Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

9 Days from From $3500

This journey is ideal for adventure and history lovers, combining different ecological zones, from high-altitude deserts to the rainforests, passing through important archaeological centers and experiencing incredible wildlife observation. Explore Cusco and surrounding ruins, mountain bike or hike the Sacred Valley.

Explore this Trip
Explore this Trip
Explore this Trip
Explore this Trip

Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Hike the Inca Trail and Explore Machu Picchu on this 9-Day Peru Adventure Vacation

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a true classic that should be on every adventurer’s “to-do” list. Exploring ancient paths and exquisite ruins in this spectacular setting will send shivers down your spine. This haunting fortress city nestled below stunning peaks is perhaps the greatest mystery of the Inca Empire. The four-day trek on the Inca Trail to reach this pre-Columbian site is a pilgrimage through time. Beautiful Andean scenery, as well as cultural history, unfolds as we hike up and down steep stone staircases past ancient Inca outposts. Combine the Inca trail with a few days in Cusco, a visit to the Sacred Valley, a bike trip or hike through the Peruvian countryside, and you will get a true sense of the magic of Peru!

Itinerary Snapshot

Day 1 Arrive and overnight in Cusco. We will gather in the evening for a trip briefing.

Day 2 Half-day tour of the Inca ruins around Cusco including: Sacsayhuaman, Qenco, Puca Pucara & Tambomachay ruins.

Day 3 Transfer to the Sacred Valley. Incredible cross-country mountain bike ride from Moray to Maras. Explore archaeological sites and visit traditional Peruvian villages along the way.

Day 4 Begin hiking the Inca Trail! Approximately four hours of hiking to our first camp in a canyon alongside Inca ruins.

Day 5 Climb through the cloud forests of Yunkachimpa and Corralpunku. Overnight just below Dead Woman’s Pass, 12,000 feet – approximately 5 hours hiking.

Day 6 Ascend over the high point of the Inca trail, 14,000 feet, then walk through rolling terrain to arrive and camp at Puyupatamarca – above the clouds. Approx. 5 hours hiking.

Day 7 Approximately four hours of hiking, stopping an hour before Machu Picchu at the incredible ruins of Winay Wayna. We reach the Sun Gate of Machu Picchu in the golden afternoon light and enjoy a brief initial visit to the ruins. Overnight in the small town of Aguas Calientes.

Day 8 In the morning, we return to Machu Picchu where we spend most of the day with our knowledgeable guide. In the late afternoon, we climb aboard a first-class train for a ride back to Cusco.

Day 9 Transfer to airport for flight back home.

Day 1

Arrive in Cusco, Peru.  This usually requires departing from North America the previous day.  A Bio Bio Expeditions guide will meet you at the airport – look for the Bio Bio logo.  You will be taken to the Hotel Casa Andina Private Collection*, a luxurious hotel in a renovated 18th century manor house just a few blocks from Cusco’s historic central plaza.  The hotel has a gourmet restaurant and is known as the “best breakfast in Cusco”.   Please be sure Bio Bio Expeditions has your flight information.  After resting from your trip, acclimatizing to the 11,000 foot altitude and exploring a bit of Cusco we will gather for a trip briefing.  The evening is free to dine in any of Cusco’s amazing restaurants.  (no meals included this day)
To view the hotel online:  www.casa-andina.com/peru/hotels/cusco-hotels/private-collection-cusco/hotel.php

A few words about Cusco…

If the Incas were the Romans of pre-Columbian America, Cusco was their Rome. The Incas built a vast empire that stretched from modern Ecuador and Colombia to southern Chile.  The empire, much larger in size than any previous new-world empire, was called Tawantinsuyo (the “Four Quarters of the Earth”).  Cusco was the heart of the empire, and its exact center was considered to be the main square of the city.  Today, Cusco is still laid out much as it was in Inca times. Seen from above, it takes the form of a puma, with the river Tullumayo forming its spine, the ruins of Sacsayhuaman the head, and the main city center the body. The center, or torso, was a tongue of land bordered on the east side by the Tullumayo and on the west by the Huatanay.  These two rivers now run under concrete.  Cusco was more than just a capital city to the Incas and the millions of subjects in their realm. Cusco was a holy city, a place of pilgrimage that was incredibly important to the Incas.

Cusco is a thriving marketplace where goods and services of all kinds tempt the eye and the pocketbook.  The city has an impact on all the senses: sounds greet the ears and the aromas of spicy local kitchens tantalize the nose.  The colorful locals draw our attention as they display their wares and remain in their native Quechua dress.   Merchants smile and make a sale with characteristic cheerfulness.  A good place to take it all in is the central “Plaza De Armas”, where on the second floor balconied terraces of the many restaurants, you can enjoy a beer or a cup of tea and see the action from above.

Day 2

This day we visit the two most important ruins at Cusco city, first Sacsayhuaman, Inca fortress and ceremonial centre built with impressive stone blocks; and Q’enqo, ancient ceremonial and ritual centre. From this point we begin a short and easy walk following an old, but well preserved Inca Trail. Gradually we descend from the rural to the urban, passing by the Temple of the Moon to finally reach the main square of Cusco.

