Tips and planning
What to know
Sunrise Peru Trek has more than 20 years of experience in leading hikers to Machu Picchu. Our experienced guides are very well trained and professionals and have the 99% of success to arrive Machu Picchu, they have safely guided thousands of clients through the Inca Trail.
This internet guide aims to provide potential, valuable and accurate information for trekkers, which will hopefully contribute towards increasing your chances of Trekking to Machu Picchu.
We have compiled this information over years of experience as well as from feedback from previous clients. From all the information provided in this guide, the tips listed on this page is probably the most important.
Before the Trek
Be properly equipped
An essential part of your preparation will be to ensure that you are well equipped for Inca Trail attempt. Print our final checklist and mark it off, to ensure that you are. Click on Final Checklist to get to this very important step in your preparation.
Be physically prepared
It is important that your body is adequately prepared for the physical challenges of Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We have developed a fitness training program which will assist you in getting your body in shape for your Inca Trail Trek. Please click Fitness Program for more information in this regard.
It is possible to hike the Inca Trail successfully. Many before you have succeeded. This should be topmost in your mind when preparing for the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. You should always remain in a positive state of mind, but not overly arrogant. Try to anticipate various different scenarios, which you may possibly encounter on the mountains and try to work out the most suitable course of action, mentally by yourself or even as a group.
Your mental stamina will, without a doubt, make the really difficult sections, like the second day or the Dead woman’s pass, easier to hike. Remember if you are properly equipped, you have taken everything as indicated on the final checklist, you are physically prepared and have all the knowledge gained from this internet guide – you will be mentally confident for the hardest part of the Inca Trail.
On The Inca Trail
Go slowly; it is very important to do it slowly, especially during your first days of Trekking. Even if you feel well, slow down and enjoy the scenery. The biggest cause of altitude sickness is ascending too high too fast! The slower you hike to more time you give your body to acclimatize.
Drink enough water
Make sure that you drink at least 3 – 4 liters of liquid a day – preferably water. For your firsts days it is recommended that you take along fresh water, which may be purchased at the hotel in Cusco, Ollantaytambo or along the trail. Try to get the bottles with the screw tops, this way you will also have containers in which to take water on following days. Running water on the mountain is safe to drink from day-2 onwards, but care should still be taken. If you are not used to fresh water in nature, prevent any inconvenience by using water purification tablets.
Walk high – sleep low
If possible and especially on your acclimatization day “walk high – sleep low” Try to do a short evening stroll to a higher altitude and then descend to sleep at the camp at a lower altitude. This is essential on your acclimatization day.
Climb as lightly as possible; this becomes even more important on your walk to the highest pass. Extra weight will slow you down and will also make breathing more difficult.
Remember that you will be on the mountain for at least 4 or 5 days. You need to take enough clothing, especially socks to last for this period. Due to frequent rainfall as well as numerous streams on the routes, it is advisable to pack items individually in your bag. These individually packed items should be wrapped in plastic bags to prevent them from getting wet in case of rain or of being accidentally dropped in a stream.
You will require the correct underwear, thermal hiking socks, gloves (preferably mittens), warm head protection, rain coat, sunglasses and sun protection cream. Also remember your hiking boots and very importantly, a walking stick / ski-pole. One of the most critical items of clothing is an outer jacket. You want it to perform the functions of keeping you warm, protect you at temperatures of as low as minus 10 degrees Celsius, keep the wind out and yet still “breath”.
Try to avoid tight fitting clothing or underwear. This will hamper circulation, causing either cold or discomfort on the mountain.
The only way to ensure that you are dressed warmly is to follow the principal of wearing the correct clothing layers, starting from against the body. A common mistake made by Trekkers is to wear almost everything they have and to start off with cotton against the skin. Cotton absorbs moisture perfectly, and moisture trapped against the skin will result in a definite lowering of the body temperature, which could even lead to hypothermia.
It is therefore very important to use proper thermal underwear with “wicking” properties (a fabric which has the ability to draw moisture away from the body) and thus enabling it to evaporate to the outside. The middle layer should provide the insulation and a product like polar fleece will be adequate in this regard. The outer layer should be windproof, waterproof and breathable. Products like Ventex, Goretex or Jeantex offer these properties.
Take enough snacks like energy bars etc. Avoid the toffee like energy bars (as they get very hard and difficult to eat in low temperatures) but rather but the cereal type energy bars.
Adequate sun protection
Wear a good quality pair of sunglasses (with UV protection) and use adequate sun protection cream with a protection factor of at least 20+.
Other useful tips:
- Make sure all your clothes and sleeping bag are packed in plastic bag inside the duffel bag, to ensure they stay dry in the event of rain, even if your duffel bag is waterproof. Once something gets wet on the mountain it is difficult, even impossible to dry!
- At night some people snore – bring some ear plugs to sleep with.
- The trail is very dusty and sinus congestion is a problem with many hikers. Bring a good decongestant spray or tablet.
- Female hikers suffer more from the cold than male hikers. Hand / feet warmers are a good idea (or even a hot water bottle – hot water is available during meal times) and will help keep you warmer in the sleeping bag (minus temperatures to be encountered from the first night onwards)
- Bring some blister plasters, Vaseline and liner socks. If you start to get blisters it will help a lot.
- There is mobile reception on most of the Inca Trail. If you bring your mobile, make sure you activate international roaming. Because you cannot recharge the battery, only have the phone on an hour or two daily.