|MEETING PLACE:||Cusco, Peru|
|MEETING TIME:||7:00 PM the evening before your trek. (We highly recommend spending 2 nights in Cusco in order to acclimate before your trek)|
|RETURN TIME:||Day 7, approximately 7:00-8:00 PM|
|TREKKING MILES:||36 on the Salkantay Trail (plus 4 optional miles on day 2)|
|AGE LIMIT:||Minimum age is 12|
|TRIP LENGTH:||7 days / 6 nights|
|ACTIVITIES:||Trekking, hiking, guided archaeological exploration|
Join OARS on this one of a kind adventure to the center of the Inca Empire—the Peru experience to which all others will be compared. It is a unique opportunity to explore ancient history in the land of the Incas. Experience contemporary manifestations of deep-founded culture and the determination of local people to progress, all while in the company of new, like-minded friends.
This exciting adventure takes you on an ancient Inca trail called the “Salkantay Inca Trail,” the path less traveled to the lost city of the Incas. Discover a world surrounded by magical moments that will stay with you far beyond your return home. While experiencing the real outdoors and its rugged elements during the day, each night you can anticipate returning to a refuge for the mind and body within the lodge, where you will find rest and relaxation. Four cozy lodges provide hot showers, gourmet food, outdoor Jacuzzis and highly personalized service by local staff.
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:
Pre-trip: 7:00 PM meeting at El Mercado Hotel, in Cusco
Day 1: Cusco to Salkantay Lodge at Soraypampa
You’ll be picked-up from your hotel at about 7:00 AM to begin the journey to the Salkantay Lodge. The first stop is a visit to the Quillarumiyoc archaeological site en route to the mountain village of Mollepata. We enjoy lunch at El Pedregal, a beautiful farmhouse in the village, where you will also have the opportunity to learn about local agriculture and livestock. After lunch comes a scenic ride on the winding mountain road to Challacancha.
At Challacancha, we begin our trek to Soraypampa on an ancient route called the “Camino Real.” This is a good opportunity for everyone to acclimate while enjoying the beautiful scenery. As you round the final turn of the Camino Real, the Salkantay Lodge comes into view.
*Although we highly recommend participating in the hike as part of your continued altitude acclimatization, guests may opt-out and continue by transport to Salkantay Lodge.
After a warm welcome by our friendly staff at Salkantay Lodge, we have time to wash-up and relax before the evening briefing, followed by aperitifs and dinner.
(Miles hiking: 5 / approx 5 hours. Highest point: 12,690 ft)
Salkantay Lodge (elevation 12,690 ft)
Day 2: Soraypampa
Today we take an acclimatization hike on the slopes above the lodge to Lake Humantay, fed by the glaciers of Mt. Humantay. The hike is optional, but the views are amazing and well worth the effort. We return to the lodge for lunch, with the afternoon free for you to relax, soak in the outdoor Jacuzzi or further explore the area by foot or horseback (horseback rides are available for an additional cost).
This evening, our guide briefs us on gear and the itinerary for the next day’s adventure. The Lodge’s gourmet food and warm, comfortable beds will have you settled-in to your surroundings in no time.
(Miles hiking: 4 / approx 4 hours. Highest point: 13,845 ft)
Salkantay Lodge (elevation 12,690 ft)
Day 3: Soraypampa to Wayra Lodge at Huayraccmachay
After breakfast, our four-day trek to Machu Picchu officially begins. We’ll get an early start and hike up the Rio Blanco Valley in the shadow of Humantay Peak. We’ll soon come to the highest point on the trek—Salkantay Pass at 15,213 feet. From the pass, we’ll have out-of-this-world views of snow-capped peaks of the Vilcabamba Range in all directions—the south face of Salkantay towering above us. We will keep our eyes out for the Andean condors often soaring on air currents above or below us.
From the pass, we’ll begin our descent towards Wayra Lodge—the place where the wind lives—our destination for the evening. A hot lunch is served en route during today’s trek.
(Miles hiking: 8 / approx 6-7 hours. Highest point: 15,213 ft)
Wayra Lodge (elevation 12,812 ft)
(A horse is available to ride this day for an additional cost.)
