What is the best time to do the Inca Trail?

The high season in Cusco for the Inca Trail is between June and September, with July and August being the busiest months. This is the dry season in the Peruvian Andes and Amazon, and it also coincides with the summer holidays in Europe and North America. However, since Peru is in the Southern Hemisphere, high season is also our winter, so the nights can be cold in the Cusco region, often falling to freezing in July and August.

Are there bathrooms on the Inca Trail?

The bathrooms have improved a bit in the last five years, and all the campsites have bathrooms with flush toilets and running water, however, they are not proper toilets to sit. During the day, they are kept very clean but in the evenings and mornings they are a bit messy due to the presence of many people. Between campsites, you won’t find any toilets. In case you need to go to the toilet, you can step into the bushes well away from the trail and streams.

How far in advance should we reserve our space for the Inca Trail?

We recommend that you make a reservation for the Inca Trail as far in advance as possible. From trips from October to March, we suggest booking six weeks in advance and from May to September, eight weeks. In the high-season (July to August) we advise a minimum of eight to ten weeks. Government restrictions designed to protect the route limits the number of trekkers to 500 per day, including guides, porters and cooks. If the trail is fully booked, there are many alternative Inca trails that follow other Inca roads, and can include an optional visit to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes.

I need to renew my passport. How can I get a permit without a valid passport?

We can purchase the permit using your expired passport number. You then must bring both the expired passport and your new passport with you on the trail, and present both documents at the checkpoints. If your passport agency does not return your original passport, it is essential to make a color scan of the original passport, print two copies, and bring the copies with you on the trail. If you have no passport at all, then you cannot join a trek until you obtain a passport. If your name or passport number varies from what you supplied to us for the permit application, then the park authority may deny you access to the trail. Therefore, it is essential that you supply accurate passport data, and bring the original passport (or 2 scanned color copies) with you to the trek.

I noticed that I gave you an incorrect passport number when I applied to join the trek. Can you fix that?

So long as permits are available for your trek date, we can purchase a new permit with the new passport number to allow you to participate in the trek. The cost of the original permit is non-refundable. At the trek orientation, you will have to pay for both the old permit and the new permit. If no more permits are available, then park authorities may refuse to grant you access to the Inca Trail if your passport number does not match the one listed on the permit.

I lost my passport which I gave you to purchase the permit. I’m applying for a new one. What happens now?

So long as permits are available for your trek date, we can purchase a new permit with the new passport number to allow you to participate in the trek. The cost of the original permit is non-refundable. At the trek orientation, you will have to pay for both the old permit and the new permit. If no more permits are available, then park authorities may refuse to grant you access to the Inca Trail if your passport number does not match the one listed on the permit.

Once I have booked my place, can I change my dates?

Once your reservation is confirmed, it is not possible to change or postpone your departure date due to the strict policies of the INC, which controls the Inca Trail. However, our alternative treks are applicable as long as you assume the change fees. For further information, refer to our terms and conditions. In case you miss your Inca trail booking, you would need to make a new reservation with a new deposit for a new date. We appreciate your understanding that this is not our fault nor the agencies’ decision, but the strict regulations of local authorities.

Can I make a reservation for the Inca Trail without a Passport Number?

No. We can only accept reservations with a passport number. While you’re applying for a new passport, you can make your reservation for the Inca Trail using your old passport number. You must take your old passport with you to Peru. If your old passport is not returned to you, make a color scan of your old passport, print two copies and bring the copies with you for the trek. If you do not have the old passport or two color scans, you will not be allowed to start the Inca Trail and you will not be entitled to a refund. It is preferable to bring your original old passport, however, the authorities will accept two color printouts of the passport.

What is the difference between private and group service?

Private Service. This type of service is designed exclusively for small groups such as couples, friends, families and honeymooners. In case you are single or solo traveler, you will be paired with another single traveler but following the initial agreements and requirements. For instance, if you need a single tent, we will provide one at no extra cost. You and your friend will be more than enough to open a new departure date and leave anytime you wish. Just let us know, that is what we are here for!

Group Service. This service consists of traveling in a bigger group, where you have a chance to meet people from different nationalities. The group size ranges from 6 to 15 people and sometimes there are more travelers, which creates a good possibility to interact and make friends along the trail.

How difficult is the hike?

The entire 4-day trail hike is about 40km/25mi, so the distances traveled each day are not terribly long. Although it is generally accepted that anyone who is accustomed to hiking and camping (i.e. walking for several hours and sleeping in tents) can hike the Inca Trail. However, the altitude can make hiking these distances feel about twice as difficult as hiking the same distance at sea level. For a detailed description of the hike itself, check out hiking the Classic Inca Trail.

What are the guides like?

Cusco’s professional, certified guides are among the very best and most experienced guides anywhere. They generally are from the surrounding Cusco/Sacred Valley area and speak fluent English, in addition to Spanish and the native language of Quechua. Most have 5-10 years of experience leading Inca trail hikes and all have training in the history, spirituality, culture, and ecology of the area.

