Hiking Machu Picchu, by Dr. Ceclia Gaffaney

For avid hikers seeking challenging terrain, beautiful landscapes, and historic locations, few sites hold more wonder than Machu Picchu. Located in the Peruvian highlands, the pre-Columbian, Incan complex rests between the mountains Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Over 8,000 feet above sea level, hiking to the ancient city requires high-altitude endurance.

Upon reaching the summit, visitors are rewarded with a breathtaking view of the Andes Mountains as they look down upon the tops of clouds. Additionally, visitors may view rituals performed by Kallawaya, healers and herbalists whose tradition dates back to the early Incan empire.

Since 2001, all visitors must hire a licensed guide when hiking in the Andes. While many locals offer guide services, not all are properly trained and familiar with the site. Booking guides before traveling ensures safety.

With over 20 miles of trails leading visitors to several large ruins, travelers should schedule multiple days to visit Machu Picchu.

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