How far in advance should I reserve my 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 November to March, we suggest booking 1 to 3 months in advance.
- In the high season from May to October tickets should be bought 2 to 6 months in advance.
Government restrictions, designed to protect the route, limit the number of trekkers to 500 per day, including guides, porters, and cooks. As such, the trail usually gets fully booked far in advance. 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. Ask your travel advisor about the alternative treks to Machu Picchu, including Salkantay and Lares.
Can I be added to a waiting list for the Inca Trail dates I want?
There is no such thing as an Inca Trail waiting list. Sales for Inca Trail permits are final, which means that there’s no way for any company to offer you space for the trek once they are all sold out for a specific day. This is because every permit for the trek corresponds with the passport information of a specific traveler and even if he or she is unable to go, the permit is non-transferable. This policy was established to prevent companies from buying a lot of the permits under mock identities in advance and later cancelling the reservations to fill with real clients.
How difficult is the Inca Trail?
You should be in good physical health and have a taste for adventure. The level of enjoyment that you get out of this trek 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. Before you start your trek, we recommend you arrive to Cusco at least two to three days in advance to help your body acclimate to the high altitude.
Will my guide speak English?
Your guide will be fluent in English, have several years of experience as a trekking professional, and is trained in first aid and rescue. They will meet you in Cusco and accompany you step by step along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Should I hire a personal porter?
Almost all of our travelers choose to hire a porter to carry their personal belongings instead of carrying it themselves. Personal porters can carry anything in a duffle bag that’s provided the day before the trek: the weight is what matters and not the volume of the items. One thing to keep in mind is that a weight of 2.5 kg has to be taken out from this total weight as it’s meant for the weight of both pad and sleeping bag.
How will I get drinking water during the Inca Trail?
The trekking team will supply you with as much water as you’ll need to fill and refill your water bottle. Water for communal purposes like cooking will also be provided. All the water is boiled and safe for drinking. If you want, you can bring water purifier pills or a SteriPEN (UV Water Purifier). We recommend you bring a reusable water bottle or hydration pack to help cut down on plastic bottle consumption.
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.
How much does it cost to rent equipment?
There are two types of sleeping bags for rent (a feathered or a synthetic type) for the whole trek. You can also hire a personal porter 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.
Is there a tent for the bathroom and washing up?
There is a toilet tent. Some 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.
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 (inquire to your Travel Advisor). 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, the train company might collect a surcharge.
What documentation do we need?
You’ll need to present your original passport and permit at the start of the trek.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can I hike the Inca Trail without a tour group?
It is not possible to hike the trail independently. Access to the Inca Trail is strictly controlled and your trek must be organized through a tour operator. Only specific licensed companies are permitted to lead groups on the Inca Trail.
What should I pack for the Inca Trail?
All the camping equipment, daily meals and water is provided by your trekking team. You can either bring your own sleeping bag, or rent one for an additional fee.
Here are some packing essentials to get you started:
- Bring your original passport. It’s required to enter Machu Picchu when you enter through the Sun Gate.
- Bring a comfortable daypack with snug straps to wear while you hike. Unless you hire a private porter, you’re expected to carry both pads and sleeping bags along the trek. Learn more about porter welfare on the Inca Trail.
- Carry a reusable water bottle in your daypack.
- You’ll pass through many different climates along the trail and dressing in layers is important. Pack lightweight pants, short- and long-sleeve shirts, a warm fleece jackets, underwear, and socks.
- Temperatures really drop at altitude when the sun goes down. To stay warm, thermal undergarments, a warm hat, and gloves are recommended.
- Comfortable hiking boots or walking shoes are a must. Also pack shower sandals.
- Be prepared with a rain jacket and pants or poncho. Rainy conditions aren’t to be expected during the dry season, but it’s better to be prepared.
- Pack a hat, strong sunblock, and glasses for protection against the sun.
- Headlamp (with extra batteries) or small flashlight to use at night while camping.
- Light-weight travel towel to shower with and small travel pillow for your sleeping comfort.
- Tissues pack, toilet paper and wet wipes
- You may want to bring extra (or diet specific) high energy snacks, such as some cookies, protein bars, chocolates, or nuts.
- Some trekkers may prefer to bring walking sticks.
- Don’t forget toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.) and any personal medications.
- Insect repellant (with Deet) for protection against mosquitos and other blood-sucking critters. Malaria and yellow fever are not a risk in this area.
- Bring local Peruvian currency (Soles) in your wallet so that you can tip your trekking team.
- Of course, don’t forget your camera, with extra battery packs and memory cards.