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Is it safe to drink the water or eat fresh fruit and
Disposable water bottles aren't allowed
on the Inca Trail. That's because of the trash that would be
generated by thousands of plastic bottles being thrown away every
day. Accordingly, we gather water from streams along the way,
then treat it in a three-step process to assure that it's safe
1. The water is filtered using
Safety Research technology. 2.
The filtered water is purified using Micropur purification tablets.
3. The filtered and purified water is boiled.
This filtered, purified and boiled water
undergoes a final treatment with purification tablets so that
it will disinfect fresh fruit and vegetables washed with
it, Therefore, you can ignore the usual precautions -- we have
already taken care of them for you. We are unaware of any guest
becoming sick on our treks. Quite the contrary, they are surprised
to receive such well-prepared food and drink in such basic conditions.
Photo: Inka's Empire Tours. Machu Picchu Luxury Tours & Travel.
This is a challenging trek across high
altitude passes in the Peruvian Andes.
While no previous trekking or technical
climbing experience is required, all trekkers must be in excellent
physical condition for this trip. We also suggest that you have
some experience with exercise at high altitude. You will be hiking
6 to 7 hours each day, up and down mountain trails that are steep
and rocky, and mostly at elevations over 10,000 feet. Porters
will carry the bulk of the supplies, but even if you are just
carrying a day pack, hiking at high altitude is extremely demanding
and can compound physiological stress. You need to be in excellent
health and top physical condition to enjoy such an experience,
with adequate cardiovascular endurance, muscle strength and excellent
The level of fitness needed requires
regular aerobic exercise for at least one hour 4 to 5 times each
week. This should include hiking, running and stair climbing,
and you must be able to sustain exercise for prolonged periods.
We recommend that you start a moderate training program several
months prior to departure, then slowly build up to a more strenuous
level. Please consult your physician if you have questions concerning
your underlying health. We can help answer questions for you
and your physician concerning required levels of fitness and
health conditions at high altitude.
Trekking at high altitude
There are also inherent dangers in any
expedition to high altitude. These dangers include everything
from falling rocks and sheer dropoffs to the possibility of a
serious fall, accident or sickness without access to a means
of rapid evacuation, adequate medical supplies or adequate medical
attention once provided. High altitude may create discomfort
and symptoms of illness that you do not experience while exercising
at low elevations. Anyone planning a difficult mountain trek
must be aware of the demands and risks imposed by high altitude,
be assured of excellent underlying health and be prepared by
Most trekkers at high altitude feel
the physical discomfort of shortness of breath, headaches, nausea,
insomnia and exhaustion. Individuals vary widely in their ability
to acclimatize and not everyone should go to high altitude. Because
physical fitness does not confer any protection or facilitate
acclimatization, it is impossible to predict how you will adapt
to the altitude. The greatest protection is avoiding rapid ascents
and allowing time for your body to acclimatize to the altitude.
You must individually pace yourself to go slowly and drink plenty
of water to avoid dehydration. You must not push too hard no
matter how physically fit you may be or feel.
Early symptoms of high altitude sickness
include headache, nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, vomiting,
dry cough, irregular breathing, shortness of breath, fatigue
and swelling of the ankles and eyelids. It is not uncommon to
experience some of these symptoms when you first arrive at high
altitude and then to have them decrease in severity within a
few days. For that reason, Inka's Empire Tours strongly recommends
spending at least two days at high altitude before beginning
the Inca Trail. It is important that you inform your guide immediately
of any symptoms or discomfort, however minor, so that he or she
can help you monitor the situation. Please be aware that carrying
on with the climb in spite of alarm signals from your body may
result in serious illness and even death. Medical conditions
that are aggravated or complicated by high altitude include heart
diseases, lung diseases, pregnancy, anemia and sickle cell disease.
It is imperative that anyone with these conditions consult his
or her physician in detail before attempting this climbing expedition.
Avoid this trek if you suffer from vertigo or a fear of heights.
For more detailed information on altitude
sickness and medications that can be taken for its prevention
and treatment, please consult the Centers for Disease Control
and our Avoiding Altitude Sickness
Source of "Experience
required" and "Trekking at high altitude": Adapted
from Yale Educational Travel.
