FAQA FEW DETAILS BEFORE YOUR TRIP
A few quick facts about Peru. Below you’ll find detailed answers to the most common questions as well as additional resources
Guiding Peru’s chefs accompany every group on all of our multi-day itineraries. Most of our guests comment that our food is one of the highlights of their journey.
There are no mandatory vaccines for entry into Peru. Consult with your physician or local travel clinic regarding current vaccine recommendation for traveling through Peru.
TRAVELING IN PERU
AREAS FOR TRAVELING THROUGH PERU
Machu Picchu is the famous Incan citadel set high in the Andes Mountains in Peru, rising high above the Urubamba River valley. The citadel was constructed by the Inca in the 15th century and later abandoned. It was not until 1911 that this “lost city” was made known to the outside world by the American explorer, Hiram Bingham. It’s renowned for its architecture and sophisticated dry-stone walls that utilize huge stone blocks to form magnificent structures, without the use of mortar.
Machu Picchu is a Unesco World Heritage site that houses nearly 200 structures. Located on a steep ridge, which is crisscrossed by stone terraces, the citadel is an outstanding display of religious, ceremonial, astronomical and agricultural sectors. To this day, many of Machu Picchu’s mysteries remain unsolved with many opposing views on the role that it played during the Incas reign.
In 2007 Machu Picchu was voted to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World and those that are fortunate to have the opportunity to visit and tour through its magnificence are soon to understand why it has gained such recognition.
Cusco was the capital city of the Inca people, as well as the political, economic and cultural center of the Americas. With the Inca Empire stretching from as far South as Argentina and North up to Colombia, they were the greatest and most advanced civilization to appear in South America.
Today Cusco displays the finest Inca and Spanish colonial architecture ever built and is well known for its archaeological ruins. The beauty of the city amazes visitors, as does the quality of engineering that went into the construction of the many sites in and around Cusco.
Many of the ancient Inca palaces are now home to museums, hotels and restaurants. Cusco is made up of an interesting mix of both Inca and Colonial architecture that stand alongside one another.
Cusco’s many cathedrals, temples, fortresses, monasteries and Inca ruins make for wonderful tours where you can be assured to learn how the history of the Incas and Spanish formed what is today’s city. Cusco is the gateway to the Andes and a great city to explore while you are acclimating to its high altitude (3400m) prior to beginning multiday treks through the Sacred Valley and into the citadel of Machu Picchu.
The Sacred Valley is a region in Peru’s Andean highlands. Along with the nearby city of Cusco and the historic citadel of Machu Picchu, it formed the heart of the ancient Inca Empire. Nearly 60 kilometers in length, it’s comprised of fertile farmland and Spanish colonial villages.
Today the Sacred Valley is an important agricultural zone where a wide variety of crops continue to be grown on terraces above the Urubamba River. The Sacred Valley is home to many pre-Inca and Inca sites along with quaint local villages, including, Pisac and Ollantaytambo and Chinchero, with the citadel of Machu Picchu being at its end at the beginning of the tropical rain forest.
FOOD AND WATER WHEN TRAVELING THROUGH PERU
Guiding Peru’s chefs accompany every group on all of our multi-day itineraries. Most of our guests comment that our food is one of the highlights of their journey and are amazed at the variety and quality of the meals. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and hearty snacks are provided for your hike. Meals are a mix of local specialties and international favorites.
- Vegetarian meals are also available upon request. Other special dietary requests will be accommodated as well with sufficient notice.
- Chef cooked breakfasts may include; Granola, porridge, scrambled eggs, sausage, pancakes, fruit, bread all served with water, juice, milk coco tea and coffee.
- Chef prepared lunch may include; Vegetables, fruits, soups, potatoes, rice, chicken, fish, pasta salads all served with water, juice, milk coco tea and coffee.
- Chef cooked dinner may include; Vegetables, fruits, soups, potatoes, rice, pasta, beef, chicken, fish, all served with water, juice, milk coco tea and coffee. Followed by a desert treat: fruit, puddings, jello, and cakes.
- Daily snacks are available to our guests, including, Candy, cookies, granola bars, chocolate, popcorn, fruit.
Occasionally there will be places to purchase bottled water along the trails from the local people. We recommend that our guests bring their own refillable bottles to limit plastic waste. Our porters will insure the water we provide on the trails is boiled and then filtered. Purified water will be available every morning to fill your bottles and reservoirs for the days trek and will accompany every meal.
