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The Inca Trails General Info

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There are two ways to trek to Machu Picchu. One is by trekking the 'classic' Inca Trail which arrives at the Sun Gate entrance to the city at dawn. The other is to take an alternative trail through the mountains and enter the city by the tourist gate.

In order to reduce erosion on the trail, the Peruvian authorities have introduced a permit system. If you want to follow the Inca Trail, you must have a permit and a guide. No permits are required for the alternative trails. Permits limit the number of people who start the trail each day to 500. Demand always outstrips supply.

The permits are issued in January and February of each year. If you want to trek the Inca Trail during the peak season of May to September, you must apply for your permit by January or February at the latest. Permits sell-out very quickly and there is no 'cancellation list'. If you would like to do the trek at other times of the year, you must reserve your permit at least 6 weeks in advance.

The alternative trails are just as good and are a great option if permits have sold out, or if you'd like to avoid the crowds. They follow different routes through the mountains and end at Aguas Calientes, the nearest town to Machu Picchu, from where a short walk or bus ride takes you up the mountain-side to the Lost City. Although the alternative treks do not follow the classic Inca Trail or enter the city by the Sun Gate, they are very worthwhile objectives. They follow lonely Inca pathways and visit remote ruins far away from the crowds for which the Inca Trail is notorious.

All of these trails reach an altitude of at least 4200m. In order to acclimatise properly, it is essential that trekkers spend two nights in Cusco (3300m) before setting off on the trail. If you are planning any other activities during your stay in Cusco, it would be a good idea to do them before you hit the trail. The more time you give your body to adjust the altitude, the better.

All of our treks include accommodation, porters/ horses, tents, food (on the trail), a cook and a guide, transport (road and rail) and site entrance fees. On the trail, you need only carry a small day pack.

About Cusco

Cusco was the capital of the once mighty Inca Empire and was one of the world’s great cities. It has been classified as a world heritage site. There are plenty of colonial era cathedrals, museums, cafe's, bars and restaurants. The city is situated at high altitude, 3300m. You’d be well advised to spend at least two nights here acclimatizing before your trek.

It's a modern city, well equipped with banks, ATM’s, internet facilities, bars and restaurants - pretty much everything the trekker could want after returning from the wilds.

Flight’s and travel

Getting to Cusco can be a time consuming process. Most people fly to Lima, the capitol of Peru, and then catch a 1 hour internal flight to Cusco (the alternative is a 20 hour bus ride!). International and internal flights arrive and depart from Lima's Aeropuerto Internacional Jorge Chavez. To be safe, you'll need at least three hours turn-around time between flights.

If you are unable to catch a flight to Cusco on the same day you arrive in Lima, here are some hotel options for an overnight stay

Hotels at the airport
Hotel Costa del Sol Ramada. This 4 star hotel is located inside the airport complex. www.costadelsolperu.com

Hotels near to the airport
Hotels in San Miguel, a 10 minute taxi ride from the airport:
Hotel Melodia (Av La Mariana 2247). This is a two star hotel located 10 minutes from the airport. www.hotelmelodia.com Hotel Sky (Calle Chamaya 137). This is a two star hotel located 10 minutes from the airport. www.hotelskyperu.com

If you plan to stay for a day or two in Lima, the best place to find a hotel is the Miraflores district. Some suggestions
Miraflores Colon Hotel (Jr. Colon 600, Miraflores). Four stars. www.miraflorescolonhotel.com
Carmel Hotel (Calle Atahuallpa 152, Miraflores). Three stars. www.hotelcarmel.com.pe
Miraflores Suites Centro (Av Benavides 1959, Miraflores). Two stars. www,mirafloressuitescentro.com
Air France, Iberia, Continental, Lan Peru and KLM fly from major UK airports to Lima, usually via Amsterdam or Madrid.

Cusco/ Lima Airports

Lima airport is located 45mins taxi ride (in good traffic) from the Miraflores district which is the tourist centre. If you are planning on spending a couple of nights in Lima, Miraflores would be a good place to start.

Cusco airport is a 20min drive from the Historico Centro.

Both airports are have ATM's which accept most major debit and credit cards, so you can stock up on Sols on arrival.

There is an international departure tax of US$30.

Visa requirements/ Passports

UK nationals do not require a Visa for tourist stays of up to 90 days.

Don't forget, you'll need to complete an on-line Esta if you intend to transit through the USA.

You must carry your passport with you on the trail. YOU WILL NOT BE ALLOWED INTO MACHU PICCHU WITHOUT IT.

Money/ Currency

The official currency is Nuevo Sol. Visa is the most widely accepted credit card, but all major international credit cards are accepted. US Dollars are the easiest currency to exchange and plenty of restaurants, hotels and shops in the main cities accept dollars for payment.
Most ATM's pay out US$ and Sol.

