Last Modified: 25 Jul 2013
Trip code: GGSA
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Take an in depth look at the best of Peru on an exciting journey that encompasses modern cities and ancient worlds. Explore the country's lush jungles, expansive lakes and harsh deserts. Enjoy local homestays, hike the famed Inca Trail and be immersed in fascinating Peruvian culture while discovering its history buried deep within the walls of lost cities.
Table of Contents
- Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Day 1 Lima
Bienvenidos! Welcome to Peru.
Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 4pm on Day 1.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
While Peru's capital officially began life in 1535, when Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro founded the city on the Day of the Three Kings, settlements had been scattered through the valley since before the Incas. The city was built on top of an existing palace and temples that belonged to the local chief who had little choice but to move on. Lima was in its prime during the Spanish colonial days and much of the city's attraction now lies in its well-preserved historical centre.
If you arrive early, we recommend you take a walk around Miraflores. Go from Central Park (Parque Kennedy) to LarcoMar via Larco Avenue. Alternatively go to Parque del Amor (Love's Park) for a nice view of Lima's beaches. Other things to see and do include a tour to Pachacamac (approx 30 km from downtown Lima), the Museo de la Nacion and the Gold Museum. Limenos (Lima's residents) are friendly and there are plenty of great restaurants and cafes to sample ceviche, a local seafood speciality.
Explore the 16th-century monastery of San Francisco which boasts a fresco of the Last Supper that has a distinctly Peruvian flavour: the disciples pictured dine on guinea pig and drink from gold Inca cups. The monastery's catacombs are the real drawcard - they've been Lima's underground cemetery for hundreds of years.
There are many fine museums in and around the city including the Museo del Tribunal de la Santa Inquisicion, which gives a fascinating insight into the Spanish Inquisition.
Visit the Archaeological Museum, which offers a look at Peru's succession of ancient cultures.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
- Archaeological Museum - PEN11
- Catacombs - PEN10
- Museum of the Inquisition - Free
- Gold Museum - PEN35
- Museo de la Nacion - PEN10
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Pisco
Your leader will take you on a walking tour of downtown Lima, including the city's historical centre - so there's no need for you to visit the downtown area prior to the trip. Flanked by streets of ornate colonial mansions, palaces and churches, Plaza Mayor is the best place to start any exploration of Lima. Take a walk through the old streets to get a feel for colonial life. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral, which houses the remains of Lima's founder, Francisco Pizarro.
Travel by taxi or minivan to Lima's bus station and take a local bus to Pisco (approx 4 hrs). The bus will stop three or four times before reaching our destination.
This small fishing town is the gateway to the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas National Reserve but it's most famous as the birthplace of Peru's national drink, the pisco sour, made from a local brandy of the same name. For some local food specialities, head to the Plaza de Armas where the locals hang out and munch on tejas, small sweets made from nuts and dried fruits.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 3 Nazca
Sometimes called the 'Galapagos of Peru', the Ballestas Islands are a haven for wildlife including hundreds of pelicans, red-footed boobies, flamingos, sea lions and even penguins. Get up close to this amazing wildlife with a boat tour of the islands (approx 1.5-2 hrs).
Between June and September the port might be closed by the Peruvian Navy due to weather conditions. Should this occur an alternative option of a land tour to the Paracas National Reserve will be offered.
Travel on to Nazca (approx 3 hrs), stopping en route at the oasis of Huacachina.
The town of Huacachina is built around a small natural lake surrounded by dramatic sand dunes, which offer endless photography and sandboarding opportunities.
The entire desert in the Nazca area was once home to the ancient Nazca and Paracas cultures which preceded the Incas by over 500 years. Remains of their cultures are still visible - Nazca is home to the famous and enigmatic Nazca lines, enormous designs inscribed in the desert on the arid high plateau.
