Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: How far in advance do I need to make a trek reservation with PeruTreks?

As far in advance as possible. The government has strictly limited the number of people allowed on the Inca Trail (permits are issued to about 200 trekkers per day plus 300 porters). We therefore recommend that you try to make your Inca trail reservation as far in advance as possible, as soon as you know the dates of your international flights (check that your passport isn’t about to expire).

Q2: What about payment, deposit and the balance?

After we have confirmed your trek booking you will need to pay a trek deposit of the 40% of the payment. The deposit can be paid by PayPal (preferred method as it is quick), or by bank transfer (no transfer fee). The remaining trek balance needs to be paid once you get here in your Hotel in Cusco at least 1 or 2 days prior to the trek departure date. Payment is to be made in cash US dollars (preferred) or local currency. When we confirm your trek booking we will send you more details about how to pay the trek deposit.

Note: The trek deposit is non-refundable & non-transferable. The deposit is used to purchase your trek permit and reserve space within the group. After purchasing the permit (or submitting your details to the government) we cannot change the date of trek departure or change the name or passport number on the trek permit.

Q3: Is the trek difficult, do I need to be fit?

The Inca Trail is a 43km (27 miles) hike through mountainous regions involving trekking for 7-10 hours at high altitude and over rough terrain. The maximum altitude reached on the trek is 4200m above sea level. On the second day of the trek we ascend 1200m. Make no mistake, the Inca Trail is a fairly difficult trek and you should be well prepared and healthy prior to starting it. You should be fit and take regular exercise. Try walking 15km in a day or go to the gym in the months leading up to the trek. It is also important to be well acclimatized to the altitude. Try to spend 2 or 3 days in Cusco (3400m) prior to starting the trek. This time can be put to good use visiting the city of Cusco, nearby Inca ruins and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. If you do not take regular exercise or have a heart, respiratory, knee or back problem do not consider doing the trek.

Q4: Is there a minimum or maximum age limit for the Inca Trail trek

There is no government restriction on the age limit for the Inca Trail. We require that all of our trekkers over 64 years old take the service of an extra half porter (7kg) the price is USD50.00 (without the sleeping bag and Mattress). Trekkers over 64 years old must also consult with their doctor prior to starting the trek to check that they are suitably fit to participate. They must follow their doctors recommendations even if this means cancelling their trek booking.  We also recommend that clients over 64 years old arrive in Cusco at least 3 days prior to starting the trek (rather than the usual 2 days). We recommend that all clients over 60 years old should talk to their doctor well in advance about how best to plan for the trek and also to ensure that their travel insurance covers such adventure activities.

Q4a: I would like to do the trek with my friends, can I book now and my friends book later?

 So the only way to ensure that you are booked in the same group as your friends is for you all to book together at the same time. If you book now we may not have spaces in our group for your friends if they book later and you won’t be able to cancel your booking without losing your trek deposit. If you do have friends who want to join the group later then you must let us know and ask your friends to mention that they want to be placed in your group when they make a booking.

Q5: Can I have vegetarian meals, special meals?

We offer standard meals as well as a vegetarian meal option. Just let us know if you want vegetarian meals when you book your trek.

Vegetarian meals have no red meat, chicken or fish. We will assume that eggs and dairy are OK.  Most of our main meals in the evening are served as a buffet service so you can always leave what you don’t like. If there is a particular food that you don’t like (i.e. tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc) we will ask the cook to do his best to leave them out of the dish but we cannot guarantee this. Thanks for you understanding in this matter.

Q6: I have a food allergy, can this be catered for?

We have plenty of clients who have allergies to nuts, wheat, etc. Please give us details of your allergy at the time of booking. Please indicate the nature of the reaction and what type of medicines you have to take in an emergency. Clients with an allergy must be accompanied by a friend on the trek who is aware of your allergy and the location of any required medicines. We do not accept clients with very severe or life-threatening allergies. Due to the nature of the remote geographical location of the trail and the lack of suitable nearby medical facilities Peru Treks will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special medical/dietary requirements. We suggest that you to check with your doctor before booking the trek.

