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Read about days one and two of my trek here, and days three and four here.

While the Inca Trail is one of the most popular treks in the world, it can be surprisingly hard to find solid information on the logistics, breakdowns of complete costs, and reliable reviews on trekking companies. If you’re panicking about whether to run out and buy hiking boots or how much you’ll need to tip, read on.

We hiked the trail from October 27th, 2013 – October 30th, 2013 with . This was the start of the rainy season. High season is June-August, and for treks during this time you’ll need to book at least six months in advance. We booked about three months ahead of time and chose the first dates available. Treks depart from Cusco, Peru — plan to arrive 48 hours ahead of time to take care of last minute arrangements and acclimatize to the altitude.

General Tips

• Don’t skimp on your trekking company. I saw prices starting from $500 but was happy to pay $600 to go with a company that was personally recommended to me and that had a reputation for excellent porter care. Once you’re paying so much, you might as well pay a bit more for quality.

• Rent sleeping bags and walking sticks independently. Renting through Llama Path would have cost us $38, instead we paid less than $17 by renting from the camping stores on Calle Plateros. However, check thoroughly before agreeing to anything — our sleeping bags were great but our walking sticks were seriously subpar.

• Hire a porter unless you are absolutely sure you can do without. Through Llama Path, hiring an extra porter to carry up to 7kg of your personal belongings cost $70 per person. I know that I wouldn’t have been able to make it without! Out of our group of fifteen, eleven hired porters. Out of the four who didn’t, one had to give up and hire a porter en route for 100 soles per day (about $36).

• If you do hire a porter, remember that about 3kg out of the 7kg allotted will be taken up by your sleeping bag and sleeping mat. The rest is what you have left for clothing and toiletries. Anything you want access to throughout the day (camera, first aid, sunscreen, etc.) will go in your daypack, which you’ll have to haul yourself.

• Dress like an onion, in the words of my guide. Nights are incredibly cold and it will likely be quite chilly when you get started in the morning, but chances are you’ll be sweating by midday. I would wear running shorts under my leggings, a few layers on top, and always have a hat and gloves near.

What to Pack

• A  for easy hydration. This was the single thing I was most grateful for.

• Newspaper for drying out shoes overnight.

• Plastic bags for dirty and wet clothes.

• Snacks — but not too many. Llama Path kept us well fed and snacked and had I brought too many treats I would have resented the weight. I recommend nuts and protein bars — the latter is impossible to find in Cusco, though, so bring from home.

• Baby wipes — though again, not too many. Llama Path provided us with warm water and wash clothes for “showers” each night.

• , Bugspray, & .

• Small change for the first and last days. On the first day, there were pay-for-use bathrooms and vendors selling cold drinks and snacks, and on the last day at Machu Picchu there is a charge for everything from using the toilet to storing your bags.

• Flip flips to change into at night — your toes will thank you!

• A headlamp to navigate camp in the evenings and pre-dawn mornings.

• Tissues or toilet paper for the bathroom — they aren’t provided.

• A good daypack. I was so grateful for my  — I was probably carrying twice the weight of some others who were using less appropriate packs, and felt half the pain.

• Something to read in the evenings. I brought along a Machu Picchu inspired book and it was the perfect thing to drift asleep to in the evenings, and to finish on the train ride back to Cusco.

• A . I’m the first to admit I never would have bought this for myself, but I’m so thrilled that I received one at TBEX — it’s the best hiking accessory! I stash my chapstick and face sunscreen stick in one pocket, my iPhone and earbuds in another and my cash somewhere else and boom — I have my most commonly-needed items within arms’ reach.

• A small first-aid bag with blister pads (difficult if not impossible to find in Cusco), pain killers for sore muscles, and coca leafs or coca candies for altitude symptoms.

• A poncho and bag cover. I had a poncho but wished I also had a rain-proof bag cover to stick on my bag when it was just lightly drizzling. In those times I didn’t mind getting a bit wet but I didn’t want my bag to get heavier being weighed down by rain. Simple ponchos cost about 3 soles in Cusco.

• A  and earplugs. It might seem frivolous to some but I credit the excellent sleep I had on the first few nights to that pillow, and earplugs were necessary due to the different sleep hours of various group members.

• A note on shoes. When I announced I was hiking the Inca Trail in sneakers, it was met with a bit of hand-wringing. I stuck to my guns and in the end I’m so glad. For me, they were the right choice: I was bringing them anyway as I like to run when I travel, and didn’t want to carry an additional pair of heavy hiking boots. Also, I didn’t want to spend the money and I feared I wouldn’t have the time to break them in and blisters would result. Sneakers turned out to be perfectly adequate, though they did get a bit soggier than hiking boots might have on our rainiest day. If you go this route, I recommend always keeping dry socks in your daypack and bringing newspaper to help dry them out at night.

Highlights and Lowlights

• Highlights: Making fantastic friends, completing Dead Woman’s Pass, relaxing at Winay Huayna, each and every meal with Llama Path, the views at Intipata

• Lowlights: The bathrooms (seriously what the heck was going on there), the race to The Sun Gate, the weather on second and fourth days, the crowds at Machu Picchu

What did it cost?

• $600 to Llama Path
• $12 in Paypal fees to send our deposit (this was the lowest-fee option we could choose)
• $40 tip for guides  (we were recommended to tip $5 per day to the head guide and half that each to the two assistant guides)
• $37 tip for the porters and cook (we were recommended to give, as a group, 65 soles to each of the 22 porters, and double that to the 1 cook)
• $17 for sleeping bag and walking stick rental (12 soles for walking stick, 35 soles for sleeping bag)
• $70 porter services (Llama Path provided us with complimentary porter services as a media perk, but I have included it here)

Total cost: $776 USD 

Other costs not listed here include supplies baby wipes (5 soles), warm clothes purchased in Cusco including as a knock-off North Face fleece, fleece-lined leggings, and a hat (105 soles), snacks (10 soles), breakfast on the first day and lunch on the last.


Did we love Llama Path?

Yes! Choosing a trekking company can be overwhelming.  was recommended to me by two separate friends who used them during their own Peru treks, and I was impressed with their reputation for having the best porter care among all Inca Trail-licensed agencies.

The biggest for Llama Path was the logistics. Camp was set up expertly, sleeping tents were warm, and the food was some of the best I’ve had in Peru. Seriously, I can’t overemphasize how much I looked forward to mealtimes. I was blown away! There were some in our group with special dietary needs and I was amazed how sweetly they were accommodated.

Though this was never confirmed for me, I suspect that Llama Path’s long standing reputation gave us preference when things like campsites were assigned. Other companies were assigned different campsites and therefore had different itineraries, and I was very grateful for our schedule which got the pain out of the way on the second day rather than spreading it out.

The one area where Llama Path could improve is in the quality of guiding. In terms of giving technical trekking advice and motivating the group, our head guide was fantastic. But when it came time to give historical background or answer questions clearly, we were often left scratching our heads. From talking to trekkers in other groups this seemed to be a universal issue and I wonder if it comes down to a language barrier — the Quechua language is incredibly complex and less similar to English than Spanish, the native language of guides I had elsewhere throughout Peru.

Last Words of Wisdom

If there were two things I wish I had known before I started the Inca Trail, they were these:

1. I could do it. I spent a lot of time pre-trek worrying about my physical abilities, probably related to my turn-back from the Rinjani summit earlier this year. I hope this trek has instilled a bit more confidence in me.

2. Train train train! Every second spent preparing will pay off tenfold when you’re on the trail.

3. Cherish the pre-Machu Picchu sites. I was understandably very focused on the final destination, which in a lot of ways was a bit of an anti-climax thanks to insane crowds and crappy weather. In retrospect, our secluded time at the Inca sites along the trail were actually the more memorable moments. Slow down and enjoy having them to yourself!

Any questions? Ask away in the comments and I’ll try my darndest to help!

Llama Path provided me with free porter services as a media courtesy, but otherwise I paid all expenses out of pocket. As always, you receive my most honest and thorough reviews regardless of who footed the bill. Some links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I will make a small percentage of any sale that results from clicking them. Thanks for helping to keep Meihoukai in Wanderland running!

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207 Comments...
  • Ben
    November 22 2013

    Massive congrats on making it to the end! What a fantastic achievement, and such a useful post. I’ve bookmarked this one for the future! Thanks for sharing.

    Would you say 48 hours in Cusco was enough to acclimatize? Or do you wish you’d had longer? I’ve seen some people suggest 5 days, but I guess everybody is different.
    Ben recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 22 2013

      I think 48 hours was enough for me personally but as you said everyone is very different. However Cusco is a fantastic city and well deserves 5 days — if you have the time in your itinerary, spend it there!

