Logistics & Other Considerations for the Inca Trail

Logistics & Other Considerations for the Inca Trail


Peruvian cuisine is among our favorite in the world. While you can enjoy amazing meals in Lima and Cusco, what often surprises trekkers on Inca Trail tours is the quality of the food provided by their guides. Most Peruvian guides are incredibly talented chefs who use organic ingredients to create delicious and hearty meals.

Evening meals are typically enjoyed in a group dining tent, which provides cover from the elements. In addition to regular meals, many tour operators also provide snacks each day for you to take along on the trail. You may also receive coca leaves to chew on, which can help alleviate the effects of altitude sickness.


There are multiple water sources along the Inca Trail, such as streams or rivers. Most tour companies utilize filtration systems, either through pumping or boiling water, or sometimes both methods combined, to ensure the water is purified during the trek. You will generally be provided with potable water three times a day: during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It is crucial to refill your water containers whenever you have the opportunity, as the hike can be strenuous and temperatures can get hot during the day. From my experience, I have seen many trekkers run out of water prematurely because they underestimated their water needs. We recommend carrying a minimum of 2 liters of water for both the morning and afternoon treks. Depending on your preference, you can use 32 fluid ounce (1 liter) Nalgene bottles or reservoir-type water systems like CamelBak. It’s also a good idea to have salt tablets or electrolytes to add to your water. Additionally, if you like to be extra prepared, here are some popular options for personal water backup:

  • Lifestraw personal straw-type filter
  • Grayl water purifier bottle
  • UV light sterilization system, such as a Katadyn Steripen
  • Water purification tablets


Most tour operators and guide companies providing Inca Trail treks will supply tents. Typically, three-person tents are used for one or two individuals. It’s recommended to check with the company in advance, as having comfortable sleeping arrangements each night on the trail can greatly enhance your overall experience. Depending on your service level, the porters may also set up and take down your tents each day. This thoughtful service allows you to focus on the trekking experience and getting to know your fellow travelers.

In addition to tents, many tour providers include ground cushions for sleeping, such as Thermarest pads. These pads provide extra cushioning under your sleeping bag and a softer barrier between you and the ground. Bringing an extra sleeping pad is advisable, as having two can provide optimal comfort compared to just one.

Temperatures on the Trail

The Inca Trail, like other mountainous areas at higher altitudes worldwide, experiences varying temperatures. During the day, temperatures can rise above 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), but at night, they can drop below 30 degrees Fahrenheit (-1 degree Celsius). It’s important to be prepared for this wide temperature range by bringing layers of clothing to manage the changes.

Sun Protection

When trekking the Inca Trail, you’ll spend between 7 and 12 hours per day on the trail. Most parts of the trail are exposed to the sun, and it can become quite warm during the day. We highly recommend taking measures to protect yourself from sun exposure. Firstly, apply sunscreen every day and carry a bottle in your daypack to reapply regularly. Wearing a hat, preferably one that covers your neck, is also recommended as this area is prone to burns. Many trekkers opt to wear buffs to protect their faces and necks. Consider wearing hiking pants and long-sleeve shirts to shield your skin, especially if you are prone to sunburns. Sunburns can spoil your trekking experience, and prolonged heat exposure can impact your stamina and overall health.


In our modern world of constant connectivity, it’s important to note that the Classic Inca Trail Route traverses a remote location where you won’t have opportunities to charge your phone or devices during the trek. If you plan to use your phone for photography or listening to music, it would be wise to bring a portable battery backup and/or charger. Expect little to no mobile phone signal during the trek, so inform your family and friends in advance about the lack of communication. Some trekkers may want to stay connected in case of emergencies and opt to bring devices like the Garmin InReach or a satellite phone. Lastly, to conserve battery life, consider keeping your phone (or other device) in airplane or flight mode during the trek.


You may be wondering about bathroom facilities on the Inca Trail. Well, it’s a valid question. Along the route, there are several locations with outhouse-style toilets that are serviced by trail maintenance personnel. However, many trekkers prefer the portable toilets provided by most tour operators. These portable toilets are set up during breakfast, lunch, and dinner and remain accessible throughout the evening.

During the daily trekking segments, there are also natural spots where you can relieve yourself. Female participants can use urine funnels or similar products that facilitate convenient “on-the-go” relief. It’s important to practice using them before the trek to ensure comfort and familiarity. It’s worth noting that all solid waste must be carried out, as leaving human waste along the Inca Trail or its surroundings is not permitted. Therefore, using the designated toilets in camp for regular bowel movements is highly recommended.


There are no showers available along the Inca Trail hike. However, there are a few options to consider if you wish to clean yourself each day. Many tour operators provide bowls of warm water with soap that you can use for washing in the mornings and after each day’s trek in the evenings. Some operators may even offer a small shower tent that you can use for an additional fee. The guides typically heat buckets of water, which are then connected to the shower and pumped through the showerhead, simulating a regular shower. If you plan to shower, we recommend using biodegradable “camp” soaps.


Depending on the time of year, there may be bugs on the Inca Trail, especially in sections that pass through rainforests. It’s advisable to bring bug spray or repellent to protect yourself. Too many bug bites can negatively impact your experience, so it’s important to plan and pack accordingly.


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