How difficult is the Inca trek?

Old Jan 13th, 2009, 08:29 AM
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How difficult is the Inca trek?

My husband and I are thinking of doing the 4-day Inca trek to MP this June and wanted some feedback as to how physically difficult it was. I'm in pretty good shape, and he is in okay shape- we both walk a lot but we're not hard-core fitness addicts. Is this something that your average, decently athletic person can do? I'm also worried about the altitude. We are planning on getting to Cusco 2 days before our trek to acclimate, but is there anything else we can do? Lastly, is it worth 4 days out of our 2 week trip to do this? Obviously we'd be taking a few days to see MP anyway, but probably not 4.

And a mostly unrelated question- it seems like flying is about the only practical way to get around Peru (from Lima - Cusco-Puerto Maldonado-Lake Titicaca). Is that true? Thank you so much for your advice.
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 04:11 AM
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As for the Inca Trail, I hiked it in April 2008 and went with Llama Path. I highly recommend them. I was 30 at the time, not fit at all (okay kinda) and managed to make it all the way. Of course I was always the last one in my group to make it to camp at night(except for day 3). My guide, Casiano, was fantastic and would hike with me to keep my spirits up. I am not going to lie, it was the hardest thing I have ever physically done. And pretty much everyone on every tour said the same thing. But it was so worth it. And if I could do it, then anyone could.
As for altitude, it didn't really affect me at all, except for dozing instead of a good sleep at night. But I did drink a lot of cocoa tea and that helped a lot.
Our tour group hiked to the furthest point on days 1 and 2, and i really liked that. It made the last two days much easier. Most groups only hiked to the second sleep spot on those days, instead of the third. So by the time we finished our first day, we were at the base of Dead Woman's Pass, instead of way below it.
If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.
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Old Jan 14th, 2009, 07:28 AM
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Hi! I did the 4 day hike with my friend. I am a marathoner and fitness-crazed and she is not athletic at all. We both found it a bit challenging but not bad. My point is the hard part comes from the altitude, which does not discriminate between athletes and non-athletes. Anyone can do it, just make sure to arrive in Cusco 2 days before the trek. It is definitely worth it because you miss out on so much of the experience if you just take the train. There's not much else to do in Cusco but see other ruins, so why not see all of them along the trail?

Also, flying is probably best. I recommend PEru Treks because they treat their porters very well and do not exploit them like other companies.

best wishes!
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 05:14 AM
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We had 10 nights in Peru last March 2008. I'm glad we didn't rush any part of the trip, and I'm equally glad that we opted for the "short" one day hike from KM104. It was exhilarating and tough at times, but not more than we could handle at 47 and 53, adventurous and fit.

First night, hotel at Lima Airport.
2nd Day, Flight to Cusco, private driver picked us up and drove us to Ollanta (Hotel Pakaritampu - Fabulous). We stayed three nights there, one full day exploring the town and wonderful ruins there, and one full day going to the salt pans and Chinchero Market.
On our 5th morning, we caught an early train to MP, and got off at KM104 where we "eventually" met our guide to take us on the hike. It was fabulous. Cocoaman chewed cocoa leaves thru out the hike, and would play the flute as he walked ahead of us. This at times seemed to "keep us going..." I was fascinated by the views, terrain and plant life, and loved our first sites of ruins from this trail. Our first view of MP took my breath away! We did not "go into" the site, until the next morning. We stayed at InkaTerre, where we were upgraded to an extraordinary suite for our two nights. Great food, exquisite grounds and decor. Truly special and outrageously expensive. But Pakaritampu had been very reasonable and so would be our $40 nites at Los Ninos in Cusco later that week. It sort of balanced out. I would not have traded our MP Inkaterre experience for anything, but perhaps people can certainly get by with one night in AC. We took an afternoon train to Cusco, arriving to Los Ninos at about 7:30 pm, for four nights (3 full days to explore Cusco museums, and area sites...) I suppose people can enjoy 2 full days in Cusco, but I really enjoyed taking a more leisurely pace. Our last morning, we flew to Lima, took a taxi to various sites and enjoyed enormously our 8 hours in Lima before catching our red-eye flight back to the states. If we had had more time, I would have loved to go to Lake Titicaca for 2 nights, and I would have spent one more night at Pakaritampu.

Have a wonderful trip!

I highly recommend the one day KM104 trek to MP, certainly freeing up other days in your itinerary.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 06:18 AM
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We are too old and, even though we exercise, out of shape to do the Inca Trail (plus we didn't plan far enough ahead of time). Many we talked to said it was fairly grueling even though they were in good shape and young. We thought about the Lares Trek, which in many ways sounds more interesting, but this too is quite difficult. The altitude really, really is a killer. Our first day in Cusco as we were climbing up to our hotel, I was stopping every half a block to rest a bit.

If you are interested in hiking, we made some interesting compromises that we felt were very interesting. We used Apus Travel (highly recommended because of their unique offerings) and did two of their day hikes. The owner changed the usual trips around and customized them to our desires. Then, on our own we climbed Waynu Picchu. Just thought I'd throw these suggestions out.
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 06:41 AM
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Have a read of this

http://matadortrips.com/how-to-trek-the-inca-trail/
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Old Jan 24th, 2009, 06:51 PM
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I did the Inca Trail last summer at age 44. I am in fairly good shape but I admit I had a helluva time mainly due to altitude. I was always bringing up the rear. The worst side of effect of the altitude was a complete loss of appetite which also zapped my strength. I did not take Diamox for altitude sickness and I wish I had. I did chew the coca leaves but I don't thinkg it helped much.

But having said all that I wouldn't trade the experience (and the bragging rights) for anything.

I agree with you that flying from one place to another is best.

Here is my trip report if you are interested. I spoke in great detail about the challenges of the Inca Trail.

http://www.fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=6
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 07:53 AM
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Regarding getting around Peru, we took the IncaExpress bus from Cusco to Puno and really enjoyed it. I'm glad we didn't fly that leg of our trip. The scenery was spectacular. There were three or four stops along the way, including lunch. It took a full day, but I'm really glad we did it. Cheaper and really cool. Gave us a look at the landscape of Peru in a way a flight couldn't have. If you want to read the details, type Karen and Julie in the search box and my trip report will come up. Here's a link to my photos. You'll see an album on the bus trip.

http://kbutler1122.zenfolio.com/f754704379
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Old Jan 25th, 2009, 08:12 AM
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It's hard, but you can do it. As others say, it's really the altitude that is the killer. We were in pretty good shape, but there were others in our group who weren't, and they were okay too. Definitely take Diamox. I think it was one of the most amazing things I've done. So worth it.
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