Are you planning to do the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu? Hikers usually have certain questions about the road before the trip: what is the difficulty? How to reserve a space? Are there alternative routes? What is the weather like during the route? Here you can find answers to these frequently asked questions by travelers. The answers are prepared based on our experience as operators of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
About the Inca Trail
- What is the Inca Trail?
- It is dangerous?
- How difficult is the route?
- How many kilometers and how many hours do we walk per day?
- Are there toilets along the way?
- What type of accommodation is used?
- Are all meals included during the tour?
- How is the food? Is it possible to order vegetarian food?
- Do the porters carry our equipment and personal items during the route?
- How much should I tip the guides and porters?
- Does the tour include a visit to Machu Picchu?
- Where does the tour end?
Planning the Inca Trail
- Do I have to be in shape to do the Inca Trail?
- What do i need to bring?
- Is the route open all year round?
- What is the best time of year to do this route?
- How cold is the Inca Trail?
- Is altitude sickness common? How high is the route?
- What to do if I have altitude sickness?
- Can I hire an extra carrier?
- How much money should I bring with me?
- What is Huayna Picchu?
- Do I have to pay to climb Huayna Picchu during the route?
Inca Trail Reserve
- How can I book the Inca Trail?
- How long before do I have to book the tour?
- How many tourists at most are allowed in the group?
- How many tourists at least are allowed in the group?
- Is it possible to rent camping equipment for the tour?
- Are there alternative hiking routes to get to Machu Picchu?
- Is it possible to cancel the Inca Trail and receive my money back?
- Is it necessary to have travel insurance to complete the route?
- Is it possible to do this adventure without a travel agency?
- Is it possible to do the route without a tour guide?
About the Inca Trail
What is the Inca Trail?
- The Inca Trail is the name of a route that is done on foot, which follows the course of an ancient path that connects several archaeological sites until it reaches the Inca city of Machu Picchu. Usually the starting point of this walk is Kilometer 82 of the railroad, between Cusco and Machu Picchu , to then skirt and climb steep mountains until it reaches its end, at the Puerta del Sol or Intipunku, the main entrance to Machu Picchu..
It is dangerous?
- No. This route is a 4 day challenge that is traveled by hundreds of visitors every day. Accident cases are almost non-existent.
- On the other hand, the route has signs, safety handrails and park guards that help visitors in case of emergencies.
How difficult is the route?
- The Inca Trail is considered an intermediate level trek. Since it does not include rock climbing, or hiking on the snow, therefore no previous experience is required. The most difficult thing comes on the second day, when we ascend a number of stairs and start from 2,000 meters (6,562 feet) to more than 4,000 meters (13,123 feet) walking through a small space. Later things become easier as the road continues downhill. It must be taken into account that you will bring your personal belongings, which may include clothes for three days, a camera, water, camping equipment, etc.
Difficulty of the Inca Trail
How many kilometers and how many hours do we walk per day?
- The Inca Trail is 43 kilometers or 26.12 miles long. There are camping sites assigned by the Ministry of Culture of Peru. These places are between 10 and 13 kilometers apart, so the daily walking time can vary between 5 to 8 hours per day for the first three days and approximately 2 hours on the last day. The hours of walking and the distance covered may vary according to the physical condition of each walker. Learn more details about the Inca Trail route.
Are there toilets along the way?
- There are few places where there are permanent sanitary facilities, which are very basic and when none are available; our team will install the portable toilet tents.
What type of accommodation is used?
- There are established camps along the way, in which tents or three-person tents are used, to accommodate two travelers of the same sex. However, if you wish, you can bring your own tent or rent one. It should be noted that this would imply an additional cost and you will be in charge of transporting it.
Are all meals included during the tour?
- Yes, the food of the hiking days is included. You can see them in detail in each of the Inca Trail tours offered.
- The vegetarian option is free; however it is necessary that you inform us in advance by email.
How is the food? Is it possible to order vegetarian food?
- If you are vegetarian or vegan then the right foods for you can be included. In the case of having some type of food restriction for example lactose, gluten or allergies to certain ingredients or foods, they can also generally accommodate your food preferences.
- Remember to communicate your food preferences to us by email. All the foods are made with delicious and nutritious Andean ingredients. There is usually a selection of foods provided at meals from which you can find something you like. See more details about food during the Inca Trail route.
Do the porters carry our equipment and personal items during the route?
- Either in the case of the Short Inca Trail (2 days) or the Traditional Inca Trail (4 days); the porters do not carry their luggage, they are only responsible for carrying the shared luggage : camping equipment (matras, tents), food or other necessary utensils for everyone. It is recommended to carry a maximum of 5 kg per person, remember that it is a long walk so take only what you need.
