Top 10 Tips for your Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu

We lead between 10 and 15 treks along the beautiful and historical Inca trail to Machu Picchu each year. Most people go for our 4 day traditional trek, however, in our opinion, the 5 day classic trek is the best way to experience this famous trail. Our 6 day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu is for the more adventurous trekker and encompasses 90% of the traditional Inca trail. Check out our upcoming trips.

We have come up with our tips for a safe and successful trek on the Inca Trail.  While this is a trek that most trekkers can comfortably complete, you want to make sure you are putting in the correct training and preparations.  If you sign up to one of our trips, we will send you a complete dossier with all the information you need.  Read some reviews from our trips.  If you are still deciding if you want to do the trip, then here are 20 reasons you should pick us for your Inca Trail Trek.

1). Picking the Right Itinerary is Critical

We highly recommend the 5 day classic itinerary. With new restrictions in the city of Machu Picchu, anyone entering the city is limited to just two hours. The 5 day itinerary gives you more time on the trail to experience every site along the way. This itinerary also gives you two visits to the city of Machu Picchu. We walk in through the famous Sun Gate in the late afternoon on the 4th day. This itinerary sleeps in the best locations on the trail with less people around you. You get to spend more time in Winyawayna, before having a beautiful lunch and then walking in to Machu Picchu.

Our 5 day itinerary also includes a night sleeping in the beautiful town of Aguas Calientes.  After a well deserved shower, we will treat you to dinner in Indi Feliz to celebrate your success.  The next morning, we will go back up to Machu Picchu for our second visit.  On this day we will explore the ruins and do a full guided tour.

The Beautiful City of Machu Picchu

2). Make Sure you have the Correct and Specific Training

Trekking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is a 26 mile trek over 4 days of walking.  You will be starting at 2,800m/ 9,186 feet, trekking up to 4,215m/ 13,829 feet and ending back down at 2,450m/ 8,038 feet. This trek should not be taken lightly. You will trek over a number of passes, steep ascents and descents, and thousands of rocky, uneven steps. Therefore, if you have not put in the training beforehand, you will definitely struggle on this uneven trail. Putting in at least four days a week training is essential.  Walking in the hills, rocky terrain or just up and down steps, will give you the best chance of enjoying your journey.

You do not want to just endure the Inca Trail, you want to enjoy it! If you are signing up to one of our trips, we are happy to help you with your training and set personal training plans.

Runkurakay Ruin on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

3). Break in your Trekking Boots Before the Trip

Make sure that you get the right boots and break them in. Having the right boots are an absolute must on this trek!  You will be wearing these boots day in and out, along the extremely uneven and rocky trail.   Do not arrive to the Inca Trail with a new pair of boots that you have not taken the time to break in. This could make for a long and uncomfortable trek!  Make sure that you have a pair of boots that you have worn in the elements and broken in on trails.  A good amount of ankle support is also a must.  Make sure that your boots are waterproof, as you are likely to encounter moisture, either in the form of rain, snow or both on the trail. READ MORE.

Visiting the beautiful Sayacmarca Ruin

4). Have all the Right Clothing and Gear

We want to make sure that all of our clients have the right gear, especially your waterproofsThe gear you bring with you on the trek can be the difference to your enjoyment levels on the trail.  There are a few bits of gear that are essential in order to set yourself up for success: your waterproofs and layers.  It is almost a guarantee that you will encounter rain on the trail, no matter what time of year you go. Therefore, you need to be prepared for all weather.  Having a good waterproof jacket and pants will mean that you do not have to spend the 4 days on the trail wet and cold, which can definitely make or break your trip!

Another part of gear that I would suggest you focus on is your layering system. The temperatures on the trail can sometimes drop below freezing. And other times it is quite warm. This means that you will need the right layers as well as a warm down jacket.  I like to focus on wearing Merino Wool base-layers, however, they are quite expensive.  Therefore, if you don’t want to spend the money on wool, I would stick with a good synthetic fabric.  Do not show up on a trip with cotton layers as they will not dry quickly or help with regulating body temperatures.  You will always want to have a good down jacket as well to put on in the mornings and evenings, when the temps drop!  If you need more information on what gear to choose, please feel free to get in touch.

