#1 7-31-2017 12:24 PM

hightide
Fay
Jakarta, Indonesia
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How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

Due to the high expense, a trip to Peru is something I'm planning to save for middle age.

Reading the Contiki tour itinerary, Inca Trail:
"roughly 7 hours of hiking the 10.5km section of trail"
and on another day:
"with 3.5 hours on foot and 6km to cover"

Sounds quite challenging.

If you hiked the Inca Trail as a middle-aged woman, did you find it hard?
Are there Inca Trail tours out there catering to middle-aged people on a slower pace?

 

#2 7-31-2017 1:01 PM

harbinger
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

I fid this very amusing, Fay, as for once I cannot comment as a 'middle aged sedentary' woman ... although I am now one wink

I was there are a fairly fit 30-something newly wed, and although we didn't hike the Inca Trail specifically, we did a reasonable amount of moderately strenuous hiking in and around the Urubamba Valley and Machu Picchu.

The major issue probably isn't actually your fitness, but more your ability to deal with altitude, which is unfortunately a bit of a lottery, and somewhat difficult to predict.

To put it into context, Cusco - your point of entry- is very high (3,400m), and MP is considerably lower (2,400m), but still very high compared to the places that most visitors come from.  At the time, we lived at altitude (1700m), and although we didn't experience altitude sickness, we did find that we got tired a lot more quickly.

My personal sense is that if you really want to do something physically taxing, then you'll be prepared to get in training for it (part of the logic behind me facing hip replacements in the near future, which I intend to 'road test' by climbing Kilimanjaro).

Allied to that, I would recommend several days in Cusco before starting the hike so that you can acclimatise - this is barely a hardship, given how much there is to see and do in this amazing part of the world. 

Do your research, and try to find an operator who has a more mature clientele, whose physical limitations are more likely to align with your own.

Lastly, if you do attempt this, and - heaven forbid - experience altitude sickness, be sensible enough to follow the advice of your guide.  Cusco may not be Everest in terms of risk, but it's still a potentially life-threatening condition, and needs to be taken seriously.

PS.  I'd go for it!!

Last edited by harbinger (7-31-2017 1:03 PM)

 

#3 7-31-2017 1:21 PM

gingerbatik
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

ha..ha.. you are funny Fay:)
Peru is not expensive, it is very affordable.
I went there last year for 2 weeks and it was okay, but the bus was not the greatest, some of the buses was quite dirty and uncomfortable.
Unfortunately I did not go to Machu Piccu, so.. will definetely be back there in the future. We should arrange to travel together there:)

Like other tb has mention, the altitude sickness is the big problem there.

I was reserching how to go there in a slow pace and get aclimatise  as I do not want to get the altitude sickness. I had one experience before in Lhasa Tibet and I do not want to repeat that.    You can go to Arequipa before go to Machu Piccu so your body can adjust to high altitue.

In addition to this, you can go to Machu Piccu with train so you don't have to hike if you don't want to (that is my prefer way anyway).

If you go individually, the ticket to Machu Piccu need to be purchase in advance as they have limit how many people can enter the site.  Ticket can be purchase online.

I have those documents somewhere for future use:)

 

#4 7-31-2017 1:24 PM

ulis
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

The main problem in my opinion is the altidude, this has nothing to do with age, also young and fit persons can have that problem (agua de coca, not legal outside of Peru; might help a bit). If you have time enough stay some days in Cusco and have a daytrip to Ollantaytambo and go up to the Pumarca Ruins. Local kids do it in 20 minutes, it did take me (when still young) 2 hours.
Today you have also the problem that you are only in a few places allowed to stay overnight.

 

#5 7-31-2017 3:03 PM

NickelP
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

I'm doing the Lares Trek in September (but whilst somewhat middle age, I'm not sedentary) and when I was doing my research, it looks like there are a wide variety of age and fitness levels in the group hikes and the companies are able to adjust for that. The company I'm trekking with has a FB group for previous/upcoming trekkers and there have been a few who have posted about having done the various treks being older and out of shape.

Like everyone has said, altitude will be the biggest factor and your guides should be prepared for that. I'm getting into Cusco (bussing from Arequipa) 3 days before my trek to give myself time to acclimatize.

So while you can't prepare for the altitude, it will help to do some training. If you don't have access to alot of hikes close by, one of the best ways is to do stair climbing (either a gym machine or actual stairs in a multi level building). Check how much you have to carry on the trek vs the porters and do some training with the pack as well to get used to the additional weight. There seem to be quite a few people who do it without really training, but it will be much more enjoyable if you have done some.

 

#6 7-31-2017 11:14 PM

stefmuts
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

ulis wrote:

The main problem in my opinion is the altidude, this has nothing to do with age, also young and fit persons can have that problem (agua de coca, not legal outside of Peru; might help a bit).

I agree! And you can't tell upfront if you are going to suffer altitude sickness or not
I started the trail years ago (and still have to finish) We had to turn back after the first night due to my ex's back problems, sleeping on a thin foam mattress didn't do him any good, so if you have a bad back you might want to take precautions
The first day walking is brisk, inca flat as they call it, a bit up and a bit down. We met up with the other walkers at Machu Picchu and they told me the second day was the worst; lots of stairs
If you give yourself time to adjust to the height and if you're reasonably fit you'll be alright

 

#7 7-31-2017 11:33 PM

shavy
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

The hike to inca trail is for young and old. I'm sure you can make it. I'm older than you Fay 😀
If you really want to hike up there you need to book in advance, only 500 people allowed per day.
Coca leaves help altittude sickness and is available at the market

Last edited by shavy (8-1-2017 12:02 AM)

 

#8 8-1-2017 5:12 AM

kvom
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

I did the EBC trek as a past middle age guy.  One foot in front after the other and eventually you arrive.  Go at your own pace and don't try to keep up just for its own sake.

