Inca Trail Frequently Asked Questions
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Inca Trail Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Can I book a trek with View Peru Web?

A1. Yes. View Peru Web is a web guide to Peru, we’re a tour operator and we sell any tours. If you have found this web site useful you can help towards the success of one of our community projects by bringing some second hand clothes, toys, school equipment with you to Cusco. We’ll then distribute them to people in the small Andean mountain communities who we will guarantee will appreciate them.

Q2. I heard rumours that they were closing the Inca Trail. Is it true?

A2. The Inca Trail will be closed during the month of February each year. The last group will depart on 31 January and the next group will start on 01 March. The closure is to allow conservation projects to take place, give an opportunity for camping facilities to be improved and to allow the vegetation to grow back. February is also the height of the wet season so you shouldn’t miss too much. The shorter 2-day trek will remain open since this trek follows a different route. The ruins of Machu Picchu will remain open as normal as will the train services between Cusco and Machu Picchu. During February some tour companies are offering an alternative 4 day trek. This trek starts at km82 but instead of climbing the valley to Wayllabamba the alternative route follows the Urubamba River until km104 where it climbs up to Wiñay Wayna and then on to Machu Picchu. (ie two days walking along the Urubamba river before joining the shorter 2-day trek). This trek is fairly picturesque but does not include visits to the Inca ruins at Runkurakay, Sayacmarka or Phuyupatamarca. Ask the tour operator to clearly describe the trek itinerary.

Q3. Can I trek the Inca Trail alone without a travel operator?

A3. No. Trekkers have to trek using the services of a licensed tour operator or directly employ the services of a professional guide (about US$75 per day plus expenses). If you employ a guide directly you can’t have more than 7 persons in your group and the guide must be officially qualified. Trekkers using the services of just a guide are not allowed to employ other services such as porters or cooks so you’ll have to carry all your equipment and cook for yourselves. The entrance tickets for the trail MUST be bought in Cusco well in advance. They cannot be purchased at the start of the trail. 95% of all trekkers on the Inca Trail take an organised tour that includes guides, porters, a cook, camping equipment and meals.

Q4. Should I make a reservation for the trek in advance or wait until arriving in Cusco?

A4. Because the numbers of persons permitted on the trek has been dramatically reduced it is advisable to make a reservation at least 4 or 5 months in advance. This is particularly important if you are planning on arriving in Cusco during the peak season (June-September). However during the quiet months of December, January and March it may still be possible to just turn up in Cusco 5 or 6 days before you want to do the trek and make a reservation although you have to be very flexible about the date that you want to start the trek.

Q5. When is the best time to go?

A5. The dry season from April to October is probably the most comfortable period as far as the weather is concerned. Even during these months you can still get a little rain. Ideally the month of May is perfect since there is little rain but the vegetation is still rich and lush. June, July and August are the 3 busy months and the numbers of trekkers has been limited so book well in advance. Although the weather is sunny during these months the temperature at night can drop considerably, falling to below freezing so be prepared. The months of November and December can still be very enjoyable with fewer trekkers. Expect at least one day of rain during this period. January and March can be wet – very wet at times. However most of the rain falls late in the afternoon and at night so ensuring you have a good waterproof tent is all important. These months also correspond to Summer in Peru so the sun can be very strong and the nights generally mild. The government has stated that the 4 day trek (at least from km82 or km88 until Wiñay Wayna) will be closed for the entire duration of February.

Weather on the Inca Trail Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Maximum Temperature °C 19 19 19 20 20 20 19 20 20 21 21 21
Minimum Temperature °C 7 7 6 5 3 0 0 2 4 6 6 6
Rainy Days 18 13 11 8 3 2 2 2 7 8 12 16

Q6. What about theft?

A6. Many older guide books make out the Inca Trail to be a haven for thieves and bandits with tents being slashed in the night and trekkers robbed at gun point. I’m glad to say that these are exaggerations and theft is now very uncommon on the trail provided that you take basic precautions. Don’t take any valuables with you that you don’t need for the trek. Leave jewellery, large sums of money in your hotel safe (However you need to take your passport on the trek). Take plenty of plastic bags to wrap smelly socks, boots, underwear and wet clothes in. Don’t leave them outside your tent at night (no matter how much they stink!) or they may not be there in the morning. Carry your valuables in a money belt or neck pouch and keep items such as cameras and passport with you at all times especially at meal times.

Q7. What do we do for drinking water?

