"The ruins of Machu Picchu are perched on top of a steep ridge in the most inaccessible corner of the most inaccessible section of the central Andes. No part of the highlands of Peru has been better defended by natural bulwarks—a stupendous canyon whose rim is more than a mile above the river, whose rock is granite, and whose precipices are frequently a thousand feet sheer.”


Table of Contents

What is the Inca Trail?

The Inca Trail is an important archaeological pathway, offering a unique journey through South America’s history. For those undertaking the trek, it presents physical and mental challenges that can be difficult to prepare for. The trail winds through the Andes Mountains, providing incredible views of nature and ancient ruins along the way. But adjusting to the altitude, enduring long climbs, and negotiating slippery steps can all take their toll on hikers.

To better enjoy your experience on the Inca Trail, it is important to come prepared both mentally and physically. With some pre-trip training and the right gear, you can ensure that you are ready for whatever the path throws at you. Taking frequent breaks while out on the trail will also help you to appreciate your surroundings; you might catch glimpses of local wildlife or discover pieces of Incan culture that have been preserved over time. Taking your time and savoring each moment will lead to more enjoyable memories than rushing ahead without stopping to explore what lies all around you.

Inca Trail hikers have plenty of opportunities to explore historic sites as they go, including Machu Picchu – one of Peru’s most famous attractions. As well as visiting this iconic landmark, visitors may see other archaeological wonders along their route such as Salkantay Pass or Wiñay Wayna (forever young). Many travelers prefer to hike with a knowledgeable guide who can explain the significance of these sites in greater detail and provide a unique insight into how Incan culture developed over time.

The positive effects of taking on such an ambitious challenge cannot be understated. Completing the four-day trek requires determination and resilience but comes with valuable rewards; from conquering immense physical obstacles to being rewarded with stunning views from high in the mountains, there is something for everyone on this magical journey. By adequately preparing yourself beforehand and appreciating every aspect of this adventure as it unfolds, everyone has the potential for an unforgettable experience when walking through Peru’s ancient landscapes on the Inca Trail.

View of Hiram Bingham III standing atop a jungle bridge at Espiritu Pampa in Peru. Hand-colored glass slide, from original image by Harry Ward Foote. Foote was a Yale Ph.B. (1895) and Ph.D. (1898), who was a professor of chemistry at Yale College, and served as the expedition collector and naturalist on Bingham's expeditions to Peru. Yale Peruvian Expedition Papers, Yale University Manuscripts & Archives Digital Images Database, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.

What is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu is a mysterious and magnificent sight, having been constructed by the Incas some 500 years ago. Built with 50-ton granite blocks, many sourced from nearby quarries, its intricate details and sophisticated design reveal the tremendous capabilities of the ancient civilization. It is a place that has captivated the world ever since Hiram Bingham first discovered it in 1911 after it had lain relatively untouched and undiscovered for centuries.

The story of Machu Picchu begins with the Inca’s mastery over masonry and engineering – skills so advanced for their time period that one can only wonder how they could construct such a massive structure using only primitive tools. Each block was cut with precision and accuracy, allowing them to build an edifice resistant to earthquakes without needing mortar or cement between each joint – something that modern-day engineers could appreciate. It wasn’t just used for practical purposes, however; every detail was meticulously crafted for aesthetic reasons as well, creating an atmosphere of reverence and awe throughout its grounds.

When Hiram Bingham stumbled upon Machu Picchu in 1911, what he found was nothing short of astounding: terraces carved into mountainsides used for farming purposes; several temples; houses shaped like pumas; staircases running up sheer cliffsides, all connected by intricate pathways surrounded by lush green foliage that added further beauty to this already breathtaking site. By visiting Machu Picchu today, one gets the chance to experience life as its original inhabitants did hundreds of years ago, which speaks volumes about how advanced this civilization was during their time period.

One may never know why Machu Picchu was abandoned after construction nor why no written records exist regarding who built it. What we do know is that its architects created something timeless – a marvellous testament to their ingenuity and world-class craftsmanship, which still stands unrivaled even in today’s age of modern technology. Walking through its halls makes one appreciate just how influential these builders really were – creating something so majestic yet utterly timeless, simultaneously making it one of today’s modern marvels and inspiring travelers around the world to venture thousands of miles to get a glimpse of this ancient civilization along with everything else they can experience when visiting Machu Picchu itself.

Machu Picchu truly is a fascinating destination worthy of any traveler’s admiration – an enigma shrouded in mystery due to its lack of written records but awe-inspiring due to its incredible size, detail and sophistication, which reveals the incredible abilities of its builders who have left us with an enduring legacy that will last far beyond our lifetimes.


