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Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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Road Scholar
Program #19937RJ
12 Days | 11 Nights
While all of our learning adventures offer extraordinary value, our "Best Value" programs were rated by our participants themselves who thought their dollar went particularly far.
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
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Discussion Board

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Laura & Keith Noyes Dec 02, 2014 at 02:51 PM

My wife and I are signed up for the April 2015 trip. Any recommendations for day packs? Do we need them, what size?
Sheri Ann Cate Dec 02, 2014 at 03:04 PM

Get a daypack with padded shoulder straps and waist belt. And a rain cover for the pack is essential. My daypack came with the rain cover included. Check REI online for a daypack called Gregory.It was expensive but you really will aprreciate a comforable daypack on the hike The size depends on your body size.. And yes, you absolutely do need one! Another item to consider is a camelback instead of carrying water bottles. You can drink from the tube while you're hiking and stay well hydrated. You'll be given boiled water that they'll pour right into your camelback for the day's hike.
Richard Smith Dec 02, 2014 at 03:13 PM

Agreed. Plan to carry rain gear, warm layers, including hat and gloves plus two water bottles (or a hydration pack). I always carried TP and a small dop kit, with sun screen lotion. Two kerchiefs were useful. We used a 12' cord for drying socks in the tent. External carabiners were useful for drying on the daypack as well. I have a Gregory and a Columbia. IMHO,The Columbia has better comparmentalization than the Gregory for this trip. Personally, I prefer water bottles.

Cathy F. Nov 27, 2014 at 11:48 PM

Am thrilled to have just signed up to take the mid-May trip in 2015. That gives me about six months to "train." Suggestion? Note: I live outside of Chicago, so no mountains are near here--but there are plenty of Stair Masters!
Mike Chesnut Nov 28, 2014 at 03:19 AM

I believe Stair Master would be excellent, and I would also pack a day pack with 10 to 15 pounds and find a trail with as much up and down as possible and hike some. There is no was to approximate the Inca Trail in your training in your area, but walking and general good cross training will certainly help and make the trip much more fun. We like bicycling as a cross training method because we have good country roads to ride. Aerobic exercise will help the cardio and lungs needed for the altitude. Start training now and I believe you will have fabulous trip (except maybe 2 nd day on trip haha.) The climb is the best reason to train well, you will have fun if the altitude does not bother you too much.
Mike Chesnut Nov 28, 2014 at 03:34 AM

ps, if you wish to do some mountain hiking, you can drive in one day to smoky mountains, we would suggest the boulevard trail from newfound gap to Mt Leconte. Rocky with 3000 feet elevation change and all trail between 5 000 and 6300 feet. Beautiful and rocky. 7.8 miles one way but if you are lucky, you might get revs, to stay at at lodge on Mt Leconte one night, but some do entire trip in one long had day, 15.6 miles, If you can do that trail in one day, you will do great on Inca Trail. Just don,t get a blister or sprain ankle .Usualy by mid april the snow would be gone or just patchy but still possible to snow a lot in April there.
Cathy F. Nov 28, 2014 at 10:06 AM

Wow, Mike, thanks! That
Cathy F. Nov 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

is great (and SPECIFIC) advice! Now I have a real sense of where I need to be physically, and a great mini-vacation idea for me and my husband, too! Thanks so much!
Helen Berkman Dec 02, 2014 at 06:06 PM

Just be sure to get some stair climbing in with steep stairs and both up and down. The Inca Trail has very steep and uneven stairs. I could not have done it without the hiking poles they give you, although I don't usually use hiking poles. If you don't have hiking poles, just make sure to work on your arms too - with free weights, cross-country skiing etc..
Cathy F. Dec 02, 2014 at 08:52 PM

Thanks so much! That's very helpful advice. And yes, I am a big fan of hiking poles already.

