Thinking about trekking in the Andes? Here are some tips to lighten your load. With dramatic scenery and fascinating Inca ruins around every corner, a trek in the Peruvian Andes is every adventure enthusiast’s dream. But whether you have your sights set on the Inca Trail, Salkantay Trek, Huaraz or the Rainbow Mountain, the following are five tips to consider before you hit the trail.
1. Build up your fitness
Before going for your trek in the Andes, do some training at home. The more fit you are for your hike, the more you will be able to enjoy yourself and focus on the incredible scenery rather than your burning thighs. The best way to prepare your fitness is to do a lot of walking, especially up and down hills. We also recommend that you engage in other activities to strengthen your core – such as swimming and yoga.
2. Invest in quality trekking boots (and break them in!)
Before going on a trek in the Andes, be sure to invest in a good pair of trekking boots – preferably something that will give your feet and ankles the support they need while protecting them from sharp rocks and water. Waterproof boots are the most ideal. Moreover, be sure to take the time to break them in before your trip. That way they will be comfortable and you won’t suffer from blisters along the way. It is also a good idea to bring thick comfortable socks and a small bottle of baby talcum powder to soothe your feet after a long day of walking.
3. Take time to adjust to the altitude
While you’re sure to be excited to jump straight into your trek, if you are not already accustomed to traveling at high altitudes, it is important that you schedule a couple days to acclimatize before hitting the trail. Everyone experiences altitude in different ways, and many people experience altitude sickness, or soroche. Common symptoms of altitude sickness include dizziness, headaches, nausea, upset stomach, loss of appetite and shortness of breath. To minimize any symptoms, eat lightly the day before traveling to a high altitude environment, as well as eat lightly when you arrive. You may also try using coca leaves as an herbal remedy. Traditionally chewed or brewed as a tea, the coca leaf is a mild stimulant that will help to suppress hunger, thirst, pain and fatigue. It is taken daily by the Andean people to counteract the effects of soroche.
4. Pack for the weather
When traveling in the Andes Mountains, the weather can change very quickly from hot to cold, in a matter of minutes. While during the Peruvian summer months you can count on pretty consistent warm days, cold nights and very little rain, during the winter months the region experiences days that can change rapidly from hot to cold and rainy. In any case, it is recommended that you dress in versatile layers so that your wardrobe will be able to change with the weather. Be sure to pack a raincoat and waterproof boots, as well as a warm jacket for the nights.
5. Protect yourself from the sun
Sunshine and the UV rays are much stronger when you are close to the equator or up at high altitudes. Before your trek in the Andes, make sure that you are fully prepared with sunglasses, a wide-brimmed hat to shade your face and plenty of sunscreen. If you have sensitive skin, this is especially important and you may wish to consider wearing lightweight long-sleeved shirts and pants while you’re out on the trail.
At Enigma, we are trekking specialists and experts. While there is plenty you can do before the trek to get yourself prepared, we’ve got you covered to make sure your trekking experience in the Andes is the best it can it can be. Trekking and camping are great for the body and soul, and our treks and expeditions, such as the Inca Trail or Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu, Ausangate Circuit and Choquequirao Trek are prime options for anyone with an adventurous spirit. If you have any questions about trekking in Peru, please don’t hesitate to contact us – it’s our pleasure to help!