Inca Trail FAQs

Q1: How long does it take to get to Peru?

Approximate Flight Duration to Lima

Buenos Aires – 4 Hours
Los Angeles – 8 Hours
Miami – 6 Hours
New York – 9 Hours
Madrid – 12 Hours
Frankfurt – 14 Hours
London – 15 Hours
Rome – 14 Hours
Paris – 16 Hours
Tokyo – 20 Hours

Q2: When is the best time to go?

This is a difficult question to answer as Peru has a huge variety of conditions. We would say travelers can visit Peru any time of the year !
Dry season runs from May to November and this is typically the time that is most recommended. However, this is also the cooler time of year. Nighttime temperatures can drop to below freezing at the height of the dry season. June, July and August are the most popular months to visit so you will tend to encounter much larger crowds during these months.

In the wet season (December to April), you can expect showers three to four afternoons a week. For travelers that don’t mind a little drizzle and muddy trails, this time of year offers smaller crowds and greener hillsides, with wildflowers and orchids often in bloom. The shoulder seasons, April to June or September to November can often provide the best of both worlds. They typically have fewer crowds and warmer temperatures than the height of the dry season, but still tend to have relatively little rain.

Q3: What entry documents do i need?

U.S. citizens need a valid passport and an entry form-tourist card which is provided by your air carrier either at the ticket counter when checking in for your flight to Peru or once on-board. (NOTE: Other nationalities should check with the nearest Peruvian Consulate to determine correct entry requirements.)

Q4: Is it safe to travel in Peru?

Definitely. We tend to hear the very worst news from Latin America. Helpful people and extraordinary culture. Most crime is opportunistic and not violent but of course, it is possible to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Care and common sense will nearly always prevail.

The Sendero Luminoso is no longer active.

Health Information for Travelers to Peru

Q5: How do i get from the airport to the hotel on the escorted tours?

All of our escorted tours include arrival transfer serivices, an Inca Trail Reservations/Castle Travel representative will be waiting for you at the point of your arrival. In the event that you book the domestic flights by your self, you will need to provide us all details of your arrival or you can simply request internal flights to the travel advisor that will be assigned to you.

Q6: What type of transportation is used?

Our escorted tours utilize a variety of transportation including private vans/ cars, comfortable tourist buses, flights, canoes, etc. We use a mix of private/ public transportation to provide travelers with the safest and most efficient transportation in each area.

Occasionally, we may include non-typical transportation modes (rickshaw, bicycle taxi, “chicken bus”, etc.) for short distances to give travelers a sense of local flavor.

Q7: Will the altitude affect me?

When travelling throughout the Andes in Peru some people will suffer some effects of it. If you plan to hike the Inca Trail we recommend arriving 2 or 3 days before the start to acclimatise and rest.

altitude sickness

Q8: What is the best thing to do in the event of altitude sickness?

Wherever possible “go down”. The important things are to have gradual ascent, time to adjust, rest days, and someone who can recognize early problems. All these requirements are features of this trek. If you are staying in Cusco, you may still feel the effects.

The best advice is to sleep, take plenty of fluids or you could also try coca tea. The porters chew coca leaves wrapped around a black resin called “llipta”. When you are actually walking and active (especially on day two of the trail), this may help since it dilates the blood vessels and carries oxygen to the parts of the body that need it.

Q9: Will I get high on coca leaves?

No – sorry! Although cocaine can be extracted from the leaves, it requires a long process involving acids and distilling. Your body simply does not have the capacity to extract much from the leaves.

Q10: How do i reserve a space for the Inca Trail?

Please follow the link below for more details and reservation form. (Please specify details like extra night or extra porter)

If you prefer, call Inca Trail Reservations to verify availability of the trip you have chosen.

Q11: Do I need to check availability for each day that I am going to hike the Inca Trail?

No. You just need to look for available spaces for the day that you would like to start the Inca Trail.

The first day of the season to start the Inca Trail is March 1st.

The last day of the season to start the Inca Trail is January 31st.

Q12: Is there a waiting list for the Inca Trail in case of cancellations?

The National Institute of Culture only releases 500 permits per day and once all permits have been sold, no more permits will be issued, even if there are cancellations. This means that if someone is selling you a permit when there are not spaces left, that permit is corrupt or fake. You will not be allowed on the trail if the permit is not the correct one.

Q13: What should I do if there are not permits left?

In our opinion you have two choices: You could try the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu which can be hiked in four or five days, or wait until the next season and book your space well in advance for the month you want to travel.

Salkantay Trek

Q14: Do you require a deposit?

Yes. We require a booking deposit of US$250 for all treks and US$500 for all other tours and packages.

A full deposit refund will be given if we are not able to get a Inca Trail Permit for you!

Once the Government Permit has been issued the deposit becomes non-refundable

Q15: Why is the deposit required immediately?

A deposit is required immediately because we need to pay for your permit at the time that we request it. The only way to reserve a space for the Inca Trail is to secure a permit by purchasing it at the offices of the National Institute of Culture in Cusco.

If you only submit the booking form and you do not complete the deposit transaction, we will not be able to secure your space for the Inca Trail until we process this payment.

Q16: What happens after I make my deposit?

Once we receive your booking information and the deposit, we will immediately request your permit from the National Institute of Culture (INC).