  • egwg
    November 22 2013

    I didn’t go with Llama path but they seemed good. Their clients are usually younger so they’re usually one of the lead groups. This is good because you stay in the forward camp sites (less crowded). BTW, you didn’t wear your llama path t-shirt?

    • Meihoukai
      November 22 2013

      We didn’t get a t-shirt! I liked the age group of Llama Path clients. We were early 20’s to mid 30’s. Other groups like G Adventures were definitely younger while there were absolutely groups that swayed older. Ours was a great range.

      • egwg
        November 22 2013

        Bummer about the t-shirt. I didn’t trek with Llama Path but I remember that group all changed into t-shirts and posed at the sun gate.

        I went with SAS and it was always us or llama ath in the lead groups. I would say the Llama Path clientele skews younger than SAS.

      • belinda
        January 16 2014

        Hello! thanks for sharing all those insights! Very helpful! I am thinking of doing the trail with my mum, she is 65 but a fit one 🙂 – Can you recall of any group/agency with an older crowd? I need to make sure we go with a group in the right age/fitness range.
        THanks!!!

        • Meihoukai
          January 17 2014

          Hey Belinda, I definitely saw people of that age group hiking but unfortunately I couldn’t tell what agency they were from! I would try calling around to the higher-end ones (which will attract an older crowd generally) and asking about their demographics. Good luck!

          • belinda
            January 18 2014

            Thanks!

  • Shaun
    November 22 2013

    How do you dry your shoes with newspaper?

    The food does look good. I can’t believe the cook takes his time to make presentations like that. I’m usually just happy to eat from a can while absent from civilization.

    I like the first hand review of the tour company too. My sister wants to do this after graduation so I may take her as a present.
    Shaun recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 22 2013

      We just stuffed the newspaper in our shoes at night and it absorbed a lot of the moisture. Can’t remember where I read the tip but it really worked! And wow — what a graduation present that would be!

  • Shaz
    November 22 2013

    Nothing like good food on a trekking excursion. Thanks for all the info, I’ll be looking into booking my trek with Llama Path and checking back for tips when I go. You win for cutest hat of the group!

    Is it common for it to be quite rainy on the hike or was it due to the season?
    Shaz recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 22 2013

      We were there in the shoulder season, so I think we were in a somewhat risky position. That said, a little over two weeks my friends just did one of the alternative treks and had nothing but sun the entire time!

  • Jamie
    November 22 2013

    I’ve never heard of the newspaper trick before for drying shoes out! I’ll have to use that when I go running in the rain thanks!
    Jamie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 22 2013

      I was skeptical but impressed with how well it worked! Wish I could remember where I had read the tip.

  • Emily
    November 22 2013

    This is a great post and encouraging too (I am anxious too about my ability to make the trek).

    So for clothing that you wore and took along would you say the socks, shorts, leggings, tops, vest, fleece and poncho are enough for the trek?
    Emily recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 22 2013

      That was enough for me! For tops I had tank tops, thin long sleeve tops, my Scottevest, my Lululemon jacket and the fleece. The fleece lined leggings and some intense fleece socks were extremely necessary for the nights!

  • Andi
    November 22 2013

    You rock for doing this!!!
    Andi recently posted..

  • Sarah Somewhere
    November 22 2013

    Thank you for the info and for your honest appraisal of the trek and the company you booked through!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2013

      You are more than welcome as always… hope it helps when you arrive!

  • Mindy & Ligeia
    November 23 2013

    Amazing and informative post! Thank you for documenting your trip in such a helpful way. Hiking the Inca Trail is definitely on our bucket list, so this is great!

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2013

      No problem! I took copious notes on any topic I tried in vain to find information on before the trek…

  • Rachel of Hippie in Heels
    November 23 2013

    I love when you do these summary posts. it’ll end up being my one stop shop when i finally make it to Peru!
    Rachel of Hippie in Heels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2013

      I hope that is sooner rather than later, Rachel! Good luck getting here!

  • SnarkyNomad
    November 23 2013

    What I like to think about is how painful it is to haul a few kilos up the trail, but how many multi-ton rocks had to be shoved up the hill to build the damn thing, and all without the use of horses. Wow would that have sucked.
    SnarkyNomad recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2013

      Ha! I was too focused on my own pain to think of that of others. I’m impressed 🙂

  • Samantha
    November 23 2013

    Thanks for all the tips Meihoukai. One question – you took a day bag, but what about your big bag that the porter carried? I assume you left your 85l bag at a hostel or something? So did you hire one for the trek?

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2013

      Good question! The trekking company provided us with duffels for that purpose. I used my own packing cubes inside to keep things easy and organized for when we got to camp each night!

  • Ayngelina
    November 23 2013

    Good for you, I was there in rainy season and just decided to take the train instead 🙂
    Ayngelina recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2013

      Definitely a beautiful and scenic option, as well!

  • Steve
    November 23 2013

    Well done Meihoukai. Been feeling pangs of jealousy as it is on the bucket list. Enjoyed reading your tales.
    Steve recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 25 2013

      Thanks Steve! Move it up the list — that’s my only advice 🙂

  • Adam
    November 25 2013

    This is on my bucket list! It also makes sense that you’d recommend to cherish the sites before getting to Machu Picchu – it does seem awfully crowded in that pic with your tour guide
    Adam recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 27 2013

      And that was before 9am! I can only imagine that things get more and more hectic throughout the day…

  • Erica
    November 26 2013

    My knees basically say NO to this. 😛

    Did you climb Machu Picchu mountain? I’m sure you were tired by the time you got there! (We took the lazy bus way.)
    Erica recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 27 2013

      Well when you do the Inca Trail you come in from the Sun Gate, so you actually walk DOWN to Machu Picchu rather than UP to it. But afterwards? We totally took the bus down 🙂 Thankfully, it was included in my trek price!

  • GiselleandCody
    November 26 2013

    Meihoukai, Thank you so much for this great guide. Hiking the Inca Trail is high on our list of things to do in the world. We will be checking back to this article when the time comes.

    Hmmmm, or should we take the bus 🙂
    GiselleandCody recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 27 2013

      Hiking gets my vote 🙂 It’s shockingly expensive to go by bus/train… I think you might as well pay a bit more and get the full experience!

  • Camels & Chocolate
    November 27 2013

    Great post! Did you grapple with altitude sickness at all?
    Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 28 2013

      Luckily, not really — the worst I had was a horrific headache. About half of my 15 person group was seriously affected at some point or another, though.

  • Bridget @ A Traveling B
    December 12 2013

    Thank you for sharing! I have been wanting to climb the Inca Trail for years (and hopefully will soon), but it is hard to find organized and helpful information all in one place. I will definitely be referring back to this when I finally make it there.
    Bridget @ A Traveling B recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      December 13 2013

      Agreed, Bridget! I found it challenging to wade through the commercial sites to find good information from peers. Hope this helps!

  • Amy
    December 31 2013

    Wow, I had no idea it was so expensive! Sounds like it was worth it though; this trek is still on my list of things to do when I finally get over to South America. I’ll remember to check this post again for tips when I eventually do get there!
    Amy recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 2 2014

      Check out my post on the Salktantay for a more affordable alternative route, Amy! Good luck getting to Machu Picchu whichever option you choose 🙂

  • Matthew Fine
    January 15 2014

    Very interesting ideas on how to cut some very high costs, this trek is still on my list of places to go one day. Will definitely come back here when that time comes
    Matthew Fine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 17 2014

      Glad I could help, Matthew! It’s definitely something worth saving for but might as well be thrifty when possible 🙂

  • Stephanie
    January 30 2014

    I just clicked your link and booked my reservation to do the 4 day trek to Machu Picchu with Llama Path! Thanks for the inspiration!
    Stephanie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 31 2014

      Awesome Stephanie! I’m not an affiliate or anything, but it makes me really happy to hear you’ve taken the plunge! Have an amazing hike!

  • Shey
    February 10 2014

    I’m curious about the running shoes you used to hike the inca. I’ve been looking into new shoes for when I go to SA, but I living in hilly georgia, and hike a lot. I use my sleek puma running shoes because they have great grip support, and i’ve never had a problem jogging up a mountain in them, but they are super thin. I also wear then as everyday shoes.

