The Peruvian government has installed bathrooms along the Inca Trail. Previously, people would go wherever they wanted, which resulted in an unsanitary environment. On the first day of the 4-day Inca Trail hike, the bathrooms are relatively clean and well-maintained as they are owned by local communities. However, as you progress further along the trail, the quality of the bathrooms tends to deteriorate quickly. Here is everything you should know about using the potty during your Inca Trail trek.
It’s important to keep in mind that in Peru and other South American countries, it’s customary to dispose of toilet paper in a bin rather than flushing it down the toilet. This applies to all types of restrooms, including those found in hotels, restaurants, and public facilities for both men and women. So, be sure to look for a bin near the toilet and dispose of your used toilet paper there instead of flushing it. This practice is common in many parts of the world, and it helps to prevent clogging and other plumbing issues.
As you trek along the Inca Trail, you will find occasional toilet blocks scattered along the way, discreetly tucked away from the trail. However, they are not very common, so if you’re in urgent need and cannot wait, your only option will be to relieve yourself behind a bush. Most camping sites offer some type of restroom facility, but the quality may vary. Depending on the path you take, the nearest toilet might be in a nearby local house, and during lunchtime, your guide will usually lead you to a toilet block.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the Inca Trail toilets, the news isn’t great. Privacy, hygiene, and cleanliness are not guaranteed in these facilities, and if you’re lucky, your toilet may have a lock. On the first day of your trek, the toilets are relatively decent and clean, but as you progress further along the trail, the standard of the Inca Trail toilets drops drastically. By day two, you’ll be using floor toilets where you need to squat over, and the flushing mechanism often fails, causing toilet waste to accumulate on the floor of the facilities. It’s best to wear your hiking boots when using the toilets. I’ve even seen some toilet blocks without bins to dispose of used toilet paper, which inevitably leads to piles of used paper in the corner. This can make for a pretty unpleasant experience, so make sure you bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer. A headlamp is also recommended as there are no lights inside most toilet blocks. At the campgrounds, you can find cold running water for hand washing outside the toilet rooms, but soap and towels may not always be available.
When nature calls during the Inca Trail trek, a toilet may not always be nearby. Your guide can help you find a secluded spot away from the trail and wildlife to do your business. To minimize your impact on the environment, make sure to dig a hole or depression in the ground with your boot or hands. If you’re in a rocky area, you can stack rocks on top of your waste. Remember to cover your deposit with organic material or rocks to “leave no trace.” It may be a judgment call, but it’s important to do your part in preserving the natural beauty of the trail.
There are designated bathrooms for men and women, but practically speaking, both genders use the same facilities. Functionally, there is no significant difference between the men’s and women’s bathrooms. Therefore, it’s common for people of all genders to use whichever bathroom is available at the time.
When camping in cold weather, it can be tempting to stay snuggled up in your sleeping bag instead of getting up to pee. You have 4 options we can think of. Five if you count “holding it.”
If there is a toilet in the campsite, you can get out of your tent and use it. However, keep in mind that in some campsites like Winya Wayna, the toilet may be located at a considerable distance from your tent.
If your tour operator provides a private pee tent, you can use it by getting out of your tent and using it.
For those who prefer not to leave the warmth and comfort of their tent, an alternative option is to bring an empty container with a secure lid, such as a yogurt container, to use as a makeshift chamber pot. This can be emptied discreetly in the morning, avoiding the need to venture out into the cold and dark night.
One option is to venture out of your tent and find a private spot to pee in the bushes. However, keep in mind that this might not be the most comfortable or convenient option, especially in cold weather.
It’s recommended to carry multiple resealable plastic bags with you. Keep one handy so that every time you use the bathroom, you can use it to store used hygiene products and then carry them out with you. Once you reach a hotel or public restroom, you can properly dispose of them.
It’s highly advisable to consider hiring a tour company that offers a portable toilet, also known as a ‘toilet tent,’ for your Inca Trail adventure. While this may not be a common feature among tour companies, it is undoubtedly one of the most essential aspects to consider when selecting a tour operator. Although it may cost a bit more and require booking with an operator that includes Toilet tent, the benefits are worth it! The toilet tent is carried by porters, ensuring it is clean and used only by your group. Inside the tent, you’ll have privacy and a comfortable seat on a toilet drum. Should any issues arise, your operator will take immediate action to resolve them. For our recommended tour operator service, please click here.
Our team of porters is well-prepared for their job, and equipped with the necessary tools including masks, clean uniforms, and thick gloves. When it comes to handling waste, they never come into direct contact with it. Instead, the waste is stored safely and disposed of in the proper manner to ensure hygiene and safety for everyone on the Inca Trail.
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