INCA TRAIL HIKE TO MACHU PICCHU FAQs
1.- BEFORE YOU GO INCA TRAIL TREK
- Where are the Departure points for our Treks?
Pick up from your hotels at 04:00 am, please provide a clear contact details of your accommodation at your check-in in the Cusco office. Your guides will provide procedure`s details at the “pre trek briefing” the night before you depart.
We assume most people try to arrive to Cusco 2-3 days before the trek to allow adequate time for acclimatisation and a buffer in case of transport delays. Once you have settled in and rested you must come to the Cusco office to view and reconfirm the information we have pertinent to your trek, personal requirements and sign the conditions ( even if you have already paid in full.) There are occasions when local holidays or unrest may require last minute changes to departure times or some additional information and so we have a short briefing day before your trek in our office (you can came from 9:00 am to 17:00 pm)
- Where can I store my luggage while I am trekking?
On the trek/tour, you should only bring with you the things you really want/need and leave the rest of your things in your hotel or abnb. We can keep your luggage in our office just in case you will don’t have reserved your hotel for the back of the trek.
What should I pack?
- Good rain gears
- Hiking shoes
- 4 pairs of socks
- Trekking poles
- sun glasses
- Mosquito repellent
- I don`t have a good sleeping bag. Can I rent one?
YES you can just organise it at the time of booking or at your arrival to Cusco. Our sleeping bag supports -15º Celcius US $ 20.00
- I don`t have a sleeping mat. Do I need one?
We include in the cost of the tour a foam sleeping mat.
This is a fairly thick bulky mat that weighs 1 kg and we still say if you are travelling with a termal-rest or technologically advanced type of sleep mat then definitely bring that instead!
- How much does the sleeping mat and sleeping bag weigh?
Sleepmat weight = 1 kg aprox.
Seeping bag weight = 2-5 kg aprox.
- I am on my own, will I have someone to share a tent with?
Yes another person of the same sex or if you prefer you can pay a single supplement for a tent just for you. This is US$ 70 (For the entire trek)
- Will I need any extra money?
YES, so that you can take part in options such as bottle water/drinks, tips for your trekking staff, souvenirs, snacks in Machupicchu, etc. You should take at least 300 soles as emergency money that hopefully you will return to Cusco with! Also, for the passengers that are concerned about health, it may be prudent on your part to keep in mind that a train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes costs approx US$50-80 (in the case you need to leave the trail early).
- Do the guides speak English?
Yes all our tour guides speak very well the English, mostly of then have studied in th university of Cusco, aslo are Archeologist, Biologist, and the most important are really funny guys.
- How many people will be in my group?
We work with small groups, we use to have 4 to 8 persons per tour guide. If there are more persons we will add another tour guide. Our staff for a group of 8 passengers are: 1 cook, 1 kitchen assistant, 1 head porter, 10 porters.
- Should I hire an extra porter?
If you have not trekked in altitude before we would suggest your organise the extra porter. Unless you have hired an extra porter you will need to carry your day backpack. 75% of our travellers hire the extra porter.
The half porter who will carry only 7kg cost $70.00 USD
A full porter who will carry 14 kg cost $ 120.00 USD
Inca Trail Expeditions provide a duffle porter bag at the briefing the night before your hike. You should bring only what you absolutely need/want on the trek, and store the rest of your belongings in Cusco.
Even if you do hire a porter you will still need a day pack with you so that you can carry such items as your camera, water bottle, snacks (energy bars, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, remember glucose is a big help and imperative in the heights), sunscreen, sun-glasses, a fleece or something warm and a poncho (during the rainy season or cloudy days) and anything else you will need before lunch as the porters do not walk alongside you. You will meet up with your bag at lunch and then it will be waiting for you in your tent at the campsite.
Please note that there are fines and notifications if you give an excess, If it is overweight at the weigh station, items will have to be removed to reduce the weight.
2.- ON THE TREK
I am not really an experienced trekker? What if I can’t keep up? How difficult is the Inca Trail trek ?
Most people have that concern but don`t worry. Only in extremely rare circumstances does a passenger need to come back early. You just need to remember that you are able to go at a speed that is comfortable for you. Take your time, pace yourself, and enjoy.