A7. You’ll come across a small stream or mountain spring every 90 minutes or so along the trail where you can fill up your water bottle. Take a bottle of at least 1.5 litre capacity per person.

Although the water is clear always use sterilizing tablets and follow the instructions. The sterilizing tablets ‘MicroPur’ can be bought in most pharmacies in Cusco (the further away from the plaza the cheaper they are). With these tablets you have to wait at least 60 minutes before drinking.

If travelling in an organized group boiled water should be available at meal times. Bottled mineral water can also be taken from Cusco, bought at km82 and km88, just before Wayllabamba, halfway up the first pass and at Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu.

Q8. What are the toilets like along the trail?

A8. Toilets have improved a lot in the last couple of years and all of the larger campsites have toilet blocks with flush toilets and running water. On the whole they are kept pretty clean. If you do need to go the toilet between campsites then defecate well away from the trail and water supplies; dig a hole, or cover your faeces with a rock, and take the paper with you in a bag to deposit in one of the several bins along the way. There are hot shower facilities are Wiñay Wayna on day 3, although they are usually pretty unclean.

Q9. Do I need to be fit to do the Inca Trail?

A9. Yes you do. It is a common misconception that because many people do the Inca Trail then it must be easy … it isn’t. The trail is 45km (26 miles) long and involves great physical exertion to complete. On the second day you climb nearly 1200m (about 4000 ft) in the morning. Combined with high altitude (lack of oxygen) and extreme weather (you can easily burn in the high altitude sun during the day and temperatures can drop to below freezing at night) the trek can be hard work. However all this suffering can make the final arrival at Machu Picchu all the more enjoyable. In general if you take regular exercise and spend a few days in Cusco acclimatizing to the altitude you shouldn’t have to suffer too much.

Q10. We’ve heard a lot about exploitation of the porters. How can we avoid it?

Inca Trail Porter Welfare

Porter Introduction

Thousands of people make the Inca Trail trek each year. They typically complete the 43km mountainous trail in 4 days. For many the experience is an trip of a lifetime and the fulfilment of a personal ambition. The satisfaction of having completed the trek and arriving at the spectacular Inca ruins of Machu Picchu is hard to beat. However the feeling is even better if you know that all the porters helping you along the way have been well looked after and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Now that most trekkers on the Inca Trail take a trek organized by a local tour operator, the camping equipment (tents, dining tent, kitchen tent, tables, chairs, stove, gas bottle and food) is carried on the backs of human porters. Pack animals such as horses, mules and llamas are now banned from the trail. The prices that tour operators charge for this 4 day trek can vary considerably as can the rates of porter pay and conditions provided by each company. However trying to find out if a company looks after its porters can be quite difficult. Often tour companies are not completely honest about the wages that they say that they pay their porters and real facts are difficult to verify. If you ask a porter how much he gets paid then very rarely you will get a straight answer. If a porter is well paid he is likely to tell you that he is poorly paid so that you give him a better tip! If he is badly paid it is likely that the company has instructed him to lie and tell you that he receives more than he actually does. If he complains about his pay to tourists on the trek then he is unlikely to work much longer!

How you can help

1. Book your trek with a responsible trekking company.

At the moment none of the trekking agencies are perfect and there is still plenty of room for improvement. However if you pay under US$420 for a 4 day group Inca Trail trek it is very unlikely that porter welfare is high on the company’s concerns. When you book with a company let them know that the treatment the porters receive is important to you. Porters need fare wages, decent meals and warm and dry accommodation.

2. Hire a porter.

Hiring a porter will make your trek more enjoyable, giving you time to enjoy the scenery rather than looking at your boots! You’ll also be giving employment to people who really want and need to work.

3. Interact with your porters.

Talk to your porters, learn about their traditions and villages. Share some coca leaves. Even ask them to sing some of their local songs. Most porters suffer from low self-esteem so make the first move, don’t wait for them to talk to you first.

4. Thank your porter.

Show your porters that you appreciated them. Thank them verbally and leave a tip.

5. Report instances of porter neglect.

If you are unhappy about how your porters are treated then complain to the guide. If he/she can’t resolve the problem then make a big fuss back at the office when you return to Cusco. Make sure the office is full of other potential clients. If you bought your trek in another country then make a complaint in writing when you return home.