Q7: I have asthma / diabetes / another medical condition. Can I still do the trek?

You must disclose at the time of booking any medical condition that could affect your ability to do the Inca Trail trek. Peru Treks reserves the right not to accept a trek booking if we feel that a medical condition may put your life or the lives of any of our trekking staff or other clients at risk on the trek. People with heart conditions, knee problems, severe asthma or pregnant should not participate in the trek. People with mild asthma / diabetes will have to consult their doctors and follow their doctor’s advice. They will also be required to be accompanied by a trekking companion on the trek at all times who will trek at their sides and be familiar with any medicines required in case of an emergency. Peru Treks reserved the right to cancel the trek booking of a client if the client has not fully disclosed at the time of making a booking a medical condition that may pose a risk to the health of the client and/or other trekkers. No refunds will be given in this instance.

Due to the nature of the remote geographical location of the trail and the lack of suitable nearby medical facilities along the trail Peru Treks will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special dietary requirements / medical condition. Clients proceed at their own risk. We suggest that you check with your doctor before booking the trek.

Q8: When do I have to arrive in Cusco and to wait in our hotel?

We require everyone to be in Cusco for at least 2 nights prior to starting the trek, although 3 nights is even better. You must pay your trek balance at least 1 day before trek departure. For example if your trek departs on a Monday we must come to your hotel on  Saturday or Sunday to pay the trek balance. This ensures that you are well acclimatized to the high altitude before starting the trek. Please note the trek balance needs to be paid in Cusco one person from our staff will come to your hotel and cannot be paid in advance of your arrival.

Q9: What happens if my flight/bus is delayed and I am not able to get to Cusco 2 days before to pay the trek balance?

We understand that flights sometimes get delayed so we treat each situation on a case by case basis and are usually sympathetic to genuine cases. If you are unable to make it to the office in time then please call our office as soon as possible. We might be able to make arrangements for a guide to come to your hotel later in the evening. If you decide to participate in the trek without the recommended period of 2 nights acclimatization to the high altitude then you do so at your own risk.

Q10: What do I need to bring on the trek?

Backpack, sleeping bag, double-thickness foam mattress (we will provide you with this but you have to carry it, it weighs approx 1kg), rain jacket, strong suitable footwear, one complete change of clothing, sweater, jacket (something warm), water bottle (metal or nalgene type) and water purification tablets (for emergency use), LED flashlight, broad-brim or peaked cap, sunblock, insect repellent, toiletries and toilet paper, selection of small snacks, chocolate, dried fruit, biscuits etc, camera and spare batteries (nowhere to charge your camera during the trek). For your own personal hygiene we also recommend that you bring a small bottle of anti-bacterial hand gel to clean your hands each time after using the camp toilets and before eating any snacks / meals. You also have to bring your original passport with you on the trek, with the same passport number you originally made your reservation with, otherwise you will be unable to go on the trek. Photocopies are no longer acceptable. Bring some money for bottle water, snacks, tips, souvenirs

We will buy your Inca Trail trek permit using the names & passport numbers that you send us with your trek booking application. You must bring these same passports with you to Cusco and take them on the Inca Trail. If the name or number in your passport is different from the name and number on the trek permit, the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek and you will not be entitled to a refund. If you plan to renew your passport between making the trek booking and actually starting the trek please bring your old and new passport. If you make a trek booking at the student price you must send us a copy of your ISIC card at the time you pay the trek deposit. If you fail to bring your ISIC card on the trek the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek. You will not be given the opportunity to pay the extra difference in price and you will not be entitled to a refund. These are government regulations and apply to all licensed Inca Trail tour operators.

Q11: What about the Company and the Extra porter?

When you are going to book your inca trail tickets the company is going to help you with 3 kilos / 6 pounds including your sleeping bag and Mattress or whatever you want which is included in the price.  The Extra porter is, if you need more help with your staff  in this case you can hire an extra porter to help with your personal staff the price is USD50.00 and the weight is 7 kilos without the Mattress

Q12: Do I need to bring walking boots?

