Help a Reader Travel: Inca Trail, Peru

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Welcome to another post of helping a reader travel! As I’ve mentioned before, I have not been to every destination (unfortunately), but do get questions from friends and other blog readers on all sort of travel destination questions. Thus far, we’ve been able to help other readers travel to MauiThe Greek IslandsPacific Coast HighwayArgentina /Buenos AiresCosta RicaCape Cod & The IslandsIcelandGenevaCanadian RockiesRomeIsraelPeruStockholmChicagoParisHanoiAustinPuerto RicoBrugesSalzburgIstanbulLas VegasIndia/Golden Triangleand Auckland.

So this weeks travel destination includes the Inca Trail. I know I’ve already covered Peru in the past, but this is more specific on the Inca Trail leading to Machu Picchu. I received the following email from reader Jillian:

“At the end of June I am looking to hike the Inca Trail in Peru. There are many different packages (2 days, 4 days, 7 days) all from different excursion companies. I was wondering which was the best length and company to hike with. I also would like to explore a different part of Peru either before or after the Inca Trail. Would you suggest visiting Lake Titicaca or the Amazon? I am only planning on spending 10-12 days in Peru so I do not want too many logistics and constant traveling. Thank you Mrs. Deals!!!”

If you’ve ever hiked the Inca Trail/Machu Picchu or been to Lake Titicaca or the Amazon, let’s help out reacher Jillian by commenting below. This sounds like an amazing experience!

Also, if you have any upcoming travel where you need some help, feel free to email me at to be a featured “Help a Reader Travel” Monday special. Thanks!

The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.


  1. We went with LlamaPath and were pleased with our choice. The hike we did was for 3 nights and 4 days, and it was the perfect length for us. There were 4 hikers (us and another couple) and we were accompanied by around 11 porters and a guide. The food was excellent and the company seemed to treat the porters quite well. I would advise reaching Peru (Cuzco/Urubamba) at least a couple of days in advance of the trek to acclimatize a bit (esp if you are coming from a low altitude) and to keep a day after the trek for unwinding. We went over to Chile and Easter Island for a couple of weeks after the trek so unfortunately cant help much with that part of your trip but from what I read online the Amazon (and the eco-lodges) seemed more interesting to me personally when compared to Lake Titicaca.

  2. Hi Jillian,
    I have hiked the 4 day Inca Trail and the 1 day Inca Trail several times (I escort groups to S. America). I have also been to Amazon before hiking and Lake Titicaca after hiking.

    You should try to devote at least 4 days to Amazon, 6-7 days to Cusco/Inca Trail/Machu Picchu and at least 3 days to Lake Titicaca. You are looking at 15-16 travel days to do all 3.

    To do Inca Trail with one or the other destinations is commitment to at least 11 days, preferably 12. I highly recommend private Inca Trail hike if you can afford it AND do the 5-day Inca Trail hike so you can spend full day on Machu Picchu. Otherwise, on Day 4 of the 4-day hike you will hike to the ruins, tour the ruins & take the train back to Cusco. All in the same day! It’s very fast. I have been to Machu Picchu at least 8-9 times and I never get tired of it!

    Flights to the Amazon/Cusco/Lake Titicaca can be booked in/out of Lima on domestic airlines to use your time efficiently.
    If you want to get more details feel free to contact me directly:
    I am in VA.

  3. I’ve hiked the Inca Trail before with and was quite satisfied. We did the ~10 day Choquequirao to Machu Picchu option and it was amazing, but they also offer shorter trips at a very good price. I second the idea of staying a couple days in Cusco beforehand to acclimatize, but perhaps if you’re going to visit Titicaca first this would accomplish the goal without just hanging out in the city if you’d rather be more active. Depending on how fit you are I’d highly recommend climbing up Huayna Picchu at MP, but you have to get up at 3am and hike up the mountain beating the buses or else you won’t be early enough in line. I can’t wait to go back to Peru for more hiking…it’s the best out of the 30 countries I’ve visited.

  4. Hi Jillian.

    I have been to Cuzco three times. Never did Macchu pichu due to time constraints. I would suggest going to the small village of Pisac. It is a short bus ride from Cuzco. Beautiful hand painted ceramics and blankets available. Wonderfful day trip! In Cuzco–check out sacsehuaman on top of the hill overlooking Cuzco. Spectacular and just 10 minutes from Cuzco center. Drink the Coca tea! It wii prevent altitude sickness,tastes great and yeah that is the Real Thing. Watch out for the cute lil old ladies who wish to wipe the dirt off your shoulder with a tissue or rag—they have a partner who is simultaneously picking your pocket–in my case the used a razor to cut open the cargo pocket on my shorts—they failed lucky for me. Oh yeah–Cuy is roasted Guinea pig a delicacy. I did not go there either. Happy trails and be kind to the llamas for me and bring back lots of alpaca glittens if you know what’s good!

