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The Majestic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu – Machu picchu tours

17 Mar
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Created by an Amazing Alpaca Trekkers. Check out there blog at PennyCaravan.Com

By Lisa McClendon Sims

The Salkantay Trek is the #1 Alternative Trek to the Inca Trail for several very good reasons.  The lanDSC_0354.JPGdscapes are absolutely magnificent and nature abounds, encompassing five different ecosystems which you will pass through during this trek. You will start with snow-capped glacial mountains dominated by Apu Salkantay at nearly 21,000 feet above sea level (6,271 meters) eventually descending into the lush tropical cloud forest. There are also many fewer trekkers along the way than you will find on the Inca Trail.

As you may have heard, the Classic 4-Day Inca Trail is sold out now through August and most of September. Unfortunately, the Peruvian government does not allow for refunds or replacements due to cancellation for any reason whatsoever. Unless you have an advance booking, it is now impossible to hike the Classic 4-day Inca Trail through any agency. This is not due to any individual agency not having space – it is that the Peruvian government has reached its limit of 500 people per day to enter the Inca Trail through most of September of this year. Many people are turning up in Cusco without reservations and are disappointed to find that after coming all this way, they cannot get entry into the Inca Trail.

However, what people don’t realize is that the Inca Trail is not just the 45 kilometer stretch that many people think it is. The Inca Trail, or Qhapaq Ñan as the Inca called it, is a 24,800-mile vast system of trails throughout the Andes Mountains

mp1Our Salkantay Trek is very special indeed, and a part of it does go along the Qhapaq Ñan.  Alpaca Expeditions has created our own private campsites for the first 2 nights of camping (with our own private toilet tents as well!) Our campsite on Dalunch-spoty 3 directly overlooks Machu Picchu, right below the ruins of Llactapata which we will also visit. On Day 4 we make our way to Aguas Calientes partly along the same path that Hiram Bingham took en route to his rediscovery of Machu Picchi in 1911.  This night you will spend in the comfort of a hotel bed in the town of Aguas Calientes, rising early on Day 5 to witness the sunrise over one of the New Seven Wonders of the World – Machu Picchu!

image2The Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek is considered a fairly challenging trek – many feel it to be slightly more challenging than the Inca Trail, so be sure to take a couple of days in Cusco to acclimatize to the altitude and do your best to get in shape before your arrival in Peru. We do offer 4 and 5 day treks, with the 5-day trek being a bit more leisurely than the 4-day trek.

When you are checking out the various tour companies, one caveat we offer is to be sure you know exactly what you are getting. When you are perusing the internet you will find reviews from people who thought they were getting a really good deal, only to find a number of the expenses were not included – things like transportation, water, food, English-speaking guides and the like.

P1090419Alpaca Expeditions takes great pride in the fact that we are Peruvian-owned and we hire locals whenever possible to help support the community. We outfit our support staff and porters with excellent equipment and offer a variety of social projects to support their villages (see our Social Projects page). Our trekking chefs continue to amaze our clients with sumptuous meals – the only complaint we’ve received is that there was too much food! Check out our reviews on Trip Advisor and you will see that over 1200 reviewers have rated Alpaca Expeditions #1!

View from Salkantay Campsite

Taken in March by Alpaca Trekker from our 3rd Camping site at Llacatapata

https://www.alpacaexpeditions.com

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Trekking to Machu Picchu, 2016 – Machu picchu tours

1 Mar

KM 82

By Lisa McClendon Sims

The Inca Trail’s new season starts TODAY, March 1st, 2016. Ever since Machu Picchu earned the distinction of being one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007, its popularity has been increasing steadily and we are seeing people from every possible corner of the world now in Peru sporting trekking poles and camelbacks!

