From Trekking Peru. Photo credit: KE Adventure.
This post on The Inca Trail was written on behalf of mapthegap.co.uk. The new site offers ideas for gap year and career break destinations.
The Inca Trail in Peru is the mountain hike of a lifetime.
The challenge about this epic hike is that you can never know what to expect… until you get there. Here are some hiking tips on What To Expect on The Inca Trail:
Prepare for the altitude
We all know that scaling the Andean peaks will involve climbing some of the tallest mountains in the world, but many of us won’t realize the effect the altitude will have on our bodies.
Peru’s peaks rise above 6,000 m, and while you won’t quite reach its tallest summits on the Inca Trail, you will definitely feel the effects of the lack of oxygen while trekking the 43 km route.
The feelings of shortness of breath, a pounding heart, headaches, tiredness and nausea are only compounded by the arduous hike through the mountains. It is important to take things slowly and give your body plenty of fluid and regular rests.
The best way to combat altitude sickness is to acclimatize slowly. Make the most of Peru’s beautiful landscape and travel to Cusco – and the main base for Inca Trail hikers – over a few days. Otherwise, you might want to speak to your medical adviser before you fly in case they can offer you altitude sickness tablets.
Whatever you can do, it’ll be worth it, as you don’t want to ruin this fantastic experience by feeling too ill to appreciate it!
Steep heights and long walks
Now, for someone who is planning to trek up impressive mountains for four days, it might sound obvious that you will have to stretch your legs for a bit and scale some heights in preparation.
The highest pass you will trek through is Warmiwanuska or Dead Woman’s Pass, which at 4,200 m is quite a feat. Don’t worry too much though, as you will be accompanied by trained guides who are experienced with fearful and apprehensive trekkers and will help you along each step of the way.
This is perhaps something you can expect to see, but you will still be blown away by the magnificent views of your last stop Machu Picchu, as well as the entire Inca Trail leading up to it.
Your four-day journey will take you upon an ancient pathway through the Andean mountains until you reach ‘the lost city of the Incas’, as it is commonly known. This is a grand citadel hidden in the folds of the peaks and was only discovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham.
When you see Machu Picchu break through the sunlight on the morning of the last day of your trip, you will no doubt be mesmerized by the impressive view of this stone city built on to – and in some places, it looks as though it has been built into – the mountain face.
Take your camera and spend some time soaking up the scenery, trying to learn how this civilization survived on this mountaintop, so far away from any other township.