General Inca Trail and Llama Path Comments

In this post we provide our general comments concerning the Inca Trail and our tour provider, Llama Path.

Inca Trail:

  • Bathrooms at camps along the trail are free. Bathrooms at houses or shops usually cost 1 sole.  All bathrooms on the trail are squat toilets.
  • There are plenty of bathrooms (costing 1 sole) on the first day.
  • There are no bathrooms except those at camps on days 2 and 3.  This leaves very long stretches with no bathrooms and no places for women to get off the trail enough to be discrete.
  • There were showers in the first two camps, maybe just in the women’s bathroom for the first. We didn’t check if they worked.
  • There were very cold showers at the last camp. Perhaps in the 40s. It was hard to remain under the water for long.
  • There is no longer a bar or hostel at the third camp.
  • On day 1, and the beginning of day 2, there are people selling snacks and drinks (soda, Powerade, beer) along the trail.
  • The trail is actually really rocky in places, and most of the stairs are awkward sizes (too narrow, too tall, slanted, etc). It is usually not the perfectly-designed steps you may see in photos.
  • Reaching the Sun Gate early on day 4 is cool, as you might get to see the fog lift. However, the rushing along the trail to get there before other groups seems to be really unnecessary. Take your time hiking the 2.1-miles from the control gate to the Sun Gate.
What Katie Packed for the Inca Trail (not including the clean outfit for our extra day at Machu Picchu):
  • 3 short-sleeve wick-away shirts
  • 1 long- sleeve wick-away shirt
  • 2 sports bras
  • 4 pairs quick dry underwear
  • 2 pairs underwear for sleeping
  • 3 pairs hiking socks
  • 2 pairs sock liners
  • 1 insulating long-sleeve shirt
  • long underwater (top and bottom) for sleeping
  • 2 pairs hiking pants
  • 1 pair sweat pants
  • 1 sweatshirt
  • Rain jacket and pants
  • Rain poncho
  • Hair brush, tooth brush, tooth paste, chap stick, deodorant
  • Face wipes and body wipes
  • Sunscreen and bug lotion
  • 3 cases of contact solution
  • Sunglasses and regular glasses
  • Backpacking pillow
  • Warm hat, gloves, and socks
  • Head lamp and batteries
  • Earplugs (very helpful!)

Llama Path:

  • From our experience, the porters really are the best treated and seem generally much happier than the other company’s porters. They worked quickly to resolve any problems, and were amazing to watch run along the trail.  They are also well trained regarding water purification and camp set-up (tents were staked properly).
  • We rented sleeping bags ($30 per person) and trekking poles ($8 per pole) from Llama Path. Although Katie’s allocated Mountain Hardware sleeping bag was fine, JT’s looked and felt like it was from the 1980s and it constantly leaked feathers. The trekking poles were old, but worked fine (although they did not have any shock support).
  • Llama Path provided ‘4 person’ tents for use by two people. Our first tent had a hole in the tent large enough to allow bugs and also had a hole in the door mesh, the second tent had a broken rain-fly zipper and leaked in multiple places when it rained, and the third tent seemed to be the same tent as the first night (as it also had a hole large enough to admit bugs). We expected much better tents for the price we paid. The ‘4 person’ tents would have been large enough to fit 4 children or perhaps 3 people without equipment, but were a bit small for us and our gear (especially when it rained and we had to keep everything away from the sides of the tent).  However, the most annoying part was that the tent was too short to even allow Katie (5’5”) to lie flat without her head or feet touching the tent.
  • Two people were assigned to each tent by default.  If you wanted a tent to yourself, you could pay a single supplement.  There were three men and one woman doing the trek alone in our group. When the tents were set up the first night, the head guide told the woman that she was to share a tent with one of the men (which she did not feel comfortable doing).  It seems unacceptable to us that Llama Path would expect this – they should have notified her (and him) that this would be happening at the pre-trek briefing, and given them both the opportunity to pay a single supplement and receive their own tent.  In the end, Alex and Laura (the couple from the UK) ended up sleeping separately with the two individuals – but this awkward situation never should have had to come up at the first camp site.
  • The food was tasty and plentiful throughout. Each morning we received a a plastic bag with two snacks for use during the day.
  • Clean drinking water (for drinking and for filling packs) was available at every meal.
  • Although our group camped each night at a campground with bathroom facilities (running water and squat toilets), Llama Path was testing out the idea of carrying a portable chemical toilet for its trekkers to use for solid waste at the first two camp sites.  JT had a bad experience with the toilet on the first night – the night in which the men were to use one toilet and the women were to use another toilet – in which people put toilet paper in the toilet instead of in the waste bin leading the toilet to be overfull when he used it.  He refused to use the chemical toilet again.  Katie, on the other hand, was really appreciative of the portable toilet and hopes they continue with it on future treks.
  • Our group had one person who didn’t eat fish and two people who were intolerant to gluten and eggs. The cook went above and beyond to accommodate these people including making substitutes of many of the meal items for them (for example: regular biscuits and gluten-free biscuits). Considering the fact that there was ample food, including plenty of options they could eat, this seemed a bit over the top to Katie. JT found it quite impressive the lengths that the cook and company went to accommodate their needs (and for no more cost).
  • Correspondence with Llama Path implied that we would only need 20 soles per person for lunch on the sacred valley tour, yet the tour stopped at a restaurant offering a 42 sole per person buffet.

Cost of Services Provided by Llama Path:

  • Tour price: $1159 ($599 for JT + $560 for Katie (with ISIC card))
  •  14kg porter to split: $140
  • 2 sleeping bags: $60
  • 4 trekking poles: $32
  • 0.5 day city tour + full day sacred valley tour: $50
  • $100 Wayna Picchu + 2nd day at Machu Picchu ($65 for JT + $35 for Katie (with ISIC card))

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