To Inca Trail, Or Not To Inca Trail

I’ve spent the last week or two spending some serious hours trip planning the next two months. (Which we all know I don’t particularly love). I have some friends and family coming to meet me soon so I kind of needed to know where I would be and when. But I also needed to book the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu as well, as tickets can be sold out upwards of six months in advance so it really was a good thing for me to figure my life out while on the road.

So the past few days I’ve been emailing companies and getting quotes and information on the Inca Trail. And oh boy, is it all a little ridiculously expensive… I understand that the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu are slices of living history that need to be preserved and cared for, but I also wonder how much of my money actually goes towards that preservation of the trail and sites and how much is pocketed. For a four day, three night trek for which they guide you, feed you, and supply a tent, it’s $640USD. Thanks to the crummy exchange rate, I’m looking at over $700CAD, plus I need to rent a sleeping bag as well as some other fees (transportation, hostel the one night, other little costs that aren’t included). The trek is looking at running me about $800-900CAD depending on how well I tip the porters, kitchen staff and guide. Roughly $1000CAD for four days in a country where you could backpack for $30 a day. I’m having a hard time looking at those numbers.

All this plus more for a hike... Is it worth it to me?

All this plus more for a hike… Is it worth it to me?

Of course I’m paying for the novelty and the tourist attraction as well, but I’m honestly having a hard time stomaching the cost of the trek. It also doesn’t help that I’m in my last few months of traveling and money always gets a bit tight around this time.

So my choices are to do something that has been on my bucket list for years, Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, or saying no to doing this particular hike and selecting a cheaper option which still runs along some of the other areas of the Inca Trail but also offer much cheaper prices (about $200USD for the same amount of days) as well as some pretty awesome activities like river rafting, zip lining and mountain biking. Three things I’m a sucker for doing. And you still end up in Machu Picchu on the last day.

So what do I decide? Is this another “you only live once” opportunity like my Galapagos Islands cruise or do I say no to this particular trek and maybe regret not doing it when I was in the country, had the time and opportunity, and at a cheaper price? (Because of course the prices are only going to go up year after year).

To Inca Trail or not to Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. What would you do?

5 thoughts on “To Inca Trail, Or Not To Inca Trail

  1. Your comments and opinions were awesome, thanks guys! I ended up booking the Inca trail regardless of how over priced it is and I’m sure I won’t regret it. Plus Shane, reminding me of our backpay definitely made it easier to put the money down for it 🙂

  2. If walking the ‘Inca Trail’ has been on your bucket list for years, do it. The other options are fine, probably even better value for money, just that they weren’t on your original to do list 🙂 Also consider climbing Wayna Picchu. Probably needs to be booked in advance too, but as the price includes admission to Machi Picchu as well, you could spend a night at Agua Caliente and do it the day after the trek, to advoid rushing.

  3. I know there are some pretty good alternative treks now so I would seriously evaluate those. When we did the Inca Trail several years ago there wasn’t much for alternative treks yet. The best part of the hike is getting to the sun gate and getting your first glimpse of Machu Picchu at 445am when the sun is rising. You would only get to the sun gate via the Inca Trail I believe. You will also want to evaluate what time of day the alternative treks arrive. One of the other highlights is climbing Wayna Picchu and only the first few hundred visitors have access to it (which I am guessing tends to be those coming off of the Inca Trail).

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