The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Preparing for your Trip
Special Instructions for the Inca Trail:
There is a maximum amount of 8 Kg (about 17½ Lbs) per person that is allowed in the duffel bags/backpacks that are to be given to the porters to carry. Therefore, apart from what you are going to wear on the trail, including your camera, snacks and water bottle, the rest of your gear can only weigh a maximum of 8 Kg. and should be in a duffel bag or backpack that the porters can carry. This regulation exists to prevent the porters from becoming overburdened on the trail. You can leave your extra luggage in your hotel in Cusco (travelers do it all the time so hotels are used to it) and then recover it when you return to Cusco after the trek.
Preparing for the Inca Trail
To get the full enjoyment out of the Inca Trail, it is essential to prepare for it. This is not a trek that should be underestimated. You will have from 6-8 hours of hiking a day for 4 days in a row, with one pass at 13,800 feet and another just over 13,000 feet. Running or hiking on a regular basis in the weeks leading up to the trek is a good idea. Acclimatization is also essential. You should plan to spend at least a couple days in the Andes before starting the Inca Trail, and it is highly recommended that you take some warm-up hikes/walks, either in Cusco or the Sacred Valley area, prior to the start of the trek. Please see the special packing list for the Inca Trail below.
Suggested Packing List for the Inca Trail
- Sleeping bag (can be rented; please let us know ASAP if needed)
- Small day pack (for carrying water, camera, snacks)
- Duffel bag: to put your maximum of 8 Kg. of gear per person in to be carried by the porters (you can also use a full size backpack to put your things in)
- Short-sleeved shirt or t-shirts (cotton is ok but synthetic hiking shirts are the best, as they dry faster and keep you warmer if they get wet)
- Long sleeve shirt or pullover (synthetic is better than cotton, for same reasons as above; a medium weight long john top is very useful; you may even want to bring an extra one of these so you can put on multiple layers)
- Polyester/synthetic breathable hiking pants (dry faster than cotton; jeans are not recommended, because if they get wet they take a long time to dry)
- A pair of medium weight long john pants for the evenings in the camp
- Hiking shorts
- Warm insulating layer (a fleece jacket or something similar)
- Cap with a sun-protecting visor
- Warm hat (wool or synthetic)
- Rain poncho or waterproof/Gore-tex shell layer. In addition to your standard Gore Tex outer shell, it can be a good idea (especially in the rainy season from Dec to April) to have a completely waterproof plastic poncho (available for sale in Cusco for about $1; this is the type of thing people put on at football games when it is raining). If going in the rainy season, it can also be good to have a light folding umbrella. If it rains all day long you will be glad you have it!
- Light gloves
- Underwear (synthetic material better than cotton, for same reason mentioned above, it dries faster if it gets wet)
- Hiking socks (synthetic or wool)
- Tennis or running shoes (can be good to have an extra light pair of dry shoes)
- Hiking boots
- Sun glasses
- Sun block (SPF 30 or better is recommended)
- Flashlight with spare batteries and bulb (headlamp is ideal; Petzl makes nice ones)
- Water bottles for carrying your water during the day
- Personal first aid kit (on each trip we carry a medical kit but we suggest a small personal first aid kit for blisters or any small scrapes you get)
- A knee and ankle brace, or walking sticks, are useful for some people
- Please be sure to bring enough of any special medications you will need
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