MACHU PICCHU WEATHER
*Temperatures listed in degrees Celcius
- The months September, October, November and December have comfortable average temperatures.
- Most rainfall (rainy season) is seen in January, February, March and December.
- Machu Picchu has dry periods in May, June, July, August and September.
- On average, the warmest month is September.
- On average, the coolest month is January.
- January is the wettest month.
- June is the driest month.
PERU RECOMMENDED VACCINES
There are no mandatory vaccines for entry into Peru. Consult with your physician or local travel clinic regarding current vaccine recommendation for traveling through Peru. Currently the CDC and WHO recommend the following: Routine vaccines, Typhoid, Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B, Rabies and depending on your region of travel in Peru you may consider Malaria and Yellow Fever prevention.
HIGH ALTITUDE AND SICKNESS
The air at high altitudes contains less oxygen than at sea level and forces your body to work harder to get the oxygen it needs. Over several days at high altitude, your body eventually adjusts to the lower amount of oxygen in the air. This is why at Guiding Peru we recommend that our guests spend at least two days in Cusco or the Sacred Valley before the start of your trek.
With altitude sickness, you may first feel like you have the flu or the discomfort of a hangover. This may include: headache, tiredness, and loss of appetite, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, trouble sleeping, or trouble breathing during exercise. If any of these effects become severe, please contact our office or discuss with your guide on your tour and we will help you get to a doctor.
Guiding Peru staff is trained in how to recognize your symptoms and assist with your recovery. We always recommend easing into activity slowly, allowing your body to adjust. Do everything slowly; there is no race, and no winner for the fastest to complete the trek. Drink plenty of fluids such as water or coca tea.
Coca tea has been used since ancient times to help prevent altitude sickness. Leaves from the Coca Plant contain alkaloids, which helps bring oxygen into your blood, helping your body avoid the effects of altitude sickness.
Avoid drinking large quantities of alcohol and coffee. They will cause you to urinate more often and become dehydrated. Avoid smoking as its use makes it more difficult for your body to get oxygen.
Avoid sleeping pills, as these create shallow breathing at night, making it more difficult for your body to absorb oxygen while you sleep.
Your healthcare provider may prescribe medicines (Acetazolamide and Dexamethasone) to help prevent altitude sickness. Follow your prescriber’s guidelines for use, with our suggestion being: to begin taking the medicines 2 days before you get to a high altitude and continue taking while you are at high altitude.
PERU ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Peru is considered a safe country and one of open doors. The entry into Peru for citizens of most American and Western European countries does not require a tourist visa. The maximum period of stay granted by the authorities is 183 days and this cannot be extended. For longer periods of time for other purposes (business, study, work, etc.) it is necessary to apply for the appropriate visa at a Peruvian consulate.
In order to enter Peru it is mandatory to carry a valid passport. Citizens of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Bolivia, Venezuela and Chile may enter with their valid national identification document.
DO YOU CATER FOR SPECIAL DIETS AND FOOD ALLERGIES?
Yes. We will provide meals according to your requests and you will be able to provide details of your special diet or food allergy at the time of booking,
POINTS OF INTEREST
Country Calling Code: +51
Capital City: Lima
Metropolitan Area: has a population of 8.5 million.
Independence: 28 July 1821.
Constitution: 31 December 1993.
Agriculture products: Coffee, cotton, sugarcane, rice, potatoes, corn, plantains, grapes, oranges, coca; poultry, beef, dairy products; fish.
Industries: Mining and refining of minerals and metals, petroleum extraction and refining, natural gas, fishing and fish processing, textiles, clothing, food processing, steel, metal fabrication.
Area: 1.28-million km², third-largest country in South America.
Terrain: Varies widely between western coastal plains, central Andean highlands, and eastern tropical lowlands in Amazon Basin.
Climate: Arid and mild in coastal area, temperate to frigid in the Andes, and warm and humid in jungle lowlands.
Population: 30.5 million
Ethnic groups: Indigenous (45%), mestizo (37%), European (15%), African, Japanese, Chinese, and other (3%).
Religion: Roman Catholic (90%).
Languages: Spanish is the principal language. Quechua, Aymara and other indigenous languages also have official status.
DISCOVERER OF MACHU PICCHU
"In the variety of its charms and the power of its spell, I know of no other place in the world which can compare with it.”
THE INCA TRAIL
Join our experienced team for the Classic 4-Day Inca trail to Machu Picchu or one of our other tours that gets you to Machu Picchu. Guiding Peru provides the highest class trekking service in Cusco: including North American quality camping equipment, the finest of meals along with an experienced team of local guides and support staff. The Inca trail is full of amazing archaelogical sites and is considered one of the top treks in the world, leading into the lost city of Machu Picchu. We guarantee our treks to depart with a minimum of 2 guests and a maximum of 10 guests, insuring a memorable and uncrowded experience.
INCA TRAIL PERMITS
Guiding Peru will buy your Inca Trail trek permit using the names & passport numbers that you provide during your booking application. You must bring this same passport with you on the Inca Trail. If the name or number in your passport is different from the name and number on the trek permit, the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek and you will not be entitled to a refund. If you plan to renew your passport between making the trek booking and actually starting the trek please notify our office asap. You will be required to bring a copy of your original passport used for the booking and your new passport for Incas Trail entry. If you make a trek booking at the student price you must send us a copy of your ISIC card at the time you make the booking. If you fail to bring your ISIC card on the trek the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek. You will not be given the opportunity to pay the extra difference in price and you will not be entitled to a refund. These are government regulations and apply to all Inca Trail tour operators.
We recommend booking your Inca Trail permits as far in advance as possible. The government has strictly limited the number of people allowed on the Inca Trail (500 permits/day including guests and porters). Once we have secured your permit, the name and start date can not be changed under any circumstance. The only information that the government allows us to change is passport numbers.
Passports are required to purchase Inca Trail permits. The government will only allow a change in passport number, if you have a copy of the new passport and the old passport. If you no longer have your old passport, a government issued ID will be accepted, as long as the name is the same.
INCA TRAIL AVAILABILITY
WHAT IF THE INCA TRAIL IS SOLD OUT?
Guiding Peru offers a wide selection of alternative treks to the Inca Trail. These alternative treks are as beautiful as the Inca Trail and you will still visit Machu Picchu. Guiding Peru has many routes to choose from and we have departures almost every day. Contact us and we will find the perfect trek for you and your schedule.
IF THE INCA TRAIL IS SOLD OUT CAN I GET AN INCA TRAIL PERMIT IF SOMEONE CANCELS THEIR TREK
No, once the permits have been sold they never become available again. Permits are not transferable to others even upon cancellations. No tour operator in Peru is allowed to pre-purchase Inca Trail permits to sell at a later date. Thus, once the Inca Trail is sold out there is no ability for any company to acquire more permits for that day of entry.
WHERE DO WE START THE TREK
We pick you up from your hotel in Cusco. Your guide will coordinate the exact details during your Pre-Trek briefing the day prior to the start of your trek.
WHAT TIME DO WE GET BACK TO CUSCO AFTER THE TREK ON DAY 4?
Typical return time back to Cusco is between 7:30 pm and 8:00 pm. Our driver will take you back to the Cusco hotel of your choice or airport.
HOW MANY PEOPLE WILL BE IN MY GROUP?
We are considered a small group operator and we limit our tours to a maximum of 10 guests. Our treks are guaranteed to depart with a minimum of 2 guests. Solo guests are to contact our company to join an existing group.
HOW DIFFICULT IS THE INCA TRAIL?
The Inca trail is considered a difficult trek. You will succeed and enjoy this trek if you properly prepare yourself for it. Try walking 10km three to four times a week or go to the gym, for a few months leading up to the trek. You will make it easier on your body by spending a few days in Cusco before you depart (2 or more days). This will allow you to properly acclimate to our high altitudes. If you are not in good physical shape or you are worried on your ability to succeed, you may wish to consider our 2-day Inca Trail instead of the 4 day Inca Trail.
DO I NEED TREKKING POLES?
Trekking poles make trekking long distances much easier on your lower body by spreading the work throughout your body. We recommend trekking poles for all guests on the Inca Trail. Trekking poles must be protected by rubber tips, no metal tips are allowed.
DO I HAVE TO HAVE TREKKING BOOTS?
It is not necessary and you can walk the Inca trail using good quality running shoes if preferred, with good ankle support. It is recommended to wear water-proof (Goretex style) footwear.
WILL I NEED WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS?
No. Water purification tablets are needed for water taken from streams or lakes, which we advise against drinking. We provide you with plenty of boiled water throughout your trek. You will need to bring 2 litres of drinking water for the first morning of the trek.
CAN CHILDREN DO THE TREK?
There is no government restriction on the age limit for the Inca Trail. All children under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult. We encourage children of all ages to walk the Inca trail, however as with adults they do need to be in good shape and prepared for 6-8 hour days of walking.
IS THE TREK SAFE IN THE RAIN?
The Inca trail is safe in the rain. Our guides will lead you at a pace insuring your safety, rain or shine.
WHAT IF I CAN'T KEEP UP WITH THE REST OF THE GROUP?
Our guides are very patient and understanding. You can walk at your own pace that suits you without the worry of being left behind.
WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST AS A PACKING LIST?
Suggested packing list are provide on each of our tour pages. For the Inca trail it is suggested to bring: Backpack with rain cover, sleeping bag, suitable water-proof footwear, 3 pairs of wool socks and underwear, long leggings for evenings, beanie and lightweight gloves, one complete change of clothing, sweater, jacket (warm), water bottle x 2, flashlight or head lamp, broad-brim or peaked cap, sunblock, insect repellent, toiletries and toilet paper, snacks, camera, personal medications. Original passport with the same passport number you originally made your reservation with, otherwise you will be unable enter the Inca Trail. Money for, snacks, tips, souvenirs.
WHERE DO WE STORE OUR EXTRA LUGGAGE NO USED ON THE TREK?
Most hotels in Cusco offer luggage storage and will store it until your return to Cusco. If this service is not available at your Cusco hotel, please advise our guide at the pre-trek briefing and he will coordinate storage at our office in Cusco.
The Sacred Valley
If you stay at a hotel in The Sacred Valley the night before your departure then you will ba able to leave your luggage at the hotel. On your return train journney you will need to disembark at Ollantaytambo and return to your hotel for your luggage.
WHAT IS THE WEATHER ON THE INCA TRAIL?
April through September is the dry season, November through February is the rainy season and March and October are the bridge months – a mixture of both. Prepare for sun and rain no matter which month you come to Cusco and the Inca Trail. Temperatures are consistent throughout the year. Mornings and evenings are cold, so bring a fleece jacket to begin the hike and a light down jacket for the evenings at the campsites. Once the sun rises during the day, you should be comfortable hiking in short sleeve shirts and shorts on most days. Long pants and long sleeve shirts are recommended to assist with the mosquitos.
CAN I SPEND AN EXTRA NIGHT IN AGUAS CALIENTES?
Yes. If you are ok with taking the same train out of Aguas Calientes that is part of your original itinerary, which is typically at 4:22pm, than there is no additional charge to move the train back a day, of we are notified at the time of the booking. If you need us to secure your hotel or another visit to Machu Picchu, this will be an additional cost. If you do choose to spend one more night in Aguas Calientes, make sure you tell the Guiding Peru office at the time of the booking, so your train ticket is purchased for the right day.
HUAYNA-PICCHU OR MOUNT MACHU PICCHU?
During your online booking process for the Inca Trail Trek you will have the option of selecting the Huayna Picchu or Mount Machu Picchu Climb. These permits cost $75.00 and will allow for you to enjoy the climb during your time in Machu Picchu. Please indicate your preference at the time of booking. We will make every attempt to fulfill your request, however due to the limited number of permits available we reserve the right to substitute the Machu Picchu Mountain permit should the Huayna Picchu permits be sold out for your date of entry.
Huayna Picchu Young peak is the mountain in the backdrop of the Machu Picchu citadel, seen in all the famous photos There are 400 daily permits, 200 at 7am and 200 at 10am. If you are in good physical condition it will take 45mins to reach the top and 30 minutes to descend back to where you started the climb. This is not an easy trek and is dangerous in parts, especially in the rain. It includes steep steps with cables & railings to assist. There are Inca temples and agro-terraces near the top and on visiting them you will see there is an alternative route down which leads to some other ruins, Temple of the moon, built inside a cave and thought to have been the abode of high priests and local virgins. The alternative route down to the Temple of the moon is more difficult, more dangerous and includes more steep steps and ladders and includes a few more ascents en-route. To complete the full round trip you will need to give yourself 3 hours +
Climb Machu Picchu Mountain
The hike to Cerro Machu Picchu is a good alternative to Huayna Picchu and as it is less well- known it is not as crowded. This off the beaten path trek offers a quieter walk and the view at the top is superior to the view at Huayna Picchu. The trail will take you through interesting habitat including different varieties exotic birds and plants including many varieties of orchids. After an hour and thirty minutes of steep climbing you will reach the summit. It is a tough trek but the reward is the stunning view of the Citadel of Machu Picchu. Insure you allow 2.5 hours to complete this climb of Machu Picchu Mountain.