Preparation / What Do You Need?

Booking a Guided Trip
I made all my Inca Trail arrangements after arrivinng in Cusco. Working through my travel agent, I told him I wanted to book an Inca Trail trip for the next day. He took care of finding the guide service. Guides are easy to find around the Plaza de Armas, and Inca Trail trips leave every day.

Cost for the 4 day trip, with travel to and from Cusco was $65 US. This included tent, sleeping bag and pad, and all meals on the trail and travel to the trailhead and from Machu Picchu back to Cusco. The difference in cost of many of the guided trips is the way you return back to Cusco.

I joined a guided tour out of Cusco and was very pleased with the experience. One advantage of the guided trip is the interpretation of all the Inca ruins that you see along the trail. I had a great trail guide, and I would recommend him. If you don't have a guide preference, contact Jessy Chaves, at telephone # 231700 (Cusco).

Your Physical Conditioning
Plan on acclimating to the high elevation before you attempt the Inca Trail. I flew into Cusco from sealevel (Lima) and it took me several days to feel normal in the thin air of the Andes. Drinking mate de coca will probably help the high altitude symptoms.

The better condition you are in, the more you will enjoy your 4 days on the trail.   However, money can take the place of health.  For a larger fee, you can pay to have a porter carry all your equipment for you.  In our group, one guy walked the trail with only his camera around his neck and a liter of water in his hand.  Also, after the first day of hiking, a few members of our party were very slow, and they most definitely wouldn't have made it over the first pass with their gear.  Our guide wisely advised them to pay for a porter for the hard second day.  I think the fee was 10 soles.  Since this was unplanned, we recruited a local, teenage boy from Wayllabamba, our village for the first night.

A few  things to take that will make your trip more enjoyable could be snack food to munch between meals, water purifying tablets, insect repellant.  Bring some small currency, because you can buy things like fresh fruit, soda and beer at locations along the trail on the first few days. A flashlight is never part of my normal travel gear, but this was very handy along the trail. I hiked all four days in short pants, and never had problems with cold temperatures, but have some windproof / waterproof pants for bad conditions.  The temperature definitely drops after sundown.