In this article you will find everything you need to know about the use of latrines during your trek along the Inca Trail. This information applies to all genders, but perhaps especially to women. Honestly, everyone can benefit from knowing what to expect regarding how and where to use the toilet during the Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu.
A very important fact to keep in mind about toilets in Peru and other places in South America is that toilet paper is NEVER flushed down the toilet. Even in the worst bathrooms there is a wastebasket located near the toilet. This applies to all hotels, restaurants and facilities for both men and women throughout the length and breadth of this territory.
Where are there toilets on the Inca Trail?
There are 2 different treks on the Inca Trail and each has restrooms at different points along the routes:
4-day hike that also includes the 5-day hike
Restrooms with water are found at the following locations: at the trailhead, lunch stop on Day 1, Camp on Day 1, 2, and WiñayWayna Camp on Day 3. People doing the 5-day Inca Trail, or booking permits for the 4-day route when availability is less than 200, may end up at the remote Phuyupatamarca camp on Day 3. Pit latrines do not have water. These are usually a hole in the ground. Unfortunately the condition of all the toilets on the route is dependent on how often they are used and who uses them. Sometimes it seems that there are people who walk the Inca Trail who do not share the same values of hygiene and empathy as others. And it may be that the maintenance teams clean the toilets much less frequently than necessary. The toilets are not “sanitized” and are often characterized by odors typical of precarious and poorly used toilets.
It is quite possible that some tour operators will inform you if they have a “portable toilet” installed in an additional tent in the camp. The tent has a collapsible toilet with a bag with absorbent gel underneath. The porters close the bag and dispose of it after the excursion. The absorbent gel is similar to that of diapers, which allows you to carry your waste without the risk of leakage or bad odors.
1 day excursion.
There is a toilet at the train station in Ollantaytambo as well as toilets on the train itself. After your trip, you can find toilets without a cup, for squatting, located at the permit checkpoint where the trek begins, and another similar toilet at the Wiñay Wayna camp. If you need to go to the bathroom in another way, you will have to go through the trail. Camping is not allowed on this route. You sleep in a hotel where you will find better conditioned toilets.
How to pee at night on the 4-day Inca Trail (also applies to the 5-day Inca Trail hike and all multi-day camping trips and treks).
If you have camped before, especially in cold seasons and places, you will be familiar with the feeling of not wanting to get up to go to the bathroom. The best and healthiest thing to do is to make the decision once and for all. Apart from holding the urge, which we do not recommend, we offer you 4 options:
- You can leave your tent and use your own bathroom at the campsite, if there is one. In Wiñaywayna camp this could be a considerable distance.
- Leave your tent and use your camp’s private potty tent, if your tour operator provides one.
- If you do not want to leave the tent, you can also do the following. Bring a container of sufficient capacity with a tight-fitting lid to use inside the tent as an “emergency urinal”. Don’t forget to empty it discreetly the next morning.
- There is always the reliable method of peeing in the bushes. But this also requires leaving the warmth of your tent on a cold night.
Always remember to pick up the waste you generate on the route.
Yes, there’s nothing more disgusting than piles of toilet paper strewn on the floor where people have gone to the bathroom outside and dropped the paper. We can do better. Always carry an extra bag for the waste you are going to generate and deposit it in the garbage cans inside the camp or carry it tightly closed with you to the end of the route.
How to dispose of feminine hygiene products during your excursion
Carry several plastic zipper bags. Have one easily accessible so that every time you go to the bathroom you can use it to store used products and pack them away. You can dispose of them when you get to the hotel or public restroom where you will find the regular waste garbage can.
What if you need to do more than number 1 along the way?
There are times when you only have to make Nr. 2 between bathroom stops. Ask your guide for advice and choose a spot that is out of reach of hikers and wildlife. Use your boots or hands to make a hole or depression in the ground. If you are on a rocky outcrop, it is advisable to pile rocks on top of your deposit. Always cover it with organic material or rocks, never materials that alter the environment, much less plastic.
Where are the bathrooms in Machu Picchu?
After all that walking, what if you manage to hold off the urge to use the bathroom until the last day thinking you can use the bathroom at Machu Picchu? You should know that hikers will have to wait until they leave the ruins to use the only bathroom available in Machu Picchu. The cost is 2 soles per person.
- Toilet paper preferably in resealable bags
- Container of sufficient capacity with an airtight lid
- Hand sanitizing gel
- Toiletries and personal hygiene products