|RETURN TIME:||Approximately 7:30 PM the evening of Day 7|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 10|
|TRIP LENGTH:||7 days / 6 nights|
|ACTIVITIES:||Hiking, Archaeological and Cultural Exploration|
Join OARS at several iconic Inca sites as we trace the steps of the Inca Empire around Cusco, the Sacred Valley and along the Inca Trail to the most famous archaeological site – Machu Picchu. The trails of the Inca are world renowned for breathtaking vistas, numerous archaeological sites, fascinating infrastructure and terrain that will test even the most avid hiker. Spend seven days hiking and site seeing while enjoying the luxury of lodge-based accommodation and cuisine. We end our hiking at the sanctuary of Machu Picchu, arriving through the famous Sun Gate. Return to the sanctuary for a guided tour before traveling by rail and road back to Cusco.
We pride ourselves in running a relaxed and flexible schedule. Every trip is different depending upon the group, other travelers in the area and sometimes the weather. The following is a sample of what your trip might be like:
Day 1 / Sunday: Arrive to Cusco, Afternoon City and Ruins Tour
An OARS representative will meet you upon arrival at the airport or at the Sonesta Hotel in Cusco (if you have arrived earlier). From there, you’ll be taken to our hotel where you can check-in to your room, relax and have lunch at your convenience before joining our guide for an afternoon walking tour.
This afternoon we’ll head out on a 3- to 4-hour walking tour of Cusco’s historic streets visiting the Main Square and the Cathedral, which was built over the Inca palace of Suntur Wasi. Then it’s on to Qoricancha, the Temple of the Sun which was of great significance for the Inca culture. From Qoricancha we visit one of the well known Cusco neighborhoods – San Blas, known as the artisan district.
Our afternoon tour will introduce the construction style of different periods: Inca – Qoricancha; Colonial – the Cathedral; modern – the pool and buildings around the main square.
We’ll enjoy a nice dinner in the San Blas neighborhood before returning to our hotel for the night.
Approximate hiking distance – 2 miles / 3 hours
Approximate peak altitude – 11,000 ft
Sonesta Hotel Cusco (D)
Please note: OARS can arrange extra nights of accommodation in Cusco and additional tours of the region. Contact your OARS Adventure Consultant for more details.
Day 2 / Monday: Chinchero to Urquillos
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll begin our journey out of Cusco, traveling by vehicle for about forty-five minutes to the small Andean town of Chinchero. Chinchero is a village with a traditional Andean feel, with many homes still constructed of mud brick (adobe style) and locals going about their daily business in traditional dress.
Our visit starts at the main square, where a striking remnant of the town’s cultural history is the massive stone wall which has ten trapezoidal niches. The construction of the wall, and many other ruins and agricultural terraces (which are still in use), are attributed to Inca Tupac Yupanqui who possibly used Chinchero as a kind of country resort. In the main plaza we’ll find an adobe colonial church dating from the early seventeenth century, which has been built upon the foundations of an Inca temple or palace. The ceiling and walls are covered in beautiful floral and religious designs.
After our visit in Chinchero, we will start our hike to Urquillos. Our walk takes us along the historic Inca trail that connects the two towns. This hike is scenic and peaceful, as few tourists walk this trail and we can typically expect to see only locals. After a short distance we find ourselves at an impressive example of Incan agricultural terracing, most of which are still in use today. We explore the archaeological site and the elaborate Inca terraces, and learn about how Chinchero was the main producer of potatoes during Incan times and still is today for the greater region.
Along our ancient Incan pathway, we will take a side trail to a waterfall where we will rest and have lunch. Continuing with the hike, we’re offered spectacular views of the Sacred Valley and of the snow covered mountain in the distance, called Pitusiray. We will traverse the mountainside, passing the homes of local residents, before ending at the small village called Urquillos and our hotel.