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. It’s not a technical hike but there are a lot of Inca stairs to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend using a trekking poles and have an early night before the trek!
- Are Trekking poles really 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 poles 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.
- How long will I be walking every day? How long is the trail?
46 Km/ 28 Miles
This is an approximate breakdown according to our regular campsites:
Day 1: 12 kilometers (8.6 miles) 6-7 hours Ayapata camp.
Day 2: 18 kilometers (10.9 miles) 7-8 hours (“Dead Womans Pass,” the highest pass of the trek at 4,200m, is on this day and the longest day )
Day 3: 10 km (7.3 miles) at 5-6 hours.
Day 4: 6 Km around 2 hours walk before arriving to Machu Picchu.
You will wake up around 4.30 am, 1 hour to Inti-punku \”Sun`s Gate\”
The entire trail is about 46 kilometers (27 miles) long from start to finish. If you still want more, climbing Huayna Picchu provides yet another hour and a half round trip. Check for the free passes with your tour guides.
- Is altitude sickness common? And 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 but if you can arrange to have minimum 2-3 days in case of any travel disruptions as well then this is what we recomend as there is also so much to do here!. The highest point you will reach while hiking the Inca Trail is 4200m/13818 ft. You will sleep at 3340m/10988 ft for two nights.
- What if I am unable to finish the inca trail trek ?
In the scenario that you are unable to finish the trek due health issues, Inca Trail Expeditions will do everything in its power to get you to the nearest civilization and get help or transportation to help. If the issue is respiratory or due to altitude, we do carry at least one tank of oxygen on trek that you will have access to. In extreme cases, a helicopter pick up can be arranged at your own expense. (Travel Insurance required) There are no refunds in the situation that you are unable to finish though.
Generally if due to altitude sickness people can`t make it over the pass on the 2nd day they come back to Ollantaytambo accompanied by a porter if just mild (or guide if serious) and if they recover from altitude sickness they stay the night here in Ollantaytambo and then take the train to Aguas Calientes the next day (Day 3) and we look after them in Aguas Calientes and then they rejoin your group in Machu Picchu early on Day 4 and continue the tour as normal. the additional costs for this such as train ticket and accomodations is payable by the passenger and usually is between $60 and $100 total .
- Can Inca Trail Expeditions accommodate my dietary needs? What kind of food will there be?
Not to worry, Inca Trail Expeditions is able to accommodate many types of dietary needs upon request at the time of booking. If you are a vegetarian, or cannot eat gluten or have allergies to certain foods, it will not be a problem. The meals of our chefs are one of the most popular parts of our tours too, and the quality will not be reduced when accommodating your dietary needs. The meals are served buffet style and you are able to choose what you would like to eat. Your guides will let you know what time the meals will be served.
Our cooks prepare excellent high-energy meals appropriate for a trek of this nature. The menu usually includes quinua, cereals and vegetable soups, Beaf Lomo Saltado with rice, chicken cacerole, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of oatmeal, eggs and other breakfast foods as scramble egg, quinua panqueques.
- Will I need to bring water?
We recommend that you purchase a 1.5 – 2 litre bottle of water to take with you on the first day. Every night during the trek, we will boil water so you can refill the same bottle every morning before setting out. If you are planning to drink from any streams or waterfalls, we strongly suggest you bring water purification tablets or filters.
Also, you will be able to buy water along the way on Day 1, for the first few hours of Day 2, and of course at Machu Picchu.
- Are there bathrooms along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu?
Along the trail there are several sites with toilets. Bring a roll of toilet paper. As far as other trash goes, please carry your own trash to each campsite where the porters will pack it up and take it out. Leave no trace Please do not litter.
- Is there a chance that my Inca Trail hike will be canceled?
There is very little possibility of a cancellation of a trek by the DRCC (Park Office) even under extreme weather circumstances or even in case of a strike there will be no cancellation. The Culture Ministry cannot change the date of a trek if there is a general strike. We do everything possible to ensure you get to the trail head to start the trek for the permit date and this means that we must have correct contact details as about 4-5 times a year there is a general strike. This means no land transport is allowed to travel and so the night before the trek /strike date we have to gather everyone together and drive to the trail head area to camp the night before so we make sure that the trek goes ahead.
