trekking along the terracesThis past week I have been communicating with our Cusco-based Peruvian partners about our upcoming Inca Trail tour scheduled for October 17-25. This trip will be our first ever trip that uses the Royal Inca Trail path.

Most people think the Inca Trail is just that – “the Inca Trail”. In reality, the Inca people built a whole network of trails and the four-day trek commonly called The Inca Trail is just one of those paths.

Interesting enough, the Inca Trail path that most people use to hike from near Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley to the ruins of Machu Picchu is likely not even the original path created by the Inca rulers. This common trail goes high up into the mountains, up and over Dead Woman’s Pass, a long and arduous journey. The original trail built by the Inca was most likely a trail that still exists and follows the Urubamba River, rising only at the end to leave the river and rise to the ruins of Machu Picchu.

It is this Original or Royal Inca Trail our group will take in October. The altitude is essentially not an issue, the hills are not laborious, and – best of all – there are almost no other tourists on the trail.

Why then does everyone take the “traditional” route up and over the mountain? Well, the trail itself and the views in particular are spectacular.

In short, what people don’t know is there are two options to hike from the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. One is dramatic and beautiful but also well visited, strenuous, and high in altitude. The other is mostly unknown to tourists, easier on the knees, and a non-issue as far as acclimatization.

Take your pick.