How to survive the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is the original trail to get to Machu Picchu, it’s creme de la creme of trails in Peru so it comes with a pretty painful price tag but it’s definitely worth every cent.

Choosing a company. With so many companies floating around it’s a difficult task. After all our searching and review reading we choose Alpaca Expeditions. Why? Because firstly their reviews raved about the great food, which it was out of this world just FYI and they provided a toilet tent, so no sharing the nasty public toilets at the campsites, trust me this is biggy. Also since the owner worked as a porter while he studied, he now makes it a priority that his porters, the hardest workers on the mountain, are treated with respect and supplied with proper equipment unlike other companies.

Note: There is only a limited amount of permits every day, so make sure to book your tour about 6 months in advance.


So what does the Inca Trail entail:

Day 1 – 6.5hrs, 14km

First day is a warm up day, get your body moving, luckily not up too many hills and mountain climbs but it is a long day. You are thankful for your tent waiting for you at the end.

Day 2 – 10 hrs, 16km

This day you walk up Dead woman's pass, why because you almost die hiking to the top but in reality it's name that due to the female rock formation at the peak of the mountain. I'm not going to lie today is the toughest day, it's the day that almost broke me but if you make it to the top of dead woman's pass you can well and truly be proud of yourself and know you can definitely make it the rest of the way.

Day 3 – 5hrs, 10km

Today is an easier day and yesterday will now be a distant memory. After lunch you are done with hiking for the day, you have a chance to shower, it may be an ice cold one but it's a shower nonetheless. Also to take some time relax, nap and chill before your final day of Machu Picchu.

Day 4 – 2hrs, MACHU PICCHU

You have made it to your final destination, here you get to see Machu Picchu from the sun gate. For us it was very cloudy but we got to watch the clouds slowly clear to reveal the natural wonder of the world which was magical. After your 3 days of seeing a handful of fellow hikers be prepared to steer down all the other 1000s of tourist who bused up, who have clean clothes, a fresh makeup face and who smell good. Even due to the mass tourist populars of Machu Picchu it is still just as magical and incredible to be there. Take a moment to sit and enjoy Machu Picchu quietly with your group or yourself and take in your massive achievement because you deserve to be super proud of yourself!

What you need:

The essentials

  • Determination – the inca trail isn't the easiest of treks, but it's a mind game, keep positive and back yourself.

  • PASSPORT – A MUST to even start the trek but also make sure you get a stamp at the end in your passport you deserve it. 

  • A good daypack – Something comfortable and not too big

  • Strong bug spray – those buggers bite a lot!

  • Good hiking shoes and good socks – you're practically living in these, if they uncomfortable you will not have a good time.

  • Camera or phone – to document your whole experience, bring a battery pack as you won't find any power on the way.

  • Cash monies – for tipping your porters and guides at the end, and any souvenirs.  

Day pack and duffle bag

Day pack:

  • Sunscreen and sun hat – you're closer to the sun so make sure you keep reapplying.

  • Rain jacket and Beanie – for the opposite weather, you never know how cold or wet its going to get.

  • Toilet paper and hand sanitiser – for those good old natural toilet stops.

  • Water bottles or camel back (2-3 litres) – you have to carry this with you so make sure they fit nicely into your bag.

Duffle bag:

  • Breathable, layerable clothing – It's like 4 season up there so layers will become your best friend trust me.

  • Spare shoes – for when your at camp and your feet need a breather. 

  • Baby wipes - with no showers at most stops, you will thank me later.

  • Head lamp or torch – with spare batteries 

  • Toiletries – including personal medication and a small first aid kit

  • Lip balm – your lips get so dry up there


Tips for altitude:

Before the trail, take a few days to acclimatize, the longer you can take the more thankful your body will be.

You will feel the altitude while hiking up and will make you breathless. If you start feeling breathless, pause, bend over and take a few deep breathes and really fill your lungs with oxygen. And most importantly don't panic.

If you're not feeling hungry don't force yourself to eat, it's the altitude messing with your body. Just listen to the needs of your body even if the food is so damn good!

Drink the coca tea, it helps with the altitude and also gives you energy.

Also drink the digestive tea after dinner, in higher altitude your body has to work harder to digest the food, this will help plus it tastes amazing like peppermint tea.


Other Handy tips:

Go at your own speed, it's not a race, you're not out to impress anyone but yourself. Just make yourself proud with each step.

Don't give up, the second day is hardest day but if you can make it through it you feel as though you could take on the world, once you catch your breathe of course.

Pace yourself. With the food that is, they always supply so much delicious food, try not fill yourselves up with the soup as there are more portions to come.


Related post: Machu Picchu – Our photo story


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