How difficult is it to hike the Inca Trail? Learn what it takes to complete and, more importantly, enjoy the Inca Trail.

The Inca Trail is one of the most renowned trails in the world, and for a good reason. It’s a challenge that tests even the most well-prepared hikers – from adjusting to the altitude to climbing seemingly endless heights and navigating slippery steps carved from granite, it requires one to have their wits about them. But don’t let this intimidate you – if you come prepared with proper training and gear and take your time to enjoy the natural beauty around you, it can be an immensely rewarding experience.

At its heart, this is a trail that requires patience and appreciation for the wonders of nature – especially when it comes to the many archaeological sites along the way. Every step gives you something new to look at, savor, and discover, whether it be breathtaking views of distant valleys or intricately carved statues depicting ancient deities. You’ll find yourself entranced by both human-made feats and natural spectacles as they come together in perfect harmony.

Ultimately, this is a journey that will stay with you long after you’ve completed it – something that will continue to inspire awe years down the line and remind you that there are still places out there that require us to take a step back from our hurried lives and appreciate what we have in front of us. Whether young or old, novice or veteran hiker – all who tread these sacred paths find themselves changed forever for having done so, altered for life by what has been seen with their own eyes.

Is the Inca Trail right for you?

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What life is like above the clouds and how to acclimatize your body to the altitude in Peru.

When it comes to preparing for high-altitude exposure, everyone’s body reacts differently. There are a number of factors that can affect the ability to acclimatize effectively and safely. The most important thing you can do is to drink plenty of water, as dehydration can cause or exacerbate symptoms of altitude sickness. Make sure to replenish your fluids at every potable water station on the trail.

Along with staying hydrated, proper rest, sustenance, and exercise are all essential components of preparing for high altitudes. Give yourself plenty of time to rest in between hikes and make sure that you’re eating enough nutrient-rich meals. To get your heart rate up and your lungs used to working hard, incorporate moderate cardio exercises into your training regimen. Additionally, travel lightly so that every ounce counts when taking more than 20,000 steps per day.

Coca leaves, coca candy and coca tea are all beneficial in addressing symptoms associated with altitude sickness due to their ability to counter the effects of low oxygen levels at higher altitudes. Before embarking on a high-altitude hike or trekking journey, it’s best to consume some form of these products in order to prepare your body for what lies ahead.

No matter how physically fit you may be considered an athlete or not, altitude sickness is something that can affect anyone if they don’t take the necessary precautions beforehand. Make sure you know the signs and symptoms as well as how to act if needed so that you can take care of yourself and others along the way if necessary. Even after landing in Cusco or a similar destination airport located at a higher elevation than sea level, there is no way to predict how one’s body will react upon depressurizing the cabin so it’s best to be prepared just in case anything arises while en route.

Finally, the best way by far to prevent altitude sickness is by ascending gradually over several days instead of all at once; this allows your body time adequate time adjust accordingly so that any potential issues are avoided entirely or minimized significantly if they arise at all. Remember: always listen to your body when climbing as it will tell you what it needs before any potential danger sets in – join forces with yourself rather than pushing through any sensations that might signal trouble ahead!

Here are 7 key points to remember about altitude, acclimatization and preventing Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS):

  1. Drink plenty of water, and refill when you reach a potable water station.
  2. Get adequate rest for both your body and mind.
  3. Eat nutritious meals to keep yourself energized throughout the trek.
  4. Incorporate moderate intensity cardio exercises into your daily routine for improved endurance and strength building capabilities on the trail.
  5. Pack lightly so that every ounce matters while hiking up to 20,000+ steps per day!
  6. Consider drinking Coca tea or eating coca candy as it has been proven effective in countering altitude sickness effects during high-altitude hikes; these items can be bought before embarking on the journey or even whilst on the trail itself!
  7. Don’t push yourself too hard – even professional athletes struggle with altitude sickness at times; seek help if necessary from fellow hikers or your tour guide once you spot any signs of altitude sickness in yourself or others around you!

Altitude sickness, also known as “acute mountain sickness” or AMS, can occur when people ascend too quickly to high altitudes. It is caused by reduced air pressure and lower concentrations of oxygen at higher altitudes. Symptoms of altitude sickness can include headache, dizziness, nausea, loss of appetite, shortness of breath, difficulty sleeping and fatigue. In some cases, it can be fatal if left untreated.