Day 4: Huayraccmachay to Colpa Lodge at Collpapampa
With our first long day behind us, we’ll enjoy a leisurely morning at Huayraccmachay and a bit of free time for exploration. Lacing up our boots, we’ll begin our hike downhill along the Salkantay River through increasingly verdant scenery. Warm air rising from the jungle greets us, along with butterflies and colorful orchids. We arrive at Colpa Lodge to a traditional, festive Peruvian meal known as a Pachamanca—meats, vegetables and local herbs baked in an underground oven layered with hot stones, plantain leaves and high Andean grass. There is time this afternoon to relax or explore the nearby orchid trail.
(Miles hiking: 6 / approx 4 hours. Highest point: 12,812 ft)
Colpa Lodge (elevation 9,414 ft)
Day 5: Collpapampa to Lucma Lodge at Lucmabamba
Breakfast will be prepared early to allow for an ambitious start of our hiking descent of the Santa Teresa River Valley. We’ll be passing through more populated, rural areas interspersed with coffee plantations and banana, granadilla, and avocado orchards. A hot picnic lunch will be served riverside. From the river, we hike another hour until we meet a vehicle for a short drive to the beginning of the Llactapata Inca Trail. This restored Inca trail delivers us to Lucma Lodge, set in an avocado orchard. On the way, we visit an organic coffee plantation where we join the owner on a short tour of the farm and learn how coffee is grown, harvested, dried and processed. (An optional canopy zip line tour is available for an additional cost.)
(Miles hiking: 10 / approx 5-6 hours. Highest point: 9,414 ft)
Lucma Lodge (elevation 7,003 ft)
Day 6: Lucmabamba to Aguas Calientes
Today, we’ll begin the final leg of our trek, eager to catch our first glimpse of the fabled Machu Picchu. After a morning of ascent toward Llactapata Pass, we arrive to a viewpoint where we’re able to get a special view of Machu Picchu from the southwest—a vista few tourists have ever seen. In this vicinity, we’ll also take some time to explore the recently restored Llactapata Ruins. After lunch at a scenic viewpoint looking out to Machu Picchu, we’ll start our final descent to the Aobamba River, passing through lush bamboo forests, orchards and plantations. Perhaps a bit sad to have completed our trekking journey, we’ll climb aboard a train for the short, scenic ride to Aguas Calientes, the town of Machu Picchu, checking into our hotel in the late afternoon with time to wander the streets of this bustling tourist mecca.
(Miles hiking: 7 / approx 5-6 hours. Highest point: 8,974 ft)
Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel (elevation 6,693 ft)
Day 7: Machu Picchu back to Cusco
Today, we’ll want to get an early start to make the most of our time at the unparalleled Machu Picchu. Here, high above the Urubamba River, our guide will lead us on a two-hour 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 construction, yet at most junctions even the slimmest of blades cannot wedge between the pieces of stone.
After the guided tour, you may choose to continue exploring the sanctuary on your own or climb the steep staircase of Huayna Picchu*—a steep, vertical hike that takes about 2-hours and affords great views of Machu Picchu. Afterwards, we meet our guide and return by bus to Aguas Calientes for a late lunch and then catch our train that takes us to Ollantaytambo. From there, our private vehicle takes us back to Cusco where you’ll be dropped-off at your hotel. Our return time will be approximately 7:00–8:00 PM.
*We attempt to secure a ticket to hike Huayna Picchu. If a ticket is not available, we will arrange one for the hike up Machu Picchu Mountain.
Note: There is an optional one night, one day Machu Picchu extension available for an additional cost. This includes an additional night in Aguas Calientes (with dinner & breakfast), roundtrip shuttle to & from the sanctuary, entrance to the sanctuary and return to Cusco. For additional details and pricing, please inquire with your OARS Adventure Consultant.
Included in Your Trip Cost
- Skilled, professional, bilingual guide service provided by our affiliate operator
- 6 nights lodge accommodation (based on double occupancy)
- All meals from lunch on day 1 through lunch on day 7, and snacks while hiking
- Entrance ticket to Machu Picchu and ticket to hike Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain
- All activities and related equipment as outlined in the itinerary
- Transportation of personal belongings on the trek by pack horses/mules and/or porters
- Ground transportation as listed in the itinerary
- Towels, shampoo, conditioner and bath gel at each lodge
- Gratuities for service staff (lodge staff, mule drivers and route chefs) valued at $50 (this does not include your lead trekking guide and assistant)
- 27-oz Klean Kanteen water bottle
Not Included in Your Trip Cost
- Flights to and from Cusco, Peru
- Cusco airport transfers
- Pre- and post-trip accommodation in Cusco
- Single supplement—50% supplement of the retail price. If you are willing to share a room but we are not able to pair you up with someone, you will be charged 25% of the retail price.
