Viewing: Inca Trail
Hiking the Inca Trail can be an amazing experience! Or it, can be the stuff of nightmares.
Follow the tips below to ensure you are absolutely miserable on the Inca Trail.
- Be a porter instead of hiring a porter. Your quads will be screaming as you summit not one but two mountain passes at nearly 14,000 feet each.
- Hire the cheapest trekking company that will have you. Horror stories abound about guests going to bed starving because their designated company didn’t pack enough food.
- Forget to bring toilet paper. Enough said.
- Hike in sneakers or brand new hiking boots you haven’t broken in yet. You’ll wish you could make the hike in flip-flops once the blisters begin.
- Let a friend talk you into hiking the trail without first researching what you are getting into. You need to train for this hike. If you aren’t in good shape for it, you’ll wish you could kill your friend.
- Think that because you hiked Kilimanjaro the Inca Trail will be a piece of cake. Kilimanjaro is gradual. The Inca Trail is steep.
The Inca Trail is a terrible place to get altitude sick. You’ll either feel miserable hiking with a pounding headache or desperate as you search for a secluded, makeshift bathroom to deal with stomach issues brought on by altitude sickness. And, to be frank, there aren’t many secluded spots on the popular Inca Trail.
Here are four tips to help you ensure that you don’t end up in this uncomfortable situation.
- Spend two to three days in Cusco. You can explore the nearby Inca ruins, visit a weaving community in the neighboring Sacred Valley, wander through the local market, and look for signs of Inca rebellion at the colonial cathedral while you give your body a chance to adjust.
- Slow down. On the Inca Trail, slow and steady wins the race. It’s normal to feel panicky about your ability to keep up. Instead of giving into the temptation to rush, though, slow to a pace that allows you to keep your breathing under control. Huffing and puffing is a sure sign that you are hiking too fast.
The Inca Trail has become so popular that you need to reserve your spot at least six months ahead. In fact, I just had someone contact me to hike the Inca Trail in three months. Unfortunately, the dates he wanted had been sold out for months.
To help you with the advance planning necessary, here are the two best times to hike the Inca Trail.
Summer. June, July, and August are the most popular months to hike the Inca Trail. While it gets quite cold at night, the days tend to be warm and sunny, making it a perfect time to hike.
Spring and fall. April and May as well as September and October are good times to hike, too. There is a slightly increased chance of rain, but it is not quite as cold at night.
Winter. December through February is the worst time to hike the Inca Trail. This is the rainy season in Peru during which torrential rainstorms cause dangerous mudslides. In fact, the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance the entire month of February.
I would strongly recommend against hiking the Inca Trail during the rainy season unless you are a glutton for punishment or a frog.
The night before the 1-day Inca Trail hike, you should prepare two bags.
The first is an overnight bag for your stay in Aguas Calientes. You should pack whatever you need for the night in Aguas Calientes after the hike and for the next day when you are exploring Machu Picchu and returning to Cusco. There is only room on the train for a small bag, so your bag should contain just the essentials. (more…)
Peru is a hiker’s paradise with many options to choose from. The three most popular are the Inca Trail, Salkantay trek, and the Lares trek. I’ve done them all. Below is my advice to help you choose which hike is right for you.
Inca Trail. The Inca Trail is arguably the most well known Peru hike and comes with well-deserved bragging rights. This 26-mile trail snakes up and down two nearly 14,000-foot mountains and through the world’s highest cloud forest on its way to Machu Picchu. You are treated to breathtaking views, in some cases quite literally, as you gasp to catch your breath after a stretch of uphill hiking.
You also explore abandoned ruins that hint at what life must have been like during the time of the Inca. (more…)
If you hike the Inca Trail, you must summit Dead Woman’s pass on the way to Machu Picchu. You summit this legendary pass on the second day of the 4-day Inca Trail hike or on the third day of the 5-day Inca Trail hike.
Dead Woman’s pass, Warmiwañusca in Quechua – the ancient language of the Inca, rises 14,000 heart-pounding feet. Rugged stone steps stretch endlessly up along the side of the mountain.
The good news is that the pass got its name because the silhouette of the mountain resembles a supine woman, not because you’ll be a dead woman (or man) by the time you reach the top. (more…)
Inca Trail tickets are selling fast for the 2014 hiking season. The last two weeks of April and most of May are already sold out according to the government website. Currently, tickets are still available for the most popular months of June, July, and August. But, they are selling quickly.
Only 500 people are permitted to hike the Inca Trail each day. This includes tourists, as well as guides, cooks, and porters.
Wondering if the Inca Trail is right for you and whether you’ll fit in with other hikers? Peru’s Institute of National Culture has tracked hiker demographics since 2011.
If you are a woman, you will definitely fit in. Week after week more woman (53%) hike the Inca Trail than men (47%), not including guides and porters. Are woman more adventurous than men?
As you might expect, most hikers are young (21- 30). The next largest group is between 31 and 40. This is especially true during the bad weather months of January and March. (more…)
If you’ve just completed the Inca Trail, you are probably hungry, tired, dirty, and sore.
Here are seven ideas on what to do once your Inca Trail hike is over.
1) Check into a luxury hotel. After three nights of camping, you deserve a little comfort. So, check into a luxury hotel, take a hot shower, and relax. The three best-known luxury hotels are Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, Sumaq Machu Picchu Hotel, and Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. It can be difficult to get a reservation and the price can be steep, though. Two other somewhat more moderately priced hotels are El MaPi Hotel and Hatun Inti. (more…)
Talk to anyone who has hiked the Inca Trail and they will tell you it was an amazing experience. They will wax on about the rigors of the trail and the splendor of reaching Machu Picchu at sunrise. But, what exactly makes the experience of hiking the Inca Trail so amazing? (more…)