Inca Trail

Old Jul 28th, 2004, 12:17 PM
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Inca Trail

Hi there.

I need some information. My travel partner & I are looking at tours for the 4 Inca Trail in Nov 04 and are undecided as to whether we should book before we leave or wait till we get there (Lima / Cusco)?

We are also noticing that certain websites are charging a fortune (£500) for the trail. My guess is that as these sites are British / European based, this is a major factor. We are on a budget and hope that getting onto the trail is not overly expensive.

Can someone please advise what the best course of action would be.

Thanks,

J
Arikido69 is offline  
Old Jul 29th, 2004, 05:50 AM
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J,

How you doing?. The best and most cost efective way is to deal with someone local. You'll be more for your buck!. Luckily when my fiance and I were in Peru last year we were able to make contact with a local lady in Cuzco by the name of "Maria"....sorry I don't have her last name, but we were in communication via e-mail arranging the City Tour, hotel and Inca Trail. She was very helpful and attentive and she will hold your hand all the way. Here is her e-mail address, her english is limited, but she will respond to you.....I believe she was quoting us approx. $250.00 per person (US dollars) for the 4 day inca trail. We ended up getting the 2 day at $150.00 per person as we didn't have enough time. In any case here is her e-mail address:
[email protected]

Additionally, here is a link for you to see what the Inca Trail is all about:
http://www.rutahsa.com/incatrl.html

Here is the hotel she recommended and it was very nice, we ended up getting a junior suite....really cheap!

Hotel Niler
Calle Union # 184
www.hotelnilercusco.com
email [email protected]
(084) 227039

Safe Travel!!

Carlos
CarlosSandoval is offline  
Old Aug 16th, 2004, 10:16 AM
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Hi,

I'm not sure if you already have things sorted out, but I put together a little play by play for a friend of mine after we got back from our trip in September 2003. This is what I had written before (I would suggest booking before you go):

We did our trip for the most part day by day except for the hike to Machu Pichu which you need to book 2 weeks in advance because of them needing to get your passes on to the trail, etc. We had no problems on our adventure and were happy with all of the agencies we booked with.

We flew into Juliaca, the airport closest to Lake Titicaca, about an hour away. We spent our first night in town just taking it easy and getting used to the altitude, which was rough for the first couple days. We went out the next morning (8 AM) to an overnight tour of the islands of Lake Titicaca and booked the trip with an agency called Edgar Adventures in Puno (054-353-444). It cost about $15 US and was well worth it as we stayed with a family on one of the islands. The tour was led with an English speaking guide and we were with a group of about 14 people. After we got back from the island tour get in about 5PM, we took the evening 10:30 PM "tourist/royal class" bus to Arequipa in Southern Peru ($15ish US). That trip took 4 1/2 hours or so (our tourbook said 10 hours, but they have made significant improvements on the roads. That was plenty of time in Lake Titicaca as Puno is a dumpy little town and the highlight definitely being the time spent on the islands - a one night stay was plenty as well on the islands.

The main reason we went to Arequipa was to see the condors out at Colca Canyon, but were surprised at how cool the city felt. It had a very old European feel to it as it was rebuilt by the Spanish in the 1600's. Arequipa has this cool monastery called Santa Catalina and the Museo Santurios Andinos (had several frozen Incan mummies) both worth visiting. We stayed 3 nights in Arequipa and were able to arrange a day trip to Colca Canyon, but that took some difficulty. Most are 2 day trips and in order to cram it into one day, our trip left at 2 AM and returned the next day about 6PM. The canyon is pretty large and inspiring and it is really neat seeing the condors fly overhead, but I don't know if I would call it a must do in Peru. I'm really glad that we went here, but if you were short on days or trying to decide between going here and going to the jungle lodge it would be tough decision. We stayed at a hotel called La Casa de Melgar (054-222-459) in the center of Arequipa which cost $30 a night. You can find much cheaper hotels, but this one was highly rated and is a restored 18th century mansion which was pretty cool.

We flew from Arequipa to Cusco on a flight purchased two days beforehand for $45 - flying within Peru is really cheap and you don't have to book in advance really (I don't think it makes it any cheaper). We spent one night in Cusco before heading on to hike the Inca Trail and didn't have a problem with the altitude (it is 3,500 feet higher than Arequipa, so we were a little worried about it). We became acclimated at Lake Titicaca and I guess Arequipa was high enough was to keep us acclimated - not quite sure how that works. But I would recommend at least two nights before hiking Machu Pichu as the acclimatization can be tough - bad bad headaches. All the nights we stayed in Cusco was at a hotel called The Ninos Hotel (084-231-424) - which is run by a Dutch family whom a bunch of the proceeds from the hotel go to help the needy children of Cusco. It was a really nice place and $30 for a double room. But again you can find places for cheaper, but we liked their mission as well as the place was really clean with a private bathroom. We had four nights in Cusco (1 before the hike and 3 after) which felt about right. There are a ton of ruins that you can visit all around Cusco, but after a while you start to get ruined out. Especially after hiking Machu Pichu as you see a bunch of cool ruins along the hike.