- Items of a personal nature (an equipment list will be provided)
- Optional activities—canopy zip line, horseback ride
- Insurance of any kind, including a travel protection plan or mandatory emergency medical & evacuation coverage
- Medical immunizations (if necessary)
- Gratuities for the lead and assistant trekking guides
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
The evening before the trek, meet at El Mercado Hotel in Cusco at 7:00 PM for a pre-trip briefing. This is an opportunity to meet your lead guide and fellow travelers and ask any last-minute questions. Your trip leader will give you a thorough trip orientation and verify that everyone has the necessary gear and equipment.
Before you go, you will receive a letter confirming the time and place of the briefing, including a map with directions. Important note: If your arrival into Cusco is delayed and you are unable to join your group for the transfer on day 1 to the first lodge, we can arrange a private transfer for you to join the group at an additional cost.
Getting to Cusco
You’ll need to arrange a flight arriving into Cusco Airport (CUZ), via Lima (LIM), at least one day prior to the start date of your trek. Direct flights to Lima from the United States are provided by American Airlines from Dallas and Miami; Delta from Atlanta; LAN/LATAM from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, New York (JFK) and Miami; Spirit and JetBlue from Fort Lauderdale; and United Airlines from Houston. More options may be available.
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.
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.
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 trek (itinerary day 7), you will be returned to your hotel in Cusco. You should arrive back between 7:00 – 8:00 PM.
Note: There is an optional one-day Machu Picchu extension available for an additional cost. This includes a second night in Aguas Calientes (with dinner & breakfast), roundtrip shuttle to & from the sanctuary, entrance to the sanctuary and return to Cusco. For additional details and pricing, please inquire with your OARS Adventure Consultant.
Pre- and Post-Trip Accommodations
We recommend that you make reservations well in advance in order to guarantee lodging. (Pre- and post-trip lodging is not included in the trip cost). Please let us know if you would like assistance with arranging pre- or post-trip lodging.
Many international flights arrive at Lima International Airport late at night and connecting flights to Cusco start at 5:00 AM. Spending the night in Lima may allow for a more enjoyable trip, giving you a chance to rest up. Also consider accommodation or services offered by the Wyndham “Costa del Sol”—the only hotel adjacent to the airport. For layovers, it is convenient.
We highly recommend you spend two nights in Cusco prior to your trekking adventure in order to adjust to the altitude. This will also give you an opportunity to experience the many cultural and historical attractions Cusco and the surrounding areas have to offer.
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 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 you must often 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: https://www.oars.com/tpp
For many, the first word that comes to mind when thinking of Peruvian history is “Inca.” Certainly, the Inca civilization is the most studied and well recognized of South America’s pre-Columbian cultures, but Peru’s first inhabitants were nomadic hunters who are believed to have migrated across the Bering Strait and into the Americas about 20,000 years ago.
Domestication of the llama, alpaca and guinea pig began by about 4000 BC and around the same time, people began planting seeds and learning simple horticulture methods. Various forms of the Andean staple, the potato, began to be grown as a crop around 3000 BC and weaving and fishing became commonplace.
Between 2000 and 1000 BC, ceramics began to evolve from basic, undecorated pots to sculpted, incised and simply colored pots of high quality. Weaving and fishing also improved, as well as horticulture, due to the development of irrigation. Toward the end of this period, agricultural terraces began to be constructed in the highlands. Between the initial years of civilization in Peru and the rise and fall of the Inca Empire, many cultures shared in the development of weaving, pottery, agriculture, religion and architecture. But for all its greatness, the Inca Empire existed for barely a century. Beginning in the 1430s, the Inca conquered most of the cultures in the area stretching from southern Colombia to central Chile. Like the Wari before them, the Incas imposed their way of life on the peoples they conquered and created magnificent cities with impressive urban developments. Thus, when the Spanish arrived, most of the Andean area had been politically united by Inca rule.
