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5 Tips for Safely Hiking the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail is one of the most famous hikes in the world. Due to its popularity, there is a limit of 500 people (200 hikers and 300 porters) who can start the hike each day.

With the large volume of travelers and the importance of tourism in Peru, the Peruvian government has improved its safety measures over the years. As with many destinations, the most pressing safety concerns are influenced by some key travel decisions you can make yourself.

1. Get a Guide

To undertake the Inca Trail, you must have a guide, even if you are an experienced hiker. Since 2001, regulations have been introduced to ensure that all tourists travel with an authorized guide. Our Inca Trail guides are certified local tour guides. Each trekking leader also receives additional training in mountain rescue expertise.

2. Recognize the Signs of Altitude Sickness

Most people begin to feel the effects of altitude at 2000 meters (6561 feet) or higher, regardless of age, gender, or fitness level. While our leaders have basic first aid training and know the nearest medical facilities, it’s crucial to be aware of the causes and effects of high-altitude travel, monitor your health, and seek help accordingly. Signs that you may be experiencing altitude sickness include fatigue, difficulty breathing, nausea or vomiting, and loss of appetite.

It’s important to take things slowly, drink plenty of water, and speak to your group leader immediately if you start feeling unwell. We recommend consulting your doctor if you have any medical conditions before undertaking the journey, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or are taking medications. All our guides and companions have been trained by medical specialists in handling altitude sickness and are experts in first aid. Our team also carries oxygen cylinders on all hikes for emergency use.

3. Be in Reasonable Physical Condition

The Inca Trail is within reach for most people in good physical condition, but come prepared as the trail is 43 kilometers (26 miles) long and often very steep. The daily journey usually consists of seven hours of walking (uphill and downhill), with breaks for snacks and lunch. Accommodation during the hike is camping (three nights); double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Porters will set up the tents while the cook prepares meals. Every day you wake up around 7 a.m. (except the last day, which starts at 4:30 a.m.) and walk for about seven hours.

4. Leave Valuables at Home

The threat of crime is low along the Inca Trail, and Peru considers traveler safety a priority. However, it is advisable to take usual precautions when traveling, such as not carrying large amounts of cash and keeping your passport and cash in a secure place.

5. Hiking in the Rainy Season

Walking the Inca Trail during the rainy season (between November and April) can be challenging, as the trail can be very (VERY) muddy. Prepare by wearing a good rain jacket and a waterproof cover for your backpack and clothes. The Inca Trail closes every year in February because it is the wettest time of the year.

Looking for adventure in Peru? Start exploring the variety of small group adventures from Intrepid now.

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