In the afternoon we visit the Cathedral and the temple of the Sun called Koricancha.  Overnight at the Casa Andina Private Collection Hotel*.  (Breakfast and snacks included; lunch and dinner not included)

Day 3

Mountain biking into the Sacred Valley – the perfect, active way to see the Peruvian countryside and have some fun at the same time! We have front suspension 2010 Marin mountain bikes, helmets, and gloves.  The ride can be tailored to all ability levels as we are followed by a support vehicle.  We begin our biking adventure pedaling along the shore of the beautiful highland Lake Huaypo.  We then begin our cross-country cruise at the town of Maras (elev.: 3,500 meters – 11,090 feet) until arriving at the archaeological site of Moray – a very impressive Inca agricultural experimental center.  During the ride you will have ample time to take in the beautiful Andean landscape – including impressive views of the snow-capped peaks of La Verónica (elev. 5,682 meters -18,600 feet) and Chicon. (elev.: 5,530 meters or 18,140 feet)  This ride takes us away from the other tourists and allows us to see the less trodden, real Peru, as we bike on dirt roads and footpaths and through traditional villages. Half way through our journey we stop for a gourmet picnic and some well deserved rest in a dramatically picturesque setting. We then begin the downhill portion of the trail, following ancient Inca footpaths, eventually reaching the salt mines of Pichingoto. These are not actually mines, but a rather amazing conglomerate of over 3000 evaporation troughs carved into the hillside where the salt-laden silt gathers and becomes gradually distilled into rock salt. This site is very ancient, but was perfected and developed to a high degree by the Incas. Depending on our time, we can either stop and visit this fascinating complex or continue straight through to the bottom of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. This ride is a true Classic! For those with no interest in riding bikes, we can arrange a modified walking tour following the same route. We arrive to our beautiful Sacred Valley hotel in the afternoon leaving plenty of time to rest and enjoy the amenities.  Before dinner we will pass out the Inca trail duffel bags with instructions on how much weight to pack so they will be ready to go first thing in the morning.  Overnight at the Casa Andina PC Valle Hotel* in Sacred Valley – a beautiful hotel with views of the Andes on all sides and a star observatory for stargazing the Southern Hemisphere’s night skies.   (Breakfast, lunch and snacks included; dinner not included)
Link to Hotel:  www.casa-andina.com/peru/hotels/valle-sagrado-hotels/private-collection-valle-sagrado/hotel.php

Day 4

It’s time for the Inca Trail!

A few words about the Inca Trail and our services…

The whole of Peru was once criss-crossed with Inca and pre-Inca highways paved with thick interlocking blocks of stone. Sometimes these highways followed the valleys, but just as often they traversed the high mountainsides, tracing impossible pathways and forming narrow ledges over the bottomless gorges of the Andes. The trails were built for men on foot and lightly burdened llamas. Frequently, their gradients gave way to steps, tunnels and long zig-zag trajectories down steep faces. The part of the trail that we will hike was formerly the royal highway to Machu Picchu.  The explorer, Hiram Bingham, rediscovered the trail in 1915.  Few relatively short hikes in the world can offer such a variety of scenery, staggering views, pre-Columbian ruins, and such a mix of jungle and high sierra.  Certainly no other walk known to us will lead you along an ancient highway from one secluded ruin to another, each in a breathtaking setting, each almost perfectly preserved, offering shelter, solitude, and views that no pen or camera can ever adequately record.

We consider our services to be the very best on the Inca Trail!  Everyday our porters, head chef, and kitchen crew charge ahead to set up a beautiful lunch – complete with tables and hot cooked meals.  Again they forge ahead of us to make sure we arrive at a comfortable camp and post hiking Happy Hour!  We use a spacious Mountain Hardware 4 season dome for dining – set up with tables and chairs, a hot beverage station, happy hour snacks, and desserts.  We use 3 season tents every night on the trail.  In the morning you will awaken to a bowl of hot water for washing up, then a full breakfast to fuel you for another day on the trail.  We carry our own private bathroom set up and personal wash basins for evening and morning washing up.  We filter abundant amounts of water to be sure you stay hydrated. Meals are multi-course affairs including soup, main course, and dessert – we can cater to any dietary need.  Our guides travel with radios and we are accompanied the whole time by an Inca educational expert who will tell us all about the ruins we are passing (and camping next to) and will be our guide throughout Machu Picchu as well.  Our guides are also highly knowledgeable about the many plant and animal species we encounter along the way.
Lastly, we strongly encourage that you take the time to train for this hike!  While all ages have hiked the Inca Trail, it is a strenuous hike with lots of climbing and descending.  The more you prepare ahead of your trip, the more you will be able to enjoy the hike and feel good.

The adventure continues as we take our private van to “Kilometer 82” where the local porters are waiting for us.  The porters will carry our duffle bags (18 pound limit) and we will carry our own daypacks stocked with water, snacks, cameras, and extra clothes.  The weather can change quickly so it’s best to carry with you cold weather and rain gear.  On our first day of hiking we visit archeological sights at Wilkaray and pass numerous ancient terraces.  Today’s hike is easy going with a gradual incline and incredible views of the snow capped Wecheywilk.  We arrive at camp well below the first pass at 7000 feet.  Luckily, we’ll be able to call on the strength of the legendary Quechua whose high altitude lungs bear our burden more easily. (From Km 82 to Huayllabamba / 11km / 5-6 hours of hiking.)  All meals included on the trail.