How is the food on the treks?

A cook accompanies every group on the Inca trail. Almost invariably, travelers comment on the delicious food. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hearty snacks are provided for your hike. Meals are a mix of local specialties and international favorites. Vegetarian meals are also available upon previous request. Other special dietary requests can usually be accommodated as well with sufficient notice.

How is drinking water supplied?

Although there are places to purchase bottled water occasionally along the trail, we recommend that travelers bring their own refillable bottles to limit plastic waste. Water is boiled, treated with iodine, and then filtered with one of our portable filters. It is available in the morning to fill your bottles.

Which campsites do you use?

Campsites are subject to change depending upon the crowds and the season. We generally try to camp in less trafficked areas so that travelers can enjoy the natural beauty of the Inca trail and minimize the environmental impact. Our typical campsite choices are Wayllabamba, Pacaymayo and Wiñay Wayna or Phuyupatamarca.

What do I need to bring for the hike?

Travelers only need to bring their own personal supplies and a sleeping bag. If you do not have a sleeping bag, you can rent one in Cusco for a reasonable rate. A duffle bag will be provided for your belongings on the Inca trail so travelers do not need to bring a large backpack unless desired. Proper sun gear, comfortable trekking clothes, mosquito repellent, hiking shoes, a flashlight, a camera, and 1-2 refillable water bottles are recommended. Rain gear is also recommended during the rainy season (December- March) and cold weather gear (warm jacket, thermals, hat and gloves) is recommended for the dry season.

What about my luggage that I don’t need on the trek?

We suggest you leave all your luggage that you don’t need behind in your hotel in Cusco. Almost every hotel in Cusco has a locked storage area for your luggage, and they generally do not charge for this service when you return to the same hotel after your trek.

How much do the sleeping pad and sleeping bag weigh?

Sleep pad weight = 1kg/2.2lbs

Sleeping bag weight = 3kg/6lbs

Do I need a personal porter?

If you have not trekked at altitude before, we would suggest you hire an extra porter. Unless you hire an extra porter, you will need to carry your own back pack, sleeping bag and mattress, plus your water, every day. 75% of our travelers hire the extra porter for 8kg/17lbs. If you would like to have a porter carry your things, one can be hired for US$50 for every 8kg/17lbs.

Can I cancel a porter after I have booked one?

Unfortunately, you cannot cancel your porter after you have booked him. Porter’s permits are also booked well in advance, and porters usually come from long distances to work on the trail. In most cases, such changes will alter the normal flow of the itinerary when we check in at the trailhead check point.

Do I need to be fit to go one of your treks?

All the treks (the Inca Trail, Salkantay, Choquequirao, etc.) are slightly difficult, with long distances and big mountains. We highly recommend that you are in relatively good shape and get acclimatized to Cusco’s altitude for at least a couple of days before you begin the trek. For example, one short hike to Sacsayhuaman complex or around Cusco would be advisable, in order to ensure your enjoyment during the trek.

How can I book a place on one of your treks or tours?

Mapi Tour Peru’s sales department will respond to your e-mails within 24 hours, or you can chat with us via Skype. We can fit you into our already fixed departures or open a new group with our unique policy of “only two people needed to leave any time you wish.”

Why do I need to send a deposit?

We use your non-refundable deposit to pay fees associated with official bookings. For instance, we need to purchase tourist and porter entrance passes. We also need to ensure the availability of guides, cooks, porters and horses for the departure date of your trip. Most of the cooks and porters work freelance, which complicates the arrangements of tours in peak seasons.

How can I pay my deposit or final balance?

We strongly recommend that you make your deposits via WESTERN UNION which is very quick, easy and efficient for money transfers (especially when availability is changing very quickly, passes are almost booked up and reservations need to be made ASAP). Bank transfers are not recommended as they can take up to 5 working days to clear. Final balances for treks and tours must be paid in cash ($USD) in our Cusco office or via WESTERN UNION 48 hours before your trek or tour begins. If you, the customer, do not pay within the indicated time, the company reserves the right to cancel the trip.

What should I do as my trek date approaches?

You have to come to our office 48 hours before, in order to coordinate your pre-departure briefing and pay your final balance. If for health reasons (strong altitude sickness symptoms), you cannot come to our office, give us a call to come to your hotel.

Where are we located?

Our office is located in Calle Nueva N° 462, Centro Comercial Tahuantisuyo Office: 323 – Cusco – Peru.

What are our opening hours?