The enormous lines have been etched into the ground by scraping away the top darker layer of gravel which then contrasts with the paler one underneath. Animals, insects and birds are depicted, and some of the simpler line formations are up to 10 km (32 miles) in length. Who drew them, how and why, can only be guessed at, but theories range from alien invaders to complex Nazca calendars.
These mysterious shapes are better seen from the air. Small four/six seater planes offer 30 minute flights that allow viewing all 26 figures scattered through the desert floor.
Warning! Planes turn sharply from one side to another to facilitate viewing from both sides of the plane. Plastic bags are provided on board but needless to say, this flight is not recommended for those with a weak stomach.
A safety note. A number of local operators offer flights over the Nazca lines. It should be noted that there have been numerous safety issues over Nazca in the past – as such Intrepid has used its best endeavors to assess the safety of the operation of some of these companies. While it is impossible to guarantee the safety of air operations, your leader can only assist you to book this activity through companies Intrepid assesses are safer to fly with. Your leader is specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting booking this activity through any other operators.
- Ballestas Islands tour - PEN55
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Arequipa
Visit the desert cemetery of Chauchilla. The Nazca people were buried with colourful textiles and ceramics deep in the desert where the dry, arid climate has naturally mummified the bodies for over 1,500 years.
Early in the afternoon we travel from Nazca to Arequipa by local bus (approx 9hrs)
Standing at the foot of El Misti Volcano and oozing the best of Spanish colonial charm, Arequipa vies with Cuzco for the title of Peru's most attractive city. Built out of a pale volcanic rock called sillar, the old buildings dazzle in the sun, giving the city its nickname - the 'White City'. The main plaza, with its cafes and nearby cathedral, is a lovely place to while away the day.
For a glimpse into a bygone way of life, visit the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. When the convent was built in the 16th century it was traditional for the second son or daughter of a family to enter the religious service. The Santa Catalina accepted only women from high-class Spanish families, with each family paying a hefty dowry for her acceptance. But life inside the convent was far from modest - each nun had between one and four servants, many brought rugs, fine china and silk curtains, and they often held parties.
- (Don't use) Chauchilla Cemetery
- Santa Catalina Monastery - PEN37
- Juanita Museum - PEN20
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Chivay/Colca Canyon
Travel by minivan to Chivay (approx 5 hrs). Along the way you'll see llamas, alpacas and vicunas and discover the differences between these similar creatures. There will also be the opportunity to stop for pictures. At our second stop (after approx 2 hrs), you'll have the chance to try some coca tea. After a third stop at Patapampa (4800 m above sea level and the highest point on our tour), we descend to Chivay - our base for exploring Colca Canyon.
More than twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, Colca Canyon provides some breathtaking views. The Incan and pre-Incan terraces that are carved into the walls are still cultivated and traditional Indian villages are dotted throughout the canyon.
After lunch at Chivay, your local guide will organise a short trek, finishing at the local hot thermal baths. You may choose to spend your evening soaking in the baths, dining on llama steak or listening to live Andean music at a pena.
Our accommodation in Chivay is in a very basic hostel. There are en suite toilets, however there is no heating (you can request extra blankets) and some rooms can be noisy.
The main star of the canyon is not the amazing scenery but the magnificent Andean condor, the world's largest flying bird. Wake up very early to go to the viewpoint where you can admire the condors, followed by an opportunity to explore the incredible canyon.
In the afternoon, we'll meet our host families for a one night homestay. You might like to offer to help your host family with their daily activities such as planting, collecting water, peeling potatoes or preparing the family meal.
The Colca community homestay is also very basic with shared family toilets and no showers. There is however a proper bed with extra blankets and a basic local breakfast.
- Colca Canyon entrance fee
- La Calera hot springs
Hotel (1 nt), Homestay (1 nt)
Days 8-10 Puno/Lake Titicaca
Say goodbye to your host family and take an easy trek back to Chivay along an old Inca trail (approx 2 hrs). From there, take a bus to Patahuasi (approx 4 hrs).
