The circuit of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the most famous treks in Perú and the world. The complete road covers about 42 km, starting at a minimum height of 2900 meters and with a passage of 4,216 meters in the middle of the route. The best advantage of this circuit is that you can plan with a lot of time in advance, considering that the circuit is booked well in advance.
It will surely be an exercise for the body, but also for the mind.
The maximum difficulty you will find is the Huarñiwañusca pass: – (4216 masl). At this point, altitude, cold and fatigue are your worst enemies. Courage! … you are in the mountains and you must continue until you reach the pass; then things get more relaxed, even more motivating when you see how your porters walk quickly to your next camp that is not far away.
If you have reached the crossroads, cheer up! We are not going to say that it is easy, nor that you are going to jump and sing, the lack of oxygen will leave you in a quiet moment and it is better this way because the effort is more mental.
To participate in the walk, it is necessary to buy special permits granted by the National Institute of Culture, an institution that depends on the Ministry of Culture. The purchase process can only be done through an Operator Agency or through a recognized local guide.
The value of the purchase of the permit is USD $ 95 (approx.), Which must be paid many months in advance, especially the months of the high season, which run from May to September.
On the other hand, you can buy permits through a local guide, but you will not have the right to transport porters (this medium is only recommended for athletes who could do the route through a marathon or for the short 02 day route )
The government reserves the right to request permission in any part of the route.
It is important to know that the camps are recorded in a primer and are located according to the purchase order.
Camping is not allowed in any camp that is not defined in your permit slip. You can change camp only if there are health problems or force majeure issues like accidents and others.
The most important camps are: Wayllabamba, Ayapata, Pacaymayu, Chaquicocha, Sayacmarca, Phuyupatamarca, Wiñayhuayna, Intipata
The most recommended camps are marked with black, it is important to make a reservation in advance to get the best camping site.
GUIDES / PORTERS
Let’s go in parts.
The guide is the most important. Although the road is well signposted and not easily lost, but in the past you could walk without the need to consider a guide within the group. So why a guide now?
In recent years one could walk without the company of a guide, unfortunately this has brought many problems within the area (garbage, fires and even destroyed walls), fortunately the government was forced to use a responsible guide for all groups,(only for conservation).
The guides must be official and recognized by the government, usually each year they are graded and pass exams, as well as receive refresher courses in the trail uses. (This looks great and has helped a lot)
The value of the guide is around 50 to 100 USD per day. (It all depends on the language and ability of the professional).
Porters: Is it important or not necessary? During the trip, most of the time, you will encounter local porters and other tourists. You are always going to see someone with a big backpack (dressed often with flashy suits) carrying food and camping equipment, although it seems paradoxical, there are more porters on the route than tourists.
Goalkeepers! A difficult subject. Is it a form of exploitation or is it a poor job? In this case, there is no way to avoid porters. But we also understand that it is a comfort (or the only) for some people to do trekking, as well as being a very profitable way of working for people whose only recourse is agriculture and who sporadically seek liquidity for this type of temporary employment.
FOOD AND ACCOMMODATION:
Another advantage of the Inca Trail is that you never need to arm your store (unless you decide to help). shops are usually large are used for two people, (you can rent a private tent)
The camps are usually very nice. Some cleaner than others, some with better views and almost all with basic bathrooms outside. Overall they are very good. While some are small mountain areas (some camps are for only 10 shops) Lately everyone has been prepared to receive tourists.
The amenities are minimal, and much depends on the place you touch to make the night. For example, the town of Wayllabamba is almost a city within the route, you can buy water and cookies, while in many other camps your happiness will be the scenery and the beautiful views.
Most operators carry their own cook. The quality of the food is usually much higher than you think, but the more tasty dishes prepare the last day of the walk.
As for the variety, the gastronomic options are diverse, pastas, meats, fish, but also native foods like quinoa, lizas oel the famous tarwi .. etc. Breakfasts are often plentiful and rich in oats, cocoa and cereals. There are also fruit that you can not complain about. Everything is organized for the satisfaction of the tourist.
For vegetarian people there are interesting options, but you must tell your operator at least 02 days before the hike.
Good news: The last dinner in the last camp is phenomenal, the porters make great efforts to prepare rich stews, they know they can impress you, waiting for a small gift for your help! Somehow most walkers understand this effort and reward you by giving them some dollars ..
