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Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu.
Tina along the Inca Trail.

Inca Trail

Thursday, November 8, 2001
An experience of a lifetime is a trip to Machu Picchu... to trail the Incas who ruled the largest native empire of the Americas, as Tina recalls.

The Incas ruled the largest native empire of the Americas. The Empire ended abruptly with the Spanish invasion in 1532, at which time it controlled an estimated 12 million people in much of what is now Peru and Ecuador as well as large parts of Chile, Bolivia and Argentina. The Inca Trail is an acnient road used by the Incas to link a network of cities that reached their peak 600 years ago.

The entire trail is 33 kim long, it's often steep and there are three high passes to be crossed. The highlight of the Trail is saved to the end.

The ancient "lost city" of Machu Picchu is situated about 80km north west of Cusco. It is set on a high precipice between steep mountain peaks and was abandoned at the time of the Spanish invasion. It was vritually untouched until it was rediscovered by American Historian, Hiram Bingham in 1911.

Machu Picchu is best known for its architecture which combines fine stone buildings with extensive agricultural terraces, creating the appearance of a settlement carved out of the mountainside.

The style of the buildings and pottery as well as its careful planning suggest that it was built under the supervision of the Inca State which was centred at Cusco. Its actual function is not fully understood but its architecture suggess a strong emphasis on religion and its location on the eastern border of the Empire may mean that it was a frontier post.

The mountain weather can change abruptly so it's important to bring several layers of clocthing, sunblock and a good raincoat. On the World Expeditions Tour, most luggage and camping equipment is carried by llamas and porters. If you are not on an organised tour, be sure that you check any rented camping gear for holes, take first aid supplies and bring a little stove as wood is scarce. It is best to travel in a group for safety.

You will have to get a permit and start at the beginning - doing the trail in reverse is not officially permited. The trail reaches heights of up to 3,500 feet, so you could suffer altitude sickness. Make sure you acclimatise for a couple of days before you start walking. Other health precautions to take are protection against malaria and immunisation against yellow fever. Check with your doctor before leaving.

Location

Begins in Chilca, 480km south-east of Lima, Peru.

Cost

For the latest cost information, please see World Expeditions.

More information

World Expeditions Sydney: 02 9264 3366
Melbourne: 03 9670 8400
Website: www.worldexpeditions.com

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