Frequently Asked Questions about The Inca Trail

Peru is a year-round destination, although most people plan to trek during the dry season, running from April to October. The mid-year months, June and July, are the most popular and therefore the most crowded times of year to visit. The wet season runs from November to March – this is when the temperature rises, and the region receives heavy rainfall. The Inca Trail closes every year in February (the wettest month of the year) for maintenance.  Low cloud cover in these winter months also means cold nights on the trail, so bring some thermal wear for a good night’s sleep.

YES Permits are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so booking well in advance is imperative.  To help preserve the Inca Trail, the Peruvian authorities restrict available permits to only 500 per day (made up of about 200 tourists and 300 porters).

While there is no official minimum age for hiking the trail, we do recommend children be at least 10 years. Parents considering taking their child on a trek should be mindful of the physical challenges – the Inca Trail is labelled as a moderate trek, but for most people hiking at over 3000 metres (10,000 ft), continuously up and down valleys can be strenuous activity. While the trail can be completed by a person with moderate fitness, it is worth considering whether your child would be able to meet the physical requirements of the trek.

The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but please come prepared, as the trail is 43 km (26 mi) long and often steep. Each day’s journey generally consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with stops for snacks and lunch. Each day you hike for about 7 hours along the trail.  Accommodation on the trek is camping (three nights).  Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided, but you will need to bring your own sleeping bag.

The porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals.

The Inca Trail is 42 kms (26 miles) long. Campsites along the trek are assigned by the Ministerio de Cultura Descentralizada and for this reason it is difficult to determine the distance to be covered in a day but expect to walk 6 to 9 hours per day. 

During the trek itself, you will move up and down through altitudes each day with the peak reached at the infamous Dead Woman’s Pass – sitting at 4215 m (13,828 ft) above sea level. This is nearly 1800 m (5905 ft) higher than the site of Machu Picchu.  Most people can start to feel the effects of altitude at over 2000 m (6561 ft) regardless of age, gender or fitness level. While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you make yourself aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.

It’s important to take it easy, drink plenty of water and speak to your leader at once if you feel unwell.

We recommend seeing your doctor if you have any health concerns before undertaking the trip. Particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking any medication.

While you’re away from Cusco, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel. The evening before you leave Cusco you’ll receive a small duffle bag to carry your clothes in for the next four days (6 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Keep in mind that you won’t have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group.

All meals are provided on our camping trips, and we often cook the region’s specialities so you don’t miss out. Please let us know before your trip starts if you have any dietary requirements.

Boiled water will be supplied daily. You should be carrying at least 2 liters of water daily while trekking. Depending on whether you have a hydration bladder in your bag or not we recommend bringing two (1 litre) bottles that can be refilled on the trail with boiled water.

Toilet blocks are situated along the Inca Trail but with little maintenance currently taking place, this is not a pleasant experience for any hiker.

At the end of each day, we provide a camping toilet tent. It’s a 1 sqm tent with a small portable chemical toilet in it. It’s nothing to write home about, but it’s decent! And most importantly, it’s all carried down the mountain by the porters. You will need to pack a torch for venturing out if nature calls at night, and bring some toilet paper. You’ll also want to take a bottle of hand sanitizer.

We recommend you carry the below suggested amounts with you during the trek, and that you carry small bills as this makes splitting the tip an easier process. On the last day of the trek the tips will be broken down into envelopes – one per porter, assistant guides and guide.

This is generally the tipping breakdown:

Porters, cook and assistants $25 – $40

Assistant guide: $5 – $10

Guide: $10 – $15

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.