|MEETING PLACE:||Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport – Cusco, Peru|
|MEETING TIME:||The morning of day 1 (in time to join the afternoon tour)|
|DEPARTURE:||Anytime day 7|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 12|
|TRIP LENGTH:||7 days / 6 nights|
|ACTIVITIES:||Rafting, hiking, volunteering, zip lining and archeological exploration|
Join OARS for an action-packed week on a unique journey—designed with adventurous travelers in mind—to the heart of the Inca Empire. Help prepare breakfast and spend time interacting with local schoolchildren in an Andean village, raft the Class II-III Urubamba River, zip-line through the jungle canopy on six different cables, and explore the fascinating archaeological remnants of the Inca civilization with our knowledgeable Peruvian guides. In addition to other notable ruins along the way, our trip includes a visit to Machu Picchu—the lost citadel of the Inca—and two extraordinary nights at the renowned Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, where spacious two-room cottages provide solo travelers and families with plenty of space to relax and unwind.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other trips in the area and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Day 1: Arrive into Cusco, Afternoon City and Ruins Tour
Upon arrival at Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport in Cusco, Peru, you will be greeted by an OARS representative and transferred to our hotel. We suggest you arrive into Cusco anytime this morning.
The late morning and early afternoon is free to settle-in, relax and enjoy lunch on your own. We will meet at approximately 2:00 PM for a city and ruins tour of Cusco before a lively welcome dinner with folk music, in great anticipation of the adventure to come.
Sonesta Hotel Cusco or similar (D)
Please note: If you are arriving to Cusco or Lima ahead of the OARS program, we can arrange additional tours of the area, airport transfers and extra nights of accommodation (in Cusco). Contact your OARS Adventure Consultant for more details.
Day 2: Sacred Valley: Volunteering and Ollantaytambo Ruins
This morning we will drive from Cusco to the Sacred Valley and the historic town of Ollantaytambo, considered the last gateway along the Inca Trail in route to Machu Picchu and home of the Incan archaeological site of Ollantaytambo. We will visit this famous market with our guide to purchase ingredients for a well-balanced breakfast: fruits, oatmeal, milk, cheese, bread and eggs. From there, we’ll head to the Cachiccata School to prepare and serve breakfast for the appreciative students. This meal will help supply much-needed energy and focus during a full day of learning. Take some time and relish in the smiles, laughter and youthful energy! Many guests like to bring school supplies as well. You can purchase supplies at the Ollantaytambo market, helping support local business or bring donated supplies from friends and family members back home. Bringing school supplies for the school children is optional.
After time playing games with the students, we’ll enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before the short transfer to our hotel for the evening. After resting up, we’ll rejoin our guide for a tour around Ollantaytambo where we explore the village and Inca sites while learning the history of the surrounding area. We make it back to the hotel in time for dinner, before parting ways for the night.
Pakaritampu Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 3: Trans-Andean Drive, Rafting the Lower Urubamba River and Farm Tour
After breakfast, we depart on a three-to-four hour trans-Andean journey towards Machu Picchu. We’ll ascend the winding road up the high pass of Malaga, reaching 14,160 ft above sea level, before making our descent into the Amazonian cloud forest and the village of Santa Maria, located on the backside of Machu Picchu. Along the way we’ll enjoy a quick visit at an Inca site. Continuing to El Mangal Farm, we’ll have lunch before heading to the river.
*Note that if you are susceptible to being car sick, you may require a prophylactic due to the bumpy and winding nature of the roads.
Ready for rafting, we’ll prepare with a safety briefing before starting our river adventure through fun, Class II-III rapids. We’ll navigate fun rapids and float through a scenic, jungle environment. Afterward, we’ll return to the farm and our lodging for the night, where there may be time to rest before exploring the farm with a guided tour of its abundant cacao, coffee and fruit plantation.
El Mangal Farm Lodge (B, L, D)
Day 4: Jungle Zip Lining* and Hike to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes)
Ready for another day of adventure, we’ll enjoy a farm-fresh breakfast before continuing our journey toward Machu Picchu. A two-hour drive will bring us to Cola de Mono, located near Santa Teresa village.
Cola de Mono is home to our zip line canopy tour, where we’ll receive safety instructions, gear-up, and soar through the jungle canopy on six different zip line cables. The approach to reach the zip line is steep and conditions are humid and often slippery, so we take our time to reach the first platform. The exciting canopy tour reaches almost 500 ft off the valley floor, offers a cable spanning 1300 ft, and even includes a short via ferrata to get from one platform to another.
*There is an alternative option to the zip line – you may choose to hike an Andean trail to Cocalmayo Hotsprings (involves a 20-minute drive and about 2-hours of hiking.)
