Hiking The Inca Trail: A Step By Step Guide


Every year, adventurous travelers head to the South American country of Peru to avail themselves of the various opportunities that await them there. From sandboarding to surfing along its lengthy frontage on the Pacific, there is no shortage of things to do.

However, the one thing that virtually all attempt to tick off their Peruvian bucket list is to do the trek to Machu Picchu. Ascending high into the Andes, adventurers wander along a well worn path to take in mountain scenery on their way to one of the most spellbinding lost cities on Earth.

You may be making plans to do the same thing, but before you book your ticket to Peru, there are several things that you should plan beforehand. Doing this will reduce the amount of stress you will go through when going through this popular trek.

Step by step, here’s how to go about hiking the Inca Trail like a pro…

Arrive In Cusco

When you are booking your plane tickets, be sure to make your final destination Cusco instead of Lima. Doing so will save the time it will take traveling overland by bus (if you plan on seeing other parts of the country, you can travel to them from Cusco after you have concluded your trek on the Inca Trail).

Here, you can stock up on supplies, acclimatize to the altitude, and start vetting tour companies to ensure that you pick a good guiding outfit.

Hire A Guide

If you’re looking to do this trek by yourself like the intrepid independent traveler/outdoorsperson that you are, I’ve got some bad news for you. Peruvian law prevents people from doing the trail on their own, forcing them to hire local outfits to lead the way.

Despite this, some companies are more environmentally friendly, honest and competent than others. Pepper them with questions, and resist the temptation to go bargain basement cheap, as the adage, “You get what you pay for”, is accurate when it comes to hiring a guide here.

Logistics & Considerations

As mentioned earlier, take time to acclimatize to the lower amounts of oxygen present at the high elevations in the region. Doing so will help prevent the onset of altitude sickness, but stay alert for its symptoms as you climb towards Machu Picchu (headaches, shortness of breath, lethargy, etc). While this part of the world is technically in the tropics, being above 10,000 feet in elevation will ensure days will be cool and nights will be downright cold.

Bring adequate warm clothes with you or buy them in Cusco, and make sure your sleeping bag is rated for four seasons, lest you spend four nights shivering instead of sleeping.

What To Expect On The Way To Machu Picchu

Spectacular mountains, misty cloud forests, and a variety of smaller Inca ruins will greet you on your way to the big site itself.

While your steps may be slowed by the thin air that you will be breathing in very deeply, they will serve to slow you down to help you enjoy the timeless beauty of this world famous trekking route.

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