Before I went to Peru I tried to do as much research as I possibly could in order to prepare myself for the coming adventure. I had a lot of questions and many of them were only answered once i’d already arrived! This list is by no means exhaustive, but here are my tips if you’re considering embarking on the Inca Trail!
Do research your trekking company first. Don’t just book with the cheapest company you can find as chances are there is a reason why it’s cheaper. You want to have the best experience that you can, and i’d hope also want to ensure that the company are paying their staff properly etc. I went with G Adventures and would highly recommend them to anyone that was considering doing the trail.
Don’t book your flights without getting your Inca Trail permits first. I made this mistake and ended up having to pay a lot extra to change my flights as we couldn’t get permits for when we had booked to go.
Do take your camera. I read a few blog posts before I left saying that they had left their good cameras at home as they were too bulky. However, I took my DSLR and although at times it was a bit annoying to keep getting out my bag, I would have been so annoyed if I hadn’t been able to capture the views on a decent camera. Also, don’t forget spare batteries as there is no electricity on the trail!
Don’t bring an excessive amount of clothes with you. I brought one pair of zip-off walking trousers, one pair of gym leggings, 2 tops, 1 sports bra, 1 jumper and a lightweight down jacket and for me it was fine. Just accept that you’re going to smell a bit by day 4 anyway, you’re in the same boat as everybody else!
on the other hand…
Do prepare for all weathers! The weather is so temperamental on the trail, depending on your altitude and what season you trek in. I went in July and the weather stayed dry, but I had packed a rain poncho just in case. The temperature also differs greatly as you will sweat when you’re walking but it gets very cold at night, so you will need warm layers.
Don’t litter. Preserve the trail for other travelers after you and be respectful of where you are.
Do take a hydration bladder. There were some people on my trek who brought re-usable water bottles which I think were fine, but it’s so important to keep hydrated in high altitudes and a hydration bladder made this so much easier to do as I just kept sipping as I walked.
Don’t take unnecessary toiletries. I very nearly took makeup with me on the trek which would have been a huge mistake and made my pack heavier. Likewise, unless you’re going to use freezing cold showers, you won’t need shampoo or shower gel. A bar of soap and some baby wipes will do just fine.
Do bring a change of shoes to sit around camp in the evening. It was such a relief to be able to take off my hiking shoes at the end of the day and change into my flipflops. However, unlike me, I would suggest bringing some enclosed sandals instead of flipflops as the toilet blocks are pretty disgusting… Luckily I brought some thick ski socks to keep my toes warm which protected me pretty well.
Don’t wish away your trek by thinking of the end. Yes, Machu Picchu is breathtaking, but try and enjoy the rest of the trek no matter how hard it is. I remember dreading Dead Woman’s Pass before I started it, and yes it was very very difficult, but I took my time and tried to savor every moment as it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. And before you know it you’ll be back at home wishing you could do it all again.
Do try and do a bit of exercise before you go. I’m by no means a fitness guru but I made sure to do some hill walks before I went in preparation which I think helped me prepare at least mentally.
Don’t forget your loo roll, you’ll live to regret it…
Do it. I spend quite a lot of time debating whether to book my trip or not, and then worrying when I had booked it in case I couldn’t do it! But I did and it was the best trip that I have ever been on, so really, just do it. You never know unless you try!