Richard Smith Nov 17, 2014 at 07:38 PM

Although the RS materials didn't mention it, a good Thermorest pad and bag liner (sheet) were provided on the trail.
Laura Hare Nov 18, 2014 at 09:33 AM

Thank you, Richard for bringing this up! We have added these two items, the 1.75 mat and the sleeping bag liner, to our Final packing list.
Richard Smith Nov 18, 2014 at 11:25 AM

I may have misstated it, Road Scholar provided them, no need to bring the Thermorest or liner yourself
Laura Hare Nov 18, 2014 at 11:29 AM

My apologies, I work for the the provider, Holbrook Travel, and we create the packing list. We added these to our list of materials for the Preparatory Booklet since you mentioned it.
Laura Hare Nov 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM

we appreciate your comments and are always looking for ways to improve to keep participants more informed.
Laura Hare Nov 18, 2014 at 11:30 AM

we appreciate your comments and are always looking for ways to improve to keep participants more informed.

Sheri Ann Cate Nov 06, 2014 at 11:36 PM

One of the most helpful things you can do to prepare for this trip is to spend time at high altitude before you go. All you folks who live in the Rockies or the Sierras will do great if you put in some time hiking there before you go. On the other hand if you live near sea level you're going to have more trouble with the altitude. You'll have several days in Cusco at about 10,000 feet to help acclimatize but spending time hiking at altitude before the trip will really give you a big advantage.
Mike Chesnut Nov 07, 2014 at 04:55 AM

I strongly agree with Sheri Ann. We live 4 hours from the Great Smoky Mts and even hiking at 6000 ft a couple of weeks prior will help acclimate.. If I had any way, and could do the trip over, I would get to 6000 to 10000 feet a week or two prior and hike a couple days. Not Mandatory but I believe you would enjoy the trip more.

Laura & Keith Noyes Nov 06, 2014 at 04:38 PM

I read a blog that said Trekking Poles were provided to all participants is that true?
Joyce Minosh Nov 06, 2014 at 04:40 PM

Yes, Poles were provided. This trip was incredible, I've been home4 months and I still can't stop thinking about it. I want to do it again so that I can appreciate it more. Next time I will look up more and take time to enjoy the views.
Laura Hare Nov 06, 2014 at 04:40 PM

Yes, trekking poles are included for the program! If you decide to bring your own, please make sure that they have rubber tips.
Laura Hare Nov 06, 2014 at 04:40 PM

Laura & Keith Noyes Nov 06, 2014 at 04:45 PM

Any recommendations on boots. I'm thinking low cut but not sure if they are appropriate.
Bev Schrage Nov 06, 2014 at 05:11 PM

We went last month and I wore my trusty high top boots-- they did me quite well. Other folks were wearing mid top boots and seemed just fine. Pick a pair and train really extensively in them would be my recommendation.
Sheri Ann Cate Nov 06, 2014 at 11:29 PM

Unless you have trouble with your ankles you probably don't need high tops. The porters walked most of the way in flip flops. I wore lightwieght low top Keen hiking boots. I was glad not to have heavy boots to slow me down on those uphill stairs.
Helen Berkman Nov 07, 2014 at 01:19 AM

1. definitely you need hiking boots (NOT tennies or trainers) - and break them in as soon as possible. I had mine for about a year before the Peru trip. 2. yes, poles are essential but they give you very nice ones the first day you get to the Sacred Valley. 3. Try to bring an extra bottle on the plane so you don't have to buy the $8 bottle in the airport hotel the first night. After that bottled water is plentiful-handed out every day by your guides, and boiled by the porters on the trail. I brought iodine tablets but never used them.
Sharon Gray Nov 18, 2014 at 01:07 PM

If you use low cut boots and hike in them like I do, they are fine.

Laura & Keith Noyes Nov 06, 2014 at 04:29 PM

We're signed up to go in on the April 2015 trip. I need to get hiking shoes. Are low cut shoes OK or should I get boots. I'm reading we can't drink the water anywhere?
Joyce Minosh Nov 06, 2014 at 04:36 PM

I had hi tops, mid tops and low tops and looked at the for weeks before choosing the hi tops. They served me well and I never looked back.
Sheri Ann Cate Nov 06, 2014 at 05:40 PM

The water in the restaurants during the trip is O.K. The porters will boil your water on the trail. We brought a Steri-Pen which you can use to sterilize water anywhere.
Mike Chesnut Nov 06, 2014 at 06:30 PM

