I am going to Peru for a month, but I'm not sure if I want to do the Inca trail; I am thinking of just going to see Machu Pichu instead of the 4 day trail mainly for reasons of cost and fear of heights. How much am I missing out by doing this? I am spending a month in the Amazon before this, so I will have got a fair share of beauty and adventure already. I'd love to have people's thoughts! Many thanks.
I hiked the Inca Trail back in August and loved every minute of it. I am hiker and climber, and would personally feel cheated by arriving at Macchu Picchu by bus. If it is an issue of cost it is understandable. Otherwise, you can never have enough beauty or adventure in your life. I suggest doing it if the buget allows. If you decide to do so I would go with SAS, they were great.
The inca trail is one of those things in SA that has completely collapsed under its own success; it is so overly touristy that it is hardly worth the payment. Sure, the surroundings are lovely, but there are dozens of alternative trails in the valley that are twice as cheap, and ten times as rewarding.
thanks bent. i have been really struggling with this for a while and you have just confirmed my suspicions. any recommended alternatives in the area?
Machu Picchu is definitively a must-see!
I myself couldn´t do the Inca trail due to health problems and I ended up paying arround 120 US dollars to go there (train + buses+ accommodation+ meals) which is proportionnally expensive compared to the Inca trail package. My husband did the hike though and loved every bit of it.
But then, if you´re short on cash you might just go there by bus. Just a piece of advice: try to take the first bus which departs at 5.30am, so you´ll find less tourists on the site.
I really enjoyed the Salkantay trail, which also takes you to MP (which indeed is a must-see), but via a different route. Organised trips are on offer through various agencies in Cusco, but you could easily organise yourself at a fraction of the costs, if you speak some spanish and hook up with some other travellers.
Another alternative doesn't take you to MP, but to Choquequirao, the other big inca ruin in the region. I unfortunately cannot speak from personal experience since I ran out of time, but although the state of the ruins is much worse than MP, it is much quieter, and the hike there is said to be one of the most challenging in the region.
I you have time, there are numerous local guides that personally offer their services on Cusco's main square, and that can probably take you by still other paths. I guess it takes an adventurous (and cautious) mind trying this, but it could be well worth a gamble (I did it in Bolivia, and never regretted it).
that sounds more like it - many thanks!!
Without trying to sound like too much of a hippy the Inca Trail became something of a spiritual experience for me. It is surrounded in tourism for sure, but that's only evident down in Cuzco. Once you are actually hiking, you feel very cut off from everything. At least, it was for me.
It's a challenging and amazingly rewarding experience. When you come over the SunGate and see Machu Piccu in the morning light for the first time after four days of what is literally a pilgrimage, you forget about any sore muscles or aching joints.
Whatever reservations you might have, I'd urge you to do it if you have the time and inclination.