We are open from 9:00 am – 8:00 pm. In case of emergency call to our 24/7 – available phone +51-984714180

RECOMMENDED MEDICATIONS FOR ALTITUDE SICKNESS

Acetazolamide (NC. Diamox) – 1 tablet every 12 hours, 24 hours before the trip – Half a tablet every 12 hours until the third day at high elevation. Paracetamol – 1 tablet every 8 hours, in case of headache. Ibuprofen – 1 400 mg pill before the trip and in case of headaches that don’t lessen with Paracetamol. Take one Ibuprofen every 12 hours after meals (it may produce stomachaches). In case of continued altitude sickness, seek medical help. You must receive oxygen or promptly descend to a lower elevation.

RECOMMENDED PACKING FOR THE INCA TRAIL

The golden rule to enjoy the Inca Trail is to travel light and plan carefully. It works best to leave your luggage at your hotel in Cusco and take a small backpack. Pack as light as possible but make sure to take a complete set of clothes and other supplies, but nothing extra. Consider buying supplies locally; everything you want to bring can be found in Cusco for reasonable prices. We suggest keeping your personal items to a minimum weight. A good choice is to keep the total weight under 10kg/22lbs. Consider hiring a porter for your personal belongings if you do not want to carry them. A personal porter will take the luggage of two people (max. 18 kg/39lbs).

CURRENT INCA TRAIL REGULATIONS

No more than 500 people per day are allowed to start the Inca Trail trek at Km 82. This number includes all support staff (porters, cooks and guides) and is very tightly controlled. Once the limit of 500 people is reached, the Trail is effectively closed off for the day and no further bookings can be made. Reservations are not held on the Trail and all permits to trek must be bought as far as possible in advance with complete, correct passport information, with no modifications. Any attempts at modifications result in a loss of the permit and any money paid.

INCA TRAIL CLOSURE DURING THE MONTH OF FEBRUARY

The route of the classic 4-day Inca Trail will be closed each year during the month of February to undertake conservation and restoration projects, as well as give the vegetation a chance to recover. This is a good month to close the trail since it is also the wettest month of the year. Machu Picchu and the shorter 2-day Inca Trail will remain open as usual.

LICENSED INCA TRAIL TOUR OPERATORS

The INC is the regulatory body responsible for controlling access to Machu Picchu and the Inca Trail. In order to operate the Inca Trail, companies must meet certain basic requirements, such as proving that they have professional guides, good camping equipment, radio communications and emergency first-aid kits, including oxygen. The license to operate the Inca Trail is renewed at the beginning of each year.

TEMPERATURE AND ENVIRONMENT ALONG THE INCA TRAIL

Depending on altitude and time of day, temperatures fluctuate between 10ºC/50ºF to 22ºC/71ºF) in Cusco and 2ºC /35ºF) to 20ºC/68ºF) along the Inca Trail.

ABOUT CAMPSITES ON THE INCA TRAIL

Please note that we are not in control of the campsites we are issued from the Institute of National Culture. In general, your campsite allocation is dependent on how early you book, or rather, how many permits are left. The first 250 spaces are generally given to Wiñay Wayna (3rd campsite) and after it has filled, you will have a longer walk to Machu Picchu on the last day. That could mean you do not arrive at Machu Picchu for sunrise. Please do not let this disappoint you, as Machu Picchu is marvelous at any time of the day!

LAST-MINUTE BOOKINGS

Late bookings are often told to camp at Phuyupatamarca camp 4-5 hours from Machu Picchu, so book early. Make your Inca Trail reservations 6-5 months in advance, or even up to a year if you’re going during peak season. You can only visit with a licensed agency, and spots book up quickly.

BEST CAMPING SITES

Our first two campsites, Wayllabamba and Pacaymayu, are the best campsites on the entire Inca Trail trek because they aren’t crowded and are very tranquil places. The third night of camping is at the Wiñaywayna campsite. 95% of all groups arrive at this campsite, which is only 2-hours hike from Machu Picchu.

DISTRIBUTION OF MAPI TOUR STAFF ON THE INCA TRAIL

HIKERS – GUIDE – COOKS – PORTERS – TOTAL

 02         01        01         03           07

 04         01        01         06           12

 06         01        02         07           16

INCA TRAIL ALTITUDES AND TOTAL HIKING DISTANCES PER DAY

Cusco City:       3,360 m.a.s.l. –  10,660 ft.
Wayllabamba:   3,100 m.a.s.l. –  10,170 ft. – 10 KM
Highest point:   4,200 m.a.s.l.  –  13,775 ft. –
Pacaymayu:     3650 m.a.s.l.   –  11,972 ft. – 22 KM
Wiñayhuayna:   2650 m.a.s.l.   –   8,690 ft. – 38 KM
Machu Picchu:  2,400 m.a.s.l.  –   7,970 ft. – 43 KM

PRE-DEPARTURE BRIEFING

One or two days before departure, our representative in Cusco will contact you to meet your guide. He’ll provide information and answer any questions you might have about your Inca trail program. We must be informed in which hotels you are staying and the date of your arrival. The actual time of your briefing (6 or 7pm) will be confirmed at your check-in at our office 2 days prior to the trek.