    You wrote your shoes got soaked anyway so, even if i got bulkier shoes, that would still be a potential problem. I’m not sure what I should do!!! Whats your take?

    p.s. these are my normal ”hiking” shoes

    • Meihoukai
      February 10 2014

      Hey Shey, I think a lot of people freak out about wearing sneakers on the Inca Trail but I was perfectly happy in mine, as was my hiking buddy Zoe. The only red flag I see in your comment is you describe the shoes as very thin, and I can see that translating to some discomfort over four days of hiking on rocky trail. My sneakers had a really thick sole. Maybe consider that in your decision? Best of luck!

  • Paula
    February 13 2014

    I’m hiking M.P. in August and have added this particular page to my favorites.

    What do you recommend seeing in Cusco?

    Our overall trip is 11 days, including travel days to/from country. I think I want to stay an extra day and wonder if that should be Cusco?

    • Meihoukai
      February 14 2014

      Hey Paula! Sounds like a great trip! I actually have a post about Cusco here. I think Cusco is a great place to spend an extra day just wandering around, especially over Lima. Not sure what else is on your itinerary so it is hard to say… but you’ll never regret another day in Cusco!

  • Sofie
    February 22 2014

    The Inca Trail has been creeping upwards on my bucket list lately, so I’m really glad with this post.
    I’ve already saved it in Evernote for later.
    I’d absolutely love to do this trek. The only thing I’m concerned about is my breathing.
    I have some long issues that can give me difficulties breathing. The doctors don’t really know what it is, so I’m a bit worried what the altitude might do to it.
    I love walking and I can walk all day long, but I’ve never done it in a challenging environment before.
    Sofie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      February 24 2014

      Hey Sofie, if you are concerned about your physical capabilities I would definitely do some smaller day hikes around your area in as close conditions as you can manage and see how you fare first! Maybe try to get an overnighter in if you can — it will definitely help you judge if this is feasible for you! Good luck!

  • Ollie
    March 5 2014

    Hey!
    I’ve really enjoyed reading your review on the Inca Trail and you’ve answered loads of questions I had on it!
    What time did you get to MP and how busy was it? I know you said the crowds spoilt the experience a bit and I’d like to avoid the majority of the crowds if possible, or I think I will be disappointed too!
    We’re doing the Inca Trail 4-14th June.
    Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      March 5 2014

      Hey Ollie, I wasn’t wearing a watch so I really am not sure what time we arrived at Machu Picchu but I would guess around 7am? Honestly, there is no way to avoid the crowds. Our group was first in line at the gate at 5am, from which is is about a two hour hike if I recall. People are literally running — you can’t get there much faster than two hours. By the time you get there the place is pretty packed. It was noticeably busier when we left around noon, but from what I saw there is no avoiding the masses :/

  • Chris
    April 10 2014

    Hey, thanks for posting the very helpful review of your experience with LlamaPath. I have a 4 day 5 night hike booked with them this May in just a few weeks. I have a question. I’m kinda out of shape these days, but I’m trying to walk stairs as much as I can to try to get ready for this. The hike says it’s like 26 miles in 4 days which sounds insane, especially considering that 1 you’re going up steps the whole time and 2, you are above 10,000 feet the whole time pretty much. Was it insanely brutal just to complete the hike? Are there any possibilities or opportunities to opt out of the hike if you feel like you can’t make it in the middle of the hike? Can you some how catch the train if you are just physically incapable of finishing the hike, or how would that work? I’m really hoping I’ll be able to complete the hike, but just to be prepared and know my options… thanks for your help.

    • Meihoukai
      April 15 2014

      Hey Chris! I would recommend if you haven’t already that you read my day by day accounts of the hike, in which I describe the various struggles and challenges that I had. It is indeed 26 miles, and really on the fourth day you are only hiking for a few hours so the first three days are intense. Unfortunately opting out mid-hike would be quite challenging and expensive. From what I understand you’d have to hire a donkey to bring you back to trailhead, which would not be a fun ride, or a helicopter to evacuate you, which would be a super pricey ride. I would recommend hitting the gym every single day until you leave — every minute you spend working out ahead of time will be another degree more pleasant your hike will be!

  • Shawna
    April 15 2014

    did you have a different t-shirt/tank every day of the hike? or alternate two outfits?

    • Meihoukai
      April 16 2014

      Hey Shawna! Unfortunately I don’t fully remember and I can’t really tell from looking at photos, ha. I think I had two and alternated. The most important thing is definitely to dress like an onion and bring plenty of layers!

  • Carolina Velasquez
    April 29 2014

    Thank you for your detailed review- this is so helpful as I am hiking this trail next month. My only question is what brand/style of running shoe did you hike the trail with?

    Thank you in advance!

    • Meihoukai
      April 30 2014

      Hey Carolina! I actually had to go look at them to see because I had no idea, ha! They are Mizuno “Wave Inspire 8” and I bought them at one of those running stores where they analyze you running and then they bring out of a pair of shoes that is suited to you and you buy it and don’t have much choice in the matter. I think they were around $100, and they have made all the difference for me in terms of comfort when running/hiking. I would recommend checking out a store like that!

  • Carolina Velasquez
    May 1 2014

    Thanks! This was so helpful. I was on the fence about buying new hiking shoes or wearing my worn-in running shoes, I think I will go ahead and take my running shoes because I doubt I will have the time to wear in my hiking shoes and if I get blisters that’ll be the end of me, I don’t know how people hike with blisters. I think I would die lol

    • Meihoukai
      May 2 2014

      Seriously! I packed blister pads just in case but didn’t end up using a single one — yay!

  • Paula
    June 9 2014

    For the camelbak, the link is to the reservoir? Is that just what you stuck in your carry bag? I was wondering about that because you’re limited weight wise and well it did not make sense to carry a complete camelbak and hiking pack (a general camelbak that I am seeing will not be able to carry all of the stuff that you need. Am I mistaken?

    Thanks in advance,
    Paula

    • Meihoukai
      June 10 2014

      Hey Paula, I just used the reservoir! It was easy to stick into my bag. Mine actually had a little sleeve for laptops or magazines that it slipped quite nicely into. Hope that helps!

      • Paula
        June 12 2014

        Sorry, I have another question. Do you think the packable daypack would be sufficient for being on the Inca Trail?

        • Meihoukai
          June 13 2014

          I don’t! I definitely think you need something with much more structure. I would recommend the bag I took, which is linked to in this post. Good luck!

  • Jolanda
    August 9 2014

    Hello Meihoukai
    I love to read your travel blogs and thanks for al the above tips to do the Inca trail. We are planning to do the trail in juli 2015. I have a question about the sleeping bags you hired, were they warm enough? And do you know the name of the company where you hired them??
    Thanks for your reaction, Greetings from the netherlands, jolanda

    • Meihoukai
      August 12 2014

      Hi Jolanda! Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the exact shop (they barely have names!), but basically all along the street I mentioned are the exact same. We were definitely warm enough though occasionally we woke up with some feathers in our hair 🙂 Best of luck with the trail!

  • Kristen
    August 15 2014

    Great summary! Very helpful. My husband and I are making this trip with Llama Path in Oct. I have a few quick questions about packing. When leaving the US did you only have a carry-on or did you check your bag under the plane? Do we need a larger pack and a daypack as well? Where did you leave your large pack since you hired a porter? We haven’t purchased our packs yet, so I want to make sure we buy ones that will be easiest for this trek. Thanks again.

    • Meihoukai
      August 19 2014

      Hey Kristen! Check out my post Inside My Bag: Peru for my whole packing list and setup. I left my big bag at my hotel in Cusco. I think the post I mentioned will help a lot. Best of luck and happy trekking! 🙂

  • Nik
    August 18 2014

    Thanks for a great summary Meihoukai.
    A couple of questions regarding the trek?
    1) Did you have to take any vaccines prior to the trek ?
    2) How cold can it get during the night. We will be doing it next month in Sep 2014.

    • Meihoukai
      August 19 2014

      Hey Nik! I got the yellow fever vaccine before entering Peru but if you are only doing this trek and not heading into the jungle you don’t need it. The weather I’m not sure — you’re best off asking your trek operator 🙂 Best of luck!

  • Stacey McGregor
    August 19 2014

    Thank you so much for your note about wearing sneakers! I’m doing the 4D/3N trek in 2 weeks and am getting the same eye rolling/hand wringing you received. Glad to hear runners are ok!

    • Meihoukai
      August 19 2014

      Ha, definitely. I don’t know why the idea seems so shocking 🙂 Trainers were definitely the best choice for me!

  • Mary
    August 26 2014

    Great post! I just have a quick question – when you hired the porter was that for all of your other possessions (actual pack) and then you just brought what you needed for the trek in your day pack? Or did you leave your big pack somewhere locked up whilst you were on the trail?
    Thanks

    • Meihoukai
      August 27 2014

      Hey Mary! The porter can only carry 7 kilos, and I definitely brought more than that to Peru 🙂 I stored my main bag in Cusco and the porter carried my overnight bag with sleeping bag and mat, clothes, and toiletries. I carried a day bag with camera, sunscreen, water, etc. Hope that helps!

