How fit do I need to be to do Machu Picchu?
There are many ways to approach Machu Picchu by trek.
Earth’s Edge have an exciting & challenging itinerary to Machu Picchu via it’s sister city Choquequirao. Choquequirao is a stunning hidden that doesn’t get any where near the numbers that Machu Picchu experiences. That’s what makes it so special and to see it and journey on to Machu Picchu is a real treat. You may be wondering just how fit you need to be to do this trek ……
Here’s some tips to help you in the right direction!
When you think about your fitness, you will probably first think of your physical fitness.
So how to prepare…
You need to get fit – so that you can be mountain ready. There are some long days on this trek and stamina is what is needed for it. Pretty much everyone can do one long day on the mountain but are you up for multiple long days? The days vary in length but some are 10 hours walking and they’re not on their own!
A lot of days days have big ascents and descents too of 1000m or more.
So it’s like climbing Carrauntoohill every day, for a few days – these repetitive demands are what you need to prepare for.
Going up and down Carrauntoohil takes a bit of effort ……but imagine doing its’ height twice in one day and then the same again the next day and again on the following day?
This amount of ascent and descent repeats for several days on this trek.
It’s tough. It’s amazing.
On top of that – depending on the weather – you’ll have to dig deep to cope with the heat – sometimes 30 degrees. What if it rains and you’ve to cope with the humidity and wet? All this is to be considered without even taking altitude into consideration.
You need the strength & stamina to do these ascents and descents repeatedly and to feed your body with protein and carb snacks to help you sustain your energy to walk. Sweet snacks will only get you so far. Your body will need a lot of energy for all this work and you must feed it properly to maintain your speed and stamina ️
Any cardiovascular training will help you – running, cycling, being in the gym, doing keep fit or spin classes. Swimming is also great. It’s not loading your joints (that are probably going through a lot!) & it’s also great for getting in touch with your breathing.
Of course there’s absolutely no substitute for hill walking, getting used to the equipment, the terrain, your pace, the weather and being out on the hill.
Start small and gradually make your walks longer. Walk at a sustainable pace rather than stop / starting all the time, find your rhythm. Summer is brilliant time as you have light – even after work hit the hill nearest to you. If it’s a small one – walk up and down a few times. This is all building your base fitness and will stand to you on this Machu Picchu trek.
What is important is time on the mountains – not only walking on isolated days here and there ……but get 2/3 days in a row on the hill and building from there if you can. Getting out on successive days in a row builds your stamina. Stamina is what you need for an expedition.
A lot of people have weak areas or old injuries that they are still carrying. While these may not interrupt your day to day life – they tend to pop up on an expedition.
There are big descents on this trek – poles are a must and get your knees stronger! Rightly so. The advice here is to not ignore what is weak but to strengthen it.
Work with a physiotherapist to do so and prepare properly for your expedition with specific strength and condition training.
Mental and emotional fitness is important too. This is adventure travel – the whole world does not function in the way that you’re used to.
Mentally you may need to dig deep on longs days out on the hill, you’re also camping which you may not be used to, maybe the weather isn’t so good, or you’re feeling tired, maybe you don’t deal with change well – this all requires mental agility to keep yourself going.
The daily discipline of paying attention to hydration. hygiene and your body really makes a difference to your performance and enjoyment. Hydration is related to your performance even at sea level, so is particularly important at altitude and for dealing with continuous activity over multiple days. Having a system that makes it easy to hydrate is important. (Bottles that are at least 1litre in size) and a good quality hydration tube system that fits in your pack. A dedicated place in the bag for sunscreen, insect repellant, protein bars and hand sanitiser to take care of yourself as you walk is a must!
Preparation and mental agility (or lack of) can really thwart or enhance your expedition and your experience on the mountain.
Things like having experience of longer days on the mountains will stand to you, maybe you’ve run a marathon and you’ve had to dig deep.
Things that have been mentally tough in your life prepare you for expedition – you know your mental and emotional triggers and can deal with them. Things like yoga and meditation can help with this too.
So even if you are super fit and strong – don’t neglect the mental and emotional side of your training.
If you prepare properly and are fit when you come on this trek – you’ll have more energy to enjoy it and to really take in the stunning views and the experience of this magical trail!
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