Peru is a multi-cultural society, with one part containing predominately mestizo (of native and European decent) and white middle and upper classes, and the other made up of mostly poor Amerindian campesinos (rural farmers.) Ninety percent of the population is Roman Catholic, and soccer and bullfighting are among the most popular pastimes.
Traditional Andean music is popularly referred to as ‘musica folklorica’ and is frequently encountered at street fairs and fiestas. The most representative wind instruments are quenas and zampoñas. Although string instruments were introduced by the Spanish, musica folklorica groups make use of the charango—a tiny 10-stringed guitar with the box traditionally made of an armadillo shell. Percussion instruments include drums made from hollowed-out tree trunks and stretched goatskin and rattles of goat hooves.
Peruvian crafts are based on pre-Hispanic necessities such as weaving, pottery, and metallurgy. Today, beautifully colored woven cloth is seen in traditional ponchos, belts, rugs and tapestries. Pottery and jewelry are based on ancient designs.
There will be hiking and/or extended trekking on most days of your adventure. The trek is spread over four days and involves approximately 32 miles of moderate to strenuous hiking on steep and rocky trails and a section of stone-paved Inca paths. Elevations range from 5,800 to over 15,000 feet, with the hiking beginning at 11,000 feet. Day 3 is the most challenging with an elevation gain of 2,523 feet in a span of five miles to reach the maximum altitude of 15,213 feet. The lodge-to-lodge trek itinerary is designed to allow everyone to hike at their own pace, with plenty of breaks throughout the day. Good physical fitness is required and prior hiking experience is highly recommended. Please consult your physician to assess your physical conditions and for advice on how to best prepare to fully enjoy your trekking experience.
All four mountain lodges have been designed and built in accordance with traditional building techniques, Inca architectural and mythological concepts, and respect for the surrounding environment. The Salkantay Lodge has 12 private double, twin or triple rooms with private bathroom facilities, while the other lodges (Wayra, Colpa, Lucma) have 6 private double, twin, or triple rooms, all with private facilities. Salkantay, Wayra, and Colpa lodges have an outdoor Jacuzzi. Every lodge guarantees an ample supply of hot water for showers and room heating ensures the temperature remains comfortable. While embracing the wonders of nature, you can still have your conveniences available to you, with each lodge offering satellite-based communications and Wi-Fi internet.
Extra Options (additional cost)
Your OARS Adventure Consultant can arrange the following two options in advance:
An Extra Day at Machu Picchu
- Although you have enough time to see the core of Machu Picchu Sanctuary during the regular guided tour, many of our guests stay a little longer since there is so much to explore. Includes: one additional night at the Inkaterra Pueblo Hotel with dinner on day 7, breakfast and lunch on day 8, roundtrip bus and entrance tickets to the Sanctuary and transfer by train and vehicle back to Cusco (this transfer is included in your 7-day program cost).
- US$395 per person based on double occupancy; US$540 based on single occupancy
- Does not include a guide for your return visit to the Sanctuary or a climbing permit for Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu; these can be arranged for an additional cost.
- Arrival or departure in Cusco, transport can be arranged to and from your hotel (pricing varies based on the number of passengers)
The options below can be arranged at the pre-trek briefing, the evening before your trek begins:
- Day 2: A 4–5 hour guided horseback/trekking combination allows you to enjoy the best views of the Soraypampa Valley, Mt. Salkantay, Mt. Humantay, and Humantay glacier lake. A mystical offering to Pachamama (Mother Earth) at the Chakana (Inca Cross) performed by a local Shaman, in view of the awe-inspiring Apu Salkantay (“Apu” or mountain god), tops off this unique experience.
- Day 2: Riding horses are also available in the afternoon for 2–3 hour guided rides around the valley. Itineraries vary depending on the guests’ riding experience.
- Day 3: You may choose to trade the hike up to Salkantay Pass for a horseback ride (entirely or partly).
Canopy Zip Line Tour
- Day 5: Join an all day excursion on an exciting and scenic canopy zip line tour. This activity includes vehicle transfer, guided canopy zip line tour and equipment. Note that you will miss a portion of the Salkantay Trail if you choose to join the zip line tour.
