Trekking the Inca Trail in October ... not!

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of June 27-July 4, 1996
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Trekking the Inca Trail in October ... not!

Trekking the Inca Trail in October ... not!
Question: My daughter and I want to plan a trekking trip in South America during October 1996. I am 55 and she's 26. Is the weather still seasonable for trekking and camping along the Inca Trail at that time of year? Are there groups that could be going, and do you have other suggestions for excellent trekking in South America during this time of year (excluding ice and strenuous climbing)? I realize that I've asked three questions. Thanks for considering at least one of them.

Carolyn Kovel
New Haven, CT
[email protected]

Inca Trail, sure.
But October? Forget it.

Adventure Adviser: Plenty of great outfitters run guided multiday treks along Peru's Inca Trail from the Chilca Trailhead to the ancient city of Machu Picchu, just not in October, since that's generally when the rainy, sloshy weather sets in and the trail gets too soggy to hike.

One of your only options for actual trekking at that time of year (aside from the ultra-strenuous) is to sign on with Mountain Travel Sobek's 15-day hiking and rafting adventure in the Ecuadorian Amazon from October 21 to November 4. The first four days are spent based at an Amazon jungle lodge, with plenty of time for hiking nearby forest paths and exploring river tributaries by canoe. From there, you're off on a five-day moderate/strenuous trek in Cotopaxi National Park, hiking around the bases of some of 15,000-foot snowcapped volcanoes.

Four of the ten nights are spent camping--but don't expect soggy sleeping bags or tasteless freeze-dried chicken for dinner. This is plush. Your tents will be set up ahead of time and you won't have to help with the food or dishes (unless, of course, you want to). You'll pay the price for this cush style, though: The trip will run you $2,590 per person, not including airfare to Quito. Call 800-227-2384 for details.

If you can be more flexible about your dates--say, by going in mid-September instead--you can stick to your original Inca Trail plan. In most cases the pace is pretty moderate, but be prepared to spend the first couple of days acclimating to the altitude. Most treks start at about 8,000 feet and climb fairly quickly to the ancient Inca capital at a hypoxic 11,200 feet.

REI Adventures runs a 10-day trek out of Lima from September 20 to 29, including a day of whitewater rafting on the Huambutio-Pisac River for $1,695 per person (land cost only); call 800-622-2236. And there are plenty more where that came from. Call the following outfitters for catalogs, trip dates, and prices: Southwind Adventures (303-972-0701), Wilderness Travel (800-368-2794), and Overseas Adventure Travel (800-221-0814).

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