If you’re a Zephyr alumni, you know that we thrive on your input! We survey our travelers after every trip in order to continuously improve our tours year after year. We also conduct other surveys to help us understand your wants, needs, and goals.
In the past, we conducted a survey asking potential travelers for their opinions about traveling to Peru. When reviewing the results, we had been surprised by some of the common misconceptions about Peru and trekking on the Inca Trail. To help address these, we wrote a blog post when the survey results were compiled. Recently, we’ve found that these misunderstandings are still out there today so we thought it would be helpful to revisit them in a new post.
1. I can’t go by myself
Original: Not having a travel partner was the most popular reason listed for why somebody hadn’t yet traveled to Peru. The truth is you can go alone! Sure, it might be a little daunting to fly to Peru by yourself, but we meet you at the airport upon arrival and are with you every step of the way.
Revisited: This still remains true! Traveling solo has many benefits such as escaping from everyday life and fully experiencing new cultures. Some may even find they feel more invigorated going alone than traveling with friends. Almost half of this year’s Inca Trail Adventure were solo travelers. Similarly, exactly half of the travelers on Patagonia traveled solo as well. So you’re not alone…even if you’re traveling alone!
2. It is expensive.
Original: Travel can be expensive, that’s true. However, spending 10 days in Peru costs much less than spending 10 days in, for instance, a European country — your dollar goes a lot farther! It is also difficult to put a price on a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Trekking on the same stone paths as the Incas did 500 years ago…hiking for four days to reach Machu Picchu by foot…watching from the comfort of your tent as the peaks of the Andes disappear behind the swirling clouds…these are priceless experiences that only a fraction of humans on this earth get to do. When you look at it that way, it isn’t expensive at all — it is just a matter of prioritizing. (At Zephyr, you might recall that we prioritize adventure! Incidentally, if you’re curious as to how we stack up against the competition, price-wise, check out the value of our adventures.)
Revisited: Furthermore, there have been several studies that have shown that when people spend their money on experiences rather than material things, they are generally happier. We completely understand that not everyone has the opportunity to take an extensive vacation every year, but given the experience and the memories you’ll have, we think saving up for a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail is way more valuable than most any material good.
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3. I’m not in good enough shape to hike the Inca Trail.
Original: The Classic Inca Trail Trek has been completed by hundreds of thousands of people. Chances are good you can do it too, provided you are not extremely overweight or have other health issues that preclude you. Mental perseverance also goes a long way in completing the Inca Trail! The hiking will be challenging for some people and quite moderate for others.
Revisited: We asked a past group leader, Jack Witt, who is also a fitness, wellness, and life coach, his opinion on this topic:
The Inca Trail is indeed challenging; however, the community atmosphere of the Zephyr Adventures group, the historical Inca sites and the stunning scenery of this area of Peru will motivate you to finish it strong. The route is very well paced, giving you a chance to warm-up and acclimate on day 1 of the trek.
While there’s no way to predict how a higher elevation will affect you on the Inca Trail Trek, there are natural supplements and prescription medications you can bring along to help. If you can, do some practice hikes above sea level before setting out on this adventure. If you aren’t available to do that, plenty of cardiovascular training and lower body and core strengthening are suggested to get you in shape and ready for the Inca Trail Trek.
Don’t underestimate the Inca Trail, but accept the challenge with determination, and know that thousands of people of all ages and fitness levels complete it each and every year.
4. I’ll plan my hike once I get to Peru.
Original: Many people are unaware that hiking on the Inca Trail requires purchasing a pass to do so. Even more are unaware that only 500 passes per day are issued (and two-thirds of those passes are for the porters who support trekkers like you). On top of that, even more don’t realize that passes sell out sometimes six months in advance. So, hiking the Inca Trail is not something you can simply show up in Cusco and hope to plan once you get there.
Revisited: This is just as true today as it was a few years ago. Trail passes continue to sell out far in advance. The sooner you make the decision to trek the Inca Trail and book your trip, the more likely you’ll be able to secure a pass.
Have more questions or concerns about hiking the Inca Trail? We’re happy to answer any and all of them!