- Is the Inca Trail still good during the rainy season? Is it safe?
The Inca Trail is perfectly safe during the rainy season. Some people actually like to go during the rainy season because there are fewer tourists. If you are one who doesn’t mind the rain, then we say ‘Go for it!’ You will just have to bring good rain gear and waterproof boots.
- What kind of weather can I expect on the Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu? Temperatures?
During the “rainy season” (1 Dec – 1 Apr), you could have some rain any day but you can expect that it could rain every day in Feb and could be heavy! Often in Dec and Jan you may just get some light continual showers or it could be fine and then a heavy afternoon downpoor but in truth you could also have fine days. At the same time, it will also be noticeably warmer at night. The day times will get up to about 25 degrees Celsius, the low will be about 2 degrees Celsius.
On the other hand, during the “dry season” (June – Nov) the daytimes will seem strikingly like spring time, with bright and sunny skies, but it will be much colder at night. During the daytime you can expect it to be somewhere in the range of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius and at night it will be as low as 0 to -5 degrees Celsius.
It is always best to dress in layers during anytime of year, really. As you hike, put them on when you feel cold or shed them and put it in your day pack when you get hot.
- How many trekkers and trek crew are in a typical group?
For a group of max 16 trekkers our typical trekking staff comprise of: 01 guide, 01 assistant guide, 01 cook, 01 assistant cook, 01 general assistant in charge of setting up and organization of safe campsites and 18 porters or carriers.
If the group is 8 or less then just 1 guide, 01 cook, 01 general assistant in charge of setting up and organization of safe campsites and 12 porters or carriers.
- What is the standard procedure when it comes to tips?
Tips for the above mentioned trekking staff are not included in the price of the trek. Tips are optional not mandatory. Generally tips are distributed amongst the trekking staff (except the guide and the assistant guide ) on the third night of the trek at Wiñaywayna camp after the evening meal since these trekking staff will not accompany the group to Machupicchu.
Tips for the Cook, Assistant cook, Coordinator & Porters:On the third night at dinner time someone from the group is usually elected to collect the tips. Please remember to take plenty of small denomination bills in Peruvian Soles. We recommend that the cook should receive about 50% more than the other trekking staff. The money should be paid directly to each individual or representative of porters rather than given to the guide or cook.
Deciding how much to tip is always a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable decision. Inca Trail Expeditions pay our trek staff fairly and treat them with respect and try to provide good working conditions. We think that a tip should not be used to subsidize a poor wage but should be a way to show the staff that you have enjoyed the trek and appreciated the services that they have provided. The tip should therefore be optional and not mandatory. However, if you have enjoyed the service, we recommend that each person in the group contributes between 80 – 110 soles ( US$ 30-40 ) to a “pot” which is then distributed amongst the cook, assistant cook, general assistant and porters.
Tips for the Assistant Guide: The assistant guide will accompany the group to Machupicchu and Aguas Calientes, he is incharge of getting the passes for Wayna Picchu climbing. We therefore recommend that you tip the assistant guide at the lunch time on the fourth day in Aguas Calientes. We suggest that each person in the group tips the assistant guide between 50 and 80 soles. (US $ 25) Again, tips are optional not mandatory and dependent on the level of service provided. Obviously if you want to pay more please do so.
Tips for the Guide: The guide will accompany the group throughout the tour including Machupicchu. We recommend that you tip the guide after the tour in Machupicchu at the time of lunch in Aguas Calientes We suggest that each person in the group tips the main guide between 150 and 200 soles. (US 80 ) Again, tips are optional not mandatory and dependent on the level of service provided. Obviously if you want to pay more please do so.
SUMMARY:Like in most American countries, tipping is normal practice. If you have enjoyed the service provided by the trekking team we would recommend bringing between 80 and 110 soles ( US$ 30-40 ) to covers tips for the trekking staff. However if you think that you have received poor service you are under no obligation to pay a tip. The trekking team will soon get the message. Please pay tips in cash and do not pay in kind such as in beers etc. We have tried to be as clear as possible about tipping but we understand that this is a complicated issue when many different cultures and lifestyles come together.
