When it comes to embarking on the legendary Inca Trail journey to Machu Picchu, timing is everything. The allure of this ancient route is undeniable, but navigating it during the rainy season requires a whole new level of preparation and knowledge. Here, we delve into the intricacies of hiking the Inca Trail in the rainy season, offering you invaluable tips for a successful and memorable adventure.
Understanding the Rainy Season on the Inca Trail
The rainy season on the Inca Trail typically spans from mid-December to mid-March, with January and February bearing the brunt of the precipitation. During these months, you can expect rainfall ranging from 120 to 160 millimeters per month. However, it’s vital to remember that the weather at high elevations can be highly unpredictable throughout the year, so being prepared for any conditions is essential.
- Read: Inca Trail in January
The Challenge of Hiking the Inca Trail in Rainy Season
Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is an epic four-day, 42-kilometer journey, even under the best of circumstances. However, tackling this trek during the rainy season introduces a host of challenges, including slippery rocks, high winds, and washed-out trails. You’ll also contend with the discomfort of drenched clothing and reduced visibility.
With only 500 people, including porters, allowed on the Inca Trail each day, securing your hiking dates is a competitive endeavor. The prime weather months of May through August are in high demand, often booking up swiftly. The Inca Trail permits for May, for instance, tend to sell out months in advance.
Exploring Your Options
If you find yourself drawn to the Inca Trail during the rainy season, consider a visit to Machu Picchu in February, as the trail is closed for restoration, but the iconic site remains accessible. To ensure your entry, it’s advisable to purchase tickets or a day tour from Cusco well in advance.
Tips for a Successful Inca Trail Adventure
Hiking the Inca Trail is a substantial commitment, both in terms of time and effort. Proper preparation is paramount to not only complete the trek with ease but also to savor the journey. Here are some indispensable tips for a triumphant Inca Trail experience:
1. Book with a Reputable Local Peruvian Company
Opting for a locally-owned Peruvian trekking company is a wise choice. These companies have exclusive authorization to operate on the Inca Trail, even if you book through an international travel agency. You may pay a bit more, but the service quality remains the same, and you contribute to the local economy.
2. Prioritize Porter Welfare
Choose a company that values porter welfare. Your research might lead you to companies like Quechuas Expeditions, which guarantees trek departures regardless of group size and never combines groups with other tour companies. They may have a higher price tag, but they provide better camping equipment, sleeping pads, and a smaller maximum group size while treating their porters fairly.
3. Consider Hiring an Extra Porter
In the rainy season, the Inca Trail’s stone steps become slippery, and strong winds pose additional challenges. Hiring an extra porter to carry your gear, up to 7 kilograms, leaves you with just a small backpack to manage. This decision not only eases your physical burden but also provides much-needed income and employment to a local porter.
4. Acclimatization is Key
While the Inca Trail is attainable for most, acclimatization to the high altitudes is crucial. Fortunately, you don’t need to be in peak physical condition to succeed. Spending a day or two acclimatizing in Cusco before embarking on the trail is recommended. This preparation will help you adapt to the reduced oxygen levels, ensuring a more comfortable and enjoyable journey.
Hiking the Inca Trail during the rainy season presents a unique set of challenges, but with the right knowledge and preparation, it’s a venture well worth undertaking. By choosing a reputable local company, prioritizing porter welfare, considering an extra porter, and ensuring proper acclimatization, you can conquer this iconic trail and revel in the breathtaking beauty of Machu Picchu, even amidst the rain. Remember, this is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure that you’ll cherish forever, so make it count. Happy hiking!