The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to ascend gradually so that your body has time to adjust to the change in altitude. If possible, spend an extra day or two acclimatizing at a lower altitude before making the final ascent. Take your time during the climb and rest whenever you need it. Staying hydrated is also key — drink plenty of water so that you stay hydrated and avoid alcohol until after you have reached your destination.

Finally, listen to your body — if you start feeling unwell while climbing, it’s important to act quickly. Stop ascending immediately and rest until symptoms improve. If symptoms are severe or don’t go away within 12-24 hours, seek medical help right away.

Signs of Altitude Sickness

Symptoms of altitude sickness usually develop between 6 and 24 hours after reaching altitudes more than 8,000ft (2,400m) above sea level.

Symptoms are similar to those of a bad hangover and include:

  • headache
  • feeling and being sick
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • shortness of breath

The symptoms are usually worse at night.


The best times of the year to hike the Inca Trail and average weather by season.

Everyone’s body reacts differently at high altitudes and there are a number of factors that can affect your ability to acclimatize properly. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to prepare for high-altitude exposure:

  • Drink a lot of water. Then drink more. When you reach a potable water station along the way, force yourself to drink every drop you have left and then refill before heading back out.
  • Get proper rest. Your brain needs rest as much as your body.
  • Get proper sustenance. Your plates and bowls should be spotless after every meal at camp.
  • Mix moderately high-intensity cardio exercise into your training regimen. Get your heart rate up, and your lungs used to working hard.
  • Travel lightly. Carefully consider what you’re going to carry while you hike. Every ounce matters when taking 20,000+ steps a day.
  • Coca leaves, coca candy, and coca tea are all readily available in Cusco before you embark and while you’re on the trail. They have a proven ability to counter and prevent the effects of altitude sickness.
  • Don’t be a hero. Even superstar athletes can struggle with the effects of altitude. Know the signs of Altitude Sickness, and let your tour leader know if you ever need assistance.

Nobody knows how their body is going to react when the airplane cabin depressurizes after landing in Cusco, but if you take all of the above into account beforehand you will be much better prepared to deal with what comes your way.


Local Leader

Your trusted local guide in Peru and along the Inca Trail

Club Adventures Local Leaders are your key to unlocking the local culture. They’ll share the history of Peru as well as the spiritual significance of the sights that you visit. On all Inca Trail tours you’ll have a local guide who will stick by your side as you acclimate to the various altitudes and introduce you to Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Once you get on the trail, you may be joined by a different guide who is specifically trained for the intensity of the hike and will set the pace like the pro that they are. Trust them to set the best pace for the whole group, and they’ll be your translator, historian, medic, and cheerleader for the rest of the trek. Pick their brain and enjoy their company – you’ll soon have an incredibly knowledgeable and mind-blowingly fit friend.

Hear from two of our many guides below:

Meet Ernestina

“I love this job. For most people, their office is their home. For me, the Inca Trail is my office. Machu Picchu is my office. Everywhere outside Cusco is my office! I love to show people around this beautiful country.”

Inca Trail Porters

All about the people who make hiking the Inca Trail possible

On your trek, you’ll be accompanied by a crew of local porters who will carry all the supplies necessary to complete the hike. They’ll carry your additional clothes, your tents, your sleeping bags, a portable emergency toilet, and most importantly – all your food and water. Watching them run by carrying a bag as large as they are is a truly humbling experience, and this trek wouldn’t be possible without them. You’ll be welcomed to camp for lunch and dinner with friendly smiling faces, a standing-ovation, and a sincere feeling that you’re all in this journey together.

Keep in mind that not all porters will speak English, so your Local Leader can help translate for you, but studying your Spanish beforehand is well worth the effort! A simple ‘gracias’ can go a long way.

Food & Meals on the Inca Trail

All about the food and what you can expect to eat along the Inca Trail

Keeping your body fueled properly for the trek is essential. In the days prior to beginning the hike, we recommend avoiding alcohol and ensuring you drink plenty of water. You’ll want to eat plenty of carbohydrates for your body to store which is thankfully quite easy to do in Peru with the abundance of potatoes!

On the trail, you’ll be joined by a chef in addition to the porters to prepare all of your meals and keep your body energized and strong while taking on the challenge of the hike. While you shouldn’t expect a fine-dining experience, these chefs are seriously talented – especially with the limited resources they have in these remote areas. I mean, flambe? In a tent? Who would’ve thought.

Camping & Accommodations

All about the camping and sleeping arrangements along the Inca Trail

Club Adventures local leaders…