We will then take a short drive to the start of our three-hour/six mile hike along the spectacular Urubamba River canyon to Machu Picchu Pueblo (also known as Aguas Calientes). While hiking we’ll see an abundance of local flora along the way. Equally exciting is the occasional passenger train which comes rumbling by alongside our pathway to the ancient Inca city.
If you’d prefer not to hike, there is an option of boarding a train at 4:30 PM for the 45-minute train ride to town.
Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 5: Machu Picchu
Today, we’ll get an early start to make the most of our time at the unparalleled Machu Picchu. Here, high above the Urubamba River, we’ll enjoy a guided tour of the extraordinary ‘Lost City of the Incas.’ Made up of approximately 200 distinct buildings, Machu Picchu is believed to have been a religious retreat and royal estate, rather than an administrative or commercial center. The residences, temples, storage areas and public areas are built mainly from blocks of granite, each piece fitting together with almost unbelievable precision. No mortar was used in the Inca-style construction, yet at most junctions even the slimmest of blades cannot wedge between the pieces of stone.
We include the option to hike up Huayna Picchu*, approximately 1,180 feet higher than Machu Picchu. Though it can be an intimidating climb, the Incas built temples and terraces on its top and it offers a fantastic view of Machu Picchu and the sanctuary below. The departure time for this hike is 10:00 AM.
After lunch we return to town where you’re free to spend the afternoon exploring and taking in the lively culture of this bustling little town. Or you may choose to immerse yourself in the beautiful surroundings of our hotel, home to fantastic bird watching, the world’s largest native orchid collection, and much more.
Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B, L, D)
*We attempt to secure a ticket to hike Huayna Picchu. If tickets aren’t available, we will arrange one for the hike up Machu Picchu Mountain.
Day 6: Machu Picchu Pueblo (Aguas Calientes)
Much of the day is yours to spend as you please, whether relaxing or taking in activities such as another visit to Machu Picchu, bird watching, visiting the nearby orchid collections or other activities offered by the hotel. Those choosing to go back to Machu Picchu must pay transport and entrance fees. You may also enjoy strolling the streets and shops of this quaint town or visiting the local hot springs.
*Note that regulations limit the number of visitors to Machu Picchu and therefore if you wish to return this day, advance notice may be required to ensure a ticket to enter is available.
Around 3:30 PM we’ll board the train for our return journey to Cusco. We’ll travel by rail to Ollantaytambo and by vehicle back to Cusco. We’ll check into our hotel and enjoy a farewell dinner at a local restaurant, toasting our incredible adventure.
Sonesta Hotel Cusco or similar (B, D)
Day 7: Depart Cusco
You’re free to enjoy Cusco at your leisure. We include one group transfer to the airport for departing flights. Later transfers can be arranged at an additional cost, or you’re welcome to simply arrange a taxi. (B)
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- 6 nights lodging (based on double occupancy)
- All meals as outlined in the itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner)
- Bottled water throughout the trip, including with meals
- Airport arrival transfer on day 1 and one group transfer on day 7 (transfers outside days 1 & 7 can be arranged for an additional cost)
- All activities and related equipment as outlined in the itinerary
- Highest quality inflatable rafts and related equipment including spray jacket, helmet, paddle and personal flotation device
- Machu Picchu entrance fees on day 5, along with a permit to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
- Ground transportation as outlined in the itinerary
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Flights to and from Cusco, Peru
- Airport transfers outside days 1 & 7, and additional accommodation (contact our office to arrange)
- Single supplement fee
- Additional beverages at meals, such as soda and alcohol
- Re-entry into Machu Picchu and associated transport on day 6
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Items of personal nature (an equipment list will be provided)
- Medical immunizations (if necessary)
TRIP PREPARATION CHECK LIST
☐ Consider Purchasing Travel Protection: We recommend the purchase of the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you before and during your trip. A travel protection plan can help with reimbursement of your non-refundable payments in the event you have to cancel your trip due to listed reasons such as a covered illness or injury. Because we begin working to prepare for your trip upon receipt of your deposit and may be turning other prospective guests away while holding space for you, there are cancellation fees that will apply regardless of why or when you might need to cancel. We list the cost for the optional OARS Travel Protection Plan on your trip invoice.
10-Day Free Look Period: This stipulation allows you to cancel your travel protection plan within 10 days from your effective date of coverage or before your scheduled departure date, whichever comes sooner. OARS will refund all of your premiums paid if you cancel coverage within the time specified, provided you have not already filed a claim under the travel protection plan. Effective date refers to 12:01 AM the day after the policy premium is paid.
