"EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE HIKING
THE INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU"
Inca Trail known as the best hike in the world, Inca Trail to Machu Picchu 47 kilometers or 26 miles of Machu Picchu Hike, Inca Trail Hike departure 500 people every day including the Machu Picchu Tour Guide, Cooks and the porters to carry all of the camping equipment, highest pass called the Dead Woman Pass named according to the mountain silhouette look like a woman laying over the mountains such beautiful natural views, day by day adventure experience different geography from Andes Highlands to the Cloud forest micro climes and a density vegetation flora and fauna all over Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with 03 nights in based camping places basic restrooms are located all over the based camping and Qosqo Expeditions provide all of the first quality equipment, first aid kit, we are communicate 24/7 with satellite radios in case we have any emergency our tour guides are prepare with first aid kit certificate to make your Inca Trail Hike very safe and memorable.
Inca Trail Peru is only one of many options to know how to get to Machu Picchu we have Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, Lares Trek to Machu Picchu and Inca Jungle trek to Machu Picchu all of them lead you directly to Machu Picchu Town by train or either trekking, visit Machu Picchu is usually the last day before returning Machu Picchu to Cusco or stay overnight at Machu Picchu town to have an option of extra day at Machu Picchu day trip to start with Machu Picchu Trek up to Machu Picchu Mountain,
Sun Gate or Huayna Picchu hike any of the options will be explain by our local travel executives, normally booking together with the tour all of the Inca Trail Tours are with minimum time availability to get the Inca Trail Permits and Machu Picchu Tickets, Inca Trail cost is according to the service with a share group or private Inca Trail tour with minimum people on the group can be from 600 uds American dollars up to 1,500 uds American Dollars.
The other best Inca Trail tour can be 2 days with the first day 1 hour train to get to the start point then Incatrail hiking for 7 hours 11 kilometers to still finish at the Sun Gate in the late afternoon views of Machu Picchu City and Machu Picchu guided tour before getting the shuttle bus to Machu Picchu town for overnight stay in a confortable hotel, the second day early getting to Machu Picchu explore more of the history.
At your leisure 2 Day Inca Trail or 4 day Inca Trail either way is amazing Machu Picchu Inca Trail Tour let us help you with your best Inca Trail tour we can fit on your Machu Picchu tour Package City tour Cusco and Sacred Valley tour Acclimatizing before you start the real Machu Picchu Inca Trail Tour at the same time we can recommended the best time to hike Machu Picchu and for all Peru Treks, if you are planning a trip to Machu Picchu and looking for Machu Picchu Itinerary, find out what Machu Picchu Trip Cost will be according to your budget and vacation time tours in Peru we are rated as one of the best Machu Picchu Tour Companies search us on Trip Advisor as Qosqo Expedition we will advise for the best time to travel to Machu Picchu and best time to hike the Inca Trail or best time for Machu Picchu send us a message for Machu Picchu Vacation Packages starting in Lima Peru to Machu Picchu and best hikes in Peru.
WHAT IS THE INCA TRAIL?
During the Inca expansion in the 1400s they had developed more than 20,000 miles of Inca Trail all over the South America Continent. With the population reaching over 16 million they developed an amazing communication system to control their population and economy with a some of the most important Inca Trails leading to the Sacred Cities. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was created using the geography for protection with sacred passages to protect themselves from their enemies.
One of the most interesting, short and accessible treks in the region is the one leading to the enigmatic Inca City of Machu Picchu. The best time to do the Inca Trail is during our dry season between March and December. However, this does not mean that there is not a possibility of experiencing rains or showers because the weather in the Cloud Forest can be unpredictable even during this season. The first thing to consider when getting ready is to get the necessary camping equipment. When dealing with organized excursions, normally the best Cusco tour operators supply all that is necessary equipment except for the personal equipment, that may also be rented in the several specialized agencies by the Cusco downtown area. The necessary equipment items are a tent, a backpack, sleeping bag or blanket, insulating pad, rain gear, trekking boots, food for the 3 or 4 walking days, etc.
DO YOU NEED TO BOOK AN INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU IN ADVANCE?
Yes you do!!