  • Raju
    October 21 2014

    Hi Meihoukai–your blog is amazing and I really enjoyed it. My husband and I are going over Thanksgiving and to be honest–I am starting to get very apprehensive about the physical part of it. I work out fairly regularly–3 times a week–I take high intensity interval classes. However, I’m not a hiker or camper. But, we have done a couple of day hikes–8-9 miles worth that were considered strenuous–and we survived! Reading your blog, I see the importance of being positive, but just wanted your thoughts on the ability of “anyone” to do this. As you probably know, most blogs all say that and I really wonder how true that is. With a family to take care of and work, it’s pretty much impossible for me to get more time in to work out, and so just hoping I will be ready…any advice or positive thoughts about it would be so appreciated!!

    • Meihoukai
      October 23 2014

      Hey Raju, as I replied to your comment on my other Inca Trail post, I think you’ll be fine! It sounds like you are a regular exerciser and in good shape. Plus you’ve been practice hiking! If you are worried about the camping, just take some extra comforts like a nice (small) pillow or whatever else you think you’ll appreciate. As my guide stated, most who turn back do so due to mental limitations rather than physical ones — so staying positive is the right idea 🙂

  • Phil
    October 28 2014

    Hi Meihoukai,

    Found your post during a research-fest on the Inca Trail but have to say, loving reading through the rest of your blog now! However, I digress… lol

    I’m off to South America in Jan for a few months pottering about. As part of this I’m hitting the Inca Trail as it’s long been an ambition of mine. However, as I’m packing for a few months I’m trying to limit the amount of ‘stuff’ I have with me! I need to take my running trainers with me as I’m finishing my trip by popping to South Africa to complete an Ultra Marathon out there (as you do…) but I’m slightly concerned if they’ll do for the hike too as they’re very low drop – 4mm. You described the terrain as a good mix so would you say that a thicker sole would be preferable and I should just bite the bullet and bring another pair with me? :o)

    Phil

    • Meihoukai
      October 29 2014

      Hey Phil! I’m going to be honest, I have no idea what a low drop shoe is, so I don’t know how much help I can be here 🙂 I will say though that I think having a thick sole would be preferable for the Inca Trail, as there are a lot of stone steps and rocky trails. Sorry I can’t be more useful!

      • Phil
        October 29 2014

        Hahahaha.. no worries! I did realise I’d slipped into Running Nerd speak after I wrote it! 🙂 I think it’ll probably be in my best interests to just get a different pair for hiking and general wear rather than risk it (even for a chocolate biscuit)! 🙂

  • Mia Adventurer
    November 2 2014

    This should be a must have list especially about the camelbak! So many people I bumped into to forgot to take enough water – luckily our super guide (Cynthia Valladares she’s a gem) who’s also a local made sure we had al the seemingly insignificant things that turned out to be so important. I was surprised that even though Peru’s sites are so well known, there are so many little fascinating spots in and around the area that most people just bypass. If you are fit I LOVED the view from Huayna peak but you’ll need grippy shoes cos its a scary hike! 🙂
    Mia Adventurer recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 4 2014

      That’s great your guide gave you some valuable insight on what to pack! I know this list is what I was looking for before I left, so I’m glad it’s been helpful to others 🙂

  • Kat
    November 16 2014

    Hi Meihoukai, Thanks for sharing your experience! I am going in April with a couple friends and will be spending 3 weeks in Peru/Ecuador including going to Machu Picchu!. We were also looking into PeruTrek, did you research that company and did you have any thoughts on it v. Llama Path? Also, where did you store your luggage in Cusco? Was it with the company or did you find another place / hostel? And lastly, did you see any people with a Kindle or iPad for reading? Any thoughts on bringing one for the trip? Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      November 17 2014

      Hey Kat! I don’t remember PeruTrek coming up in my research, so unfortunately can’t comment on that. In Cusco I stored my luggage at my hotel, though Llama Path also offered the option to store luggage with them. I’m pretty sure at least one person on my trek had a Kindle with them, which I think would be nice for at night when you’re falling asleep in your tent or on the train ride back to Cusco. The charges last forever so I think it would be a great option. Best of luck, and hope those answers help!

  • Karina
    November 19 2014

    Hi Meihoukai,

    I’m finding your blog super useful for planning my upcoming trip to S. America! Do you remember how far in advance you booked your Inca Trail trip?

    Also somewhat tangentially… throughout your travels were you ever without a return flight ticket when crossing various borders? I’d like to leave my trip flexible and open ended, but am concerned about passport officials wondering if I ever intend to leave! Your thoughts are greatly appreciated!!

    • Meihoukai
      November 19 2014

      Hey Karina, thank you! As stated in the opening paragraph of this post, we booked in July to hike in late October. I forged a fake bus ticket to enter Peru, and by the time I entered Ecuador I had booked a flight out of Costa Rica and back to the US, which I planned to use if asked at any borders. However, I was never asked to show it, not when entering Ecuador, Panama, or even Costa Rica. I guess I looked homesick!

  • Al
    December 5 2014

    Hi Meihoukai
    love the pic. love the way you set out the trip
    question if I may?
    some concern about weather in October
    would you consider September a better month if you had to do it again?
    thanks again

    Al

    • Meihoukai
      December 10 2014

      Hey Al! Well, I wasn’t able to go in September due to a friend’s wedding. Ideally of course it would be better to go towards the dry season, but that’s life! I’m very happy with how it all shook out overall 🙂

  • Isabelle
    January 6 2015

    Hey, thanks for the useful info!
    Just curious: when you booked with Llama Path, did that provide you with the necessary ticket to access Machu Picchu, or did you need to buy your entry ticket from the official Machu Picchu website?

    Did you also do the hike to Wayna Picchu?

    • Meihoukai
      January 8 2015

      Hey Isabelle, yes it does include the ticket to Machu Picchu 🙂 Wayna Picchu tickets can be added on for an extra charge. I didn’t do it, though two in my group did!

  • Jolene
    January 21 2015

    I absolutely loved this post! Very helpful to hear from someone closer to my age (and my gender) about their experience 🙂 My family (two brothers, parents, boyfriend, and aunt) will be going in May this year and I’m so excited!

    I was wondering if you brought makeup/hair products? My hair gets VERY VERY greasy, and so I was thinking of bringing some dry shampoo just to keep it looking semi-normal during the trip. I normally wash it every 3 days or so but use dry shampoo copiously in between washes. I was also thinking of bringing some bb cream (spf) just to provide some face coverage during the day.

    • Meihoukai
      January 22 2015

      What an awesome family trip, Jolene! I think I brought face wipes to clean up in the evening/morning my usual SPF moisturizer, and I might have brought some mascara to swipe on for the last day (I can’t quite recall if I actually did that, but it seems like a good idea, ha.) Dry shampoo sounds like a plan too! I went for my standard hair braid to hide the grease. Good luck!

  • Amanda DeJesus
    February 28 2015

    Meihoukai,
    I also found your blog while researching Peru. (and I am gleaning so much knowledge from you) Couple questions: We are hiking with Peru Treks the classic 4d/3n May this year with our two young kids 10 yr& 8yr they have already hiked a volcano in Ecuador last year.~ Did you see any young kids on the trail? Even though I know they are in excellent physical condition, I still am a bit apprehensive. I did hire porters for them. I am hiring myself and my husband one after reading your post. Any thoughts or wisdom regarding them on the trail?
    Also how did you keep your iPhone charged? (My only camera)
    Amanda

    • Meihoukai
      March 2 2015

      Hey Amanda! What an amazing adventure to take your kids on! I do not recall seeing any kids on the trail, but I do remember seeing hikers at least a decade older than my parents, which really impressed me. Have you discussed with your tour operator if they’ve brought kids up in the past? As for the iPhone, I brought a solar charger but it was never sunny enough to use it. So I just turned it off when I wasn’t using it and otherwise kept all apps off and the screen brightness down. I used it to snap occasional photos and sometimes listen to music, but mostly I was chatting to the others in my group so didn’t have it on TOO often. Maybe invest in a Mophie case or other kind of portable charger?

      Hope that helps! Good luck!

  • Anita
    March 4 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,

    I just found your blog and wish I had found it sooner! My husband and I are doing the Lares Trek in July. I am struggling with packing and what “luggage/bags” to actually bring on the trip! I am thinking about purchasing a 65 L backpack and also bringing a day pack. I’m thinking about sharing the large pack with my husband for the 4 day trek and then each having a day pack. Any tips or suggestions you can provide would be helpful!

    Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      March 5 2015

      Hm, I’m not sure I’m interpreting this right — would that mean three bags between you (a large pack and two day packs?). If you’re hiring a porter, you should be fine with two day packs. If not, maybe the 65L and a daypack that you guys alternate. Most of us wore the same clothes over and over again, which meant we didn’t actually have too much stuff with us. Hope that helps!

      • Anita
        March 5 2015

        Thanks for your help!

  • holly
    March 8 2015

    Did you have to provide the bag for the stuff the porters carried? Do you recommend high socks or are quarter height OK? What did you do about cleaning water and how much did you need per day? I’m leaving next week and still figuring out last minute details. Thank you!

    • Meihoukai
      March 8 2015

      Llama Path provided the bags for us, I wore ankle running rocks, and they provided warm water each night for a wash cloth clean down. Hope that helps, good luck 🙂

  • Ashley
    March 21 2015

    Hi Meihoukai,
    I haven’t seen anyone ask this yet but, I was just wondering how bad the mosquitoes/ bugs were when you went? And also, were there any bathrooms/outhouses along the trail and how bad were they…? I’m almost afraid of the answer haha!
    Thank you for all the info, I’m really glad I came across your blog!! =)

    • Meihoukai
      March 23 2015

      I don’t remember thinking too much about bugs, though I did have a small spray with me 🙂 As for the bathrooms…. they were revolting. A lot of people just went for using the woods instead of faring them! Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be much of an alternative. A shame, because all it would take to keep them much cleaner would be two plastic pails per stall — one for water to rinse the squat toilets after use and one to throw tissue paper in. By the end, I offered to personally fund this venture for the entire Inca Trail, ha.

  • Riana
    April 27 2015

    Hey Meihoukai,
    So I tried reading every post you wrote, but I did not find the answer. I was wondering how was your battery life on the machu picchu trek?

    • Meihoukai
      April 29 2015

      My iPhone miraculously lasted the entire time despite the fact that it was too cloudy to ever use my solar charger. I turned it on airplane mode and shut down apps when I wasn’t using them, turned the screen brightness way down, and shut it off when not in use. I really only used it for photos and for occasionally listening to music. Hope that helps!

  • Pauline
    May 22 2015

    Really enjoyed reading your post Meihoukai. We’ve just booked to do the trek for end of October and was a bit concerned about whether we can do the full 4 day trek as we’re not the fittest. In the end we opted for the 2 day trek camping overnight so we’re not stretching ourselves unnecessarily and still feel like we’ve worked for it.

    Might be a silly question, but do you know if snakes survive at such a high altitude? I’m petrified of them and its the last thing I want when I camp. Thanks

    • Meihoukai
      May 26 2015

      Hey Pauline! Congratulations on booking a trek, and one you’re excited about! Unfortunately I’m not sure about the snake situation. I can tell you that I never saw one!

  • Sydney
    May 23 2015

    Thanks for the post! I signed up for a 4 day 3 night trek on the Inca Trail with Pachamama and I had a question about the day pack. I have a really nice backpack with a camelback slot but was only planning on bringing a stuff sack backpack for my trip but now your post is making me reconsider… I was thinking I would be happier on my 6 week trip through S America with only 1 big back pack and not having to carry a daypack on front. Shouldn’t that packable daypack you recommended be good enough to use as a day pack for the trek?
    Sydney recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      May 26 2015

      Hey Sydney, I would definitely NOT recommend that packable for the Inca Trail. It’s great for short day tours but absolutely not for a strenuous four day trek. Those in my group who had inferior bags were complaining constantly about their backs. Maybe you could rent something? I’m not sure about that to be honest, but I do know I’d want to bring a great bag. You’ll be carrying more than you might think — probably water, sunscreen, a camera, a phone or ipod for music, snacks, and probably some some discarded layers as well!

  • steph
    June 7 2015

    Hi Meihoukai, I’m planning to hike the Huayna Picchu this early September (I know you did the Inca trail but you probably have more knowledge about hiking than I). I’m not sure what shoes to get, hiking shoes or normal runners like Nike. Mind you, I don’t exercise so I want to make sure I have good shoes for this treacherous hike. Do you or anyone have any suggestions?

    • Meihoukai
      June 8 2015

      Hey Steph! I would recommend heading to a place like Feet Fleet, or any other shoe store where they watch you run and walk and recommend a shoe specifically for your foot/arch/gait/etc. Also, it’s less about the shoe and more about how broken in it is — make sure to get as many miles as you can in this summer, in the same shoes you plan to hike in! You’ll be fitter and happier when the big day comes 🙂 Best of luck!

  • Chinmoy
    July 13 2015

    Kudos for doing this!!

    My wife and I are considering doing the trek – would you recommend the Inca trail in mid-november timeframe or would we be better off doing the Sankatyan trail in Sep / Oct dry season. If we do not do it this year, might not do it the next 3-4 years.. We are at average fitness level, so anxious but hopeful about finishing it 🙂

    Thanks

    • Meihoukai
      July 14 2015

      Hey there! Unfortunately I really only have my own limited experience (four days, ever 🙂 ) to comment on what weather is really like on the Inca Trail. We had bad weather in late October and my boyfriend at the time had great weather in mid November, but that goes against all standard logic for the region! I guess there’s just a huge element of luck.

      I guess only you can answer what’s most important to you — to have better luck at clear weather, or to do the traditional trek. Sorry I wasn’t more useful, and good luck deciding!

  • Jane
    July 17 2015

    I was just wondering what trainers you walked in for the Inca? I want to go down this path but I want to make sure my Nike Free 5.0 will be ok?

    • Meihoukai
      July 20 2015

      Hey Jane! Forgive me, I’m copying and pasting from elsewhere in the comments. They were Mizuno “Wave Inspire 8” and I bought them at one of those running stores where they analyze you running and then they bring out of a pair of shoes that is suited to you and you buy it and don’t have much choice in the matter. I think they were around $100, and they have made all the difference for me in terms of comfort when running/hiking. I can’t comment on your specific shoes as I’m not familiar with them, but it’s less about the shoe and more about how broken in it is — make sure to get as many miles as you can in this summer, in the same shoes you plan to hike in!

  • Victoria
    July 30 2015

    Hi Meihoukai! Great info. My friends and I are hiking the trail in 5 weeks and one is struggling with some asthma issues right now. She thinks she will be ok as long as it is a slow pace. Could you tell me your experience on how fast the hiking groups go?

    • Meihoukai
      July 31 2015

      Hey Victoria, I’m not sure what you mean… I have no idea what our miles per hour was, if that’s what you’re looking for 🙂 The good thing is that you can literally take all day long if you want. The group doesn’t need to hike together, so when you set out in the morning everyone will set their own pace and if you’re in the back one of your guides will hang around with you. There’s absolutely no rush to get to the campsite — just get there by dark! Hopefully that’s reassuring. Good luck!

      • Victoria
        August 2 2015

        That is exactly what I was getting at. Thank you. I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear. This will give my friend a little peace of mind.

  • Shaun McQueen
    August 22 2015

    We are doing the inca trail on September 8th 2015. with Wayki tours ,and paying 600 US $. per person,but today we were informed that we will be only the two of us !!! So How much should we tip ??? 3 nights,4 days. Its now become a private trek,with no extra cost, but the safety in numbers card is gone,and we had a rather unpleasant experience with tip hungry porters in 2014 when we climbed Kilimanjaro. Does anybody have any suggestions ???

    • Meihoukai
      August 23 2015

      Hey Shaun, I’m sorry — all I can share is my own tipping experience, which I outlined in detail here. I wouldn’t have a clue where to start with a private trek! Hoping someone can provide you with some insight!

    • Victoria
      February 11 2016

      Hi Shaun. We just booked a private 4day trek with Wayki Trek in August after ready many positive reviews. However the price for 6 people (2 adults and 4 kids) is $806 US. The shared price is $760nso the price is a lot higher perhaps becausE IT is high season?? We just found out we will arrive at MP on day 4 at 10:00 am as the other campsite is full. What was your experience like with Wayki trek.? And did you arrive early or late to MP? Any additional insights would be welcomed!

  • Natalie
    September 1 2015

    Hey Meihoukai!
    I am planning on making this hike in December and I was just wondering did you bring all of your stuff on the trip or did you leave some at a location in Cusco for when you returned?
    Im assuming that is what the Porter is for, but I don’t know if I will want to bring all of my luggage with me….