If you are a member of South America Explorers let them know that you were unhappy with the service. You can also send us an email here at View Peru Web

6. Contribute to one of the porter projects listed at the bottom of the page.

Porters’ Wages (US$1 = 2.78 Soles)

The Peruvian government can be praised for introducing a new law in 2002 stating that a porter should receive a minimum wage of 42 Soles per day (about US$15). As far as we can tell only 4 or 5 companies are actually paying their porters this wage, unfortunately most companies have chosen to ignore this law and 30 Soles seems to be the average wage that companies are paying their porters and some companies are still paying wages as low as 20 Soles per day.

However, porters wages must be seen in relation to wages paid to other workers throughout Peru. For example a teacher in a local school earns about 700 Soles per month. This is roughly equal to the combined wages and tips of a porter (assuming that the porter can depart on the Inca Trail 4 times in a month and is working for a respectable trekking company who pays the legal wage). Of course a teacher receives other benefits such as a state pension and health care as well as guaranteed work year round whereas a porter receives none of these benefits.

Weight Limit

The maximum weight that a porter can carry on the Inca Trail has been limited to 25kg. This includes a 5kg personal allowance for items such as blankets and clothes. Each porter is weighed at the start of the trail and then again at Wayllabamba at the start of the second day. This regulation was introduced in 2002 and has been strictly enforced. Companies that are caught overloading their porters receive fines and the risk of losing their licenses. However, as with most regulations, many companies make great efforts to get around them. Tourists who have hired a personal porter are often asked to carry their own bags through the check points and guides and assistants temporarily take some of the load. If you hire a personal porter to carry your equipment do not accept this practice and ensure that you porter is fully loaded when he is weighed at the check points. Some of the worst companies also restrict the amount of personal items that a porter can take with him, imposing upon his personal allowance of 5kg. Many porters are scared that if their blankets are too heavy or they have packed too many warm clothes then they will exceed the 25kg limit and receive a fine which the company will then deduct from their wages. Obviously responsible companies do not practice such activities.

Meals & Sleeping Conditions

The biggest difference between a responsible company and an irresponsible one is how they look after their porters on the trek. Many porters are given very little to eat on the trail. They have to wait to see how much the tourists have eaten before the left-overs are divided up amongst them. Many porters end the trail tired and hungry. In general porters sleep together in the group dining and kitchen tents. This is fine since there is warmth in numbers. However, when you are on the Inca Trail remember not end up talking all night in the dining tent as there may be tired and cold porters outside waiting to go to bed. You may also notice that very few dining tents have integral floors to keep out the cold and damp. When it rains the floor can become like a river running through the tent. Very few porters have sleeping mats or even warm sleeping bags. They usually put one blanket on the ground and cover themselves with another one. There is still plenty of room for improvement for even the most expensive and professional trekking companies when it comes to providing warm, comfortable and dry accommodation for their porters.

Porter Culture

The Quechua race has a history of being down-trodden, first by the Incas, then by the Spanish and then by the landowners. Only in fairly recent reforms have the Quechua people started to own their own land. Because of their long history of being dominated by others many have a low self-esteem. It is important on the Inca Trail to try to involve the porters in your group. Take some coca leaves to share with them and try to learn a couple of basic words in Quechua (your guide will be pleased to help you). Many of the porters have amazing stories to tell about traditions and life in their villages. At the end of the trek don’t forget to show them that you appreciated their work and valued their contribution towards the trek by thanking them verbally and giving them a tip.

How much to tip?

Tipping the guide and cook should be dependent on the quality of the service that you received. If their tips are consistently poor then they will soon get the message that they need to improve. However, even if the food was terrible and the guide spoke no English (which we hope will not be the case), the porters were probably still working away hard carrying the camping equipment and tents so don’t forget to leave a tip. The amount you pay depends on you but as a guideline we recommend that each porter in your group takes home an extra 30-35 soles (a combined tip from everyone in the group). Try to take plenty of small change so that you can give the tips directly to the porters. This is much better than giving the money to the cook or the guide to be divided up later amongst the porters as often the money is unfairly distributed.

I have heard many stories where trekkers have wanted to show their appreciation of the porters by tipping hundreds of dollars ! Over-tipping can often be as bad as leaving no tip at all. Unfortunately if the porters receive large tips they often end up drinking in Aguas Calientes or Urubamba for several days after the trek and little of the intended benefits reach their families who often need it most. Try to keep your tip to a sensible amount and if you want to help the porters more then contribute to one of the existing porter welfare projects in Cusco.

