If you’ve read my post on ‘My Journey to Machu Picchu‘, and watched my video, I hope I’ve inspired you to want to book a trip to hike the Inca Trail or even take a train up to see it with your own eyes. If you’re thinking about it, you’ll probably have some questions. I’ve had quite a few inquiries and I know I had many myself before I went. So here are some answers to the questions I’ve been asked the most.
Do you need to book with a travel agent to trek the Inca Trail?
Yes and No. Since 2002 trekking the Inca Trail by yourself has been prohibited, so in other words, you can’t just lob up with your backpack and decide to go on a hike on your own. You don’t need a travel agent specifically to book online yourself, but I can tell you it’s absolutely the best thing for this type of journey and they can get you matched up with the best tour company you’ll need for what type of hike you want to do. This is the type of trip where you don’t want to muck around with the unknown. I went with Intrepid Travel, recommended by my travel partner, and I found Intrepid them to be very professional. The service was fantastic, and they were very well prepared for all the elements we encountered along the way. Booking this kind of trip with a travel agent makes for the perfect peace of mind to have all the elements seamlessly come together. After all, this isn’t the ‘lazing-by-the-pool-in-paradise’ kind of adventure, it needs a little bit more planning!
Do you need to book ahead for the permits?
Yes. That’s why going through a reputable agency or travel agent is good because they’ll do all this for you. The Inca Trail gets sold out very quickly, but there are a few other hikes you can also take if you miss out on the Inca Trail. Again, ask me more info on this in the comment box below.
Can young kids trek to Machu Picchu?
When I trekked I did see a few families with kids as young as 10. I spoke to the parents, and they all said their kids did well, but it was tough for them, and some of them got altitude sickness. This type of trek isn’t for the faint-hearted, so if you’re taking kids as young as 10 be prepared that this is going to be challenging for them and you. Personally, I wouldn’t take my kids on the trek till they were closer to their teens at the earliest and my kids are extremely adventurous and well travelled.
If you don’t want to trek can you still see the ruins?
Yes. If you are unable to hike to get to the ruins, out can also stay overnight in Aques Calientes and take the first bus up to the ruins in the morning, which will still get you to the ruins before the early 1500 visitors start arriving by the trains. If you plan to take the train, you’ll need to book well in advance. But I can’t stress enough that if you are fit enough and have the time, trekking is the ultimate experience and ask anyone how has done this, the feeling reaching the top after trekking is far more rewarding than taking the bus or train.
What are the costs?
Prices are going to vary depending on what type of company you go with, and you get what you pay for. If you’re looking for a cheap backpacking experience, then that’s what you’ll get. Intrepid isn’t one of the most affordable, but I liked how prepared they were, how experienced the guides are and also their eco blueprint policies and how they gave back money to their porters and guides. You can see very quickly the difference in various companies’ values on how they treat their employees by how the porters are dressed in good quality boots and clothing. As opposed to the porters from other companies wearing nothing but weathered old sandals on their feet as they port all your bags up the hill. For me, I’d rather pay a little more and know I was safe, secure and that the porters working for the company were looked after. And this is something that lots of young travelers don’t think about when they are justifying prices. Be a responsible traveler and think about the environment, your eco-footprint and the people who are around you making your journey unforgettable!
The average price is around $300 – 400 US per person per day for the hike, but for more information send us a note HERE, and we’ll get more info to you.
How tough is the trek? How fit do I need to be?
You need to be in decent shape that’s for sure, but you don’t need to be able to run a marathon. My guide told me that he once had an 80-year old woman on his trek, and she brought her doctor to monitor her, and funnily enough, the doctor ended having more trouble than her, and he was 32 and pretty fit! So age is not a factor, but I saw plenty of people who were very unfit or had knee problems struggle. The Inca trail is 45kms long and combined with altitude and severe weather ranging from rain to hot sunshine it makes for a hard trek. For those who have hiked many times, you’ll find it moderate to hard, for beginners who have never hiked, it’s hard. But if you take your time and you’re in good shape and are up for a challenge mentally, you’ll get there okay.
Will I get altitude sickness?
Who knows? It’s a risk, for sure. It’s an excellent idea to climatize in Cusco for a few days before the trek if you can. My flights were delayed, and I only stayed one night before the trek, and I was still fine, but it’s better to opt on the safe side if you can. There are a few things you can do to try and handle the trip better. For example, chewing coca leaves – “mate de coca” tea is what all the locals drink, and they’ll have it for you on your trip, and you can buy it in town everywhere. Drink plenty of water; limit alcohol, and you’ll have a good chance of not getting it. As mentioned before, I didn’t have a problem, but I saw other people that did. Some people I also saw who took the medication prescribed by doctors got more sick, so as when I’m in any local country, there’s a good reason to do what the locals do. I downed the cocoa tea!
Are there toilets on the trail?
Yes. Our group set up porter-type loos on every main stop, at lunch and dinner stops in the campsites and along the way you’ll get to stop at small villages. They have toilets, but they are village toilets so they are as you’d expect them to in a remote village. They are on the whole pretty clean, and if all else fails, your guide will point you to more private areas along the trail if you’re desperate.
Hope that covers a few of your questions? If you’ve got more shoot me a note HERE and I’d be happy to answer you.