Insurance coverages are underwritten by Arch Insurance Company, NAIC #11150, under policy series LTP 2013 and endorsements thereto. Policies are administered by Arch Insurance Solutions Inc., 855-286-8351, CA license #0I18111, TX license #1787195. Your policy is the contract that specifically and fully describes your coverage. Certain restrictions and exclusions apply and coverages may vary in certain states. Please refer to your policy for detailed terms and conditions; online at: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Consumer disclosures can be found at: https://oars.archinsurancesolutions.com/disclosures
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
☐ Trip Forms (online): Each participant will need to complete the required trip forms within two weeks of making a booking. Refer to your confirmation e-mail for the link to the online forms. If you prefer to fill out paper forms, please let us know right away. If you are reserving within 90 days of departure, your forms must be completed immediately to ensure we can properly plan for your trip.
☐ Reserve flights, shuttles and lodging: Verify with your Adventure Consultant that your trip has met minimum numbers prior to booking flights and/or reserving overnight lodging for the night before and after your trip, if applicable.
☐ Whitewater Orientation: To increase your safety, we expect everyone to watch our 23-minute Whitewater Orientation video before joining us. Watch at https://www.oars.com/experience/safety/ or call 800-346-6277 to request a free DVD. Please don’t leave home without watching.
☐ Physical Requirements: Your outdoor adventure will be an active participatory trip. Please inform us of any physical limitation you may have as soon as possible. Make sure you are exercising frequently in the months leading up to your trip.
☐ Payments: Final payment is due in our office 90 days prior to your trip (refer to your invoice for final payment date). Please let us know if you would like us to automatically charge your credit card on file when final payment is due.
Meeting Place & Time
Upon arrival at the Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) in Cusco, Peru, you will be met by an OARS representative outside the baggage claim area and transferred to our hotel. We recommend arriving early in the day to take advantage of our afternoon tour of the city and ruins. Enjoy a welcome dinner with our guide to go over any questions and familiarize everyone with our plans for the coming days.
Getting to Cusco, Peru
Direct service to Lima is offered from several U.S. cities, including Los Angeles, Miami, Houston, Atlanta, New York and others. Airlines offering non-stop service include LATAM, American, United and Delta.
Many flights from North America arrive to Lima in the evening. If this is the case and you intend to continue on to Cusco the next morning, you may want to stay the night at Lima’s airport hotel, the Wyndham Costa del Sol. There is also a Holiday Inn a short distance from the airport.
Flights from Lima to Cusco depart regularly every day and are offered by LATAM, Avianca, LCPeru, Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines and others.
We recommend you book a flight arriving into Cusco around 10:30 AM to join us for the afternoon tour of the city and ruins.
We recommend at least 3 hours between flights in Lima to catch your flight to Cusco. In Lima, you will need to go through immigration control, collect your luggage & pass through customs, exit the international terminal and go to the domestic terminal where you will have to check-in for your domestic flight.
Let us know if you’d like assistance with arranging your international flight logistics. Our partners at Exito Travel specialize in international destinations and we’d be happy to obtain a quote from them on your behalf.
Please do not purchase airfare until your departure has been confirmed by the minimum number of required guests.
After Your Trip
On the final day of your adventure, one group transfer is provided to the Cusco Airport for departing flights.
Essential Travel Documents
If you don’t have a passport, apply for one immediately because the process can be lengthy. If you do have a passport, find it and check the expiration date to see that it is valid for six months beyond your scheduled arrival date to Peru. If not, you must renew it. Passport details are required to secure entrance into Machu Picchu, so plan to provide a good copy to us immediately, as tickets to enter Machu Picchu are limited and in high demand.
Make a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and carry it separately from your passport. It is also a good idea to leave a copy with your emergency contact at home. If your passport is lost or stolen, a photocopy will help the local consulate speed up authorization for replacement. Also check your passport for blank pages. If you do not have at least two blank pages in your passport, we recommend that you apply to have extra pages added.
Do not pack your passport in your checked-in luggage. You may be asked for your papers at various times during the trip. If you are carrying a customs form, please keep it in a safe place at all times (we do not recommend carrying it in the passport because we often must submit the passport at hotels, where reception clerks can easily lose the form).
A visa is not required for U.S. citizens to enter Peru. For non-U.S. citizens please check with the consulate.
Mandatory Evacuation Insurance
We require that you purchase emergency medical evacuation insurance to participate in this expedition. For a policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
We strongly recommend that you protect yourself, your belongings, and your vacation through the purchase of a travel protection plan. We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: www.oars.com/tpp
Something for everyone! Increasingly popular with our repeat travelers, our multi-sport adventures are an easygoing way to explore—combining rafting and hiking with other fun-filled activities that take advantage of the best this region has to offer. Activities on the itinerary include rafting, hiking, zip-lining, guided archaeological exploration and time for relaxing on your own agenda.
Peru is known worldwide for its unique and varied cuisine. You will be able to experience a great variety of regional foods during your adventure. Peru’s variety in cuisines is based on the ancient cultural traditions of the Incas and their predecessors, the diversity of its ecosystems and the more recent influence of European and Asian culinary traditions. In the markets, you will discover the great festival of colors, aromas and flavors.