Projects aimed at helping the porters

1. Inka Porters Project (Porteadores Inka Ñan) www.peruweb.org/porters

An excellent organisation which was run by volunteers aimed at improving working conditions for all porters in Peru. Although the organisation is no longer in operation useful information about porter welfare can be found on their website.

2. View Peru Web Community Projects

Our very own project aimed at raising awareness to porter welfare issues. Visitors to Cusco can donate warm clothes or school equipment (books, paper, pens etc) at our office. The project is aimed more at helping the children from the porters communities. Run by volunteers. All office overheads, transport and distribution costs are paid for by Peru Treks & Adventure allowing 100% of the donations to go directly to the communities.

Useful Links:

Inca Trail Porter Photo Journal – Photos and short travelogue of a porter’s life on the Inca Trail from the BBC website

Q11. How much should I tip?

A11. Deciding how much to tip the porters, the cook and guide is always a difficult moment at the end of the trek. Some nationalities such as the North Americans are accustomed to tipping while other nationalities (name no names) will only find the extra money if the service has been absolutely exceptional. In general, however, I would recommend taking an extra US$25-30 per person to cover tips. Try to take this amount in low denomination Peruvian Soles bills so that it can easily be divided amongst the porters, cook and guides. If you have employed a personal porter then you will have to pay his tip separately.

Remember the above figures are just a guide line. If the food that the cook served up was inedible and you couldn’t understand what the guide was talking about then don’t tip them. They’ll soon get the message and hopefully improve their services. Don’t, however, take you dissatisfaction out on the porters who were probably working hard throughout the trek.

About the Inca Trail

Thousands of people make the Inca Trail trek each year. They typically complete the 43km mountainous trail in 4 days. For many the experience is a trip of a lifetime and the fulfillment of a personal ambition. The satisfaction of having completed the trek and arriving at the spectacular Inca ruins of Machu Picchu is hard to beat. However the feeling is even better if you know that all the porters helping you along the way have been well looked after and treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.

Hiring a porter will make your trek more enjoyable, giving you time to enjoy the scenery rather than looking at your boots! You’ll also be giving employment to people who really want and need to work.

Talk to your porters. Learn about their traditions and villages. Share some coca leaves. Even ask them to sing some of their local songs. Most porters suffer from low self-esteem so make the first move, don’t wait for them to talk to you first. Show your porters that you appreciated them. Thank them verbally and leave a tip.

Deciding how much to tip the porters, the cook and guide is always a difficult moment at the end of the trek. Some nationalities such as the North Americans are accustomed to tipping while others (name no names) will only find the extra money if the service has been absolutely exceptional. Generally speaking if all the group have been pleased with the service then try to ensure that each porter takes home an extra US$6, the cook US$10, the guide US$20 and the assistant guide about US$15.

A typical group of 14 persons with 12 porters (12 x 6 = $72), 1 cook ($10), 1 guide ($25) and 1 assistant $15) would receive a total of $122, which works out at a tip of about $9 per person. If you have employed a personal porter then you will have to pay his tip yourself. Remember the above figures are just a guideline. If the food that the cook served up was inedible and you couldn’t understand what the guide was talking about then don’t tip them. They’ll soon get the message and hopefully improve their services. Don’t, however, take you dissatisfaction out on the porters who were probably working hard throughout the trek.

Checklist for the trek

  • Passport (with photocopies)
  • Student Card (if booking with ISIC card)
  • Travel insurance (with photocopies)
  • Airline tickets (with photocopies)
  • USD cash and traveler’s checks
  • Personal medicines
  • Credit or debit card (see personal spending money)
  • Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
  • Camera and film
  • Reading/writing material
  • Binoculars
  • Cover for backpacks
  • Pocketknife
  • Fleece top
  • Windproof/waterproof warm jacket
  • Small towel and swim wear
  • 4 shirts/t-shirts
  • Sun hat
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 pairs of long trousers
  • 1 pair hiking pants/track pants
  • Hiking boots/ sturdy walking shoes
  • Sport sandals
  • Sun block
  • Repellent against mosquitoes
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletries (biodegradable)
  • Watch or alarm clock
  • Water bottle
  • Purification tablets or filter
  • Flashlight
  • Inner sheet (for sleeping bag)
  • Wool hat, mitts or gloves (preferably waterproof)
  • Rain poncho
  • Strong plastic bags to help keep gear dry
  • Plastic bags to place your trek clothes in case it is raining
  • Sleeping bag (this can also be rented locally for approximately US$10 per day)
  • Mattress (a foam mattress is included as part of the hike; self inflating type mattresses are available for rent

NOTE: In case you rent an ex tra porter, you must bring a carrier bag for the clothes.

