Qhapaq Ñan: the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Terra Explorer
December 16, 2020

Can you imagine traveling for five days the same way the Incas did more than 500 years ago? And, while doing the walk, enjoying an incredible landscape, as well as flora and fauna of the area?


The Inca Trail or Qhapaq Ñan is one of the most traveled paths for adventure lovers who want to know Machu Picchu. However, it remains a mystery to many.


For this reason, in Terra Explorer we want to invite you to discover the origin and development of Qhapaq Ñan, an incredible route for those who wish to trek in Cusco.


Join us to discover this trail to visit Machu Picchu!



What is Qhapaq Ñan?


It´s a network of trails that connected the immerse territory of the Inca Empire, known as Tahuatinsuyo. Its expansion extends over more than 30 000 km, joining countries such as Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador. However, Peru conserves more than 37% of the total length of the trail declared by UNESCO.


The Incas used it mainly as an excellent communication system, which allowed them to dominate new territories, assimilate contemporary cultures, and manage resources from different ecosystems.


What was the purpose of the Qhapaq Ñan?


In addition to the aspects mentioned above, the Inca Trails served to:

  • – Receive or transfer information. According to various investigations, if the Inca, located in Cusco, needed to receive information from Quito, Ecuador, he could obtain it in an average of 12 days.
  • – During the Inca expansion, it was used for the displacement of armies.
  • – As a way of transporting food and goods.
  • – In order to transfer the necessary labor for the construction of the same road.


You may be interested in: Mountain biking, a different way to discover Peru.


What should you know before walking the Inca Trail?


In general, the climate of the area is mild throughout the year. The month of June being the coldest and August the most tempered and stable.


If you want to practice trekking on the Inca Trail, it is necessary to wear the correct implements such as sportswear, sunscreen, cap, flashlight, hiking shoes, and what you can never miss in this type of tours: water.


Due to the terrain and climate present, depending on the season in which you decide to travel, it is essential to be in a good physical condition that allows you to make the walk without problems.


What does Terra Explorer offer you?



Day 1


During the first day, we head to kilometer 82 of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, specifically, to the community of Piscaycucho, starting point of the trek. Here, the Terra Explorer guide team will be waiting for us to start the tour.


Thanks to the impressive beauty of the área, you can appreciate landscapes such as the Urubamba valley, the Urubamba snowy mountain, the Llactapacta viewpoint, and the Huayllabamba valley. In this last one, you will have the opportunity to camp in a town with the same name that was built based on an ancient Inca settlement.


Day 2


On the second day, you will cross the Uncas forest (native Andean tree) and the dwarf forest (Midget Forest) until you reach the top of the Inca Trail: the Warmihuyñuska pass (4200 mt), an arid high Andean puna. Then, in the descent, in the cloud forest, you’ll observe various types of endemic birds until you reach the area of Pacaymayo, where the camp will be established.


You may be interested in: Adventure Tourism, exploring the inaccessible.


Day 3



On the third day, the trail will continue through the cloud forest to the ruins of Sallacmarca in the middle of ferns, bromeliads, and orchids. Also, it is the perfect habitat for birds such as hummingbirds, and if you are fortunate, you will appreciate the spectacled bear. This day ends in a camp with an impressive view of the Urubamba and Vilcanota mountain ranges.


Day 4

On the penultimate day, we will be able to appreciate one of the most spectacular sunrises in the Andes, as well as a 360º panoramic view of the surrounding mountain ranges, including the massive Pumasillo and the imposing snowy Salkantay..


On a path covered with tropical vegetation, we will reach Intipunku (the door of the sun), where we will have the first view of Machu Picchu. Here begins the descent to the town of Aguas Calientes.


Day 5


On the last day, you will appreciate in detail the beauty of the citadel of Machu Picchu. Also, you will have a guided visit, as well as free time to explore it on your own. And, for all adventurers, there is the possibility of climbing to the summit of Huaynapicchu, from where you can see Machu Picchu from a different angle.



Now that you know more about the Qhapaq Ñan, would you be willing t olive such an amazing adventure? In Terra Explorer, we have several itineraries made for you.If you want to be part of our adventures and get to know Peru authentically and spectacularly, get in touch with us, and we will help you design the trip of your dreams!

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