Hiking Inca Trail for those afraid of heights

Old Jan 18th, 2004, 08:35 AM
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Hiking Inca Trail for those afraid of heights

Hello. Even though I have an acute fear of heights, I am interested in hiking the Inca Trail. If anyone who has hiked it has an opinion as to the steepness, closeness to the edge (that kind of thing), please respond. I'm interested in opinions as to whether or not it's a good idea. Also, any comments on altitude sickness are welcome. I'm in excellent shape so the altitude and fear of heights are really my main concern. Isn't it ironic those are probably the two main things to consider? THANKS!
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 10:49 AM
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I posted my experience with high altitude earlier. Just do a quick search for"high altitude".
I did not do the trail, however, with a fear of heights, the Andes are an odd choice for vacationing. Machu Pichu itself has many sheer dropoffs.
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Old Jan 19th, 2004, 11:42 AM
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I hiked the Inca Trail about five years ago. The 3 day trek that we did was described as moderate. It took me about 2 days in Cuzco to adjust to altitude (throwing up the first day!), so don't short yourself -btw, I have never had a problem with altitude before and I am a pretty serious skier. At the time, I was running about 6-7 miles 4 times a week and I still found the hike grueling, in particular the altitude - hard to catch my breath and coming down hill - very hard on my quads. The hike itself was probably one of the most amazing things I have ever done and in some regards I preferred it to Machu Picchu itself - you pass some pretty amazing ruins along the way and you have them all to yourself. There are a couple of times when I felt a little too close to the edge, but all in all the hike is not very precarious.

Just make sure you train on hills before you go and try to go late/early in the season as I understand it can get very crowded during high season.
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Old Jan 20th, 2004, 04:00 PM
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I hiked part of the Inca trail this past November. I took the train from the Urumbamba Valley and got off approx. 9 miles from the Sun Gate. The hike should take about 6-8 hours depending on the shape you are in, how often you stop, etc. I enjoy hiking a lot, but I think it was a bit harder than "moderate." I was a freaking out a little from the shear drop offs, but focused enough to get through it. It is not like NPS here in the States - no guardrail and footbridges not in great shape. It was worth it - the view from the Sun Gate is just magnificent and passing ruins along the way... just spectacular. I had no problems with altitude and spent little time in Cusco acclimating. Good luck and have fun!
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 12:42 PM
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I am in very similar circumstances to you Jen, so I am curious to hear how the trip turned out from your persepctive? Was the Inca Trail do-able and enjoyable for someone who is afraid of heights? I also want to see if it would be a good idea as I am very interested in hiking the trail if possible. Thank you!
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 01:15 PM
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I would say it depends to what degree you are afraid of heights.
There are short regions of the trail that are 3 feet wide along cliffs with at least a hundred foot drop with no handrails.
If this would completely freak you out don't hike it.
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Old May 23rd, 2005, 05:07 PM
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I have hiked the Inca Trail more times than I can remember. The ironic thing is that I am very afraid of heights! This is what happens.....first you MUST spend at least 2 days in Cusco to adjust to the altitude, really take it easy when you get there. When you start the hike you will probably feel very cautious, but trust me after hiking so many hours the first day, you will adjust to the heights and fear of. As a matter of fact, by the middle of day two, I find myself standing on a 3ft wide section, with my back to the drop off, chatting away with other hikers and completely forgetting about it. After the third day, you will be convinced you never had a fear of heights. It helps if you hike the pisac ridge around the ruins on the second day if you are able, that run only takes about 2 hours and is very similar. Much more scarry than the trail is Waynu PIcchu, which is the backdrop to Machu Picchu, now that is totally scarry. The steps are no wider than your hiking boot and there are no rails, I mean absolutely no rails, if you slip you go down 10,000 feet.....yikes! YOu will love the Inca Trail, it is one of the highlights of my entire life. Belive it or not, the last day is the toughest as you are going downhill the entire time. Really hard on your knees, but like anything else worth experiencing in life, just prepare yourself physically before, the mental stuff will fall in line when you get there - trust me!!!!
Kelli ([email protected])
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Old Jun 15th, 2005, 07:27 AM
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See my post on Inca Trail Tour Operators. I spoke about heights. I am not afraid of heights but my husband is and he focussed on what was ahead instead of looking down. He said that it was very doable. He did not climb Wayna Pichu which is an option once you reach MP. Make sure you arrive in Cuzco well in advance of leaving for trek. Very few people I met had NOT suffered some altitude problems and had taken diamox, gingko biloba or were chewing coca leaves. Chewing Coca leaves is really useful on the trail. Pretikk has given good advice in reply to your post.
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