    Nat

    • Meihoukai
      September 9 2015

      I left my luggage with my hotel, but you can also leave it with the trekking company. Happy hiking!

  • Paulo Castro
    October 17 2015

    Meihoukai, I know you have done this trip a while ago but the emotions and memories truly last a lifetime. I have completed the Inca Trail more than 15 times over the years. Yes, I’m a native Peruvian, but I have lived in the USA most of my life.

    My first experience doing the Inca Trail took place in the mid 80’s when it was pretty much a real adventure (not very civilized). I traveled with my buddies but it was more of a party trip for us so I never really got to appreciate it.

    Somehow, that first time gave me enough curiosity to come back and look for the real experience. It was the first time I actually carried my own back pack, assembled my own tent, and fixed my own food.

    Every time I have done it thereafter has been in response to some kind of addiction I have developed. It’s impossible to describe but it takes away my stress, relieves my mind from worries, pumps my spirit with positive energy, and generally speaking… it fills me up with life.

    Every time I have done it thereafter has given me an opportunity to try new foods, smell new odors, meet new people, learn more from the natives, and even experience new risks and dangers.

    There is something about the Inca Trail that keeps me coming back for more. In recent years, I have even organized my trip to accommodate two hikes-the Inca Trail and something else. Last time, I did the Salkantay Trail, rested for two days in Cusco, and then went on the Inca Trail.

    One of my favorite things to experience during my trips has been meeting foreigners who visit Peru looking for adventures. I like to see them trying the foods, trying to speak Spanish, interacting with the natives, and especially enjoy watching their gestures when they finally reach Intipunku (high point near Machu Picchu where you can see the whole archeological site).

    I am glad you experienced the hike and thank you for sharing your experience. Giving tips to future travelers is always big help.

    Would you do it again?

    • Meihoukai
      October 18 2015

      Wow Paulo, I loved reading this comment. It’s like poetry… I read it twice! Clearly, something about this path is magnetic, to you and to others. While there is an endless world out there and no chance of seeing it all in one lifetime, I do return over and over again to places that are special to me. Peru is one of them, and I would love the chance to hike the Inca Trail again someday (and perhaps have better weather at finale!) Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Brittany
    October 23 2015

    Hello,
    Thank you so much for your post, it has helped a lot in planning our trip. I have a few questions I was wondering if you might know the answers to any

    1. When is the best day of the week to start the hike?
    As of now, we plan on arriving to Peru on Saturday May 14th then starting the hike Sunday May 15th to summit by Wednesday.

    2. Where/How do we make reservations for our hotel for our first arrival day? How do we get from our hotel to wherever the Inca trail hike starts for llamapath? I thought I saw it includes transportation from our hotel to the path but I didn’t see specific logistics.

    3. If we have extra luggage that we do NOT want to
    carry on the hike with us, is there a place Llamapath provides for us to leave our bags and retrieve them on the final day? After the hike we wanted to spend 1-2 days in cusco and want room for other outfits and to bring home souvenirs.

    4. On the final day after the summit, where is it that the train takes us back to and drops us off? Wasn’t sure how to reserve a hotel in this area.

    Thank you so much for all of your help!!!

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Hey Brittany! Not sure I can answer all of these but here’s my best try…

      1. As far as I know, doesn’t matter a bit 🙂
      2. Personally I stayed at a hostel, which was booked via HostelWorld.com. We walked to one of the central squares where we all boarded our Llama Path transport to the start of the hike.
      3. Yup! You can leave at your hotel or at the Llama Path office.
      4. The train drops you off back in Cusco!

      Hope that helps. Have a great trip.

  • Brittany
    October 23 2015

    Also,
    My boyfriend and I were going to hire one porter for the two of us. Do you think this is sufficient? I guess I assumed a few clothes and 2 sleeping bags/mats couldn’t weigh that much but I guess I’m not entirely sure.
    Thanks, Brittany

    • Meihoukai
      October 24 2015

      Hey Brittany, as I said in the post my friend and I shared on porter. We had plenty of room!

  • Jillian
    October 31 2015

    Hey Meihoukai!

    Jill from Canada here. I really enjoyed your post! I am really interested in hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu with my husband. Although we are in our 30s, fit, and enjoy day hikes–we don’t really enjoying camping (and yes we are Canadian! Haha).

    I am worried about whether the 4 day trek would be too demanding especially if we both will not be able to sleep well in the tents.

    I have been researching that there is a 2 day trek offered by some companies which combines a train journey until kilometre 104 which apparently is the start of the trek on Day 1. Then we’d hike for 4 hours to Wiñay Wayna and carry on until Sungate, then back to Aguas calientes for dinner/bed at a hotel (vs tent). On Day 2, we’d be taking a bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu where there’ll be a 2 hour guided tour of MP and there’s an option of hiking up to HP. Afterwards we’d meet our guides back at Aguas Calientes and take the train back.

    This tour seems to be a good blend of our needs (enjoying some hiking but not sleeping in a tent) and seeing the key sites of the Inca Trail. Wondering if you could share your opinion on the latter. Do you think we are missing any of the “key sites” on the Inca Trail by not starting the trek from the usual starting point? Also, is 2 hours in MP sufficient time? Would love to know your thoughts.

    Many thanks Meihoukai!
    Jill

    • Meihoukai
      November 2 2015

      Hey Jill! I have seen the two day trek advertised. To be honest, many of the sites run together and for me it is not necessarily a memory one one specific special one that I loved so much as the days upon end of being out in nature and going off the grid. If you don’t think you’d enjoy that sensation, then I say do what your heart is pointing you towards! I know that might not be the specific answer you were looking for, but it’s a tough thing to answer for someone else. Personally, yes, two hours was enough for me — but I had bad weather and was looking forward to my first shower in a while 🙂 Enjoy!

  • Radu
    November 12 2015

    Hi Meihoukai.

    Great blog! I’ve used it as a research and motivation tool for my wife while we were planning our trek up Rinjani this June. In the end we had to abandon our ascent after reaching the crater rim, as my wife got sick (from a combination of effort, food and exposure to the sun, I think…). I wanted to ask you, after experiencing both ascents, which is the most difficult one? I’m trying to figure out if it’s feasible to take my wife up the Inca Trail after her problems up Rinjani? Thanks, Radu
    Radu recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      November 15 2015

      Personally I found the final Rinjani ascent more challenging (as I did not complete it!) but they are hard to compare as I was much more prepared for the Inca Trail than I was for Rinjani. I will say that in terms of food, camping etc. I was MUCH more comfortable and well taken care of on the Inca Trail, and I’m sure that had an effect on my results! Hope that helps and good luck with the hike!

  • Sarah
    January 4 2016

    Hi! Thanks for this super helpful list and recommendations. I’m really stoked about heading to Peru in May and wondering what the “best hiking accessory ever!!” is that you didn’t name – all the pockets for things to be within arms reach? Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      January 4 2016

      That is so strange — I used to have a link to Scottevest, but it must have somehow got deleted! I’ll go back and fix that now. Thanks for the heads up!

  • Derrickvog
    January 4 2016

    Je sais que j’ai énormément apris grace à cet article

    • Meihoukai
      January 7 2016

      You’re welcome Derrick — had to run this through Google Translate but I think I got the idea 🙂

  • Dusty
    January 9 2016

    Loved reading this. My mom and i hiked with Llama Path last year and we agree with you- they’re top notch! However, we were also let down by the crowd at Machu Pucchu. We were at the Sun Gate before 7:30 along with EVERYONE ELSE! So irritating. I think the trekkers should have first dibs on the site and not let the others in till 8 or 9.
    Thanks for your write up!

    • Meihoukai
      January 11 2016

      I totally agree, Dusty. I was shocked that the hiking groups didn’t get even a thirty minute lead on the big crowds. Considering how much we pay for the trek, I think it would be a pretty reasonable concession.

  • Fran
    January 12 2016

    Really enjoyed this – it’s made me even more determined to go to MP! My friends and I are looking at doing the Moonstone Trek rather than the Inca Trail so we can avoid group campsites etc – we’re currently looking at going via Exodus, have you heard anything about them? One of the reasons we like the look of that route is that they can use mules and horses to carry stuff, so hopefully the porters don’t get too overloaded! Doubt we’ll go before September 2017 (I was diagnosed with long term leukaemia last year so it’ll take me a while to get that under control enough so I can get fit and cope with the altitude!) but I’m already excited! Thanks for all your great tips.