We booked our Inca Trail hike with SAS Travel and I highly recommend using them. They were awesome. The hike ended up costing about $300 with the cost of SAS plus the porter and sleeping bag rental - all which I suggest. It was worth the little bit extra not to have to worry about lugging all your stuff during the day. I did quite a bit of research on which agency to use based on the guide book and cost and SAS Travel was highly recommended and one of the least expensive. We were the only Americans on our trip which was also a plus - group was made up of Australians and British for the most part. Everything is included in the price - great food, tent, train back from Machu Pichu to Cusco... We only have very very positive things to say about them. Our guide on the hike was Julio Ruben Aragon Acuna, goes by Ruben, (independent contractor of SAS, but usually works with SAS). He was an amazing guide and I would contact him and let him know when you are coming and see if you can jump on one of his trips. His email address is [email protected] and phone number is (051-226-306). We did the 3 night and four day hike which is the way to go - I wouldn't suggest taking the train both ways because part of the whole experience is hiking the trail. There is also is a two day hike as well but again I would stick with the traditional 4 day hike. On a side note buy a poncho and a walking stick for the hike (both can be purchased the day of the hike).

We stayed one night in Ollantaytambo after the hike (train stops there on the way home from the Inca Trail hike) just to get a feel for one of the ruin towns outside of Cusco. I don't think you necessarily have to stay there as there isn't a whole lot to see besides the ruins nearby. We enjoyed it as it is a cute town, but it can be visited from Cusco (as well as a bunch of other ruins in a day trip). The day trip from Cusco ( which we didn't do) which stops at a bunch of ruins is a long trip (I think leaves at 9AM and comes back around 6 PM) but it assures a good guide at every place you stop.

After Cusco, we flew to Lima for the night and spent the next day shopping for CD's and going to a couple museums. You can easily skip Lima as it is a pretty big gross city. We had initially thought of flying there and then taking a flight over the Nasca lines, but that flight was fully and pretty expensive ($240 US per person). The only other way to see the lines is by taking a bus there which is a long trip from any of the major cities in Peru. Once you get there you can take a 45 minute flight over the lines. Well that's a bit more on our trip, let me know what I can expand on. Here's a quick recap of our trip:

Lake Titicaca - Two nights
Arequipa - Three nights
Cusco - One night
Inca Trail - Three nights
Ollantaytambo - One night
Cusco - Three nights
Lima - One night

We didn't make it into the rainforest, but we met others that went whom loved it. We spent some time in the jungle in Belize and Guatemala so we decided it would be ok to leave it out of this trip to Peru. But that may be something that you can add on or mix into your trip.
bulamrpaul is offline  
Old Aug 17th, 2004, 05:55 PM
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Bulamrpaul - Thanks for the great synopsis of your trip. It was really timely for me as we are leaving in five weeks to do a trip very similar to yours. After hikinig the Inca Trail for four days, we will be taking the tourist bus from Cuzco to Puno. Then had planned to take a bus from there to Arequipa where , like you, we are staying at the Casa de Melgar. Here's my question. I would like to take the late bus that you did that arrives very early in the morning in Arequipa. What did you do when you got there so early? Can you chekc into the hotel? I, too had read that the trip would take 10 -12 hours so I'm delighted that it only takes 4 1/2.
Another question - did you wait until you arrived in Puno to arrange your tour of the islands? I am very interested in that, too.
I hope you can help answer some of these questions. thanks

Pegsimba is offline  
Old Aug 18th, 2004, 05:30 AM
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I suggest that you go to the Lonely Planet travel forum for more timely information regarding the Inca Trail. It is a very popular subject over there.

The Peruian government has new rules in place since Feb. this year. Now there is a quota for the trail. The daily quota for the trail is 500 people with among them only 200 tourists. When I went to Cuzco for the trail in early May, the waiting time was about two weeks before a spot was available; from June up to this moment, the waiting is about a month. It is very difficult to predict what would be the situation in November but my best guess is that a two week advance booking is still necessary off the high season.

