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She Hikes the Inca Trail...


Items To Pack...

· Sleeping bag - they can be rented locally, if you'd rather not take your own; liners are available at major sporting goods stores.

· Fleece blanket to put in sleeping bag - it can be very cold at night.

· Extra mat for sleeping bag.

· Good hiking boots - broken into. Uneven terrain is very hard on feet if wearing shoes with thin soles.

· Extra pair of shoes for the evening - Teva sandals or similar; feet may swell.

· Wool socks.

· Two pairs of long pants - one of synthetic fabric and a spare pair.

· Rain gear.

· Several tops - T-shirts and warmer tops, both long and short-sleeved. Dress in layers.

· Light-weight wool gloves.

· Flannel pajama bottoms or sweat pants for night time.

· Sunglasses.

· Sunscreen.

· Insect repellent. One woman wrote, 'The flies in Aguas Calientes were the worst-ever experienced.'

· Mini bottles of hand sanitizer.

· Day pack - carry as little as possible. The rest of the stuff goes in the duffel bag that porter will carry. Luggage stays back at the hotel and gets locked up. Some hikers like taking day packs with hydration bags. One brand name is "Camelbak." In the bigger ones there's enough room to put a jacket, camera, and small items.

· If you'd like to take your pillow, you can get a compressor sack where your pillow gets compressed to a very small size. Same thing for any item you pack, including sleeping bag.

· Duffel bag - weight allowance between 5-10 kilos.

· Toilet paper.

· A good supply of wipes - no showers available along the trail.

· Head lamp with extra batteries - useful for the 3:30 a.m. start on the last day to see sunrise at Machu Picchu, and for going to the toilet in the middle of the night.

· 'Stoppers and Goers' - medication for diarrhea and constipation.

· Prescription to help with altitude. Some people didn't find taking these pills helped; also, some people found side effects from the pills worse than high-altitude sickness.

· Antibiotic prescription for bad case of diarrhea.

· Collapsible walking stick, if you have one. You can buy walking sticks locally for a nominal price. This is a MUST - do not turn it down. Some hikers recommend taking two. It helps with stability and to absorb some of the impact. The steps are very hard on the knees; going down is worse than going up. There are approximately 2,000 (two thousand) steps at uneven heights.

· One-dollar bills (American) in good shape for small purchases and tips; bills in bad condition will be refused. Also a good idea to carry coins. Expect to spend a total of approximately $50.00 in tips for guides and porters per group.

General suggestions and comments...

· Get acclimatized to high altitude for at least two days before starting the trek.

· Don't drink the local water. A seasoned traveller I talked to always takes a water purification system. She recommends 'Pristine.' It's totally safe. Editor's Note: You might also try Aquatabs, a member of the Journeywoman network of classified advertisers.

· Some people got diarrhea from the food provided.

· If you have an opportunity to taste the national drink 'pisco,' make sure it's not made with raw egg whites, which is the traditional way of preparing it.

· Avoid ice cubes in your drinks.

· Be careful with raw foods - 'ceviche' (marinated raw fish) can be deadly.

· Train for about three months before going - preferably with backpack; going up and down flights of stairs recommended.

· It's crucial to drink coca tea to cope with high altitude; some people find that chewing coca leaves while walking helps also.

· Follow guide's advice about pacing and breathing. Watch the way the guide walks: slow, slight lean forward, rolling through the foot.

· Ascend gradually - find your own pace; make sure you're not rushed.

· Drink lots of water - dehydration seems to worsen high altitude effects.

· People in their 30s and in good shape (some of them runners) were overextended; some had to be carried back to camp.

· Reserve for Inca Trail trek well in advance - one month before, if going in the fall; two months for spring and three months for summer. Only 200 hikers per day are allowed.

· Guides are kind and patient.

· Food on trek was excellent and plentiful. One hiker found she felt better eating a hearty breakfast but very light meals for the rest of the day.

· Very humid in certain areas.

· Make sure to check gear they're providing before starting trek in case you're not satisfied with quality. Preferably you should have a down sleeping bag. Also clarify what the porter will or will not be carrying. One trekker didn't like the tents - she felt she was sliding down hill all night!

· Routes and schedules may vary. In one of them you walk approximately 12 km on the first day; 2nd day is the hardest: six solid uphill hours to Dead Woman's Pass; day three: 14-16 kms; day 4: up at 3:30 a.m. for 1-1/2 hours' hike to watch sunrise in Machu Picchu. As a general rule, take 40 steps and rest to the count of 40.

· If you have a bad cold, don't attempt the trek. Serious respiratory problems may occur due to high altitude.

· Book Inca Trail hike from Cuzco - much cheaper. Caution - you may not be able to do trek when you want to go due to demand.

· Alcohol consumption may worsen effects of high altitude.

· Don't pack anything you'd regret losing: ultimate tent/sleeping bag; camera.

· Some of the comments on the whole experience: "Brutal but breathtaking." "Fantastic scenery." "A physical challenge." "Arduous." "An amazing experience."


Don't forget plastic bags...

I have just came back from the Inca Trail and read all the advice in this article of what to take, and saw just one item to add. I've learned from being there that plastic bags are important for storing your wet clothes after a day of rain (even if you're wearing a rain pancho). This way your other clothes won`t get your wet when you put your wet things in your backpack. Also remember that on the Inca Trail, the third day is when you get the opportunity for a a real hot shower! Pack sample bottles of don´t shampoo and conditioner (you can also buy it at the shop there). I arrived back from Peru last week and I still have a smile on my face from being there.
Patricia, Argentina


Editor's Note: Thank you, thank you to everybody in our Journeywoman network who made this research list possible.




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