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How to physically prepare for the Inca Trail

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How to have the right physical preparation to do the Inca Trail, here we tell you


The Classic Inca Trail is the most famous in America, for its historical importance and indescribable landscape beauty along the way, passing through the numerous archaeological complexes built by indigenous hands of the Inca civilization.

For those who have in their plans to go for a walk on this impressive route, here are some tips to prepare themselves physically before embarking on this impressive adventure.

People who are in good physical condition and practice some sport, this route will not be complicated, even if it involves walking for many hours and on rough routes of rugged and flat terrain.

But for those who are not accustomed to extreme physical exertion, they may have complications of fatigue and tiredness en route which are completely normal but a little annoying if they are excessive so it is better to start this stunning adventure prepared in every possible way. The most important thing before undertaking this incredible route is to prepare yourself physically to get your body used to the activities of physical effort. Here’s what you need to do for excellent preparation.

What is the Inca Trail?

It’s a winding mountain trail that winds its way through the Sacred Valley and offers a stunning backdrop: the Andes that boasts thousands of shades of green to snowy peaks.

The goal is the archaeological site of Machu Picchu, a place where it is easy to reach by train, but the only way to see it as the Incas saw it when they arrived and enjoy it at dawn is walking the Inca Trail, here you can read my experience when you arrive. Machu Picchu at dawn

Travelling along the Inca Trail is not an easy task and if travelling along the Inca Trail without too many complications, it requires previous preparation, which includes adapting to the altitude, being in good physical shape (training before the trip and, if possible, at a high altitude), preparing your backpack thoroughly and finding a good guide… these are 5 of the essential ones, in addition to putting in place a very good attitude to overcome the challenge and withstand the dozens of unforeseen events that may arise.

In short, to prepare the Inca Trail, you have to consider:

  • Altitude and how to prevent altitude sickness:
  • Be in good shape
  • Backpack what to take?
  • Hire a guide
  • Attitude to overcome the challenge

Physical Good Conditions

The height and possible difficulty in breathing is only half of the problem when it comes to the Inca Trail.

During the trek through a difficult terrain where you walk about 12 km per day, which can take from 3 to 6 hours depending on the amount of breaks you take, how difficult the terrain is and what type of inclination you have…. You have to be in shape if you want to… –

It goes without saying that walking 12 km in a city is much easier than walking through the mountains of the Sacred Valley.

With this in mind, fitness is a must and our recommendation is to train for several months before you intend to do the Inca Trail.

The recommended workout is one that focuses on cardio (running or swimming) with a light to medium intensity and a high duration; this means swimming smoothly but for a long time, jogging long distances, instead of running at full throttle for a few kilometers.

The days before we added some cardio to our basic travel training.

During the Way no pressure, you have to go to the rhythm that your body supports, you don’t have to “burn on day 1” but on the contrary, you have to gradually increase the rhythm…. because the excess effort leads to altitude sickness and if this happens, the Way is over.

Backpack for the Inca Trail

When I pack my backpack for the Inca Trail or any Trek route, I think I will have to carry it.

This means that you have to pack only what is absolutely necessary.

Even if you plan to hire a porter… it will be carried by one person and the logical thing is to think about it… not to make your job harder than it should be.
Clothes: think about overlapping layers, if the group decides to start walking very early it will be very cold, but at noon it will be hot and you will only need a t-shirt.

Shoes: What is indispensable are good mountain boots for the Inca Trail, designed for difficult mountain trekking, there is no other possible substitute and obviously no new Trek boots are used in the mountains, but must be worn in various terrains before the trek.

First Aid Kit: It is ideal to have a small first aid kit with the basic medicines for altitude sickness, acetozolamide, some bronchodilator and headache painkillers, in general the agencies carry oxygen tanks, but it is never too much to take with you.

Food: for the treks I always take energy bars, chocolate and bananas (for the potassium); in this case I also take 10 doses of protein supplement (Whey Protein) and powdered milk.

Miscellaneous: Sunglasses and sunscreen, the sun itches a lot at those heights, even without noticing it.

Mountain trekking poles, indispensable for descents.

The experts recommend that the backpack should not weigh more than 10% of the body weight…. and so we respect it, we do not hire porters for our personal belongings.

Good Mental Attitude to Do the Inca Trail

The physical form, the prevention of altitude sickness, are not enough to enjoy the Inca Trail, nor any mountain route…. the essential thing is enthusiasm.
Attitude and enthusiasm are 80% of the total for any activity and for life itself.

On the way no matter how much shape you are going to have, some cramps will appear, it will hurt, you will feel some fatigue and a lot of it will not go out as planned…. so you need mental strength to overcome pain, fatigue and some frustration (rain, other groups of tourists, cold at night and a lot more).

With enthusiasm, everything is resolved, there is no difficulty to stop or frustrate….. if you prevent altitude sickness, the physical condition is good, the equipment is adequate and the group with the guides make up a good team success is guaranteed… some say that there is no need to repeat trips because second parts have never been good… however, the Inca Trail has become one of the best experiences of my life again!

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