Travel by bus through the dramatic scenery of the high Altiplano to Puno (approx 5 hrs).
Located on the shores of Lake Titicaca, Puno is a melting pot of Aymara and Quechuan Indian culture and traditional Andean customs are still strongly represented here. The town is known as the folklore capital of Peru and is famous for its traditional dances. Many festivals are celebrated here, so if you're lucky your visit might coincide with one of the colourful evening parades, when the streets fill with costumed dancers and musicians.
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, sitting at 3,820 m above sea level. From the shoreline, the water stretches out almost as far as the eye can see, its expanses just waiting to be explored.
Take a tour of the lake by slow motor boat, stopping off to visit the Uros floating islands. The Uros originally built their islands to isolate themselves from rival tribes. The islands are built from many layers of totora reeds that grow in the shallows of the lake. As the reeds closest to the water begin to rot, more layers are added on top. These reeds are used for making everything on the islands, including the boats which can last up to 12 months.
To get a closer look at daily life in the Lake Titicaca region, we'll be welcomed into local homes for an overnight stay on a local community. Make the most of your visit by helping your host family with their daily activities or trying to chat in the local language, Quechua. A game of soccer is also a great way to make local friends.
Our homestay is a mudbrick house. Rooms have beds and many blankets, there are shared drop toilets but no showers.
After breakfast the next day, board the boat again for a visit to Taquile Island (approx 1 hour), where knitting is strictly a male domain and women do the spinning. This is a great place to pick up some high quality, locally knitted goods. An uphill trek of about an hour brings us to the main area of the island and after the visit we descend about 500 steps back to our boat.
Transfer back to Puno by boat (approx 3 hrs).
- Lake Titicaca boat tour & homestay
Hotel (2 nts), Homestay (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Cuzco
Travel by local bus across the spectacular Altiplano to Cuzco (approx 6 hrs).
The Cuzco region truly is the heart and soul of Peru. The city itself is the continent's oldest continuously inhabited city and was the home of the Incas for two centuries before the Spanish built their first capital here. Today Cuzco is a fascinating combination of both cultures. Inca-built walls line the central streets and many of the elegant colonial buildings are built on or around Inca foundations. This is a city steeped in history, tradition and legend and is a perfect base for explorations into the Inca world or to enjoy a range of outdoor activities.
Take the time to acclimatise to the city's 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city.
Your leader will take you on a walking tour including a visit to the Coca Musuem - where you can learn more about this infamous plant which has been an essential part of life in the Andes for centuries - and the local San Pedro market.
You have a free day to discover some of Cuzco's highlights.
The Boleto Turistico (Tourism Ticket) is a good option if you to visit the many musems in Cuzco. This ticket also includes the archaeological around Cuzco such as Saqsaywaman, Q'enqo, Pica Pakara, Pisac and Ollantaytambo. Some museums in town, like Contemporary Art Meseum, Regional History Museum and Qosqo Native Art Museum can only be accessed by purchasing the Boleto Turistico.
There are several impressive Inca ruins within the city. The most easily accessible is Coricancha, which was the Inca empire's richest temple. Once plated in thick gold, the Spanish built a Dominican church atop its sturdy walls.
Take a bus to the Sacred Valley where you can visit a local community and learn about Andean lifestyle and daily activities.
- Boleto turistico (general) - PEN135
- Coricancha - PEN10
- City tour - USD15
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 13-16 Inca Trail/Machu Picchu
Depending on your pre-arranged travel arrangements, during the next four days you may: hike the Classic Inca Trail, hike the Inca Quarry Trail, or stay in Cuzco for another two days before heading by train to Aguas Calientes.
While you are away from Cuzco the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel in Cuzco.
If you are hiking the Inca Trail or the Inca Quarry Trail, the evening before you leave Cuzco, you'll receive a small duffle bag to pack clothes for the next four days (6 kg maximum). Your team of porters will carry these bags for you, together with the food and equipment for the trail. Please note that you won't have access to these items until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group.
If you are travelling to Aguas Calientes by train, you'll have the option to leave most of your luggage at your hotel storage room and only travel with the necessary items for the next few days.
INCA TRAIL: The Inca Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people, but do come prepared: the trail is 45 km (28 miles) long and often steep. Generally each day's journey consists of 7 hours walking on average (both uphill and downhill), plus stops for snacks and lunch. Normally trekking starts at 7am (except for the fourth morning) and you reach the campsite around 4-5pm.
Accommodation on the trek is camping (3 nights). Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Tents are set up by the porters. Meals are prepared by the trek cook.
Day 1: Today we travel by minivan to the 82 km marker and join our crew of local porters, cook and guide. The starting point of the trek is located at 2,850m. Our first day includes some uphill trekking to the campsite - at over 3,300 m above sea level. Today you will see the ruins of Llactapata, burnt to the ground by the last Inca emperor to discourage Spanish pursuit down the trail.
Day 2: This is the most challenging day of the trek as we ascend a long steep path (approx 4 hours) to reach the highest point of our trek, Warmiwanusca ('Dead Woman's Pass'), at a height of 4,200 m (13,779 ft), before descending to the Pacaymayo Valley at 3650 m. Next is a climb up to the second pass known as Runkuracay at 3,980 m - approximately 90 minutes uphill from the Pacaymayo Valley. From here we can enjoy views of the snow-capped Cordillera Vilcabamba before descending to the ruins of Sayacmarca (2-3 hours). From here it's only a short walk to the Chaquicocha campsite at 3,620 m.
Day 3: Continue over the third pass and soon reach the beautiful ruins of Phuyupatamarca, the 'Town above the Clouds', at 3,850 m (approx 90 mins walk). From here we start our descent along Inca steps (2 hours) to reach our final night's camp by the Winay Wayna ('Forever Young') archaeological site at 2,750 m. Grab a drink and enjoy the panoramic views of the valley below.
Day 4: Take a short final hike (approx 2 hrs) to the Sun Gate where we can watch the ruins of Machu Picchu emerge from the mist below. The feeling you get as you see the ruins for the first time is indescribable.
QUARRY TRAIL: The Quarry Trail is within the abilities of most reasonably fit people. This hike is 26km long in total and its highest pass is at 4,450 meters above sea level.
Throughout the trek your gear (and camping gear) will be carried by horses (as opposed to porter).
The first two nights of the trek are spent camping and the third one at a simple hotel. Double tents (twin-share) and foam camping mats will be provided. Tents are set up by the porters. Meals are prepared by the trek cook.
Day 1 - Today is an early start as we drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas used to venerate the moon. A short drive from here takes us to Rafq'a, the starting point of our trek and where we meet the horsemen that will join us during the hike. After an approx. 1hr walk we reach the small community of Socma.
A further 60min walk takes to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout. This is a perfect opportunity to stop for photos and a snack.
From here we continue on to our campsite, at 3700 meters above sea level. All going well, we should reach our campsite by lunch time. After lunch we set off to explore the Q'orimarca archaeological site, which used to serve as a check point during the times of the Incas.
Day 2 - This is the most challenging but most rewarding day of the hike. A 3hr walk takes us to the top of the first pass, known as Puccaqasa (approx 4370 meters). After enjoying the views of the valley below we walk down for 30min to our lunch spot.
Rested and full of energy again we take on a 2hr hike to the highest pass of the trek: Kuychicassa (4450 meters).
From here we head down for 2hr to a site the Incas called Inti Punku, (meaning Sun Gate) with imposing views over the valley bellow and the Veronica mountain raising over the horizon.
Our campsites is a stone throw away at Choquetacarpo (3600 metres)
Day 3 - Day three is all downhill hiking. The first stop is at the Kachiqata quarry, where we witness the work the Incas could not complete due to the Spanish conquest.