The Inca Trail is Peru’s best known hike, combining a stunning mix of Inca ruins, mountain scenery, lush cloud-forest and rich subtropical jungle. Over 250 species of orchid have been counted in the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary, as well as numerous birds such as hummingbirds, waterfowl and the majestic Andean Condor. The star of the Sanctuary is the spectacled bear – a shy, herbivorous animal that is extremely rare and close to extinction.

Inca Trail Availability 

Since the number of trek permits is limited to 500 per day (about 200 tourists and 300 trekking staff) it is important to book well in advance. The trek permits are issued on a first-come-first-served basis up until all the permits have been sold out. In the low season (December & January) there are some days when there are still permits available 4 or 5 days in advance, but in the high season (May to September) it is recommended that you book at least 4 months in advance to guarantee a place. We would actually recommend making a reservation 5 or 6 months ahead. You can check out how many permits are left on our webpage Inca Trail trek permit availability. If the Inca Trail is already fully booked on the departure date that you require you can always consider one of the Alternative Inca Trail Treks

Inca Trail Prices & Services

The main difference between the various Inca Trail services are the number of people in the group, the level of comfort that you can expect, the quality of the guide, food and camping equipment, how well the porters are treated and whether the company will actually guarantee their departure date, even if they can’t find anyone else to fill up the group. The prices quoted below are to be used as a guide only and may vary considerably from company to company .

Services are generally classified into the following groups: Group or Private services.

Group Trek Services

Many companies have fixed departure dates or even daily trek departures. You simply join up with other trekkers from all over the world to make a larger group. The maximum allowable group size on the Inca Trail is 16 persons. This service is known as a group service (or pooled service). The advantage of this type of service is that the trek works out cheaper and that you get to meet other like minded people from all over the world. The disadvantage is that the groups can be fairly large and that people within the group can be of mixed ability. When the group is larger than 8 persons, regulations require that two guides are used.

Prices for the 4-day group service Inca trail trek generally range between US$460 & US$540 per person (2010) and between US$480 & US$560 (2011). These prices should include entrance fees and return on train (You can almost double these figures if you buy the trek with a tour agency outside Peru even though the service is the same). A US$35 discount is offered to students who have valid ISIC cards and to children under 16 years old. This is the standard service offered by most tour operators in Cusco and offers the most economic way of hiking the Inca Trail as part of an organized group. Group sizes tend to be between 12 and 14 persons although each year we have seen a tendency for the groups sizes to be smaller as it becomes more difficult to obtain the trek permits. Services can vary from operator to operator, generally speaking the following services are included: Bus from your hotel in Cusco to the start of the trek, bilingual professionally qualified guide, assistant guide for groups of 9 and over, entrance fees (251 Peruvian Soles, about US$90), tent, foam sleeping mattress, cooking equipment, cook, meals, porters (to carry the tents, food and cooking equipment), train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo on the Backpackers train service (currently US$34) and bus from Ollantaytambo back to Cusco. The following items are not usually included: Breakfast on day 1, snacks along the trail, tourist bus from Machu Picchu to Aguas Calientes (US$7), meals on the final day apart from breakfast, porters to carry your personal items (can be hired separately for between US$80 and US$120 for the 4 day trek), entrance to the thermal springs in Aguas Calientes (US$3), any tips for the porters or guide.

Competition amongst trekking companies is fierce in Cusco and many companies offer the 4 day Inca Trail trek for below US$450. Simple arithmetic shows that it is not possible to provide a quality service and guarantee departures with small groups for this price. Most of the cheapest trekking companies join together to form large groups of 16 persons, use inexperienced guides and use poor quality equipment. At the end of the day you usually get what you pay for.

Private Trek Services

Private services are arranged just for you and your group. If there are just two of you this type of service can work out very expensive since the cost of the guide, cook, porters etc are obviously spread amongst just the two of you. If you have a group of 6 or more persons the cost is considerably reduced and may well be worth considering. If you have a group of 12 or more then this option can even work out cheaper than the standard group service. The advantage of a private service is that you have more control of your trek itinerary. With a small group you can usually make better progress each day and camp at some of the less well used campsites. If you are fit then you may try to complete the trek in three days rather than the usual four. On the other hand you may opt for taking things easy and taking five days to get to Machu Picchu. With a private service you can also choose your day of departure.