As for water, you can buy bottled mineral water until the first camp.
But there is no way to eliminate all the waste generated without having to load them until the end. That’s why there are 2 options, which most operators use. First use water-treatment pills and some juice powder to camouflage the taste. The other option is the one that almost everyone uses today, filling the bottles in the camps every night with boiled water that your porters will provide. (This service has become customary).
I have walked almost all the year for this route and with this experience I recommend that the best season to walk this trail are the months from September to December spring begins in September the rains appear (but not intensely) the fields turn green and the cold and the winds go down.
The best time (for the climate) to walk the circuit is from September to December.
WHERE THE WALK STARTS AND ENDS:
We have already said that the route usually starts at Km 82 of the train to Machu Picchu (town called Piscachucho at 2230 msnm) the most famous circuit lasts 04 days and is 42 km. Officially the tour starts at the checkpoint of INRENA (2200 masl) and ends at Machu Picchu (2400 masl). From both points you have buses to Cusco and Aguas Calientes.
For this famous trek, you can choose where to start, but even then you will always need an accredited Operator or an Official Guide. Among the most important starting points we have the following:
- Km 82: Begin, 04 days hike
- Km 86 (Qorihuaraychina) 04 days hike
- Km104: Begin, 02 days hike
- Mollepata: Begin,, 7-days hike (Salkantay+Inca Trail)
Coming soon the 7-days walking tour starts at Mollepata.
Also known as the typical “evil of the Condor” or “altitude sickness” is the lack of adaptation of the body to the lack of oxygen of the height.
When one ascends to the height the oxygen in the air is less dense and you feel that weights more, your body is not accustomed to the weight of the air. The body (and especially the blood) begins to function with oxygen levels lower than usual. 80% of the population has it in height. The typical symptoms are: Headache, loss of appetite, nausea, dizziness and much sleep. Symptoms can be felt from 2,400 meters above sea level.
What to do? We recommend to always come 02 days before starting a walk to allow time for the body to acclimate to new oxygen levels. During the course of the Inca Trail you will see that there is only one step that exceeds 4200 meters in height. If you get to suffer the consequences of altitude sickness the best thing to do is to descend, thus giving the body time to recover. Descending does not mean that you return to Huayllabamba without having crossed the passage, but that you rise in height to aclimatarte but that you spend the night in a lower place. Precisely that is what is done in this route, it descends and it is camped to less than 3600 meters, usually in Pacaymayu or Chaquicocha.
BACKPACK AND EQUIPMENT:
Your backpack should be as empty as possible. A couple of extra crems will be an unnecessary weight that you will lament loads on your back. Among the few things you need to take, do not forget to save.
Flashlight, thermal clothing (in the height you will need it), sun hat and cap or something that protects your ears from cold, sunscreen, water purification tablets, sandals [_ñ. to rest your feet, fruits dry or something rich in protein and not weighing too much, medicine chest, etc.
Bag or sleeping bag is very necessary to carry. A first aid kit is necessary. Many recommend taking medication for the high mountain, whether you contract it or to prevent it.
ADVICE AND RECOMMENDATIONS:
Permissions.- It is never late to make a reservation, 2 and 8 months are important according to the season.
Use of walking sticks.- On long walks with steep paths and steps, it is highly recommended, the use of walking sticks, improve balance and reduce strain on the knees. For Inca Trail it is necessary that these walking sticks have a rubber tip, so as not to damage the way.
Preparing the Body.- Particular attention must be paid to the pre-hike exercise. Take walks and go jogging at leisure.
Knee Protection.- This part of the body is the one that gives less attention, but is usually the one that runs the most risk, (forced use of knee pads)
Shoes.- If there is one thing that will make a difference is the use of good trek shues. Pay close attention to this.
Candies.- Always carry candy and dry fruit: avoid having your mouth cracked by dryness and wind.
Money.- Always carry some extra money in soles, you need to thank you with a tip to your Andean porters.
Sleeping bag.- Find the smallest bag possible, if it is feather better.
For inexperienced walkers.- Hire an additional porter, there are also companies that give you the service of half porter. You will give thank.
Hydration.- During the walk you should not miss a good hydration. It is necessary to always carry water and pills in a canteen. (A liter of water daily is the minimum)
If you are over 50, consider hiring the services of Small Group Specialists, because when you are exposed to large and mixed groups the pace will never be the same.