Spend several days in Cuzco before starting the trek.

Reserve far in advance.

 

#9 8-1-2017 8:01 AM

hightide
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

Cathay: Thanks for sharing your experience smile It does make sense to spend a few days in Cusco as we generally fly into CUS airport anyway. Prior to the replies here, I have only heard about the Inca Trail. From the replies, looks like there are several other options for trails/treks - will read up on them.

Would rather not do something too physically taxing. The last time I hiked was when I was teenager in 1997 - I fell while hiking downhill. It was nothing serious, but a fall would probably be more complicated on a middle-aged person. After some googling, these seems to be shortened version: https://www.adiosadventuretravel.com/tr … -hike.html

Yunny: I didn't know there are trains to Machu Picchu. Thanks for sharing -- this is my preferred way now smile  (Is it something like the link I found above?) It would be awesome if our schedules permit and we can travel together big_smile
The expenses in Peru might be reasonable, but flying there costs an arm and a leg. Tours I see online are asking a lot but I suppose if we just find a bus/train company or tour over there it would be much cheaper?

Uli: Do you mean that hotels and campgrounds are limited?

Nicole: How exciting big_smile The trail you chose seems to be even more challenging than Inca Trail. Good to know that tours (are they based in Peru?) do various routes and not just Inca Trail to cater to different types of people. Is it possible to make porters carry more (or everything) if you are willing to pay more?

Stefanie: Sorry to hear you didn't get to complete the track. My back is still ok now but who knows when I get older wink

Shavy: I would probably survive if I force myself but I won't enjoy to the fullest if my body is drained. Btw: How far in advance for the booking?

Kirk: I salute to you big_smile
At first thought, a tour seems to be the straightforward way but it requires keeping up. However, going at my own pace or joining a tour similar to my pace would be ideal.

 

#10 8-1-2017 8:26 AM

NickelP
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

hightide wrote:

Nicole: How exciting big_smile The trail you chose seems to be even more challenging than Inca Trail. Good to know that tours (are they based in Peru?) do various routes and not just Inca Trail to cater to different types of people. Is it possible to make porters carry more (or everything) if you are willing to pay more?

There is a maximum amount that porters are allowed to carry which is I believe around 6kg (and they do weigh the bags). You would still need to carry a daypack with everything you need during the day as you won't have access to anything the porters carry until you reach camp. I believe you can hire extra porters depending on the company. You only bring what you need for the trek. The rest of your luggage stays in Cusco with either your hotel or stored with the trekking company if they provide that service.

If you don't want to do the full Inca Trail but still want the experience of hiking it, some of the companies do a 2 day/1 night package where you only hike the first day and the 2nd day is Machu Picchu. I'm doing my trek with Alpaca Expeditions and I know they offer this, with 2 different options depending if you want to camp or stay in a hotel the one night.

Last edited by NickelP (8-1-2017 10:22 AM)

 

#11 8-1-2017 9:19 AM

ulis
Uli
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

I mean that hotel and campground areas are limited, only on some places not inbetween, the train is definately the more comfortable option.
http://www.perutreks.com/images/inca-tr … =328254026

Last edited by ulis (8-1-2017 9:24 AM)

 

#12 8-2-2017 3:58 AM

kvom
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

The tour does not require keeping up.  You go at your own pace even if you arrive and hour later than others.

In my view the difficulties are more mental than physical as long as one isn't handicapped in some way.

 

#13 9-8-2017 10:34 AM

MalenaN
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

I am middle aged, not old I hope, at 49 years smile and I did the Inca Trail in June this year. It was not hard, but than I like hiking and I was well acclimatised to the altitude (flew in to Cusco but stayed the first day in Pisac and then six nights in Cusco). To be well acclimatised is important, and to walk in your own pace as well. Sometimes during the trail (when it was uphill) I was passed by quick walkers, but after a while when they were exhausted I slowly passed them smile

 

#14 9-9-2017 4:59 PM

lauro
Germany
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Re: How hard is the Inca Trail for a sedentary middle-aged woman?

i just looked up the word "sedentary". it dosent make sense sitting on the couch and then suddenly the next day you would tackle an up and down climb in high altitude that goes till 20 kms. a day - with so much downhill and uphill in less than a week.  the legs and body would not cope that easily.

ive never done the inca trail but i hike and trek alot above 2000 meters (himalayas, alps, olympus, caucasus). the key is to train a year before you go to challenging heights. start by walking to your workplace, walking up and down the stairs, jogging etc because it will make your legs build muscles that would make them stronger. then do it again and again with a backpack or daypack that weighs 3-4 kilos.

then comes the altitude challenge - high altitude trekking should be taken seriously because of breathing factors. oxygen becomes less as you go higher and could develop to high altitude sickness or high altitude depression. find a mountain in your area thats high enough ( more or less 2800-3000 meters) and attempt to trek the top and see how fare you go at the height and how your body reacts to it.

drink lots  of water - 3-4 liters a day on the trekk itself (so youd be carrying around 6-7 kilos on your back - snacks, extra shirts, sweater, jacket, water, camera and what-nots, food on the way but it would get lesser as you consume water) it would lower the chance of alttiude sickness.

on the trek - listen to your body, no matter what the guide would tell or encourage you - it is your body. if you cant go, you must say stop.

 

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