The procedure and amounts listed above have been written in conjunction with our guides and trekking staff. We accept that not all of our clients will be in agreement with this information. It is important that you tip the amount that you feel comfortable with. Please try not to let the procedure stress you or cause anyone to feel badly towards other members of the group who wish to pay less than the recommended amount or decide not to pay a tip at all.
- Will I be able to witness the sunrise at Machu Picchu?
In truth it is not typical sunrise. As long as you don´t have too much mist or low cloud then you see the first light illuminating Machu Picchu. It is after dawn though as the sun must rise up over the high mountains surrounding Machu Picchu.
- Will I be able to climb Huayna Picchu Mountain
If you are wanting to include an ascent of Huayna Picchu mountain in your visit to Machu Picchu, note that.The trail to Huayna Picchu mountain is safe but very vertical and is about an hour and a half round trip beware that there are new regulations since July 2011 and permits have to be bought in advance. if you want us to organise your permit to climb Huayna Picchu and we must have this request in writing and confirmed at the time of your booking indicating you will pay the extra dollars for this permit. Deposit for this tour including Huayna Picchu mountain permit is $80 usd .
- How long am I able to stay at Machu Picchu? How I will I get down to Aguas Calientes?
You will have a guided tour of the ruins that lasts approximately 2-3 hours, from january 2019, the tourist will be into the citadel just the schedule of their tickets, in our case at 11 am have to leave . After the guided tour you have to go down to Aguas Calientes. You can take the bus anytime you like. Come down to aguas calientes you will choose the restaurant to take the lunch. Remenber the last day lunch is not included.
- What time will I be back in Cusco?
You will arrive to Cusco at 18:30 pm aprox. so don`t expect to be able to book a flight out for the same night as flights do not exist after 7.00pm.
- Can you explain the train service a little more?
Many of our travellers request a later train so they can spend the full day at Machu Picchu, to climb Wayna Picchu or to visit the natural hot baths (for which the town Aguas Calientes is named). We therefore generally reserve a late afternoon train around 5 – 6 pm for our travellers. Occasionally it is direct to Cusco, but otherwise the service is to Ollantaytambo with a private bus transfer onwards to Cusco. But still, these reservations are only confirmed by Peru Rail or Inca Rail 6 days in advance. During high season and holidays, when demand exceeds availability, we will always try to obtain tickets for an earlier service rather than one late at night for a more comfortable arrival to Cusco.
Often passengers decide to stay a further night in Aguas Calientes instead of returning on the 4th night. This is fine, and we can coordinate the changes of train tickets .Sometime thsi change has a fee for change of dates and coach options will be according to availability.
3.- BOOKING & RESERVATIONS
- What are the benefits of doing a private trek?
One of the main reasons why the private option is sought is because you do not need to worry about the dates for which we have scheduled departures or if our departures have enough space. Your only concern is whether there are permits available or not. You can choose almost any date you want if there are permits available on Inca Trail 4 days.
In addition to the convenience and flexibility in booking, the private option provides a more personal trip experience for your group. We will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. The guide will focus all of his energy and attention on your group. You can also be more specific about the foods that you would like to be served during the trek. It is a truly wonderful experience to go on such an amazing journey with only your friends and loved ones. Ask to Inca Trail Expeditions office Sttaf, how you can arrange your own private tour.
- What if i’m Student? How can I use it to get a discount?
The Decentralized Department of Culture of Cusco communicates that the sale of admission tickets to Machu Picchu for students will only with student card issued by the University or college, valid in the date you will start the trek.
For the students under 18 years is not necesary to show a student card, just bring your original passport.
** The ISIC card is not a permissible document
Remember that once purchased the ticket there is no refund, check your data and date of entry before making the payment, the ticket is valid only for the date indicated in your reservation.
The discount that is offered isn’t a INCA TRAIL EXPEDITIONS PERU discount, but is actually offered by the DRCC and Inca Trail Expeditions passes the discount on to you. For that reason, it absolutely necessary that we have a scan of your card “in hand” when we go to purchase your permits. If you didn’t send us a copy of it along with the initial booking, then make sure to note on the registration form that you have one and will send the scan as soon as possible so that we know to try and wait before we purchase the permit.
