Apr 21, 12, 10:00 pm
A friend and I are headed your way in November.
We are both in great shape and have backpacking experience. We are looking at doing the Inca Trail, but would like to to do on our own without guides, porters, cook, ect. I have read conflicting information in terms of if this is actually possible.
We are also open to doing an alternate route that is less crowded, perhaps an option without the complex permit process.
Apr 21, 12, 10:11 pm
You must book with a tour operator well in advance of when you wish to walk the trail, as it is not allowed to organize your own trip, or so I read, since june 2002. I did it in 1999 and it was too crowded. Though now, "thanks" to all restrictions you have to reserve in advance, months before, the inca trail must be better protected than in the past.
I just read about Lares Valley, and Ausangate, being more flexible for independient trekkers, but I'd suggest you must confirm that.
A beautiful valley for trekkers is "Callejón de Hualyas", Huaylas Alley, where the Huascaran National Park is located (and I'm sure trekkers may go on their own). The snowy mountains, the lagoons, are superb. It's my favorite place for nature and landscapes, no airport, you go by bus. But it's far from Cusco, actually north of Lima. If you want to combine nature with Inca sites, then Cusco is the right place.
November is just at the end of the dry season. Rains start between NOV and DEC. Check well before deciding, I suggest.
Apr 26, 12, 12:31 pm
The Inca Trail is only available through guided tours.
This doesn't mean that you have to walk behind some old archaeologist the entire way listening to them talk, however. When I did it, I was keen to do some jogging and scrambling along the way, and I was doing 1 to 2 mile stretches on my own at my own pace, waiting for the guide at the checkpoints, and then carrying on. Worked well for me.
Then again, there are other routes which are not subject to the restrictions of the Inca Trail which you could look into. Google "Alternative Inca Trail" for a host of options.
If you decide on the Inca Trail, I've written a guide which may help here: Walking The Inca Trail (http://www.gapyear.com/articles/121207/walking-the-inca-trail)