Top 10 tips for your Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu

5).  Book Far in Advance to Avoid Disappointment

The Inca Trail is regulated by the government of Peru and therefore strict regulations have been put in place. The trail only allows for 500 people per day to be on it, including all porters/guides/cooks and tourists.  This can limit your chance of being able to book a trek, unless you plan far in advance.  You have to book your place on a trek no later than 6 months before you plan to travel, in order to get your spot booked.  If you arrive in Cusco with plans on going on the Inca Trail, without having booked prior, you will likely be disappointed.  There are however many other treks into Machu Picchu that you can take. However, if you want to be on the actual Inca Trail, you must book in advance!

Stunning views on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

6). Pick The Best Month for your Trek

Pick your dates to best suit your desires.  While you can hike on the Inca Trail year-round, there are definitely months in the year that have more suitable weather to take your journey than others. The months of May through September generally give you the best chance of being on the trail with the least amount of rainfall.  Most likely you will always see precipitation on the trail, no matter what time of year it is, however if you go during the months of May – September, the chance of rainfall is lower than at other times.

The Inca Tunnel on the Trail to Machu Picchu

7). Arrive in to Cusco Early for Additional Acclimatization

The beautiful town of Cusco, Peru sits at 3,400m/ 11,152 feet above sea level.  If you are flying in from sea level, this is quite a large jump to take.  You may feel the lack of oxygen and possibly even signs of altitude sickness on your arrival.  It is not a good plan to start the Inca Trail after only one night sleep in Cusco.  If time allows, you should sleep at least two nights in Cusco.  This will give yourself that much needed time to acclimatize.

All of our trips on the Inca Trail include two nights in Cusco at the start of the trip.  Also, we will take one day to do a full day tour of the Sacred Valley to aid in your acclimatization process. The start of the Inca trail is actually at a lower altitude than Cusco, so if you give yourself that much needed time in the City, you will definitely feel the benefit when you start hiking. There is also plenty of things to see and do in the city to spend the extra time!

The sometimes uneven and rocky trail to Machu Picchu

8). Hydration is Critical

Drink, Drink, DrinkWater is your best friend at altitude! Keeping yourself hydrated at altitude is extremely important.  Your body dehydrates much quicker at altitude. Therefore, you need to replenish your fluids and drink a lot more water than you may do back home. I always try and drink anywhere from 4 to 5 liters a day when at altitude.  If your follow this rule, you will combat altitude sickness and keep yourself feeling good throughout the trip!

Ian Taylor Trekking groups washing up before a meal

9). Be Prepared for the Outdoors

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the World’s most beautiful and well-traveled trails.  It is accessible to most people out there who are avid walkers/hikers, however, it is still the outdoors and you have to be prepared.  Not only do you have to deal with the difficulty of hiking and the weather on the trail, you need to prepared to have to live in the outdoors for 4 nights.  This means that you will be walking, sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom in the wilderness.  Therefore, you need to be comfortable with all of these things.

Our trips carry our own toilets with us on the trail for your comfort.  Likewise, there are some toilet facilities in the campsites for use, but along the trail, you will need to use the great outdoors as your facility!  Always remember to carry a small bottle of hand sanitizer so that you can keep bacteria off your hands. You also want to make sure you have the right vaccinations for your Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu.

Beautiful Views from the Campsite on the Inca Trail

10). Pacing Yourself on the Trail

One of the biggest mistakes people make while on an altitude trekking trip is to over exert on the trail.  You don’t want to be in a position that you are out of breath and fatiguing your muscles when trekking.  Likewise, you want to avoid having a high heart rate while walking on the trail.  You need to keep the pace at a slow and controlled speed to make sure that these things don’t happen.  If you feel that your guide is going too fast, then slow down and take it at the speed you need to be comfortable.  It is not a race to the finish line!

Inca Ingenuity

Get in Touch Today for More Information

Get ready for some of the most amazing experiences of your life. CONTACT US and learn more about our quality run Inca Trail trips. The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is one of the world’s greatest and most beautiful treks. Following in the footsteps of the Inca people to the great city of Machu Picchu will undoubtedly give you some of the most beautiful and unique views that you have ever seen!  Make sure you have brought your good camera, a solar charger (or spare batteries) and an open mind to view this beautiful trail!

On the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

I hope you enjoyed these top 10 tips for your Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu. If you would like to read more why not check out our TOP 10 TIPS while you are on the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. For more information on our treks and booking your trek to Machu Picchu, contact

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