The mountainous region is noted for a great variety of corn dishes. There are also countless offerings of potato due to Peru‘s vast variety of the tuber. Researchers believe that Peru is host to over 4,000 varieties of potato. Other flavorful offerings of this region include alpaca and guinea pig seasoned with Andean products such as chili peppers, goosefoot, black mint or pampa savory. Regardless of where you are—urban or rural—you will be delighted by the incredible variety of traditional foods served.
We need to know as soon as possible about any dietary restrictions we must consider in planning your trip. If you have food allergies or restrictions, we will do our best to accommodate your needs.
Beyond our standard menu, we can provide options for vegetarian, vegan and many allergy-restricted diets. However, we cannot always provide the same diversity or sophistication for restricted diets as we do for our regular menu.
We cannot guarantee that cross-contamination from allergens will not occur during meal prep, and reserve the right to refuse service to anyone as it relates to safety, including the potential for a medical emergency caused by a severe food allergy. Also, due to availability of ingredients or specialty items in remote locations, and limited packing space, we may be unable to cater to dietary preferences (likes or dislikes).
Beverages / Alcohol
Alcoholic beverages are not included with the cost of your Peruvian adventure, but are readily available at lodgings and restaurants. Pisco and chicha are well known cocktails in Peru. Pisco is the delicious result of the blending of European grapevines, sun of the south Peruvian coast and the traditional knowledge of the potters who make the jars in which the drink is aged. The color of pisco is transparent, its flavor strong and its odor slightly fragrant. The delicate brandy can be drunk straight or as the ever-popular cocktail—the Pisco Sour.
The other popular Peruvian alcoholic beverage is the corn-based chicha. Chicha is an integral part of many pre-Hispanic rituals. In many areas of the Andes it is still prepared as is has been for hundreds of years. It is drunk in fermented and unfermented forms, and tends to have low alcohol content. It is often spiced and served with fruit.
We recommend you drink only bottled or previously boiled water, and that you bring a refillable water bottle or similar device, especially when traveling in remote locations. A limited supply of bottled water is provided; at times you may wish to purchase water.
We strongly recommend you take out a rider on your homeowner’s policy to cover your camera, especially if it’s fine equipment. If you are planning on bringing a digital camera make sure to bring additional memory cards, batteries, and any other extras you will need. Disposable waterproof and panorama cameras are another fun option.
Electronics & Technology
The use of electronic devices, especially music players and flying drones, on your trip may represent an intrusion into the wilderness experience of your fellow guests. We ask that you please be mindful of the impacts to others and respect the wilderness nature of the trip. Please bring headphones if you intend to listen to music during the trip and leave your drone at home*.
On a trip like this, there is always the risk of water damage to smartphones and other electronic devices, even when they are stowed in a dry bag. If you intend to take your phone with you on the river, consider investing in a small, waterproof container just for your phone.
*The use of drones is prohibited in Machu Picchu sanctuary.
Peru uses an electrical current of 220 volts. If your electrical devices work only with 110 volts, you should bring a converter. While some hotel may have outlets to accommodate 110 volts or have a limited supply of converters to loan, you may want to bring your own to be certain.
Outlets are primarily type A, which don’t require an adapter for most modern electronics. We recommend you bring a power plug adapter to avoid an problems using the electrical outlets. You can learn more at http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/peru/
Once you are on your adventure there will be times with limited communication with the “outside world.” However, the majority of the region has cellular coverage and hotels offer internet (but not all). If you have someone that needs to contact you about an emergency at home, they should call our office (800-346-6277). If possible, we will relay the message to you. Keep in mind it could be several days or longer before the message actually reaches you. For your family at home you should define for them what you consider an emergency and provide them with instructions to call our office in the event one occurs during your vacation.
The official currency in Peru is the Peruvian Sol. Money can be exchanged at the airport in Lima or Cusco, at the Money Exchange Offices known as “Casas de Cambio” or at banks. In Cusco, the U.S. dollar is accepted in many commercial shops at the daily rate of exchange. ATMs are available in the larger cities and many offer the choice of U.S. or Peruvian currency. Once outside the cities, it is helpful to have local currency for any purchases such as water or souvenirs.
Credit cards are readily accepted in Lima and Cusco, but it is suggested that you have cash for purchases outside of the cities. Check with your credit card provider regarding surcharges for international purchases and be sure to alert the provider of your planned travels prior to your departure.
You may want to check the weather in Peru a week prior to your trip for an up-to-date forecast. We recommend you use the following web site: www.wunderground.com.
