Hiking to Machu Picchu is often on many people’s bucket lists. We’ve been helping people book their Inca Trail trips for many years, and many of us have completed the hike ourselves. It isn’t super strenuous – anyone with a reasonable level of fitness can manage. However, there are a few little things that will increase your enjoyment. Here are our top tips to help you with your adventure.
While the Inca Trail is open nearly all year round (it is closed in February for maintenance), the weather can be unpredictable. Most trekking companies suggest packing a waterproof jacket or poncho. We definitely suggest bringing a waterproof jacket – ponchos are uncomfortable to walk in when it is very windy.
While altitude doesn’t affect everyone, most people will feel ill for their first few days at altitude, especially since here in Australia, we are at sea level. We suggest spending a day or two in Cusco to adjust and get over your jet lag. Stock up on coca tea and take it easy for a few days so your body can get used to the lack of oxygen in the air.
Inca Trail permits sell out 9-12 months in advance, so pick a date and stick with it! However, if you’ve left yours a little late and have missed out, never fear. There are plenty of treks to do in the Sacred Valley – why not try the Salkantay or Lares route? There are often fewer people and there are no restrictions on trekker numbers. Many of these treks pass through other ruins too.
Most companies limit the amount of weight your porter can carry to 6-7kgs per person, and many are very strict about this. If you end up packing too much be careful – it might be you who has to carry it! We suggest packing one set of clothes to wear during the day and one set at night. It’s only four days and you won’t be the only one who gets a little smelly!
Most Inca Trail treks are not glamorous or luxurious at all. While you’ll be comfortable in your tent and sleeping bag, you’ll probably not get the opportunity to shower for four days (or if you do, it’ll likely be cold). Dinners will be simple but filling to give you the energy to get through your journey, and you’ll probably end up a little wet and dirty. Enjoy the experience!
We’re not going to lie – the Inca Trail will be tough for some, especially those who haven’t done any hiking previously. We suggest prepping for your Inca Trail trek by hitting the trails near your house, climbing lots of stairs and even doing a few squats before you fly over to Peru. This will help to build up your endurance and muscles to ensure you enjoy your trek more.
The Inca Trail passes through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Peru – gorgeous valleys, peaks that reach the clouds and unique ruins from cultures past. And of course, that sunrise shot over Machu Picchu (only if you’re really really lucky, as the ruins are often covered in clouds and fog).
Hiking the Inca Trail is, for many, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Sure, it might be challenging at times, but it is definitely worth stopping to appreciate your surrounds and appreciating both the natural beauty and skilled craftmanship that attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists each year.