Especially during the dry season most people want to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu which is the main reason why it is recommended to book the Inca Trail at least 1 year in advance. There is some availability if you are willing to book during the wet season, it can be possible to find Inca Trail spaces even 4 months in advance at a local company focused on sustainable small-group adventures, who have also been awarded ‘Best Inca Trail Tour Operator’ by the Regional Direction of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Cusco (RDFTTC) in Peru – you can check out the specific tour by clicking www.qosqoexpeditions.com
WHY IS SO POPULAR THE INCA TRAIL?
From all over South America the most important Inca Trail to Machu Picchu developed on the lush green cloud forest alive with birds, Andean peaks and steep mountain passes, a landscape dotted with centuries old ruins, accessible only to those that follow this most famous pathway.
However, as truly beautiful as the hike may be, the real reason for its popularity lies at the very end of this four day adventure when passing through the Sun Gate and seeing that first magical sighting of Machu Picchu in the distance. Only Inca Trail hikers can access the Sun Gate at sunrise to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World which makes this hike a feature on so many ‘South America bucket lists’.
HOW DO YOU BOOK INCA TRAIL AND WHAT ARE THE PERMITS YOU NEED TO GET BEFORE YOU COME?
Through the years the Peruvian government has been creating different rules for safety and to preserve the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Since 2002 access to the Inca Trail hike has been limited to a number of 500 People a day Including the professional tour guides, chefs, and porters to carry most of the equipment, this means that only 300 tourists on average can do this amazing bucket list Inca Trail Hike every day. Only recommended and regulated with Permits by DIRCETUR.
ARE THERE AGE RESTRICTIONS?
During our years of experience we have had some tours with families where the ages ranged from 4 years old to 83 years old with no issues hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. It is recommended for ages between 12 years old to 70 years old on average, otherwise ask our travel experts for more advise. Most tour companies will operate according to their guideline and policies.
HOW MUCH DOES INCA TRAIL COST?
All companies operating the Inca Trail must be registered and have a special operator’s license, which is renewed annually. A large number of these companies are only established to provide specific private tours in high season, and the rest offer year-round expeditions. New operators are added to the list each year so, as you can imagine, quality, experience, and equipment offered will vary based on what company you book with.
Inca Trail tours cost from £550 / $699 / €611 per person up to £1,500 / $1,900 / €1,670; if you see a price any cheaper than the bottom-end of this range, then be very skeptical. If you are seeing a higher price than this, then you will either be on a very luxury tour or likely booking through a tour agent. Note that, aside from the mark-up on price, Inca Trail tours booked via agencies will often simply place you on an available tour with one of several local operators, so you have very little control on the quality of the ultimate provider and group composition.
The tour with Qosqo Expeditions range is from £729 / $943 / €830 per person. This includes a two night hotel accommodation in Cusco, one night hotel accommodation in Ollantaytambo, private transport, all meals on the Trail, our Inca Trail permit, camping equipment, entrance and a guided tour around Machu Picchu, a support team of 15 or so guides, porters, and chefs, and visits to several planetary local community enterprises and projects in the Sacred Valley.
Note that it’s necessary to pay a deposit in advance to secure your Inca Trail permit, so if you go with a new, non-established, or cheaper provider, make sure you have done enough research into them before paying anything. After all, you don’t want the upfront savings to mean inadequate equipment, poor quality food, or a less memorable experience.
Please also be aware that permits are only issued with a tourist’s name and passport number and, once booked, they are non-changeable and non-transferable. If you happen to change your passport between booking and arriving at the entry checkpoint at Km.82 (where they check your passport), then contact your tour company for advice.
WHAT IS THE BEST TIME OF THE YEAR TO HIKE INCA TRAIL TO MACHU PICCHU?
In the Andes of South America especially Peru we have two important seasons the wet, or rainy season, and the dry season. The dry season during April to November or December is the recommended time to do this hike.
Between April and November, the dry season, the temperature can drop down to minus 3 degrees Celsius at night. That is why recommended to have extra warm clothes for sleeping. During the day time the temperature can be really hot especially in the Cloud Forest before arriving to Machu Picchu.
Between November and March the wet season is always unpredictable. There can be heavy rain or just showers however we recommend to carry good rain equipment. Another thing to consider about the wet season is that the temperature is cool but still warmer than during the dry season, all of the campsites are based according to the safety locations.