Journey is the DestinationDid you know that the Inca Trail Trek is sold out through most of August already? Many people don’t realize that there is a limit of 500 trekkers per day to start the Inca Trail, and that number includes all of the support staff – guides, cooks, and porters. In order to preserve the integrity of this famous part of what the Inca called the Qhapaq Ñan – the 24,800 mile system of paths that run through the Andes and the ancient Inca Empire and is now recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – no hooved pack animals are allowed along the majority of what is now known as the Inca Trail. We therefore have to rely on people to help us carry camping gear, food, sleeping and cooking supplies. In ancient times these people were called “chaskis” that ran like lightning along these paths tag-team style, and were famed for the speed in which they could get messages across the vast expanse of the Inca Empire.

Today, for each group of 6 trekkers, Alpaca Expeditions will have 11 porters, 1 chef and 1 guide. So you can see that we need triple the number of permits to enter the Inca Trail as we have trekkers. Thus the high demand for the 500-per-day permits.

Obviously, if you are wanting to hike the Inca Trail Trek in 2016, you need to make plans now! We still have all of September, October and half of November this year before our rainy season begins again in mid-November and the weather becomes a bit less predictable. We can make bookings through January of 2017 now. February 1st 2017 the Inca Trail will close for a month – February is our wettest month – during which time maintenance of the Trail is also carried out.

AlpacaExpeditions_Fotos_SantiagoPascual_037.jpgWere you wanting to hike in Peru before August of 2016? Not to worry!! Alpaca Expeditions specializes in Alternative Treks as well! Our two most popular alternative treks are the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and the Lares Trek. These less well known but fascinating treks and each have their own distinct flavor and style and fewer other hikers along the way. No permits from the Peruvian government are required for many of our alternative treks, and we are able to use pack animals, so they tend to be a bit less expensive than the Inca Trail Treks. The Salkantay to Machu Picchu trek scenery is perhaps even more stunning, and many of our trekkers feel that it is more challenging than the Inca Trail Trek.

The Lares Trek offers a few more cultural opportunities than the others. It starts in the Lares Valley and offers the opportunity to experience one of the few the thermal baths or “hot springs” in the Sacred Valley area. We trek through 3 highland villages and have the opportunity to meet with some of the colorful locals whose lifestyles have been frozen in time for the past several centuries, seeing how they live and bringing a little bit of prosperity to their villages along the way. This trek also passes through the Sacred Valley and ends with a tour of Machu Picchu.

There are many other alternative hikes that we offer.  Some of them end in Machu Picchu but do not require permits – like the Huchuy Qosqo Trek, our Cachicata Quarry Trek and also the Vilcabamba Trek. We have a couple of other fascinating treks which do not go to Machu Picchu, for those of you who have perhaps already been and so fallen in love with the Andes you want to see more. Choquekiraw is an amazing site that many say that more resembles Machu Picchu in the years before it became so popular and touristed (we do offer one tour that does take you to Machu Picchu after your Choquekiraw trek). Ausangate mountain towers over the Sacred Valley at nearly 21,000 feet above sea level (6,400 meters) and we offer 5 and 7 day Ausangate Treks. All of these treks are detailed on our website under Alternative Treks.

And maybe you don’t want to trek at all! We also offer train tours, Sacred Valley Tours, and individualized itineraries all over Peru! Regular entrance tickets into Machu Picchu don’t have such strict limitations, so we can book a train tour for you into Machu Picchu with much less notice.

Now is the time to book your trip to Peru! Let us help you decide which trek or tour is best for you! Check us out on Trip Advisor and you will see that we are #1 with over 1200 reviews! Call us, chat online or send us an email if you have any questions. We promise that you will love Peru!