Mountain Bike Ride
- Day 4: After arriving at Colpa Lodge, an afternoon bike ride from Manchayhuaycco to Collpapampa is an option. You will descend through a beautiful valley in which you will admire the diverse cloud forest vegetation through the slopes of the valley. Duration: approximately 3 hours / Level: Easy.
- Day 5: Option A) Yanama pass – Hornopampa – Lluskamayo. You will head downhill almost 8,000 ft along a dirt road admiring breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Duration: 5 hours / Level: Easy to moderate. Option B) Descent from Hornopampa to Lluskamayo. Duration: 3.5 hours / Level: Easy
- Can be arrange upon arrival at each lodge.
Breakfast is provided at each lodge on the morning of days 2 through 7. Lunches vary, as you’ll carry a provided lunch bag on day 1, while days 3, 5 and 6 a picnic lunch will be prepared fresh, en route, by the cooks and may include hot soup, gourmet sandwiches and salad. Lunch is provided at the lodge on days 2 and 4. Additionally, each day you will be handed a “snack-pack” to carry in your day pack with dried fruits, peanuts, chocolates and fresh fruits. Dinners are prepared for you at each lodge on days 1 through 6.
Peru is known worldwide for its unique and varied cuisine. You will be able to experience a great variety of regional foods during your travels on this trekking 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).
Alcoholic beverages are not included with the cost of your Peruvian adventure, but are available at the lodges. 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 often has 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 hydration pack. An ample supply of the highest-quality filtered water is available at multiple water stations at the lodges and during the trek to fill your container.
Laundry service is available at the lodges. The price is a flat-rate of US$16 per load, regardless of the size. Guests should give laundry items to the lodge staff upon arrival to make sure it is dry before departing the next day. Additionally, there are drying lines in each bathroom.
On the trail, bathroom facilities are limited and, therefore, you’ll often find a private location along the trail to use. Toilet paper and disposable bags are carried along on the trek. On day 3 of trekking, the longest day crossing the pass, a toilet tent is set up at lunch time. On days 4, 5 and 6, a toilet is available at our lunch venue.
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 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.
The lodges and hotel during the trek have an electrical current of 220 volts. If you have electrical devices that work with 110 volts, you should bring your own converter as there is a limited supply at the lodges. The electricity is turned off at the lodges from 11:00 PM to 6:00 AM.
At the lodges, electrical wall outlets are similar to ungrounded sockets here in the United States, with two vertical, flat-blade plug receptacles (without the round ground). For electrical devices that have a ground prong, you will need an adaptor to plug into the receptacles.
The outlets tend to vary between types A, B and C; for type A and C you will need an outlet adaptor. You can learn more at http://www.power-plugs-sockets.com/peru/
During your trekking adventure there is limited communication with the “outside world.” There is satellite-based communication and complimentary Wi-Fi internet available at all four lodges; however due to the nature of the system, services may not always be available during inclement weather situations.
Each lodge has a stationary, rural satellite phone which our guests can use. These phones require phone cards that can be purchased at the lodges. International calls can be placed and received. However, we kindly ask to refrain from receiving incoming calls unless in case of emergency, as a sign of respect and courtesy for other guests. As a reference, a US$10 phone card provides 10 minutes to the U.S. or Canada and 5 minutes to Europe.
The official currency in Peru is the Nuevo Sol (S/). Money can be exchanged at the airport in Lima or Cusco, at Money Exchange Offices known as “Casas de Cambio” or at banks. The U.S. dollar is accepted in most commercial shops at the daily rate of exchange. ATMs are available in Cusco and Lima and many offer the choice of U.S. or Peruvian currency.
At check-in at the Salkantay Lodge, you will be asked to open a voucher on your credit card for potential extras purchased during the trek, such as alcoholic beverages, massage, souvenirs and others items of personal nature. At the Lucma Lodge (last day of the trek), you will need to settle your bill by charging the credit card previously presented, or by paying in cash. If paying in cash, please note that only U.S. notes of $5, $10, $20, and $50 value are accepted; U.S. notes of $1, $100 or coins are not accepted. Peruvian currency is accepted. If paying with a credit card, you will not be able to present a new credit card when settling the bill.
Credit cards are readily accepted in Lima and Cusco, but it is suggested that you have cash for purchases outside of the cities. Small bills are helpful. Check with your credit card provider regarding surcharges for international purchases prior to your departure and be sure to inform them of your travels.
