Just finished typing out a mail to a friend who is planning Peru and realized that I might as well blog to get the word around.. :)
The Inca Trail gets booked out couple of months in advance. (sometimes 6 months in advance) So it's a good idea to start planning early.
There are a number of operators and they all offer pretty much the same package(if you are thinking of doing the four day trail. We chose Peru Treks .
Booking the trail also allows you to budget out the rest of the trip. typically it costs about 450- 500 $ (USD). The advance is paid when you book the trail and the rest when you get to Cusco. Most operators mandate that you arrive in Cusco 2 days in advance. This allows you to acclimatize and shoo away any signs of altitude fitness by gulping down cups of Coco Tea :).
Cusco is a beautiful city . We did not do the Sacred Valley because we were to be seeing loads of ruins in the upcoming trail. But we were told it is a good thing to do.
The stay in Cusco and the trail together take about 6 days , close to a week. So if you are planning to do a 3 -4 week trip to Peru, a large chunk gets taken up already. Also remember that you need to factor in travel to and out of Cusco. Since we got here from Arequipa, we took the overnight bus. But going out of Cusco we had to travel during the day in the interest of time.
Its a good idea to hire a porter especially for the second day of the trail which is the most tiring. If you are traveling in a group its a good idea to share a porter between 2-3 people.
It gets really cold on the second day, so if you don't have a great sleeping bag, its best to hire one from your operator.
Though most people say it's okay to use water purifying tablets, its good to keep in mind that when tired you sometimes tend to disregard the precise instructions written on the pack( half an hour really does mean half an hour). Its best to just buy bottled water. We were lucky , but there were a few people in our group who fell sick and its definitely not pleasant getting sick so far away from home.
Torchlight - absolutely essential. A person in out group had this cool torchlight that could be worn around the head. Keep in mind that being out in the wilderness means you will not really have the sanitation offered by a toilet. Especially for women travelers a good torch light is half a battle won. It's not easy walking open spaces in the dark, the last thing you need is tripping over something and a twisted ankle..
On the Same note.. Sanitzer - Great way to keep your hands clean.
Wet Wipes - Good substitute to a bath. :)
We did take ponchos. But did not have any use for them . But with my experience of trekking the Himalayas in the rain I would say better safe than sorry.
Do not forget your sunscreen!!!!... We lost ours trying to rearrange things for the second day. Its good to plan these things a little in advance.
I was alway very proud of how sun resistant my skin was, but turns out it hadn't really seen hot and cold the same day. Temperatures peak and dip (especially on the second day) and if you don't want to see your skin come off in layers like I did, make sure you have your sunscreen with you
If you would like any further information, do leave a comment and I will reply.
Alternatively you could mail me mvenkat1 @ gmail.com and I'll reply as best as I can
Hope you have a fab time!