Frequently Asked Questions

REQUIREMENTS YOU HAVE TO KNOW.

With some exceptions, visitors do not need a visa to travel to Peru. However, all travelers need a passport with a minimum validity of 6 months and one blank passport page for an entry stamp. Upon arrival at any port of entry, travelers are issued a tourist card (tarjeta de migracion/ Immigration Card) good for a maximum of 183 days. Keep this card in a safe place (with your passport) as you will need it to register at hotels and to exit Peru.

No vaccines are required for entry, but yellow fever immunization is recommended especially for travel to the Amazon region.

You will need to present your passport to check in at hotels, to board the train to Machu Picchu, to enter Machu Picchu, and to pass through Salkantay and other checkpoints. For day tours, you can leave your passport in your safety deposit box at your hotel. You may carry a photocopy of your passport information page just in case.

 

GETTING IN/AROUND/OUT OF CUSCO

Several daily flights connect Cusco to major destinations across Peru. From Lima to Cusco and vice versa, major airlines are LAN Peru, Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines, and Taca. Of these carriers, LAN Peru provides the highest number of options and the most reliable service, but also the most expensive fares.

Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (airport code: CUZ) in Cusco is located 5 kilometers (10-15 minutes) southeast of the historic center and the Plaza de Armas.

Note that it is possible to walk from one side of the historic center of Cusco to the other within 10-15 minutes. One-way streets and occasional closures due to processions sometimes make it faster to go by foot than by car.

However you might need a taxi to get to the airport or bus terminal, or to visit to Sacsayhuaman or Cristo Blanco if you prefer not to hike. You can either hail a taxi from the street or arrange transport through your hotel concierge. Check for a placard or other indication that the vehicle is an official taxi. Taxis are not metered. Negotiate the fare before getting into the car. Payment is given when you reach your destination.

Few taxi drivers speak English. If your Spanish is limited, try to have as much information about your destination written down in Spanish or ask your hotel concierge to help you.

Train travel is easiest and fastest way to get from Cusco or the Sacred Valley to Machu Picchu. From Poroy station (15 minutes from Cusco), the trip is 4 hours. Trains depart more frequently from Ollantaytambo (1 hour by car from Cusco) and arrive at Aguas Calientes in 2 hours.

Travelers in search of adventure can opt to hike the Inca Trail, which enters Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate.

Cusco has two seasons: wet and dry. During the dry season, days can get warm under the sun, but temperatures drop drastically in the evening. In the rainy season, it rarely rains all day, but storms are unpredictable and range from heavy rains to light drizzle. It’s best to carry an umbrella or a rain poncho.

 

HEALTH AND SAFETY

For visitors just arrived to Cusco, Peru and South America, drinking tap water is not advisable. Bottled water is available for sale at kioskos, markets, cafes, and restaurants throughout the city of Cusco.

Mate de coca (coca tea) is a popular folk remedy in Cusco and throughout the Andes; many hotels provide complimentary cups to guests on check-in. packaged tea bags are also available at Peruvian supermarkets. Note however that possession of coca leaf tea is illegal in the U.S.

In case of serious illness, contact your tour operator or hotel concierge. They will be able to refer you to a clinic staffed by English-speaking doctors.

As tempting as Cusco’s street food offerings may appear, it’s best to resist the impulse to indulge. Especially if you are in Peru for a short time, the last thing you want is to spend a day confined to your room. Avoid open containers of ketchup and other condiments (small packets are fine). Eat boiled vegetables and fruits with peels only. Use your judgments when ordering salads and ceviche (raw fish). More expensive restaurants are careful to wash with purified water and prepare food with only the freshest ingredients.

Cusco is fairly safe as a city, but petty theft does occur. You can take simple precautions to avoid becoming a target.