    • Meihoukai
      January 13 2016

      Hey Fran, sorry, I haven’t heard of Exodus or the Moonstone Trek! Personally I’d prefer to find a company that gives human porters ethical amounts of weight for ethical amounts of pay over one that uses animals, but I know there is a huge range of opinions on that. I found that Llama Path treated their porters really well, if that’s your main concern 🙂 Regardless — what an awesome trip to look forward to while you recover. Sending you lots of healing vibes from Thailand <3

      • Fran
        January 13 2016

        Thanks for getting back to me! Moonstone looks lovely, it’s slightly higher than the Inca Trail and very, very deserted – it ends up just by the start point of the Inca Trail (I think) then people just hop on a train to MP. I’m definitely going to look into Llama Path, they sound great 🙂 Enjoy Thailand!!

  • hopefulist
    January 19 2016

    Great post – makes me look forward even more to our trip in May 2016!

    The Scottevest link is still missing and I’m curious, too. 🙂
    hopefulist recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 20 2016

      Whoop! I’ll go in and try to see what’s going on there — thanks!

  • Cheryl
    January 29 2016

    I enjoyed your blog, thank you!
    We are doing the 4D/3N hike. My question is asking your opinion on doing the Huayna Picchu hike too? After we see Machu Picchu from the view we enter on, is it much different from the additional hike?
    Thanks for your time!

    • Meihoukai
      February 1 2016

      Hey Cheryl! Hard for me to comment on if it’s worth it as I didn’t do the Huayna hike myself. I will say that I was very happy with that decision — after four days of trekking, I didn’t need to do an add-on once we got there.

  • Rabindra
    January 30 2016

    Excellent post. Found it after booking our trip though. We are signed up for the combo 7-day Salkantay and Inca trail with Tierras Vivas. Has anyone gone with them? What’s your experience with rented sleeping bags?

    • Meihoukai
      February 1 2016

      Thanks Rabinda! To quote the post above: “Rent sleeping bags and walking sticks independently. Renting through Llama Path would have cost us $38, instead we paid less than $17 by renting from the camping stores on Calle Plateros. However, check thoroughly before agreeing to anything — our sleeping bags were great but our walking sticks were seriously subpar.”

      • Rabindra
        February 1 2016

        Thanks Meihoukai for your reply.

  • lindsay
    February 9 2016

    sorry if you already answered this, but how bad were the mosquitoes? We have our trip planned for early April with Llama Path.

    • Meihoukai
      February 9 2016

      I’m guessing mosquito levels really vary depending on the time of the year, and I was there in October. It might just be an issue of how much time has gone by but I don’t remember being bothered by them! Good luck.

  • Escape Hunter
    February 14 2016

    Great photos! It must be mesmerizing to hike all the way to the “Old Peak”…
    But it sure must be energy-consuming.

    • Meihoukai
      February 16 2016

      It was indeed… but worth every step!

  • Ben Peddie
    February 17 2016

    Hi, I am planning on trekking the inca trail in September this year. You may have already mentioned this but as I am travelling around the world I will have a 20+Kg rucksack with me, do you have the option of leaving this in your hostel or do you have to take it with you on the trek?

    With my rucksack I have a 30L day rucksack which I was planning on putting all of my stuff into to take on the trek. Any advice or help would be brilliant. Enjoyed reading the article and will look to book through LlamaPath.

    • Meihoukai
      February 17 2016

      Hey Ben, yup, this has been asked many times 🙂 You can leave the bag in your hotel or store it with your trekking company. I left mine in my hotel. Enjoy your trek!

  • Carmel
    February 19 2016

    Hi Meihoukai, I read your post about what to pack with great interest as I’m going this July! But you have left me hanging. What is the item you raved about after your daypack??!! The details seem to have disappeared. Cheers, Carmel

    • Meihoukai
      March 2 2016

      So strange, I keep adding in that Amazon affiliate link and the internet keeps eating it up! Adding it in again now, but for quicker reference, it was a Scottevest 🙂

  • Jamie Sebastian
    March 8 2016

    I will be traveling alone in July and doing this hike. Is there anything different you might recommend for someone on their own? Also, do you need to purchase any other passes, or is buying a trip with the company all you have to buy?

    • Meihoukai
      March 12 2016

      I think you might need to pay a single supplement for your tent, but that’s all I can think of Jamie! I’m sure you’ll make plenty of friends in your group. Enjoy!

  • Gabi B
    March 11 2016

    “I’m the first to admit I never would have bought this for myself, but I’m so thrilled that I received one at TBEX — it’s the best hiking accessory!”

    What was this one? A kind of bum bag?

    • Meihoukai
      March 12 2016

      It’s a Scottevest — not sure why the link code keeps getting eaten! Sorry about that!

  • Ben
    April 19 2016

    I just booked flights to Lima for myself and kids with the intent to go to MP in December. Any recommendations for getting from Lima to Cusco?
    Ben recently posted..The Sun Sets on Photo of the Week

  • Ben
    April 19 2016

    Nevermind – I see that flights are the best way for me to go!

    • Meihoukai
      April 27 2016

      With kids, absolutely! The bus ride is a killer, even if you break it up at some of the small towns along the way.

  • Liliana Sterw
    May 4 2016

    thank you so much for these advices! Im going to do the inca trail with my friend in november. We r very excited, but i must admit that im a bit scared. I’m definitely going to rent hiking poles!

    • Meihoukai
      May 7 2016

      Hiking poles are a good idea — I didn’t think I’d want mine, and ended up wishing I’d had two!

  • Williamjam
    May 6 2016

    Great article. Much thanks again. Great.

  • Jayme
    May 21 2016

    Just wanted to tell you Thank you for the post and so glad I found it! I just finished hiking the Inca Trail last week and looked to your post before I went. You were very helpful on what to expect (and yes it was hard). Keep up your travels!

    • Meihoukai
      May 24 2016

      So thrilled to hear that Jayme. Congratulations on your accomplishment!

  • Jenn
    July 4 2016

    Hey! Awesome stuff! So my friend and I are planning on doing this in the next year. Question though! We’re thinking of staying a couple weeks. Would you recommend leaving our stuff in our hotel and just bringing what we need for the hike? Obviously we’ll be paying for a hotel or whatever for 2 nights we don’t need it but maybe we don’t need to being a bunch of stuff up the mountain with us?

    • Meihoukai
      July 7 2016

      You can leave your stuff in left luggage at your hotel or leave it at the office of your trekking company — no need to pay for a hotel for the extra nights. Enjoy!

  • Sebastian
    August 12 2016

    Hi Meihoukai,

    thanks so much for sharing this trip.
    I am planning to do machu picchu -inca trail end of October hence I am invited to Peru for a wedding.

    I have just two simple question regarding the provider – would you go again with the same provider and would you do the same trip again even if it is the beginning of the raining season?

    • Meihoukai
      August 13 2016

      Yes, I would absolutely trek with Llama Path again. I don’t regret going at the beginning of rainy season, as that’s just when it fit into my schedule.

  • Arielle
    August 15 2016

    Hey Meihoukai,

    So I’ve been following your blog for a while now, and I keep coming back to the Inca Trail posts – I’m doing the hike in November – to get myself excited about it! And your posts definitely help. I have a weird question, however – what did you do when you had to use the bathroom while on the hike? Did they have spots along the trail for you to stop at (although I hear they’re quite nasty) or was it like any other hike where you just go off to the side? Thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      August 17 2016

      A mix of both! Honestly, the bathrooms were so disgusting — unnecessarily so, as it would have been super easy to rectify the nastiness with two plastic pails, one for toilet tissue and one for water to rinse the squat toilets with — I preferred just running off the trail!

  • Sara
    September 15 2016

    Hi Meihoukai,
    We are leaving for the Inca Trail soon. We will be renting our sleeping bags and trekking poles and staying a night in Aguas Calientes. How did you transport through Aguas Calientes and back to Cusco the items that the porter carried? Did you bring an extra bag?

    • Meihoukai
      September 17 2016

      Hey Sara! To be honest I really can’t remember… I assume we just strapped them onto our bags for the journey 🙂 It obviously wasn’t enough of a hassle to make an impression, so that’s good! 🙂

  • Mybootprint
    December 3 2016

    Hey Meihoukai,
    I’ve been meaning to add the Inca trail to my hiking list since forever. I’m glad I read your post, it definitely looks like a trail worth trekking soon.
    I’ll probably use your gear list, too save for the running shoes. I’d have to have soggy feet. I’d just pack my trusty waterproof hiking shoes and few pairs of cotton socks.
    Anyway, I’m bookmarking your blog and will reread this post when the time comes.
    -Adeline

    • Meihoukai
      December 5 2016

      It’s a must on the bucket list of any big hiker, Adeline! Hope this post will help you have as fabulous a time as I did. Good luck!

