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Inca Trail

Inca Trail travel tips

A trek along an ancient path between soaring mountains to get to a secret city – the Inca Trail is the stuff of travel legend

Inca Trail advice

  • Be vigilant with food and water hygiene – Peru is notorious for stomach bugs. Ensure food is well cooked and wash your hands frequently – take anti-bacterial handwash.
    Take trekking poles, which will ease the strain of steep ups and downs (most notably the ‘3,000 steps’ on Day Three). Rubber tips for your walking poles are mandatory and can be bought locally.
    Do not take coca leaves/teabags out of Peru – while the porters on the trail may offer you coca tea to help alleviate altitude sickness, be aware coca is illegal in most countries.
    Stock up on wet wipes – there are no showers on the Inca Trail.
    If you’re not feeling very energetic, take the train. Trains run regularly between Cusco and Machu Picchu; several different classes of carriage are available.
    Pack for all weathers – even in the dry season. The weather can change quickly in the mountains.

When to hike the Inca Trail

The dry, and most popular, season for trekking the Inca Trail runs from May to October; July and August are the busiest months, when you will need to book well in advance.

The wet season is from November to April, when the track can be slippery and the weather even more changeable. The Inca Trail closes for maintenance during the month of February.

Inca Trail health and safety

The highest point on the Inca Trail is 4,200m Dead Woman’s Pass – the clue is in the name. Many trekkers will experience some effects of altitude along the trail.

Mild symptoms include headaches, nausea, loss of appetite and difficulty sleeping. Moderate effects might be vomiting, persistent headache and constant breathlessness. If symptoms worsen, and you start to become incoherent, uncoordinated and confused, you must descend immediately. Acute mountain sickness can be fatal.

To help avoid altitude sickness, acclimatise before you start your trek and climb slowly. Drink plenty of purified/boiled water. Eat a lot to keep your energy levels up. The locals chew coca leaves, which reputedly helps.

Some climbers take Diamox, a drug actually licensed to treat glaucoma that also combats the effects of altitude sickness. Seek advice from your doctor.

Be prepared – do some hill-walking before you set off for Peru. You will enjoy the experience much more if you are fitter.

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