- Quite the opposite occurs with alternative walks such as: Lares, Salkantay, Huchuy Qosqo, etc. On these routes the porters carry the equipment and personal items that go in the canvas bags, which can reach a maximum weight of 5 kg (remember that these will be weighed before starting the walk). The only thing you will have to carry is a backpack that contains items that are needed during the day (water, camera, sunscreen, rain poncho, windbreaker, sweater, etc.).
How much should I tip the guides and porters?
- Tips are at your discretion and discretion. Remember that these are always highly appreciated by guides, assistants and porters. On average it is suggested to provide between $ 6 and $ 8 per day. Anyway, but it is not something really mandatory, it is better to say that you can tip according to how you thought the service during the Inca Trail. If it was to your total satisfaction, the service is a good economic value ”.
Does the tour include a visit to Machu Picchu?
- Yes, the visit to Machu Picchu is included. On the last day of our Inca Trail we will arrive at the Inca city of Machu Picchu, where it will be possible to obtain a wonderful view of the wonder of the world. Machu Picchu will make you understand that all the effort made in the last 4 days of the Inca Trail had its reward and you will be able to admire an impressive panoramic view of the Inca city.
Where does the tour end?
- The tour ends in the city of Cusco. That is, the transport will leave you in the Plaza San Francisco, located just a few blocks from the Plaza de Armas of Cusco (near the hotels and tourist restaurants).
Planning the Inca Trail
Do I have to be in shape to do the Inca Trail?
- Yes, it is advisable to be in shape for this type of walk. So you can fully enjoy every moment with the group. Remember that tours will take between 6 to 9 hours a day. Some sections include quite steep steps and altitudes of up to 4200 meters above sea level. Even on the first day you may think about quitting, but slightly long breaks will make up for it as you go along.
- Having a better than average standard physical condition is desirable for a smooth ride. Although it is also important to mention that there are many people who apparently did not meet this average standard but still managed to successfully complete the Inca Trail.
- If you suffer from cardiac, respiratory, arterial, pressure, etc.; it is important to consult with your GP before the hike. Get more details about physical preparation for the Inca Trail.
What do i need to bring?
- For the walk, do not forget to bring: backpack, sleeping bag, foam mattress, rain jacket, windbreaker, rain poncho, a complete change of clothes, sweater or sweater (clothes that keep you warm), water bottle, pills To sterilize the water you can buy in a local pharmacy in Cusco) flashlights, batteries, cap or visor, sunscreen, insect repellent, toilet paper, antibacterial or gel disinfectant for personal hygiene.
- Something that you should never forget is to bring your passport or original identity document. So you can enter the Inca Trail. It should be noted that it is absolutely necessary that it be the same document that you used to reserve the Inca Trail. Otherwise you will not be able to enter, since copies of passports or identity documents are not accepted.
Is the route open all year round?
- The Inca Trail is open seven days a week, every day of the month including Sundays and holidays. However, this route is closed in February because this is the rainiest month. In those days the Ministry of Culture of Peru takes the opportunity to carry out maintenance work throughout this route.
What is the best time of year to do this route?
- It is difficult to determine an exact time to visit Peru. Due to the variety of conditions it offers, it is possible to say that travelers can come at any time of the year. The Peruvian highlands have two seasons: the dry season (without rain) that runs from April to October and is commonly recommended. At the same time, it is the coldest season of the year, due to the frigid winds typical of this region during these months. In those months during the nights the temperatures drop to 4º C – 2º C and some nights it is possible to have temperatures of up to 0º C. June, July and August are the most popular months to visit Cusco due to the different festivities that occur. throughout these months.
- On the other hand, the rainy season begins in November and lasts until March. These months also have a lot to offer since during this time on the Inca Trail you can see biodiversity in all its splendor: greener landscapes, wild flowers and up to a hundred species of orchids in flowering season. The rains can last for hours but at the same time with warmer temperatures. It is even possible to observe some travelers and walkers who do not mind getting their boots covered with mud and experiencing an adventure slightly more extreme and different than that experienced in the dry season.
How cold is the Inca Trail?
- Due to the high altitude, the weather in some parts of the route can be very cold. This especially in the frosty season (April to October). In those months we can experience temperatures below 0ºC at night. For this reason, we recommend wearing thermal clothing and a good sleeping bag. See more about the Weather on the Inca Trail.
Is altitude sickness common? How high is the route?
- It is somewhat difficult to know who will suffer from altitude sickness since, in general, everything depends on the ability of each person to adapt to the altitude. This is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with physique or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimate properly. One or two days in the city of Cusco (3,249), walking calmly and drinking plenty of water, is usually enough for most people. The highest point of the Inca Trail is the ‘Abra de la mujer Muerta’ at 4,200 meters above sea level. You will sleep at 3,600 m. for one or two nights.
What to do if I have altitude sickness?
