Inca Trail Tips
Tips for the Best Inca Trail Experience
Tips Before Arrival in Peru
So the Inca Trail is finally booked! Lucky you!
Now you can start preparing your trip to Peru: find your flights, read about Peru, book a hotel for the first nights in Cusco, book other tours in Cusco. Here are important tips that help you prepare for the Inca Trail in period before the great adventure in Peru.
- Physical preparation
Pay some attention to your physical preparation. The Inca Trail is a challenging hike - at an altitude of 4,000 meters above sea level - and you will enjoy the hike so much more if you are well prepared. You don’t have to be an athlete but make sure you are healthy and in good shape.
If you have any doubts about your physical condition or you have heart problems, we recommend you visit a doctor before departure to Peru. You or she can also prescribe any medications for the altitude. Read about altitude sickness, so you are prepared.
- Train yourself.
Getting in shape before you go can not only make the experience more enjoyable, but it can also reduce the risk of injury while hiking. Training is easy. Anything aerobic can help you get ready. So can just walking around your neighbourhood (especially if you include some inclines or stairs).
- Break in your boots
Make sure you buy and break in your footwear at least 1-2 months before your trip to Peru. That will help you avoid painful blisters.
- Plan well
Get to Cusco 2-4 days before hiking the Inca Trail so that you can acclimatise to the altitude* before hiking. This is very important and will make your trekking experience much easier.
- Check your bag
You can only bring a day bag under 20L into Machu Picchu. If your bag is larger than that you’ll need to pay to check it at the gate.
- Check our packing list
Hiking with good gear is essential, and there are some items you want to carry with you. Good shoes, for example, can make or break your trek and also good clothes, socks etc. are essential, as well as a head torch. And don’t forget your passport!
Tips for arrival in Cusco
We recommend you arrive in Cusco at least two days before the start of the Inca trail to get acclimatised. Here are some tips to make this process easier:
- Rest the first day(s) after arrival to Cusco, take it easy, don’t drink alcohol and have light meals. That way, your body will have some time to adjust to the altitude.
- Do as the locals do: drink coca tea or chew coca leaves to avoid altitude sickness. It’s the local remedy that many of the guides and porters use. You can chew the leaves or buy gum with it. If you are interested you can buy coca leaves the San Pedro market in Cusco.
- Attend your pre-departure briefing. Your Inca Trail operator offers you a briefing one or two days before departure. The guide will go over the route with you, talk about any last-minute changes, weather issues, and give you additional information and tips. Make sure to ask any questions you might have.
- Trekking poles: consider renting trekking poles from your local tour company. Walking with trekking poles can make your life much easier.
- Buy nice extra snacks – You’ll get enough food on the trail, but having some of your favourite snacks during the trek can be a great morale booster for difficult moments.
- Buy earplugs - The Inca Trail can get busy and the nights at the camps can be noisy as and there will be many other hikers at each camp.
- Double-check your packing list and buy the last missing items at the market or (souvenir) shops in Cusco.
- Make sure you bring your passport! No passport, no Inca Trail!
- Take small change for buying water or others when available and for tipping your the guide and his team (the cook, the porters).
Tips for during the Trail
- Don't push yourself too hard while hiking the Inca Trail. When you first get on the Trail, you may feel like powering forward like a hero. However, you’ll be exhausted in a few hours, and you do not want to burn out after day 1. It’s more, over-exertion leads to altitude sickness, and if this happens it’s “game over. Instead:
- Pace yourself
You have to pace yourself and walk slowly. Try to pick a nice pace you can maintain all day. It might feel a little awkward at first, but after a few kilometres, especially uphill, you’ll be glad you saved your energy.
- Use earplugs – (see above)
- Have enough battery!
Every moment of the Inca Trail is special and provides so many opportunities for taking amazing pictures. But one moment is more special than any other one: the first glimpse of Machu Picchu at Inti Punku. Make sure to have enough batteries upon arrival at Inti Punku!
- Save some money for the bathroom in Machu Picchu
Make sure you have some money for the bathroom. There is only one bathroom at Machu Picchu, and it will cost USD 0,50
- Get stamped
Don't forget to get the unique Machu Picchu stamp in your passport. It makes for a fun souvenir.
- Enjoy every single minute of it!