Inca Trail Travel FAQ
Do you have questions about your Inca Trail trek? Check here for answers to the questions our travelers most frequently ask about the Inca Trail. If you cannot find the answer to your specific question, feel free to contact us directly.
1. How difficult is the trek?
Trekkers of all ages complete the trek every day, but we recommend that trekkers have good physical health and a taste for adventure. The level of enjoyment that clients get out of these treks depends on numerous factors, such as the amount of time you have had to properly acclimatize to high altitude before departing, your age, your general fitness level, and your previous trekking experience.
Trekkers should be prepared for about 25 miles (39 km) total walking over four days, with about seven hours of walking a day, and 3 nights of camping. If you have any doubt about your ability to complete the Inca Trail, do not hesitate to consult your travel advisor, who will be more than happy to go over in detail the trek’s difficulty, and perhaps offer other trek options if needed.
Make sure you take some time to acclimatize to the altitude before you start your trek. Most people choose to arrive to Cusco a day or two in advance to prepare their body to the high altitude.
2. How far in advance should we reserve our space on the Inca Trail?
We recommend that you make a reservation for the Inca Trail as far in advance as possible. For trips from October to March, we suggest booking at least six weeks in advance and from May to September, eight weeks. In the high season (July to August) we advise a minimum of eight to ten weeks. Government restrictions, designed to protect the route, limit the number of trekkers to 500 per day, including guides, porters, and cooks. Therefore, the trail usually gets fully booked far in advance. For more information regarding Inca Trail permits, click here.
If there are no slots left for the Inca Trail, there are many alternative Inca trails that follow other Inca roads systems, which can also include an optional visit to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.
3. What documentation do we need?
You will need to carry with you the documents you used to book your Inca Trail trek, including personal IDs, such as passports (preferred) and drivers’ licenses. A $12 fee will be charged at the entrance if you change your passport number before entering (this applies if you have renewed your passport since booking).
4. How will I get drinking water during the trek
Your drinking water for the trek is collected from local streams as needed and boiled. This water is safe to drink. You can also buy water purification tablets. Another option would be to buy mineral water in Cusco and bring it with you (but that will make your pack significantly heavier), or buy mineral water at stops along the Inca Trail. Water purchased along the trail will be more expensive than water in Cusco.
5. Is there a tent for the bathroom and washing up?
No, there is no toilet tent. However, all campsites have public toilets you can use. All campsites also have cold showers for public use; only the last campsite at Wiñaywayna has warm showers that can be used for an additional cost. During the day hikes, you will pass a number of sites where you will find toilet facilities available.
6. How much luggage can I bring on the Inca Trail?
For the Inca Trail you should take only the items you are willing to carry during the hike. Other belongings can be left in storage in your hotel in Cusco. The porters will carry provided equipment, such as the tent, while you are responsible for your sleeping bag, clothing, and other personal items. If desired, you can hire a personal porter to carry your personal belongings. Personal porters on the Inca Trail may carry a maximum of 33 pounds (15 kg), with 11 pounds (5 kg) allotted for their personal items. Specialty luxury services are also available for those who like a slower pace on the trail.
For the train between Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu, 11 pounds (5 kg) of luggage is permitted with dimensions of 62 inches total of length x height x width (157cm). If your luggage exceeds this allowance, there will be a surcharge.
7. How many other people will travel on the trial with us?
The maximum number of people in a group on the Inca Trail is 16. As you hike along the trail, you are likely to meet other groups of trekkers, depending on your pace. There is one guide and one cook for every 8 people. Each person can have a personal porter. The majority of people on the Inca Trail are support staff, consisting of guides, porters, and cooks.
8. Is it customary to tip the guides and porters?
On the last night of your trek, there is a tipping custom: all the hikers put their tips together and give them to the guide. The guide will then distribute that money between all the Inca Trail personnel. We advise anything from $10 to $40 USD per hiker, but you should only tip according to the level of service you believe you have received.
9. What are the bare necessities required for the trek?
We recommend that you bring the following clothing items:
- A hat to protect you from the sun, a knitted hat for the cold nights and mornings, sunglasses, sun block, and lip balm (ChapStick).
- Three t-shirts (one for hiking, one for sleeping, one for emergency), one warm all-terrain sweater/jacket for cold moments, one thick sweater for sleeping, insect repellent, gloves/mittens for your hands.
- One pair of hiking pants (old, comfortable jeans are fine—the lighter the better), one pair of shorts (not necessary, but comfortable), one pair of sweatpants for sleeping, at least four pairs of socks (always try to keep dry, clean socks for sleeping), band-aids (or special blister aids) for your feet, and comfortable sneakers or hiking boots.
You can leave the majority of your personal belongings in storage at your Cusco hotel, so you only need to carry trail necessities. If you only have a suitcase, you can rent a backpack for the trail.
10. How much does it cost to rent equipment?
There are two types of sleeping bags for rent:
- A feathered type for $40.00 USD for the whole trek.
- A synthetic type for $30.00 USD for the whole trek.
There are also two types of backpacks available for rent that cost about $4.00 USD per day.
You can also hire a personal porter for $190 USD to carry your bag for the whole trip. Your bag cannot weigh more than 33 pounds (15 kg). Rental and porters can be arranged by your travel advisor. Other equipment such as boots, flashlights, and coats can also be rented in Cusco.
11. Is it possible to walk from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes instead of taking the bus?
Yes it is possible. You can follow the same road as the bus. Expect the journey to take about 40 minutes from Machu Picchu down to the town of Aguas Calientes.
12. What are the restrictions on access to Huanya Picchu?
Huayna Picchu is a mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu, offering spectacular views of the ruins. Those clients who have purchased an additional ticket to allow them to hike Huayna Picchu will be allowed up the trail at either 7 a.m. or 10 a.m., depending on which entrance time was purchased. If you are hiking Huayna Picchu, you will have a late morning and early afternoon Machu Picchu tour.
Please note that only visitors who have purchased a Huayna Picchu ticket in advance will be allowed to hike the trail. For those who did not purchase these additional tickets, we recommend hiking to the Sun Gate for another spectacular view of the ruins.
13. Are there any ATMs?
There are no ATMS along the Inca Trail. There are, however, ATMs in Aguas Calientes, the town next to Machu Picchu where you will be able to get cash after your trek. We recommend that you bring money with you from Cusco. In Cusco you can find ATMs around Plaza de Armas and inside some stores and shops. In general, ATMs are widely available in Peru and most hotels and restaurants accept payment by credit card. Be aware you will likely have to show your passport ID.
14. What sort of food can I expect on the trail?
Each tour is accompanied by a chef who will prepare all your meals for you. The food is hearty, plentiful, and filling to keep you energized for the journey. Please notify us if you have any special requirements or diet restrictions, such as requiring vegetarian meals. You will enjoy breakfast, as well as a hot lunch and dinner every day. You will also be served snacks in the morning and afternoon, including hot drinks in the afternoon.