Preparing for the Inca Trail: Your Essential Guide to a Memorable Adventure

Written by: Sam Travel | 18 March, 2024
Preparing for the Inca Trail

The Classic Inca Trail is the most famous trek in the Americas, thanks to its historical significance and breathtaking scenic beauty along the route, as well as the numerous archaeological complexes. Many people have it on their bucket list to embark on this incredible journey. For this reason, Sam Travel Peru offers some tips for getting physically prepared before undertaking this impressive adventure.

Plan Ahead

When it comes to planning your Inca Trail experience, booking in advance is absolutely crucial. The Inca Trail is subject to strict regulations imposed by the Peruvian government in order to preserve its natural beauty and protect its archaeological sites. One of the most important regulations is the limitation on the number of people allowed on the trail each day, which is capped at 500 individuals.

To secure your spot on the Inca Trail, it’s imperative to sign up for a trek at least six months in advance. We, for instance, booked our trek for July back in the previous September, and even then, available spots were filling up quickly. This early booking is essential because the popularity of the trail means that permits are in high demand.

  • Permit: Secure your Inca Trail permit well in advance. There is a limited number of permits issued each day, and they tend to sell out quickly, especially during the peak trekking season (May to September). Check with a reputable tour operator to help you obtain your permit.
  • Season: Choose the best time to visit. The dry season (May to September) is ideal for trekking, as you’ll encounter fewer rain showers. However, it’s also the busiest time, so consider shoulder seasons like April or October for a less crowded experience.

Physical Preparation:

  • Fitness: The Inca Trail is challenging. Engage in regular cardio and strength training exercises to build your endurance and stamina. Hiking, stair climbing, and leg workouts are particularly beneficial.
  • Altitude: Be prepared for high altitudes. Cusco, the starting point for the trek, is located at over 11,000 feet (3,400 meters). Spend a few days in Cusco acclimatizing to the altitude before starting the trek.

Packing Essentials:

  • Clothing: Layering is key. Pack moisture-wicking base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof, breathable outer layer. Don’t forget a good pair of hiking boots and comfortable socks.
  • Gear: A good quality backpack, trekking poles, a sleeping bag, and a headlamp are essential. A portable charger for your devices can be useful too.
  • Medications: Bring medications for altitude sickness, headaches, stomach issues, and any personal prescriptions.
  • Documents: Carry your passport, Inca Trail permit, and a photocopy of your passport. These will be checked at various points along the trail. see more details inca trail packing list

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Join the thousands of satisfied customers who rate us #1 on TripAdvisor

Bernie s 2023/03/02

Had a great trip with our guide Ray Herrera and driver Alfredo. Lots of good experiences in a short period of time 4 days. Learnt a lot not just about the main tourist destinations but Peru in general by Ray. Ray has a passion for Inca history and local produce. Ray knows all the good photo spots and we managed the sun out every day .. Good culture and if you want to get on a tour ask for Ray at Sams Travel = amazing

Tanya H 2023/03/02

Ray was our Tour Guide and Alfredo was our driver for a 4 day tour we did with SAM Travel Peru. Ray's knowledge of the history of Cusco and Machu Picchu was outstanding. Ray was very accommodating with all our needs. He stayed alongside us when trekking and helped where he could. His sense of humour was pleasant to be around. Ray spoke very good English. He is such a nice guy. I would strongly recommend Ray to be your tour guide to visit Machu Picchu. Ray explained everyday what the plans were for the next day, which was reassuring what we needed to take etc

Captanjack 2023/01/012

Our 1 day tour thru the Sacred Vally with Danny was wonderful. He was very knowledgeable and able to answer all our questions in detail. I would recommend asking for him personally if you are able.

Sherry 2022/12/26

We booked the Classic Cusco to Machu Picchu tour with SAM travel which we really had a good experience. SAM travel is very responsive during the communication and cater to our changes needed. Our guide is Ray who is also an very awesome guide. He is knowledgeable, patient, humorous as well reliable, he help us take many good photos and also go extra mile to help with our request. Thanks Ray! Thanks SAM travel that gave us good memories in Peru! Highly recommend if you consider booking any tour in Cusco.

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C Clark 2023/01/20

Wow. We had such an incredible experience in Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Our guide, Dayvit, is the most knowledgeable guide we have ever had. He has such an extensive knowledge of the history and is very friendly and helpful. If you are planning a trip to Peru, I highly recommend SAM travel and be sure to request Dayvit!

Emma Dinzebach Clark 2023/01/10

2 day tour sacred valley / Machu Picchu highly recommend! David was the best tour guide. He knows an incredible amount about Incan culture and is personable and funny. He also kept us up to date on a political situation happening when we were there and was informative. Overall, this tour checks all the boxes. Thank you!

Nupur Joshi 2023/01/02

We used SAM Travel for a 2D/1N trip from Cusco to Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu on Dec 25-26, 2022. The team was good with communication from the start - both Saul and Junior were very helpful and professional with answering any questions and clearing up any misunderstandings. Our guide, Miguel, was prompt, pleasant, and quite knowledgeable. We enjoyed his company and insight over the 2 day trip and recommend him to anyone booking with SAM Travel.

Xueying Chen 2022/12/20

We booked the Classic Cusco to Machu Picchu tour with SAM travel which we really had a good experience. SAM travel is very responsive during the communication and cater to our changes needed. Our guide is Ray who is also an very awesome guide. He is knowledgeable, patient, humorous as well reliable, he help us take many good photos and also go extra mile to help with our request. Thanks Ray! Thanks SAM travel that gave us good memories in Peru! Highly recommend if you consider booking any tour in Cusco.

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Brandon Slater 2022/09/30

My wife and I just completed two excursions with SAM Travel Peru and we absolutely loved them. We did the 4 Day Salkantay Wilderness + Machu Picchu and then the 2-Day Rainbow Mountain + 7 Lakes trek with guide Carlos Estrada, chefs Nerio & Lucio, and horseman Unarato. Over the last 6 days we have learned so much about the Inca culture, discovered some of the most incredible sights, and ate delicious food every step of the way. We would definitely recommend SAM Travel (especially with Carlos!) to anyone that wants an incredible Peruvian adventure. The Wilderness trek is a much quieter trail than the standard Salkantay and goes a bit higher elevation, but camping at the base of Salkantay was incredible. Carlos's guided tour through Machu Picchu was so informative. We would have missed so much without him taking the time to share his knowledge.

Kellie Taylor 2022/04/06

Big thanks to David he was an amazing tour guide who really cared for our group. He allowed us to go at our own pace and was a brilliant photographer He was really funny and is full of interesting information & his passion for his inca ancestors is very obvious and warming. He also brought us to great restaurants! This company are very good and from what I can recall were cheaper than most. Thank you!

Mike Geelhoed 2021/06/10

They took care of everything! Saul the owner is very responsive and helpful. Johnny our guide was fantastic, as were our chef, assistant chef and horsemen. I can’t recommend them highly enough and will definitely use them again if we return to Peru!

Janice-Kaneki Chen 2020/01/28

Three of us decided to choose Sam Travel Peru, reason being is it is a local travel company that help indegenious communities. We picked Lares Trek 4D3N to have cultural experience while hiking. Good foods provided by talented Mario Chef! Johnny is our tour guide, very helpful tour guide. He even helped me to carry my daypack as I was too exhausted to carry it on day 1 hiking. Strongly recommend to those like to have local experience while hiking.

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