Frequently asked questions, recommendations on treks and more, what to pack and more
What is the terrain like? How challenging is it?
The trek is rated as moderate to challenging and covers approximately 45 km / 28 miles on uneven, rocky terrain with steep uphill and downhill sections and lots and lots of steps. Day 2 is the most challenging for most of people because of the uphill and elevation, you will walk 1.215 meters / 4,000 feet in a span of 7 km / 4,3 miles to reach a maximum altitude of 4215 meters / 13,828 feet. Prior hiking experience is recommended.
How long before should I book the Inca trail?
- The Inca trail spots should be booked in advance especially from April to August, as this is busy season, and from September to January there are usually spots left. We recommend you to book our spot for high season before Decembers ends.
- The Peruvian Ministry of Culture administer control Inca Trail. They are the only ones able to authorize access to the Inca Trail.
- Access to the Inca Trail is limited to 500 people per day, which includes tourists, guides, porters and cooks. Over 60% of this number is normally the personnel.
- Reservations for the Inca Trail can only be made from March to January.During February the Trail is closed for maintanance.
- The availability applies to the INCA TRAIL itself and not to any tour operators. For this reason any agency you may contact will have the same availability of permits for the Inca Trail.
What is the weather like on the Inca trail during the year?
Weather in the region is extremely variable and you should pack for a variety of conditions. In addition, our trek passes through ten bio-zones ranging from high altitude alpine conditions to high jungle. During a sunny day you can expect temperatures of about 18–25°C (65–77°F), however on the second day the weather is very unpredictable and temperatures can drop to 6°C (42°F) during the day at the pass (but you won’t spend a lot of time up there).
The Machu Picchu area has a humid climate and tends to be warmer, since it is located at a lower altitude and near to the Amazon Jungle. The average temperatures at Machu Picchu are between 23°C to 25°C (73°F and 77°F), with the minimum temperature around 18°C (64°F). The Cusco area has only 2 well-defined seasons: wet season and dry season. The wet season starts in November and ends in March. During this period, it rains almost every day for three or four hours, but also there are several sunny days. The dry season begins around March and lasts until October. June and July are the coldest months. Paradoxically at noon the temperatures can reach 23 °C (77°F), the annual highest temperature.
What does my personal porter carry for me? Is he with us at all times?
You only carry a day-pack with everything you may need for a day´s hike (water bottle, rain gear, cameras,
snacks). Porters carrying your extra bag will not walk together with you. Your extra bag will meet you upon arrival at the next stop. You will be allowed to put up to 8 Kilos / 17 pounds that may include sleeping bag 1.5 Kilos / 3.3 pounds, sleeping pad kilo /2 pounds, extra cloths for the night such as long warm underwear, warm fleece and others. If you don’t have any extra bag where you put extra stuff for the porter we will provide you with a duffle bag and you can return it back at the end of your trek in Cusco.
What happens if I get injured or get sick in the middle of the trek?
In cases of emergencies or medical problems, we follow a detailed medical protocol. All our guides have a “wilderness first aid certification”, and carry a full first aid kit, portable oxygen, and radios with them at all times. In case a special medical attention is needed (the worst situations would be like breaking a leg for example), , the nearest medical centers, are at Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes town, depending of how far away on trek you are.
In case you get sick, for example if you get altitude sickness that can not allow you to continue, you may need to return with one of our porters to the beginning of trek and get the train to Machu Picchu where you can meet us for the tour.
What is the electrical situation?
There is not electricity while you are on the trek – that is why we recommend you to bring extra batteries for your camera if you are considering taking lots of pictures or bring an extra portable recharger for using your phone a lot you . And all the camps are dark so you will need to bring your head lights for organizing your stuff in your tent or going to the bathroom at night.
What I am going to eat on the trek?
Our meals are based on organic food, and we pack from the beginning fresh vegetables.
Your lunch would be based on a Quinua, pasta, vegetables soup and main course usually in a small version of buffet including rise, potatoes, white or red meat and, salad such as avocado.
Dinner is usually similar but comes with dessert.
Breakfast is based on eggs, omelette, pancakes, bread, cerials, oat meal and drinks. You will be very well fed and may just want to pack very little snacks with you because we will even give you snacks such a fruit and a cookie for the way.