  1. Don’t carry excessive amounts of money with you during the day. Carry only what you’ll need for the day and leave cash and personal documents in your hotel room’s safety deposit box.
  2. Don’t wear expensive or flashy jewelry.
  3. Keep electronic devices tucked away in a purse or backpack or in your hand at all times.
  4. Don’t hang bags on chair backs and take your bag with you when you go to the bathroom.
  5. Use common sense, be aware of your surroundings and trust your instincts.

The Inca Trails are the names given to a walking route that partially follows the course of an old Inca roadway leading to the city of Machu Picchu. For most people, the trail begins at small towns between Cuzco and Machu Picchu and ends at Machu Picchu itself.

The Inca Trails are not the name of a particular travel company's itinerary, although many travel companies offer Inca Trail tours.

In practical terms, there's no need for a guide as the trails are fairly clear and well signposted where necessary. However, new regulations are now in force which makes it mandatory to travel with either a licensed guide or an organized tour. You are not obliged to join an organized tour, but if you want to travel independently, you will need to get some other hikers together and hire a guide jointly. Solo walking no longer seems to be an option. As far as porters are concerned, if you are fit and accustomed to hiking with a heavy backpack, you can do without them. If you are unsure about your ability to carry everything you need over rough terrain, or you are in a hurry, then porters may be a good idea.

That will depend on you and what you're used to. It's generally reckoned to be a strenuous hike, but there's no rock-climbing or glacier-walking involved, so no technical expertise is required. The difficulty comes largely from the repeated steep ascents and descents, and from the high altitude. The climb to the first pass takes you up from around 2000m (6500ft) to more than 4000m (13,000ft) in a relatively short space, followed by a descent of around 1500m (5000ft). After the second pass at 3500m (11,500ft), things generally become easier.

You should remember also that unless you go with an organized tour or hire porters you will need to carry camping and cooking equipment, clothing and food for three or four days, all of which makes for a fairly heavy pack.

The fitter you are, the more you will enjoy it. Conversely, the less fit you are, the less you'll enjoy it. If you're extremely unfit, you may even fail to enjoy it to the point of collapsing in a lifeless heap somewhere along the way and having to be buried on the spot by your fitter companions.

In the absence of any agreed universal measure of fitness, consider that for a somewhat unfit twenty-two year-old (me) it was difficult but manageable. I found the first day very tough indeed, but thereafter things became easier. However, don't be deceived. It is very hard work in places (I wanted to give up on the first day, and had to take extended rest breaks every half-kilometer or so during some of the steeper parts) and you are likely to be carrying a heavier pack than you are normally used to. A better than average standard of fitness is probably highly desirable, if not absolutely required.

If you want to prepare yourself, hiking is the most obviously appropriate activity, but anything that builds stamina such as running or swimming is also useful. Stamina is more important than strength or speed; being able to bench-press five hundred pounds will probably not help unless you intend to walk the Trail on your hands.

The altitude on the Inca Trails Varies from under 9000ft. to nearly 14,000ft.

The Inca Trails are high enough that some people do have problems with the altitude. Being short of breath is relatively common and is not, by itself, causing for concern. On the other hand, severe dizziness, loss of coordination and concentration, severely irregular (Cheyenne-Stokes) breathing, and death from pulmonary or cerebral odoema are generally regarded as more serious symptoms of mountain sickness.

If you, or someone with you, does start to show any of the symptoms of severe mountain sickness - severe breathlessness, noisy breathing, blue lips, frothing at the mouth, confusion or unconsciousness - you should descend to a lower altitude as quickly as possible and seek medical advice.

The chances are that you won't experience any ill-effects from the altitude, but it is definitely worth spending some time acclimatizing before you set out, with Cuzco being the obvious place to do this. If you go straight from sea-level to the Inca Trail you are much more likely to have problems. It's been suggested to me that 3-4 days acclimatization, including day-hikes in the Cuzco region, should be considered a minimum. Again, getting fit beforehand will also make life easier.

Coca tea is also popular in Cusco for relief from the symptoms of high altitude.