Day 5

We begin ascending through the incredible cloud forests of Yunkachimpa and Corralpunku.  Streams cascade alongside the trail and the vegetation varies from high desert to lush forest.  After a delicious hot lunch and rest we begin our slow ascent to the first pass an – 14,000 feet!  The views from here are impressive, as if we’ve landed on a condor’s perch above the clouds.  Depending on our progress we will camp either just below Dead Woman’s Pass, or, continue past it and down into the valley on the other side.

Day 6

After a hearty breakfast we continue on – if the weather is good we will have incredible views of the Andes, including the sacred peak of Salcantay.  If the weather is rainy and misty, our visit to the magnificent archeological site of Sayacmara will seem all the more exotic and shrouded in mystery.  We are now at the brow of the jungle and plant and bird life become more abundant including many varieties of orchids. The amazing spectacle of the Urubamba Valley comes into view.  The trail is very dramatic today – interlocking stones, rolling terrain, and even carved tunnels to walk through.  We camp on the ridgeline at Puyupatamarca with a 360-degree panorama of the magnificent Andes.  Often at this campsite the steamy jungle clouds are below us – camping above the clouds! (From Pacaymayo to Puyupatamarca / 8km / 4-6 hours hiking.)

Day 7

This is a spectacular day of hiking as we marvel at the engineering feats of the Incas.  We descend into the rainforest upon the ancient stone stairs; tunnels and bridges carved right into the mountain.  We take a 15-minute detour to visit the empty and haunting ruins of Winay Wayna (meaning “Forever Young”) where a well-deserved catnap is a welcome afternoon treat.  We arrive at the spectacular Sun Gate of Machu Picchu in the golden light of afternoon after most of the tourist buses have left the ruins.  Machu Picchu, the lost, mysterious city of the Incas now lays in front of us.  One of the seven wonders of the ancient world, Machu Picchu is a perfectly preserved Inca city that was lost in the dense jungle for hundreds of years.  This is perhaps the most famous and awe-inspiring of all the ruins discovered in the 20th century.  Machu Picchu allows us to step back in time and experience the wonder of living in a stone-hewn, ancient Incan city that continues to mystify scholars with its spectacular engineering.  After our brief initial visit, we take a bus to the clean little town of Aguas Calientes, nestled in the steep Urubamba River Valley.  (From Puyupatamarca to Machu Picchu / 10km / 6 hours hiking.) Overnight at Andina Luxury Hotel*.  (Breakfast and lunch included; dinner not included)

Day 8

In the morning, we take a 20 minute bus ride up the twisty road back to Machu Picchu.  Those who still have the energy are welcome to hike the steep staircase straight up to the ruins!  We spend most of the day at the ruins with our knowledgeable Peruvian guide who will show us all the wonders of Machu Picchu.  In the late afternoon, we climb aboard a first class train for a spectacular ride back to Cusco.  The train tracks themselves are a miracle of human ingenuity and tenacity.  The ride down the mountain will give you ample time to reflect on your journey by foot and provides us with an early evening arrival in Cusco.  We will check back into our hotel, the Casa Andina Private Collection*, for our last night in Cusco.
(Breakfast included)

Day 9

Transfer to airport for your flight back home, or begin your trip extension.  Call for details.

*The hotels listed depend on availability.  If we choose a different hotel, it will be of equal type and quality.

IN CUSCO

Casa Andina Private Collection

A beautifully renovated 18th-century manor house, just 3 blocks from Cusco’s Plaza de Armas, replete with authentic colonial character. It offers the intimacy of a boutique hotel but the comforts and services of a much larger property.The hotel is distinguished by its 3 interior patios with wooden balconies. The principal patio, featuring a gurgling stone fountain, is one of Cusco’s emblematic colonial courtyards. In the hotel’s cozy lounge and reading room is a massive stone fireplace that’s always crackling, while the romantic gourmet restaurant invites guests to dine by candlelight in one of 4 connected salons richly decorated with 18th-century Cusco School paintings. Several rooms in the original structure of the hotel feature surviving colonial frescoes unearthed during renovation.

 

IN THE SACRED VALLEY

Urubamba Boutique Lodge

They say that the valley, the mountains, the farming terraces and the river were all home to the most important of the Inca heritage, with their magic and mysticism. The valley guards this magical sensation which helps you to relax, sharing its magnificent greenery against a shining sky.

With these pleasures in mind, Urubamba Boutique Lodge has reserved a place on our riverside terrace for you so you may enjoy the Sacred Valley of the Incas. Each of our rooms has a balcony, many overlooking the river, and our dining room offers a panoramic view of the lush surroundings.

Urubamba Boutique Lodge has 20 rooms, including 2 Suites. All of our rooms have been designed and decorated to make you feel at home while still offering a link to Peruvian culture and Inca history. With views of the river, mountains or our surrounding gardens, it´s impossible not to relax and enjoy yourself!

Our rooms include:

– One or two twin, double or queen size beds
– Private bathroom with bathtub
– Room Service
– Local handmade decorations
– Personal balconies for rooms on the second floor.


Casa Andina Sacred Valley

The Sacred Valley’s most complete hotel: a mountain chalet-styled retreat with panoramic Andes views from every room and every angle. On more than 8 landscaped acres (3 hectares), it breathes an air of tranquility and relaxation. Unique among Sacred Valley hotels – most of which remain isolated in the valley, offering precious little for guests to do – it contains an extraordinary, full-service “Sacred Spa”, a domed Planetarium & Observatory for stargazing in the massive Southern Hemisphere sky, and gourmet restaurant and bar.