I would not hike the trail in low cut shoes unless you are an experienced hiker. From 35 years experience hiking, buy the best boots you can. I would not be concerned about the cost and get good help when purchasing boots. Break the boots in well and if have any concerns over a pinch or hot spot, get another pair. Blisters can ruin a hiking trip. I have seen this many times. You do not want your memories of one of the worlds great trails to be blisters and sore feet. I would not drink untreated water.
Jody Gebhardt Nov 06, 2014 at 10:52 PM

We got bottled water in most restaurants - our guides made sure we got safe water. And yes, on the trail, the porters boil all water used for drinking. It was a little hard remembering to use bottled water for toothbrushing, but we always had it available. Also, we brought our own water bottles for hiking, but really didn't use them. We kept using the liter drinking water bottles on the trail, refilling them when needed. They were lighter than our own water bottles.
Sharon Gray Nov 18, 2014 at 01:04 PM

I wore low cut boots because those are my hiking boots and I am most comfortable in them. They were fine.

Daniel Tam Nov 05, 2014 at 06:54 PM

I have a question regarding the food. Is it spicy hot with red chili peppers? Thank you for any comments.
Sheri Ann Cate Nov 05, 2014 at 07:09 PM

Daniel the food parepared on the trail is not spicy. I don't like hot spicy food either. The guide (if it's Paco) will bring some chilies and offer them to anyone who'd like to add them to their meal. There were lots of takers; but not me!
Daniel Tam Nov 05, 2014 at 07:14 PM

Thank you for your quick response. If the food on the trail is not spicy, what about food in general in Peruian restaurants and hotels?
Sheri Ann Cate Nov 05, 2014 at 07:25 PM

The restaurants and hotels on the tour had very good food that was mostly not too spicy; especially the Indio Feliz Restaurant in Aguas Calientes. The spice they use a lot in Peru is called Aji. You can always ask the server about how much spice is in the meal. Just don't order anything uncooked like salads or fruits. Bring an RX for Cipro to take just in case. I ate something in Lima right at the end of the trip that made me sick.
Daniel Tam Nov 05, 2014 at 07:58 PM

I can't take any chili spices at all so I think I may have a problem on my upcoming trip to Peru. Oh well, there is always rice and bread, I hope. Otherwise, I will be packing a lot of protein and fiber bars in my luggage.
Sheri Ann Cate Nov 05, 2014 at 08:22 PM

Those protein & fiber bars are very heavy. I took lots of them and brought most back home. They added a lot of weight to my duffel bag and luggage. I could've used that alloted weight for extra clothing, which I would've really appreciated for warmth and cleanliness.
Daniel Tam Nov 05, 2014 at 08:59 PM

Thank you for your sound advice!!
Jody Gebhardt Nov 05, 2014 at 10:35 PM

I agree with Sheri Ann. Let them know about your problems with chili spice. I found the food perfect in many ways, not too spicy, and I was rarely hungry without there being a meal imminent. They offer a lot of carbs, especially on the trail when you need them, not so much rice, but bread and potatoes. I don't think you'll need a lot of extra food. I never even used what I brought.
Daniel Tam Nov 05, 2014 at 11:35 PM

Thank you so much for everyone's help and advice. I appreciate it very much.
Mike Chesnut Nov 06, 2014 at 10:38 AM

we packed trail bars and peanut butter and did not eat any. the trail food was excellent and not spicy. We found the food overall excellent with plant of fresh fruit and variety. I do not remember anyone on our trip eating food they packed in. I did get a moderate illness the day we lef Lima for home.. I was probably careless with something. I did not treat my illness and in 1 week after arriving home, I was better.
Daniel Tam Nov 06, 2014 at 10:55 AM

Thanks you Mike!!

Ernie Hurwitz Sep 26, 2014 at 09:46 AM

actually, a book we liked better than Turn right is Cradle of Gold
Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu Paperback – July 5, 2011


Actually we preferred Cradle of Gold by
Christopher Heaney to Turn Right at Macchu Pichu, altho we did read both.

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11 nights of accommodations
31 meals: 11 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
7 Field trips
1 Performances
2 Flights during the program


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