The highlands of the Andes—the locale of Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and the Urubamba River—usually have very little rain from May to September, and a rainy season that lasts from November to March, with heaviest rains in January and February. Temperatures remain fairly constant year round with daytime averages in the upper 60s, and nighttime lows to the mid-30s. Please note that there are sudden temperature drops after sunset. Cusco is 11,200 feet above sea level and the Sacred Valley area is from 7,000-9,000 feet above sea level.
Peru is located in the same international time zone as the US east coast. During Daylight Savings Time in the US, Peru is on Central Time.
Health and Medical Information
Although we do not require any immunizations to participate on the Machu Picchu Explorer, it is important that you be up-to-date on several standard immunizations and that you check with your physician prior to departure. The CDC also is a good resource for recommendations pertaining to international travel immunizations.
Traveling at High Altitude
This trip includes time spent at high altitudes. Cusco is 11,200 feet above sea level and the Sacred Valley is from 7,000-9,000 feet above sea level. You may at first move more slowly, rest more frequently, have some restlessness at night, and be subject to headaches. We design each of our trips for adequate altitude conditioning in the early part of the journey. However, be forewarned that there are no guarantees that your body will acclimatize properly. Please see our High Altitude information sheet for more details. Additionally, if you have a heart condition or high blood pressure we request that you check with your physician prior to traveling at high altitude. Please familiarize yourself with symptoms, treatment and more about altitude illness at the CDC.
For Women Only
Even if you aren’t anticipating your menstrual period, come prepared for it. You can use sandwich-sized Ziploc baggies during the day to store feminine products while you are on the river or hiking, and you can then discretely dispose of the baggies when you reach camp. When possible, we recommend o.b.® tampons, which are 1/3 the size of regular tampons, tuck discreetly into pockets and have less paper wrapping. If you use pads, be sure to bring extras. Many women suggest bringing a small supply of baby wipes. We provide some feminine products on most trips for emergencies.
Traveler Responsibility Code
1. Read the pre-trip literature and arrive at the meeting place on time.
2. Understand the risks: your safety is ultimately your responsibility.
3. Wear clothing and personal protective equipment suitable for the current conditions.
4. Listen to and follow the guides’ instructions.
5. Abide by the managing agency’s rules.
6. No drugs or alcohol or during the day; alcohol is allowed in moderation at the lodges.
7. Minimize your impact on the environment.
8. Treat your fellow guests and guides with respect and courtesy; harassment of any kind will not be tolerated.
9. Your children are your responsibility!
Essential Eligibility Criteria for River Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS river trip.
1. Ability to remain seated and balanced while in a whitewater craft while holding on with at least one hand.
2. Wear a Type V Coast Guard-approved personal floatation device (maximum chest size of 56 inches). Wearing leg straps may be required to ensure proper fit. Where required, properly wear a helmet.
3. Ability to independently board and disembark a boat four to ten times each day. This may require stepping into the boat, and then maneuvering your body over and across tubes and fixed objects into a seated position.
4. Ability to independently navigate shoreline terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces, under low branches, and around vegetation. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
5. Ability to independently swim in whitewater or swift currents while wearing a PFD. This includes being an active participant in your own rescue, including having the ability to (a) keep your airway passages sealed while underwater, and regain control of your breathing when being submitted to repeated submersion under waves or currents; (b) orient yourself to new “in-river” surroundings; (c) reposition yourself in the water to different swimming positions; (d) swim aggressively to a boat or to shore in whitewater; (e) receive a rescue rope, paddle, or human assistance, and possibly let go of the same; (f) get out from under an overturned boat.
6. Ability to swim 100 yards in flat water while wearing a PFD.
7. Ability to assist another passenger who has fallen out of the boat by pulling them back in.
8. Ability to follow both verbal and non-verbal instructions given by guides in all situations, including during stressful or dangerous situations, and to effectively communicate with guides and other guests.
9. Ability to carry personal dry bags and other personal gear (as heavy as 20-30 pounds) uphill from the boats to your camping location and back the next morning, independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member. (This only applies on multi-day trips).
10. Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
11. If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
12. Ability to remain adequately fed, hydrated, and properly dressed so as to avoid environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat related illness, sunburn and frostbite.
The above criteria, if not met, will disqualify a person from participating in a river trip with OARS. The criteria exist for your own safety and that of all trip participants. None of the criteria are meant to discriminate on the basis of any physical or mental disability, and are applied uniformly to all potential trip participants, irrespective of the presence or absence of any disability. OARS is committed to making reasonable modifications to any trip for any persons with a disability, so long as they do not fundamentally alter the nature of the trip.
Further Information About Our Expectations of Trip Participants
The following paragraphs are meant to further inform all potential participants of the expectations for all participants in order to promote a safe, enjoyable experience for everyone on a trip. There may be requirements, whether physical or mental, that are not specifically applied “essential eligibility criteria”, but that help our guests understand the reality of being on a wilderness river trip.
