Fitness Level Required for Treks in Peru

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Fitness Level Required for Treks in Peru

Postby Ritu » Mon Apr 30, 2007 10:29 pm

I would like to try one of the 4-5 day treks (Inca, Lares, Choquequiero) but I am not sure that I am fit enough. I am a 35 year old female who is in reasonable shape (I can walk for an hour and a half without a break, handle an intermediate level yoga class) but I am not an athlete (I sit at a desk all day) and lack upper body strength. For those who have gone on these treks, I am wondering whether you think a regular person can manage or whether an advanced level of fitness is required?
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Postby ballu » Tue May 01, 2007 8:43 am

I think I was similar to you, and I did the Inca Trail. It was challenging for me, but I just went at my own pace and made it. If you're planning on doing any pre-trip training, I'd suggest a stairmaster or anything that will get you climbing up (more challenging hiking trails around your area of the world).
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Postby LadyBird » Tue May 01, 2007 3:07 pm

A big part of the Inca Trail is will power. If you have the desire to do it, and you train for it. You should be sucessful.
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Postby Pirate » Tue May 01, 2007 7:10 pm

I did the Inca Trail hike 2 years ago. I am a 54 year old guy who sits all day driving a bus. I don't exercise. It was tough, especially the second day but you know that is the way it should be. The Inca Trail is not too tough and not too easy. It just makes Machu Picchu more worthwhile when you get there. I would suggest that you take 2 walking sticks with you not just one. Have the porters carry most of your stuff and if possible try to spend at least 3 days in Cusco to acclimatize. The Inca Trail hike was such an enjoyable experience, I will never forget it.

Take care . . . Joe
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Treking in Peru

Postby Donna Rios » Wed May 02, 2007 2:20 pm

I have done the Inca Trail 3 times. You need to have will power and be in reasonable physical shape. Bring 2 walking sticks and don't carry to much in your pack. Going down is more dangerous than going up. You might get altidude sickness, but there isn't much you can do about that except arrive at a high altitude early to climatise. Coca leaves might help, might not. Take it slow and easy and rest when you have to. Enjoy!
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Postby billclinton » Wed May 02, 2007 6:21 pm

Good advice here. I think a bit of cardiovascular exercise would help as well. I know it's a cliche but the pre-trek conditioning is more about being better able to enjoy the trek than in actually being able to finish the trek.

I thought the Choquequiero trek was much more difficult than the Inca Trail and not nearly as interesting. Everyone complains about there being too many trekkers on the Inca trail but there's a good reason for that - it's awesome.
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Postby Tall Paul » Thu May 03, 2007 12:42 pm

Hey;

Bill is correct. The reason you want to get in shape is so you can focus more on the scenery and less on your fatigue. The andes appear much more spectacular when you are feeling invigorated by the hike. Try to turn those 90 minutes walks (~5 miles) into 45 minute runs over the same distance. Try to work up to this for 4-6 weeks before you travel.

Given the shape you are in now, you will likely be able to complete the trip in once piece, but you'll be cursing yourself on the trail for not doing the cardio ahead of time. Being out of shape won't ruin a hike in the moutains, but it will be distracting. I know. :-)

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Postby little_miss_sunshine » Fri May 04, 2007 2:42 pm

Hi Ritu,
I'm in a similar position (I'm SO not an athlete!) I agree with everything here and would add the following: start carrying a few pounds in a backpack with you when you walk or run, go up and down stairs if you can.

And - if you do decide to go (which I sincerely hope you do) take along some knee supports (they look like little elasticated tubes). They will definitely help... most of it is indeed willpower, but it is very hard on your knees too.
happy trails!
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Postby yuenkay » Wed May 09, 2007 1:55 am

Hi Ritu!

I think you'll be fine!! Just came back from the INca Trail and our 10 people on the trip, none of us are "athletes". We were all in decent shape, and we were very well acclimated (we went to Puno first, and also did the Pisac day hike the day before we started the trek). The altitude can REALLY get you.

I agree that it is all a matter of will power. THe guides will repeatedly tell you that just take it slow. It is not a race. Take a break whenever you feel like your heart is pumping too hard, and enjoy the view... and they're absolutely right!! The walking stick also is a savior on the mostly very steep *down* parts of the trail when cardio isn't the problem.

On my trip, we had a couple who were in their 60s, who beamed with positive energy and enthusiasm. The gentleman also only have 2/3 of his heart working entirely properly, but they still made it and loved every second of it. They even got up Dead Woman's Pass ahead of me and I'm in my 20s! They were active seniors but they weren't athletes or anything.

if you have a smile and a camera along the way, you'll have a great time!
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Postby Ritu » Fri May 11, 2007 8:38 pm

Thanks for the advice and encouragement.

Best,

Ritu
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Postby leef811 » Sat May 12, 2007 2:58 pm

How bad is it going down the trail...just want to have some perspective about that...
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Postby ballu » Mon May 14, 2007 9:15 am

You might have a hard time going down if you have bad knees or ankles. If this is the case, it might be a good idea to get a walking stick and some anti-inflammatory medication. I made it on a sprained amkle, it was difficult but I did it.
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Postby LeapingLizard » Sun May 27, 2007 7:44 pm

I'm a woman, over 50, a good 30+ pounds too heavy, and did the Inca Trail last year. I figured I'd be one of the slower ones, and I was, but I always made camp with plenty of time before dinner, and even had the energy to make the side trips to the ruins along the way. Going up, it's the altitude. Three years ago, I did Kilimanjaro and learned how to do a rest step, so I just kept up a slow and steady pace matched to my breathing. Coming down, it was my knees. I lengthened my trekking poles, ate plenty of ibuprofen, and hurt for a week afterwards. My GAP leader had us out on little conditioning hikes just about every day before we got to Cuzco, so that helped with the acclimatization. Hiking the Inca Trail eclipsed even Machu Picchu as the highlight of my trip.
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Postby LadyBird » Sun May 27, 2007 11:30 pm

If your worried about the bad knees then the Lares Trek is a better option.

Not as many stairs, mostly paths so it will be a huge relief on the downhill sections.
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Postby Antonia » Sat Jul 28, 2007 6:59 pm

Hi

I'm planning to visit Peru next May and really want to do the Inca Trail. I'm not terribly fit and have mild asthma but only struggle when walking uphill. I was just wondering, how much of the trail is uphill and is everyone able to go at their own pace? I've done some glacier hiking and hill walking before but felt pressured to keep up with the front of the group which ruined the enjoyment somewhat!

Also, obviously I have insurance, but I was wondering what the medical facilities were like on the trail? What happens if you get ill / really suffer from altitude sickness / sprain an ankle mid route?

Thanks!
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