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This is post #29 in 100DaysOfBloggingChallenge

This probably will be my last post about the Peru trip! Hope it helps some people to make it a bit easy to tick off Inca Trail from their bucket list.

What did I do to prepare?

I hiked almost every weekend from January till March earlier this year before the trip. But I didn’t do any hike at an altitude anywhere close to what it was there. I tried to do some form of exercise at least 2-3 times a week. That’s pretty much it. I won’t say it was easy but it’s not impossible! I don’t consider myself very fit but I managed to do it!

Some tips for the trail:

  1. Preparation: ‘One needs to be reasonably fit to do the trail’. That’s what all the travel websites say online. Being reasonably fit is somewhat relative, IMHO. If you are not used to walking 10+ KMS or hardly do any cardio etc., you need some time (like few months) to get ready for the trail. There are a hell lot of steep steps, uneven and some quite high! In a nutshell, you do need to prepare.
  2. Walking poles: They are a must. I only saw one lady during the four days without walking poles, but then she was a pro, exceptionally good. Just rent them there. Poles really really help while climbing down the steps. Your tour leader will definitely tell you how to use them and the height that needs to be used! But here it is to know beforehand:
  • For flat surfaces, walk like you are marching, right foot with left hand and vice versa.
  • For going uphill, the poles should be adjusted such that arms are at 90 degrees while holding them and top of the handle should be at waist level. Walk slightly zig zag while going up a hill, this really helps.
  • For a downhill walk, top of the handle should be at chest level. Put your poles down on the steps first and then walk down, balancing on your poles.
  • Walk at a slow but steady pace, always.
  • Dress up in layers. As long as you are walking, you will be warm enough, except the second day at an altitude higher than 4000m.

3. Pack light,you need to carry it the whole day and walk. I had my DSLR also packed inside my backpack from the second day. Carrying too much tires you sooner. Things I think you must carry: Energy Bars, Water (I always had it with hydration salts), spare jacket, lightweight poncho( buy one from there itself that covers you and your backpack both!!) or rain jacket, camera, sanitizer, insect repellent, pain killers, sunscreen, sunhat, coca candies,toilet paper and some ziplock bags to carry waste.

4. Carry enough warm clothes for the nights in camp, baby wipes, dry shampoo (if you are used to hating your hair the day after you shampoo!!), thick socks and leg warmers. Wear proper hiking shoes with ankle support and get used to the shoes before the trail. Carry spare batteries for your camera!

5. I took Diamox, not sure how my body would have reacted at altitude without it! Just start taking it three days before Inca Trail starts and take until the 2nd day.  Give yourself atleast two days to acclimitise in Cusco.

6. Like any other workout, stretch everyday multiple times a day!

7. The trail I was on had four days of hiking, you see Machu Pichu through Sungate on the fourth day, walk through it and spent the fourth night and hotel. We did the guided tour of Machu Pichu the next day, all fresh and energised.  This was as perfect as it could be and made a huge difference to the whole experience

8. Enjoy the views, soak in the beauty. It’s an amazing experience!! Spend some time thinking and retrospecting about things. Out of 600,000 that visit Machu Pichu every year, only 10% do the Inca Trail. If you are one of them, feel proud of yourself!