Hiking is a love of many travelers and one of the best hikes without a doubt is the beautiful but challenging trek to Machu Picchu.
In this article, we will give you some tips and information that could help you to plan your hike of a lifetime to Machu Picchu.
Let us start with the weather. The rainy season is usually from December to March although the rain does start earlier than December. These months are also considered the summer months in Cusco and Machu Picchu, although it is the rainy season this does not mean that it rains all day, the sun does come out making the hike a little more pleasant. If you decide to do the trek in the wet months, make sure you have good quality waterproof clothing, especially boots as you don’t want to have wet feet. It is important to remember that even in the wet season, the sun does come out so you will need a good hat and sunscreen as the sun is stronger at higher altitudes, so you will burn.
The dry and high season is from April to September and this is considered winter. Although this is winter, during the day while hiking it can get very warm, so remember to dress in layers. As the sun starts to set, it will get cold, especially at night when temperatures decrease. A good warm jumper and jacket are essential. The high season can also get very busy on the treks to Machu Picchu and you may need to queue to enter the ruins. The hikes can sometimes book out months in advance so be aware to avoid disappointment.
It is also important to remember that you need to allow time to adjust to the altitude before commencing your hike. It is a great idea to spend a few days in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude, before commencing your trek to Machu Picchu.
You will need to be reasonably fit and able to complete any trek in the Cusco region. These are not easy walks, you will be climbing to high altitudes and walking down steep hills, this can sometimes be hard on your knees, so be prepared. It might be a good idea to do some training before you leave home.
Be prepared for early mornings on your trek, each day you will leave camp at the crack of dawn, this also means that you will go to bed early so don’t plan for any partying.
All of the treks have porters and cooks that feed you well, so you will not need to worry about your meals. You will enjoy a hearty breakfast, a three-course lunch and a large meal for dinner. All the meals consist of mostly carbohydrates to help with your energy levels. Remember while walking, to take snacks in your pack for when you are feeling low on energy. You will also need to drink a lot of water, which you will need to carry with you, you can refill at lunchtime each day.
Once in Machu Picchu, you will need to have Machu Picchu tickets, both for the entrance and the bus tickets down to Aguas Calientes. These tickets are normally included in your hike price, so make sure you check they are included in any tour you might be thinking of purchasing.
After you enter the ruins, you will need to have a guided tour, this generally lasts around 2-2.5 hours where the guide will provide you with all the legends and history of the site. You will also get some free time to explore on your own. There are strict laws as to where you can and cannot walk so be aware, as you will have problems with the security guards if you are doing something you are not supposed to be doing. If you are a keen photographer, the photo opportunities are vast, so be sure to bring your camera.
Some people decide to stay overnight and not return to Cusco the same day they finish their trek. If you decide to stay, you will need a Machu Picchu hotel. There are many choices from expensive five star hotels to budget backpacker accommodation, which may need to be booked before leaving home especially in the high season.
Therefore, whenever you choose to hike to Machu Picchu, many great agencies can help you. A great guide to help you is Trip Advisor, they have many reviews on the best companies to go with. If you are interested in the Inca Trail, please be aware that most years the trail is closed in February.