  5. Don’t go to lake titiacaca or puno BORING! Waste of time. If you do–you will need to drink plenty of chi cha. I did…..yuck

  6. Mrs. Vicente and I did the 4 day hike up the Inca Trail. In a few ways the hiking part is a bit… offputting for an American backpacker. Hiking in a group of strangers and using porters bother me. However it’s a glorious hike! And when you get to the top of Dead Woman Pass and watch the porters who left camp AFTER you did trot past you to set up next camp, while you are barely able to walk 10 steps without a rest you’ll appreciate them. For me the gorgeous vistas and meeting Qeuchua farmers along the way was much more interesting than the ruins at the end. Just do it!

  7. We spent about 12 days in Peru back in 2008. We spent about 2 days in Lima (more than enough, but there was some stuff to see there and some really great food, so I wouldn’t skip it totally) and then spent the rest in Cusco and doing the Inca trail.

    We did the 4 day hike with Llama Path. I would highly recommend them. I did a lot of research into what company to go with, and they definitely came out on the top due to the fact that they actually treat their porters pretty well (i.e. they have boots, cold weather clothes, etc). It’s not the cheapest, but it’s also not terribly expensive. When we were on the trail and saw how jovial the porters for Llama Path were compared to the ones for the cheaper companies (a few of which hiked the entire trail in flip-flops and street clothes), we were glad we went with Llama Path. If you can afford it, I’d highly recommend paying the extra $50-75 to go with a reputable company that treats their porters well. Also, the guide for our hike, Casiano (who still guides for them), was a great guy, very knowledgeable, and kept us highly entertained with his jokes and flute renditions of “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. I really can’t say enough good things about Llama Path. I had friends who went 2 years after me and went with Llama Path and they were also ecstatic with the experience.

    The hike isn’t easy, but there were plenty of middle-age folks in our group that weren’t in great shape, and they still made it. Make sure you get moving the morning before you get to Macchu Picchu so you can see the sunrise. I’d highly suggest bringing a headlamp so you can see the trail as you’ll be hiking/jogging in the dark.

    There’s a lot of stuff to see around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. We took a day trip to see some of the sites of Sacred Valley (booked with the hostel we stayed at) and it was neat to see the countryside. I haven’t done Lake Titicaca or the Amazon, but I would suggest maybe trying to do one in addition to Cusco/Inca Trail, since you don’t want to rush through things.

    Have fun! It was definitely one of my favorite trips so far.

  8. Hi Jillian
    If you can, try to do a private 5-day Inca Trail to make the most of it & have 2 opportunities to visit the site at different times of day. Yuo get to Machu Picchu on the 4th day. If time is of the essence, 4 days is fine too.
    Regarding the Amazon, for such a short time in Peru, Manu is out (unless only the cloud forest & no big-tree lowland forest), & Iquitos probably as well involving lots of travel, more flights & long distances to get into any unspoilt rainforest. I would recommend Tambopata flying in from Lima or Cusco (the latter only a 30min flight) & taking a 4 to 5-day at least trip with a reputable operator being met at the airport in Puerto Maldonado. I organize rainforest expereinces to the Peruvian Amazon Tambopata region & wholeheartedly recommend a 5-day trip up the Tambopata River. Sandoval is nice, but the wildlife & adventure experience you would get going up the Tambopata for 4 or 5 days, or more if you can, cannot be beaten. Also, the boat journeys themselves offer great wildlife viewing & a fantastic experience. There is a new itinerary for 2013 which allows you to get far upriver well away from any human habitation in 4 days, this was only possible in 5 days up till now. But if you can, do a 5 or 6-day trip.
    Puno & Lake Titicaca would take at least another 4 days to do properly, or you can fly in to Arequipa from your arrival in Lima & then bus to Puno & Cusco ending up in the Tambopata rainofrest & fly back to Lima from there. Cusco has a lot to do, a city tour is good, also the sites surrounding the city & the Sacred Valley is a must with sites like Pisac & Ollantaytambo. That combined with the Inca trail & Tambopata gives you a great Peruvian experience.
    I’m happy to help you plan further, so feel free to give me a shout. Not sure if I’m allowed to put a contact email etc. here…

  9. Loved Peru when I went and visited. We traveled around Cusco and Machu Picchu but also ventured out to the rainforest and the coastal region near Pisco, Ica, and Nazca. I would strongly suggest taking at least 10 days and exploring much more of the country. I’m writing up a little piece on my travel there if you are interested in checking it out:

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