Fitness and Training for Hiking the Inca Trail

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Is the Inca Trail difficult?

Hiking the Inca Trail falls under the category of moderate difficulty, and it is crucial for hikers to undergo proper physical training. The trail consists of various sections, some more challenging than others, with steep ascents, high altitude, and long days of hiking. While the distance covered each day can be demanding, adequate physical preparation ensures an enjoyable trekking experience.

When following the Classic Inca Trail route, elevation becomes a factor to consider. It’s important to understand that this hike is not easy and requires suitable physical preparation. You will be trekking at elevations of up to 14,000 feet (4,267 meters), and on certain days, the trail can span up to 12 hours.

How fit should you be for the Inca Trail? The effects of altitude (discussed later in this guide) can pose challenges even for the fittest individuals, so we strongly recommend completing a comprehensive three- to five-month training plan before arriving in Peru. This plan should include activities such as day hikes covering at least 8 to 10 miles (13 to 16 kilometers), cardio training, familiarization with multi-day treks and camping, and uphill training on stairs or hills. If possible, training at higher altitudes is highly recommended, although this may not be feasible depending on your location.

For reference, The Explorer’s Passage rates our 4-day “Path of the Sun” trek on the Classic Inca Trail as a “Moderate” adventure. Our “moderate” trips are considered more active and require a slightly higher level of endurance compared to standard trips. Participants can expect to hike approximately 4 to 8 miles (6.5 to 13 kilometers) per day, encountering occasional steep inclines and reaching altitudes of up to 15,000 feet (4,570 meters) above sea level. The trail is well-marked and defined, but the terrain can be uneven, consisting mainly of stone, gravel, and dirt with limited grassy areas.

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