Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

INTRODUCTION

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is the most famous and popular trek in South America. It is a spectacular trek through the high Andes on original Inca highway with a chance to visit extraordinary ruins, enjoy beautiful mountain views, walk through the strikingly different climatic zones and finally experience the unique feeling of arriving at Machu Picchu by foot.

Trekking it at a relaxed five days / four nights is the best way to thoroughly appreciate this amazing trail whist avoiding the busiest campsites. It also gives us a whole day at Machu Picchu to have it (at times) totally to yourselves. However, there are other great ways to hike the trail as well, especially if you have to fit it into a quicker trip.

It is recommended to arrive at least one day earlier in Cusco to allow for acclimatization and to enjoy some of the amazing history and culture that Cusco has to offer.

HEALTH

For the most up to date information, please read the Center for Disease Control’s page on Traveler’s Health in Peru.  Please consult your health provider before traveling.

WEATHER

The Andean weather can be unpredictable, despite the sharp divide between dry and wet seasons. The dry season runs from May to October or November (the best time for this amazing trek); the rainy season goes from December through April. Nevertheless, in the forested fringes of the Amazon basin where Machu Picchu lies, showers are not uncommon at any time of year. Therefore rain pants and jacket are essential gear that should always be in your daypack.

Daytime temperatures can vary greatly, from about 10ºC/50ºF to 28ºC/82ºF with nighttime temperatures from 10ºC/50ºF down to around 0ºC/32ºF, though seldom much lower.

EQUIPMENT LIST

On this expedition we will be experiencing all extremes of Peruvian climate, from freezing Altiplano to extremely hot sunshine. During the day hopefully it will be generally sunny enough for shorts and t-shirts though having a fleece and rain gear handy is advisable. It will get cold (as low as -5’C whilst camping) especially in the evenings so bring a warm fleece jacket, a good waterproof and some warm clothes – including thermal underwear, gloves, scarf and woolly hat as well as one set of smarter clothes for Cusco. Good quality Alpaca jumpers are available in Cusco. A good quality sleeping bag is essential for your enjoyment of this trip.

WHAT TO BRING

– Comfortable clothes for travel
– Smart clothes for night life
– Shorts
– T-shirts
– A warm fleece or down jacket
– Thermal underwear
– Warm hat, gloves, scarf
– Sweater (available to buy in Cusco)
– Water proof coat & trousers
– After trekking trousers & t-shirt
– Good, well worn-in walking boots
– After trek shoes (sandals)
– Sleeping bag (- 5’C) (some tours will have bags to rent – check with Detour)
– Therm-a-rest or sleeping pad (many tours provide these – check with Detour)
– Towel
– Water bottle
– Sunglasses
– Swim suit
– Sun hat
– Head lamp and spare batteries
– Book, notepaper & pen (optional)
– Suntan lotion factor 15+ / After sun care
– Lip balm
– Insect repellent
– Camera & spare film 100 & 400 (optional)
– Trekking poles & protective cover
– Personal toilet kit
– Money belt
– Day sack & rain cover
– Personal first aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, antiseptic cream, after bite, anti-diarrhea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication. (Your travel provider will almost always have an extensive first aid kit & Oxygen all trips, but these are generally for emergencies only)
Please Note

* For most trips the porters carry all you heavy camping gear but this is inaccessible during the day so please bring a small day-pack to carry your personal day gear in (i.e. water bottle, camera, sun block, insect repellent, light fleece and rain jacket).

* Due to Inca Trail rules limiting the numbers of porters and the weight they carry, you will have to limit your heavy gear to 8kg (17.6 lbs). This is usually more than adequate. Kit bags are supplied for these porter carried items.

* Any excess gear can usually be stored in Cusco at your hotel whilst on the Inca Trail.

* New rules at Machu Picchu limit the number of visitors to Huayna Picchu to the first 400 people before 10 am. Please let your guide know early if you wish to climb this peak so they can plan ahead.

* Inca Trail regulations stipulate ski poles are only allowed with plastic protecting covers. This is to prevent trail damage. ‘Native’ tree walking sticks are also banned on the trail. This is to prevent de-forestation.

* We recommend trekkers take around 600 soles in local currency for any emergencies and expenses in Machu Picchu.

* We implement a ‘porter protection policy’ that ensures all porters are well treated, paid, insured, fed and looked after.

* Most good quality sporting equipment is unavailable in Peru so if anyone wishes to donate any outdoor clothes, sleeping bags, etc they will be gratefully received by any of the travel company staff.

TIPPING IN PERU

Peru Tipping: Tipping in many countries can be a problem and add a great deal of stress to your holiday. This is a rough guideline to try and help you work out how much you should tip. Remember Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.

