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A1: As far in advance as possible. The government has strictly limited the number of people permitted on the Inca Trail (permits are issued to about 200 trekkers per day plus 300 porters). We therefore recommend that you try to make your Inca trail reservation as far in advance as possible as soon as you know the dates of your international flights. The list of available trek spaces is shown on our Inca Trail Prices & Services page and is updated 2 or 3 times a week. As long as dates are shown available then you can make a trek booking. We have included recommendations below, as a guide as to when to make a trek booking.
Nov, Dec, Jan: In 2016 the trek permits for some departure dates were sold out 5 months in advance. In 2017 we therefore recommend making a reservation at least 5 months in advance, although I am sure there will still be trek permits available for some dates 2 or 3 months in advance. Departures around Christmas and New Year tend to sell out fast. Some dates in mid-January (low season) may still be available up to 5 to 6 weeks in advance.
March, April, May, June: In 2016 many trek departure dates in March, April, May & June sold out as soon as the trek permits went on sale at the beginning of January so we would recommend making a booking before the beginning of December - preferably earlier - to allow us time to process your booking. We are already taking bookings for 2017 so I would recommend making a booking as far in advance as you can. The first couple of days in March, Easter and the whole month of May are particularly popular and the permits for these dates can sell out almost as soon as they are on sale.
Jul, Aug, Sept, Oct: In 2016 most trek permits were sold out 6 months in advance. In 2017 we therefore recommend making a reservation between 6 and 7 months in advance, although further in advance is recommended.
A2: After we have confirmed your trek booking you will need to pay a trek deposit of US$300 (2016) & US$350 (2017). The deposit can be paid by PayPal (preferred method as it is quick), or by bank transfer. UK clients can also pay their deposits into our UK Lloyds account (no transfer fee). The remaining trek balance needs to be paid in our office in Cusco at least 2 days prior to the trek departure date, before 7.30pm. Payment is to be made in cash (US dollars or local currency). When we confirm your trek booking we will send you more details about how to pay the trek deposit. Please note that the trek deposit is non-refundable & non-transferable. The deposit is used to purchase your trek permit and reserve space within the group. After purchasing the permit (or submitting your details to the government) we cannot change the date of trek departure or change the name or passport number on the trek permit.
A3: The Inca Trail is a 43km (26 mile) hike through mountainous regions involving trekking for 5-7 hours at high altitude and over rough terrain. The maximum altitude reached on the trek is 4200m above sea level. On the second day of the trek we ascend 1200m. Make no mistake, the Inca Trail is a fairly difficult trek and you should be well prepared and healthy prior to starting it. You should be fit and take regular exercise. Try walking 15km in a day or go to the gym in the months leading up to the trek. It is also important to be well acclimatized to the altitude. Try to spend 2 or 3 days in Cusco (3400m) prior to starting the trek. This time can be put to good use visiting the city of Cusco, nearby Inca ruins and the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The good news is that virtually everyone in the last few years who started the trek finished it ! Only a handful had to turn back. (see tips on staying healthy on the trail below). If you do not take regular exercise or have a heart, respiratory, knee or back problem do not consider doing the trek.
A4: There is no government restriction on the age limit for the Inca Trail. However as a responsible trekking company Peru Treks does not accept reservations for children under the age of 8 years old and adults over 67 years old. All children under 18 years old must also be accompanied by an adult. We require that all of our trekkers over 64 years old hire the service of an extra half porter (6kg). Trekkers over 64 years old must also consult with their doctor prior to starting the trek to check that they are suitably fit to participate. They must follow their doctors recommendations even if this means cancelling their trek booking. We also recommend that clients over 64 years old arrive in Cusco at least 3 days prior to starting the trek (rather than the usual 2 days). We recommend that all clients over 59 years old should talk to their doctor well in advance about how best to plan for the trek and also to ensure that their travel insurance covers such adventure activities. We do not accept bookings from single trekkers over 60 years old (i.e. trekkers travelling on their own) and group bookings where everyone in the group is over 64 years old.
A4b: We often have two or more group departing on the same date so the only way to ensure that you are booked in the same group as your friends is for you all to book together at the same time. If you book now we may not have spaces in our group for your friends if they book later and you won't be able to cancel your booking without losing your trek deposit. If you do have friends who want to join the group later then you must let us know and ask your friends to mention that they want to be placed in your group when they make a booking.
A5: We offer standard meals as well as a vegetarian meal option. Just let us know if you want vegetarian meals when you book your trek.
Vegetarian meals have no red meat, chicken or fish. We will assume that eggs and dairy are OK. We don't cater specifically for vegans as it can get too complicated for our cooks (remember they are cooking in a tent). Most of our main meals in the evening are served as a buffet service so you can always leave what you don't like. If there is a particular food that you don't like (i.e. tomatoes, onions, mushrooms etc) we will ask the cook to do his best to leave them out of the dish but we cannot guarantee this. We can also cater for lactose-intolerant and gluten free diets (mild reactions only, no life threatening allergies accepted- see below). We reserve the right not to accept a trek booking based upon dietary requirements, this may be because we already have several people already booked requiring special meals and don't want to upset our cook too much. Thanks for you understanding in this matter.
Standard (no dietary requirements, eats everything),
No red meat (chicken & fish ok)
No fish (red meat and chicken ok)
Lactose-free (mild reactions only)
Gluten free (mild reactions only)
A6: We have plenty of clients who have allergies to nuts, wheat, etc. Please give us details of your allergy at the time of booking. Please indicate the severity of the reaction and what type of medicines you have to take in an emergency. If your allergy is severe you must be accompanied by a friend on the trek who is aware of your allergy and the location of any required medicines. We do not accept clients with life-threatening allergies. Due to the nature of the remote geographical location of the trail and the lack of suitable nearby medical facilities Peru Treks will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special medical/dietary requirements. We suggest that you to check with your doctor before booking the trek.
A7: You must disclose at the time of booking any medical condition that could affect your ability to do the Inca Trail trek. Peru Treks reserves the right not to accept a trek booking if we feel that a medical condition may put your life or the lives of any of our trekking staff or other clients at risk on the trek. People with heart conditions, knee problems, severe asthma or pregnant should not participate in the trek. People with mild asthma / diabetes will have to bring a medical note from their doctor stating that they are fit to undertake the trek. They will also be required to be accompanied by a trekking companion on the trek at all times who will trek at their sides and be familiar with any medicines required in case of an emergency. Peru Treks reserved the right to cancel the trek booking of a client if the client has not fully disclosed at the time of making a booking a medical condition that may pose a risk to the health of the client and/or other trekkers. No refunds will be given in this instance.
Due to the nature of the remote geographical location of the trail and the lack of suitable nearby medical facilities along the trail Peru Treks will not accept any responsibility, either directly or indirectly, for any problems due to your special dietary requirements / medical condition. We suggest that you check with your doctor before booking the trek.
A8a: We require everyone to be in Cusco for at least 2 nights prior to starting the trek, although 3 nights is even better. You must pay your trek balance at least 2 days before trek departure. For example if your trek departs on a Monday you must come to our office before 7.30 pm on Saturday to pay the trek balance. This ensures that everyone in the group is well acclimatized to the high altitude before starting the trek. Please note the trek balance needs to be paid in Cusco and cannot be paid in advance of your arrival.
Office hours are Mon - Saturday 0900-1300, 1600-2000 (please try to come to our offices before 1930 at the latest thanks), Sunday: Closed all day
A8b: If you fail to pay the trek balance on time Peru Treks reserves the right to cancel your trek booking as indicated in our trek booking terms and conditions. All clients must plan to arrive in Cusco so that they are able to get to our office before 7.30pm at least 2 days before trek departure. We understand that flights sometimes get delayed so we treat each situation on a case by case basis and are usually sympathetic to genuine cases. If you are unable to make it to the office in time then please call our office as soon as possible. We might be able to make arrangements for a guide to come to your hotel later in the evening (US$25 out of hours call out fee). If you decide to participate in the trek without the recommended period of 2 nights acclimatization to the high altitude then you do so at your own risk.
A9: Backpack, sleeping bag, double-thickness foam mattress (we will provide you with this but you have to carry it, it weighs approx 1kg), rain jacket, strong footwear, one complete change of clothing, sweater, jacket (something warm), water bottle (metal or nalgene type) and sterilizing tablets (Micropur are recommended and can be bought in local pharmacies in Cusco), flashlight and batteries, broad-brim or peaked cap, sunblock, insect repellent, toiletries and toilet paper, selection of small snacks, chocolate, dried fruit, biscuits etc, camera and spare batteries (nowhere to charge your camera during the trek). For your own personal hygiene we also recommend that you bring a small bottle of antiseptic/anti-bacterial hand gel to clean your hands each time after using the camp toilets and before eating any snacks / meals. You also have to bring your original passport with you on the trek, with the same passport number you originally made your reservation with, otherwise you will be unable to go on the trek. Photocopies are no longer acceptable.
We will buy your Inca Trail trek permit using the names & passport numbers that you send us with your trek booking application. You must bring these same passports with you to Cusco and take them on the Inca Trail. If the name or number in your passport is different from the name and number on the trek permit, the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek and you will not be entitled to a refund. If you plan to renew your passport between making the trek booking and actually starting the trek please see the section below about Frequently Asked Questions relating to passport numbers. If you make a trek booking at the student price you must send us a copy of your ISIC card at the time you pay the trek deposit. If you fail to bring your ISIC card on the trek the government authorities will not allow you to start the trek. You will not be given the opportunity to pay the extra difference in price and you will not be entitled to a refund. These are government regulations and apply to ALL licensed Inca Trail tour operators.
A10: Unless you hire an extra 'half of a porter' you will need to carry all of the above personal items. We include porters to carry all the other items such as tents, food and cooking equipment.
A11: Walking boots are recommended as they provide support to the ankle which reduces the risk of injury especially when trekking in the wet season (December - March). However it is important that your boots are comfortable and well worn-in and not brand new. Many people prefer to trek in tennis shoes but extra care should be taken. We do not recommend trekking in sandals or using new boots or hiring boots prior to the trek. Make sure the shoes are sturdy enough for the duration of the trek and will not fall apart.
A12: Many people like to hike with trekking poles or walking sticks. This is fine as long as the poles will not cause damage to the stone paving along the Inca Trail. If the trekking poles have metal spikes then these must be protected by rubber tips. We recommend bringing some spare rubber tips with you. Rubber protectors can also be bought in several shops in Cusco. Wooden walking sticks are obviously fine as long as you bring them with you from home. Recently government authorities have stopped trekkers using wooden sticks that could have come from local forests (to prevent deforestation of protected Andean forests). In Ollantaytambo on the way to the start of the trek you can currently buy wooden broom handles that have been decorated that can be used in an emergency !!! Metal trekking poles can also be hired in many equipment hire shops in Cusco for about US3 per day. Peru Treks doesn't hire out trekking poles, sorry
Q13: Any bags that you don't need to take on the Inca trail can be left at your hotel in Cusco. Nearly all hotels have a luggage deposit and rarely charge for this service as long as you are returning to the hotel after the trek. You can also leave valuables in the hotel safe, but remember to bring your passport and some emergency money. We do not store clients luggage or valuables in our office.
A14: About 30% of the group hire the services of an extra porter to carry their personal items. A 'half porter' can be hired for the 4 day trek (US$80 2016 & US$85 2017) (includes porters entrance fees, meals, transport and wages). If you hire the services of a half porter you can give him a maximum of 6kg (13lbs) to carry which is usually sufficient for your sleeping bag (about 2.5kg), mattress (1 kg) and change of clothes (about 2.5kg). However the porter will not walk at your side during the trek so you will still need to bring a day pack to carry essential items such as water, snacks, camera, warm sweater and rain jacket. When you pay the trek balance in our office in Cusco we will give you a duffle bag so that you can put your items in that, which you will give to the porter on the day of the trek.
A15: No. The restrictions on the number of people permitted on the Inca trail includes porters. Porters also have to pay a trek entrance fee (about US$18) and their tickets need to be booked in advance. If you want to hire the services of a half porter (maximum 6kg) then you must let us know at the time you make your trek booking. Unfortunately if you feel weakened by the effects of the altitude when you arrive in Cusco and feel it necessary to hire a porter at the last minute the new regulations make it impossible for us to arrange this. However on the trek itself the guide can often help you find "unofficial porters" who live at Wayllabamba (first campsite) who can help you with your equipment from Wayllabamba up to the top of the first pass (the most difficult section of the trail). These porters charge between US$30 and US$40 for their services but they cannot always be relied upon. At times of high demand these prices can often be hugely inflated. Peru Treks cannot accept responsibility for the services provided by these porters.
A16: Peru Treks is committed to looking after our porters and our trekking weights are carefully calculated so that our porters are not overloaded. The group sizes given below show the absolute minimum number of porters that we will provide for each group. As a professional company we will guarantee these numbers. Obviously we will use extra porters if any of our clients decide to hire the services of an extra half porter up until the maximum number of porters per group permitted by the government. This is why we limit each client to a maximum of just a half of a porter i.e. maximum 6kg.
04 clients + 1 guide + 1 cook + 09 porters (max 09 porters permitted)
05 clients + 1 guide + 1 cook + 10 porters (max 10 porters permitted)
06 clients + 1 guide + 1 cook + 10 porters + 1 extra porter if required (max 11 porters permitted)
07 clients + 1 guide + 1 cook + 11 porters + 1 extra porter if required (max 12 porters permitted)
08 clients + 1 guide + 1 cook + 11 porters + up to 2 extra porters if required (max 13 porters permitted)
09 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 12 porters + 2 extra porters if required (max 14 porters permitted)
10 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 13 porters + 2 extra porters if required (max 15 porters permitted)
11 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 14 porters + 2 extra porters if required (max 16 porters permitted)
12 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 14 porters + 3 extra porters if required (max 17 porters permitted)
13 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 15 porters + 3 extra porters if required (max 18 porters permitted)
14 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 16 porters + 3 extra porters if required (max 19 porters permitted)
15 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 17 porters + 3 extra porters if required (max 20 porters permitted)
16 clients + 1 guide + 1 assistant guide + 1 cook + 17 porters + 4 extra porters if required (max 21 porters permitted)
A17: Since the end of 2014 Peru Treks has been paying our porters a wage of 210 Soles for the 4 day trek plus their transport cost (nearly 20% above the legally required minimum wage agreed with the Porters Union, making Peru Treks one of the best paying trek operator in Cusco. Although it would be nice that all companies paid this amount there are many who aren't even paying the minimum amount. Following talks with our porters they have told us that they know of only four other trekking companies that pay the same as Peru Treks, two companies that are paying slightly more (and charging their clients almost US$80 more than us) and of the remaining 170 other licensed trekking operators about 60% are paying the legal wage and 40% less than the legal wage and we heard of some companies paying only 70% of legal wage. This is difficult to prove as their porters receive a low wage but are asked to sign receipts showing they received more!
Peru Treks is an enthusiastic supporters on porters rights and have contributed regularly to campaigns such as Porters Inka Ñan (Peru Porters Project). However improving porter welfare is not just about paying fair wages. It is important that the porters have adequate food, a warm dry place to sleep and access the medical attention just the same as any other member of the group.
The wages that the porters get paid are by no means high by Western standards but you have to look at wages relative to other professions in Peru. A school teacher gets paid the equivalent of about US$350 per month and has trained for 5 years to become professional. A porter, if he departs 4 times a month receives about the same if you include his tips. Most porters are seasonal workers and have no formal qualifications. For just 16 days work per month they receive wages similar to a teacher who has to work 22 days. Peru Treks also tries to help the porters in a different way. We are unique in the fact that we donate a large percentage of our profits to community projects in the Andean villages from where many of the porters come from. In this way we help directly in the education of some of the porters' children. However, we realize that Peru Treks is by no means perfect and we have many things to learn and to improve upon with respect to porter welfare. We are working in a competitive market and have to be realistic about our goals. If we implemented all the projects that we would like to do the cost of our trek would probably be so high you probably wouldn't be reading this and would likely end up trekking with another company!
A18: The best time to do the trek is between mid-April and the end of October when the weather is typically dry and sunny. The driest months are June, July & August which is also winter in Peru when you can expect temperatures to drop to around freezing in the early hours of the morning. January, February and March are summertime in Peru but in Cusco and on the Inca Trail this also corresponds with the wet season. For further details visit our web page Inca Trail weather
A19: Our sleeping bags are rated to temperatures as low as -10°C but are more suitable for temperatures of about -5°C. Since you won't find temperatures as low as this on the Inca Trail we rate them as very warm and cosy! We charge US$25 per person for the 4 day/3 night trek. We will give you the sleeping bag one day in advance so you can try it out. If there are any problems just let us know when we come to pick you up from your hotel. On the morning of the 4th day of the trek the cook has instructions to collect all the sleeping bags and bring them back to the office. After renting out our standard sleeping bags 15 times we give them to our porters to use. Our sleeping bags are synthetic (easily washed) and weigh 2.5kg. We do not provide down-filled sleeping bags because they can't be washed after each use. There are several equipment rental shops in Cusco is you need to rent down-filled bags.
A20: Many new, flush toilets have been built along the Inca trail including all of the major campsites. This has helped a lot to improve sanitary conditions on the trail although conditions are still not always perfect. Each toilet block has cold running water. We recommend that you bring hand-sanitizer to use after visiting the public toilets. Every evening we will provide you with a bowl of warm water to wash with.
A21: The maximum size of our Inca Trail 4 day group service is 16 persons. For groups of over 8 persons we also employ an assistant guide to help out (the assistant guide is a fully qualified guide but may lack some of the experience of the main guide or still need to improve his/her English skills.
A22: We require a minimum group size of just 4 persons to depart. During the last 8 years Peru Treks has always managed to meet the minimum group size for ALL of our departure dates and have never had to cancel any group departures or have to combine with any other trekking company or accept clients from any other trekking company in Cusco. With everyone receiving the same pre-departure information and everyone paying the same price we find everyone in the group is better prepared and happier. However each year, due to high demand and limited numbers of trek permits, we are having to close our groups further and further in advance so we expect our group sizes in 2016 to be smaller since it is becoming more difficult to fill the groups so far in advance.
If in the event that we do not reach the minimum required number of persons we reserve the right to combine our clients with another trekking company of similar or higher cost. Unlike many other trekking agencies, including some of the most expensive, we will not re-sell your trek to a cheaper, inferior company. There will be NO trek surcharge when combining with a more expensive trekking company as Peru Treks will accept responsibility for this extra cost. However we cannot guarantee that porters used by other companies will receive the same treatment and high pay as provided by Peru Treks, although we do our best. If in the rare event that we cannot find another suitable company with spaces available in their group we will try to offer you an alternative trek date or refund your trek deposit in accordance with our Inca Trail trek terms and conditions. As mentioned before, we hope this will be a very unlikely event and during the last 8 years Peru Treks has managed to meet the minimum group size for ALL of our departure dates and have never had to cancel any group departures or have to combine with any other trekking company.
A23a: Trek departures up until the end of December 2016.
Inca Trail trek permits for trek departure up until the end of December 2016 are on sale right now. Normally we buy the trek permits as soon as we have a minimum of 4 people in the group. As long as there are still plenty of permits available we then tend to buy the trek permits in blocks of 6 persons. However if the number of remaining trek permits starts to drop (below 150) then we usually start to buy the trek permits on a day by day basis after having received your the trek deposit. The number of remaining trek permits can be seen on the government website www.machupicchu.gob.pe Every year the Inca Trail trek permits are selling out further and further in advance as demand increases and the number of permits is limited. If ever the situation occurs where we have only 2 or 3 people booked for a particular date and the number of permits drops to below 150 (there are 500 permits available each day) then we will quickly look to join our clients with another company (see Q22 above). If we can't find another suitable company with spaces then we will try to offer you an alternative departure date or refund your trek deposit (see Inca Trail trek terms and conditions). We have never had to do this so far but it is our responsibility to point out the risks. Up to date information about when we buy the trek permits can be found on our web page Inca Trail Trek Permit Status
A23b: Trek departures in January 2017
Inca Trail treks permits for departures in January 2017 are not currently on sale. The government haven't yet confirmed a date when they will go on sale but, based on previous years, we anticipate permits to be available as from October or November. We do not expect any problems buying these permits.
A23c: Inca Trail treks permits for departures from March to December 2017
Inca Trail treks permits for departures from March to December 2017 are not currently on sale. The government usually starts to sell these trek permits at the beginning of January 2017 but it is possible permits will go on sale as early as December or even November.
Companies can't just buy as many trek permits as they want, they have to have the names and passport numbers of the trekkers before the government will issue a permit and these details cannot be changed after buying the permit. This stops companies buying up blocks of permits for re-sale at a later date. When the permits are released for sale they are offered on a first-come-first-served basis, bookings are made online and have to be paid for within 3 hours. There are always several dates where demand in greater than supply (typically the first days of March, around Easter and throughout the whole month of May) so we can never guarantee that we can obtain your trek permit although we will obviously do our very best. We have a great team of professional and very experienced staff dedicated to getting the tickets for our groups. When the trek permits went on sale in January 2016 we managed to obtain the trek permits for all of our groups apart for 2 trek departures in May. Luckily many people affected were able to change their departures to an alternative date. However each year demand is higher than previous years so we do anticipate some problems especially in May. So far we have also been lucky and managed to obtain Wiñay Wayna as our preferred campsite for our groups but this might not always be the case. If for any reason we are not able to buy your trek permit we will email you as soon as we know and will try to offer you an alternative departure date or refund your trek deposit less any costs associated with PayPal/bank transfers (see Inca Trail trek terms and conditions 2017). Please do not email us to ask if we have bought your trek permit as we get swamped by requests, instead please visit our web-page www.perutreks.com/inca_trail_trek_permit_status.html for up-to-date information. We will only email you if we have been unsuccessful in obtaining your trek permit. Based on the above situation we often get asked when is it OK to buy your flight tickets. There's not an simple answer to this. Since there is not a 100% guarantee that we will be able to buy your trek permit until after they go on sale then I guess the best time to buy your flight is after we have bought your permit. However, from experience, most people buy their tickets earlier since they can obtain better flight prices and just accept the risk. Please note that this reservation system applies to ALL companies. We've seen plenty of companies advertising "guaranteed" Inca Trail departures but if you check out the small print buried deep in their brochures or websites the guarantee relates to guaranteeing you space in their group subject to them obtaining the trek permits, or guaranteeing that you will depart on "an Inca Trail" although it might not be the Inca Trail you signed up for - there are several thousand miles of Inca Trail in Peru but only one "Classic Inca Trail" trek that follows the route as shown in our Inca Trail Itinerary. We prefer to be a bit more upfront and honest about the risks and let your decide. Ideally it would be better to wait until the trek permits went on sale in January before making a trek booking. This is fine if you want to start the trek in August, September or later in the year but if you want to trek in early March, April, May and June then we really need to buy your trek permit as soon as they go on sale as many dates sell out within a few days and in 2016 the complete month of May sold out in less than 2 hours!
A24: At meal times we will give you teas, coffees etc to drink. If the group size is small we will have enough gas to boil up water for you to fill your water bottles at most meal times. However this should not be relied upon and during the trek you may have to use local water sources. You'll come across a mountain spring, fountain or small stream approximately every 2 hours along the trail where you can fill up your water bottle. Take a bottle of at least 1.5 liter capacity per person. Although the water looks clean it is always recommended to use sterilizing tablets or a water filter. The sterilizing tablets can be bought in most pharmacies in Cusco. With these tablets you have to wait between 60 and 90 minutes before drinking. Bottled mineral water can also be taken from Cusco, bought at km82 (the start of the trek), at Wayllabamba (first night) and at Wiñay Wayna (third night) and at Machu Picchu (final day). Many people complete the trek without ever having to use water taken from streams etc, but sterilizing tablets are recommended for emergencies. In fact our most frequent complaint about the trek is that we advice our clients to take purification tablets on the trek that they never use !! However each year we always have one or two nights of very cold temperatures on the trek when the liquid gas in the bottle freezes solid and we are unable to boil water in the morning so it is always best to be better safe than sorry. Thankfully it doesn't happen very often.
A25: If you are travelling alone and are willing to share a tent with a member of the same sex, then there is no additional cost. If, however, you would like your own tent then there is an additional supplement of US$40.
A26: Wiñay Wayna is the campsite closest to Machu Picchu, so it is everybody's favourite campsite. Wiñay Wayna is about a 2 hour trek to Machu Picchu so it allows the group to arrive at Machu Picchu very early in the morning. However there is not enough space at Wiñay Wayna for all the Inca Trail groups. The next nearest campsite is Phuyupatamarca which is a 5 hour trek to Machu Picchu. When we buy the trek permits for the group we are allocated the campsites by the government. Peru Treks has a great reputation for closing our groups and buying the trek permits much earlier than most of the other trekking companies. We are therefore allocated the campsite Wiñay Wayna most of the time. In fact from 2011 until 2016 we were allocated the Wiñay Wayna 99% of the time. Just one group in 2015 that did not camp at Wiñay Wayna, instead the group continued on to Machu Picchu and stayed at Aguas Calientes and returned to Machu Picchu for sunrise on the 4th day. So far in 2016 we have managed to obtain Wiñay Wayna as the campsite for ALL of our group service Inca Trail groups.
Q27: Huayna Picchu is the large mountain just behind Machu Picchu. There is a narrow and steep trail right to the top of the mountain and there are also some interesting Inca ruins at the top. The view of Machu Picchu from the summit is breathtaking. As from 2012 the government authorities have decided to charge an additional fee for climbing Huayna Picchu. Unfortunately, at the moment, clients can't buy an entrance ticket just to climb Huayna Picchu. The entrance ticket to Huayna Picchu is only available as part of a combined Machu Picchu - Huayna Picchu ticket that costs S/.150 for adults (approx US$58) and S/.75 for students with an ISIC card (approx US$29). This doesn't offer good value to people doing the Inca Trail since the Inca Trail permit already includes entry to Machu Picchu. It you want to climb Huayna Picchu and think S/.150 is too expensive then we would recommend staying an extra night in Aguas Calientes and buying a combined Machu Picchu - Huayna Picchu entrance ticket for the following day. You will therefore get entrance to Machu Picchu and be able to climb Huayna Picchu which offers better value for money. Of course you will still have to pay for your accommodation in Aguas Calientes and return bus from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (US$10 each way).
The entrance tickets to Huayna Picchu must be bought BEFORE you start the Inca Trail and are sold on a first-come-first-served basis often several months in advance. Combined Huayna Picchu & Machu Picchu entrance tickets can be bought online at www.machupicchu.gob.pe
Note: The government website is frequently not working. If you have any problems we suggest you email the government call centre at firstname.lastname@example.org (the call centre staff can understand English and will respond in English)
During the high season these tickets can sell out more than 8 weeks in advance. During the low season it may still be possible to buy the tickets from the government offices when you arrive in Cusco although each year this is becoming more difficult.
Unfortunately we do not offer the service of buying the Huayna Picchu entrance tickets for you, you must purchase them directly yourself at www.machupicchu.gob.pe . A maximum number of four hundred persons per day can climb Huayna Picchu. Two hundred people will be allowed to start the climb between 07:00 and 08:00 (Group 01) and must return by 10:00. Another two hundred people will be allowed to start the climb between 10:00 and 11:00 (group 02) and must return by 13:00. This climb is optional and does not form part of the services provided by Peru Treks. Clients undertake this activity at their own risk and will not be accompanied by staff working for Peru Treks. The trail to the top of the mountain is very narrow with many steep, almost vertical drops at the side. It should be noted that our Inca Trail group normally arrives at Machu Picchu between 07:30 to 08:00. The group first arrives at the "Caretakers Hut" which is the point overlooking Machu Picchu from where you can take the classic Machu Picchu photos. After about 30 minutes here enjoying the view the group have to leave Machu Picchu to register and store any large backpacks in the luggage deposit office. After a chance to have a coffee and use the toilets the groups re-enters Machu Picchu to start a guided tour. Usually the tour commences at around 09:30. Clients wishing to climb Huayna Picchu the same day that we arrive should book tickets for group 02 starting between 10:00 and 11:00. Therefore clients wanting to climb Huayna Picchu will miss out on the guided tour of Machu Picchu which is a real shame as the guide has been leading up to this point throughout the previous 3 days trekking. This is one of the reasons we don't offer climbing Huayna Picchu as an option. In our opinion it is best done by those people who plan to re-visit Machu Picchu the following day.
Additional information: Due to the difficulty of buying tickets for Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu on the government website several companies have started to offer these tickets for a small fee. Although we do not endorse any company in particular we have received positive comments about the website www(dot)ticketmachupicchu(dot)com run by the travel agent Machupicchu Terra. We have checked that they have a license to sell these tickets and all appears in order. Obviously we can't be held responsible for the quality of service that they offer and we are in no way connected to them but any feedback is always appreciated so we can continue to list this website or remove it.
A28: We'll collect you from your hotel on the morning of trek departure and drop you off either in the Plaza de Armas (main square) or Plaza San Francisco (2 blocks from the main square) upon your return to Cusco. You won't be dropped off directly at your hotel. You have to be acclimatized to the altitude before starting the trek. This is why we require you to come to our offices to pay the trek balance at least two days before the trek departure date. Spending two nights in Cusco before the trek should ensure that you are suitably acclimatized. On the morning of trek departure we will collect you from inside your hotel in Cusco (don't wait outside in the street). It helps us if you try to stay in a hotel that is within a few blocks of the Plaza de Armas (Main Square). If your hotel is far away from the main square we will ask you to come to our offices at a set time (usually 6am). When you come to our office we will make a note of the name of your hotel on your trek receipt and we'll give you an approximate time that we will collect you (usually between 5:30 & 06:00). The guide will come into you hotel and ask for you at reception. Because the centre of Cusco is full of small cobblestone streets our larger bus is not permitted to enter certain zones in the city centre so you will then have to walk a short distance to where the bus will be waiting for you.
Upon return to Cusco the bus will drop the group back off either in the Plaza de Armas (main square) or in the Plaza San Francisco. Traffic regulations prohibit large buses from entering the main square but usually after 10pm we don't have a problem and will be able to drop you off in the main square. You can then take a taxi back to your hotel (between US$1.5 & US$3 for a taxi). If we have to drop you off in Plaza San Francisco you may be a bit disorientated (some people may need to be woken up!!) but we recommend that you check to see in which direction the Plaza de Armas is (main square), the guide or our driver will be happy to help. It's only 2 blocks away but usually it'll be quite late at night so best to walk together as a group back to the main square before taking a taxi or walking back to your hotel. Usually the guide will accompany you back to the main square and help you find a taxi. Unfortunately it is not practical for us to take you back directly to the door of your hotel.
Most companies request their clients to meet up at a particular location in Cusco at the start of the trek (i.e. everyone meets in Plaza San Francisco at 05:30). This does help to save time and allow for an earlier start. Peru Treks reserves the right to introduce this system if felt necessary and the hotel collection by the guide does not form any kind of contractual obligation on behalf of Peru Treks. Don't worry it will be made very clear when and where we collect you on your trek voucher.
A29: Included in the price of the trek is the train ticket for the PeruRail Expedition train service 84 (or similar) from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo, currently priced at $78 (2016). The train normally departs Aguas Calientes at 18:20 and arrives in Ollantaytambo for about 20:05. We then send a bus to collect you at the station in Ollantaytambo to bring you back to Cusco arriving at about 22:15. The Expedition service is a comfortable service with reserved seats, no standing. Teas, coffees and snacks are also available for purchase on this train.
If tickets are not available on this service we may have to purchase tickets on the Expedition service that departs Aguas Calientes at 21:50 and arrives in Ollantaytambo (arriving at 23:35). We then send a bus to Ollantaytambo to bring the group back to Cusco, arriving at about 01:40. On a couple of occasions in 2011 we have had to purchase return tickets on the 14:55 service back to Ollantaytambo but this is a rare event which we try to avoid. All train services are subject to availability. Peru Treks reserve the right to purchase tickets on alternative train services.
A30: A few years ago it was easy for us to get train tickets for our groups that left Aguas Calientes at about 16:30 and brought our groups all the way back to Cusco. This was ideal for us since we didn't have all the hassle of sending a bus to Ollantaytambo to collect our groups. Our groups also arrived back in Cusco early in the evening (much better than 22:30 like now). However, as Machu Picchu has become more popular with visitors over the last few years these tickets are very difficult for us to obtain. Because lots of people trek to Machu Picchu, either by way of the 4 day Inca Trail or the 5 day Santa Teresa trek, there is a greater demand for train tickets coming back from Aguas Calientes than there is for going to Aguas Calientes. Peru Rail isn't keen to meet this demand because it would mean running only partially full trains to Aguas Calientes (in order for them to come back full). This isn't economical for them. Peru Rail just want to sell round-trip tickets. They don't really want to sell any one-way tickets to us at all. This means we would have to charge you twice as much for your train ticket even if you only used the return portion. We don't think that's fair. However with help from the Association of Tour Operators of Cusco (ATC) a certain number of one-way tickets from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo have been made available to us at a slightly increased cost. We hope that this agreement will continue until the end of 2017 Basically we block-book train tickets on the 18:20 service several months in advance. About a month before departure we confirm the names and numbers of our clients and receive the tickets just a day or so before the trek departs. Sometimes we don't get the tickets until after the group has left Cusco so we have to send the tickets to Aguas Calientes where they can be collected when the group arrives. This arrangement explains why we are not very flexible when it comes to changing your train ticket. There is also the possibility that this arrangement will end and we will have to charge you the extra for a round-trip ticket. Peru Rail currently runs a monopoly service so we just have to accept this situation for the moment and hope our clients are also flexible and understanding in this matter, which is outside of our control.
If you want to come back at an earlier time or on a different train service then read the section below.
A31: If you want to return at an earlier time or you prefer to return on a different service such as the Vistadome train (either to Ollantaytambo or all the way back to Cusco) then you are best to make this booking directly with Peru Rail yourselves using their website www.perurail.com
Although Peru Rail are not keen to sell trekking companies one-way train tickets coming back from Aguas Calientes they do make a small number of these tickets available directly to the public through their website. If you book well in advance then you may be successful in buying a one-way ticket. The train service that return as far as Poroy (15 minutes by taxi from Cusco) sells out first so you will probably be more successful buying a ticket from Aguas Calientes just back as far as Ollantaytambo. From Ollantaytambo you can take a bus back to Cusco (cost approx US$5 per person) or a taxi (around US$40).
If you buy your own train ticket we will deduct the price of our train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo (US$78 - 2016) from the price of your trek. We won't refund the portion of unused bus service between Ollantaytambo and Cusco. However you must advise us that you do not want us to include the train ticket at the time that you pay your trek deposit. You can easily make a booking online with PeruRail using your credit card. If you are looking at the Peru Rail website you will notice that there are very few trains from Aguas Calientes all the way back to Cusco, most of the services only run between Aguas Calientes and Ollantaytambo (which is in the Sacred Valley) so you will need to look at the route Sacred Valley > Machu Picchu for details of their services.
A32: If you decide to book your return train yourself or decide to change your return time from that arranged by Peru Treks then unfortunately we won't be able to send a bus to meet you in Ollantaytambo and take you back to Cusco and we won't be able to offer you any refund on the unused bus service that we include in the price of our trek on the 4th day of the trek. When you arrive at Ollantaytambo there are many buses waiting at the station to meet the train. The price of this bus is about US$5 per person back to Cusco and takes around 2 hours. Alternative you can take a private taxi back to Cusco which costs in the region of US$50 per taxi which works out fairly reasonable if there are 4 of you. Max 4 persons per taxi.
A33: Peru Treks can only arrange the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. We do not sell tours to Machu Picchu by train. However it is easy enough for your friend to book their train tickets online at www.perurail.com Information about getting to Machu Picchu by train can be found on the web page http://www.andeantravelweb.com/peru/destinations/machupicchu/index.html. It is very important that your friend buys their entrance ticket to Machu Picchu well in advance since government authorities have recently limited the number of visitors to Machu Picchu and entrance tickets have been known to sell out several days in advance. The government have now introduced an online ticket reservation system which can be found at www.machupicchu.gob.pe. We would recommend that your friend takes the train to Aguas Calientes on the afternoon/evening before you are due to arrive at Machu Picchu and spends the night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes. The Inca Trail group should arrive at Machu Picchu at around 08:00-08:30 on the 4th day of the trek. The group usually stops at the "caretakers hut" for a short while - this is a stone hut that overlooks Machu Picchu where the classic photo of the ruins can be taken. The group then has to leave the ruins by the main entrance and store their backpacks in a luggage storage deposit. There is a chance to use the toilets or buy a coffee or sandwich. Your friend can arrange to be waiting for you at the "caretakers hut" or wait for you at the main entrance at around 9am. The exact details and times should be coordinated with the guide in the office before the trek. Although your friend cannot officially join our guided tour (i.e. we won't try to sell you anything) I am sure that the rest of the Inca Trail group won't have any objections to your friend joining the group for an hour or so especially if it just one extra person. If you are meeting a group of friends at Machu Picchu it is probably best not to invite them to join the group. It would be a good idea to mention the fact that you are meeting with a friend at Machu Picchu with the rest of your fellow trekkers at camp the night before you arrive at Machu Picchu. I'm sure you'd have made good friends by then and it'll be no problem. Trying to arrange that you all come back on the same train service can be a bit more complicated. Typically our group will depart Aguas Calientes on the 18:45 Expedition service to Ollantaytambo (see information provided above). However we don't always know the exact time until a few days before trek departure so the best way to ensure that you come back on the same service is to buy your own train tickets back. If you let us know that you will buy your own tickets at the time of booking the trek then we will refund you the price of the train ticket from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo. Unfortunately we can't refund you the unused bus service that we include on the 4th day of the trek.
A34: If you want to stay an extra night in Aguas Calientes after the Inca Trail trek this can easily be arranged independently by yourselves. We will purchase your train ticket to return from Aguas Calientes to Ollantaytambo the following day. As mentioned above we can usually only obtain train tickets departing Aguas Calientes at 18:20 so if you want to return on an earlier service then you can buy the tickets yourself at www.perurail.com and we will refund you the price of the tickets provided that you let us know when you book your trek. You need to let us know whether you want to spend an extra night at the time of making the trek reservation so we can reserve your train tickets in advance. You must advise us before paying the trek deposit. Obviously if you stay an extra night then you will have to pay for your accommodation, meals etc You can find a list of recommended hotels and contact details on our web page Hotels in Machu Picchu. You can make a reservation in advance (recommended May to Sept) or simply turn up in Aguas Calientes and book a room. If you return to Machu Picchu the following day then you will have to pay for the return bus fare up to the ruins (US$12 each way) and pay another 126 Peruvian Soles (about US$49) entrance fee. Entrance tickets to Machu Picchu must be bought well in advance (see the website www.machupicchu.gob.pe) If you stay an extra night in Aguas Calientes we won't be able to send a bus to Ollantaytambo especially to pick you up and we won't be able to refund you the unused bus service that we provide on the 4th day of the trek.. You can simply catch a bus to Cusco when you arrive in Ollantaytambo. There are always plenty of buses waiting in Ollantaytambo to take passengers back to Cusco but try not to be too slow off the train since the buses fill up quickly. The price of these buses is about US$5. Alternatively you can return in a taxi (approx cost US$50 per taxi which works out fairly reasonable if there are 4 of you. Max 4 persons per taxi).
A35: The website www.andeantravelweb.com/peru/gallery/photos_aguas_calientes_machu_picchu_peru.html has some good photos of Aguas Calientes and also of the thermal springs. The advantage of staying the night in Aguas Calientes is that you can spend all day at Machu Picchu. Most people leave the ruins at about 2pm to take the bus down to Aguas Calientes to have lunch or visit the thermal springs. Machu Picchu is therefore fairly quiet between 3pm and 5pm. You will have to check the time of the last bus back to Aguas Calientes but it is usually about 5:30pm. Staying an extra night at Aguas Calientes also gives you the opportunity to return to Machu Picchu early the following day. If you want to climb Huayna Picchu then you must ensure that you buy a combined Machu Picchu - Huayna Picchu entrance ticket (price S/.150 per person) - see question about climbing Huayna Picchu. If you just want to visit Machu Picchu again then the standard entrance fee is S/.126 per person.
All entrance tickets to Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu must to bought well in advance BEFORE you start the Inca Trail, preferably before you even arrive in Peru.
Entrance tickets can now be bought online at www.machupicchu.gob.pe
Visiting Machu Picchu for a second time is quite a good idea during the wet season (December to March) when you are more likely to encounter rain and Machu Picchu enshrouded in mist and clouds. During this type of weather Machu Picchu has an almost mystical atmosphere, but if you are looking for photos of the "Lost City" in the sunshine then the extra day spent at the ruins helps to improve your chances. The decision as to whether to spend an extra night at Aguas Calientes may depend upon how much time you have in Peru. From our experience, many people who had planned to stay an extra night in Aguas Calientes usually end up trying to change their train tickets to return to Cusco straight after the trek (this is subject to availability and often quite difficult). Machu Picchu is fairly small and 4 or 5 hours is usually sufficient for most visitors. Many people are surprised by the beauty of Cusco and would prefer to spend more time discovering this city than revisiting Machu Picchu for the second time.
A36: It may still be possible to make changes to your return train ticket if you decide to stay an extra night at Aguas Calientes. You will have to take your train ticket personally to the train station in Aguas Calientes and ask them to change the return date of your ticket. You will probably be asked to pay an extra administration fee which will be dependent of the train service and departure time and changing the ticket will be subject to availability of spaces on the train on the following day. Before doing this you should also check at the Machu Picchu ticket office in Aguas Calientes if there are any entrance tickets to Machu Picchu available. During the peak season entrance tickets can sell out 4 or 5 days in advance. Unfortunately if you decide to change your train ticket yourselves we will not be able to provide transport for you from the train station at Ollantaytambo back to Cusco and the bus ticket price US$5 will not be refunded (see info above).
A37: Yes, provided that you are suitably acclimatized to the altitude prior to starting the trek. Ollantaytambo is at a much lower altitude than Cusco and time spent there (or anywhere else in the Sacred Valley) doesn't count towards your acclimatization period. We recommend that you spend at least 2 nights in Cusco, preferably three, prior to spending the night at Ollantaytambo. When you come to our office you must also give us the name of your hotel in Ollantaytambo so that we can arrange a time to pick you up. The hotel would need to be accessible for the bus, otherwise you would need to meet us in the main plaza. If you do not have a hotel reservation and you decide to meet us in the main Plaza in Ollantaytambo at a pre-arranged time we cannot accept responsibility if we can't find you and leave you behind!! We do not pick up clients from any intermediate hotels between Cusco and Ollantaytambo.