Approximate hiking distance – 5.5 miles / 4 hours
Approximate peak altitude – 12,300 ft
Aranwa Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 3 / Tuesday: Moray and the Salt Mines of Maras
From the hotel we will head to Maras (~11,150 ft), a small Andean community perched above the valley. Here we will have a short visit around the town before departing on a 2 to 3-hour hike reaching the fascinating circled terraces of Moray. This site is not the ruins of a city or a fortress, it is an earthwork. The ancient people of the region took four enormous natural depressions in the landscape and sculpted them into many levels of agricultural terraces that served as an experimental agricultural station for the development of different strains of crops. This was possible due to the discovery of a fascinating phenomenon: the climates of many different ecological zones were present at a single site. In the approximate 100 ft of altitude between the bottom and top levels of Moray’s main depression, a full 60 degrees Fahrenheit difference in temperature has been recorded. Conceivably it was Moray itself that played the key role in the original transformation of maize into a high-altitude crop.
We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch on the plateau, with breathtaking views of the Vilcanota Mountain Range. After a short rest, we will continue our hike for ~2 1/2-hours until we reach the salt pools of Maras (~10,820 ft). The Maras salt works, or salt mines, are about 3000 small pools constructed on a slope of the Qaqawiñay mountain. During the dry season, people irrigate the pools every 3 days with the salty water emanating from a natural spring located above the complex. When water evaporates, the salt contained in the water will slowly solidify. This process continues for about one month until a considerable volume of solid salt is obtained.
After visiting this fascinating site, we have the option to hike to the caves of Pichingoto or take our transport to the hotel.
Tonight you’re free to dine at the hotel restaurant or venture into the nearby town to explore other options.
Approximate hiking distance – 7.5 miles (includes Pichingoto) / 6 hours
Approximate peak altitude – 11,500 ft
Belmond Hotel Río Sagrado (B, L)
Day 4 / Wednesday: Urubamba to Yanahuara to Ollantaytambo -or- Perolniyoq Waterfall to Naupa Iglesia to Ollantaytambo:
Today we’re happy to offer you two great options to choose from. Prior to today, your guide will discuss these options with you and determine which is of most interest to the group.
Urubamba to Yanahuara to Ollantaytambo:
Our trek takes us along the Vilcanota River, through Inca terraces and little known archaeological sites. Along the route we will get to see local people in their daily routines working on their farms. The Sacred Valley is considered the food store of Cusco city, as the climate allows crops of such wide variety to be cultivated.
We will stop at the village of Yanahuara, considered to be the peach capital of the Sacred Valley. Here we have a good opportunity to try a favorite local beverage – chicha (Andean corn beer). Continuing along our path, we will cross the river via the Paucarbamba Bridge. From this side we will have spectacular views of Inca agricultural terraces, the snow capped mountain of Veronica and more Inca archaeological sites.
Before long we arrive to the Inca Bridge (foundations of the original Inca Bridge of the Sacred Valley) which connects Ollantaytambo with Cachiccata, the stone quarry during the Inca time from which granite boulders were brought across the river. Crossing this bridge we will arrive to Ollantaytambo, where we have time to take-in the sites of this bustling, historic town. This small town is the last of its kind, considered to be a living Inca town due to the working infrastructure, historic lived-in homes and practiced traditions dating back to their Inca ancestors.
Approximate hiking distance – 8.7 miles / 6 hours
Approximate peak altitude – 9350 ft
Perolniyoq Waterfall to Naupa Iglesia to Ollantaytambo:
We transfer by vehicle to Socma (~30 minutes). It is from this Andean community where we begin our hike to the spectacular waterfall of Perolniyoc. This waterfall is big, dropping almost 300 ft to where we stand at its base. Here we enjoy this natural wonder, the pure air and maybe even take a swim for those feeling up to it. The surrounding landscape and beautiful views make for great photos. You’ll also be able to observe some common birds of the Sacred Valley, along with a great variety of flora species such as elderberry, queuña, chachacomo, and more.
Continuing our hike, we arrive to Ñaupa Iglesia (old church) which has been a place where people worship their ancestors, a place of connection, a place of astronomical events and of rituals for specific dates of the agricultural calendar. Inside is a finely carved altar in the direction of the Milky Way and a portal, or dimensional gate. They say that these were projected into the sky at certain times of the year and used for making nocturnal observations. Beyond the nearby ridge lines, the ancestors determined the positions of stars and constellations known by the Incas, while the movement of the sun throughout the year marks significant dates in the sacred calendar of Tahuantinsuyo. This was likely the site of great announcements of astronomical events associated with ritual fulfillment on specific dates of the agricultural calendar.
