While trekking the Inca Trail is a trip of a lifetime, it doesn’t mean you should blow your entire life savings on one adventure. Here’s some tips to keep in mind about when to upgrade and when to pinch pennies when planning your Inca Trail trek.
DO . . . . Splurge on getting a comfortable and charming hotel in Cusco. You’ll be spending quite a bit of time here on your first day in the city while acclimatizing, so you may as well not stay in some dingy hostel. This may not be considered a “splurge” for some, but you’ll at least want a place somewhat near the Plaza de Armas and the old buildings with Inca stonework is really lovely.
DO . . . . Book a private trek if you’re really concerned with the overall group size and attention you’ll receive from your guide. While many group treks don’t have more than 10 trekkers, there’s no guarantee that a group departure will stay at four people.
DON”T . . . . buy the spiffiest hiking boots on the market the day before your trek. No matter how pricey or nice the shoes, they need time to break in (a few weeks, including some hiking and stair climbing).
DON’T . . . Arrive in Cusco expecting to find a great deal on an Inca Trail. Permits need to be bought months in advance and you absolutely cannot trek the trail without it. Anyone claiming to provide permits within a few days is probably scamming you. Before you arrive in Peru, make sure you’ve booked your trek and your permits are confirmed.
DO . . . . get a pisco sour, Peru national drink. Yes, it’s a mix of raw eggs, lime, cinnamon, and generous amounts of pisco (a type of South American brandy), but the result is surprisingly delicious. Besides,
DON’T . . . . go for the most expensive hotel just because it’s closer to Machu Picchu. The site closes at the same time each evening and opens at the time each morning. Staying in a closer hotel does not mean you get to stay after-hours at the ruins.
DO . . . . consider getting an “all-inclusive” tour. These include at least one night in Lima, one night in Cusco, and internal flights (between Lima and Cusco). Often, the hassle of doing this on your own proves exhausting for most travelers and local operators usually have an ideal itinerary to offer.
DO . . . . buy some handicrafts that will remind of your amazing journey. The Sacred Valley and Cusco are famous for high quality woven goods, such as alpaca sweaters and gloves.
DON’T . . . . spend extra on a trek so you’ll have an American (or Canadian or Austalian) guide. Peruvian guides who speak your language usually make the best guides and the trips tend to be less pricey (no extra flight for the foreign guide).