A38: No, as stated in Q2 above, the trek deposit is non-refundable and non-transferable. The deposit is used to purchase your Inca Trail trek permit and reserve space within the group. After purchasing the permit we cannot change the date of trek departure or change the name or passport number on the trek permit. If you decide to cancel we cannot transfer your trek permit to another client. Government regulations prevent us from filling your cancelled space with another client and the government won't refund or credit us the cost of the permit. Even if we were happy to pay for another trek permit for a new client we are still not allowed to fill the cancelled space with another person. We just have to depart for the trek with a smaller group which is less economical to run.( For further details about our trek cancellation policy please see Inca Trail Terms and Conditions for more details)
A39: Its important that before making a trek booking you read our booking terms and conditions. During the wet season heavy rains can result in landslides that can block part of the trail or close some of the campsites. Usually these partial trail closures are just for a few days but they can be for several weeks or even months. In the event of such closures Peru Treks will do our best to find an alternative route to get to Machu Picchu. If we can't offer a suitable alternative then we will have to cancel the trek and refund any payments less any costs already spent or committed to operating the trek. (see Inca Trail Terms and Conditions for more details). You will have to reclaim the remaining proportion from your travel insurance.
(i) If the trail is blocked between km82 and Wiñay Wayna then an alternative trail along the banks of the Vilcanota River to km104 can often be used. The trail then climbs steeply to Wiñay Wayna to rejoin the Inca Trail onwards to Machu Picchu (no extra costs involved).
(ii) If the campsite at Wiñay Wayna is closed then the group may have to camp at Phuyupatamarca or continue to Machu Picchu and then onwards to Aguas Calientes to spend the night in Aguas Calientes before visiting Machu Picchu on the final day. There are no extra costs associated with staying at Phutupatamarca campsite. If the group stays in Aguas Calientes then Peru Treks will try to offer basic mixed-dorm style accommodation on the floor of a local restaurant (no extra cost) or camping at a private campsite (additional camping fees will apply). Clients wanting to stay in hotels can do so at their own expense. Peru Treks include for a one-way bus ticket between Machu Picchu and Aguas Calientes (current price US$12pp). Clients will have to pay for the additional 2 bus trips required to visit Machu Picchu on the final day of the trek (walking takes about 1 hour each way and is free).
(iii) If Wiñay Wayna campsite is open but the trail between Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu is closed then the group will have to follow an alternative route via km104 and Aguas Calientes. This alternative route will involve an additional bus ride from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu (current price US$12pp) which clients will be responsible for paying (walking takes about 1 hour and is free). Peru Treks will do our best to minimize any disruption caused by factors outside of our control.
When you make a trek booking we require your passport number. We will use this passport number to purchase the trek permits. Your passport number will be clearly marked on the trek permit together with your name. When you start the trek government authorities will check both your passport and your trek permit. The two numbers have to be the same otherwise the authorities will not let you start the trek. They won't offer you the option to pay for another permit and they won't accept bribes to let you pass the control point (which is quite rare for Peru!). In fact there is nothing that can be done at this stage accept return to Cusco or take the train to Aguas Calientes (at your own expense).
A40: No. We require a passport number in order to buy the trek permits. If you don't have a passport then you cannot make a trek booking.
A41: No. You will have to wait until you renew your passport before you can make a trek booking. Some companies may still accept your booking but there is a risk that you won't be allowed to start the trek and you will lose your trek deposit or even the full price of your trek.
A42: Ideally its best to wait until you have your new passport before making a trek booking. However if you can't wait then you can make a trek booking using your old passport number as long as you can bring your old passport with you on the Inca Trail. When making an application for a new passport you must request that your old passport is returned to you, most countries do this. If your old passport is not returned to you or you forget to bring your old passport with you on the trek then you will not be allowed to start the trek and your trek will be cancelled and no payments will be refunded. A photocopy of your old passport is NOT permissible, you have to bring the original old passport.
A43: If, after having made a trek booking with Peru Treks, you are unfortunate enough to lose your passport you will have to get a replacement passport. After you have received your new passport we will then have to submit an application to the government authorities to update your trek permit with your new passport number. The application can only be made a maximum of 3 working days in advance and we won't know if the application will be successful until a day or two before trek departure. In order to make an application to update your trek permit we require (1) a photocopy of your old passport and (2) a photocopy of your new passport. The date of issue of the new passport has to be after the date that we bought your trek permit. We will also require a copy of a police report confirming that the passport has been lost or stolen. The police report must include reference to your old passport number. We then have to prepare a formal application to the government authorities. It cannot be guaranteed that the application will be successful so this process should only be used as a last resort. A US$25 administration charge will be made for preparing and submitting the application. If the application is not successful or for any reason we cannot make an application in time then your trek booking will be cancelled and we will not allow you to start the Inca Trail trek. We will not refund your trek deposit. You will not be required to pay the trek balance until we know that the trek application will be successful. If you are not permitted to start the trek your trek booking will be treated as a "cancellation of the trek by the client" (see Inca Trail Terms and Conditions)
All passports are checked at the start of the Inca Trail and if your passport name and number is not the same as the name and passport number on your trek permit then you will not be allowed to start the trek and the guide and tour operator may face penalty charges.
It is possible that the government authorities will only accept the application after they have seen the original new passport and original police report so please make sure that you come to our offices as soon as possible. The government offices are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays so if you have a trek on a Monday morning then you must try to get to our offices by the Friday so we have time to take the original documents to the government offices. We cannot leave this process until the day of trek departure.
These regulations have been introduced by the government authorities to stop companies inventing list of clients and then changing the details with real clients at the last minute (i.e. it stops companies from blocking spaces). This regulation is very inflexible and strictly enforced.
Peru Treks & Adventure Tour Operator
Inca Trail to Machu Picchu Specialists, working to help the community
Office Address: Avenida Pardo 540 (in the corner of the small park), Cusco, Peru
Telephone: 00 51 84 222722 (from overseas), 084 222722 (from within Peru), 222722 (from Cusco)