The Great Inca Trail, or Qhapaq Ñan, was the backbone of the Inca Empire, stretching over 24,000 miles across six countries in South America. This ancient network of roads, bridges, and staircases has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a testament to the incredible engineering abilities of the Inca people. One of the best ways to experience the magic of the Qhapaq Ñan is by hiking along its paths, and if you’re looking for an unforgettable adventure, Impactful Travel has got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at 7 authentic hikes on the Great Inca Road, offered by Impactful Travel, and that all include stretches of the Great Inca Trail network.
Some background information
Guido, the co-founder of Impactful Travel (formerly known as RESPONSible Travel Peru), has been working on tourism projects around the Qhapaq Ñan since 2004, when he was still a team member at The Mountain Institute. Through his extensive experience and deep interest in the history and culture of the Inca Empire, Guido has organized expeditions for the Smithsonian Institute for engineers from some of the world’s top universities to study the stretches of the Qhapaq Ñan in Ancash and Huánuco. He has even had the privilege of meeting two of the first modern-day humans to walk the entire Qhapaq Ñan – Megan Son and Ricardo Espinoza.
Guided by our expertise and passion for preserving the Qhapaq Ñan, Impactful Travel has gained a wealth of knowledge regarding the best-conserved stretches of the trail in Ancash and Huánuco, along with legends and stories that offer insight into Inca culture and history.
If you’re looking to explore the magic of the Inca Empire and their connection to nature through the Qhapaq Ñan, we invite you to browse our tour platform. It includes several authentic hiking experiences in destinations where stretches of the Qhapaq Ñan, or secondary roads that were part of the Inca trails network, are featured.
Explore 7 authentic hikes on the Great Inca Trail in Peru:
1. Hike the Prettiest Stretch of Qhapaq Ñan
The first one of these 7 authentic hikes on the Great Inca Trail is a special one. If you’re interested in walking in the footsteps of the Incas, Impactful Travel has several options to choose from. The ultimate way to explore the history of the Inca Empire and the Qhapaq Ñan, is definitely with our tour Hike the Prettiest Stretch of Qhapaq Ñan. This five-day trek along the best stretch of the Qhapaq Ñan takes you through stunning Andean landscapes and past ancient ruins, culminating in a visit to the former capital of Chinchaysuyo: Huánuco Pampa. Led by expert guides, this trek provides a deep dive into the rich history and culture of the Inca Empire, and the incredible engineering prowess of the Inca people.
2. Traditional Inca Trail
While it may not be the main Qhapaq Ñan, the beautiful and busy 4-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is undoubtedly one of the most stunning hikes to explore Inca civilization. This route showcases remarkable Inca road engineering amidst breathtaking landscapes and guides visitors to exclusive Inca sites that aren’t accessible in any other way.
3. Adventurous Coffee Route Hike to Machu Picchu
During our Adventurous Coffee Route Hike to Machu Picchu, you will come across two stretches of exquisite original Incan paths. On the first day, the steps will leave you in awe and serve as a perfect backdrop for stunning photos. On the third day, you’ll witness some stretches where the width of original Inca Trails is visible and pass by an Inca ruin of a Tambo boasting a breathtaking view of Machu Picchu.
(Remember, we also have a shorter version of our Coffee Route, and the popular Route of Goodies: less adventure, more local experiences!)
4. Llama Trek in the Cordillera Blanca: Olleros – Chavín
The Llama Trek from Chavín to Olleros is a three-day adventure that takes you through stunning Andean landscapes of the Cordillera Blanca, as well as ancient ruins, to reach the beautiful Chavín de Huantar complex. You’ll be hiking an ancient pre-Inca road, and learn about the area’s history and culture from expert guides. It may not be the real Qhapaq Ñan, but this route should be included in this list because it offers a glimpse into the foundations used by the Incas to rapidly extend their network of trails across South America.
5. Cusco Walking Tour
Yes, this is a city tour, between all these majestic trekkings! And rightly so: our Cusco Walking tour includes some of the finest original Inca Trails. For example, when our guide takes you down from Sacsayhuamán into Cusco’s historic center. The original Qhapaq Ñan isn’t well visible in town anymore; but from the main square it would once lead northbound through Plateros, and southbound by what today is Avenida Del Sol. See, definitely part of these 7 authentic hikes on the Great Inca Trail.
6. Inca Road to Huchuy Qosqo with Llamas
Our Inca Road to Huchuy Qosqo with Llamas tour is another great short option. Enjoy the beautiful landscapes of Peru’s Sacred Valley and travel with llamas along parts of ancient Inca Trails. Marvel at the spectacular engineering of the Incas as you traverse mountain passes and canyons, and explore ancient sites – a memorable journey full of history and unique landscapes!
7. Hosts of the Great Inca Trail, the Qhapaq Ñan, on Lake Titicaca
The last of these 7 authentic hikes on the Great Inca Trail. Step back in time to explore the incredible surroundings of Lake Titicaca and the ancient Inca Trail on our tour Hosts of the Great Inca Trail, the Qhapaq Ñan, on Lake Titicaca. Discover the fascinating history and culture of Peru’s Qhapaq Ñan with knowledgeable local hosts from the Jayujayuni community as your guides. Join them (and their music!) along a well-preserved section of this great engineering feat and learn about its significance to the region’s inhabitants that use the path until this day. A truly unique experience!
Wrapping Up of the 7 authentic hikes on the Great Inca Trail
The Great Inca Trail network is a marvel of engineering and history, and Impactful Travel offers several authentic hiking experiences that allow you to explore this network of ancient roads and bridges. Whether you’re looking for a multi-day trek or a shorter day tour, you’ll be able to walk in the footsteps of the Inca people and experience the magic of the Qhapaq Ñan. With expert guides, stunning mountain scenery, and insights into local culture and history, Impactful Travel has something for everyone on this incredible journey through time.
So come and explore the Great Inca Road with Impactful Travel, and experience an adventure of a lifetime. You can either directly book your excursion through the links provided, or customize your own trip with us, with as many Inca Trail experiences as your heart desires.