The Inca Trail is no easy feat, there is the high altitude, steep climbs and lots of stairs. I considered myself a fit person but hiking the Dead Woman’s Pass was one of the toughest days of hiking I have experienced. Despite it being a challenge it is well worth it and it should be on your bucket list!
What to expect
- The trek takes 4 days, 3 nights with the last day being spent at Machu Picchu. Depending on what company you use, it is likely you will be sleeping in tents, there are no showers and expect to use a long drop squat toilet that is not very clean. The company we used (Tucan Travel) was great, by the time we reached camp every night our tents were set, hot water was ready for a wash and popcorn was supplied as a snack whilst we waited for our 3 course dinner. It was by far the most fancy hike I’ve ever done;
- Pick up your permit at the start of the hike, this would have been arranged by your hike provider. We also got our passports stamps when we arrived at Machu Picchu;
- Don’t worry about keeping up with your group, you can defiantly go at your own pace. We had a mix of ages in our group and the hikers ranged from never hiked before to experienced hikers and everyone made it to the end;
- What I was most surprised by, was how beautiful the whole hike was. It is not all about Machu Picchu, there are many amazing sites to see along the way. Some were even better than Machu Picchu because you share it will fellow hikers and there are much smaller crowds;
- There is a very early morning on day 4, this is so the porters can make the first train out of the valley. So it was a 3am start for us! The track doesn’t open until 5am so there is a bit of waiting around in the dark, but once you’re on the track and you have the energy you can leg it to the Sungate to arrive just in time for sunrise.
How it feels
Reaching the Sungate on the last morning was such a dream come true, the mist lifted and there was Machu Picchu. We were tired, dirty and sweaty from the past 3 days but this moment made it all worth it. When you are walking around Machu Picchu you can walk with pride, you didn’t take the train here, you didn’t get the bus up, you walked the Inca Trail! It is something to be proud of and although you will hobble around Machu Picchu with sore legs, you will feel like you have earned the satisfaction of being here.
What to bring
The porters will carry the majority of your things, but there is still a limit on how much you can bring. We were allowed 5kg each including our sleeping bag. 5kg was enough to fit your night clothes, a change of day clothes, socks and underwear. If you want to bring more you can always carry it yourself. I brought a small backpack for warmer clothes, snacks, water sunscreen, camera and rain jacket.
A tip is to bring a spare camera battery, you are on the trail for 4 days with no electricity, it would suck to get to Machu Picchu and not be able to capture it.
There are also people that will sell you snacks for most of the first 2 days, so if you need a chocolate bar you can buy one, it is best to stock up before heading over the Dead Woman’s Pass as from memory there is nothing much to buy after that.
When to book and who to book with
Earlier the better if you want to secure your spot, especially if you want specific dates or a particular trek provider. There are a also limited number of permits for hikers. June, July and August is the high season and when the trail can become fully booked. It is also worth noting that the trail is closed in February for maintenance. We went in April and had no problems securing a spot and we also got nice weather.
We used Tucan Travel as we had known someone else that used them and the company came highly recommended. We were very happy with our choice. The equipment was good, the guide was good, the porters were great, the food was great and overall we had an awesome time with an awesome group of people.
Hiking the Inca Trail was a dream come true and it was well worth the effort. Make sure you book your trip in advance and go with a reputable company that treats their porters well.
Enjoy the many beautiful ruins along the way and feel an amazing sense of achievement when you reach the sun gate. It will be a memory of a lifetime.
Want more hiking adventures? Check out these posts
- What to expect when hiking the Milford Track, New Zealand
- Volcano Boarding and hiking El Hoyo
- Camping and exploring Yosemite National Park