Walking boots are recommended as they provide support to the ankle which reduces the risk of injury especially when trekking in the wet season (December – March). However it is important that your boots are comfortable and well worn-in and not brand new. Many people prefer to trek in tennis shoes but extra care should be taken since they do not support the ankle. We do not recommend trekking in sandals or using new boots or hiring boots prior to the trek. Make sure the shoes are sturdy enough for the duration of the trek and will not fall apart.

Q13: Can I use trekking poles / walking sticks on the Inca Trail? Do you hire them?

Many people like to hike with trekking poles or walking sticks. This is fine as long as the poles will not cause damage to the stone paving along the Inca Trail. If the trekking poles have metal spikes then these must be protected by rubber tips. We recommend bringing some spare rubber tips with you. Rubber protectors can also be bought in several shops in Cusco. Metal trekking poles can also be hired in many equipment hire shops in Cusco for about US$10 for the 4 day trek. Peru Treks often have poles for hire from our company.

Q14: Where can I store the bags that I do not need to take on the Inca Trail?

Any bags that you don’t need to take on the Inca trail can be left at your hotel in Cusco or in our office. Nearly all hotels have a luggage deposit and rarely charge for this service as long as you are returning to the hotel after the trek. You can also leave valuables in the hotel safe, but remember to bring your passport and some emergency money.

Q15: What is the weather like on the trek?

The best time to do the trek is between mid-April and the end of October when the weather is typically dry and sunny. The driest months are June, July & August which is also winter in Peru when you can expect temperatures to drop to around freezing in the early hours of the morning. January, February and March are summertime in Peru but in Cusco and on the Inca Trail this also corresponds with the wet season.

Q16: Are there toilets on the Inca Trail?

Toilets have been built along the Inca trail including all of the major campsites. This has helped a lot to improve sanitary conditions on the trail although conditions are still not always perfect.  Each toilet block has cold running water. We recommend that you bring hand-sanitizer to use after visiting the public toilets. Every evening we will provide you with a bowl of warm water to wash with. There is a S/.1 charge to use the toilets in the Wayllabamba community (1 day of trek) as these toilets have been built on land owned by the community. However these toilets are usually much better maintained than the government ones.

Q17: When do you buy our Inca Trail trek permits?

We usually start to buy the trek permits after having received your the trek deposit. Every year the Inca Trail trek permits are selling out further and further in advance as demand increases and the number of permits is limited. If you want to book your inca trail please do it in advance.

Q18: What do we do for water along the Inca Trail?

Bottled mineral water can be taken from Cusco, bought at the start of the trek (km82), at Wayllabamba (our first campsite), at several places between Wayllabamba and the first pass on the second day and at Machu Picchu. Bottled water is more expensive than in Cusco and a large bottle can cost between S/.15 & S/.20 depending on how far away it is from the start of the trek (someone has to carry it to the point of sale). Our cook will normally be able to provide you with boiled water at breakfast, lunch and evening meal from day two evening onwards. Most people are fine with drinking just bottled and boiled water. However there may be occasions when you have to fill up your water bottled from a small stream or spring along the trail so it is always recommended to bring a few purification tablets for EMERGENCY USE (probably 4 or 5 tablets should be sufficient for the total trek). Although water from the streams or springs may look clear it is often contaminated by animals and farming communities living upstream. Always use sterilizing tablets prior to drinking it and follow the instructions carefully as they may differ from those given below. It can sometimes be difficult finding sterilization tablets in Cusco so we recommend that you bring some from home. After putting the purification tablet in your water bottle wait 30 minutes and then turn your bottle upside down and loosen the cap so a trickle of water runs out. Wait another 60 minutes. This will ensure that the neck of the bottle is also fully sterilized. We have had several instances of trekkers becoming sick by insufficiently purifying river water, we advise drinking only bottled water and boiled & filtered water provided by our cooks and bottled water wherever possible.

Q19: If I am travelling alone can I have my own tent?

