Without a doubt Machu Picchu is an amazing place. A historic past. Amazing views. Llamas! It’s the number one tourist destination in Peru. More than a million people visit Machu Picchu each year. There are almost 200 licensed tour operators for Inca Trail hikers to chose from. In fact, TripAdvisor ranks Machu Picchu as the number one landmark in the entire world.
So, with all the Machu Picchu love going on, what could possibly be the problem?
Toilet. Latrine. Biffy. Commode. WC. Lavatory. Porcelain throne. Baño. Call it what you will, but the bathroom situation isn’t pretty. Let me highlight some of the issues you will undoubtedly face as you hike the Inca Trail to one of the most beautiful destinations in the world.
You Might Need To Pay
Not a big deal. The average cost as you go up the trail is about 1 sole. That’s less than fifty cents. Remember to always have some change on you or you’ll be going in the bushes.
There’s No Toilet Paper
….or paper towel, or hand sanitizer. Sometimes there aren’t even sinks or toilet seats. Be sure to a pack a few rolls of toilet paper into your suitcase when you pack for Peru. Grab a few travel sized bottles of hand sanitzer to carry with you. Bring some Wet Ones or a small pack of baby wipes. They can do double duty for hand washing and wiping.
You Don’t Flush It Down
In Peru you aren’t allowed to flush paper products, of any kind, down the toilet. Instead you must throw your toilet paper into the bucket beside the toilet…if there is a bucket. Chances are there will just be a big disgusting pile of used toilet paper. This isn’t just an Inca Trail rule either. It’s the whole country, even 5 star hotels. But at least they’ll give you a pretty bucket there.
As you travel the Inca trail you will leave flush toilets behind and begin to see squat toilets. Trust me, it’s better to know ahead of time. Squat toilets can range from a fancy flushable model to a basic pit in the ground. Most squat toilets have footplates to stand on.
There is some technique involved in using them and you might want to start working your glutes before you go. There is nothing worse than having to use your hand to help push yourself up.
There’s No Toilet At All
Occasionally, there won’t be any toilets at all. That means you will have to do your business outside. However, with 500 other people hiking the Inca trail with you, don’t expect much in the way of privacy. Add to this the environmental impact of that many people doing their business year after a year.
So What To Do?
A few companies, like Llama Path, bring along their own portable toilets. They will still smell like an outhouse over time. However, the idea of sharing with ten people is more pleasant than sharing with hundreds.
It’s All Worth It
So did my research change my mind about doing the Inca Trail? Nope, not a bit. There wasn’t a single person that I talked to who regretted their decision to hike the trail. The only thing that has changed is that I know what to expect now. And I will bring Wet Ones. Lots and lots of Wet Ones.
Our trip to Peru and to Machu Picchu is now booked. We begin our Inca Trail hike on November 16th. And when we see this amazing view after days of hiking, I have no doubt that it will all be worth it…especially if a llama photobombs my picture too!