The 85 inviting, spacious rooms overlook the property’s extensive gardens and feature either private balconies or sunny sitting areas. Equidistant between Urubamba and Ollantaytambo, in the Sacred Valley of Cusco, the hotel is perfectly positioned for easy access to the valley’s abundant attractions and incomparable Inca ruins, including world-renowned Machu Picchu.

IN MACHU PICCHU

Aguas Calientes

Coming soon…

Departure Dates:

Custom Dates for 4 or more people available May – November, based on permit availability
2017
Start: 9 day trip:
May 6th*
May 27th*
June 5th*
July 17th*
August 20th*
September 24th
October 8th
October 22nd – November 1st: Continuing Medical Education with Amazon

*Inca Trail permits are sold out, Lares Trek with 1 day on the Inca Trail, culminating in entering Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate is a great alternative!  Call for more information!

Trip Length: 9 Days
Trip Price:

From $3,500 per person, based on double occupancy

 

Upon registering for the trip, please send a clear, scanned copy of your passport so that we can obtain your Inca Trail Permit!

Deposit: $600.00

VISAS & PASSPORTS

U.S. citizens are required to have a passport that is valid for 6 months after your travel dates begin.The Inca Trail requires a permit. The passport you give Bio Bio to get this permit MUST match the passport you have with you when you are in Peru. If, for any reason, you get a new passport, it is of vital importance that you tell us and send us a copy of the new passport. This situation can arise if you, perhaps, lose your passport, get married and change your name, or use different names on different documents.Return to top of page

FLIGHTS & AIRPORTS

You are responsible for booking all flights, international as well as domestic.  However, if you need help, please feel free to call or email the Bio Bio office.

One travel agent we often use is:
G&G Travel | Gilda Gutierrez
gildagutierrez@comcast.net
866-498-0530 or 786-206-0710

Flying In…The tour officially begins in Cusco on Day 1. You will fly into Lima and then transfer to a domestic flight. Please try not to arrive in Cusco before 10:00 AM as your hotel room will not be ready and most things are closed in the city. You may want to fly in the day before and spend the night in Lima.  We can arrange a hotel for that evening if you prefer, or we can arrange extra nights for you in Cusco.

Flying Out…You can fly out of Cusco to Lima and then home all on the last day. We suggest spending a big part of the day in Cusco and then departing Cusco in the early evening. Or you can choose to spend more time in either of these cities and fly home at a later date. We are happy to help you arrange tours and lodging.
When you leave Lima, there is a departure tax of approximately US$30.

TRAVEL TIMES BY PLANE
Miami to Lima: 5:25 hrs
Lima to Cusco: 1.5 hrs

Peru is on Central Standard Time

PACKING INFORMATION

Baggage Allowance and Suggested Gear

Please see what restrictions your airline imposes, as the rules and allowances are constantly changing. Typically you are allowed two checked bags up to 50 Lbs each, plus one carry on bag and a purse.

You will be provided with one soft duffle bag when you arrive to Cusco to pack all your gear for the Inca trail. The porters will carry this duffle bag. Your suitcase will be left at the hotel with non-trekking clothes and items – while your suitcases are kept in safe storage we still recommend using a lock on your suitcase.  Keep all important documents, including your passport, with you in your daypack. Please note that your Inca Trail bag with your camping gear will have a weight limit of 18 lbs! This is required by law in Peru to protect the porters. That does not include your tent which will be carried in a different bag.

  • Sleeping bag: A 20 or 30-degree bag is warm enough,  a compression stuff-sack is helpful to save space.
  • Sleeping pad: This is very important, and not something you want to skimp on. Thermarest makes a good inflatable pad. We can rent Thermarest pads for you in Peru if you’d like. Please let us know in advance so we can reserve them.
  • Camp pillow or stuff sack to use as a pillow
  • Travel Clothing: 2-3 pairs of pants and 4-5 shirts that are lightweight and quick drying.  A long skirt or nice pants are also nice for special dinners in towns.
  • A day backpack: We recommend that you carry the following items in your daypack:  water, sunglasses, camera and film, extra layers in case the weather turns cool, flashlight/headlamp/blister kit, any prescription medications you use, your passport, sun hat, warm hat, sunscreen.
  • Flashlight and or headlamp, extra batteries. The days are 12 hours long on the equator so it will get dark around 6:00pm.
  • Toiletry kit, personal medicines – particularly allergy and diabetic prescriptions, shampoo, soap, toothbrush, lotion, bug repellent.
  • Rain jacket and pants– lightweight Gortex or similar.
  • Shoes 2 pairs– One pair for city visits, towns, villages. One pair of lightweight hiking shoes for hiking.
  • 1 fleece light or mid weight – for layering or a lightweight wool sweater.
  • 1 fleece zip up mid weight jacket
  • 2 pairs long underwear – synthetic material both top and bottom
  • 2 or 3 T-shirts
  • Hiking pants of synthetic material or fleece pants: 1 pair of pants that are comfortable to hike in, smart pants by Exoffico or similar that have zip off options.
  • Hiking shorts
  • Down Jacket: The temperature at certain camps can drop below freezing and a warm down jacket as well as multiple layers of fleece are important to have.
  • Wide brimmed sun hat
  • Lotion and sunscreen
  • Insect Repellent – minimum recommended 20%deet (Jungle Juice) please note: no instances of malaria have ever been registered on this trip.
  • Camera and batteries – back up memory cards and batteries
  • Personal Snacks- You will be provided with great snacks (energy bars, trail mix, fruits) everyday and delicious food on the Inca Trail. Only bring snacks if you have a have a favorite kind or personal preference.
  • Swim Suit
  • H2O bottle (water bottle or camelback) key item! You should have at least a 2-liter water carrying capacity. Filtered water is provided. You will be able to refill your bottles in the morning, at lunchtime and when you arrive to the camp in the afternoon.
  • 2 heavy duty trash bags to keep your camp gear dry inside your duffel (and later for laundry)
  • Ziplock bags: several sizes to help organize your camp items, lotions, socks, underwear, etc.
  • Moist Towlettes: for personal cleaning
  • Small towel for washing up at camp
  • Trekking Poles (optional) – must have rubber tips on the bottom to protect the trail