After visiting this mystical place, we will start our hike down to the Vilcanota River where we will enjoy lunch. We then continue hiking along the Vilcanota River toward the Inca Bridge (foundations of the original Inca Bridge of the Sacred Valley) which connects Ollantaytambo with Cachiccata, the stone quarry during the Inca time from which granite boulders were brought across the river. Crossing this bridge we will arrive to Ollantaytambo, where we will have time to take-in the sites of this bustling, historic town. This small town is the last of its kind, considered to be a living Inca town due to the working infrastructure, historic lived-in homes and practiced traditions dating back to their Inca ancestors.
Approximate hiking distance – 7.5 miles / 6 hours
Approximate peak altitude – 9515 ft
Dinner is on your own and the options around the energetic town of Ollantaytambo won’t disappoint.
Pakaritampu Hotel (B, L)
Day 5 / Thursday: Pumamarca Terraces to Ollantaytambo
This morning we’ll drive to Pumamarca where we’ll begin our hike to the local Inca ruins. At our destination, we’ll have time to explore the area and see terraces, water canals and the amazing architecture – all this with a beautiful view from high above the Sacred Valley. Pumamarca is home to a fortress on a steep slope, which was built to control the entrance to the Sacred Valley via the nearby jungle. The steep climb will be rewarded with a beautiful panorama and the knowledge that few tourists visit this special place. Here from our high point, we will enjoy a picnic lunch in the pure air of the Andes.
We continue our hike to Ollantaytambo, which has us crossing Inca terraces and the wide-open, rolling spaces of the local agricultural fields until we arrive to town a couple hours later. Here we enjoy lunch at one of the nicest restaurants of Ollantaytambo town.
After lunch, enjoy one of two options in & around town, or simply relax at the hotel – it’s up to you!
Ollantaytambo archaeological site (2 hours):
The archaeological site, or fortress, is located on the western side in the area known as Aracma Ayllu and is made up of a series of imposing terraces, temples, platforms, paths and walls. The site offers excellent views of the surrounding countryside, the town of Ollantaytambo itself and the Incan storehouses, or Qollqa, built on Pinkuylluna Mountain opposite the site.
Walking Ollantaytambo town (1 hour to 2 hours):
Exploring the town is one of the nicest things to do in Ollantaytambo. The narrow, cobbled streets are full of charm and character and you’ll find both Inca-era buildings and modern buildings built over original Inca construction.
You will see remnants of the Inca’s work, such as the cascading water irrigation channels that flow down the side of the streets. Locals still use these channels as a source of water today. Maybe visit the market at the foot of the ruins, as it’s an excellent place to buy souvenirs and you’ll often see Peruvians dressed in traditional clothing going about their daily business.
Enjoy dinner at your choice of one of the many fine restaurants Ollantaytambo has to offer.
Approximate hiking distance – 3.8 miles / 4 hours (morning only)
Approximate peak altitude – 10,990 ft
Pakaritampu Hotel (B, L)
Day 6 / Friday: The Inca Trail (KM 104) to Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu Sanctuary
A short walk from our hotel brings us to the train station, where we board our Vistadome train car that will take us to the trailhead called KM 104, one of the access points to the famous Inca Trail. After checking our entrance tickets and passports with the Machu Picchu Park rangers, we will start our trek up to the well-preserved remains of Wiñay Wayna (~8800 ft), which will take us a couple hours. On the way, we will see beautiful waterfalls, native flora and mountain birds. The site consists of upper and lower house complexes connected by a staircase and fountain structures. Above and below the houses, the Inca built agricultural terraces. We’ll enjoy a picnic lunch before continuing on toward our final destination – Machu Picchu.