Our primary goal is to minimize the risks associated with adventure trips in a wilderness environment. The trip involves physical exertion and exposure to the elements, including cold water and the potential for heat, sun, wind, rain and snow. We have experience accommodating people with a wide range of physical disabilities and/or health conditions. However, individuals who are overweight, lack conditioning, or have other physical limitations or ailments that interfere with the realistic encounters on a wilderness river can endanger themselves, other guests, and the guides. Please consult your doctor if you have medical or health conditions that could impact your ability to participate in this outdoor adventure.
It is very important that each trip participant take an active role in their own safety. You will likely encounter wilderness conditions that you are unfamiliar with, and those conditions may change rapidly. It is critical to pay attention at all times, to be aware of your surroundings, and to avoid taking unnecessary risks. Even a non-life threatening injury in a wilderness setting can become a major emergency for you, and can endanger the entire group. Swimming alone or hiking alone is discouraged. Excessive alcohol consumption or illicit drug use is not tolerated. Using common sense and following both the explicit instruction and the lead of your guides can go a long way towards keeping yourself and the group safe. Some obvious things to avoid in camp and on shore (by way of example) are: walking around without shoes in camp, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around your tent site that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards such as poison ivy and rattlesnakes, and walking near precipitous ledges.
River trips, particularly those involving whitewater, are inherently risky. While the risk of a trip is part of what makes it an exciting adventure, you must be entirely respectful of the risk that such a trip poses. It is important that you are confident in your swimming ability, and your ability to stay calm in the event you become a non-voluntary swimmer. Your odds of becoming a non-voluntary swimmer change with the classification of a rapid, boat selection and environmental factors. On class IV and greater whitewater, the probability that you will become a non-voluntary swimmer is significant. A swim in whitewater is much more difficult and physically draining than swimming in flat water. Swimming in cold water can cause a gasping effect on your respiratory system. This can be overcome by focusing on your breathing and calming yourself down. Swimming in cold water will also much more quickly sap your energy and decrease muscle function than swimming in warmer water. While our guides are highly trained and will do their absolute best to rescue you, a successful rescue is greatly hampered by a swimmer who is unprepared for a swim in whitewater, who fails to actively participate in their own rescue, and who is not able to follow directions while under stress. You will receive a detailed orientation talk at the start of your river trip, but you can get a better idea of what to expect by watching a version of an orientation talk here: http://www.oars.com/videos/oars-whitewater-orientation.
Due to the physical nature of this trip, we highly recommend that you engage in regular exercise for at least three months prior to departure to ensure preparedness. No gym membership required! Simple exercises like push-ups, sit-ups and squats go a long way to improving core fitness. Start with these exercises and do three sets of ten repetitions each, three to four times per week. Aerobic training is also easy to accomplish without expensive equipment. Take 30 – 40 minutes two to three times a week and go for a brisk walk, easy jog or bike ride around town. If you have access to a pool, lake or the ocean, swimming is obviously an ideal choice for aerobic exercise. It provides a full-body workout and is training that is useful in the event of an involuntary swim in a whitewater rapid. It is important to push yourself in the months leading up to your trip by increasing your strength training repetitions and the pace of your aerobic training. Check with your doctor prior to beginning any exercise program to be sure you are medically safe to participate. Starting an exercise program that is more strenuous than you are ready for may result in injury or risk exacerbating existing health conditions. Getting in shape will certainly add to your enjoyment of the trip.
Packing for Your Trip
The information below is subject to when your trip takes place. The need for warm weather or cold weather items should be based on a reliable weather forecast leading up to your trip.
Day & hiking wear: For most days of your adventure, casual, comfortable clothing is best. Consider long sleeves and pants for sun and bug protection. Quick-dry clothing packs light and cleans easy. For boating, start with sunscreen, a swimsuit or shorts and long-sleeved shirt to protect you from the sun. You can add additional layers, such as the splash jacket and pants depending on the weather. Keep lightweight merino wool or synthetic layers handy, to keep warm as temperatures vary as our elevations change.
Evening wear: After a long day on the river or trail, you will want to refresh and change into clean comfortable clothing. Soft, loose-fitting shorts or pants, t-shirts, etc. will allow you to truly relax in the evening and you will want to have something dry and warm such as long sleeved shirts, pants and fleece. Casual travel wear is appropriate throughout the trip.
To avoid being cold: Synthetic or merino wool long underwear is a must-have on adventure trips. It can be worn under shorts, rain gear, T-shirts, etc., then stripped off when temperatures rise. It keeps you warm even if it’s wet (which can happen easily), dries quickly, and is compact enough to be stuffed into your daypack after you take it off. It can be layered under your waterproof rain jacket and pants. Be aware that cotton items, once wet, do not insulate; only synthetic and wool materials will keep you warm if wet.