Porters

We use mules and porters to carry group camping equipment and your personal equipment during the trek. Pack carefully, the maximum weight they will carry is 6KGs (not including sleeping bags and rolls mats). Additional porters are available at extra expense.

Tipping

Our guides, cooks and porters are paid a fair wage. However, tipping is expected if you are happy with the service they have provided.
Typical tipping rates (per group of 2 people)
Guide: $60
Cook: $20
Chief porter: $10
Porters: $8
We ensure that all of our local staff are paid a fair wage, provided with appropriate clothing and treated properly.

Accommodation is included in the cost of the trek, this consists of

Tents on the trail (bring your own sleeping bag and camping mat).

One night's hotel in Aguas Calientes for the 'alternative' trekking programmes.

Two nights hotel accommodation in Cusco before the trek (to give you time to acclimatize to the altitude) and one night after the trek. We usually use the Hotel Marquese.

Extra nights at the hotel are charged at US50 per person.

Services start on arrival at Cusco, accommodation in Lima is an extra expense.

Although the trails we follow are often remote, many of the campsites are located on farming land and enterprising locals often provide toilets/ showers and sell beer and fizzy drinks. It's a good idea to carry a handful of low value coins and bank notes on the trail - as a warm beer is better than no beer at the end of a day’s trekking.

Climate/ weather/ seasons

You can walk the Inca Trail pretty much all year round, the only month to avoid is February, when the trail is closed for maintenance and clean up.

The dry season from April to October is probably the most comfortable period as far as the weather is concerned. Even during these months you can still get a little rain.

If you are planning to follow the classic Inca Trail, the difficulty in obtaining trekking permits and the crowds of trekkers during peak season may make it worth booking a low season trek. Here's a rough guide of what kind of weather to expect throughout the year

Jan: Expect rain, often heavy. Cloud often obstructs views. Slippery paths. This is summer time in Peru so the nights are quite mild and the sun quite strong. Salkantay path is not passable.
Feb: Inca Trail closed for maintenance. Salkantay path is not passable.
Mar: Expect rain, often heavy. Cloud often obstructs views. Slippery paths. This is summer time in Peru so the nights are quite mild and the sun quite strong. Salkantay path is not passable.
Apr: Autumn. Improving weather, but rain is not unusual.
May: Excellent, dry trekking conditions. Peak season. Busy. This is the winter season, and it gets cold at night.
Jun: Excellent, dry trekking conditions. Peak season. Busy. This is the winter season, and it gets cold at night. 
Jul: Excellent, dry trekking conditions. Peak season. Busy. This is the winter season, and it gets cold at night.
Aug: Excellent, dry trekking conditions. Peak season. Busy. This is the winter season, and it gets cold at night.
Sep: Rain isn't unusual, but trekking conditions are still generally good. This is the winter season, and it gets cold at night.
Oct: Rain isn't unusual, but trekking conditions are still generally good. Spring season.
Nov: Rain isn't unusual, but trekking conditions are still generally good. Starts to deteriorate towards the end of the month and spring becomes summer. Salkantay path is not passable.
Dec: Expect rain, often heavy. Cloud often obstructs views. Slippery paths. This is summer time in Peru so the nights are quite mild and the sun quite strong. Salkantay path is not passable.

Vaccinations

Malaria: medication is recommended for all areas of Peru except Lima and its vicinity, the coastal areas south of Lima, the highland tourist areas (Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca), Arequipa, Moquegua, Puno, and Tacna.

The following vaccines may be recommended for your travel to South America. Discuss your travel plans and personal health with your doctor to determine which vaccines you will need.

Hepatitis A Transmission of hepatitis A virus can occur through direct person-to-person contact; through exposure to contaminated water, ice, or shellfish harvested in contaminated water; or from fruits, vegetables, or other foods that are eaten uncooked and that were contaminated during harvesting or subsequent handling.

Hepatitis B, especially if you might be exposed to blood or body fluids (for example, health-care workers), have sexual contact with the local population, or be exposed through medical treatment.

Rabies, pre-exposure vaccination, if you might have extensive unprotected outdoor exposure in rural areas, such as might occur during camping, hiking, or bicycling, or engaging in certain occupational activities.

Typhoid vaccine. Typhoid fever can be contracted through contaminated drinking water or food, or by eating food or drinking beverages that have been handled by a person who is infected. Large outbreaks are most often related to faecal contamination of water supplies or foods sold by street vendors

Yellow fever, vaccination is not required for travellers heading to Lima and Cusco only. People intending to head further afield should consider vaccination.