Approximately at midday we finally arrive to the town of Kachiqata - the end of this challenging and fascinating trek.
From here we visit Ollantaytambo. In the afternoon we travel by train to Aguas Calientes where we meet with our fellow travellers who didn't hike. The natural hot springs in town are an unbeatable way to spend a late afternoon/early evening. Tonight we overnight at a simple but comfortable hotel.
Day 4 - Today we take a very early bus (5:30am depending on weather conditions) along the winding road to Machu Picchu (approx. 30 minutes). In Machu Picchu we join the travellers who opted to hike the Classic Inca Trail option of this trip before taking on a guided walk of Machu Picchu.
TRAIN OPTION: For those travellers not interested or unable to hike the trail, it's possible to spend two extra nights Cuzco before travelling by bus to Ollantaytambo (approx. 90 minutes) and train through the winding Urubamba Valley to Aguas Calientes (1.5 hrs approx.) where you spend a third night.
Aguas Calientes is nestled in the cloud forest in the hills at the foot of Machu Picchu. For those who want a sneak peak, there is time to visit Machu Picchu independently before a guided tour the following day. Otherwise, you can while away the afternoon in the natural hot springs that give the town its name.
This option must be arranged at the time of booking or local fees will apply.
MACHU PICCHU: While it's thought Machu Picchu was built around 1440 as a country retreat for Incan nobility, there is evidence this had been a sacred Incan site for much longer. Another school of thought is that this was an astronomical observatory. There's plenty of time for you to decide for yourself as you wander around the many temples, palaces and living quarters. You will have a guided visit (approx 1.5-2 hrs) with plenty of free time afterwards.
After taking advantage of the seemingly endless photo opportunities, it's time to return to Cuzco for a well deserved shower and a pisco sour.
WAYNA PICCHU: Due to Intrepid's internal safety policy our leaders are specifically prohibited from recommending or assisting with booking this activity.
Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts), Hotel (1 nt)
Day 17 Cuzco
Enjoy free time to relax, shop and explore more of Cuzco's sights. Rest weary legs at a cafe on Plaza de Armas. For those who can't get enough active adventure, why not try mountain biking in the hills that surround Cuzco.
- Whitewater rafting - USD25
- Mountain biking - USD35
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 18-19 Amazon Jungle
Take a 30 minute flight to Puerto Maldonado.
Upon arrival, the lodge staff will take us to their office in town where you will leave most of your luggage in a safe storage and continue travelling with a small pack with just the necessary items for our next two nights in the jungle. Then take a motorized canoe up river to our jungle lodge in the Madre de Dios Area.
Head into the jungle with our local, multilingual guides and encounter magnificent fauna and flora in their natural habitat. The guides can also teach us about the medicinal properties and practical uses of the plants.
After exploring the wilds, it's time to jump back in the canoe and return to civilisation.
The lodge is eco-friendly and combines low-impact architecture with traditional native style. Rooms are simple, but comfortable with flush toilets (en suite), showers (cold water only), mosquito nets and kerosene lamps for light.
Jungle Lodge (2 nts)
Days 20-21 Lima
Travel back to Puerto Maldonado before taking a short flight to Lima (approx 2 hrs).
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
Hotel (1 nt)
- GGSA - Single Supplement (GGSA)
We also recommend
If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
- Active Galapagos (GGTF)
- Classic Galapagos (GPME)
- Complete Galapagos (GPMK)
- Complete Galapagos (GLSK)
- Galapagos Adventure (GLSL)
- Galapagos Adventure (GPML)
- Galapagos at a Glance (GLSM)
- Galapagos at a Glance (GPMM)
- Galapagos Encounter (GPMI)
- Galapagos Explorer (GPMJ)
- Galapagos In Depth (GPMH)
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
On Day 2 of the Inca Trail or Quarry Trek you will be walking uphill from 3000 to 4500 metres above sea level before descending steeply through big steps and difficult terrain. While this demanding walk is the main challenge our passengers face on this trip, it's also one of the highlights and worth every minute of it.
We recommend that you undertake regular aerobic exercise in the months before you travel, particularly if you are not in the habit of regular exercise. Doing mountain walks or climbing long staircases with a pack is good preparation. Walking, jogging, swimming or riding a bike are all good ways to increase your aerobic fitness, which will allow you to enjoy the trek to its fullest.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The official currency of Peru is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN).
Peruvian banks are allowed to reject dollar bills which are old, torn (more than one centimetre) and which have too many stamps on them. Please make sure you don't accept bills in such conditions as you may not be able to use them.
With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
Porters (if applicable): While on the Inca Trail, we suggest PEN80-120 for all porters, assistants and cook.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$1-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Inca Trail permits are sold on a request basis only. Once your deposit is paid and passport details provided, Intrepid will endeavour to secure a permit for you.
In order to obtain an Inca Trail permit, it's vital that you provide the correct and most up-to-date passport information at the time of booking (date of birth, passport number, expiry date and name spelling exactly as it appears in the passport that you will travel with). Inconsistencies and/or changes between passport details provided at the time of booking and the passport you travel with will most likely result in you not being granted access to the Inca Trail.
If for reasons outside your control you must change your passport (ie. your passport gets lost or stolen) after your Inca Trail permit has been purchased, please contact your booking agent immediately to attempt arrange an alternative permit (fees may apply).
Amongst other restrictions, Inca Trail permits are dated. Should you request a change to your original trip or travel day, a new permit will need to be purchased (subject to availability) at an extra cost.
In the event that Inca Trail permits can't be secured, you'll be offered the following options:
1) Change to another trip or departure.
2) Hike the alternative Quarry Trail, which includes a visit to Machu Picchu.
3) Stay in Cuzco for 2 nights, travel to Aguas Calientes by train for a 3rd night and visit Machu Picchu before returning to Cuzco.
The Inca Trail closes in February to allow cleaning and restoration works. If the trek portion of your trip starts in February you'll automatically be booked to hike the Quarry Trail.
Should you choose not to hike at all, please let us know in writing at the time of booking so alternative arrangements can be made. Please note if you choose this option you'll be unaccompanied by your group leader. Without this prior warning, local fees may apply.
TREKKING GROUP SIZE:
In order to maximise resources such as porters, cook, local guides and so on, the maximum group size while hiking (Inca Trail or Quarry Trail) may extend to 16 travellers.
DEMONSTRATIONS AND PROTESTS:
Demonstrations and protests, often in response to local labour or social issues, occur regularly throughout Peru. National strikes can be called at short notice and can cause disruption to road networks leading to inevitable itinerary changes. Intrepid does everything possible for these changes to be at little or no extra cost; however in such circumstances we find that travellers need to access part of, or the entire, emergency fund. Please read below for more information on this trip's emergency fund.
The wet season in this region is from December to March when heavy rains can cause disruptions to ground transport. Intrepid will monitor any situations that arise, and may need to change itineraries or activities in response to natural weather occurrences.
Maximum of 12 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
A single supplement is available on this trip, please refer to your booking agent for further information. On the following nights the single supplement is not available:
- Day 4 Overnight bus to Arequipa
- Days 6-7 Colca Canyon
- Day 9 Lake Titicaca Homestay
- Days 13-15 Inca Trail
- Days 18-19 Amazon Jungle
Hotel (13 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (3 nts), Jungle Lodge (2 nts), Homestay (2 nts)
The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
Due to limited time and energy supply in some places, please be prepared for some cold showers.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
19 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 7 Dinners
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
Meals on the Inca Trail are prepared by the trek cook.
Please note breakfasts are often simple (bread, butter, jam, coffee / tea and juice would be most common).
Bus, Van, Plane, Boat, Canoe
Our overnight buses have reclinable seats - usually more comfortable than your average economy plane seats. You may be offered a simple dinner on board or stop at a service station to buy snacks and drinks. Before boarding an overnight bus, it's always a good idea to have music, a book, water, snacks and warm clothing ready.
All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
Joining point instructions
The best way to get from Lima's International Airport Jorge Chavez to Lima city is by taxi. As you walk out from the luggage collection area, you will find the official taxi counters. We recommend you take Taxi Green services. They will charge you 40-45 PEN (Soles) for a trip to Lima’s downtown.
The following will be useful in getting to the hotel:
Por favor lleveme al Hostal Inka Path, que se encuentra en Jiron de la Union 654 con Avenida Emancipacion en el centro de Lima.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point instructions
If you have pre-booked a departure transfer, please inform your leader and they will notify you of your departure transfer time.
If you are making your own way to the airport the hotel will be able to help book you an airport shuttle or taxi. Please ask at reception.
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
PERU TOURIST VISA
Australia: Not required
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Not required
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Not required
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
Please note that these multi-climate countries can have very diverse weather. Wet season (approximately November to March) is rainy in the highlands (with average temperatures); dry, hot & humid in the central coast; rainy, hot and humid in the jungle. Dry season (end of April to September) can be freezing in the highlands, cold in the coastal zone and could present some 'cold fronts' in the jungle. It is recommended to bring thermals, scarf, gloves and a warm jacket for travel in this period. Most of our guesthouses don't supply heating. This would be a major financial and environmental strain on these hotels and for their local towns.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
HIKING IN PERU.
The evening before you start your trek, you will be given a small duffle bag to pack your clothes for the next four days. Your weight allowance is 6 kg max. While you hike, the bulk of your luggage will be stored at your hotel in Cuzco.
Your team of porters will carry your duffle bag for you, together with the food and camping gear. It's important to be aware that you will not have access to your items in the duffle bag until the end of each day, as the porters will always be ahead of the group.
For during the trek, you need a day pack big enough to carry personal belongings such as a warm jacket, a rain jacket, your camera, sun cream, snacks, water, etc. Usually a 30 to 50 litres capacity back pack is big enough.
Sleeping bags can be hired locally for approximately US$18.
Hiking poles can be hired locally for approximately US$14
Rain ponchos can be purchased in Cuzco for a couple of dollars.
While trekking, boiled or safe water is available for drinking. However, you should also carry a water purification method. Options include:
- purification tablets available from camping stores or pharmacies eg. Micropur.
- 2% tincture of iodine, available from pharmacies, used at 4 drops per litre of water and left for at least 20 minutes - longer in very cold weather.
IMAGES FROM HOME:
During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip.
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip.
While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
HIKING THE INCA TRAIL OR QUARRY TRAIL:
In accordance with local laws governing tourism in Peru, trekking groups of up to and including 8 trekkers will be led by one local guide. The evacuation of an injured traveller in normal conditions may take more than 8 hours. For your own safety, it's crucial that you adhere to the local guide's safety instructions, particularly in regard to how to prevent trekkers getting separated or lost. Your leader will also conduct a brief safety discussion before our trekking activity.
On the Quarry Trail, a horse is available to aid the evacuation of an injured traveller (horses are not allowed on the Inca Trail). This resource is not part of the activity itself, may be up to an hours walk away and should not be expected to assist travellers simply wanting a rest from trekking.
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.
While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Responsible Travel projects
Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Peru include:
* Living Heart focuses on improving the education, nutrition and health of disadvantaged Andean women and children near Cusco. Currently they provide free breakfasts, assist local schools with educational supplies and organise visits by doctors and nurses. They are also raising funds to build homes for orphaned children and abused women and children.
* Escuela Winaypaq provides free education and food to children living in extreme poverty in the Taray District. In 2010, severe mud slides, flooding and rain resulted in the destruction of the school. A new school, which is close to completion, will provide classes for 54 kindergarten and primary school students and have six teachers.
Carbon Offset C02-e 565.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.