Weather in the region is extremely variable and you should pack for a variety of conditions. In addition, our trek passes through nine bio-zones ranging from high altitude alpine conditions to high jungle. During a sunny day you can expect temperatures of about 65–80°F, however on the pass the weather is very unpredictable and temperatures can drop to 30°F during the day (but your time there will be limited).
The Machu Picchu area has a humid climate and tends to be warmer, since it is located at a lower altitude and near to the Amazon Jungle. The average temperatures at Machu Picchu are between 73°F and 77°F, with the minimum temperature around 64°F.
The Cusco area has two defined seasons: the wet season and dry season. The wet season starts in November and ends in March. During this period, it rains almost every day for three or four hours, but there are sunny days. The dry season begins around March and lasts until October. June and July are the coldest months.
You may want to check one week prior to your trip for an up-to-date weather forecast. We recommend the following website: www.wunderground.com for weather in Peru.
Average High/Low Temperature & Rainfall for Cusco:
|TEMP. °F||RAINFALL||TEMP. °F||RAINFALL|
Average High/Low Temperature & Rainfall for Aguas Calientes:
|TEMP. °F||RAINFALL||TEMP. °F||RAINFALL|
Peru is located in the same international time zone as the U.S. east coast. During Daylight Savings Time in the U.S., Peru is on Central Time.
Health and Medical Information
Although we do not require any immunizations to participate on the Mystical Peru Adventure, 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 involves being active at high altitudes. The level of exertion is moderate to strenuous and you will be trekking approximately 32 miles over four days (with two more days optional), hiking at elevations between 5,800 and 15,000 feet. Additionally, Cusco is approximately 11,200 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 recommend arriving in Cusco two days prior to your trip to allow your body time to acclimatize prior to the start of your trek. The trek is designed 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.
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 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 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 a 10-mile day and reaches an elevation of 15,213 ft, 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 daypack 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.
Trekking wear—Start with sunscreen, pants or shorts (convertible pants are great) and long-sleeved shirt, and then add additional thermal base layers depending on the time of year. Keep a rain jacket and pants handy at all times. As the day warms up, layers can be taken off and stored in your daypack, but you should come prepared as weather conditions can be extremely varied.
Evening wear—After a long day on the 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. You will want to have something warm such as long sleeved shirts, pants and fleece. For the lodge and town, casual travel wear is appropriate.
You’ll need a pair of comfortable, sturdy hiking boots 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. In the evening you’ll want a pair of comfortable shoes for the lodge, or slippers. Find professional-grade options made by Chaco®, the official footwear sponsor of OARS guides.
We recommend jacket and pants that are 100% waterproof and breathable, not just water resistant. A hooded jacket is recommended, as well as good secure closures around your head, neck, wrists and ankles. Many folks like having a poncho, as well, as a poncho provides coverage for a daypack.
This trip takes place at very high elevations and protecting yourself from the sun should be taken very seriously. A sun hat, sunscreen, lip balm, and sunglasses are a must. Also, it’s a good idea to have a long-sleeved cotton shirt and lightweight long pants (preferably light colors) to cover up. Lightweight gloves can also protect your hands. At the end of each day, you may want to have some good moisturizing lotion to replenish your skin from the drying effects of the dry air, sun and wind.
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:
☐ Day pack with rain cover: large enough to carry water, snacks, camera, extra layers & rain gear
☐ Water bottle (refillable & reusable) or a hydration bag/pack
☐ Sunglasses (preferably polarized) with securing strap and a spare
☐ Toiletries (shampoo, conditioner and bath gel are provided at each lodge)
☐ Sunscreen and lip protection: SPF 30 or higher (aerosol sprays not recommended)
☐ 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
☐ Headlamp or small flashlight (although there are night lights in the rooms)
☐ Cash for gratuities (not included in the trip price for your lead and assistant trekking guides)
☐ Broken-in hiking boots (waterproof/breathable is ideal)
☐ Comfortable shoes for around the lodges (sandals or flip-flops may be desirable)
☐ Hiking socks (at least one pair for each day of trekking)
☐ Long-sleeved shirt: lightweight and light color for sun protection (old dress shirts work well)
☐ Long-sleeved fleece or similar warm layer
☐ T-shirts (some cotton, some synthetic or merino wool)
☐ Pants: lightweight and light color for sun protection
☐ Shorts for hiking (consider convertible pants)
☐ Casual mountain wear for evenings
☐ Rain jacket & pants or poncho: waterproof
☐ Cold-weather jacket–fleece or insulated
☐ Swimsuit / Swim Trunks for the hot tubs at the lodges
☐ Underwear, including one set of base-layer thermals (merino wool or synthetic)
☐ Warm hat and gloves
☐ Sun hat or visor (and a spare)
☐ Camera and accessories
☐ Hydration pack
☐ Binoculars (lightweight and small)
☐ Trekking poles (check with your airline about travel restrictions)
☐ Sarong: useful for sun protection, evaporative cooling, changing clothes, etc.