*Remember when packing your carry-on bag to bring any medications needed as well as any toothpaste or lotions in a plastic zip loc bag for security.  You may want to bring a toothbrush on your overnight flight as well as a change of clothing.

BioBio Expeditions has partnered with Tahoe Mountain Sports, our local outfitter, to help you collect the gear needed for your upcoming adventure! Use the promo code BioBio1 at checkout and receive 15% off all full priced items in your shopping cart. Click this LINK to see some products offered at TMS that are on your packing list or visit their online store at: http://www.tahoemountainsports.com

MONEY MATTERS

Currency

Peru is typical of many South American countries in that it effectively operates a dual-currency system. Both the US dollar (dólares) and the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (soles) are in circulation and although the government prefers people to use soles, most sizeable purchases are made in dollars. In practice, this means that anything costing more than, say, a meal in a nice restaurant, is paid for in dollars. The Nuevo Sol is perfectly stable so you don’t have to worry about inflation problems during your stay!
Extra Expenses

You are responsible for some meals as stipulated in the itinerary. These meals will cost between $5 and $25. And of course, you can go all out at a high-end restaurant. For meals that are included, you will need to pay for your own alcohol. You will also need money for gifts and tipping.
ATMs

Plus, Cirrus and other networks connecting ATMs are available in Peru. The exchange rates you get when withdrawing from cash machines are standard. This is the approach we usually recommend. Cash machines dispense both dollars and soles and most accept the major debit cards. Be aware of counterfeit currency and avoid being followed to and from an ATM machine! Go in pairs!
Credit Cards

If your credit card has been programmed with a PIN, it’s likely you can use your card at Peruvian ATMs to withdraw money as a cash advance. Always ask your bank before you leave home about the number of withdrawals you may make abroad, the limit each day, and also let them know where you are going so they do not put a hold on your card. You may be charged a fee for each transaction.

Most of the bigger restaurants and shops accept credit cards. If you have American Express, Visa, Master Card and Diners Club, you’re probably equipped for any establishment that takes cards. If you only have one, have VISA. A shopkeeper may require you to pay the credit card fee for purchases, so for the most ease, we recommend you use cash whenever possible.
Banking Hours

Banks are generally open from 9am to 6pm. Some banks close for 2 hours from 1pm to 3pm. Banco de Credito del Peru does NOT close. In Cusco you will find many banks on Sol Avenue, one block from the main square. It is recommended to go to an “exchange office”. You must bring your passport to exchange money. Never change a large sum (more than $100) and again, go in pairs, and avoid being followed by robbers.
Personal Checks

Personal checks are not accepted in shops or at your hotels. It’s a good idea, however, to bring a few for possible emergencies.
Travelers Cheques

Travel checks are less desirable as fewer and fewer places will change them, and you may end up in long bank lines. You will need to show your passport to cash your checks at the bank.
Tipping

Tipping is, of course, entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received. Typically, you should designate 10-15% of the land cost of the trip for tips. For example, a $4000 trip would mean $400 in tips. This will be split up on 2 different occasions:

  1. At the end of the Inca Trail, each client should tip the porters $75-100. This will be divided up among the 20-30 staff that have made your Inca trek possible.
  2. At the farewell dinner of Day 8 in Cusco, you can give the largest portion of your tip to the trip leader and he will divide it up amongst himself and the various tour guides.

Other smaller tips might be for airport luggage carriers, hotel staff and drivers. This is where $1 bills or single soles come in handy. The norm at restaurants is approximately 5-15%.

For some background information, Peru has a minimum salary of 550 Nuevo Soles (US$170) monthly for a 6-day, 48-hour week. However, in many of the lower paid jobs (e.g. waiters, porters etc) this is not always enforced. 1 Nuevo Sol (soles) is roughly the equivalent of US$30.Return to top of page

TRAVEL PRACTICALITIES

Trip Insurance

Bio Bio Expeditions encourages all clients to obtain travel insurance to cover unexpected events such as trip cancellations, trip delay, lost baggage, medical expenses, etc. We will also forward a brochure from Travelex (https://www.travelex-insurance.com/consumer/welcome.aspx). Our agent code is 05-8655. They have good rates and excellent coverage for international travel.
Immunizations

Although there are no immunizations required to travel to Peru, it is usually recommended that typhoid and diphtheria-tetanus protection be current. Hepatitis A, taken just before departure, is also recommended. The cholera vaccination is no longer officially required, and cholera can be avoided by practicing strict food and water precautions. In general, we advise that you consult your physician regarding recommended immunizations and other health precautions. Bio Bio Expeditions does not take responsibility for which medications or inoculations you and your physician deem necessary for your safe participation on the expedition in Peru.