For background, Peru has a minimum salary of 550 Nuevo Soles (US$170) monthly for a 6 day 48 hour week. However in many of the lower paid jobs (ie. waiters, porters etc) this is not always enforced. 1 Nuevo Sol (soles) is roughly the equivalent of 15 pence UK, 30 cents US and 25 cents Euro.

Airport baggage carriers – Strictly this is not a tip as these people make their living by carrying you luggage from the carousel to your bus. The general rule is 1 sol per bag.

Hotel staff  – If the hotel staff are helpful and friendly a tip of roughly 1 Sol per bag for the porters helping carry bags to your room and for the breakfast staff leave on the breakfast table a tip of roughly 1 Sol per person per breakfast. In many hotels this is not expected but the staff will be grateful.

Drivers – Generally drivers doing transfers from the airport to hotel or hotel to airport don’t expect tips.

However if you have a driver for a few days then it is generally expected to tip. Again the service supplied (ie did he drive safely, did he help with luggage, was he friendly) should determine the size of the tip. A reasonable average would be a total of 10-15 Soles a day from the group.

Specialist guides – On many trips you will have a number of specialist guides (ex. jungle, rafting, biking, Colca Canyon or Lake Titicaca guides). In most instances these guides have spent a number of years studying at Colleges or Universities to qualify as guides. Generally these guides will be with you for a few days but sometimes just for a day trip. As a general guideline it would be expected to tip each specialist guide US$10-15 a day in total from the group. Again the depth of knowledge of their area or specialist skill, command of English and friendliness should help determine the tip.

Inca Trail – The Inca trail where you will be supported by a full crew of cooks, porters, waiters etc is far more complicated to organize in terms of tipping. We recommend that each client contributes 100-150soles (30-50US$) into a pot and following the advice of the guide divide it out between the crew of cooks, waiters and porters. For tipping the actual Inca trail guides and assistants we recommend following the advice for specialist guides above.

Tour Conductors – On some of our bigger tours you will be accompanied by a Tour Conductor who will help deal with all the small problems that crop up when traveling in a foreign non English speaking land. Again it would be expected that the group would tip the tour conductor around US$10-15 per day. Their friendliness, patience, availability and ability to resolve your problems should help determine their tip.

Restaurants – As with most places in the world it is normal to tip in restaurants if the service was reasonable and the food good. A tip of 5% would be adequate and 15% would be considered excellent.

We hope you find the above information useful, remember this information is a general guide, the only rule with tipping is that  IT IS VOLUNTARY

RECOMMENDED READINGS

* The White Rock or Cochineal Red – Hugh Thomson
* Exploring Manu or Where the Andes Meets the Amazon – Kim MacQuarrie & Andre Bartschii
* Field Guide to the Birds of Machu Picchu – Barry Walter
* Exploring Cusco – Peter Frost
* The Inca Trail – Richard Danbury
* Neo-Tropical Companion – John C Kricher
* Running the Amazon – Joe Kane
* The Last Days of the Incas – Kim MacQuarrie
* Birds of Peru – Clive Byers
* The Bridge of San Luis Rey – Thorton Wilder
* Conquest of the Incas – John Hemmingway
* Into the Forest of the Night – John Simpson
* Touching the Void – Joe Simson
* Heart of the Amazon – Yossi Ghinsberg
* Inca Kola – Matthew Paris
* Inca Gold – Clive Cussler
* Realm of the Incas – Max Milligan

AND LASTLY: The “Inca Trail” travels through a remote and rarely visited part of Peru and you should be aware that the remoteness that makes the Inca Trail so very special could also cause certain problems. Thus, while our travel providers do their best to minimize the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to. This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.

The Inca Trail involves trekking over several high passes up to 4200m and involves steep descents on old Inca steps – it is recommended that all clients should have some previous trekking experience and should be in reasonable fitness.

Please Note: Last minute international and internal flight changes, train time changes, also excess baggage charges are out of our control. In all cases your travel provider will advise you of any changes in the itinerary as early as possible.

The majority of dietary and medical requirements can be catered for by travel providers, but must be notified of these at the time of booking. Obtaining the correct vaccinations and visas required for Peru is the individual passenger’s responsibility.

You should also be aware that adventure travel, in particular trekking, white-water rafting, inflatable canoeing, mountain biking and traveling in remote areas such as Southern Peru, does carry with it certain inherent risks that you, the client, will have to assume. You will have to take out adequate travel insurance to cover these risks and any costs incurred due to sickness, delayed flights and other factors out of the travel providers control.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *