If hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu isn’t on your bucket list, it should be. One of the most famous treks in the world, this 26-mile hike is a visual wonder, combining everything from stunning mountain views and subtropical jungles to a mix of Inca paving stones, ruins and tunnels.

The trail is regulated by the Peruvian government to ensure its preservation, so only 200 tourists and 300 porters are permitted to travel the Inca Trail each day. All hikers must go through a licensed tour group and acquire proper permits for legal passage.

Most hikers begin their journey to Machu Picchu from Cusco, an easy trek from Lima, Peru. However, don’t expect to hit the trail right after you arrive. Give yourself two to three days in Cusco to adjust to the high altitude before you set off on your hike. Keep this in acclimation period mind as you plan your trip.

While the classic four-day Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the most popular, the Short Inca Trail, which lasts two days, or The Salkantay & Inca Trail Trek lasting seven days also are options. Keep in mind that May through September is the busy season. Once you nail down your travel preferences, select a reputable tour operator to ensure you’re counted among the luck 200 hikers permitted on the trail. These tours usually include transportation to and from the trail (within Peru), permits, tents, food and porters (for group gear and food). So, make sure you know what your group will provide so you can pack light.

Speaking of packing, a solid, comfortable backpack is a great investment for this jaunt; however, there’s one more travel necessity that – if forgotten – can end your adventure before it even begins: your passport. You’ll need it when you register at the government checkpoint that enforces the strict guidelines for visitors walking the trail each day. On the bright side, they offer an optional passport stamp, which is a pretty cool souvenir. Other necessities for the trip include solid hiking attire, rain gear and basic toiletries.

Once you make it to Machu Picchu, take time to explore the ruins. And, if you have time after your official Inca Trail hike is over, explore the Sacred Valley, including the Pisac traditional market and Pisac ruins, the Ollantaytambo village and Inca ruins, the Moray ruins and the Salineras salt mines.

Have you visited Machu Picchu? We want to see your photos, whether from the trail, the famous ruins or the salt mines! Share with us and other Fast Park Fans on our Facebook Page.