Tips for Hiking the Inca Trail & Alternative Treks to Machu Picchu
Most people love getting the outdoor experiences on the famous footpath (Classic Inca Trail & Alternative Treks reaching the famous Lost City of the Incas, Machu Picchu) because they like walking in the footsteps of history and enjoy the unique view. If this feat (Inca Trail or any Alternative hike to Machu Picchu) is also on your Bucket List. So, some of the Inca Trail hiking tips are below, and you should pay attention while planning your best trekking expeditions in Peru.
What to do before Hike the Inca Trail & Any Alternative Trek to the ” Lost City of the Incas”
Remember: You get what you pay for:
The Peruvian government regulates how many travelers can be on the Inca Trail each day: 200 tourists and 300 porters. Therefore, all hikers must go with a licensed company which acquires the proper permits for legal passage.
Prepare before you go any outdoor experience in Cusco:
The famous Inca Trail and Alternative Treks are serious endeavors and it is crucial to fully prepare yourself both mentally and physically before you begin. This is a great opportunity to wear-in any new hiking boots and familiarise yourself with walking poles if you are choosing to use these. Poles can be rented in Cusco for a small amount.
Acclimatise before you set off & drink plenty of water:
The highest pass of the Classic Inca Trail reached 4200m / 13,779ft. And during the Alternative Treks will be 4650m / 15,255ft. It is therefore advisable to spend a minimum of two or three days in Cusco (Being the center of the ancient Inca Empire, there are many important Inca sites in and around the city to explore) or Sacred Valley of the Incas (visiting the unique sites of Maras and Moray) to acclimatise properly before beginning any trek. Finally, remember that dehydration makes altitude sickness worse so you need to drink much more water than normal when trekking. Coca tea will be provided at hotels in Cusco and during breaks on the trek itself.
What You Should Pack for this Outdoor Experience to Machu Picchu!
On the Inca Trail Classic and Alternative Treks. Each person is limited to a total of 7kg (carried by the mules and porters), 2kg of which will be taken up by camping equipment. It is therefore vital to pack light. You can also bring a small day-pack for personal items such as snacks, water, a rain jacket, jumper, sunblock, insect repellent, and camera.
Knowing that your trip to Peru would include nights at very cold temperature: you have to bring:
- Original passport (Student ISIC Card as well for students).
- Lighter sleeping bag comfortable and warm.
- Have a good pair of hiking boots.
- Good hiking socks (few pairs).
- Daypack (something that can hold water).
- Pack clothing for all weather conditions.
- Bring snacks.
- First aid kit.
- Carry some cash in the local currency (Nuevo Sol: notes and coins).
- Toiletries: toilet paper, toothbrush, toothpaste, wipes, hand sanitizer.
- Rain jacket and pants or Rain poncho (in addition to above).
- Layers—a few t-shirts, long sleeves—wicking preferred.
- Warm jacket—very cold at night.
- Warm hat and gloves.
- Insect Repellent.
- Sun Hat.
- Sun Glasses.
- Water bottles.
More Specific Information about each item
- Original passport: Make sure you bring the same passport that you used when booking. We submit your passport number to the National Park Service and they will not allow you on the trail with a different passport number.
- Student ISIC Card: Those who have booked as a student also need to bring their original valid student ISIC card in order to be allowed onto the Inca trail.
- Lighter sleeping bag comfortable and warm: Mummy-style sleeping bags that are usable in -15° C / 5° F. Please note that if you are over 1.95 meters / 6’4″ tall, you won’t be able to find a sleeping bag rental in Cusco. In this case, it is recommended to bring your own.
- Have a good pair of hiking boots: A decent pair of sturdy, waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support is essential for any trek to Machu Picchu. You will be on your feet for up to 8 hours a day, hiking through a myriad of differing terrain. Ensure that your boots are well worn-in before you travel to Peru to avoid any unwanted blisters or discomfort.
- Daypack (something that can hold water): Anything you need during the day needs to be carried by you in your daypack. It’s great to get one with a camelback so you have plenty of water available.
- Pack clothing for all weather conditions: During the course of your trek, you will experience a multitude of environments and it is necessary to have the correct clothing for each. You will experience hot humid days, freezing nights and possibly a sporadic shower or two. Layering is the key. A lightweight rain jacket that can be tightly packed is a good investment as are a pair of zip-off trousers. Long-sleeved tops are a good idea in the more humid areas where insects are rife. Be sure to pack a warm hat, a sun hat, a pair of gloves and a scarf too. A headlamp is also vital.
- Bring snacks: All meals are provided on the trail, however, snacks are important to give an extra energy boost when you need it. You can buy snacks along the trail, however, prices will be higher than in Cusco due to the remoteness.
- Carry some cash in the local currency (Nuevo Sol: notes and coins): Passing through local communities along the route, you may wish to purchase drinks and snacks, or use the toilets. Any tipping will also need to be done in local currency or American currency.
- First aid kit: it’s useful to have a small first aid kit with band aids, Tylenol, nausea pills. It’s always better to be safe.
- Be prepared for rustic facilities: All camping equipment will be modern and well maintained. However, toilet facilities are rather basic. It is advisable to bring a roll of toilet paper per person and hand sanitizer. The toilet facilities rarely have electricity so a head-torch is invaluable and when there is running water, it will be cold, although lukewarm water will be prepared in the mornings and evenings for a quick wash. Wet wipes are handy too.
- Sunglasses: We generally recommend that you take them. But especially on trips where there is plenty of snow (Crossing the snowcapped mountain range of Vilcanota “Ausangate” and Vilcabamba “Salkantay”), it’s a necessity given the risks of snow blindness.
Most travelers can do many of the treks as long as they have average to good fitness and a good attitude. but they do find it a challenge. (Some training before the trek will make it much easier). We strongly suggest that if you do not consider yourself very fit (be honest.) to talk to us prior to doing a trek. Also, please advise us if you have any medical conditions – that is to say bad back, sore knees, weak ankles as well as other medical conditions. If you do not tell us we assume you are 100% healthy.
The trek difficulties are in relation to one another, not to trekking in your home country, Therefore all the trekking to Machu Picchu are challenging. Also alternative treks.
At elevations over 3400m / 11,154ft, the 75% of people will have mild symptoms. The occurrence of altitude sickness is dependent upon the elevation, the rate of ascent, and individual susceptibility.
Many travelers will experience mild AMS during the acclimatization process. Symptoms usually start 12-24 hours after arrival at altitude and begin to decrease in severity about the third day. The symptoms of Mild AMS are a headache, dizziness, fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, nausea, disturbed sleep, and a general feeling of malaise. Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within 2-4 days as the body acclimatizes. As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip.
it is hard to know who may be affected. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness. Some people get it and some people don’t, and some people are more susceptible than others.
Most travelers can go up to 2400m / 7,874ft. with minimal effect. If you haven’t been to high altitude before, it’s important to be cautious. If you have been at that altitude before with no problem, you can probably return to that altitude without problems as long as you are properly acclimatized.