I just had a story in the Sunday Boston Globe on hiking to Machu Picchu. That link goes to the online version. I haven’t seen the hard copy yet but the photo they used is from my Inca Trail hike about four years ago. Since that time, rates have pretty much doubled, as I discussed in this post from last summer, Higher prices in Peru.
At the risk of sounding like Mr. Bummer, if you are a backpacker on a budget, forget hiking to Machu Picchu. You’re looking at a bare minimum of $400 now for the Inca Trail and not all that much less for the alternatives. Honestly, if I were going there now as a shoestring backpacker, I would do some independent hikes in the Sacred Valley and then take the train to Aguas Calientes, joining the throngs at the monument but going in the afternoon after the crowds have thinned out.
If you have the money though, it’s an awesome experience and that article points you to some alternate treks, including the Lares, the Salkantay, and the long and rugged Choquequirao trek. It lays out the current prices and what you can expect in terms of conditions and difficulty.
The two key takeaways are this: plan as far ahead as possible to secure a spot during popular months and don’t underestimate the physical conditioning and acclimitization necessary to make it through. I’ve seen two people turn back, one carried by a horse, two needing oxygen, and one getting weak-kneed at a high pass and needing to be helped down to a lower altitude. And I’ve only been twice! When you start out at 10,000 feet, it’s easy to get winded.
Read the full article.