How long is the Inca trail and how many hours do we hike per day?
The Inca Trail is 42 kms (26 miles) long. Campsites along the Trail are assigned by the INC (National Institute of Culture) and for this reason it is difficult to determine the distance to be covered in a day but expect to walk 6 to 9 hours per day for the first three days and approximately 2 hours on the last day. Hours walked will vary with distance covered and the fitness level of each hiker.
How difficult is the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. It's not a technical hike but there are a lot of Inca staircases to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend the rental of a wooden walking stick locally from our office in Cuzco as it will help with your balance and reduce the load on your knees. It is worth noting that if you are looking to bring your own walking stick that metal-tipped walking sticks are not permitted on the trail as they can harm the fragile environment. Additional equipment like sleeping bags and air mattresses are also available for rent from the G Aventures office in Cuzco.
Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Inca Trail?
It's impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cuzco (3249m), taking it easy and drinking plenty of water, is usually enough for most people.
The highest point you will reach while hiking the Inca Trail is 4200 meters. You will sleep at 3600 meters for one or two nights.
Is it possible to skip the Inca Trail even if the tour includes it?
Yes! If you do not wish to hike the Inca Trail please advise us at the time of booking (it is very difficult to make these arrangements once you have already confirmed). If you choose not to hike the trail you will spend two nights in Cuzco and then take the train to the town of Aguas Calientes for the third night. You will rejoin your group at Machu Picchu for your included tour of the site. You may also choose to book a trip that includes the slightly higher and scenic Lares Trail. This popular 3-day and 2 night trek, ends in Ollantaytambo where you will catch the train to Aguas Calientes, Spend the night in a simple hotel and catch the early bus to Machu Picchu.
When do we reach Machu Picchu and how much time do we spend there?
The time at which you will reach Machu Picchu depends on the campsite assigned for your third night on the Trail. Many groups will reach the sun gate at approximately 6:00am (the hike begins at approx. 4:30am) and will enter the site 45 minutes later but this cannot be determined in advance. After a bit of time to catch your breath and freshen up after the hike you will receive a two hour guided tour followed by some free time to explore the area on your own before the group travels by bus to Aguas Calientes where we catch the train back to Cuzco. Train schedules vary.
Do porters carry our luggage while on the Inca Trail?
Yes! In Cuzco you will be provided with a large stuff sac in which you can place up to 6kg of personal items. Our porters will carry these bags, along with your tent and sleeping bag while you hike the Inca Trail. (please note they will be weighed before we leave Cuzco). Items not required while on the trail can be stored safely at our hotel in Cuzco. All you will be required to carry is a daypack containing items you will need during the day (Water, camera, sunscreen, rain poncho, etc..).
How cold does it get on the Inca Trail (will I need to bring hats and mitts)?
The altitude means it can get quite chilly, especially during the Andean winter (May - September) when the temperature can drop to below zero degrees (Celsius) at night. It can still be cool at other times of the year and so we recommend bringing thermal underwear and a warm sleeping bag. You can purchase warm, inexpensive and locally made hand-woven mitts and gloves in Cuzco.
What type of accommodation is used on the Inca Trail?
Three-person tents are used to accommodate two same-sex travellers. There are a few places where permanent but very basic toilet facilities exist and when they are not available our team will set up portable toilet tents. Trekkers are provided with a bowl of hot water (and a hot drink) every morning in their tent.
Is a sleeping bag and mat included?
Sleeping bags are not included and so we recommend bringing a compact three-season sleeping bag. A popular alternative is to rent a sleeping bag in Cuzco which can be requested through your representative or tour leader at the start of your tour or by letting us know at time of booking. They are clean, warm and cost approximately USD$15 (for all three nights). Some renters may choose to bring a sleeping bag liner or sheet. Foam mats are provided however some travellers also bring their own self-inflating mat (ie. a Thermarest).
What type of food will we get on the Inca Trail?
Our cooks prepare excellent high-energy meals appropriate for a trek of this nature. The menu usually includes pasta, rice, chicken, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of oatmeal, eggs and other breakfast foods. Vegetarian alternatives are available upon request at the time of booking.
Is purified water available on the trail?
Bottled water can be purchased on day 1 and on the evening of day 3 of the Inca Trail however we discourage trekkers from purchasing bottles as it increases the amount of garbage that must be packed out. We recommend that you bring a refillable water bottle as boiled water will be provided in the morning at breakfast, at lunch and every evening after dinner.
How much should I tip the guides and porters?
Tipping is at your discretion but always appreciated. A good rule of thumb is anywhere from $6-8 dollars per day for the porters.
What are the requirements to hike the Inca Trail?
To hike the Inca Trail with G Adventures you must be over the age of 12, with moderate level of fitness, and hold a passport that is valid for up to 6 months after you return to your home country.
Bookings must be made as far in advance as possible. To be able to ensure a spot on the Inca Trail we recommend that you purchase your trip at least 3 months in advance in low season (between November and April) and at least 6 months in advance in high season (May to October).
We cannot guarantee the availability of a permit by following these guidelines however your chances are much greater.
We require the following information for the purchase of an Inca Trail Permit.
- Full name (exactly as it appears on the passport)
- Date of Birth
- Passport Number
- Date of Passport Expiry - Must be valid for the date of travel
Any attempts at modifications result in a loss of the permit and any money paid.
A limited amount of permits are available each day for hikers in an effort to preserve the trail. Please see the Inca Trail Advisory for more information at www.gadventures.com/trips/inca-advisory
When is the High Season on the Inca Trail?
Hiking the Inca Trail is popular all year, however May to September is considered the 'high' season. This means that permits can be sold out many months in advance, so it is especially imperative to plan ahead of hiking during these months.
How early do I need to book my Inca Trail tour?
Permits to hike the Inca Trail can be sold out for many months in advance, particularly in the high season. We recommend booking as early as possible.