The wet season can be less popular time to hike, so the number of people you’re sharing the trail with is notably reduced, as are the crowds at Machu Picchu. Tours are slightly cheaper and easier to book with only a few weeks’ notice (a guy on our tour booked his place only a week before the trip began). Temperatures at night are also less chilly.
Hiking and camping in the rain for four days is never fun, so you are increasing the chances of that. If there is notable rainfall, then hiking conditions become more slippery and more difficult.
Note that the Inca Trail is closed in February to everyone in order to allow it to replenish.
If you’re reading the above and thinking that neither of those options sound appealing now, then please don’t be too disappointed – the Inca Trail can be hiked year-round and we’ve just outlined the cons of each season so that you don’t have any nasty surprises!
PREPARING FOR THE TRAIL
Once you’ve booked a tour and committed to the hike, there are some key milestones to hit before you get anywhere near South America. Preparing for the Inca Trail isn’t just a case of throwing some unworn hiking boots in your backpack and hoping for the best, but rather doing what is necessary to ensure you have a successful and unforgettable adventure in the Peruvian mountains for all the right reasons!
HOW FIT DO YOU NEED TO BE?
Once you book the Inca Trail you are already in a commitment of preparing not only physically but also with all the equipment you need to bring for the Inca Trail Hike according to the season. Most people before they come to this altitude are worried about altitude sickness however, it is mainly physiological. Normally at this high elevation your body needs to be adapted by having 2 or 3 days activities in advance in Cusco. At home you can do hikes without needing to be in high elevation. According to client recommendations walking up and down stairways with a heavy back pack can also help you prepare. This means that everyone can do it! There will also be extra help during your Inca Trail Hike with the tour guide and the porters to help carry most of the equipment, and food.
DO YOU NEED INCA TRAIL INSURANCE?
We would recommend to buy insurance before you come to Peru or South America just make sure they will cover most of the basic details like Altitude treks and sickness or anything that may arise when you are hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. In other words be specific when you buy the Insurance. We recommended the most commonly used and recommended by our clients: True Traveler Insurance or world nomads Insurance.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO PACK FOR THE INCA TRAIL?
Most recommend packing light, packing smart, and packing for two very different temperatures – that’s the key advice for every Inca Trail experience. However, there are a few key things to know about how luggage and kit is transported on the hike before you even think about whether you really need that extra pair of pants.
Firstly, you are going to leave the bulk of your luggage securely in a luggage storage room back at the hotel in Cusco however, it is not recommended to leave any valuables behind or unattended.
Secondly, you will be supplied per person with black duffel bags at the hotel. This duffel bag can to hold up to 6kgs, and is going to be where the majority of the kit and equipment you bring for the Inca Trail will be stored (clothes, sleeping bag, sleeping mat, toiletries). Every Inca Trail tour worth its salt employs and includes an incredible team of support staff who will carry the camping and cooking equipment plus the food supplies on the Trail to each campsite (the tour company provides all of this equipment), as well as everyone’s 6kg duffel bag.
These local porters, from fresh-faced 18 year olds to gnarled mountain men, are the unsung heroes of every Inca Trail experience and they will each carry up to 25 kgs on their backs for the group (yep, and you were worried about how hard the Trail would be for you!). Your duffel bag will be collected and weighed each morning to ensure it’s not over the weight limit, and will be waiting for you alongside an erected tent at each campsite.
So, it’s clear that most of the hard work when it comes to carrying things will be done by others and the tour company provides a lot of the key camping equipment. However, you also need to have a small daypack to carry your snacks, camera, water, sun cream, and any medication, on the Trail itself. This will be carried by you and only you throughout the trip.
You will be covered with all the essentials, but you definitely need to buy and pack for either season (plus some ‘nice to haves’) in this Inca Trail Packing List post. More information on the camping and food on the trek is outlined in specific sections below.