Tipping for the Inca Trail
Suggestions are for two people. If four people, add 50%. We recommend that any tip be given on the last night of camping
on the Inca Trail. Once the porters depart the next morning,
you will not see them again.
Guide: $65 or S/195
Chef: $25 or S/75*
Chief porter: $15 or S/45*
Porters: $10 or S/30 each*
The personnel required are 1 guide, 1
chef, 1 chief porter and 2 porters per trekker. For example,
the personnel required for two trekkers are 7: 1 guide, 1 chef,
1 chief porter and 4 porters. Any tip may be given to the guide
for distribution or, if you prefer, you may give any tip to each
*Since the chef, chief porter and porters
live in the surrounding countryside, it is more convenient for
them to receive Nuevo Soles (S/) instead of U.S. dollars.
They could have followed the valley
but they chose the high route to Machu Picchu, with its gorges
and passes and climactic mountain views. True Andean highlanders,
the Incas knew and loved the countless natural zones that lay
within the folds of their vast domain. Their trail to Machu Picchu
traverses a startling variety of microclimates, beginning with
an arid cactus zone on the Urubamba valley floor, rising through
native Polylepis forest to bleak high-altitude grassland, and
ending in mossy cloud forest draped with orchids and bromeliads.
They celebrated the glory of the snow
peaks by setting their trail along a ridge that descended from
the sacred summit of Salcantay and ended at Machu Picchu. Wherever
some astounding view or prominent natural feature captured their
imaginations, they built magical stone outposts -- intricate
ceremonial settlements of carved stone hewn from the white granite
of the region. These cling to mountain spurs, perch on narrow
ledges or spill down plunging slopes, with water channels threading
among the houses, as though planted there, without human intervention,
by an extravagant nature.
All this was abandoned around the time
of the Spanish conquest, lying buried beneath the forest until
Hiram Bingham set out in 1915 to follow up his discovery of Machu
Picchu with a search for the Inca highway leading back to Cusco.
Lucky explorer that he was, he found what we now call the Inca
Trail and all the sites along it except Wiñay Wayna, that
was not discovered until 1941, by Paul Fejos. Today we can hike
this trail, seeing much of it intact and easy to imagine as it
was in Inca times.
The superbly-built Inca Trail crosses
dense forest and deep canyons. There are 18 archaeological complexes
dotted along the trail, which can be seen in all their splendor.
These consist of housing, irrigation canals, agricultural terracing,
walls and shrines, which are irrefutable proof of the existence
of important human settlements. This Inca cultural heritage and
its environment is protected within the Machu Picchu Historical
Principal archaeological sites along the Inca Trail
Town". This settlement was taken over from pre-Inca people
and expanded by the Incas, almost certainly as a center of food
production for supplying the Inca Trail sites and Machu Picchu
itself. Though well planned and constructed, most of the architecture
is utilitarian and repetitive in style.
Hut", referring to the ovoid shape of the towers. A small
site about halfway up the climb to the second pass, it overlooks
the Pacamayo valley with a superb view back to the first pass,
Warmiwañusca. It was probably built as a lookout point
for watching the highway, and perhaps also as a tambo (a traveler's
lodging) and temporary storehouse.
Town" in Quechua -- and the site fits its name. Built on
a narrow spur jutting westward below the second pass, it commands
a sweeping vista of the Aobamba valley and the route ahead all
the way to the third pass, while in clear weather the snow peaks
of the Pumasillo massif fill the horizon to the west.
Phuyupatamarca. This "Cloud-Level
Town" stands where the trail crosses from south to north
of the long ridge leading to Machu Picchu. It is overlooked by
flat-topped peaks whose Inca platforms were built for viewing
a breathtaking panorama of snow peaks.
Terraces". This is a mainly agricultural complex with a
small residential sector, probably built to supplement the food
supply to Machu Picchu.
Wiñay Wayna. "Forever
Young" -- the name of a perennially flowering orchid formerly
abundant in this area. An imposing curved wall culminates in
a temple whose doorway faces the snow peak of Wakay Willka (Verónica).
With its chain of ceremonial baths, its intricate maze of houses,
temples and workshops, its towering waterfall, and the serene
sculpture of its terracing, nothing can compare with the intimate
magic of this Inca settlement.