The driest months are from May to September, the winter months in the Southern hemisphere. Temperatures can fall below freezing above 4500m, and it may be windy from August onward. During the spring, September to December, there are likely to be early afternoon showers (sometimes accompanied by electrical storms) of short duration, and it may be cloudy and overcast. Nights during this season are clear (which means cold at high altitude).

The rainy season is from December to May. There is likely to be heavy rain for two to three hours every afternoon, as well as the possibility of light showers that continue over a longer period. Walking conditions are difficult, and streams may become impassable.

Note that just as anywhere else in the world, these are general tendencies. You could have a dry day in December; you could get rained on in July. Note also that there's a wide variation in temperature, dependent on altitude and time of day. Some guidebooks report that it can vary by up to 25 degrees Celsius, so it can be quite warm during the day at low altitudes and below freezing higher up during the night. My own memories from a trip in August run from sweating in shorts and a T-shirt during the day to shivering fully-clothed - T-shirt, shirt, and heavy wool sweater - in a three-season sleeping bag.

It's periodically reported that the Trails will be closed temporarily or permanently. I think that a permanent closure is very unlikely, especially now that new regulations are in force to help preserve the Trails. On the other hand, temporary closures for maintenance are likely. It's hard to get definite information, just the classic Inca Trail is closed for all of February of each year, and this has also been reported by other sources. But the others trails (alternative trails to Machupicchu) not.

Not especially. It's a three or four day walk in a fairly remote area. There are places where you could fall and hurt yourself or even kill yourself if you really work at it, but unless you're very careless or clumsy it's not very likely.

On the other hand, it's not a good place to have a medical emergency. If you have a tendency towards cardiac arrest, passing suddenly into a diabetic coma, epileptic fits or whatever, try to arrange for it to happen somewhere else.

If the words 'Inca Trail' call up images of swaying rope bridges over deep ravines and narrow paths carved into the faces of sheer precipices, relax. There's nothing like that. And it's a walking trail, so you don't need to do any mountaineering.

There are a few steep descents, and there are some places where there is a drop-off on one side of the roadway. However, even people who don't like heights should be able to walk these stretches quite comfortably.

The stairway in every path are a little intimidating, as it's quite narrow, overhung, and there're a steep drop on one side.

In Latin America in general has a bad reputation for thefts from travellers. Given the fact that it is a poor country, and the average backpacker carries money and possessions which could probably feed a large family for the better part of a year, this is understandable. However, if you don't want to subsidize the local economy involuntarily, you should pay close attention to your belongings at all times.

Basic precautions include:

  1. Don't flash money, jewelry or expensive watches around.
  2. When carrying a shoulder bag or camera, carry it in front of you. Put the strap across your body, not just over one shoulder.
  3. Be sure that you are in a Hotel with security box or Don't leave valuables in hotel rooms .
  4. Don't leave your luggage unattended. If you put it on the roof of a bus or in storage compartments, watch closely to make sure it doesn't get unloaded before the bus leaves.
  5. When sitting in cafes or restaurants, make it difficult for someone to snatch your bag or camera by putting the leg of your chair through the strap (and sitting in such a way as to make it difficult for thieves to get at it).
  6. Watch out for pickpockets in a crowd, or for any attempt to distract you by bumping into you, or thrusting something - a newspaper, a piece of cardboard with something written on it, etc. - into your line of vision. Another favorite trick is to spray you with something unpleasant - grease, excrement and so forth. While 'helpful' passers-by try to clean you up, their friends are busy cleaning you out.
  7. Women alone should be especially careful, as women seem to be considered easier targets than men.
  8. Don't go to isolated areas alone. Be very careful after dark. If you have doubts, ask locals, other tourists or the police if an area you intend to go to is safe.

One consolation is that the Peruvians mostly seem to favors guile rather than violence. However, there have been reports of tourists in Peru being robbed and worse at knife or gun point and of 'strangle muggings' (where the victim is choked unconscious and then robbed) in Cuzco. The chances are that it won't happen to you, but you should pay attention to any warnings you hear or read, and take sensible precautions.

