From our tour company, SAS:
Before starting your trek, we recommend the training to improve fitness levels, visiting your doctor, and having a complete medical check before booking this hike. The fitter and more prepared you are, the more you will enjoy your trek.
Our challenges attract people of all levels of experience and fitness, all ages and backgrounds. We expect all participants to train hard/moderate in advance to achieve this challenge, but we respect everyone’s limits. We design our treks and tours so that everyone can go at their own pace: this is not a race when are we trekking over the mountains.
For logistical and safety reasons we sometimes need to re-group, so the front-hikers will find themselves waiting for the slower ones. Please relax, and remember that this is a team effort that enables people to achieve their personal goals. You always will have an assistant guide in our treks and tours accompanying your pace.
In extreme cases and you cannot continue with the trek, due to altitude problems or physical issues, your assistant guide will return with you to the beginning of the trek and rest at Ollantaytambo town -he will contact us and we will contact a Medical Attention if is necessary, and then on the next day he will take you by train to AguasCalientes town -get settled in the hostel Viajeros and then meet with your group and enjoy the rest of the tour visiting Machu Picchu and returning by train to Cusco with your group. In Aguas Calientes town you will stay at our Hostel Viajeros for Free. Our flexibility in our treks and tours is often appreciated by our customers.
Common questions answered by SAS:
I am not really an experienced trekker? What if I can’t keep up? How difficult is the Inca Trail?
Most people share this concern, but you shouldn’t worry. Only in extremely rare circumstances does a trekker need to come back early. You just need to remember that you are always allowed to go at a speed that is comfortable for you. Take your time, pace yourself, and enjoy the experience. One of the guides will always escort the slower participants in the group, and be there to help and assist!
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. It’s not a technical hike but there are a lot of Inca stairs to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend using trekking poles… and have an early night before the trek!
Are trekking poles really necessary?
For the Inca Trail trek more than any of the other treks, we DO recommend the use of trekking poles, especially for hikers with known knee problems. There are multiple times during the trek that a Trekking pole is handy, be it ascending a mountain or walking down immense sets of Inca stairs. It will help with your balance and reduce the impact on your knees. SAS Travel and the INC ask that you do not use trekking poles with metal tips as they damage the trail. You can purchase rubber tips for metal poles from any local camping shop.
How long will I be walking every day? How long is the trail?
The Inca Trail is 46 km (28 miles) long. Here is an approximate breakdown according to our regular campsites:
Day 1: 12 kilometers (8.6 miles); 6-7 hours; Ayapata camp.
Day 2: 18 kilometers (10.9 miles); 7-8 hours (this day includes “Dead Woman’s Pass,” the highest pass on the trail at 4,200 m; this is the longest day).
Day 3: 10 km (7.3 miles); 5-6 hours.
Day 4: 6 Km and about 2 hours walking before arriving at Machu Picchu.
Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Inca Trail?
It’s impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic make-up and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cusco (3,399m), making it very easy and drinking plenty of water, is enough for some people, but 2 to 3 days is ideal. The highest point along the classic Inca Trail is 4200 m/13,818 ft. You will sleep at 3,340 m/10,988 ft for two nights.
What if I am unable to finish the trail?
In the rare case that you are unable to finish the trek due to health issues, SAS Travel will do everything in its power to get you to the nearest village, town or city where help is available (or where adequate transportation can be arranged). If the issue is respiratory or due to altitude, we do carry at least one tank of oxygen on the trek that you will have access to. In extreme cases, a helicopter pick-up can be arranged at your own expense (therefore, travel Insurance is required).
No refunds are given if you are unable to finish the trek for health reasons. In general, if a trekker can’t make it over the pass on the 2nd day due to altitude sickness, they go back to Ollantaytambo accompanied by a porter (if sickness is mild) or guide (if more serious). If they recover from the altitude sickness, they stay the night in Ollantaytambo and then take the train to Aguas Calientes the next day (Day 3) and we look after them in Hostal Viajeros until they can rejoin their group at Machu Picchu early on Day 4 and continue the tour as normal. The additional cost for this situation (including train ticket and accommodation) is payable by the passenger and is usually between $75 and $100 total. A document for insurance purposes is provided for your claim.