Something warm for your top & bottom: You need to be prepared for inclement weather. Bring a good fleece or wool top and bottom, along with a warm hat and gloves. You’ll want to double up on your synthetic layers so that you’ll have a set to wear in the boat and a set of warm, dry clothes for the evening.
You’ll need a pair of comfortable hiking or athletic shoes with good tread. If you plan to buy footwear for the trip make sure you get it far enough in advance to break it in and wear your footwear until it’s comfy—if your feet hurt you won’t enjoy the trip.
While rafting: The best choice is an amphibious shoe that drains water, protects your toes and won’t come off in swirling current. A retired pair of athletic shoes can work well, too. Sport sandals with a heel strap are another good option. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
We can provide wetsuit booties with a rubber sole, as well.
Wide-brimmed hats are a good choice for sun protection. Ball caps are also useful since they fit under helmets, which are required attire when paddling our whitewater rivers.
Protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A hat, sunscreen, lip balm and sunglasses are a must. In many cases, a long-sleeve shirt is the best method for preventing sunburn on your upper body. Light-weight long pants may also be appropriate to protect your legs. Be sure to bring a good hat that offers full coverage, such as a wide-brimmed hat.
Bugs & Mosquitoes
Bugs and mosquitoes vary depending on location and time of year. It’s a good idea to come prepared with insect repellent. Long sleeved shirts and pants may be desirable at times.
Equipment and Personal Items:
☐ Water bottle: durable and reusable
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap (consider bringing a spare)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: waterproof & SPF 30 or higher
☐ Moisturizing lotion or cream
☐ Insect repellent
☐ Personal first aid kit (Band-Aids, antibiotic ointment, ibuprofen, moleskin, eye drops, etc.)
☐ Spare pair of glasses and/or contacts
☐ Cash for gratuities and incidentals
☐ Athletic shoes or light hikers
☐ Comfortable shoes for evenings (sandals or flip flops)
☐ River shoes or sandals with a heel strap (such as those made by Chaco®)
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirts: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Long pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Casual wear: comfortable and lightweight for travel and evenings
☐ Shade hat or visor with securing strap and a spare
☐ Rain jacket and pants
☐ Swimsuit / swim trunks: 2- piece suits recommended for women. Tankinis are a great option
☐ Underwear: quick-drying
☐ Warm fleece or insulated jacket
☐ Headlamp or flashlight (consider bringing spare batteries)
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your dry bag
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc
☐ Sketchbook, notebook and pen, paperback book
☐ Ankle gaiters (to keep dirt & mud out of your shoes)
Find all the gear you need for your trip online in the OARStore + 15% of your purchase helps provide under-resourced youth with outdoor adventure experiences.
Packing Your Gear
Soft-sided luggage is ideal for transporting throughout your trip, as we’ll be loading bags into our van on a daily basis. Bringing only what is necessary will save time packing and repacking. Extra baggage can be an unwanted burden for yourself and others.
Machu Picchu by train on Peru Rail: Weight regulations for Peru Rail limit travelers to one carry-on backpack with a maximum weight of 11 lbs (5 kg) and one checked bag with a maximum weight of 22 lbs (10 kg). Therefore, we will provide you with a small duffel bag that you can pack into, bringing only what you need for these two nights. We will provide storage for your travel bag, reducing your total luggage weight when traveling to & from Machu Picchu by train.
Airlines often restrict baggage and charges for additional weight and/or bags can be expensive. Check with your carrier for their regulations.
If you have extra luggage it can be stored at our hotel in Cusco and retrieved upon return on day 6.
If you feel your guides have provided a very special trip for you, you may leave a gratuity with the trip leader to be shared among the crew. This tip is entirely at your discretion, though we recommend a general tipping guideline of anything between 10% and 15% of trip cost. If you plan to tip, remember to have cash. ATM’s are available in Cusco and the Sacred Valley.
- Principal guide: $5-10 per person per day
- Assistant guide: $3-5 per person per day (only present for larger groups)
- Raft and zip line guides: $5-10 per person
- Driver: $3 per person per day
- Airport and hotel bell boys: $2 for luggage
- Restaurants: $10-15 per waiter for the group
In reviewing your statement, you’ll notice a $1 per person per day donation to International Rivers, a non-profit conservation organization dedicated to protecting rivers and defending the rights of the surrounding communities. Their work helps stop destructive dams and promotes water and energy solutions for a just and sustainable world. One-hundred percent of these funds go directly to protecting rivers, and your contribution is tax-deductible. Please notify our office if you would prefer to delete the donation from your balance.
If you enjoyed your trip, consider donating to The Pam & George Wendt Foundation. This organization is a not-for-profit 501 (c) 3 organization with the express goal of providing opportunities for young people to experience the magic of the outdoors. Visit https://www.oars.com/oars-foundation/ to learn more about how a tax-deductible donation can change young lives for the better.
