Cusco is a major tourist destination, receiving nearly 2 million visitors per year.

So, if you’re headed to Peru, make sure to brush up on the history of Cusco before you go so you can begin to comprehend the role over time that it has played. Walking the ancient city streets and witnessing the sacred ruins won’t be the same afterwards!

According to Inca mythology, Cusco was believed to be the birthplace of the sun, and the city was considered the center of the Inca Empire.  The Inca civilization built an extensive network of roads throughout their empire, including the famous Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu.

Cusco was also home to many important Inca structures, such as the Coricancha Temple, which was dedicated to the sun god Inti, and the Sacsayhuaman fortress, which was built using massive stones weighing up to 150 tons. We still do not know how they built this Inca site.

The Trek to Machu Picchu

Saqsaywaman Above Cusco

Sacsayhuamanca, also known as Saqsaywaman, is an impressive Inca archaeological site located near the city of Cusco, Peru. The site is believed to have served as a military fortress, with its massive walls and towering stone structures offering strategic views of the surrounding area.

Sacsayhuamanca is particularly renowned for its impressive engineering and architecture, with many of the stones used in its construction weighing over 100 tons.

The site features an impressive collection of zigzagging walls and terraces, some of which are over 300 meters long. Visitors to Sacsayhuamanca can explore this remarkable historical site and gain a deeper appreciation for the incredible engineering feats achieved by the Inca civilization. It is worth doing this before trekking to Machu Picchu.

The ciity of Cusco by night


Ollantaytambo, located in the Sacred Valley of the Incas, was a vital military, agricultural, and religious center for the Inca civilization. The town is home to one of the most well-preserved Inca archaeological sites, featuring impressive stone terraces, temples, and fortifications.

Ollantaytambo was strategically positioned to guard the entrance to the valley that leads to Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo served as a stronghold against Spanish conquistadors during the Inca resistance.

The Incas used the area to grow crops such as corn, potatoes, and quinoa, which were stored in granaries for use during times of need. The town was also an important religious center, with the Temple of the Sun serving as a place of worship and astronomical observation.

Today, Ollantaytambo is a popular destination for tourists seeking to learn more about the Inca civilization and its remarkable engineering and architectural feats.

Ollantaytambo before trekking to Machu Picchu.

History of the Sacred Valley of the Incas

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, also known as the Urubamba Valley, is located about 60km/ 38 miles from Cusco. The sacred valley of the Incas holds great historical and cultural significance for the Inca civilization.

The valley was home to many important Inca sites, including the fortress of Ollantaytambo, the agricultural terraces of Moray, and the salt mines of Maras. The area was highly prized by the Incas for its fertile land, mild climate, and access to water, which allowed for the cultivation of crops such as maize, potatoes, and beans.

The valley was also a significant transportation hub, with the Inca Trail and other roads connecting the region to Cusco and other parts of the empire. The Incas developed sophisticated engineering techniques to build their structures, including the use of finely cut stones, irrigation systems, and terracing.

Today, tourists that visit the Sacred Valley can explore these incredible historical sites and gain a deeper understanding of the Inca civilization and its enduring legacy. This sacred valley tour was included in our itinerary.

The sacred valley of the Incas

Why was Machu Picchu Built

The purpose of Machu Picchu, the iconic Inca citadel is unknow. Machu Picchu’s purpose remains a topic of debate among historians and archaeologists. While the exact reason for its construction is not definitively known, several theories have been proposed.

One theory suggests that Machu Picchu was a royal retreat for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Pachacuti was known for his ambitious building projects. Others believe that the site was a religious sanctuary, with the Temple of the Sun serving as the main place of worship.

Some historians speculate that Machu Picchu was a center for astronomical observation or a military outpost.  Others believe it was a key location for trade and commerce.

Whatever the purpose, Machu Picchu is now recognized as one of the world’s most extraordinary archaeological sites and an enduring symbol of the remarkable engineering and architectural skills of the Inca civilization.

Trekking to Machu Picchu

Why Trek the Inca Trial to Machu Picchu

Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an unforgettable experience that offers a unique blend of adventure, history, and natural beauty. The extended 4-day trek takes hikers through stunning mountain landscapes, including the Andes and cloud forests. I have to say day 3 on the trail is out of this world.

The highlights of the trek are the many Inca sites along the trail. This helps you appreciate Machu Picchu even more.  The iconic Inca citadel that sits atop a mountain ridge truly offers breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and peaks.

After Trekking the Inca Trail  to Machu Picchu I will be back to do it again. The rich cultural history of the Inca civilization is outstanding, you need to witness this up close.

The trek is also an eco-friendly way to experience the stunning beauty of the Peruvian Andes and supports local communities and their economies. For those seeking an unforgettable and rewarding adventure, trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with Ian Taylor Trekking.

Trekking to Machu Picchu


Saqacamarca, also known as “The Inaccessible Town,” is an ancient Inca archaeological site located along the Inca Trail in Peru. The purpose of Saqacamarca is not entirely clear, but it is believed to have served as a strategic military outpost, with its location offering a commanding view of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

The higher site sits above an impressive lower Inca site that was probably used for agriculture. The hike through this section of the Inca trail is extraordinary.

Saqacamarca also features a complex network of water channels and fountains, suggesting that it may have also served as a place of worship and ritual purification.

On route to Machu Picchu


Phuyupatamarca is without a doubt the most spectacular camping area on the Inca trail.  The Inca archaeological site located is located just below the campsite. Phuyupatamarca has a unique feel to it and almost looks like a spaceship from above.  The name of the site means “Town Above the Clouds” in the Quechua language.

There is a burial site near by and the mountain viewing here is world class. After an amazing sunset and sunrise you have the challenging 4,440 feet of descent trekking to Machu Picchu.

Sunset on the Inca Trail


Winyawayna, also known as Wiñay Wayna, is an Inca archaeological site located along the Inca Trail close to Machu Picchu. The name of the site means “Forever Young” in the Quechua language.

The site is notable for its remarkable engineering and architecture. Winyawayna offers breathtaking views of the surrounding valleys and mountains.

Winyawayna was likely constructed for agricultural and religious purposes. This city is elevated and hidden location is intriguing, leaving you with more questions than answers.

Salkantay peak on route to Machu Picchu

The Classic Inca trail

Hiking the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the best choice of itinerary for trekking to Machu Picchu.

There are numerous benefits to hiking the Classic Inca Trail, including the opportunity to explore stunning mountain landscapes. Along with amazing climate zones, cloud forests, and to visit several Inca ruins and archaeological sites along the way.

One of the highlights of the trek is reaching Machu Picchu, the iconic Inca citadel. The other Inca sites may even impress you more. The trail offers breathtaking views and was more spectacular than I expected.

Additionally, the Classic Inca Trail offers you more time on the trail and hiking in a more relaxed way.  For those seeking an unforgettable and rewarding adventure, hiking the Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an experience not to be missed. Check out Ian Taylor Trekking trips.
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