The trail clings to the steep hillside before turning up a steep, almost vertical incline of stone steps. The ascent seems almost surreal, as our days of hiking can be felt in our muscles and the near vertical pitch has us reaching with our hands toward the stairs in front of us. Upon reaching the top, we’re greeted by a sign that reads, Inti Punku, or as we know it in English, the Sun Gate.
From here your view of Machu Picchu sanctuary is excellent, as the Sun Gate provides an overlook of the entire landscape. After taking it all in, we slowly descend through the intricate stone work of civilizations before us – of the Inca Empire and the many generations before. We’ll make our way to the exit, where we meet a shuttle bus that will take us to Aguas Calientes and our night’s accommodation.
Approximate hiking distance – 8 miles / 6 hours
Approximate peak altitude – 11,515 ft
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel (B, L, D)
Day 7 / Saturday: Machu Picchu and Return to Cusco
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 do not include a ticket to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Per request, we can arrange one of those hikes for an extra cost. Inquire with your OARS Adventure Consultant for details.
After our guided exploration of the sanctuary, we’ll return to Aguas Calientes for lunch. You’re free to dine at the restaurant of your choice before we meet for the train back to Ollantaytambo, where our private vehicle awaits to return us to Cusco and deliver you to your hotel.
Please note: accommodation this night and a return airport transfer are not included. OARS can arrange extra nights of accommodation in Cusco, an airport transfer and additional tours of the region. Contact your OARS Adventure Consultant for more details.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- 6 nights lodging (based on double occupancy)
- Airport arrival transfer in Cusco on itinerary day 1
- All meals as outlined in the itinerary (B-breakfast; L-lunch; D-dinner)
- Bottled water throughout the trip, including with meals
- All activities and related equipment as outlined in the itinerary
- All entrance fees (archaeological sites, Inca Trail, Machu Picchu)
- Ground transportation as outlined in the itinerary
- Trekking poles
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Flights to and from Cusco, Peru
- Accommodation in Cusco on day 7 (OARS can arrange per request)
- Departing airport transfer (OARS can arrange per request)
- Single supplement fee
- Ticket to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain on day 7 (OARS can arrange per request)
- Additional beverages at meals, such as soda and alcohol
- 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)
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.
☐ 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.
Please note: OARS can arrange extra nights of accommodation and additional tours of the region. Contact your Adventure Consultant for more details.
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, Viva Air, Peruvian Airlines and others.
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 (itinerary day 7), OARS will provide transport to your hotel. We recommend spending this night in Cusco. You’re free to depart anytime the next day.
Neither the hotel nor airport transfer are included in your trip price. OARS will be happy to arrange accommodation and/or a return airport transfer per your interest.
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).
Visas are not required for U.S. citizens to enter Peru. For non-U.S. citizens please check with the consulate. When entering Peru you will be asked to fill out an embarkation card. This piece of paper is very important since it has to be given to the migratory authority when you leave the country. Do not lose it!
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
Trekking, Archaeological & Cultural Exploration
Our hikes in & around the Sacred Valley and along the Inca Trail bring us to one fascinating location after another, with ancient ruins spanning centuries of stone work, water ways, agriculture and pathways that have stood the test of time. We’ll ascend and descend thousands of vertical feet, reach high ridge lines above the valley, and immerse ourselves in culture – all while enjoying the comforts of our lodges. By the time we return to Cusco, we will have traveled by foot over thousands of Incan steps, carved out of stone and individually placed. This trip is perfect for explorers who enjoy challenging hikes and are eager for sites and stories of the history and mystery surrounding ancient Peruvian civilizations.
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 foreign countries, 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 it 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, especially when traveling in remote locations. A limited supply of bottled water will be provided, but at times you’ll need to buy additional 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.
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 damage to smartphones and other electronic devices. If you intend to take your phone with you, consider investing in protective 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 hotels 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 any 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 tour region has phone access and cellular coverage. 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 Nuevo 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 most 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 small bills in local currency for purchases.
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 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.accuweather.com
The highlands of the Andes—the locale of Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu—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 in the Machu Picchu Hiker trip, 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 hiking and you can then dispose of the baggies when you reach our hotel. 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.
Hikers 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 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 Hiking Trips
The following are the physical and mental eligibility criteria for all participants on any OARS hiking trip.
