How long the Inca Trail is and how many hours do we hike per day?
The Inca Trail is 43 kms (27 miles) long and depending on which campsites are used the approximate hours hiked per day are: Day 1: 7 hours, Day 2: 8 hours, Day 3: 7 hours, Day 4: 4 hours
How difficult is the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. It’s not a technical hike but there are a lot of Inca staircases to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend renting an aluminum hiking pole or purchasing a wooden walking stick while in Peru as it will help with your balance and reduce the load on your knees.
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 3 months in advance and from May to September, 4 months. In the high season (July to August) we advise a minimum of 5 months. 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.
If there are no spaces 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.
Is altitude sickness common? How high is the Inca Trail?
It's impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cusco (3399m), taking it very easy and drinking plenty of water is enough for some people. However, you should arrange to arrive in the Cusco area a minimum of 2-3 days prior to your trek. This is important in the case of any travel disruptions and the time spent here will help you to feel rested, acclimatized and ready to start your hike! As well, it is a magical area and there is a lot to learn, experience and enjoy!
The highest point you will reach while hiking the Inca Trail is 4200m/13818ft. You will sleep at 3340m/10988ft for two nights.
How far in advance is it recommended to arrive in Cusco? How far in advance must one check in at the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Office to guarantee the reservation?
Inca Trail hikers should plan to arrive in Cusco about 2 days prior to their start date to acclimatize to the high elevation. Your briefing will be the night before your trek/tour unless otherwise told by our office.
When do we reach Machu Picchu and how much time do we spend there?
You will reach Machu Picchu at sunrise on Day 4 (the hike begins at approx. 4am). After viewing the sunrise you will be met by a local guide who will take you on an informative 3-hour tour of the ruins. After the tour you will have a few hours of free time to explore the area on your own before the group travels by bus to Aguas Calientes where we catch the train back to Cuzco.
If I rent an extra porter to carry my pack, does the porter walk along with me?
You will only see your duffle bags at breakfast and at dinner time at the campsite, since the porters walk faster than the groups.
Are there toilets along the way?
On the Inca trail there are flushing toilets at every lunch stop and campsites. However, it is a well-visited park and they are squat toilets. At busy times, they may become slightly dirty. But it is all part of the adventure!
On alternate treks, we supply tent toilets as there are not any official park toilets.
Are trekking poles necessary?
For this trek more than any of the treks, we DO recommend the use of Trekking poles, especially for those passengers with known knee problems. There are multiple times during the trek that a Trekking pole is handy, be it ascending a mountain or walking down immense sets of Inca stairs. It will help with your balance and reduce the impact on your knees. Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and the national park ask that you not use trekking poles with metal tips as it damages the trail. You can purchase rubber tips for metal poles from any local camping shop.
Are there short hikes to do around Machu Picchu?
Huayna Picchu is the mountain located directly behind the ruins of Machu Picchu. It rises approximately 300 meters higher than the ruins and takes 2 hours in total to hike up and down. It is recommended to allow 45minutes to reach the peak, 15min to enjoy the view, and 30min to descend.