The Inca trail is an approximate 43 km leading to the finale of Machu Pichu.
The website: http://www.incatrailperu.com/inca_trail_4_day_itinerary.html provides details on the day by day plans. I would recommend reading the information.
I used G adventures for my Inca trail experience and the following link provides details:
I don’t want to rehash trail details which one can easily research from other sources. This update is going to be about certain themes and experiences which I embraced in this wonderful journey.
At the end of the experience, three major themes formed the crux of my experience.
1. The Inca people and their sites
As one hikes through the valleys and mountains of the Inca Trail, one cant help but be transported back to the Inca period where messengers would run up and down this trail to deliver messages between communities. When one observes our porters carrying all our equipment, smiling and yes, running up and down the trail, one cant help feel in complete awe of these amazing folks. These folks, descendant of the Incas, care as much about their tradition and practices as their ancestors did. They care a lot about Pachamama (Mother Earth) and the natural beauty around. As one goes from one Inca site to another one, one cant help but appreciate the engineering feats of the Incas. How long did they take to make these sites. The scale of Machu Pichu is breathtaking. How did the locals achieve this while dealing with the limitations of technology at that point? Why did they build structures that took into account the universe such as the direction of the sun rise? How did they accomplish such beauty that has stood the test of time? I left Machu Pichu in complete awe and admiration of the Incas.
2. The Hike
For some one who isn’t exactly fit, the hike was challenging at times. Day 2 has some serious altitude to be concerned about. Slow and steady was the mantra of my hike. The Lost city was my first multi day hike and I was quite proud when I finished that hike. The Inca trail has a totally different challenge. Altitude combined with distance makes this hike a lot more challenging. On Day 1, the hike was relatively easy. We passed beautiful valleys and mountains taking in some Inca ruins. Day 2 was the toughest: The distance, while only about 10 km, was made more tougher by the altitude. Day 3 had the longest distance: about 16 km. It was quite easy compared to Day 2. Along the way, we experienced so much beauty: seeing these snow capped mountains along the way transformed me back to the Incas and their lives of those days. Day 4 was an early start and the rush to the sun gate before the final descent to Machu Pichu. On all days, there were moments which were difficult (bones aching, difficult to breathe etc) but the encouragement from my travel group and other fellow travellers helped me accomplish the trail.
3. The Porters
As far as I am concerned, we don’t hike the Inca trail. We just walk. The Porters, also called Inca Warriors, are the ones who hike. Why do I say this? They carry everything. They carry out bags, our kitchen equipment, out tents and they do it for a very small salary. It is really sad to see this: We obviously compensate with our tips but it isn’t enough: The impact on their health and their knees is tremendous. They have a short life as a porter as they are doing this week in week out. Can you imagine doing the trail carrying all your equipment? I wouldn’t be able to do it and I can safely say that at least 99% of the tourists wont be able to do it. Which is why, without the Inca warriors, there is no Inca trail. I hope we appreciate them as much as they deserve. Yes, money can help but a sense of gratitude will go a long way. I will forever be grateful to these wonderful folks.
I would recommend doing the Inca Trail. Go for it. It is spectacular and worth every second of the time spent in reaching Machu Pichu.