For further information, call the CDC’s International Traveler’s Hotline:

Phone: 1-888-232-4636
Online: www.cdc.gov
Water

Although it requires a little extra caution when drinking fluids in Peru, it is essential to stay well hydrated. We advise that you not drink any of the tap water in Peru; this includes no ice in your drink. Bottled water is fine to drink and can be ordered at most restaurants and found in local grocery stores. Ask for “agua mineral, sin gas (non-carbonated) or con gas (carbonated)”. When ordering sodas, it is best to request them without ice (sin hielo), as the ice is usually made from tap water. Additionally, be sure to brush your teeth with bottled water.
Food

The major precaution regarding food pertains to raw, unpeeled fruits and vegetables (including lettuce) – avoid them unless you are dining in a high-end restaurant! If you can’t peel it, don’t eat it as it has probably been washed in tap water, or not washed at all, and that can make you sick. The high altitude also affects one’s digestive system so it is recommended to eat in moderation and avoid rich, thick foods (such as mayonnaise). However, don’t be afraid to try new foods and dishes – just be cautious. Peru has some of the finest, most delicious cuisine in the world! We want you to experience the many new flavors and local cuisine, but there are some things to consider when making food choices, especially where you are eating. The more high end restaurants in Cusco are fairly safe bets for trying new things. Street food should generally be avoided. This brings us to our next topic…
Digestive Worries

Traveling to Peru is going to have a notable impact on your body. Despite the many precautions we all take to stay healthy, occasionally one may experience diarrhea. The major problem associated with diarrhea is fluid loss leading to severe dehydration, so it is important to maintain plentiful fluid intake. Avoid milk and avoid caffeine, as it will only further dehydrate you. The best drinks are weak tea, mineral water, and caffeine-free soft drinks. Ideally it is best to let diarrhea run its course, however you may want to bring over-the-counter diarrhea medication to minimize your potential discomfort. We also advise that you carry your own supply of toilet paper, as most of the restrooms in South America either don’t have TP, or they charge you for it. The bottom line (no pun intended) is to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest! Lastly, we encourage that you, and all our staff, practice impeccable hand hygiene – you can’t wash your hands enough! Sanitizer gels are great when hand washing with soap and water is not available.
Prescriptions

If you currently take prescription medications, be sure to have a plentiful supply and also the doctor’s written prescription in case you need a refill. It is best to carry medications in your carry-on bag in case of lost luggage. Also, if you wear prescription glasses or contacts, we advise that you bring along a spare set.
Voltage

Electrical current in Peru is 220 volts AC, and the plugs are different from the USA two prong.
Safety

Although the Peruvians are a warm, friendly, fun-loving people, thievery is a common problem. Always keep your wits about you and be aware of your surroundings. When with other people, watch out for each other. Large crowds are prime locations for pick-pocketing to occur. Keep your money in a money belt or hidden pouch around your neck and under your shirt. When purchasing items, do not pull out lots of money. We advise that you leave all valuable jewelry, including watches, at home. Thieves often work in pairs or groups – one tries to distract you (e.g.: by squirting food or paint on your clothing) and in the ensuing confusion, another one makes off with your belongings. The areas around the main square in Cusco are well patrolled by police and tourist police. However, we encourage you to be very cautious and never be walking the streets alone after dark.
Jet Lag Precautions

When you cross several time zones to reach your destination, you often lose many hours of regular sleep. On arrival, your body then must suddenly adjust to new sleeping and eating patterns. The result is jet lag. Its symptoms are fatigue – often compounded by insomnia and restlessness – irritability and vague disorientation. You cannot totally avoid jet lag, but you can minimize it. Here’s how:

  • Start your trip well rested. Try to begin a gradual transition to your new time zone before you leave.
  • Switch to your destination time zone when you get on the plane. Attempt to sleep and eat according to the new schedule.
  • Try to sleep on overnight flights.
  • Avoid heavy eating and drinking caffeine or alcoholic beverages right before and during your flight.
  • Drink plenty of water and or fruit juice while flying. You should buy a large bottle of water at a kiosk right before boarding – once you have cleared inside security and are “inside”.
  • After arrival, avoid the temptation to nap, unless you didn’t sleep at all on the plane.
  • Don’t push yourself to see a lot on your first day.
  • Try to stay awake your first day until after dinner.

Altitude Sickness

Cusco sits at almost 11,000 feet. This is one of the highest places most of us have ever, or will ever, stay for an extended period of time. The altitude can cause some physical reaction in almost anyone. Most people experience shortness of breath, headaches, and some dehydration. We recommend taking it easy your first day and avoiding alcohol and tobacco. If you feel sick, be sure to rest, breathe deeply, drink lots of fluids (bottled water), and perhaps take a mild pain killer for headaches. Locally brewed coca tea also seems to help. True altitude sickness is rare, but if the symptoms become severe, please let a Bio Bio Expeditions representative know. The front desk of the hotel often has spare oxygen bottles if needed.

