F.A.Q BY OUR CUSTOMERS
How do I book a trek?
How do I book a trek? If you do wish to book an Inca Trail trip, we will need to confirm availability of the Inca Trail at the time of your enquiry. This will normally take no longer than 2 hours but please allow for 4 hours. If your enquiry is made after 5PM EST, we will only be able to confirm availability the next day. When availability has been confirmed, we can confirm the space for no longer than 24 hours after which time a new availability check will have to be made. If you wish to proceed and book your Inca trail trip, we strongly advise you do so within 4 hours of receiving availability confirmation but not after 24 hours. To book your trip, we shall require all your personal details such as : Name and last name / Passport number / Nationality and Age (otherwise no booking can be made) along with the completed booking form and the non refundable deposit payment. If these are not received within 24 hours of the availability check, the spaces will be automatically released and a new availability check will have to be made. We advise you book your Inca trail trek at least three months in advance. For treks between May and August, we recommend booking at least 6 months in advance. For certain treks such as the Salkantay, Lares, and other hikes, also is required booking in advance because we must buy the entrance to Machu Picchu—before—sold--out.
Is it true that they will close the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail will be closed during the month of February each year. The last group will depart on 31 January and the next group will start on 01 March. The closure is to allow conservation projects to take place, give an opportunity for camping facilities to be improved and to allow the vegetation to grow back. February is also the height of the wet season. The ruins of Machu Picchu will remain open as normal as will the train services between Cuzco and Machu Picchu. During February we can offer an alternative 4 day trek that starts from km82 and follows the Urubamba River until km104 where it climbs up to Wiñay Wayna and then on to Machu Picchu. This trek is picturesque but does not include visits to the Inca ruins at Runkurakay, Sayacmarka or Phuyupatamarca .
Can I trek the Inca Trail alone?
No. Trekkers have to trek using the services of a licensed tour operator.
Should I make a reservation for the trek in advance or wait until arriving in Cuzco?
Because of the numbers of persons permitted on the trek has been dramatically reduced it is advisable to make a reservation at least 3 months in advance for most months and at least 6 months in advance if wishing to trek between the months of May and August.
When is the best time to go?
The dry season from April to October is probably the most comfortable period as far as the weather is concerned. Even during these months you can still get a little rain. Ideally the month of May is perfect since there is little rain but the vegetation is still rich and lush. June, July and August are the 3 busy months and the numbers of trekkers has been limited so book well in advance. Although the weather is sunny during these months the temperature at night can drop considerably, falling to below freezing so be prepared. The months of November and December can still be very enjoyable with fewer trekkers. Expect at least one day of rain during this period. January and March can be very wet at times. However most of the rain falls late in the afternoon and at night so ensuring you have a good waterproof tent is all important. These months also correspond to Summer in Peru so the sun can be very strong and the nights generally mild. The Inca Trail for the entire duration of February.
How safe is it on the Inca Trail?
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Theft is very uncommon on the trail provided that you take basic precautions. Do not take any valuables with you that you don't need for the trek. Leave jewelers, large sums of money in your hotel safe (However you need to take your passport on the trek with some money for tips). Take plenty of plastic bags to wrap socks, boots, underwear and wet clothes in. Do not leave them outside of your tent at night (no matter how much they may smell!) or they may not be there in the morning. Carry your valuables in a money belt or neck pouch and keep items such as cameras and passports with you at all times especially at meal times.
What kind of drinking water is available?
You will come across a small stream or mountain spring every 90 minutes or so along the trail where you can fill up your water bottle. Take a bottle of at least 1.5 liter capacities per person. Although the water is clear always use sterilizing tablets and follow the instructions. The sterilizing tablets 'MicroPur' can be bought in most pharmacies in Cuzco. With these tablets you have to wait at least 60 minutes before drinking. Also, we will boil water for you in the morning and at meal times. Bottled mineral water can also be taken from Cuzco or bought from local people at several places along the Inca Trail.
What are the toilets like along the trail?
Toilets have improved considerably in the last couple of years and all of the larger campsites have flush toilets and running water. We also provide our own chemical toilets for private use for your group only. On our Superior, Premium and Luxury treks we also provide portable showers.
How fit do I need to be to do the Inca Trail?
In brief, in good shape. It is a common misconception that because many people do the Inca Trail then it must be easy ... it isn't. The trail is 45km (26 miles) long and involves great physical exertion to complete. On the second day you climb nearly 1200m (about 4000 ft) in the morning. Combined with high altitude (lack of oxygen) and extreme weather (you can easily burn in the high altitude sun during the day and temperatures can drop to below freezing at night) the trek can be hard work. However all this suffering can make the final arrival at Machu Picchu all the more enjoyable In general if you take regular exercise and spend a few days acclimatizing to the altitude (which our programmers allow for) then you should be fine. If you are a regular walker and comfortable being on your feet for 7 hours per day, then you should complete the trek with nothing more than a few blisters and a great sense of achievement.