Note: We have options for vegetarians or vegans too, – in time of your booking advise us so we know what to make for you on the trek.
Should I tip to the porters and guides? If I do, how much I should I tip?
Our porters and guides are paid fairly according to Peruvian labor laws – that is why , we don’t force our clients to tip the crew. However, most of our clients want to give them an appreciation for the work they do and the service they receive so, if you feel like giving them an appreciation or tip them, feel free to do it at the end of their work. It should be whatever you are comfortable with. For more advice please email us.
How many days should I stay in Cusco before the trek to adjust to the altitude?
The main cause of altitude sickness is going too high too quickly. Given enough time, your body will adapt to the decrease of oxygen. This process is known as acclimatization and generally takes one to three days at any given altitude., Cusco is at an elevation of 3,400 meters / 11,154 feet, so spending at least 2 days before any trek will help you a lot.
You may also consider taking altitude pills.
We often recommend to our clients DIAMOX or Acetazolamide, which are used to prevent and reduce the symptoms of altitude sickness. This medication can decrease headache, tiredness, nausea, dizziness, and shortness of breath that can occur when you climb quickly to high altitudes (generally above 10,000 feet/3,048 meters). It is particularly useful in situations when you cannot make a slow ascent. The best ways to prevent altitude sickness are climbing slowly, stopping for 24 hours during the climb to allow the body to adjust to the new height, and taking it easy the first 1 to 2 days. (Regarding any specific medications, Please, check about side effects, precautions, interactions or overdose or ask for an advise to your doctor).
Do I need to bring money on the trek?
You should consider bringing money, as you may want to buy bottled water, snacks, Gatorade, beer? etc. from locals that live along the way, especially on day one, as well as if you are thinking to give an appreciations or tips for the porters and guides too.
The last lunch at Aguas Calientes is not included, so you will need money for that as well. We recommend you to bring soles rather than dollars; there are banks and exchange offices in Cusco where you can change any type of currency.
Do I need to carry my own medicine or first aid?
Your guide will have a first aid kit all the time while you are on the trek, which includes some pain killers, bandages, small bandages to prevent blisters, oxygen tank, pills for case of diarrheas and similar. At any time of the trek please feel free to ask for anything you may need , however, if you need any special medication or you have a special medical condition, please, contact your doctor to get the best advices prior to the trek.
Can I rent sleeping bag from you? What type should I bring?
We rent sleeping bags that are especially designed for cold temperatures in the treks and we offer sleeping bags for up to 5 ºF = -15 Cº, In time you are booking your trek with us you should request the sleeping bag if you need it, as at the spot it won’t be possible to rent it.
If you have one, make sure they are down and for temperatures up to 5 ºF = -15 Cº, or, even better, made for colder temperatures than that – , you don’t want to be cold.
How big my group is going to be?
We are specialized in both small and big groups, but we like small groups because that way our clients get personalized service especially when you encounter lots of thing on treks, such as Incan sites, flowers, flora and fauna – your guide spends lots of time with you so you can learn more about our culture and history.
We limit the size of our groups on treks to up to 8 people.
Of course, in case any situation requires to take more than 8 people in a group, that is not any problem for us at all, – for example, a group of friends or family that is more than 8, we are happy to have them in a single group.
Will I get to see the sun rise from the Sun Gate if I trek Inca trail?
You have the chance to watch the sun rise from the Sun Gate during the dry season, that is from May to August, because on the last day of your trek in the Inca trail you will arrive there by 6:30 right before the sun comes over the mountains., The Sun Gate is beautiful place to see Machu Picchu in the distance, but also a perfect place to watch the sun rise.
If you trek Salkantay, Lares or other treks we offer, you won’t be able to watch the sun rise from the Sun Gate but from Machu Pichu, because you will be at Machu Picchu by 6am. It is for sure a perfect place to enjoy the Sun rising over the mountains.
How do I get water on the trek?
In the Inca trail you will be provided with boiled drinking water from day 2 to the end of your trek., However, make sure you will get enough water for the first day, (you can also purchase it on the way to the beginning of your trek). People usually drink about one and half litre of water per day, some even more so, you need to bring water bottles for the first day to refill them. We recommend you to bring Nalgene water bottles or camel bags so that way we can make less garbage., yYou will encounter locals selling bottled water along the way but not everybody is responsible, many people litter and that is sad. We need to take care of our home and nature – that is why we recommend you refilling your bottles when you can and thank you for being part of our green home.