What about wild animals?

Every step you will make on the trails there is always a good opportunity to see our wild animal like "Zona de Osos" ("Bear Zone"), but your chances of stumbling across a bear are probably very slight. Making noise as you walk and staying on the trail will reduce them still further. There places where still we have chances to see the mountain lion, the Andean bird and biting flies, which will eat you. The insects, particularly around 2800m/9450ft are extremely fierce. There have also been reports of chiggers and other pests near the trails.

A good insect repellent is a necessity. A good brand called Goibi works particularly well for me. The active ingredient in that is apparently diethyl, so other deet-based repellent (which is to say most of them, nowadays) might also work well. You might want to consider carrying a second repellent based on a different main ingredient, as a reserve, in case the flies have grown to like deet.

The latest reports I've had suggest that you're likely to meet about 200 other people per day on the trail, including large groups with guides and porters. The crowding appears to be particularly bad during the popular summer months. This has an inevitable impact, both on the facilities and the environment.

Whatever the conditions on the Trail, Machu Picchu is usually the tourist Central

They're scarce. Apparently there are now pit latrines at the campsites, but the rest of the time you're on your own. What this means above all else is that you need to be a good citizen of the wilderness and obey the rules. Since it's impractical to backpack your crap out of the region along with the rest of your rubbish, this means that when you have to go, you should go a long way away from the Trail, and bury your excrement properly after you're done. This is not an especially pleasant task, but it must be done. And when you're at the campsites, use the facilities available: stepping or even sleeping in someone else's business is less than pleasant.

Also be sure to bring toilet paper. This is not provided in bathrooms on the trail.

Among the things I would suggest as essential are:

  1. Camping gear, including a tent and a good sleeping bag
  2. Cooking gear, including a stove and saucepans
  3. Food for three to four days or more
  4. Water bottle (1.5 litre or better)
  5. Waterproof clothing
  6. Sturdy, comfortable footwear
  7. Light clothes for warm weather
  8. Heavy clothes for cold weather, including a windproof jacket and a sweater or fleece
  9. Insect repellent and 'sting relief'
  10. Sterilizing tablets (iodine/chlorine-based)
  11. A guidebook
  12. A good backpack to hold it all

Add to this the usual traveller's staples such as toilet paper, a flashlight, a knife and a basic first-aid kit, plus money (in a money belt or neck pouch hidden inside your clothes) and anything you need to record the trip - camera, film, sketch pads and notebooks etc.

If you're going on an organized tour, the tour operators may provide some of these items and porters to carry them.

Everything you don't need should be left behind. Many hostels and hotels in Cuzco will let you leave stuff with them. Your pack will already be uncomfortably heavy with just the essentials or just Check the Essentials Things for Inca trails.

See the weather section for more information, but in general it is good to have layers. A tshirt and comfortable pants for walking, plus a long sleeve shirt/sweater/jacket for when it cools off are essential. It's important to have a poncho or rain jacket even if it is not rainy season because it's always possible it will rain here. Because of the altitude, nights are cold in any season, so be sure to bring layers for the evening.

  1. Clothing comfortable for walking in
  2. Hiking pants, not jeans
  3. Comfortable hiking shoes or boots and socks
  4. A hat for the sun
  5. A beanie or warm hat for the night
  6. Gloves are useful for cold nights

Yes. There are shops in Cuzco which will rent or sell equipment. However, bear in mind that shops may not have everything you want and that the stuff they offer to rent may be old, broken, heavy or have parts missing. Check everything before you leave the store. Whether you're renting or buying, you're likely to find it expensive.

Or Just Contact us To Buy for you!

Along the trek we will provide food with fresh, organic and locally ground by farmers and if you vegetarian do not worry because we will provide you with the best vegetarian food. In Cusco before you leave to the trail there are many stores where you can buy your snacks.