How much should I tip?
Deciding how much to tip the porters, the cook and guide is always a difficult moment at the end of the trek. In general, however, we would recommend taking an extra US$25-30 per person to cover tips. Try to take this amount in low denomination Peruvian Soles bills so that it can easily be divided amongst the porters, cook and guides. Remember the above figures are just a guide line.
Inca Trail Preparations
The maximum altitude reached is 4200m above sea level. On the second day of the trek you will climb nearly 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 have to be moderately fit and take regular exercise. Try walking 15km in a day or go to the gym in the months leading up to the trek. The good news is that virtually everyone who starts the trek finishes it!.
At higher altitudes the air pressure becomes less and the air becomes thinner. This creates a shortage of oxygen for your body. This effect is noticeable at altitudes of over 3000m above sea level. Cuzco is at an altitude of 3400m and the highest point on the Inca trail is at 4200m. At this height a lungful gives you about 50% less oxygen than at sea level. To help compensate for this reduced amount of oxygen you have to breathe twice as fast and your heart has to work much harder to pump the oxygen around your body. Your body also tries to concentrate the number of red blood cells (which carry the oxygen). This is done by getting rid of excess fluid (urinating more frequently) and by producing more red blood cells although the latter process may take a week. On reaching heights above 3000m, heart pounding and shortness of breath are a normal response to the lack of oxygen in the air. However, for some visitors these symptoms can deteriorate into a conditions known as Soroche (or acute mountain sickness) when you can start to experience headaches, loss of appetite, extreme tiredness, sleeplessness and often nausea. Symptoms usually develop within the first day or two at altitude, but may be delayed by up to 2 weeks. To prevent Soroche, try to take things easy as soon as you arrive. Once settled in your hotel room has a lie down for a while and drinks plenty of fluids. Don't plan any strenuous treks until you've acclimatized for a few days. Avoid alcohol, cigarettes and heavy food. Drinking mate de coca (an infusion of coca leaves) may help. If symptoms become more severe and prolonged it is best to quickly seek medical attention and make arrangements to descend to a lower altitude. On recovery one can re-ascend slowly or in stages. The drug Diamox is often used by many visitors to speed the acclimatization process and counter the symptoms of Soroche. It can now be purchased in most pharmacies in Cuzco.
What to Bring (Packing List)
Backpack (we will provide one if you forgot to bring it), sleeping bag (included on all superior, premium and luxury treks), rain jacket, strong footwear such as hiking boots with ankle support, one complete change of clothing, sweater, jacket (something warm), sterilizing tablets (Micropur are recommended and can be bought in local pharmacies in Cuzco), flashlight and batteries, broad-brim or peaked cap, sunglasses and high factor sun protection, insect repellent, toiletries and toilet paper (we also provide this), camera and spare batteries (there is nowhere to charge your camera during the trek). We recommend that you buy a walking stick/trekking pole at the start of the trek which can also be taken with you as a memento. You also have to bring your original passport with you on the trek. Photocopies are not acceptable.
What does the company provide?
The company provides all camping equipment, communication equipment, chemical toilets, individual tents, dining tents, dining chairs, mattresses, all fresh food, cooking equipment, cooking gas, drinking water and portable showers. Sleeping bags and pillows are provided on all superior, premium and luxury treks along with a personal masseuse and yoga instructor. We also provide a cook, cook's assistant, and all porters to carry all equipment. A qualified English speaking guide who is trained in first aid with a portable oxygen tank will be the leader of the trek. On all Luxury treks, a company assistant will also be present to assure that a very high level of service is given. Please note that the personal tents are not in the same style as African safari tents due to the size and weight limitations that porters are allowed to carry. Everything available to you on this adventure will have been carried by the team of porters.
The working conditions of our porters are very important to us. We select porters who are not only reliable, hard working and honest but also who can play musical instruments, recite Quechua stories and sing Quechua songs. It is important that our porters are happy working for us and are committed to staying with the company for long term. To ensure this, we provide amongst the highest porter's salaries in the industry, we also provide comfortable working conditions, their own sleeping tent, individual mattresses and very good food, not the left- over's of the group. Our porters have recognized this and are the most company loyal porters in the entire region. We are proud of this and will continue to provide superior conditions for our porters, amongst the most hard working and diligent people we have ever come across.