Inca Empire built a mythic citadel on the top of the mountains around 1450. Not knowing that this archaeological site would once be the wonder of the world, Machu Picchu was believed to be a sacred site of Inca leaders. The existence of this site was only known to the peasants in the coming hundred years, when the citadel was abandoned. Machu Picchu was also used as a connection to travel to the Andes Mountains from the jungle and vice versa. There are many routes that lead to this 5 mile stretched site. Thousands of trekkers take these routes to watch the sun rising on the tower of the mountains battling steep descends and dirt trails.
- Inca Trail: The Inca trail starts with boarding the KM104 train line that goes uphill for about three hours and drops you at Winay Wayna, a neighboring site of Machu Picchu. It is a beautiful location with rural terraces and sandstone ruins overlooking the Urubamba River. From there one needs to follow the highland jungle path to reach the Sun Gate. It takes around two hours to reach the Machu Picchu site from Winay Wayna. Many trekkers finish the trail in one day. However those who spend the night on the trail enjoy a dramatic experience of the ruins at dawn. To opt for the one day Inca trail, permission needs to be taken beforehand.
- Vilcabamba Trail: The trail that offers the lengthiest route of around seven to fourteen days is one of the favorites and the most difficult trail amongst the trekkers. The sixty mountainous miles that need to be crossed across the now-popular ruins of Choquequirao is not an easy job. These remote ruins have been discovered in the last few years and are renowned for their similarities with Machu Picchu. One can start the journey from the town of Cachora, going downhill towards the Apurimac River. From there, one reaches the Choquequirao followed by Pinchaunuyoc to Cornfield to Yanama to Totora. Once you reach the hydroelectric plant via feet or bus, the same bus will leave you in the Inca Sanctuary, the site of Machu Picchu.
- The Chaski Trail: The trail that is closest to the sacred valley is the chaski trail. It is not a marked trail so one should be prepared for striving in more troubles than trailing on the regular tracks. The chaski trail is on high altitude and a medical test would be a good option before planning to take this route. Though this route is not opted by many, it has a fair share of trekkers and safety at this trail is fair enough. You can also opt for a guide or for package tour. Pass through the channels, quarries and ancient buildings that were visited by the Inca leaders. As this trail is on a high altitude, the Perolniyoc waterfall, which also happens to be the highlight of this route looks spectacular and serves as a great break point for trekkers.
Other routes include the Lares route and the Salcantay route. These routes are the most used trails and easy to follow routes. It is always advisable to have a guide as cases of robbery and firings have been experienced on deserted routes. The Communist Peruvians have their own guerrilla group and they are known to cause trouble to the trekkers.