Gear up in the OARStore where 15% of all purchases help fund outdoor adventures for under-resourced youth
Shop for the latest in top-quality clothing, footwear & outdoor gear
Explore gear made and tested for water-lovers
Recommended Reading List
OARS practices Leave No Trace outdoor ethics
Terms & Conditions
Reservations and Deposits
A $500/person deposit is required at the time of reservation. The balance is due 90 days prior to departure.
Cancellations and Refunds
If you find it necessary to cancel your trip, please notify us as soon as possible. The cancellation fee after you’ve made your deposit can range up to the entire trip cost, based upon the number of days prior to your trip that we receive your cancellation notice. We regret we cannot make exceptions for personal emergencies. For this reason, we strongly urge you to consider purchasing a travel protection plan (see Travel Protection).
|DATE OF CANCELLATION||CANCELLATION FEE|
|90 or more days prior to your trip||$250/person, balance refunded|
|89 to 60 days prior||$500/person, balance available as a limited time trip credit|
|59 to 30 days or less prior||50% of the trip price/person, balance available as a limited time trip credit|
|29 to 0 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
Requests to transfer a date will be treated as a cancellation, per the terms above.
OARS International and the outfitter Apumayo Expediciones reserve the right to cancel any trip due to unforeseen circumstances. In such a case, you will be given a full refund of the tour cost, but OARS International and Apumayo Expediciones are not responsible for additional expenses incurred in preparation for the trip.
Under most circumstances, if you are of an adventurous spirit and in reasonably good health, you should have no problem enjoying this trip. People with medical conditions, including pregnancy, should have a physician’s approval before taking an adventure travel trip.
We offer the OARS Travel Protection Plan to help protect you, your travel investment and your belongings before and during your trip. Travel Protection can reimburse you for non-refundable payments if you should have to cancel your trip for a covered reason such as your illness or the illness of an immediate family member. For complete details go online to: https://www.oars.com/tpp
Please note, we require all participants have a minimum of emergency medical evacuation coverage to participate. This coverage can be purchased as a stand-alone policy, or is typically included in a travel protection plan. If you don’t have proof of coverage at the start of the trip, you cannot take part in the expedition. For a basic policy that includes coverage for emergency medical and evacuation situations, visit www.oars.com/tmp
Everyone is required to sign a standard release form before the trip, acknowledging awareness that some risks are associated with the trip. Safety is of the utmost concern on our trips. However, due to the nature of the activities, a condition of your participation is that you will sign this form and return it to our office before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with O.A.R.S. International, Inc. cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., Apumayo Expediciones and cooperating agencies act only in the capacity of agent for the participants in all matters relating to transportation and/or all other related travel services, and assume no responsibility however caused for injury, loss or damage to person or property in connection with any service, including but not limited to that resulting directly or indirectly from acts of God, detention, annoyance, delays and expenses arising from quarantine, strikes, theft, pilferage, force majeure, failure of any means of conveyance to arrive or depart as scheduled, civil disturbances, government restrictions or regulations, and discrepancies or change in transit over which it has no control. Reasonable changes in itinerary may be made where deemed advisable for the comfort and well-being of the participants, including cancellation due to water fluctuation, insufficient bookings (this trip requires a minimum of 4 guests), and other factors. There is risk in whitewater rafting, particularly during high-water conditions. Rafts, dories and kayaks do capsize. You could be swept overboard. Your guide will make every attempt to assist, but you must be strong and agile enough to “self-help” and “float-it-out” without further endangering yourself or others. We reserve the right not to accept passengers weighing more than 260 pounds or with a waist/chest size exceeding 56 inches. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. We need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices subject to change without notice. We are experienced at accommodating people with various disabilities. Please give us an opportunity to make you feel welcome. However, we need to discuss any special requirements ahead of time. We may decide, at any time, to exclude any person or group for any reason we feel is related to the safety of our trips.
OARS trips occur in areas where unpredictable environmental conditions are to be expected. To moderate dangerous situations for our guests and guides, it is important that all travelers obey the rules and regulations as determined by the managing agencies and the Trip Leader and demonstrate reasonable consideration for other guests and OARS employees. We reserve the right to remove any guest from a trip if, in our opinion, that guest’s actions or behaviors pose a threat to the safety of her/himself or others, or if those actions or behaviors compromise the enjoyment of the trip for others. Should a guest be asked to leave a trip, there will be no refund for the unused portion, nor will OARS be responsible for additional expenses incurred by the guest for accommodations, return transport, change fees, etc. On advancement of deposit the depositor agrees to be bound by the above recited terms and conditions. Prices and itinerary are subject to change without notice.
Apumayo Expediciones, a travel partner of OARS. International, is the operator of this trip. Upon arrival, a representative will meet you and escort you throughout the program. These staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.