The Inca Trail, a four day hike through some of the worlds most dramatic and historically rich areas of the world, is something every girl should do. Passing by ancient ruins and up and over mountains at altitudes that will make you wonder why you decided to do this trek is not for everyone.
For those who do want an adventure and are up for some hard work then this trek really does reward with your arrival at Machu Picchu. The ‘lost city of the Incas’ Machu Picchu in Peru is still shrouded in mystery even today and in rain and mist or bright sun light it is a magical place to explore.
Below are the top tips all girls need to know before hiking the Inca Trail:
Be prepared for altitude sickness
Most people find that they suffer from some form of altitude sickness whilst on the Inca Trail. You will climbing thousands of feet high and it is normal to feel out of breath and dizzy. Be prepared by purchasing altitude sickness medication before the trek and carrying it with you just in case. Chewing on cocoa lollies that you can buy in Cusco is a good way of alleviating symptoms of altitude sickness. Whilst on the trail remember that it is not a race and to go at your own pace. If you start to feel sick tell your guide, altitude sickness is serious and can be fatal, and they often carry medicine and local remedies of altitude sickness with them.
Bring a dry bag
If you are hiking the Inca Trail, especially at the end of the season, you will be almost guaranteed rain. After spending an exhausting day trekking up a mountain and down the other side the last thing you will want to do is put on wet clothes to wear to bed. On that note also bring a rain coat, a proper good quality rain coat, as when it rains in that part of the world it pours.
Periods and the Inca Trail
There are no showers on the trail and toilets are mostly squat long drop toilets with varying levels of cleanliness. If you are going to have your period whilst hiking make sure you plan ahead. Bringing wet wipes with you is a great idea and make sure you have enough feminine hygiene products to last the four days. Bins are not everywhere so it may be a situation of bringing a plastic bag or two and waiting until the town of Aguas Caliente to dispose responsibly of your waste.
Bring toilet paper
Although there are toilets along the trail, toilet paper is scarce. Bring some with you and you will be everyone’s instant best friend on the trek.
There is a weight limit
When hiking the Inca Trail you have two options, firstly to carry your own bag and secondly to pay extra to have a porter carry it for you. If you choose to carry your own bag then you will probably want to take the least amount of things possible anyway. If you decide for option two then make sure you keep things to a minimum as you can only bring 6kg on the trek, or risk having to ditch things on the day.
It will be both hot and cold
This one might seem confusing but trust me the climate on the trail changes a lot. During the day you will need to be sun smart and wear sunscreen to protect you from the harsh sun. By night you be freezing as the temperature drops below zero degrees Celsius so make sure you bring thermal under layers and a beanie. Your days will start before dawn so again a beanie and a jumper or fleece that you can wear before it warms up is essential too.
Bring the right gear
This hike is intense and you will need the right gear in order for you and everyone you are hiking with to be comfortable. Make sure you bring proper hiking shoes as the ascents and descents are steep and most of the terrain is rocky and uneven. You will want to have clothes for both warm and cold weather as well as other essentials such as a head torch, a spare pair of shoes for walking around camp in post hike and a toothbrush. You may be trekking and not showering but make sure you at least brush your teeth.
Be prepared for the unexpected
During my Inca Trail hike we were the last group to get through for the season we had to be evacuated off the trail as it started collapsing in front of us due to the heavy rains. This meant that we missed out on the final morning of hiking into the site but with porters having died on the trail the year before it was a necessary safety precaution. If you are expecting sunny days then be prepared for rain and visa versa.
Hiking the Inca Trail is an unforgettable experience and with a little bit of planning you can make sure that there are no bumps along the way.
Have you hiked this trail? How was your experience?