Machu Picchu hike along Peru’s Inca Trail attracts millions of travelers every year. It is one of the most iconic treks on our planet.
Machu Picchu excursion
Tips for hiking on the Inca Trail
Ancient ruins, deep rainforest and perfectly carved stone continue to amaze and delight visitors from around the world.
Machu Picchu excursion
All you need to know before you go
For me, my excursion to Machu Picchu was the highlight of my trip to South America.
Yes, it is busy, and yes, it looks like a tourist trap, but there is still no way to escape the magic one feels when standing among the ancient stones.
This feeling is only enhanced by trekking along the original pilgrimage route to reach the site.
The path we now call the Inca Trail.
To help you prepare for your perfect Inca Trail experience, I’ve written my top 8 tips to help you on your Machu Picchu Hike .
1. Best time to hike to Machu Picchu
Mark and his wife after their excursion to Machu Picchu, admiring the Citadel
In the Peruvian Andes, you generally get two seasons.
- April to October is considered the dry season.
- November to March is considered the rainy season (albeit warmer).
- May to September is considered the best time to go trekking due to the dry days. But I disagree.
April to October: Tourists literally flock to Machu Picchu during the dry season and this can be a bit daunting.
November – March: Yes, the rainy season is wet, but if you manage to get through it, you will have a much quieter experience hiking Machu Picchu than you would during the peak season.
The best time: My favorite time is the end of March, when the days are drying up and the place isn’t bustling with tourists.
Unless you enjoy getting wet, avoid trekking in December and January.
The Inca Trail is closed in February.
2. Book your excursion to Machu Picchu in advance
Book in advance. I can’t really stress this enough.
While Machu Picchu allows thousands of them in one day, the Inca Trail does not.
Only a limited number of tourists are allowed on the path to Machu Picchu each day.
Book 6 months in advance
To make sure you get your ticket, we recommend that you book 6 months in advance if you plan to go trekking during peak season.
Even if you plan to go during the rainy season you will need to book at least 3 months in advance.
The last time I walked the trail I saw a Dutch couple showering with tears because they hadn’t booked in advance.
Alternative excursions to Machu Picchu
If the worst gets worse, you can always take another route to Machu Picchu like the Inca Jungle Trek or the Lares trek & short Inca trail 5 days.
Only Inca Trail requires booking in advance.
3. Train before your trek
Mark and his wife with their Inca Trail support crew
The classic Machu Picchu trek lasts only 3 days. H.
But you will be hiking for almost 7 hours a day, which will take you off.
Additionally, you need to walk through Dead Woman’s Pass at 4,215m (13,828ft).
I’m a pretty fit guy, but that step made me breathe so hard that I had to stop several times.
No, you don’t have to be a superman to complete the trek, but having a decent level of fitness will increase your enjoyment even more.
I would recommend you take as many day hikes as you can in the months leading up to your trek to increase your cardio level.
4. Acclimatize properly to the height
Mark looks through a window into the ruins of Machu Picchu after his 3 day hike
Landing in Cusco I felt absolutely nothing. I took a taxi to my hostel, had a good dinner and went to sleep.
But the next morning there was another story.
I woke up with a severe headache and stayed in bed most of the day.
The nice lady who ran the hostel made me a nice tea with coconut leaves, which apparently wards off altitude sickness.
Even though it didn’t heal me, I felt a little better.
Tips for acclimating the altitude ton
If I were to go back, I would have taken a bus to the Sacred Valley, stayed in the beautiful town of Ollantaytambo and acclimatized for a few days before tackling the Short Inca trail with camping 2 days.
5. Get the right gear
The temperature actually stays quite low throughout the year, hovering around the 20 degree mark during the day and 4/5 degrees at night.
If you’re hiking in the dry season I’d still bring a lightweight, waterproof breathable jacket, and if you’re hiking in the rainy season then it’s a must.
Also, you need to avoid cotton clothing and bring hiking clothes made from a highly breathable material.
I remember constantly feeling damp in the sweltering atmosphere and was very relieved not to wear jeans or cotton shirts.
Make sure you bring good fleece, a warm jacket, and base layer for cold nights and mornings.
6. Door insect repellent
I made the big mistake of not bringing insect repellant on my trip to Machu Picchu.
The flies on the trek are big, nasty and annoying.
The bites I got on the trip became itchy and quite painful and didn’t go away for a few months!
Make sure you get a repellent brand that has a high Deet content – the ideal is over 90%.
7. Get comfortable at night
Come prepared for your trek to Machu Picchu
A good night’s sleep on the Inca Trail is a must.
Walking 7 hours a day takes all your strength and you seriously don’t want a sleepless or uncomfortable night along the way.
What to pack:
- Light and warm sleeping bag
- Fleece jacket or light down jacket
- a breathable waterproof outer shell
- This socks – for sleeping
- Base layer in merino wool
- Good hiking boots which are cut off early
I chose to bring my warm sleeping bag, inflatable pillow and Thermarest mat.
Having my own sleeping bag was a great feeling and the others in my group looked forward to my Thermarest mat, which held me great on hard ground.
I can’t stress how important it is to choose the right sleeping gear to make you comfortable.
Whether it’s an inflatable pillow or a foam mattress, choose one that’s small and light enough not to be a heavy burden on the course.
Warning: you may get jealous spectators.
8. Enjoy the Machu Picchu trail
Machu Picchu excursion: everything you need to know to be perfectly prepared: excursion
Mark at the observation point of Huayna Picchu
It may seem obvious, but I have seen so many people snorting and snorting and generally looking at their feet as they walked.
Remember where you are, remember to stop and take in the views, and remember to enjoy the Machu Picchu hike.
Yes, you may get tired, yes you may get wet and uncomfortable, but you will probably only have this amazing experience once, so make the most of it.
If you can’t hike Machu Pichu, check out Get Your Guide Day Trips from Cusco