A travel advisor will be assigned to your account and will e-mail a digital copy of the permit to you as soon as we receive it from this Peruvian Government agency. This is usually within 24 hours (business days).

If you require additional services like internal flights, accommodation or tour extensions, your personal travel advisor will easily arrange that for you.

If you are only booking the trek package, you will need to send us detailed information about your flight arrival and accommodation in Cusco, so we can schedule the airport pick up and trek briefing.

Q17: Is the Inca Trail difficult?

You know the answer to this one: it depends! You reach 4000m on the second day after climbing for the best part of the day. Especially if you are within your first five days at altitude, this may give you headaches and shortness of breath. Generally however, you start very early and have a long time to get to the second campsite.

But the key is to keep going and share your coca leaves with the porters who are carrying around 25kg. And don’t forget that even people who live in Cusco (at 3300m) still get short of breath.

Q18: What do I need to bring on the trek?

Backpack, sleeping bag, pad (we will provide you with this), rain jacket, strong footwear (walking boots are recommended as they provide support to the ankle which reduces the risk of injury especially when trekking in the wet season (December – March).

However it is important that your boots are comfortable and well worn-in and not brand new. Many people prefer to trek in tennis shoes but extra care should be taken (we do not recommend trekking in sandals), one complete change of clothing, sweater, jacket (something warm), water bottle, flashlight and batteries, broad-brim or peaked cap, sunblock, insect repellent, toiletries and toilet paper, selection of small snacks, chocolate, dried fruit, biscuits etc, camera and plenty of film.

You also have to bring your original passport with you on the trek and the student identification card when applicable.

Q19: When should I hire a porter?

It is better to organize a porter before you go on the trail rather than realise halfway through that you are not enjoying carrying your pack at this altitude and want some help. Even turning up on the day of your trail and telling the agency that you want an extra porter is too late because the porters need to register in advance (support staff need permits to access the trail as well). Please inform the porter if you are taking fragile devices or need special wrapping for your equipment.

Q20: Can I wait until Cusco to hire an extra porter?

No. The restrictions on the number of people permitted on the Inca trail includes porters. Porters also have to pay a trek entrance fee and their permits need to be booked in advance. If you want to hire the services of a porter, then you must let us know at the time you make your trek booking.

Unfortunately if you feel weakened by the effects of the altitude when you arrive in Cusco and feel it necessary to hire a porter at the last minute the new regulations make it impossible for us to arrange this.

Q21: What do we do for water along the Inca Trail?

At meal times we will give you teas or coffees to drink. You’ll come across a mountain spring, fountain or small stream approximately every 2 hours along the trail where you can fill up your water bottle. Take a bottle of at least 1 liter capacity per person.

Although the water looks clean, it is always safer to use sterilizing tablets or a water filter. With these tablets you have to wait between 30 and 40 minutes before drinking. Bottled mineral water can also be taken from Cusco, bought at km82 (the start of the trek), at the first resting point, at Wayllabamba (first night), at Wiñay Wayna (third night) and at Machu Picchu (final day).

Q22: What happens if I arrive at Machu Picchu and then decide to stay an extra night, can I change my train ticket?

It is still possible to make changes to your return train ticket if you decide to stay an extra night at Aguas Calientes. You will have to take your train ticket personally to the train station in Aguas Calientes and ask them to change the return date of your ticket. You will probably be asked to pay an extra administration fee and changing the ticket will be subject to availability of spaces the following day. If you change your ticket for a cheaper service then you will not be refunded the difference.

Q23: What training do you provide for your staff on environmental practices?

Our guide teams have been trained in first aid and rescue and are regularly updated through seminars and courses in their respective fields. All of our trekking staff receives regular briefings on how to best comply with the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu Sanctuary Regulation as well as on environmental awareness.

Our Credo in Nature

We are great believers in leaving the areas that we visit in as an untouched condition as possible. We encourage everyone who travels with us to respect the land, the people, and their fellow travelers. This type of focus leads to amazing experiences and insights that bring a sense of satisfaction, which is difficult to create any other way, so be thinking responsibility, consideration, and FUN!

Q24: What you do to minimise environmental impacts on the Inca Trail?

Our Environmental Management Policy and Commitment considers running our operations in a responsible way, according to the following:

  • * Selective disposal of garbage (organic & inorganic)
  • * Garbage withdrawal of Natural Protected Areas
  • * Use of flush toilets built along the Inca Trail or different communities and villages. Otherwise, we provide toilet tents with chemical toilet facilities. All garbage is disposed of outside the Natural Protected Areas
  • * Avoid fires, no smoking allowed inside the tents
  • * Use of bowls for washing purposes to avoid the soap from being thrown over to the floor or to natural water sources
  • * Avoid disturbing animals
  • * No animal hunting allowed
  • * Preservation of the flora, no orchid taking allowed
  • * Walking over the Inca ruins, walls or archaeological sites is absolutely forbidden

Q25: How much to tip the porters, cooks and guides?

Please do not forget to tip your porters and cooks at the end of the hike. We recommend a combine tip from the group of $10-$15 per porter. However, the amount should depend on the quality of the service you received. If their tips are poor they know that they need to improve. We suggest bringing change so you can give the tips directly to the porters and avoid unfairly distribution.