How well your individual body adapts to the thinner air depends a good deal on innate factors that you have no control over. That being said, people in top shape often acclimate better because they expend less energy hiking, leaving their bodies ready for the task of acclimatization. Proper hydration has also been proven to be essential in this task. There is no substitute for being in top shape and staying hydrated

Many altitude physicians recommend bringing the following medications for prevention and or treatment of altitude related problems:

Diamox: 125 mg, twice a day. Beginning 24 hours before ascent to a sleeping elevation of 8,000-10,000 feet and continuing through duration of climb. Please discuss with your physician.

COUNTRY INFORMATION

Demographics

Almost the same size as Alaska, Peru is the third largest country in South America, covering 496,226 square miles. Peru is divided into three distinct geographic regions: the narrow, dry coastal plain in the west; the high Andes Mountains roughly in the center; and the tropical lowlands of the Amazon Basin to the east. Peru shares with Bolivia the highest navigable body of water in the world – Lake Titicaca. There is little rainfall along the coast, although he winter is foggy, humid and cool. The capital city of Lima, the temperature is moderate year-round, averaging 65*F.

Several of South America’s most advanced cultures lived in pre-Columbian Peru. The last of these groups was the great Incan Empire, which was unsurpassed in the art of stonecutting and also achieved a high degree of economic and political development. Incan and earlier Chimu ruins, notably at Cusco, Chan Chan, and Machu Picchu, make Peru a favorite destination for archaeologists and tourists. In 1532, the Spanish invaded Peru under the leadership of Francisco Pizarro. They conquered the Incas the next year. The area soon became the richest and most powerful Spanish colony in South America because of its location and many mineral treasures.

Under the leadership of South American liberator Jose de San Martin, Peru declared independence from Spain in July 1821. With the help of Simon Bolivar, the Venezuelan general who liberated several other countries, the fight for full independence was won by 1826. For a century, Peru worked to secure its territory and build its social institutions.

Peru is a republic. It is divided into 24 departamentos (similar to states). The president holds executive power and serves a five-year term. All citizens age 18 and older are required to vote. The unicameral Congress consists of 120 members, who serve five-year terms. Major political parties include the Change 90-New Majority Party, Union for Peru, the Popular Christian Party, and the Popular Action Party.

The population of Peru is approximately 27 million and is growing at 1.75 percent annually. Population density is generally low due to the country’s large land area. Peru’s population is ethnically diverse. About 45 percent is Indian, descendants of the Incan Empire. Many ethnic and linguistic divisions exist among Indians, some of whom are still fairly isolated in the Amazon jungle. Another 37 percent is of mixed European and Indian heritage. Fifteen percent is of European descent (mostly Spanish), and the remaining 3 percent is composed of blacks (descendants of West African slaves), Japanese, Chinese and other smaller groups. About half of the population is younger than age 20. Lima is the largest city, with more than seven million residents.
Language

The official languages in Peru are Spanish and Quechua but Spanish will be your most useful language, even in the highlands. The Spanish spoken in Peru is almost identical to the Castilian Spanish of Madrid, albeit with slightly different pronunciation and a few vocabulary changes. In the high Andes, particularly around Cusco and Puno, many people still speak Aymara or Quechua (the language of the Incas) as a first language, although almost all will also speak Spanish. The good news is that in most places like restaurants, hotels, etc., there is usually someone who speaks English – and, of course, all our representatives and guides speak both English and Spanish.

If you do speak some ‘Spanish’ then you shouldn’t have too many problems speaking with the locals in Peru. The major difference in accent between Peruvian Spanish and Castilian Spanish is that the letters c and z are pronounced like the English s rather than the traditional th. In general, Peruvian Spanish is a little slower and less heavily accented than most Spanish you would hear in Spain.

 

Get a taste of our quality mountain biking, sea kayaking, gear and guides in Peru

9 reviews for Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

  1. :

    The trip far exceeded our expectations. The level of service could not have been better. We were exceptionally well cared for from the time we stepped off the plane in Cusco until the moment we left. Have never had better guides both in Cusco and on the Inka Trail. Truly a trip of a lifetime!

  2. :

    Dear Bio Bio, I’ve traveled all over the world with well known touring companies and I have to say you guys are the best!! For my 40th birthday, a group of 16 friends headed down to Peru to hike the Inca Trail and visit Machu Picchu. We were thrilled mountain biking and horse back riding were also included. And while we knew the trip would be filled with adventure, we didn’t expect the level of luxury Bio Bio offers. The hotels we stayed in were beautiful. The food tent on the trail is out of this world! And speaking of the food, it was gourmet at every stop. We still can’t figure out how the chefs make such amazing meals on the trail. But I think the best part of Bio Bio is the people you have working with you. Our guides (Piero, Jose, Jairo and Reuben) made the trip! They are fun and great to hang out with, but also really knowledgeable about the local area. And they go above and beyond. Here are two examples. One was in the cloud forest. The guides woke up at 5am to see if the sky was clear. It was, so they woke everyone up and we climbed to the top of the hill to have a view from the top of the world. Plus, the porters had already set up our coffee table so we drank hot coffee and gazed out over the Andes. The second was when we arrived through the sun gate at Machu Picchu. Bio Bio got us there in the late afternoon. While I was skeptical about this at first (most get there at sunrise), it was the best plan! We literally had Machu Picchu to ourselves. No crowds. No lines. Plus, the guides hiked for 4 days with champagne in their packs so we could toast to our accomplishment. I can’t say enough about this trip. Our entire group is now looking at going to Chile together, of course with Bio Bio. With tons of love and admiration, Wendy W. Damonte Evening News Anchor, KTVN-TV Channel 2 Wendy W. Damonte Evening News Anchor, KTVN-TV CHANNEL 2 p. 775-861-4234 f. 775-861-4246 — Wendy W. Damonte Evening News Anchor, KTVN-TV Channel 2

