How to train for hiking in Peru?

by | Feb 6, 2024 | Peru Travel Blogs | 0 comments

Peruvian Andes trek preparation

How do you physically prepare for Machu Picchu? fitness and endurance are crucial for hiking in the Peruvian Andes so How do I train for hiking in Peru? Follow our expert advice to conquer the challenging Dead Woman Pass on the Inca Trail or the breathtaking Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu.

The Peruvian Andes is a wonderland for adventure travelers and trek enthusiasts. Mystical and breathtaking, this mountain range offers some of the most unforgettable hiking experiences on the planet.

But to ensure it remains an enjoyable memory rather than a tale of hardship, preparation is key. This blog will guide you through each step needed to prepare for trekking in the majestic Peruvian regions.

Research Planning For The Peruvian Andes Trek

Inca Trail Tours to Machu Picchu all Tours

Book Yor Classic Inca Trail 4 Days

Prepare for your Long Trek by reading our Peru Trek guide and booking your tour in advance.

Choosing The Right Trekking Routes

Amongst the Peruvian Andes’ labyrinths of paths, each with its own set of attractions and challenges, choosing the right one is the first step to a successful trek. Consider the famous Inca Trail for a journey through ancient history or the Salkantay Trek for a brush with untouched vistas.

Fitness Level Considerations: Tailor your trek choice to your fitness level. If you’re a novice, shorter routes with less elevation gain might be best.

RELATED: An In-Depth Guide to the Difficulty of the Inca Trail Hike

Obtaining Necessary Permits and Permissions

Hiking in the Andes often requires permits, especially for popular routes like the Inca Trail.

The Permit System: Peru’s Ministry of Culture provides details on acquiring permits for Peruvian tour operators. It’s crucial to book these Hiking tours well in advance, as they can sell out months ahead.

Other Permissions: Some treks may also require special permissions, such as for camping or entering certain areas. Research and obtain these ahead of time.

Pro Tip: If you’re not planning to hike in Peru but still want to visit Machu Picchu, there’s an easier way. Take the train to Agua Calientes and purchase your Machu Picchu entrance tickets online in advance. It typically takes 2-3 days to explore Machu Picchu in a more leisurely manner.

Ancascocha Hiking Tour
Ancascocha Lagoon 4-day hike

RELATED: Ancascocha Trek Itinerary National Geographic Recommended

Getting physically prepared is crucial for a thrilling trek through the Peruvian mountains.

Fitness Training for Preparing for a Trek in the Peruvian Andes

Physical readiness cannot be overstated. Start with cardiovascular exercises like running or swimming several weeks before your trek.

Strength Training: Incorporate exercises that target the legs, core, and back to stave off fatigue during those long ascents and descents.

Altitude Acclimatization

Gradual ascent and pre-trek high-altitude stays can help your body adjust and reduce the risk of altitude sickness.

Pre-trek Activities: Consider spending a few days in Cusco or another high-altitude city to acclimate.

Inca Trail – Physical Trek Preparation

Most individuals embarking on the iconic 4-Day trail aren’t seasoned trekkers and should ready themselves physically for the journey.

While walking may appear straightforward, extended distances necessitate physical readiness to avert injuries, cramps, and the disappointment of not finishing the adventure. This preparation ensures a more enjoyable experience along the Inca trail.

Inca Trail Preparation – General Recommendations

Prepare for your Machu Picchu trek by using the hiking boots you intend to wear.

Explore woodland or countryside trails to acclimate to trekking on uneven terrain. Practice carrying a backpack since you’ll need to on the trail. Seek out hilly terrain with narrow paths to build confidence with heights.

Engage in at least one 7-hour trek on challenging terrain in your area. Aim for rural rocky or hilly landscapes to condition your muscles for long walks, enhancing your readiness for the 4-Day Inca Trail adventure in 2025.