Machu Picchu. "Old
Peak". Built as a "royal estate" for the Inca
emperor Pachacuti, Machu Picchu is an astounding and perennially
mysterious climax to one of the world's most famous journeys:
the Inca Trail. Perched high above a sinuous bend in the Urubamba
River, Machu Picchu has lured explorers, poets and pilgrims to
its mist-wreathed ridgetop ever since its discovery by the American
explorer Hiram Bingham in July, 1911.
No one lived here before the Incas.
Those mighty empire builders from Cusco discovered this extraordinary
place, finding it rich in natural features sacred to their religion.
Both inspired and humbled by its dramatic natural beauty, their
answer was to create on a vast scale one of the planet's most
sensitive and harmonious works of art. The aesthetic genius of
its layout and architecture coupled with the durability of its
brilliant planning and engineering have given us today this finest
of jewels among the UNESCO world heritage sites.
Scholars still argue about the meaning
of Machu Picchu: why it was built and what purpose it served,
who lived there and when they departed. Most agree that its main
intent was spiritual and ceremonial. But clearly its creator,
Pachacuti, intended the journey to his sacred city to be a powerful
experience in its own right, a pilgrimage whose effort is stunningly
rewarded time and again as one follows its winding way among
peaks, forests, deep gorges and fairytale ruins. Perhaps if one
is to experience the spirit that inspired the builders of Machu
Picchu, one truly must walk the length of Pachacuti's white granite
highway -- today's Inca Trail.
The natural surroundings are impressive
and the balance achieved between nature and Inca architecture
is striking. The Vilcabamba mountain range boasts peaks higher
than 6,000 meters, such as Salkantay and Huamantay, among others.
The blend of mountains, jungles and valleys creates a fantasy
world where the spectacular dawn and sunset are shrouded in mystery.
The large natural areas are filled with
a variety of forest species which vary according to the habitat.
The forest vegetation is represented by
trees such as cedar, romerillo or intimpa, laurel and others.
There are also species like Ocotea, Pedocarpus, Guarca, Weinmania,
Clusia, Cedropia, Cinchena, Eritrina or Pisonay, and Ilex, among
The decorative plants have made the
Sanctuary famous. Experts have identified more than 90 species
of orchids, and many species of begonias and payu cacti. Most
of the area is covered by herbaceous, shrub-like and arboreal
plants. The varied conditions have created an ideal environment
for the growth of diverse plant life -- from thick jungle, like
the cloud forest, to the sparsely-covered mountain tops,
Animals are abundant and varied. The
existence of species in danger of extinction, such as the spectacled
bear (Termarctos Omatus), the Cock-of-the-Rock (Rupicola Peruviana),
the dwarf deer (Pudu Mephistopheles) and others was one of the
reasons that the government decided to protect this area.
The Historical Sanctuary includes species
like the puma, Andean fox, river otter, Taruka (Huemul deer),
wildcat, ferret and others. There are birds like the Cara Cara,
hummingbird, torrent duck, parrot, wild turkey and many other
colorful smaller birds. There are also reptiles like the Jergon
Bothrops and the coral micrurus snake (lethal for its venom),
lizards, frogs, and numerous other Andean and jungle fauna that
inhabit the park. This abundant wildlife makes the Sanctuary
ideal for tourists and researchers who wish to watch or study
Climate and environment
The climate is relatively mild all year
round with heavy rains from January through March, dry and hot
weather from April through October, and temperate with occasional
rains in November and December. April through December is the
recommended time to visit. The annual minimum temperature oscillates
between 8 degrees and 11.2 degrees C (46 to 52 degrees F). In
the months of June, July and August the temperature can drop
below 0 C (32 degrees F). The annual
maximum temperature varies between 20.4 and 26.6 degrees C (69
and 80 degrees F).
The terrain is fairly jagged, with many
gullies and glacier-fed streams that eventually pour into the
Urubamba River. The river, which has formed a deep valley running
through the granite base of the Vilcabamba mountain range, crosses
the area for more than 40 kilometers and passes through a variety
Source: Adapted from PromPeru,
The Inca Trail
© 2013 Inka's Empire Corporation, Machu Picchu Luxury Tours. All rights reserved.