A private group and is generally similar to the group service but usually slightly more comfortable. Additional items such as porters to carry your personal items are usually included in this service. Typical costs per person provided by a medium range tour operator are: 2 persons: US$1000, 3 persons: US$820, 4 persons: US$690, 5 persons: US$615, 6 persons: US$580, 7 persons: US$565, 8 persons: US$550, 9 persons: US$535, 10 persons: US$520, 11 persons: US$510, 12 persons: US$500, 13 persons: US$490, 14 persons: US$480, 15 persons: US$470, 16 persons: US$460

These costs include entrance fees and return on the basic Backpacker/Expedition train from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo and then bus back to Cusco.

Prices can vary considerably from company to company depending on the quality of the service and what is included.

IMPORTANT NOTE: View Peru Web’s aim is to promote responsible tourism and promote companies that have a genuine interest in providing a quality service and paying their porters fair wages. We highly recommend that you do not purchase treks or tours from salespersons working in airports, minibuses or taxis. Quality companies do not promote their services in this way. There have been an increasing number of instances where agents have claimed to be from a reputable company and taken money for a trek only to disappear after you have paid them the money, never to be seen again. ALWAYS pay for a trek or tour in the office of the tour operator and obtain a written receipt and contract of services. Beware when purchasing services through your hotel as they usually re-sell your trek to a company that pays them the best commission and not one that provides the best service.

Alternatives to the 4-day Inca Trail that also arrive at Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate

The Inca Trail can be hiked year round although the months of May till October are probably more comfortable since the weather is drier. June through September is the high season when reservations must be made well in advance. There are three main alternative treks to the traditional 4-day Inca Trail that both end at Machu Picchu. The first and most popular alternative is the Short Inca Trail which can be completed in just one day. This is an easier trek and starts further along the Vilcanota River Valley closer to Machu Picchu at a place called kilometre 104 (since it is located 104 km along the railway from Cusco to Aguas Calientes). There is no need to be acclimatized before starting this trek. The second alternative trek is the 7-day Salkantay to Machu Picchu Trek. This is a more strenuous hike via the sacred Apu Salkantay, a beautiful snow-capped mountain. (Apu = mountain god in the local Quechua language). On the fourth day this trek joins the route on the classic Inca Trail and continues to Machu Picchu. All of the above mentioned treks are subject to the Inca Trail regulations which have strictly limited the number of trekkers allowed on these trails. Trekkers can’t do these treks on their own and must book through a licensed trek operator. Trek permits must be bought well in advance.

Alternatives to the 4-day Inca Trail that are combined with a visit to Machu Picchu via Aguas Calientes

In the last few years some alternative to the Classic Inca Trail have started to become more popular. Although none of the treks listed below arrive directly at Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate, a train ride to Aguas Calientes is tagged onto the end of the trek and a bus is then taken up to Machu Picchu. These treks pass through some spectacular scenery. Since trek permits are not currently required, these treks can be arranged just a few weeks or even days in advance. (during the peak season it is not recommended to wait until you arrive in Cusco to buy these treks because the train tickets can often be difficult to obtain). The lack of government restrictions on these routes also means that unlicensed tour operators and guides can be used so be very careful when choosing a tour operator.

Salkantay – Santa Teresa – Machu Picchu Trek. This trek is generally offered as a 5 day trek including a visit to Machu Picchu on the final day. The first three days involve a fairly long hike through mountain scenery ending at the village of Santa Teresa. The fourth day is a fairly short hike down to the Vilcanota River followed by a one-hour train ride to Aguas Calientes where you will usually spend the night in a hotel. The final day is spent visiting Machu Picchu and then returning to Cusco. Although this is a great trek in its own right, it really can’t compare with the spectacular scenery and Inca ruins on the Classic 4-day trek. The Salkantay to Santa Teresa route >> more info >>

Lares Valley to Machu Picchu Trek. This trek is often referred to as the “Weavers Way” and takes you well off the tourist trail through unspoiled valleys. You’ll see small communities living the same way as hundreds of years ago, practicing their local traditions and farming techniques. You will also have the chance to see locals producing beautiful hand-made textiles. The trek starts in the small village of Quishuarani and then climbs to a high pass offering spectacular views of snow-capped mountains and turquoise lakes. The trail then drops down to the village of Cuncani and continues to Willoq. A bus then takes you down to Ollantaytambo where you will take a train to Aguas Calientes. A visit to Machu Picchu is included on the final day >> more info >>

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