Is there any age limit?
In the Inca trail there is not a minimum age or limit ,- any person who is prepared for trekking can do it., Inca trail is a challenging trek so, there is a requirement of being fit., tThat is why everybody that is thinking to trek Inca trail should have a certain level of fitness -, you don’t want to give up in the middle of trek, as Inca trail is not like walking in the park but is also not impossible.
Can I enter Machu Picchu with my backpack?
You are allowed to take into Machu Picchu backpacks up to 20 liters , if you have a bigger bag that you carried on the Inca trail, you can check it in by the gate of Machu Picchu before you take the tour with your guide (it costs s/ 3 soles per bag).
Why do I need to wake up to so early on the last day when I trek the Classic Inca trail?
One of the issues we always had in the Inca trail is waking up the last day really early (by 3:30 am) and not leaving the camp site until 5:30 am., sSo, after you pack and have the last breakfast (until ?? am) you will walk to check point of the camp site that is just 5 minutes from your tents, where you will line up for more than one hour until the gate opens at 05:30 am. aAll that is because our porters have the train that leaves really early from the bottom of the valley, – it is the only train during the day they can load the equipment back to Cusco, so we thank you for your understanding.
What time do I get back to Cusco the last day?
You will be back in Cusco around 8pm after the trek., If for any reason you have to be back in Cusco earlier than that, please advise us at the time of your booking or at least over one month before your trek begins, as we have to buy you the train ticket for exactly specified trains.
Will I have any extra time in Machu Picchu after the tour with my guide?
You will be finishing the tour in Machu Picchu by 10 am and then your guide will leave you in Machu Picchu on your own so, you can enjoy it at your leisure and take a bus down to Aguas Calientes anytime you feel ready to leave Machu Picchu. At Aguas Calientes you can meet everybody from the group then for lunch before your train leaves.
Should I have to book Wayna Picchu mountain in advance?
The Wayna Picchu mountain has a limit of permits up to 400 per day which is divided into two groups -, the first group from 7am to 8am and the second one from 10am to 11am., We really recommend you to book it in advance, especially for the dry season or high season that runs from April to August,. Consider booking it 2 or 3 months in advance and email us for the availabilities.
What is the toilet situation on the Inca trail like? Should I bring my toilet paper?
We will provide you a portable private toilet in every camp site that will be cleaned by our staff after being used. Also, each camp has public squatting toilets, (holes in the ground with flushing water) so, you can use any of them as well.
In caseRegarding the toilet paper, you will need to bring your own with you., We recommend one role for each two people, but in case for any reason you will need extra, your cook will have extra roles for you., Please don’t hesitate to ask for it as they are always prepared for any emergency.
Do I need walking poles?
Walking poles are recommended for everybody, they will help you a lot in down and uphill,. Our expert guides say that they can take up to 30% off the weight of your body and pair of them is recommended per person.
If you don’t have any but you want to have them on your treks, you can rent them from us as well – a pair costs US$ 15 for the four days.
How big my day backpack should be?
Thirty litre backpack will be big enough to carry your belongings such as water, rain gear and extra cloths, since we will provide you a personal porter who will carry up to 13Lbs of other equipment.
If you already have any backpack between 20 an 40 litres, they will be good too.
How big the sleeping tents are? How many people can sleep in?
Our tents are for 4 seasons and each one is designed for 3 people, but we use it for 2 (2.30 cm length/ 0.90 inch), width 1.70cm/0.70 inch).
Please, email us if you are a solo traveller, about if you want to share a tent or you want have your own tent to sleep in.
Is there any place to wash myself? Are there showers?
The Inca trail has cold free showers in the second and third campsite so, if you don’t care taking cold showers, you feel free to shower. Every day in the morning you will a get small bucket of warm water in your tent that you can use for washing hands, face or whatever you need. We also recommend you to bring baby wet wipes that you can use for washing yourselves..
Is there phone signal on treks?
There is a signal on day one until noon and on day three in the afternoon, but day four you will get a full signal in case you need to be in touch with somebody.
