What I Wish I Knew Before Joining a Gay Hike Along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Keen to traverse the Peruvian Andes en route to Machu Picchu? No prob-llama!

To help get your expedition started, here are ten nuggets of wisdom past travellers wish they knew before booking our all-gay Andean adventure.

10. The Inca Trail

There are several trails snaking their way towards Machu Picchu but there is only ONE Inca Trail. And Out Adventures happens to be the only gay tour operator to host organized trips along it. To schlep this ancient path with us, you MUST purchase a trail pass. At Out Adventures we’ll take care of purchasing this for you, but for independent travellers, be warned there are many scams selling fake passes along “an Inca Trail”.

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And we’re off! Photo by Jeb Stenhouse.

9. Get your Golden Ticket early.

Inca Trail Passes are as coveted among hikers as Cher reunion tour tickets are among gays. And to purchase either, you cannot be fashionably late. Passes consistently sell out six months in advance, so we recommend reserving your spot ASAP — think eight-plus months out.

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Our local guide, Daniel, taking in the majesty of Machu Picchu. Photo by Daniel T.

8. You don’t need to be Herculean but you should be in shape.

Tremble at the sight of a treadmill? Dread your 20-minutes of daily cardio? This may not be the tour for you. While you don’t need to be Jane Fonda in her prime, an average level of fitness is required. Depending on the day, you’ll be hiking for 4-plus hours at altitudes exceeding 3,000m/9,800ft.

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Past Out Adventurer Jeb Stenhouse barely survived his hike. Just kidding, he thrived! Photo by Jeb Stenhouse.

7. Don’t buy equipment that’s bound for the garage

We highly recommend buying a great pair of hiking boots (see The Ultimate Guide to Buying Hiking Boots), but don’t break the bank buying odds and ends that’ll become dust collectors when you get home. We recommend renting the following equipment from our local suppliers instead: sleeping bags, sleeping bag liners, sleeping mat, walking sticks/poles.

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Final gear check before hitting the trails. Photo by Jeb Stenhouse.

6. We’ll pitch your tent for you…

Why settle for 5-Stars when you can slumber under a thousand? On this tour we’ll be serving Scouts realness, pitching tents and subbing ivory thrones for buckets. But fear not, our porters will take care of actually setting up camp and cooking dinner — all you need to do is remember to fully zip up your tent to keep the tarantulas out. Just kidding! Or are we? *Demonic Laughter*

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Out Adventurers settling into camp along the Inca Trail! Photo by Jeb Stenhouse.

5. …and carry your Louis Vuitton luggage.

Speaking of porters, these upstanding gentlemen have offered to carry our heavier bags for us. Well, for a small fee included in the trip costs, of course ;). You’ll just need to strap on a day pack to carry your camera, water, snacks and any other necessaries.


4. Acclimatization

While altitude sickness (shortness of breathe, headaches, lethargy etc.) is more common than you think, acute mountain sickness is extremely uncommon. Especially on a well paced hike. To acclimatize to the Andes, we’ll spend a day taking it easy in cultural Cusco. Use this opportunity to explore the oldest continuously inhabited city in the world.

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Plaza de armas in Cusco.

3. Dead Woman’s Pass

Prepare yourself for Day 2, unarguably the most challenging day of our trek. We’ll ascend a long, steep path (4 hours) to our apex – Dead Woman’s Pass – at a height of 4,200m/13,779ft. We’ll then descend to the Pacaymayo Valley at 3,650m/12,000ft, where we’ll overnight. Congratulations, tomorrow will be a breeze by comparison.


2. Everyone loves llamas

Screeching in at second place is the resounding affirmation YES!, llamas really are one of Mother Nature’s cutest critters. Pictured on the Nuevo Sol (local currency) and in the country’s coat of arms, these dopey looking animals with banana shaped ears, shaggy bodies and wily expressions are found throughout the Andes. Not only do they make good pets, but they’re oddly protective of smaller herd animals and can be found defending groups of alpaca and sheep.

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Kauuuuute.

1. We’ll get a private tour of Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is the Incan Empire’s crown jewel, and the pinnacle of your expedition. To best enjoy her splendour, set your alarm for the unholy hour of 4am. This is the only way to see her striking silhouette backlit by the day’s first sun. A thin fog often settles in the morning, only adding to her mystery.

After watching Machu Picchu wake, join a private tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and learn about its history and lasting significance. Allow your imagination to wander as you walk through the ruins and picture the day when Incan emperors resided in this fascinating fortress.

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Past Out Adventurers, Sam & Giovanni, memorializing their first experience overlooking Machu Picchu.

Out Adventures hosts 2 annual Inca Trail departures. Check out dates, pricing and more here.

For those who prefer duvets to sleeping bags, consider our Peru: The Amazon & Machu Picchu tour — a luxury overview that doesn’t require hiking boots or headlamps. More room for the wigs and glitter, AMIRIGHT!?!?

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