The following tips
will help you make the best of the unforgettable experience of hiking the Inca
Trail to Machu Picchu, some 2,380 meters above sea level.
This hike takes approximately four days and is considered to be moderately
The best time for this hike is the dry season, from May until
the end of October. The peak tourist season in the Andes.
There are fewer tourists during the rainy season, from November
up until April. In February the trail is closed since it is very wet and cold due to the constant rains. Some parts of the
trek become very slippery making the hike dangerous.
A tour operator will provide tourists with all the
necessary equipment, such as proper camping and
cooking equipment, food, transport, first aid kits as well a cook, porters and
professional guides if so desired.
Once you arrive to the ruins you will have
to check your backpack in the storage room, this is to avoid
At Machu Picchu, there are places to stay- previous
reservation-, such as the Sanctuary Lodge and Machu Picchu Pueblo as well as various hostels in the nearby town Aguas
A more direct Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has
recently been discovered. This route, known as the Royal Inca Trail, which can
now be used by tourists, starts at Km 104 of the railway. very close to the
archeological ruins of Chachabamba, where the Incas worshipped many
By walking the Royal Trail you can reach the citadel
of Machu Picchu in one or two days. You will pass by the ruins of Choque Suy
Suy, Wiñay Wayna ("Always Young") -where you can spend the night-
Inti Pata ("Place of the Sun"), Huayractambo ("Resting
Post of the Winds"), and Inti Punku ("Sun's Gate"). Inti
Punku, the entrance gate to the great citadel of Machu Picchu, is the highest
point on the Royal Inca Trail at 2,700 meters above sea level. On the
traditional Inca Trail, Warmiwañusca Pass at 2,640 meters above sea
level is the highest point.
Watching your Health: Getting accustomed to the high
altitudes is essential, it usually takes about 3 days. When travelling to Cusco and the
Inca Trail, you must get used to the attitude to prevent problems such as soroche,
altitude sickness. Soroche does not only make you feel sick but it can have more
disagreeable consequences such as headaches or lung problems. On the first day at these
high altitudes, you should take as much rest as possible. Eat very little and drink plenty
of liquids. Mate de coca tea is especially recommended as it is renowned to have
great digestive and healing properties.
While doing the Inca Trail, you are advised to drink only
boiled or bottled water and at night, tea or mate de coca. You should never drink water from the
springs as it could well be contaminated. It is common for cattle of the area to be
carriers of o certain virus, that produces an intestinal disease known as Giardea. The
Inca Trail is basically a safe route, although there are some stretches with some rather
precarious precipices. If you want to properly take in the scenery, you are advised to
stop, so as to avoid any distractions that might lead to accidents. You really should not
ever leave the trail as it very easy to get lost or disorientated.
Protecting the "Sanctuary"
Please remember never to litter or pollute this natural
habitat, the "Historical Sanctuary of Machu Picchu", and do not
damage or deface any of the archaeological sites along this route.
Camping among or near the ruins is not allowed, and to be
careful when you lare around a fire. Forest fires are a definite liability in the area. Always
bear this phrase in mind: "Take nothing but the images captured by your camera.
Leave nothing but your footprints."
If we all respect these principles, it will really help
preserve the Inca Trail, considered by UNESCO as "a Heritage of Mankind", for
What to bring and what to wear
You should bring at least two changes of mountain clothing, as
well as a pair of shorts and a couple of short-sleeve T-shirts. Taking two pairs of sports
shoes or trekking boots can also be a great help. You should take a knitted cap (chullo),
a scarf, some socks, a pair of gloves, a sweater, or thick jacket and some waterproofs for
the nights. You will also need a sleeping bag, a mat and o small knapsack for your personal
belongings as well as a big duffle bag or a rucksack to carry all of this. We also strongly
recommend you to take with you a pair of UVA sunglasses, some sun block (15 spf minimum),
mosquito repellent, a flashlight (extra batteries and light bulb) a first aid
kit, water canteen, a bathing suit and a towel.