Can I pay the rest of the balance in credit card or does it have to be in cash?
We take the balance of the payment in cash, so you won’t need to pay extra fees,.Of course you can use PAY PAL, or CREDIT CARD, but you will need to pay the fees that are usually over 6%.
In the day of your briefing when your guide will meet you, one of the representatives will meet you too to collect the rest of the balance for your trek.
What are coca leafs? Can I chew on them? Do they help with the altitude?
Coca (Erythroxylum coca) is a plant in the family Erythroxylaceae, native to western South America. The plant plays a significant role in traditional Andean culture. Coca is best known throughout the world because of its alkaloids, methylecgonine cinnamate, benzoylecgonine, truxilline, hydroxytropacocaine, tropacocaine, ecgonine, cuscohygrine, dihydrocuscohygrine, nicotine, cocaine, and hygrine. Many of the alkaloids contained in the leaf provide physiological effects useful for medicinal purposes. When chewed, coca acts as a mild stimulant and suppresses hunger, thirst, pain, and fatigue. Coca also eases sickness due to high altitudes. So, we really recommend you to get some for your trek and it is easy to find to buy in any stores in Cusco or along the way to the head point of the Inca trail. Your guide will teach how to chew on them.
100 grammes of coca leaf Organic acids: 3.2mg; Carbohydrates: 46.2g; Fibre: 14.2g; Fat: 3.3g; Moisture: 7.2g
Other Vitamins: A: UI 14,000; Alpha carotene: 2.65mg; B1 (thiamine): 0.68mg; B6 (pyridoxine): 0.58mg; Beta carotene: 20mg; C (ascorbic acid): 53mg; H (biotin): 0.54mg; Nicotinic acid: 5mg.
Trace elements: Aluminium: 49mg; Barium: 17mg; Boron: 24mg; Calcium: 1540mg; Copper: 1.1mg; Chromium: 0.23mg; Strontium: 204mg; Iron: 45.8mg; Phosphate: 911.8mg; Magnesium: 0.37mg; Manganese: 0.5mg; Potassium: 1.9mg; Sodium: 1110mg; Zinc: 3.8mg
Can I smoke on the trail?
If you are a smoker, you should still bring your cigarettes on the trek, but maybe try to smoke less, some people believe to trek is hard if you smoke, but your body is used to it so, it may be even worse for you. Also you are not allowed to smoke in the Inca trail but they mean along the way. You can smoke in the lunch spots and campsites.
WHAT TO BRING ON THE TREK?
Please, remember to bring your original passport and that should be current one, if you have acquired a new one after you made your booking, bring both the one you use for booking your trip and the new one, the information you provided us in time of your booking have to match with your tickets in the Inca trail, the reason we ask you for your personal information when you book the trip.
Down sleeping bag.
See in the question section above.
Trekking boots, they should be breaking down if you have acquired new once make sure to break them down before you come, they should be confortable for your feet and if they have ankle support that is even better.
Down warm fleece, jacket, has to be warm enough for the nights and the jacket if is a win breaker or rain jacket is good.
Few t-shirts, hiking, you will sweat you may considerer to bring at least 3 or 4 of them, one for the hike, one the night and one clean for Machu Picchu
Socks, Bring at least 3 pairs
Sun hat, some days can be hot and suny, we recommend you to bring a sun hat that can keep the sun off your face.
Cloths for sleeping, warm long underwear and you can use your fleece to sleep with, you may consider bringing gloves especially for the camp sites.
Light long pants, trekking pants are the best those that you can sip off the legs, plus they dry fast.
Sunscreen SPF 35+ recommended
Head lamp, All the camps are dark so you will need to bring your head lights for organizing your staff in your tent or going to the bathroom at night.
Camera with spare batteries (batteries run down faster at high altitudes
Book to read. you will have some spare time at every camp to read your favorite book or those that are about Machu Picchu that may make you journey more interesting (the following books are recommended by us: Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie, Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Timeby Mark Adams,
Trekking poles. See in the question section above
Bug repellent, there are mosquitos all around the year make sure you pack your bug spray.
Toiletries -toilet paper, wet wipes, personal towel
Sunscreen – SPF 35+ recommended
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