For individuals struggling with excess weight, incorporating gym sessions – focusing on the step machine – and swimming into their routine is crucial. This will enhance their trekking experience, making it significantly easier to complete the Trail in 4 consecutive days. Alternatively, they can opt for the shorter 2-Day Inca Trail Tour. If they are not in good physical condition, preparing for the Machu Picchu hike should include

Inca Trail Km 82
Km 82 Beginning of the Inca Trail

Top Exercises

Aerobic Training: Engage in activities like running, cycling, swimming, or speed walking to boost heart strength and maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

Strength Training: Focus on exercises targeting upper body muscles such as triceps, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, and core, in addition to leg muscles for holistic muscle engagement.

Recreational Exercise: Opt for enjoyable pursuits like rock climbing, hiking, dancing, or canoeing. Incorporate these fun activities into your daily routine to prepare for the Inca Trail adventure with excitement and enjoyment.

Strengthening Your Legs for the Inca Trail

Step 1: Start with lunges. Perform walking lunges by taking a big step forward with one leg, lowering your body until your front thigh is parallel to the ground, then stepping up and repeating with the other leg. Aim for 3 sets of 10-12 repetitions on each leg.

Step 2: Move on to back squats. Start with just the barbell (or a lightweight) and focus on proper form before increasing weight. Keep your feet shoulder-width apart and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground, then push through your heels to return to standing position. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Step 3: Try front squats as a variation. Place the barbell across the front of your shoulders, keeping your elbows up and in line with your shoulders. Lower into a squat, keeping your torso upright. Aim for 3 sets of 8-10 repetitions.

Step 4: Incorporate exercise ball weighted squats into your routine. Hold a weight against your chest while balancing on an exercise ball against a wall. Lower into a squat position while maintaining balance on the ball. Aim for 3 sets of 12-15 repetitions.

Remember to always use proper form and technique when performing these exercises to prevent injury and get the most out of each workout. Consistency and progressive overload are key in building leg strength for hiking the Inca Trail, so aim to increase weight or reps every week or two as you become stronger. Happy training!

Dead Woman Pass
Highest Elevation Inca trail

Gear and Trekking Equipment Preparation

Essential Trekking Gear: Invest in quality hiking boots, layered clothing suitable for sudden climate changes, and a sturdy backpack stocked with water, high-energy snacks, and a basic first aid kit.

Camping Gear: For multi-day treks, ensure your tent, sleeping bag, and mat are appropriate for low temperatures and varying terrains.

NOTE: While many tour operators provide camping gear as part of their Hiking Tour package, it is advisable to invest in your hiking gear. This ensures both insurance coverage and maximizes the potential for an unforgettable experience during your trip to Peru.

RELATED: What to pack for the Inca trail?

Peruvian Andes trek Mental Preparation

Understanding the Challenges

Experts say that a positive mindset is critical when faced with challenges like altitude sickness and unpredictable weather.

Mental Resilience Tips

“Focus on why you started,” advises a seasoned trekking guide. Building mental resilience is as important as physical preparation.

Cultural and Environmental Considerations

Respecting Local Customs: Learning about and respecting the traditions you encounter enriches the trekking experience.

Leave-no-trace Principles: Ensure you’re packing out what you pack in and sticking to the trails to minimize environmental impact.

Safety Measures

Emergency Preparedness: Carry a reliable communication device and have a plan for emergencies, including knowledge of evacuation routes.

Basic First Aid Skills: Know the essentials for addressing common injuries. REI Co-op offers first-aid courses that are highly recommended.

Logistics and Travel Arrangements

Plan how you’ll get to your trek’s starting point, and accommodations during the trek, and allow time for recovery post-trek.


Embarking on a Peru trek preparation requires a significant checklist, but the rewards are immense. Recapping the steps from choosing your trekking route to logistics and emergency planning sets a foundation for a trek that you’ll reminisce about for a lifetime.

As National Geographic points out, “The best trekker is a prepared trekker.”

Remember the Andes are more than just a traveler’s playground; it’s a sacred landscape with a rich cultural and ecological backdrop. Your preparation honors this landscape and ensures that you can enjoy its wonders safely and responsibly. We wish you an uplifting journey through Peru’s spine


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Cesar Conde

I’m Cesar Conde Licensed Tour Guide in Peru, owner of Tour Leaders Peru and Travel Advisor. My other side job is a Digital Nomad. I share my amazing travel experiences, stories, guides, and itineraries for travelers like you and me!


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