The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an inseparable part of Top Ten lists of all trekkers since it is a unique path following perfectly preserved original Inca trail that ends with a visit of the stunning city of the Incas – Machu Picchu!!! After viewing it, you will not doubt anymore why it has been chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World! The Inca Trail is regularly ranked among the best treks in the world!
Try to plan a year in advance. It will give you enough time not only to save money for the trip, but also book a cheaper flight and arrange a better price with a travel agency operating the Inca Trail. Anyway, it is highly recommended that you book Inca Trail at least 4-5 months beforehand! It is because there are only 500 permits a day (including Tour Guides, Cooks and Porters!) in order to prevent overuse of this favourite hike. Since 2001, you also have to use a licensed Tour Guide!
When to go to Inca Trail? High season starts in May and finishes in September. Low season is between October and April. Peruvian weather is usually rainy during summer time (it means from December to March on the Southern Hemisphere). For that reason, it is more convenient to hike in a dry season when it is warmer during days!
Search tour packages on websites to compare not only prices, but also what is included and what not. Sometimes, a tour price could see cheaper than other options, but when you view it in detail, you find that there are not entrance fees, local flights, etc. included in the seemingly cheaper tour. You should check what kind of camping equipment they use as cheaper companies use unadequate and old equipment. Other thing that you should know is that an Inca Trail tour could be cheaper as you will be provided less food that could be really annoying in the end!! Anyway, you should check if they have official authorisation to operate the Inca Trail! Reliable and authorized Inca Trail operators: The Travel Tour Group provide on their Inca Trail tours: a hotel in Lima, a flight to Cusco, a hotel in Cusco, a guided visit of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a 4 day guided Inca Trail hike, modern camping equipment, licensed bilingual Tour Guides, Porters carrying up to 15 kg (please note: the both companies respect Peruvian law limiting weight of Porters load!) and experienced Cooks preparing breakfasts, lunches and dinners on the trail. In the end of the Inca Trail, do not forget to tip your local helpers! For example, you can give to Porters about $70 (in total), $30 to your Cook and $50 to your Tour Guide.
How to book the Inca Trail? A common fare from Seattle (for example) to Lima is around $1000. To find the most economic flights, sign up for trip alerts on Expedia, Kayak, Travelocity, Alaska or your prefered airline! In this way, you will be advised when an airfare drops. Many airlines provide a Fare Guarantee (e.g. Alaska Airlines refunds up to 50% of the change in your fare drop). Before you purchase an air ticket, verify with the travel agency of your choice that your Inca Trail tour is still available! A basic rule on how to book the Inca Trail hike is: purchase a flight first before purchasing your tour!!
Pack well! Weather in Andes (where the Inca Trail is located) is very changeble so make sure you have packed a bit of everything, it means some cloths for sunny and hot weather as well as for coldness and rain! If you plan to hike the Inca Trail during a rainy season, do not forget to pack appropriate rain gear such as waterproof hiking shoes, raincoat (or rain poncho that can be found in Cusco) and a hat! Be advised that cotton is not a good fabric for this trek as it does not dry quickly nor breathe well. You should use fabrics (e.g. nylon) that are fairly waterproof and take wetness away from your body. The most recommended way on clothing during the trail is layering! As the Andean weather changes very quickly, you can regulate your clothing accordingly. Remember, it is always better to have clothes that you can put off, than be freezing! Do not forget to take sun protection and sunglasses (even if it rains as the trail is placed very close to the Sun).
Please note! There is just a couple of showers along the trail so be ready to do spot washing!
Travel Insurance: you will need to arrange a travel insurance including hiking and adventure.