Hiking Machu Picchu: Success On The Inca Trail

Holding one of the top spots on my bucket list was hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.  I knew it would test my physical abilities but also knew that I could do it. After a lot of research I decided to do the 4 day trek with 3 girlfriends. Since it was during rainy season it was very slippery and extremely difficult but I still found the entire experience breathtaking and one of the most extraordinary experiences of my life. We kept saying “the journey is the destination.”  Watch our experience…

Everyone’s path to this experience is different but I thought I would provide some tips I found to be helpful.

  • Do your research
    • There are many ways to experience Machu Picchu from 4 day, 2 day treks to taking the train.  There are also many tour operators.  Go with a local company with a lot of reviews.  Some companies do not seem as legit.
  • Don’t do it during rainy season if you can help it.  If not, it is still an amazing experience just a lot harder.
    • It was very slippery, sometimes cold and we could spend less time outside at night.  There are benefits though as I believe the walk through the jungle couldn’t have been more spectacular.
  • Arrive Early
    • Get to Cusco 2 days before to acclimatize to the altitude. We were all very sick and lethargic that first day.
  • Save money and do it right
    • Invest in proper hiking gear. Good hiking boots and socks are a must as well as a nice rain jacket. It is not worth it to be uncomfortable.
    • Choose a reputable company which can be expensive.
    • Tip the guides, cooks and porters, they work very hard to ensure your comfort.
  • Plan for Huayna Picchu
    • The mountain you see in all the Machu Picchu photos.  You can hike it and have an amazing view. It is very steep so make this the only hike of that day.
  • Eat the Coca Leaves
    • Coca tea, coca leaves mixed with gum, coca candy… All of it. It will keep you going.
  • Stay hydrated
    • Drink more water than you want to.
  • Layer up
    • You will experience all 4 seasons everyday so have lots of layers.
  • Bring your passport
    • You will need it at the beginning of the trail and to get into Machu Picchu.  You can also get it stamped there.
  • Rest every night.  Every day is hard but you also want to be able to enjoy it and take in the sites.

Day One-an easy stroll by the river

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Day Two-hard as F***, they call it dead woman’s pass for a reason

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Day Three-The longest day of downhill and slippery stairs, but also the most unbelievable sites walking through the jungle

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Day Four-still some hiking but mainly walking through Machu Picchu, unless you add Huayna Picchu to your itinerary

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Packing right for Machu Picchu is extremely important as it will ensure your comfort.

  • Backpack-20-25 L if you are not carrying your own camping equipment
  • Headlamp-I almost skipped this but this is 100% necessary
  • Lip Balm
  • Carabiners-have a few extra to clip your waterbottle, lip gloss, phone or whatever you will need consistently.
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray. You will be walking through jungles and rainforests.
  • Wet wipes-barely any bathrooms or showers.
  • Snacks
  • Water bottle/Bladder-My friend had a bladder and it seemed like it was much less of a hassle than the water bottles.
  • Sleeping Bag/Matt-I rented these and had the porter carry
  • Trekking poles-I rented
  • Baseball Hat
  • Small towel-I like the pactowel. This is for showering or wiping off the rain.
  • Blister Band-Aids
  • Plastic Bags for dirty or wet clothes
  • Basic Toiletries (toothpaste, toothbrush)
  • Cameras
  • Vicks-This will help you when you are hiking dead woman’s pass
  • Solar power external battery charger

Clothing

  • 4 outfits (hiking leggings, underwear (5), tank, sports bra, hiking socks) many people just do 2 I just prefer clean clothes
  • 1 long sleeve shirt
  • 1 fleece-I wore this every day
  • 1 poncho and/or rain jacket
  • Quality hiking boots
  • Flip flops or comfy shoes for at night
  • Bandana for neck
  • Swimsuit for hot springs in Aguas Calientes

 

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