Hiking the Inca Trail
Inca Trail Legends
One of the most interesting, short and accessible treks in the region is the one leading to the enigmatic Inca City of Machu Picchu. The best time to do the Inca Trail is during our dry season between May and September however, this does not mean that there is not a possibility of experiencing rain or showers because they simply are unforeseeable even during this season. The first thing when getting ready is to get the necessary camping equipment. When dealing with organized excursions, normally the tour operators supply all that is necessary except for the personal equipment that may also be rented in the several specialized agencies by the Cusco downtown area. The necessary equipment items are a tent, a backpack, sleeping bag or blanket, insulating pad, rain gear, trekking boots, food for the 3 or 4 walking days, outlined our own route on the Inca Trail below and, in broad terms, this is the sort of the itinerary you can expect (note that this relates solely to the days spent on the hike, not the days of travelling to/from Cusco and Ollantaytambo):
Day One: Travel from Ollantaytambo to km.82 in the morning and hike to campsite
Distance / Approx. 6.8 miles/ 11 km
Elevation Gain | 350 meters
Difficulty / Moderate, with a steep tiring section towards the end.
Day Two: Early rise to hike through the Cloud Forest and up to Dead Woman’s Pass and the descent to campsite
Distance / Approx. 7.5 miles/ 12km
Elevation Gain / 1,115 meters
Difficulty / Difficult, this is the hardest day of walking but after you reach DWP, it’s mostly downhill.
Day Three: Early rise to hike the most photogenic section of the Trail
Distance / Approx. 9.6 miles/ 15.5km
Elevation Gain / Minus 1,000 meters
Difficulty / Moderate to a slightly difficult as there are several steep sections.
Day Four: Very early rise (3 a.m.) to reach the entry check-point and hike 1-2 hours to the Sun Gate and Machu Picchu.
Distance / Approx. 3.1 miles/ 5 km
Difficulty / Difficult, you’re almost at the end and to Machu Picchu; you should be hopping, skipping, and jumping all the way there!
The well-established route is outlined in the below image below but please note that your own specific campsites and stops may differ depending on your tour provider. There are several campsites established by the Peruvian Government Cultural Minister.
How difficult is the Inca Trail Hike?
Every day during your Inca Trail Hike will be different, such as the geography can be challenging depending on what you are used to doing as a main activity.
The first day is about 6 to 7 hours gentle hiking , then about 2 hours uphill then camping will be at 8,800 Ft. according to your tour provider.
The second day is always the longest with a hiking start time at 6:30 am up to the highest elevation, called the Dead Woman’s Pass, up to 14,000 Ft. and about 5 to 6 hours uphill. Once you reach the top you feel great especially when you have the tour guide and the crowd greeting you. After that pass it is a downhill hike for approximately 2 more hours called the monkey stairs downhill. For some people this more difficult than the uphill. But you know that the second day at the Inca Trail the most difficult and challenging.
On the third day the first 2 hours are uphill then there will be a flat section in the Cloud Forest Inca Trail stone pathway with an amazing flora orchids Etc.
The fourth day will start at 3 am to line up for the check point for the entry into Machu Picchu site.
The Inca Trail is not about finishing each day as quickly as possible; we felt that our group could have lingered a little more on sections of the hike and slowed our pace. Savor the route, rather than trying to set a record pace (which you’ll never do by the way – it’s currently 3 hours 23 minutes by a porter. There’s even a marathon!).
The best tour companies each come with a main guide and an assistant guide – one will lead at the front of your group whilst another will stay at the back. They are experienced in supporting members of a group who may be struggling or slower than the rest, and ensuring that everyone’s experience is the best possible in the circumstances. If you are struggling, it’s their job to control the situation, help you get to camp, and also to manage the overall group schedule.
It’s amazing the friendships that can come out of struggle and perseverance. If you are one of the quicker ones in a group, don’t ruin another person’s experience by castigating them for taking longer – everyone has their own challenges, circumstances, and reasons for being on the Trail, and a friendship and positive experience is more likely to blossom out of supporting someone through their struggle. As our guide Elias told us, the key thing for everyone to make the overall experience on the Inca Trail better is a ‘positive mental attitude’.
Do you need to Bring Hiking Poles?
For safety it is always recommended to bring hiking poles especially for the downhill just make sure they are on rubber taps to help you hold the weight on the stone pathway. The other option is to buy the wooden poles or wood sticks from the local stores on the first day. However, you are not allowed to bring hiking poles into Machu Picchu. If you just need them for the Inca Trail Hike you can always rent them at Cusco stores.
You can still do 100% without them but using them will guarantee to make the hike easier and comfortable.