It's possible to purchase bottled water along some of the trails. If you're going with an agency, they will boil water for you. If you're hiring a guide and carrying your own equipment, it should generally be possible to fill your water bottle from streams and rivers along the Trail. You must use sterilizing tablets or boil the water (remember that water boils at lower temperatures at high altitude, so you must boil drinking water longer to ensure its fully sterilized). Take water from streams in preference to standing water, and filter it if in doubt. Be careful when taking water from fast-flowing rivers; by inconsiderately falling in and drowning you risk polluting the water supply for everyone else.

 

TRAVEL TIPS

Visitors traveling from sea level to Cusco at 3,400 meters or 11,150 feet above sea level, should be aware of the possibility of altitude sickness. Most visitors to Cusco experience only minor symptoms (headache, lethargy, nausea) which usually ease within 1-2 days. If you’re planning to hike to higher elevations, plan to spend 2-3 days acclimating in Cusco before beginning the trek. If possible, try to schedule an intermediate stop at Arequipa elevation 2,328 meters (7,638 feet), to ease into the altitude.

Drinks lots of water to prevent dehydration and take it easy as your body adjusts to the altitude. Drink bottled water only and avoid drinking water from questionable sources. Agua sin gas is mineral water; agua con gas is carbonated water — both are available for sell at kiosks and small markets all over Cusco city. Ice is typically made from filtered water and safe to consume.

Cusco is considered one of the safest cities in Peru. Standard travel precautions apply: don’t leave your bags and belongings unattended and take extra care in crowded places. Leave jewelry and excess cash in the safety box at your hotel.

Walking is the best way to get around the historic center of Cusco. You can walk from one side of the historic center to the other within 15-20 minutes. Around the Plaza de Armas you’ll find Cusco’s top attractions, restaurants, and nightlife options. The area around the main plaza is mostly flat, but the streets become steeply inclined when you walk toward the San Blas, San Cristobal, or Santa Ana neighborhoods.

Be sure to carry local currency (Peruvian Nuevo Sol, or Soles for short) to pay for taxis, tips for guides and porters, small purchases, and meals at cafes and restaurants. Vendors are always reluctant to make change for large bills. For small purchases, it’s best to have low denomination bills and coins. Larger balances at shops, restaurants, hotels, and some tour agencies can be paid with credit card. As of August 2015, $10 USD is roughly 30 Soles.

You can find money exchange offices and ATMs throughout the historic center and on Av. El Sol. (Ask your bank about international banking fees.) For payments in USD or to exchange USD or Euros to Soles, you’ll need crisp bills with no blemishes of any kind. Bills with tiny rips, marks, and other defects will likely be rejected.

Cusco city is generally warm during the day and cold at night. Bring sunblock and sunglasses for day tours, and don’t forget your warm clothes for the evenings. A thermal undershirt paired with a fleece, windproof jacket, and long pants is usually sufficient for Cusco’s 5C/40F nights.

For the rainy season, packing the right clothes to stay (relatively) dry can make the difference between an enjoyable experience and a wet, miserable one. Pack long pants made of synthetic quick drying fabric (not jeans), a rain poncho to go over your head and your backpack, and an umbrella to use during day tours.

Some legs of your Cusco trip may require you to leave your heavy luggage behind, for example to take the train to Machu Picchu (passengers are limited to 1 bag or backpack weighing 5kg/11lbs) or for a multi-day trek. This is generally not a problem as most hotels provide luggage storage for guests at no additional charge.  

Traveling to Peru in the peak season (June, July, August) requires lots of planning several months in advance. This includes booking hotels in Cusco and Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu), flights to/from Cusco, train tickets to/from Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu tickets (limited to 400 and sell out weeks in advance) and Inca Trail permits if applicable.

To avoid the crowds and the worst of the rains, plan your trip to Cusco for April, May, September or October.