Deal directly with the local operators. The 4 day trail is $250 something; the 2 day trail is $125. I did the two day trail.
kang is offline  
Old Aug 19th, 2004, 11:26 AM
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Thanks everyone for your postings. Funnily enough, i check out the Lonely Planet forum, and Inca Trail is one of the prime conversations going on....

Thanks Kang for the added tip...

J
Arikido69 is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2004, 09:14 AM
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How challenging is the Inca Trail hike? My husband and I are planning a trip to Peru in late September and would love to do the hike, but I am scared it might be too strenuous for me. On average, how many miles does the hike cover per day? Did anyone train to get ready for the hike? Please advise.
angelah861 is offline  
Old Aug 24th, 2004, 12:51 PM
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Hi J,

Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. Casa de Melgar has someone working at the front desk all night ? they might be asleep though :^) When I was in Puno I called the Casa de Melgar just to let them know we would be arriving very late at their hotel. We ended up arriving at the hotel around 3AM, but they happily gave us a key to a room. The bus trip is shorter than it was before, but still is a very bumpy ride (at least when we were there). They might have finished the road work by now. I would suggest going to the bus station or having your hotel purchase a ticket the day before you want to leave to Arequipa. The people at Edgar Tours were nice enough to call for us the day before and made a reservation. When we got there to the bus station the night we wanted to leave, they said the bus was sold out (even though we had a ?reservation?) ? luckily I can speak a little Spanish and I was able to firmly state that we needed to be on that bus and we got seats. So long story short buy your bus ticket the day before ?and spring for the Executive/Imperial class bus = bathrooms and nicer seats.

And just something to keep in mind, I would really consider taking the option of flying from Cusco to Juliaca (Lake Titicaca). We?re big fans of saving money ? travel cheaply etc, but we always try and take into consideration the value of our time on vacation. Not sure of the cost of a flight from Cusco to Juliaca, but it might be worth it. We had the option of flying or taking a bus from Arequipa to Cusco - $48 flight vs. a 12 hour bus trip and extremely happy with our decision to fly. Once you?re in Cusco, I?d try just giving the LanPeru a call just to see how much it would cost. I think it might be a 7 hour bus trip to Cusco ? don?t hold me to that though.

Yeah we waited until we got to Puno to arrange the trip out to the islands ? we booked it the day before. Mainly because we weren?t sure who would provide the best service, etc. They pretty much all return and leave at the same time and after checking out a couple places there in town we settled on Edgar Adventures (recommended in our guide book) whom had a nice shop, very helpful employees, let you store your larger bags with them?and our guide ended up being great.

The other poster mentioned about booking the hike in advance and that is important as well. We booked ours three weeks in advance, but if you have your dates sorted out already I would book that now. Again we were thrilled with our choice of outfits to go with and have nothing but extremely great things to say about our guide. Careful on going cheap on who you go with on the trail ours was middle of the road ? and perfect. Some are much cheaper which means ? lesser quality guides, food, and equipment.

Keep the questions coming ? it?ll be a wonderful trip!

Happy Travels,
Paul
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Old Aug 24th, 2004, 01:24 PM
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Hi Angelah,

My wife and I did the hike last September (see the detailed post above). There are people from every age on the hike from 15 ? 70, I?d say. We are both 26 and are not marathon runners to say least, but in relatively good shape. The hiking times each day roughly are about the following:

Day 1 ? 6 miles
Day 2 ? 7 miles
Day 3 ? 9 miles
Day 4 ? 4 miles

Again that is a guesstimate from memory. However, our guides (we had two) told our group before we left and continued to mention it along the hike that the hike was not a race. That everyone was on vacation and to take the time to appreciate your surroundings. My wife and I were usually in the middle or towards the end of our group soaking in everything around us. There was always a guide at the back of group only going as fast as the slowest in the group. They are in no hurry to rush you along.

Day two has a grueling uphill section (takes 3 or so hours to work your way up it), but for the most part (except for one guy in the group) we all took it extremely slow stopping and taking a breather when needed.

Long story short, I?m pretty confident that just about anyone (within reason) could do the hike. There was always enough time to get to camp each day ? started early so there was plenty of light left in camp (at least a couple hours). So even if you went really really slow you wouldn?t be hiking in the dark.

If you don?t do any exercise whatsoever, it would probably be a good idea to start doing some walking/hiking. Also would be helpful to wear in your hiking boots.

But hiking to Machu Pichu really is the way to do it ? really makes you appreciate the grandeur once you arrive.

Please let me know if you have other questions.

-Paul
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