  • Meihoukai
    December 6 2016

    Hi Meihoukai! Meihoukai here. I’m hiking the Inca Trail in 15 days – super excited, but super nervous too! Biggest question – through all the packing lists I’ve seen, was there anything that you didn’t bring on your hike that you wish you had brought?

    • Meihoukai
      December 6 2016

      Hey Meihoukai! Congrats on your upcoming hike! Actually, I did a big trek — Rinjani in Indonesia — a few months before tackling the Inca Trail and so I had a very clear list of what I did and didn’t need based on my mistakes from that trip. I was very happy with my packing list for this one. Good luck!

  • Marc Smith
    December 26 2016

    Thank you for sharing!
    I have been wanting to go to Machu Picchu for a long time and I think I’ll finally do it by the end of 2017

    • Meihoukai
      December 27 2016

      That’s a fabulous goal to have 🙂 I love it! Good luck!

  • Shawn Michaels
    January 24 2017

    Wow! what a great post. I love hiking. Thanks for sharing such an amazing tips though. I just want to give a thumbs up to your amazing work!

    • Meihoukai
      January 31 2017

      Hey Shawn! Thank you so much — that really does mean a lot to me!

  • Paul Allum
    February 8 2017

    Hi Meihoukai,
    Amazing Info and Blog with some very useful info 🙂
    I have been aiming for many years to do this Bucket List Trip but unfortunately was diagnosed with MS in my early 30’s! I am 42 this year and as I will not get any better chance of doing the 4 Dayer have booked to go on 29th Sept this year as I have not had a relapse in 18months! I am not a hiker and have never really been a long walker so could you give me some advice on how to train and prepare for this trip of a lifetime bearing in mind I struggle with Fatigue and Large amounts of Exercise? These would be greatly appreciated. Also I know you walked in Trainers but would Light Hiking Boots be better for someone less fit and active like yourself? And lastly, sorry to be annoying lol, I take Paracetamol quite frequently during the day as a painkiller would I be ok to take these still on the trek and/or would they affect the symptoms of Altitude Sickness? If you know of course not assuming your a doctor haha. Thanks Paul 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      February 8 2017

      Hey Paul! Congrats on booking such a big trip! How exciting! Hm, well to start with your last question I take ibuprofen frequently and did so on this hike often so I don’t imagine there’d be an issue there, though I didn’t quite consider how it would effect altitude so perhaps run that by a doctor. For shoes I think the absolute most important thing is that whatever you wear is broken in — so I don’t think it matters as much if it’s trainers vs. boots as much as it matters how many hours you’ve worn them before setting off! Finally, I think perhaps now would be a great time to invest in a person trainer. Especially with your unique circumstances I’m sure they can help you find a way to increase your endurance. And of course, as many local hikes and walks as you can fit in 🙂 Good luck!

      • Paul Allum
        February 15 2017

        Thanks Meihoukai,
        I’ve taken all your advice on board including starting the gym with a personal trainer and checking in with the Doctor for painkillers 🙂
        Really looking forward to the trip now, all my documents came today 🙂
        I am going to buy some Salomon lightweight Mid Boots and start wearing them everywhere lol!
        I Loved reading your Blog and journey and have passed it on to a few of my friends as well.
        Thanks again for your advice, Greatly appreciated 🙂 Take Care
        Paul

        • Meihoukai
          February 26 2017

          Sounds like you are going to crush it, Paul! Every bit of effort you put in now before departure will pay off big time on the trail! Good luck and enjoy!

  • Ellis
    February 9 2017

    Hi Meihoukai,

    This post is very helpful. I will go to Peru in March, first to volunteer, but I will save your post to prepare my travels around Peru after that. Your tips and advises are very useful. I only quickly wanted to make sure I can do this one on sneakers since I also not keen on bringing another pair of shoes. But it seems ok (with the newspapers:-)). Great! Thanks a lot and good luck with your new travels!

    • Meihoukai
      February 9 2017

      Sounds like an amazing trip, Ellis! Have a blast. I have no regrets about my choice of shoes 🙂

  • Jeanie
    March 19 2017

    Hi Meihoukai,

    I just read your entire blog on Machu Picchu and all 193 posts. Wow! I’ve learned so much! I know it’s been a few years, but I’ve have three questions:

    1) I’ve heard there are showers at Wiñay Wayna camp on night three. Do you remember seeing them? Can’t find any pics online. I’m not so much interested in showering, but my hair gets very very oily after one night – , I’m one of those women that head sweats when I work out. I can’t imagine how awful my hair and head will feel by day four. Would love to wash my hair! Btw- did you find a need for a travel towel?

    2) I’ll be traveling the end of September, 2017. How many layers did you sleep in and need at night? I don’t want to overpack.

    3) How much cash (soles) would you recommend to someone bring on the 4 day trek? Just enough for tips, snacks, and lunch the last day? I’m assuming you tipped in Soles?

    Thank you again! ?

    • Meihoukai
      March 22 2017

      Hey Jeanie! I feel you on the shower thing but I don’t remember a single shower being available other than the baby wipe ones we took each night. Even if we had had them available, it would have been FREEZING to take one and I’m not sure I would have! I brought dry shampoo and kept my hair braided pretty much the whole time. Didn’t shower so didn’t bring a towel 🙂

      I can’t remember exactly what I was wearing when I slept but I didn’t have much warm clothes with me so I probably literally brought everything I had. Did you see my Peru packing post?

      I brought enough cash for tips, snacks, breakfast on the first day and lunch on the last, extra for our time in Aguas Calienties. I actually can’t recall if we tipped in soles or USD unfortunately but I assume it was soles.

      Hope all that helps! Have a great time!

  • Ayla Oden
    April 26 2017

    Hey! You mention rain quite a bit. Did you do the trail during the rainy season?

    • Meihoukai
      April 28 2017

      Hey Ayla! As stated in the post, “We hiked the trail from October 27th, 2013 – October 30th, 2013 with Llama Path. This was the start of the rainy season. High season is June-August.” Hope that helps!

  • Dennis L. Ward
    May 3 2017

    I visited inca trail last summer. It’s hard to describe how great it was. Wonderful landscape, wonderful views, don’t need to be too experienced in trekking for that.

    • Meihoukai
      May 12 2017

      Glad you had a great experience Dennis! I still look back fondly on the Inca Trail!

  • Kate from OneBagger
    June 27 2017

    What is the best way to hike Inca Trail? Hike solo, go with a group, get a guide? I am a very experienced hiker and have hiked in the backcountry and 14ers many times.
    Thanks for your input

    • Meihoukai
      June 27 2017

      Hey Kate! You are not allowed to hike solo or without a guide for the Inca Trail — as described in this post, you must make a reservation, and make it early! If you want to go on a less regulated trail, you may prefer the Salkantay.

  • Meg
    July 27 2017

    Hi Meihoukai,
    I’m doing the Inca Trail in May (still a while to wait yet!) and I was wondering what you did about camera/phone/gopro charge? Did you take spare batteries? Or would portable charging docks be a good idea? I’m a bit of a photography obsessive, and I’ll use my phone to control my GoPro, but I don’t want to run out of juice on day one!

    Thank you 🙂

    • Meihoukai
      July 30 2017

      I actually just left with fully charged batteries on both my cameras and was totally fine! However I wasn’t shooting video or using a GoPro, both of which can really drain your battery. Perhaps a battery bank would be a good idea in your case.

  • Natalie
    August 1 2017

    Hi Meihoukai, just wondering – do you think it’s okay to wear leggings + shorts instead of hiking pants? Seems more flexibility if I wear the former.

    • Meihoukai
      August 5 2017

      I don’t see any reason why not! I didn’t have any specific hiking pants and I felt great!

  • Nikita Laing
    August 4 2017

    Hi Meihoukai,
    Thanks for your excellent post!
    In regards to the newspaper for your shoes, how much did you take?
    Also would you recommend the inflatable travel pillows to save on space or are the ones with the beads in them more comfortable?
    Does chewing gum help with altitude sickness at all?
    Also what did you do with your rubbish, like the baby wipes etc?
    Overall were the sleeping arrangements comfortable enough and warm enough?
    Thanks heaps, this blog is amazing

    • Meihoukai
      August 5 2017

      Hey Nikita! I’m not sure how much newspaper I brought… I guess enough to stuff shoes for three nights 🙂 I think I brought a tiny little feather travel pillow, actually. It rolled up super small with my eye mask holding it in place! I’m not sure about chewing gum, but coca tea works wonders on altitude. And gosh, for the life of me I cannot recall what we did with rubbish, but I’m pretty sure the porters carried it out. I slept like a baby after long days on the trail! Have so much fun!