Top Ten Treks

South America: Inca Trail, Peru

The trails are steep, the air is thin, there's no place to buy food—no wonder it's such a popular trail. Despite the many hardships you must endure to reach ancient Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail is somewhat overburdened by visitors. Still, no list of the world's top treks is complete without it. Cloud forests, ruins, and a rich, tragic history imbue a melancholy mystique over these Andean highlands. Along the way, you'll meet the ghosts of Spanish conquistadores and vanquished Incan warriors in Sayacmarca, the "secret city," and Phuyupatamarca, the "town above the clouds," which, for better or worse, has been restored. There's also a host of snowy peaks that have watched in stately silence as empires rise and fall. The Incas were justly famous for their roads, and the path to Machu Picchu is not hard to follow. The walking is strenuous, however, which makes horsepacking an appealing option for many trekkers.

More info on the ancient Andes.


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