  3. :

    It as fabulous!!! The trek was as exciting if not more exciting than seeing Machu Picchu . Jose, yuri and Ricardo were fantastic – very knowledgeable, attentive to individual needs – all questions were answered. The food surpassed our expectations. The organization of the camp and trekking timing was fantastic. Please continue to use this crew!!!! We will look at bio bio for other activities. Thank you Jim Kupczak

  4. :

    Jeff and i had an absolutely wonderful time with you. We felt pampered and safe and, most importantly, part of your very, very unique family of obviously good friends. i can’t think of a single moment I’d change. i appreciated how you changed plans when necessary but always had choices and alternatives from which to choose. each and everyone of your guides was remarkable – seemingly willing to do anything to insure us all having the time of our lives. thank you so very much. we both wish you all the success in the world!

  5. :

    Hi Marc, We just returned home from Peru, and I just wanted to tell you how fantastic our trip was. We filled out our formal evaluation, but I wanted to personally relay how incredible Piero and Jose were as our main guides. We really couldn’t have asked for more from either of them. They were knowledgeable, funny, conscientious, and super attentive to the whole group, which isn’t always easy to do with 16 people! Whenever any of us wanted to do something a little different from the plan for the day, they always had recommendations and offered to make arrangements for us, and they never led us astray. We were really impressed with the whole trip, but the staff – from the guides to the cooks (wow Edgar, what an amazing chef – he baked a birthday cake at 12,000 feet!) to the porters – really surpassed our expectations. Thanks so much for an amazing trip; we hope to use Bio Bio again in the future! Best, Jill Peru – Inca trail May 2011

  6. :

    I have to say that our experience in Peru exceeded my expectations in virtually every way. Piero and Patty and Zak took exceptional care of us. We were utterly free from decision making and I lost track of days and dates right away. Sign of a good trip. As you may know, Piero had more than a few amazing surprises for us, which added to the terrific itinerary that you planned, made our trip unique and wonderful. Logistics were precise and well planned. Drivers prompt, hotels expecting us and efficient check-ins, water available, bags handled behind the scenes and magically appearing in hotel rooms. I didn’t know until we were off the trail how skilled Zak and Piero were at limiting our contact with other groups. We felt like we practically had the trail to ourselves and certainly the sungate when we arrived there.

  7. :

    Marc, The trip was honestly amazing….best trip I have ever been on! It had the perfect balance of tons of adventure and luxury mixed in (food was great everywhere!), and the fact that I didn’t have to worry about a detail because Piero had it all taken care of was fantastic! I can’t say enough good things about the trip, about Piero and the other amazing guides (specifically Jose) that made my experience with Bio Bio and the trip to Peru amazing. I’m planning to look into Bio Bio future trips…maybe Patagonia and/or Mt Kilimanjaro…and would highly recommend your travel group to others. Thanks again!! Also – I will send a few of my fav pics when we get them downloaded! -Colleen Peru Inca trail May 22nd 2011

  8. :

    What a wonderful trip!! I have been on many adventure trips–from running across the Morrocan Sahara for 9 days in the Marathon des Sables, to the Himalayan Run and Trek, a 10-day stage run in northeastern India and Sikkim, and private treks and climbs in Nepal–yet this Inca trek in Peru was the best of them all. Likely it was our exceptional group of women “of a certain age” who laughed and struggled together up the trail that made it so special; but our spirits couldn’t have stayed so high without the special attention to detail from your Peruvian staff. Piero Vellutino kept us all smiles with his funny comments and big bear hugs. Each time we achieved a goal, a high pass, the end of a long day, the end of the trek to Intipunku, our guides Piero, Omar and Jairo, congratulated and hugged us. They quietly made sure that all camp details were perfect and had friendly words for all the porters. It was a happy trip. Some of us felt poorly from time to time, but were buoyed up by Piero and company so that no one ever considered stopping short of the goal. The trip was a wonderful blend of comraderie, physical challenge, Inca and Quechua cultural immersion and nature education. We were blessed with good weather and fun shopping excursions to top it all off. I can’t wait to go back next year to see more of Peru and its lovely people! Regarding highs and lows, there were only highs. The hotels were all very nice, with the Pueblo Inkaterra the loveliest. My only wish is that the trip were longer!!! Though it is best to leave for home wishing for more, rather than wishing to go home–so it was just the right length.

  9. :

    Hello Marc, I suspect it is no surprise to you, but our recent trip was fantastic. Piero, Zacarias, and Elias were wonderful guides, combining both personal and professional skills. They represented BioBio extremely well. I know that the quality of their work was such, that if any of the 14 of us seek adventure travel again, our first choice would be bio bio.

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