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The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, also known as Camino Inka, is the single most popular South American trek. The reason it keeps attracting so many people from all parts of the globe each year is not that hard to understand. Trekkers will have to follow the paved stone paths created by the Incas through pleasant river valleys, steaming sub-tropical forests and freezing snowy mountain heights. Inca ruins and tunnels await discovery along the way, and Machu Picchu at the other end.
Jorge Chavez International Airport is the main gateway into Peru. It is located in Callao, which is just a quick drive from the city center in Lima. A connecting flight from the capital must be taken to reach Cuzco, where travelers will need to stay overnight in a hotel. A bus leaving from Cuzco at dawn takes passengers on a very nice 3 1/2 to four hour drive through the Sacred Valley. The bus ride ends at the 82 km point on the Cuzco to Aguas Calientes rail line, where the trail begins.
After the porters’ bags are weighed at the weigh station alongside the river, trekkers can cross the suspension bridge across the river and begin their quest. The first hour or so through the open valley is easy. After that, the path starts snaking upwards towards the looming snow-capped peaks of Veronika Mountain.
The first campsite for an overnight stay on the trail is at Wayllabamba, which is 3000 feet above sea level. At this point, it would be prudent to point out that trekkers can choose from amongst multiple routes. On top of that, choosing a different starting point can also make the trek easier and smaller.
One alternate route is the path that starts from Mollepata. The 4-day Classic Route described above takes trekkers up from the valley to the cloud forest and into the Andes. Many Inca ruins can be found on the way, with Machu Picchu as the last one when the sun rises on the morning of the fourth day.
If four days of trekking sounds a bit much, it can be reduced by moving the starting point forward. The two most popular shortened treks begin at the 88 km and 104 km markers. Those who start from the 104-km point can finish the trek in a couple of days.
Intrepid adventurers seeking a thrill can expand the itinerary by taking the Mollepata route. This path goes a lot higher up into the mountains and only reaches Machu Picchu after seven days. A bus from Cuzco goes to the starting point in Mollepata, to be followed an arduous trek involving some real mountain climbing on Salkantay Mountain. It includes a hike through a mountain pass in the snow up above 4,000 feet.
Permits are needed to enter the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and it has to be booked well in advance. The usual arrangement is to book a guided tour, which means that it becomes the tour operator’s responsibility to handle all the logistics. They arrange for the permits and provide tour guides and porters to carry the bags, cook meals, etc. It makes the trek easier, and trekkers can focus all their energy on the challenge of getting to Machu Picchu in one piece.
Check out yourperuguide.com for a summary of the benefits you get when you book Cajamarca tours, today. You can also find more information about a reputable tour operator at yourperuguide.com/2012/06/25/hiking-the-inca-trail-to-machu-picchu now.
London is literally teeming with theatres and it’s hard to not find one with over 100 to choose from. Take a wander around the streets and discover the often tumultuous past of London’s most famous theatres.
Home to the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet, The Royal Opera House was opened in 1732 in Covent Garden as one of only two that were allowed to present ‘legitimate’ theatre. Originally called the Covent Garden Theatre, it suffered from a terrible fire in 1808 which gutted the original. A new theatre was built but this also burnt down in 1856. The third and final theatre was built in 1892 and renamed The Royal Opera House before a 210 million refit in 1996.
The Palladium is home to the pantomime, so expect to hear lots of cries of “It’s behind you!” The theatre stands on Argyll Street and is nestled neatly between some of London’s most famous streets including Oxford Street, Regent Street and Carnaby Street. Its history can be traced back to 1870, when a hall known as The Corinthian Bazaar was built on the site of the Duke of Argyll’s residence.
The modern reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Globe, which we know today, is built around 200m from the site of the original on the Southbank. Recreated to reflect as much of the original Globe as possible, it took over 20 years to be built and finally opened in 1997. When staying in cheap hotels in the city in the summer, it’s an absolute must to visit for a theatre experience unlike any other.
The Royal Albert Hall was built to fulfil the vision of Queen Victoria’s consort Prince Albert of a ‘central hall’ that would be used to promote the Arts and Science. If you can tear yourself away from the beautiful facade, it really is a must-visit. Prince Albert requested that it be built at the heart of the South Kensington estate and be surrounded by museums and galleries.
Steve Alexander is a travel writer living in London. Click here for everything you need to know about the capital, including the best places to visit and top things to do on an evening.