The Inca Trails are the ancient trade routes of the Incas. The most popular is the 39-kilometre trek to Machu Picchu, which you can walk in its entirety or parts thereof. You have to do this with a guide.
But there are plenty of other Inca Trails you can explore, for example the Salkantay Trek. You will walk several days over a narrow path, that can be very steep but also very flat. You cross though meadows and forests and rocky landscapes, through moraines, past lakes and also glaciers. The path takes you up, through mountains blanketed in mist.
There is a sign when you pass the Salkantay, which rises 6.271 metre above the landscape. Its peak is often shrouded in mist and covered in snow. After this, the path goes back down.
It’s intriguing to learn how the Incas and other peoples lived in these mountainous environments, as well as on the relatively flat lands near their capital Cusco. And the animals too. If you pay attention you can see Viscacha scampering about the rocks. These rodents are of the chinchilla family, and have impressive curly, fluffy tails.
Walking the Salkantay will make you fall in love with the Andes. It’s so pure, and so great in all senses of the word. After hours of walking you can see the lodge up ahead. No roads, no cars. Just a view of glaciers and alpacas. Time to set up camp…