© All Rights Reserved dmetraux
The Inca Trail is South America's most popular trek, leading to the infamous Machu Picchu ruins. The Incas built the roads well before Europeans discovered the Americas, in order to transport goods and carry messages throughout the Inca empire, which stretched from the northwest of South America to central Chile.
The main start point for the Inca Trail is Km 82. There are 3 different trails leading to Machu Picchu: Mollepata, Classic and One Day.
Only 500 people are allowed to go on the Inca Trail per day (which includes porters and guides), so booking during peak season is essential. The peak season runs from roughly April to October.
Between November and March (excluding February, when the trail is closed), reservations are not as necessary - but it's still a good idea to play it on the safe side.
If you are going on the trek, be sure to have rain-proof gear and warm clothes, particularly if you're travelling in the off-peak season. A large poncho that covers your backpack should be sufficient to keep you dry.
Hiring a porter
You can hire a porter for one day or for the entire trip. If you only want to hire a porter for a single day, day 2 is probably the best day, as it is the toughest hike. Costs range from around US$20 to US$100 for 4 days. Most porters give you a weight limit of around 7kg and will charge you extra if you go over this.
You can't do the Inca Trail without a registered guide or operator, so picking a reliable, well-priced tour operator is important. There are many tour operators and some are definitely not worth the money. What follows is a series of tips for helping you pick a tour operator:
Book through a tour operator, not a tour agency.
Try to deal with the operators directly, so you avoid paying a middle-man fee to the agency.
Ensure that the agency is EIRL Registered
This means that they have to be authorized by INRENA (142 tour operators) and be accredited. Click here for a full list. Some cheaper agencies are not accredited.
Check out their website
A professional-looking website is an indication that the outfit as a whole is more professional. However, this may also translate into higher cost.
The price depends on when you're going, for how long you're going, and how reputable the operator/agency is. During the off peak season, a rough price estimate for a 4-day trek is anywhere between US$ 350 (for lower-end operators like Pumas Trek Peru and Apus Explorer) and $ 450-600 (for higher-end operators like SAS, Tierras Vivas and United Mice). If you have a student card, it is possible to get a discounted rate. Note that if you're paying less than US$350, the porters, guides and cooks are probably being underpaid by the agency.
Call or email the agency and ask plenty of questions. The more reputable agencies will have staff with English knowledge (and often some German and French). Here are some questions to ask:
What follows are various costs associated with walking the Inca Trail, in USD:
The timetable for the train can be found at the train station in Cusco (near the market). You have to go inside to get it though, so speak nicely to the security guard.
There are two main classes: rich and backpacker. There is also a local train that costs around 15 soles, but this may only be open to residents.
Anyway, here's a rough copy of the timetable for the backpacker train from Machu Picchu to Cusco:
There are also several partial services running from Machu Picchu to Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo, it's possible to catch a bus to Cusco, which only takes two hours (this is shorter than the train ride). The bus drops you off at Plaza de Armas or Plaza San Francisco, which are both within walking distance of most hotels/hostels.
Ask real-adviser a question about Inca Trail
I did the inca trail myself too and also i have update information about this trip as i m travel agent and tour guide in Perú.
Also i can give plenty information about any tips in Peru thanks to my huge work and travel experiences.
I am open to help real travellers to have a great experiences in my country.
Except where otherwise noted, content of this article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License