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Inca Trail Adventure

To hike the Inca Trail first you need to be well informed and prepared. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Cusco is the most popular trek in South America. Hikers from all around the world come to Peru with the goal of reaching Machu Picchu following the steps of the last Incas.

This guide to the Inca Trail provides plenty of information on how to prepare yourself for the hike to Machu Picchu. You will find here relevant information about the weather conditions, difficulty, how to avoid problems with the altitude, recommendations on backpacks and other tips. Also, we explain how to book a permit for the Inca trail and how to avoid problems with your reservations. And in case you are too late to book the Inca trail, we also offer you alternatives like the Salkantay trek or the Inca Jungle.
Inca Trail Availability and Permits

Since 2002 new regulations and restrictions have taken place in order to protect the Inca trail and its natural environment, to improve quality standards in the tours, and to improve working conditions of the porters. Among the changes is the reduction of the number of people on the trail to 500 per day (roughly 200 tourists plus 300 guides, cooks and porters). Thereby the Inca trail permits are on high demand especially for the peak season (between May and September). It is recommended to book a tour for the Inca trail which includes the permit at least 4 to 6 months in advance.

What makes things more complicated booking the Inca trail is the non-changeable and non-refundable character of the permits. Thereby, once a booking for the Inca trail is confirmed and paid, the dates and names on the permit cannot be modified. Therefore, either you use it or loose it. Hence you should be 100% sure of the dates of your trip to Peru and when you will be in Cusco before booking the Inca trail.

Do you need a guide to hike the inca trail?
Another change is that tourists are not allowed hiking the Inca trail on their own anymore. They are required to either join a tour or hire an authorized guide who will do the paperwork and request the permits for you. The permits cannot be booked directly by the tourists, the request and purchase of permits has to be done in Cusco by an authorized tour operator or guide.

Advice for the Inca Trail

The tours on the Inca trail include everything except for personal items. Food, propane gas, burners, cooking pots, dishes and silverware, tents and foam pads are provided by the tour. And the guide is responsable to carry a first aid kit including a small oxygen tank for tourists struggling with the altitude.

What to bring for the Inca trail?
Your packing list starts with a backpack to carry the following: a sleeping bag rated for temperatures below 0C (32F), clothing for 4 days (t-shirts, underwear and socks), a water-proof jacket, a polar fleece, two pairs of long pants, hiking shoes or boots, light comfortable footwear for the campsites, and a hat or cap. You will also need to bring toiletries, a roll of toilet paper, a medium size towel, sun cream, lip balm, insect repellent, a flashlight and batteries for 3 nights. Finally, you will need a water container and pills to purify water during the trek. You should bring to the hike your passport and travel insurance information too.

What size backpack do you need for the Inca trail?
A 50-60 liters backpack should be more than enough to carry all your belongings on the Inca trail but it will depend on how much clothes you bring and how bulky your sleeping is. Normally a backpack of a tourist on the Inca trail weighs no more than 10 kilos (22 pounds). Remember that you will carry it for four days therefore, try to make it as light as possible. You do not have to bring all your luggage with you on the Inca trail. Your hotel in Cusco or your Inca trail tour operator will store your luggage until you are back free of charge.

Tips on the Inca trail
The guides, cooks and porters expect a tip from the tourists on top of their salaries. The guides should be tip according to their performance. But do not forget that the cooks and porters do all the hardwork. They carry up to 20 kilos (44 pounds) each of food supplies, camping gear and cooking equipment. They will also cook, wash the dishes and set the tents for you hence, you should tip them fairly. Try to make sure that each porter gets 20 US dollars as a combined tip from all the tourists in the group. For this purpose, take plenty of small change in "Soles" (Peruvian currency) and divide the collected tips in equal parts among the porters on the last evening of the hike.

Alternative Inca Trail

If you are too late to book the Inca trail and there is no availability for your travel dates, do not despair, there are other alternatives to hike to Machu Picchu. The most popular alternative to the Inca trail is the Salkantay trek. It is also a 5 days journey to Machu Picchu. In comparison to the Inca trail the former lacks of Inca ruins along the path; nonetheless, the scenery is more impressive. It is also higher but shorter.

The good news is that the Salkantay trek has fewer hikers on the trail despite the lack of restrictions. It is relatively easy to book a tour for this trek but it is expected in the near future that the authorities will impose some regulations and restrictions on it as well as a fee like on the Inca trail.

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Posted by tours in machu picchu on 2013/4/5 15:29:07 (4074 reads)

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