Here are our Top 10 Tips while you are on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Over the past 12 years we have developed our service along the Inca Trail running 10+ trips per year. Here are 20 reasons to chose Ian Taylor Trekking for your Inca trail trek.
We love the 5 day Classic Trek to Machu Picchu
Over the past 12 years, I have climbed Everest to the summit and lead 35+ Everest Base Camp treks, Climbed Kilimanjaro 30+ times and 10+ treks along the Inca trail some 4 day, 5 day and 6 day treks. I personally prefer the 5 day Classic Inca Trail trek. Even though the Inca Trail is a trekking trip, it does present some risks that you need to be aware of and prepare for, so here are my Top 10 Tips while you are on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Also check out our Top 10 Tips in preparation for your trek after you have read these tips.
Think about additional acclimatization before the trek
Before you read our Top 10 Tips you really need to consider having more nights acclimatization in Cusco and along the trek. So you need to carefully select the right itinerary for your adventure. I have trekked them all so just CALL ME and I can help you get the right information. Having additional nights acclimatization will give you the best chance at being successful, safer and getting the most of your experience along this famous trail. You get one shot so you need to pick the right itinerary for you. Having a more flexible itinerary might make a big difference in the experience you have.
Keeping your heart rate low is really important
1). Pacing, heart rates and attention to breathing are all super important as you come up hill over the 3 passes. This is especially important on the dead women’s pass up to 4,215m/ 13,829 feet. In the more challenging areas and days you will walking up and down stairs or steps so holding a slow controlled pace will be critical to your recovery and your ability to complete this journey in a safe manor. You also need to come in excellent physical conditioning for this trek. We really want you to enjoy and experience all the Inca sites along the trail. You need to focus on deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Your goal should be to keep your heart rate as low as possible at all times.
Be aware of your surroundings
2). Keep a close eye on your surroundings. There are lots of porters rushing past you on the trail so you need to stay on the mountain side of trail so you do not get knocked off. If you see porters coming do let your team mates aware so they can safely move to the mountain side of the trail. This is especially important on the way down the steep steps that the Inca trail presents. They are steeper than you think so you do need to manage your own safety on the trail. Your personal safety needs to be your main concern at all times on the trail.
Stay away from any drop off areas
3). Always stay on the mountain side of the trail. With high drops offs and risky uneven trails you need to be aware of your foot placement and stay away from the edge of the trail. There are a very few railings on the trail so you need to stay on the mountain side of the trail. Stay well away from drop offs at all times. There are some seriously steep steps downhill and you need to stay well away from drops offs and manage each foot placement. Take your time on the downhill and and stay on the mountain side of any drop off areas.
Treat all cold water on the trail
4). Make sure you treat all cold water. On all Ian Taylor Trekking Inca trail treks we boil all the water. I never want to get sick from untreated water. If you get served cold water in your bottle on the trail, you MUST treat the water with water purification tablets before you drink it. Drinking dirty water will ruin your trip. You can not buy bottled water on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. If you find the water is murky do not drink it and look to ask our staff for boiled water. This should never be the case but never take any risks with water. Make sure you manage your personal hygiene each day on the trail. This can make or break your trek.
Light walking around Cusco is a useful
6). Exercise is an important part of the acclimatization process. Coming into Cusco early and walking around the town and surrounding hills is really important. Exercise is important but you do not want to fatigue your muscles by pushing high heart rates. Once you have come prepared and trained, this should not be a concern. On the trail, you will be walking 8 hours back to back, with 30% to 40% less oxygen than your body would be used to having at sea level, which puts your muscles, heart and body under a lot of pressure. You do not want to be moving fast up the trail each day. Our pace will be slow and steady, with plenty of breaks especially on the longer hills, which can last for 5 hours. You need to regulate your heart rate, as you hit every uphill along the Inca Trail.
Hydration, hydration, hydration
7). The dry climate and low oxygen level require you to be drinking 4/5 liters of water each day. Hydration is critical for body to function correctly at altitude. You need to be drinking at least 4/5 liters each day. THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO EXCEPTIONS TO THIS RULE. The International Society for mountain medicine defines high altitude as between 1,524m/ 5,000 feet and 3,500m/ 11,500 feet, very high altitude as between 3,500m/ 11,500 feet and 5,486m/ 18,000 feet, and extreme altitude as any height above that. The higher you go, the greater the effects are on your body and the more important it is to stay hydrated. We dehydrate much faster at high altitude, and when you fail to stay hydrated, you run the risk of altitude sickness and ultimately ruining your trek. You may not realize how much water you are losing through exertion, but the lower oxygen levels make you breathe in and out faster and more deeply, so that you lose more water through respiration. According to the wilderness medical society, you lose water through respiration at high altitude twice as quickly as you do at sea level. High altitude can also make you need to urinate more often and can blunt your thirst response, putting you at even greater risk of dehydration.
Do not ignore any sickness
8). Do not ignore the signs of Acute Mountain Sickness. Our Inca Trail Treks have quality acclimatization in Cusco and it is really important to sleep at 3,400m/ 11,152 feet for 2 nights before the trek. You need to be able to manage your ascent safely and never be afraid to let your guide know how you feel. Altitude sickness can kill, so respect the mountains and respect the decisions our guides make. Our guides are trained to deal with altitude sickness so let them help. We carry oxygen on all our treks. Once you get sick it will only get better by going to lower altitude as quickly as possible.
Stay together at all times
9). You are trekking as a team, not individuals. You need to look out for yourself and other people around you on your trek. Team work is essential for safe group travel, look out for each other and you will enjoy the journey a lot more. If people cannot keep our minimum pace they should be turned around before they become a risk to themselves and the team. Please let the guides know if a team member is feeling unwell.
Have the right clothing for each day
10). Have the right clothing, gear and equipment. I see too many people on the trail with cotton clothing, poor quality hiking or trekking boots, small insufficient day packs and the wrong clothing with minimal water. Do not compromise on trekking boots, back packs, water proof gear, air mattress or sleeping bags. Check out our PACKING VIDEO. We will also provide you with an itemized kit list in our 35 page dossier. Even if you are trekking in the best months to trek the Inca Trail you still need good gear as it can rain on any day in the rain forest sections of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You need to make sure you have a proper light weight day pack that is at least 25 liters, that can hold 2/3 liters of water, water proof rain gear, down jacket, poles, sun cream, personal medication, liner gloves, your personal first aid kit and other personal kit you may need. On any given day it could be hot, cold, rainy, hailing, snowing or windy so make sure you have the right gear each day as you walk this magical trail to Machu Picchu.