- Ability to walk ten or more miles in a backcountry environment.
- Ability to independently navigate rough terrain, including safely maneuvering around and across boulders, rocks, and slippery and uneven surfaces. This includes the ability to maintain your balance near precipitous ledges or cliffs.
- Ability to walk and maintain your balance on backcountry hiking trails, including trails with rocks, roots and low branches. The trails are dusty, steep, and present numerous reinforced log steps, loose rocks, and mule or horse excrement. They range in width from 3 to 5 feet with exposed overlooks.
- Ability to carry your own daypack with a minimum of 2 liters of water, rain gear, insulating layers, sunscreen and other personal items (approx. 10 lbs).
- 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.
- Ability to manage all personal care independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- If taking prescription medications, have the ability to maintain proper dosage by medicating independently, or with the assistance of a friend or family member.
- 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 hiking 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 hiking 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 the potential for heat, cold, 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 in the wilderness 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 on the trail (by way of example) are: walking without shoes, approaching wild animals, not paying attention to what is above or around that could harm you, not paying attention to hazards, and walking near precipitous ledges.
Backcountry hiking trips 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 hiking ability.
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. For this trip you should be exercising 3-5 times a week. Because your trip requires hiking distances up to 10 miles in a day and can reach an elevation of over 11,000 feet above sea level, you need to be particularly diligent in your training work out. The best way to get ready is to combine cardiovascular (aerobic) exercise, strength training and hiking. Walking or slow jogging is not enough. More strenuous activity such as lengthy hikes on inclines, running or cycling is required. Running and exercising on elliptical machines and stair steppers are also great ways to increase your endurance and strengthen your legs at the same time. While hiking, it is helpful to carry a weighted day pack and wear the same footwear that you will be using for your hike. 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, lightweight and comfortable clothing is best. Consider long sleeves and pants for sun and bug protection. Quick-dry clothing is best, as it packs light and cleans easy. You can add additional layers, such as merino wool or synthetic tops & bottoms depending on the weather. Keep these extra layers handy in your day pack to adjust your layering as temperatures vary with elevation and weather.
Evening wear: After a long day on the trail, you may want to refresh and change into clean, comfortable clothing. Soft, loose-fitting shorts or pants, t-shirt, sweater, etc… will allow you to settle-in for the evening. You will want to have something dry and warm to put on. Temperatures can be cold at night, depending on the time of year, so you may want to bring a warm jacket, hat and gloves.
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 day pack. 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 of warm, dry clothes for the evening.
For the trail you’ll need a pair of sturdy, comfortable hiking boots or shoes with good tread, waterproof and possibly ankle support. If you plan to buy footwear for the trip, make sure you have time to break them in until they’re comfortable—if your feet hurt you won’t enjoy the trip. Taking off your trail shoes at the end of the day will feel good, so plan to have other footwear for evenings. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
A wide-brimmed hat or ball cap are a good choice for sun protection. A warm beanie for chilly nights and mornings is recommended.
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(s) or hydration bladder: durable and reusable
☐ Day pack with rain cover
☐ 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 for flip flops)
☐ Hiking socks
☐ Long-sleeved shirt: 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
☐ 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 travel bag
☐ 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 during your trip, as its easier to load and unload into our vehicle . Attire is very casual–comfort, convenience and space take precedence over style. Bringing only what is necessary will save time packing and repacking. Extra baggage can be an unwanted burden for yourself and others.
We will return from Machu Picchu by train on Peru Rail. Weight regulations for Peru Rail limit travelers to one carry-on bag 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 for the night we spend in Aguas Calientes. You can take just what you need, leaving your travel luggage and the rest of your belongings with our vehicle.
Airlines often restrict baggage and charges for additional weight and bags can be expensive. Check with your carrier for their regulations.
If you have extra luggage it can likely be stored at your hotel in Cusco and retrieved upon return on day 6. Items not needed at Machu Picchu, where Peru Rail limits apply, can be left with the vehicle.
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 city 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)
- Driver: $3 per person per day
- Airport and hotel bell boys: $2 for luggage
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
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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.