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A Guide to the Peru Inca Trail
The Inca Trail is one of the most fascinating treks that an avid and adventurous history lover could experience. With the mystique of Macchu Picchu beckoning in the distance, the Inca trail offers amazing sights and sounds as you walk through dense forest, Inca ruins, mountains, and a subtropical jungle.

The trek is about 45 kilometers long and takes approximately four days to complete when walking at a moderate pace. The route can be challenging, particularly in the high altitudes of 4,200 meters above sea level. Many travelers acclimatize themselves by spending two or more days in Cusco prior to starting off on the trek.

There are a large number of tour operators (operating an office in Cusco who are sometimes partnered with external tour operators) that are authorized to guide trekkers to Macchu Picchu.

Prices among tour operators tend to vary from US$420 to US$1,000. Cheaper services are discouraged since service and equipment often tends to be of a poor quality. The prices have increased over the years due to several measures enforced by the government. A maximum of 16 people per group is permitted to take the trip so long as they carry basic equipment, including tents, first aid kits, and oxygen. (This is usually done by porters, which pushes the price up since they are each given a minimum wage and a maximum load restriction.) A limit of approximately 200 people are permitted to start the trek each day. This limit is increased to 500 if the porters, guides, and cooks are counted. For every eight trekkers, a professionally licensed guide must accompany them.

Due to the limitation on group size, it is important to book the journey with the tour operator well in advance. Additionally, all of the restrictions has led to price increases that put the trip out of reach of budget travelers, including the less well-off natives of the land, who do not receive any special discounts. December to January is considered to be the off-peak season and tickets may be available less than a week prior to commencing the trip. Peak season runs from May through September, and the only way to get tickets is to book at least four to six months in advance.

When you book yourself on a particular date of departure, unless you have chosen a private trek, you will join a group of trekkers who have come from around the world and are at different levels of fitness and skill. When the trek is complete and you have achieved your ambition of spending time among the ruins of the historical Macchu Picchu, a train service is usually provided to take you back to your starting point.
About the Author
Orson Johnson writes for Holiday Velvet, a website providing Lima, Peru accommodation and vacation accommodation worldwide.
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