☐ Small bags: stuff sacs, zip locks or similar for organizing items in your duffel 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
Pack your gear in a strong, soft duffel bag. No hard suitcases or wheeled bags, please, as luggage is mainly transported by mules and/or porters along the trail. We kindly ask that you restrict the weight of your luggage on the trail to 10kg/22lbs.
If you do not have an appropriate sized duffel bag, we can provide a duffel bag on loan at the pre-trek briefing (the night before departing from Cusco). Please return it to your trip leader after the trek. The duffels are 27” x 15” x 15″, a perfect size for this 7-day trek.
Peru Rail/Inca Rail, which operates the train between Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo, has luggage weight and size limits, which is why we recommend using the duffel bags we provide. The official weight limit is 10kg/22lbs total per person for luggage. If you decide to carry your own duffel bag weighing in excess of the 10kg rule, it will likely be sent by Peru Rail in the luggage car. Luggage cars have different schedules from passenger cars and it is not certain your bag will arrive in Ollantaytambo at the same time as you will. This is the reason why we recommend clients to keep their luggage with them at all times.
We provide a limited number of hair-dryers at each lodge, due to limited energy supply and environmental concerns. Shampoo, conditioner and bath gel are provided at each lodge. Bathrooms are equipped with drying lines.
Any additional clothing and luggage that you will not need on the trek can be stored at your hotel in Cusco.
We recommend that you leave your valuables at home. Purses and city clothes can be left at your hotel in Cusco. Carry your passport with you. Please refer to Electronics & Technology regarding those items you may be bringing. On the trek you can store your wallet and other personal papers safely in your duffel and your room.
You will have one Lead Guide and one Assistant Guide on your trek. The industry standard is US$5-$10 per day, per guest for the Lead Guide and US$3-$5 per day, per guest for the Assistant Guide. Should you choose to tip, it can be given directly to your guides. If you intend to tip the Assistant Guide, it may be given at breakfast before departure from the Lucma Lodge on day 6, as the Assistant Guide will not continue with you to Machu Picchu. The price of your trip includes a US$50 tip for service staff—lodge staff, mule drivers and route chefs. If you intend to tip, plan ahead and have cash – either US Dollars or Peruvian Sol.
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 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.
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Terms & Conditions
Reservations & Deposit
An $800/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||Deposit ($800/person)|
|89 to 30 days prior to your trip||50% of the trip price/person|
|29 to 0 days prior to your trip||100% of the trip price/person|
The terms below are only applicable to another Mystical Peru trip (payments can’t be transferred to a different program). The transfer fee is due at the time the new trip date is booked. Transfers are subject to changes in the trip price and may only be applied to a trip within the following year.
|DATE OF TRANSFER||TRANSFER FEE|
|60 or more days prior to your trip||$500/person|
|59 – 30 days prior to your trip||25% of the trip price/person|
|29 to 0 days prior to your trip||50% of the trip price/person|
OARS International and the outfitter Mountain Lodges of Peru 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 Mountain Lodges of Peru 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 liability release 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 before the trip begins. Anyone who refuses to sign the form will not be allowed to participate, and consistent with A.R.S. International cancellation policy, there will be no refund of the trip fees at that time.
Responsibility – An Important Notice
O.A.R.S. International, Inc., Mountain Lodges of Peru 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 they have 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. 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.
Mountain Lodges of Peru:
Mountain Lodges of Peru, a travel partner of OARS. International, is the operator of this trip. At the trip briefing, your guide will meet you and escort you throughout the program. These staff members are the very best and will strive to ensure your complete satisfaction.