The Inca Trail is 43 kms (27 miles) long and depending on which campsites are used the approximate hours hiked per day are:
Day 1: 5 hours , Day 2: 8 hours, Day 3: 7 hours & Day 4: 4 hours
As far in advance as possible. We have included recommendations below as a guide as to when to make a trek booking.
- Nov, Dec, Jan & March: Reservation should be made at least 2 months in advance.
- April, May, Sept, Oct: In 2008 most trek permits were sold out between 2.5 and 3 months in advance. In 2008 we therefore recommend making a reservation at least 3.5 months in advance, although 4 months is recommended.
- June, Jul, Aug: In 2008 most trek permits were sold out 4 months in advance. For 2008 we recommend making a trek booking between 4 and 5 months in advance. Earlier is better.
After we have confirmed your trek booking you will need to pay a trek deposit of US$200 per person. The deposit can be paid by Western Union money transfer, by bank transfer or VISA. The remaining balance needs to be paid at least 2 days prior to the trek departure date. Payment is to be made in cash (US dollars or local currency).
Many people like to hike with trekking poles or walking sticks. This is fine as long as the poles will not cause damage to the stone paving along the Inca Trail. If the trekking poles have metal spikes then these must be protected by rubber tips. We recommend bring some spare rubber tips with you. Rubber protectors can also be bought in several shops in Cusco. Wooden walking sticks are obviously fine. You can buy wooden walking sticks in Cusco or in Ollantaytambo on the way to start the trek where we will stop for a short while. The sticks cost just a couple of dollars and are taken from renewable sources and do not add to deforestation of protected Andean forests. Metal trekking poles can also be hired in many equipment hire shops in Cusco for about US3 per day.
Personal porters can be hired to help carry your personal items such as clothes, sleeping bag etc. They can be hired for US$100 for all 4 days and will carry up to a maximum of 18kg (usually 1 porter between 2 persons is more than sufficient). You can hire the services of a half a porter to carry up to 9kg for US$50. However, even with a personal porter, you will still need to bring a day pack for essential items.
Important note: You must decide if you want to hire the services of a personal porter in advance when making your trek reservation since we need to purchase the porter's trekking permit. You cannot decide to hire an additional porter at a later date or once you arrive in Cusco.
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. It's not a technical hike but there are a lot of Inca staircases to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend purchasing a wooden walking stick while in Peru as it will help with your balance and reduce the load on your knees. We ask that you not use a metal tipped walking stick as it can harm the fragile environment along the trail.
It's impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cusco (3249m), taking it easy and drinking plenty of water, is usually enough for most people. The highest point you will reach while hiking the Inca Trail is 4200 meters. You will sleep at 3600 meters for one or two nights.
Yes! If you do not wish to hike the Inca Trail please advise us at the time of booking (it is very difficult to make these arrangements once you have already confirmed). If you choose not to hike the trail you will spend two nights in Cusco and then take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes for the third night. At sunrise you will rejoin your group at Machu Picchu. You may also choose to book a trip that includes the slightly higher and scenic Lares Trail. This popular 4-day and 3 nights trek, ends in Aguas Calientes, where you will spend the night and catch the early buss to Machu Picchu.
You will reach Machu Picchu at sunrise on Day 4 (the hike begins at approx. 3am). After viewing the sunrise you will be met by a local guide who will take you on an informative 3-hour tour of the ruins. After the tour you will have a few hours of free time to explore the area on your own before the group travels by bus to Aguas Calientes where we catch the train back to Cusco.
The altitude means it can get quite chilly, especially during the Andean winter (May - September) when the temperature can drop to below zero degrees (Celsius) at night. It can still be cool at other times of the year and so we recommend bringing thermal underwear and a warm sleeping bag. You can purchase warm, inexpensive and locally made hand-woven mitts and gloves in Cuzco.
Three-person tents are used to accommodate two same-sex travellers. There are a few places where permanent but very basic toilet facilities exist and when they are not available our team will set up portable toilet tents. Trekkers are provided with a bowl of hot water (and a hot drink) every morning in their tent.
Sleeping bags are not included and so we recommend bringing a compact three-season sleeping bag. A popular alternative is to rent a sleeping bag in Cusco. They are clean, warm and cost approximately USD$20 (for all three nights). Some renters may choose to bring a sleeping bag liner or sheet. Foam mats are provided however some travelers also bring their own self-inflating mat (ie. a Thermarest).
Our cooks prepare excellent high-energy meals appropriate for a trek of this nature. The menu usually includes pasta, rice, chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of oatmeal, eggs and other breakfast foods. Vegetarian alternatives are available upon request at the time of booking.
Tipping is at your discretion but always appreciated. A good rule of thump is anywhere from $5-10 dollars per day for the porters.
Water: We suggest you take a 2 litres bottle of water on the first day and then you can refill this on the trek.( You can use the same plastic bottle for the entire trek ) We boil water each night which is available after breakfast each morning for your water bottles. We still suggest you take water purification tablets or filters for any unboiled water you take directly from streams or waterfalls etc. You can buy water along the first day, for the first few hours of Day 2 and the afternoon of Day 3 at the Hostal in Wiñaywayna.
Temperatures during the day: If you are walking in the sun it is very hot and feels like 26 degrees celcius, but when you walk through the forest or in the shadow of a mountain it can feel like 14 degrees almost immediately. At night on the second night it could get to -5 degrees celcius if you are really unlucky but more likely just freezing ! Third night is warmer being at 2700mts considered high Jungle!. Main hint for dealing with the temperatures is to try and keep your body temp as regular as possible by using layering of clothes so when you feel cool put on an extra layer before you get cold and if you start to feel warm take off a layer before you perspire which will leave you with a chill later if you don´t take care. The weather from Dec through to early March is usually the wettest on the trail.
Hot Shower along the Trail: Unfortunately not yet, but a little hot water will be offered to you every morning for a quick wash, and very important to use this service before meals. There is a basic (pay 10 soles) timed electric shower at the 3rd night camping in Wiñaywayna, please do not expect too much.
Toilets: In each of the Campsites there are basic toilets constructed and maintained by the Inka Trail Park control,
Garbage: There are many bins along the trail, at lunch time and campsites our porters will always clean the area. Please keep this historical sanctuary clean and cooperate so that we only leave our footprints.
PROHIBIDED: Alcohol, Drug use, Campfires, Graffitti, Collection of Orchids or Hummingbirds.
Unexpected: Be surprised to find Gatorade, Coca cola , Cuzqueña Beer and even snickers chocolate bars at 4,200 meters along the trail.