My father and I very much enjoyed our Machu Picchu hiking experience. Our guide Victor was extremely professional, funny, personable and capable. With only four hikers, our group was very small, which both has it's positives and negatives. On the positive it allowed us to quickly pack in and pack out as time is extremely important with the number of other travelers on the trail. Also positive was the amount of personal attention our guide was able to give our hikers which were of varying condition / capabilities. On the negative a larger group would have allowed more interaction.
The trail itself if quite magical. I can't believe I'm saying this but I can't decide which archeological site was my favorite. Obviously Machu Picchu is grand in its scope yet so many of the other sites have so much to offer. In a way thy build one on top of each other until the final "big bang" of MP. Our guide was able to arrange to arrive at the last campsite in such a way that the morning we arrived at the sun gate the timing was perfect. We watched in amazement as the fog in the valley lifted, slowly revealing our first glimpse of the valley. We then hiked downward as the shadows on the valley further illuminated the site and then exploded into the glory that is Machu Picchu- amazing!!
The trail is long, I will say that much. And for the inexperienced or unfit I would have to imagine that it's nearly grueling. The second day especially, through the dead womans pass, is 6 hours of stairs, up, up, up up up. Then the third day is actually the longest and up and down. But honestly, if thought of as a pilgrimage, worth every step. Leave the bus up to "the chickens" and you'll feel like you earned the beauty which is Machu Picchu.