- Am I able to change dates after the initial reservation?
The only time that you can change your dates with no penalty charge is if we have not purchased your permit yet. Usually we try to purchase the permits, at the most, inmediatly after your deposit is paid—depending on the urgency of the situation of course. The only time that we don’t get them within a few days is if you have reserved a date more than 6 months ahead of time.
If we do not already have your permit you can change your date. If we already have your permit, the penalty to change is US $150 and there must be availability for the date which you want to move to.
- What if do not have my passport right now?
The Park of Machu Picchu requires a valid passport to issued your permit to the trail,best case is to organize your new passport in advance if that is the case. There is the possibility due to the limits of spaces on your requested date to book with your old passport number, them we can do a paperwork to change it.
- Can I pay for the entire tour up front?
Usually we only charge the deposit of your Inca Trail Trek. This deposit and the details completed on your booking form are used as a guarantee for the balance and other tours. The balance is paid on your arrival to Cusco in cash. If you choose to pay with credit or debit card , it has a fee of 5% commission. The prices of the tours are for cash payment. You can withdraw US $ out of the ATMs, which there are plenty in Cusco.
- ALTITUDE or MOUNTAIN SICKNESS, SOROCHE
Altitude sickness is serious and can ruin your trip. The biggest mistake you can make is to fly directly to Cuzco (3326m/10,910ft) and expect to hike the next day. Give yourself a few days to adjust to the altitude first.
Altitude sickness, also known as acute mountain sickness (AMS), altitude illness, hypobaropathy, or Soroche, is a pathological effect of high altitude on humans, caused by acute exposure to low partial pressure of oxigen at high altitude. It commonly occurs above 2,400 metres (approximately 8,000 feet). Acute mountain sickness can progress to high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) or high altitude cerebral edema (HACE).The causes of altitude sickness are not fully understood. The percentage of oxygen in air remains essentially constant with altitude at 21% up until 70,000 feet (21,330 m), but the air pressure (and therefore the number of oxygen molecules) drops as altitude increases — consequently, the available amount of oxygen to sustain mental and physical alertness decreases above 10,000 feet (3,050m). Altitude sickness usually does not affect persons traveling in aircraft because the cabin altitude in modern passenger aircraft is kept to 8,000 feet (2,440 m) or lower. A superficially related condition is chronic mountain sickness, also known as Monge’s disease, occurring only after prolonged exposure to high altitude. An unrelated condition, often confused with altitude sickness, is dehydration, due to the higher rate of water vapor lost from the lungs at higher altitudes.
Those who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500m (8100 ft) may develop altitude sickness. In Peru, this includes Cusco ( 3326m) Machupicchu (2400m) and Lake Titicaca (3820m). Being physically fit offers no protection. Those who have experienced altitude sickness in the past are prone to future episodes. The risk increases with faster ascents, higher altitudes and greater exertion.
Symptoms may include headaches,nausea,vomiting,dizziness,malaise, imsomnia and loss of appetite. Severe cases may be complicated by fluids in the lungs (high-altitude pulmonary edema) or swelling of the brain (high-altitude cerebral edema) If symptoms are more than mild or persist for more than 24 hours (far less at high altitudes), descend immediately by at least 500 meters and see a doctor.
To help prevent altitude sickness, the best measure is to spend two nights or more at each rise of 1000m. Alternatively, take 125mg or 250mg of acetozolamide (Diamox) twice or three times daily starting 24 hours before ascent and continuing for 48 hours after arrival at altitude. Possible side effects include increased urinary volume, numbness, tingling,nausea,drowsiness, myopia and temporary impotence.
Acetazolamide should not be given to pregnant women or anyone with a history of sulfa allergy. For those who cannot tolerate acetazolamide, the next best option is 4 mg of dexamethasone taken four times daily.
Unlike acetazolamide, dexamethasone must be tapered gradually upon arrival at altitude, since there is a risk that altitude sickness will occur as the dosage is reduced.
Dexamethasone is a steroid, so it should not be given to diabetics or anyone for whom taking sterorids is not adviced. A natural alternative is gingko, which some people find quite helpful.
When traveling to high altitudes, it´s also important to evoid overexertion, eat ligh meals and abstain from alcohol.