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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.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Discussion Board

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Sandy Dardenelle Jan 08, 2015 at 01:09 AM

We have signed up for the April trip. Is there anyone else going then? Sandy & John from northern Califonia
Patricia Foy Jan 21, 2015 at 09:05 PM

Hi, Sandy. We are going on the April trip too. Trish & Norm from Jacksonville, FL
Sandy Dardenelle Jan 23, 2015 at 06:27 PM

We will be flying from SFO through Atlanta then onto Lima. We look forward to meeting you, and everyone else, in Peru.
Patricia Foy Jan 24, 2015 at 09:32 PM

Likewise. We're going through Miami on the 14th. It should be an exciting trip!

Jody Gebhardt Jan 03, 2015 at 11:22 AM

For everyone hiking the Inca Trail, one thing to remember is that the last day is 4000'almost relentlessly down, with some Inca flat stretches. Make sure your boots fit you well, and use some kind of padding for your toes, if you know that might be a problem. We used gel sleeves for our toes, but I didn't have one big enough for my big toe. Now I am growing a new toenail - not painful at all, but do be aware of how your boots fit for long downhill hiking.
Cathy F. Jan 03, 2015 at 12:31 PM

Another great tip! Thanks!
Bobbi Blake Jan 03, 2015 at 02:12 PM

Thanks again Jody. My old hiking boots are about shot and am in the market for new ones and paying particular attention to toe jam.
Carla Goldstein Jan 03, 2015 at 04:21 PM

Thanks for the tip. Every little detail we know in advance is a gem.

Bobbi Blake Dec 25, 2014 at 04:31 PM

Just signed up for the June 2015 trip. Anyone going then? Havent made air reservations yet, need to decide if I leave from Atlanta or San Francisco. Anyone with experience from either? Concerned about length of flight and jet lag/time change.
Jody Gebhardt Dec 26, 2014 at 09:46 AM

Bobbi - we flew Copa airlines and stopped in Panama for a few days. We live in the west, 5 hours from the nearest major airport, Las Vegas. Copa was great and we enjoyed the break in Panama. Flew back with a short layover in Panama but it was a long day.
Bobbi Blake Dec 26, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Thanks Jodi a stopover is a good idea. I live in CA but spend may through July in NC. Need to decide if it is worth two extra flights and time change from eastern to pacific and back to eastern to come back to CA to hike the sierras for a couple of weeks before going to Peru.
Carla Goldstein Jan 01, 2015 at 12:28 PM

I just signed up for the June 2015 trip. I am trying to figure out how to get used to prepare for the altitude since I live in Chicago and not many mountains around here.
Jody Gebhardt Jan 01, 2015 at 12:48 PM

Carla, we thought we would have an advantage because we live at 4000 ft; the rest of our group was from sea level. Everyone did fine, whether they hiked at altitude ahead of time or not. A few people did take altitude sickness pills, but not everyone. The coca leaves help both with altitude and energy, just stop about mid-afternoon, or you'll never get to sleep. Stairs are your best exercise to prepare.
Carla Goldstein Jan 01, 2015 at 12:59 PM

Thanks. I am very excited, so this provides some comfort. I have read all the advice or training for the physical part and I have my back pack and 10 ib weight ready to go on my back as I climb stairs. Luckily I have a group of women that climb stairs in our building after work, so that will be one of my training segments.
Bobbi Blake Jan 01, 2015 at 01:34 PM

I am finding time at the gym on the stair stepper a tougher workout than actually hiking hills for 7 miles so am increasing that. Carla, further down this blog someone suggested a weekend trip from Chicago that was good prep.

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.

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Our Value Promise To You

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at no additional cost on this date ...
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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