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Opinions on Short Inca and Lares Trail for slow hiker

Opinions on Short Inca and Lares Trail for slow hiker

Old Sep 19th, 2023, 02:18 PM
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Opinions on Short Inca and Lares Trail for slow hiker

Hello, I am planning a first trip to Peru for 2024. I am hoping that someone(s) can provide a description of what to expect terrain-wise on the Short Inca Trail.

I love to hike but am slower than average going downhill / down steps due to a depth perception and peripheral vision issue. I'm in my 30's, otherwise fit, and can cruise downhill / down steps with a railing (I know there are no railings) or a hand on my husband's arm. Without either of those, I am a two feet on each stair descender and would be uncomfortable if there were open ledges on either side of the stairs. I would not be embarrassed to go down a section of stairs on my butt (intentionally). I'm not afraid of heights or steep climbs, and could tolerate the idea of going for a short roll, but really dislike open ledges with plummets.

I want to challenge myself, but do want to know what I'm facing and don't want to be in danger. What is the extent of the open ledges on Short Inca?Is it the majority of the hike or just short stretches you can power through and have someone to walk next to? How about the downill stairs-- is it thousands / the whole day or just short stretches? Ledges with the stairs? Wide enough to go down with someone?

I think that the Lares Trail will be ok based on what I've read (but if you have opinions I'm open to them), but I am considering doing a private hike for both Lares and Short Inca just becaues I don't want to hold up a group of faster moving people. But, I think it would be fun to make new friends, and I've read that the guides are pretty good at handling hikers of varying paces within the same group. I know I would not be able to keep up with a main pack of 20-30 year old hikers in longer downhill hiking days but wouldn't mind being sent ahead with husband early like I've read they do on the classic Inca trail. Any thoughts on this?

Thanks for your help!
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Old Sep 19th, 2023, 04:15 PM
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I did the 4 day Inca Trail and at age 44 and I was the grandma of the group. The challenge is not just the endless steps but also the altitude. I must admit I struggled with it. If you click my name you will find a trip report.

I don't want to tell you not to do it, but do look for a guide that serves your needs.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 03:48 AM
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Hi thanks, I looked through your trip report. Congrats making it!

What would really be helpful to me is information about the terrain specifically that the Short Inca hike covers. Iím as cognizant of the altitude and strenuousness as the next hiker, but itís really the presence of open ledges and technicality of downhill and down steps that will help me decide how tedious and/or dangerous the hike will be, if I should do a private trek, etc

Itís encouraging to read reports of slower hikers who made it in groups! My degree of slowness will just stem from that visual issue.

thanks!

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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 04:15 AM
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There are open ledges but I don't remember any narrow open ledges that were dangerous. I do remember that some steps are steep and the steps themselves are a little short so if you have big feet it could be a problem. That wasn't an issue for me.

Does your hike include camping and the shorter walk to the sun gate before dawn? On the walk to the sun gate there's a part where you have to climb with you have to climb with your hands and feet. It's only about 10 feet or so and steps are really small. That was scary but I managed.
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Old Sep 20th, 2023, 11:25 PM
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Hi Calpal, You need to be clear on which Lares trek you are doing as there are a number of different options. The one we did from Lares to Ollantaytambo had no drop offs and no stairs. It took three days and was effectively an ascent from Lares at 3200m over a ridge at 4400m and a descent down to Ollantaytambo at 2800m. As I recall it was a reasonably gentle ascent and descent though there may have been a few steep areas (you are in the Andes after all). We saw no other tourists fro the three days, just local going about their business so you would haven need to worry about holding others up as there aren't any to hold up!

To get to MP from Ollantaytambo is a piece of cake as that is where the majority of trains leave from. I would do it as a day trip from there rather than staying overnight in Aguas Calientes which is not the most inspiring place in Peru. I guess what you would miss out on is entering MP via the Sun Gate at dawn.

The short Inca Trail is at lower altitude so is arguably easier. It will be more crowded so if you are slow, whatever the reason, which many are, you must expect to be over taken by others. I think you are wise to pick a private trek as with a group trek you rest stops would be shortened as you would be the last to arrive at each place. If you haven't been at altitude before, believe me, you will want all the rest you can get! In areas where stairs are required or on steep paths, bear in mind that the Incas designed these for people to use in single file so if you do need to walk alongside some one, it may not always be possible. I am sure you can find loads of videos on YouTube to gain a better idea of what is involved.

Choosing your guide is key to a great experience. Some are good, some not so much. All guides on the Inca Trail have to be registered and it is probably best tp get a genuine recommendation from someone who has actually used them . Be aware that there are a lot of fake reviews on TA etc. We had a fantastic guide for the Lares trek that we met when staying at the South America Explorers Club but sadly he got killed in a landslide shortly after we went trekking with him.

FWIW we have been to Peru many, many times and have not yet been tempted by the Inca Trail and doubt we ever will.
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Old Sep 21st, 2023, 05:22 AM
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In the past you could hike up to the Sun Gate from inside the Citadel but that is not permitted any more. The view from up there is distant and if you read various blogs it is often socked in with clouds until 9-10 am. The classic view is from the Watchman's Hut/Guard House. Both times I've been to MP, I spent the night in Ollantaytambo and took the first train, in order to beat most of the day trippers who don't want to get up that early, or who come from Cusco. I would just go up by train and tour the site. You won't have really "walked the Inca Trail" in the classic sense.

In addition to your time in Machu Picchu, and preferrably before, there are other shorter day walks around the Sacred Valley. The walk up to Ollantaytambo temple is worthwhile and not especially scary. From Pisac town you can be dropped off at the top and walk down through the ruins into town, or just around the top. It may be advisable to do this with a guide as it's easy to get lost. I was a little sketched out on some legs walking downhill on some of the terraces, there are no handrails not even at Machu PIcchu. (I sympathize with your slow downhill issues and have some of that syndrome myself).

In Cusco there is the walk down from Sacsayhuaman into Cusco (crellston has recommended that elsewhere).

PS the Inca road system extends all the way from Ecuador to Chile, the "Inca Trail" is just a leg of it.

Last edited by mlgb; Sep 21st, 2023 at 05:31 AM.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2023, 10:47 AM
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#7 ????
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Old Oct 13th, 2023, 09:17 AM
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Hello Calpal,

This is a local guide from Cusco, and I'm here to address your question. In Lares, there are several routes to choose from. Since it's located in the mountains, you can expect some steep sections, but there are no stairs. Some of the routes in Lares feature steep downhills, while others have more gradual descents.

When it comes to the Short Inca Trail, particularly the uphill section, it's situated in the mountains with some open areas on both sides. However, the distances involved in these open areas are quite short. As for the downhill section from the Sun Gate, it starts with a steep part and then gradually becomes gentler as you make your way to Machu Picchu.

From Machu Picchu, you can take a bus to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes), where you'll spend the night. The following day, you can return to Machu Picchu Citadel to explore further.

I hope this information helps. If you have any more questions or need further assistance, feel free to ask.
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