Although the Inca Trail is one of the most spectacular hiking routes in the world, the cost of travelling to Peru can be off-putting if you’re on a tight budget for your holiday. While seeing Machu Picchu in all its glory from the famous Sun Gate is something you can’t really put a monetary value on, all too often our financial situation dictates where and how often we travel.
So, if you’ve got your heart set on hiking the Inca Trail on your next holiday, read on to find out how to do it in an affordable way.
Go with a tour
You might think that you’ll be better off if you organise everything independently and that you can save money by doing so, but this isn’t necessarily the case, not to mention that having to plan every little detail can be quite stressful.
Firstly, you can’t trek the Inca Trail unguided, so you’re going to need to pay someone to lead you along the route anyway, and if you’re going to be spending money on this then you want to make sure you’re getting as much as possible out of it.
By taking the time to choose a reputable tour operator, you’re not only guaranteed excellent service on your trek, but also plenty of assistance before you jet off, as well as peace of mind that they will respect the natural beauty of the Andes and do everything possible to protect it and keep it in good condition.
When you consider what’s usually included in the price of a tour package – accommodation, equipment hire, food, trek passes and your guide – it is actually very good value for money. What’s more, because you book a tour before you travel, it gives you time to budget and work out exactly how much you need to save up for your trip.
Take your time
If trekking the Inca Trail is something you’ve always wanted to do, don’t rush the experience. In fact, it’s worth considering tackling one of the extended itineraries available, that leads you through parts of the Andes that many other hikers don’t get to see, before joining the main trail.
Known as the High Trail of the Incas, this offers an incredible opportunity to see more of Peru’s spectacular natural landscapes before you get to the various Inca ruins that are dotted along the route to Machu Picchu.
Taking your time also applies in the days leading up to your hike, with most travellers typically spending a bit of time in Cusco to acclimatise to the high altitude. If you can, it’s worth adding a day or two here on top of what’s recommended by your tour operator, as it will give you a bit longer to get used to the thinner air and, hopefully, mean you are able to enjoy the walk even more.
Of course, Cusco is also packed with attractions of its own, from Inca ruins to colonial buildings, so there’s a lot of history to uncover here too. In fact, it can be good to learn more about how the Spanish conquistadors took control of the region before you set off for Machu Picchu, as well as to see how they used the foundations of Inca buildings to support their own constructions – and contrast this with the ruins at Machu Picchu, which were never discovered by the Spaniards.