If you are travelling alone and are willing to share a tent with a member of the same sex, then there is no additional cost. If, however, you would like your own tent then there is an additional supplement of US$40

Q20: Can I climb Huayna Picchu (optional)

Huayna Picchu is the large mountain just behind Machu Picchu. There is a narrow and steep trail right to the top of the mountain and there are also some interesting Inca ruins at the top. The view of Machu Picchu from the summit is breathtaking. There is an additional fee for climbing Huayna Picchu. Unfortunately, at the moment, clients can’t buy a separate ticket just to climb Huayna Picchu. The entrance ticket to Huayna Picchu is only available as part of a combined Machu Picchu, we would recommend staying an extra night in Aguas Calientes and buying a combined Machu Picchu – Huayna Picchu entrance ticket for the following day. You will therefore get entrance to Machu Picchu and be able to climb Huayna Picchu which offers better value for money. Of course you will still have to pay for your accommodation in Aguas Calientes and return bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu

The entrance tickets to Huayna Picchu must be bought BEFORE you start the Inca Trail and are sold on a first-come-first-served basis often several months in advance. Combined Huayna Picchu & Machu Picchu entrance tickets can be bought online at www.machupicchu.gob.pe

Note: If you want to book your huaynapicchu mountain for the same day or the next day , we can help you doing the but please let us know in advance in order to book your ticket.

The entrance tickets to Huaynapicchu Mountain is: USD60.00 per person

Q21: Where do I have to be on the morning of the trek and where will I be dropped off at the end of the trek?

We’ll collect you from your hotel on the morning of trek departure and drop you off in your hotel at the end of your treks too.

Q22: What time do we leave Aguas Calientes and what time to we get back to Cusco?

Included in the price of the trek is the train ticket  from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. The train normally departs from Aguas Calientes between 15:00 to 16:20 and arrives in Ollantaytambo for about 18:00 to 19:05. We then send a bus to collect you at the station in Ollantaytambo or Cusco to bring you back to your hotel. The Expedition service is a comfortable service with reserved seats, no standing. Teas, coffees and snacks are also available for purchase on this train.

Q23: Do you recommend staying an extra night at Aguas Calientes?

Staying an extra night at Aguas Calientes gives you the opportunity to return to Machu Picchu early the following day. If you want to climb Huayna Picchu then you must ensure that you buy a combined Machu Picchu

All entrance tickets to Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu must to bought well in advance BEFORE you start the Inca Trail, preferably before you even arrive in Peru.

Entrance tickets can now be bought online at www.machupicchu.gob.pe

Visiting Machu Picchu for a second time is quite a good idea during the wet season (December to March) when you are more likely to encounter rain and Machu Picchu enshrouded in mist and clouds. During this type of weather Machu Picchu has an almost mystical atmosphere, but if you are looking for photos of the «Lost City» in the sunshine then the extra day spent at the ruins helps to improve your chances. The decision as to whether to spend an extra night at Aguas Calientes may depend upon how much time you have in Peru. From our experience, many people who had planned to stay an extra night in Aguas Calientes usually end up trying to change their train tickets to return to Cusco straight after the trek (this is subject to availability and often quite difficult). Machu Picchu is fairly small and 4 or 5 hours is usually sufficient for most visitors. Many people are surprised by the beauty of Cusco and would prefer to spend more time discovering this city than revisiting Machu Picchu for the second time.

Q24: Can you pick me up from Ollantaytambo on the morning of the trek departure, instead of from Cusco?

Yes, provided that you are suitably acclimatized to the altitude prior to starting the trek. Ollantaytambo is at a much lower altitude than Cusco and time spent there (or anywhere else in the Sacred Valley) doesn’t count towards your acclimatization period. We recommend that you spend at least 2 nights in Cusco, preferably three, prior to spending the night at Ollantaytambo. When you come to our office you must also give us the name of your hotel in Ollantaytambo so that we can arrange a time to pick you up.

Q25: What happens if the Inca Trail is closed or partially closed?

Its important that before making a trek booking you read our booking terms and conditions. During the wet season heavy rains can result in landslides that can block part of the trail or close some of the campsites. Usually these partial trail closures are just for a few days but they can be for several weeks or even months. In the event of such closures Peru Treks will do our best to find an alternative route to get to Machu Picchu