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Bangladesh: The Highlights Of The Classic Inca Trail The Highlights Of The Classic Inca Trail - Bangladesh

The Highlights Of The Classic Inca Trail

The Classic Inca Trail begins at ‘Km82’ – literally 82km along the railway between Cusco and Aguas Caliente. It is an amazing hike through the Peruvian mountains, combining historical, cultural and natural wonders. It is considered by many to be one of the top five treks in the world. Read on to find out about the highlights you can expect on the walk on this incredible four day journey to the ‘Lost City of the Incas’.

Mountain scenery

Unsurprisingly given the title, one of the first things you will notice is the sudden steep ascent. The path quickly leaves the railroad, crosses the Vilcanota River and snakes up past green fields, alpacas and rocky outcrops into the mountains. Altitude can make this part of the hike more difficult and at least two days acclimatisation in Cusco is recommended as on day two you must cross the highest pass of the trail – ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’, 4,200 metres above sea level. If the sky is clear the rewards from your climb are evident – a stunning panorama of snowy mountains, steep trails and the valley far beneath you.

Cloud forest

If you have never heard this expression before then it probably sounds slightly fantastical! There is some truth though - the trees of the Inca Trail are so high up that a layer of mist forms at canopy level, changing the eco-system and transporting you into an entirely different trek. Not only do you feel as if you are walking through the clouds, the moist ground encourages the growth of mosses, ferns and an amazing display of orchids. Experts believe there are still thousands of species still to be discovered in the Peruvian cloud forests.


Inca ruins

We are not talking Machu Picchu here. All along the trail there are fascinating ruins that you can visit. The first one of note that you pass is Llactapata, an ancient Inca village thought to be the administrative and ceremonial support centre for Machu Picchu. Not far on is Sayacmarka, translated as inaccessible town, was built by Inca enemies but was taken over by the Incas. It has a solar observation post and even a canal system for ceremonial baths. Further on the trail Phuyupatamarca ruins can be accessed by descending a steep staircase, worth it to see the amazing intricacy of the circular walls and the creative aqueduct system to provide water. Even further on is Winay Wayna ruins, which exhibit perhaps some of the best Inca stonework. Grand American Adventures can give you more information about the ruins and various other ideas for walking holiday destinations.

The Sun Gate

Of course all the ruins are just building you up for the big one and the most dramatic way to view the city is to arrive via the Sun Gate. The best time of day to ascend the steep trail to this vantage point is before sunrise as there is simply nothing like the view from this famous spot as dawn is breaking (clear skies prohibiting of course!). As the shadows draw back, the stone city is lit up by the sun and the intricacies of the stonework and expertly maintained buildings, all sitting under the imposing Wayna Picchu Mountain, is perhaps one of the best views of all time.

Machu Picchu

The large and elaborate citadel is nestled in the mountains and has so much to see that you need several hours to explore. The perfectly cut stone walls and irrigation systems show how advanced the Incas were and the ongoing work to clean and preserve the buildings, farming terraces and large open courtyards gives you a great idea of how the city would have looked in 1450 when it was built. It was abandoned a century later during the Spanish Conquest and although the locals knew of its existence, it wasn’t until American historian Hiram Bingham brought it to the world’s attention in 1911 that this lost city was truly found. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Centre.

Ruth walked the Classic Inca Trail from Km82, camping for three nights on the trail. Although she was worried about ‘roughing it’, it turned out to be the most glamorous camping trip of her life – the porters ran ahead and set up the tents, greeted her with bowls of warm popcorn and woke her up with a cup of tea!  

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