- The best thing to do is sleep, drink plenty of fluids, or you can also try coca tea. The porters chew coca leaves wrapped around a black resin called “Llipta”. When you are walking and active (especially on the second day of the tour), this can help by dilating the blood vessels and bringing oxygen to the parts of the body that need it.
Can I hire an extra carrier?
- Yes, it is possible to hire 1 extra porter (14 kg) to help you with your personal luggage: USD $ 105.00. The extra porter can be shared by 2 people.
How much money should I bring with me?
- It is important to bring extra money. The extra expenses that usually exist during the Inca Trail are:
- Breakfast on the first day and lunch on the last day.
- Souvenirs, souvenirs or crafts that you decide to buy.
- Consider tips according to your criteria.
- A slightly hefty amount for emergencies, etc.
What is Huayna Picchu?
- Huayna Picchu is the mountain that we see in all the postcard photos of Machu Picchu. It is a very popular place for tourists, because it is possible to access this mountain and reach its top by means of stone steps, the ascent of which lasts approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes. Once at the summit you get a great view of the entire valley that surrounds Machu Picchu.
- For those who enjoy adventure, it is possible to descend to the foot of the mountain and reach a small archaeological site known as the Temple of the Moon (also called The Great Cavern).
Do I have to pay to climb Huayna Picchu during the route?
- The entrance to Huayna Picchu is not included in the Inca Trail packages.
- Unfortunately, it is currently not possible to buy a permit that combines the entrance to the Inca Trail and the entrance to Huayna Picchu. If you want to visit Huayna Picchu on the same day of visiting Machu Picchu, then you will have to pay the full price of a Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu permit.
- It is very important to request entry to Huayna Picchu a few months in advance, since it is almost impossible to obtain an entry with only a few days in advance or at the moment.
Inca Trail Reserve
How can I book the Inca Trail?
- You can book the Inca Trail by contacting us through the website. You only need to fill out the reservation form and provide us with your personal information such as: full name, date of birth, passport number or identity document (exactly as indicated on your document). Otherwise, send your inquiry to our email email@example.com.
- If any of the members of your group wish to qualify for the student discount, they will need to send a scanned copy of their ISIC student card or university card. If any of the members of your group is under 13 years of age, you must send us a scanned copy of your passport so that we can apply the corresponding discounts.
How long before do I have to book the tour?
- Permits for the Inca Trail are sold many months in advance. It is advisable to book as soon as possible with at least 6 or 7 months in advance, especially if you decide to book in the high tourist season (June, July and August).
How many tourists at most are allowed in the group?
- The maximum number of tourists in a group is 16 people. For groups of more than 8 people a second guide is employed.
How many tourists at least are allowed in the group?
- The minimum size of a group must be 4 people.
Is it possible to rent camping equipment for the tour?
- Yes, in case you do not have the appropriate equipment to do the Inca Trail then we can offer you for rent:
- Sleeping bags
- Matras (air mattresses)
- Additional tents.
Are there alternative hiking routes to get to Machu Picchu?
- Yes, there are other alternative routes similar to the Inca Trail:
- Short Inca Trail 2 Days
- Lares – Machu Picchu 4 Days
- Salkantay – Machu Picchu 5 Days
- Choquequirao – Machu Picchu 8 Days
- Choquequirao – Machu Picchu 9 Days
Is it possible to cancel the Inca Trail and receive my money back?
- The rules established by the Ministry of Culture of Peru regarding the Inca Trail do not allow cancellations or money refunds.
- The other hiking routes such as ‘Salkantay trek’, ‘Lares trek’, ‘Huchuy Qosqo trek’, etc…, do allow cancellations or data modification.
- Get more details in our terms and conditions about the return, exchange or cancellation.
Is it necessary to have travel insurance to complete the route?
- The Inca Trail does not include travel insurance because it is a safe route.
- If tourists wish, they can purchase independent travel insurance. This can help in the event of a medical or other emergency.
Is it possible to do this adventure without a travel agency?
- It is not possible to do the Inca Trail independently. Government regulations do not allow it. The regulation states that each hiker must be accompanied by a qualified professional guide. The UGM (Machu Picchu Management Unit) is the regulatory body to control access to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. At the same time, this body indicates that companies must meet certain requirements that accredit the agency suitable for the operation of this route. Each company’s license is renewed annually. Likewise, the list of guides and authorized agencies can be verified on the official website: www.machupicchu.gob.pe.
Is it possible to do the route without a tour guide?
- Doing the Inca Trail without a guide is not possible.
- Hiking the Inca Trail without a guide has been prohibited since 2001. The use of the Inca Trail for tourism purposes must be carried out in groups organized through a tourism agency and in the company of an official tourism guide.
By Inca Trail Machu Picchu – last update, 03-01-2021