The Inca Trail is a spectacular journey that guides explorers through dazzling scenery to the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Although it may seem dangerous, it is important to understand that, by taking the necessary safety measures, this ancient route is, in fact, safe and rewarding.
Inca Trail Safety: Myths and Realities
Is the Inca Trail dangerous?
No, the Inca Trail is not dangerous as long as the recommended guidelines are followed. With around 67,400 tourists trekking the trail each year, incidents are rare and tend to be small stumbles. The route has safe campsites, away from cliffs, and guides are trained in first aid.
Is there a risk of landslides?
During the rainy season, especially in January, February and March, landslides can be a risk. However, the authorities close the road in February, the rainiest month, to ensure the safety of visitors. Campsites along the route are strategically located away from landslide-prone areas.
Wildlife on the Inca Trail
The variety of wildlife along the trail is impressive, with animals such as the spectacled bear, Andean deer, cock of the rock and Andean puma. Although the spectacled bear is the largest, it is the least aggressive. Visitors are advised to keep a safe distance and not disturb the animals. Snakes, such as the Andean jergón, may also be encountered, but rarely on the trails.
Is altitude sickness risky?
The Inca Trail covers altitudes ranging from 2,040 to 4,200 meters above sea level, which can cause altitude sickness. Visitors are advised to spend one or two days in Cusco before the trek to acclimatize. In addition, it is essential to avoid consuming alcohol and fatty foods.
Guide Preparation and Medical Assistance
The tour guides accompanying the groups are trained in first aid and have a first aid kit and oxygen. If the group exceeds 8 people, an assistant is also in charge of security. Although there are no health centers on the route, in case of emergency, the closest ones are in Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo, with evacuation by train or, in critical cases, by helicopter to Cusco.
Tips for a 100% Safe Trek
Prevention is the key to a safe experience on the Inca Trail. Tourists should follow the guide’s instructions, avoid substances such as drugs and alcohol, and stay on the marked trails. The hike is recommended for people over 8 years of age and older adults in good health. SERNANP performs annual maintenance, and park rangers along the route ensure safety.
The Inca Trail: A Safe and Rewarding Journey
In summary, the Inca Trail is an exciting and safe adventure if the necessary precautions are taken. The majesty of nature and the rich history that surrounds this route make every step valuable. Planning ahead, following the directions and enjoying the beauty of the Qhapac Ñan will ensure an unforgettable experience to Machu Picchu.