Tips for trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu

Published on: January 10, 2019

5 days trekking this mind blowing trail wasn’t enough. So I got my mam to come out backpacking and spent another 3 doing it with her. She even went nature pooing, good on ya mam!

Overview

Tips for trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu… well, I don’t have the copywriting skills to describe what this place is like but as I trekked upon the path three descriptions came to mind.

The garden of Eden; The feeling of flying when in a dream; The high from cocaine.

Machu Pichu aside, I also had a blast in the town of Agua Calientes especially in the natural springs with a beer after 5 days uphill hiking on the trek. Situated right at the top of the town it’s a peaceful little sanctuary. And don’t get me started on the train ride to Machu Pichu. Thomas can go eat his engine out. It was a classic little voyage with the Andes mountains traversing either side of the carriage and Incan windpipes soothing the ears. Really got me in the mood for some serious Inca vibes and culture. Grabbing my rucksack full of nuts, dates and northern deep V’s (never leave home without one). I stepped off the train and through the starting gate with 6 other wicked fellow travellers. We began.

Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. The view looking down onto the Incan city of Machu Pichu from the Sun Gate with the andes mountains behind

The view looking down onto the Incan city of Machu Pichu from the Sun Gate

The Inca Trail Machu Pichu

I’ll be honest, a lot of people say this trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu is really tough. After doing Rainbow mountain I honestly didn’t find it that hard and in comparison to the Torres Del Paine W trek with 15kg on my back, it was a walk in the park. The Sherpas make it easy and as I’m blowing my trumpet here f I was in their shoes there’s not a Chance in hell I could have done it. The guys are super-humans.

Day 1 and 2 of trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu were uphill to some seriously spectacular views. The mountains open up like gates to Valhalla and step by sweaty step you ascend into the clouds. Rest stops amongst llamas and intaking carbs, salts and sugars with water every so often were key. Keeping the body in a constant drip fed supply keeps it going like fuel to a car.

Every time we reached the end goal for the day, camp, it was greeted with a round of applause. The meals were better than the restaurants in any city and there was always 2nds and 3rds to go around. Just when I thought it couldn’t get better they’d bring out popcorn and a desert. Nice one chaps! Safe to say they were getting a muy grade tip.

Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. TRX Traveller Adam Atkinson sitting on a cliff edge looking over a river and the Andes mountain on day 4 of the Inca Trail trek

A photo moment opportunity must on day 4 of the Inca Trail trek. Looking over the river that flows alongside the trail between The Andes

The last days race

On the last day we raced for the sun gate. I wasn’t getting up at 3am for nothing. Myself and a fellow ozzie came second behind a skinny French marathon runner, always the bloody French. This was a sight, empty and with only the sound of the birds to keep us company we high-fived, selfied and chilled sharing a choco bar. The descent into Machu Pichu didn’t take long and the guided tour around it was a non -top eye opener.


Do’s

  • Checkout my post here for nutrition and fitness advice when trekking at altitude
  • Research each company before booking. There are a lot of jack of hands companies claiming more than they can offer
  • Spend a couple of days in Cusco getting used to the altitude, it’s a wicked place to explore.
  • Invest in good hiking boots if the weather is looking bad. Trainers are possible. I did the entire 5 days in my Nikes but it was sunny.
  • Take enough cash to tip, normally 10% of the cost to the porters
  • Pack salt sachets
  • Grab nuts, choc and fruit. Any snacks you might fancy although the food cooked is amazing
  • Get up early on the last day and race to the sun gate for the photo without any crowds
  • Take many thin layers to take off when you sweat during the day and put on when it’s cold at night
  • Be prepared for some pretty unique toilet situations
  • Checkout the natural hot baths in the local town of Aguascalientes after
  • Visit Machu Pichu very early or late eve to avoid crowds
  • Have a little treat and take a bottle of red wine with you, it’s nice to share a tipple on the eve when chilling in the tent
  • A little portable speaker and cards go down a treat in the eve

Don’ts

  • Leave it till the last minute to book
  • Get hammered the night before you leave

Who I booked with for the Mother

With the Mother I went for Eco tours and the private guide. She’s pushing 65 bless her and I knew we needed our own pace. They were spot-on. Took us through the adventure in Cusco at their office and we met our guide early doors on the departure day. An awesome young Peruvian girl who educated us along the entire route of trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. She took photos and put up with my mams endless chatting. They were strict on preserving nature, even to the point of her shouting at other walkers to stop picking the plants or to stay on the path.

Who I booked with solo

With the group I went with Gecko adventures for the two week Peru Adventure. Don’t get me wrong, I hate organised travel and being told what to do. Very much a solo traveller doing things at my own pace and love it. But, I figured I was backpacking for 8 months, it was over Christmas and most of all I knew Peru would be a lot of admin organising Machu Pichu, Lake Titicaca and The Amazon jungle trek. They took care of all that. I landed a quality group never looked back.The short and long of it – if you’re fit then 100% do the 5 day hike. It’s life changing. If not the 2 day is still a fantastic option covering the main parts of the hike and photo spots.

This place is magic, truly magic. I feel a lucky twat to have done it twice. It’s gone down as one of the best experiences within my short little life.


Tips for healthy eats

  • Checkout my post here for nutrition and fitness advice when trekking at altitude.
  • Take nuts and the local seasonal dried fruit that you can find in the markets of Cusco.
  • The meals are magnificent on the trek, veg and meat are a standard for the main meals. Eggs and fruit for the breakfast.
  • You’ll also have an endless supply of coca leaf tea given to you.
  • I’d advise getting into the habit of chewing the cocoa leaves, my post here will tell you why, whilst trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu.

How to get meat for that protein hit

  • Nuts and seeds are a great choice from the market to supply a variety of fats, carbs and multivitamins.
  • There’s plenty of meats supplied for evening meals and a large amount of eggs for breakfast so you don’t need to worry too much.
  • You won’t hit your macros but try and stay in a calorie surplus. Trust me it’s extremely hard. This will help stop your body turning to breaking down muscle protein and converting it into energy.

Tips for trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. Looking over the Aguascalientes thermal baths located at the top of the small hill that the town sits on

Looking over the Aguascalientes thermal baths located at the top of the small hill that the town sits on


Where to exercise

Trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu is purely a never-ending legs session. Eat as much as you can as you’ll never be able to eat enough. As you know it’s coming perhaps focus on upper body only for the week before just stretching and gently activating your leg muscles. Then go at it on the trek.

Tips for trekking the Inca Trail to Machu Pichu. The statue of the Machu Pichu King with a condor on his shoulders in Aguascalientes

The statue of the Machu Pichu King with a condor on his shoulders in Aguascalientes


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