Inca Trail FAQs
INCA PATH FAQs?
What is the Inca Trail anyway?
The Inca Trail is the name given to a walking route that fits partially along an ancient Inca road that leads to the city of Machupicchu. For most people, the trail starts at Km. 88 on the railroad between Cusco and Machu Picchu and ends at Machu Picchu.
The Inca Trail is not the name of the itinerary of a particular travel company, although many travel companies offer tours of the Inca Trail.
How long is it?
The figures suggest that I have seen that from Km.88 to Machupicchu along the trail it is approximately 33-40 km (20-25 miles).
How long does it take to walk?
Most tourist guides estimate between two and six days for the section of the route that most people walk from (Huayllabamba to Machu Picchu), and the average time seems to be three to four days. When I entered the Camino, we took the midday train from Cusco, which left us at km 88 in the afternoon. We walked for not much more than an hour before taking the camp, then we walked two full days, and finally we arrived at Machu Picchu early in the afternoon of the third day (and we have probably arrived earlier if it had not been for a long and tiring wrong way caused by some ambiguous start of posting session). Our time seems to have been a little faster than the average, probably due to the fact that my teammates were pretty fit and set a fast pace. When planning your trip,
How difficult is the trip along the Inca Trail?
That will depend on you and what we are used to. It is generally recognized that it is a strenuous hike, but there is no rock climbing or a glacier-foot involved, so no technical experience is required. The difficulty comes largely from the repeated steep climbs and descents, and from the high altitude. The climb to the first pass covers all 2000m (6500ft) to more than 4000m (13000ft) in a relatively short space, followed by a descent of around 1,500 meters (5,000 feet). After the second step at 3500m (11500ft), in general, things become easier.
Your fitness does not have to be?
The way you are, the more you enjoy it. On the contrary, the less in shape it is, the less you enjoy it. If you are very fit, it is possible that you may not even enjoy it to the point of collapse into a lifeless heap somewhere along the way and having to be buried in place by your fellow fitters.
In the absence of any universally agreed upon physical fitness, keep in mind that for a slightly fit twenty-year-old (me) it was difficult but manageable. I found the first day very difficult indeed, but from then on things were easier. However, do not be fooled. It is a very hard job in places (I wanted to leave the first day, and had to take prolonged break breaks every half kilometer or so during some of the steepest parts) and is likely to be carrying a heavy package of what is normally used for. A better than average standard of physical condition is probably very desirable, if not absolutely necessary.
If you want to prepare, hiking is the most appropriate activity, obviously, but anything that increases endurance, such as running or swimming, is also useful. Endurance is more important than strength or speed; Being able to bench press five hundred pounds probably will not help unless you intend to walk the Camino in your hands.
What about the altitude of the Inca Trail?
The Inca Trail is high enough that some people have problems with altitude. Shortness of breath is relatively common and is not, by itself, cause for concern. On the other hand, severe dizziness, loss of coordination and concentration, severely irregular breathing (Cheyne-Stokes), and death by pulmonary or cerebral odoem are generally considered more serious symptoms of mountain sickness.
If you, or someone with you, sets off to show any of the symptoms of severe mountain sickness – severe dyspnea, noisy breathing, blue lips, foam in your mouth, confusion or loss of consciousness – you should descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible and go to the doctor. Chances are that you will not experience any ill effects of altitude, but it is definitely worth spending some time acclimatizing before leaving, with Cuzco being the obvious place to do this. If you go directly from sea level to the Inca Trail you are much more likely to have problems. It has been suggested to me that 2-3 days of acclimatization, including day trips in the Cuzco region, should be considered a minimum. Once again, being fit beforehand has also