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa has been falling in love with Peru for 11 years, and lived in Cusco permanently for the past 5 years. She has been working with Alpaca Expeditions for 2 years. She has recently written a book called “Doves Fly in My Heart: My Love Affair with Peru” available on Amazon.com. Pick it up and fall in love!

https://www.alpacaexpeditions.com

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(100% Local Company Focused on Giving back to Our Villages – Dedicated to improving the lives of our porters)

Inca Trail Trek,  Salkantay Trek,  Machu Picchu Tours,  Treks To Machu Picchu, Lares Trek

Prepping for 2016 – Lares trek

26 Feb

The government closes the Inca Trail for all of February. Mostly because this is typically the rainiest month here in Cusco, but also for the government to do some maintenance on the trail and to the campsites. So while New Years is celebrated worldwide on January 1st, we celebrate March 1st.

12675249_10207954826244284_871770348_oWe have spent this month making sure our team is ready and equipped. All our guides spent time with a professor from the local university in Cusco refreshing their history. We spent two evenings at the Planetarium in Cusco reviewing the galaxy so we can help those on our alternative treks find the constellations with our new telescopes. We had a medical doctor retrain our first aid skills and park rangers review trail rules and maintenance.

We even built a new campsite for our 5 Day/4 Night Salkantay Trek. Guides, porters and local villagers all worked together to build beautiful Inca terraces and plant local flowers around. We hope you will all enjoy.

12788503_10208082203428634_2013881786_oBut it wasn’t all work. We had an amazing party celebrating what a wonderful and successful year we had in 2015. We brought more porters and their families to Machu Picchu to introduce them to the place they have worked so hard for others to visit. We visited some of our porters homes with food, boots and supplies for their kids to use in school.

Yesterday we had our final meeting with park rangers and about 70 of our porters (we have close to 300 total now). We reviewed the maintenance of the equipment, how to properly dispose garbage and waste, and how to communicate with our clients without speaking the same language. Then we enjoyed a feast. 12788588_10208082204468660_541316078_o

Our team also spent time resting and enjoying time with their families. They are now rested and ready to make 2016 Alpaca Expeditions best year ever. We know that we could not do an amazing job without our team, and we think we have the best and happiest in Cusco. We are so excited for you to meet them.

 

Alpaca Expeditions offers Peru And Machu Picchu Tours, 4 Day Inca trail to Machu picchu, Hiking Salkantay, Sacred Valley and Pisaq Tours. We have 5 star Reviews with a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor and is a fully licensed Inca Trail tour operator. 100% Local Peruvian Tour Operator. Inca Trail Trek, Salkantay Trek, Machu Picchu Tours, Treks To Machu Picchu, Lares Trek

https://www.alpacaexpeditions.com

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Through the Eyes of an Alpaca Trekker

3 Jul

We don’t normally publish reviews written about us on TripAdvisor on this blog, but I thought our recent trekker’s review included so many good details that could help with anyone planning a trek through the Andes and also give you an idea of the type of service Alpaca provides to our customers.  When I contacted our client to make sure it was ok to list her review here, she mentioned two more things that would be helpful to everyone – wet wipes and facial wipes.  After a few days of not showering and hiking, you will be thankful to have something that smells so good.

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“Look no further – Salkantay trek with Alpaca Expeditions”
Reviewed July 1, 2013 NEW

The number of trekking and tour companies in the Cusco region is mind boggling and the process of booking a trek is stressful. Here’s our argument for Alpaca Expeditions and the Salkantay trek!

First and foremost, Alpaca is owned and operated by Raul and Bonnie, two people who’ve worked on and experienced the Inca Trail. As I understand, Raul started as a porter on the trail and worked himself up to guide. While this in itself is a nice story and will likely appeal to people who want to support locally owned business on their travels, what’s more important is that Alpaca’s local ownership and experience results in a superior experience for trekkers.

Before you even book your trek, Bonnie patiently answers all your e-mails. After booking, I probably sent her another 20 e-mails, each of which she answered with patience and cheer! Some of the e-mails weren’t even relevant to the trek, but were just questions about planning our trip — so helpful! Also let me credit Bonnie for helping to coordinate our whole experience so seamlessly. We were so impressed that Alpaca picked us up from one hotel in Cusco, kept our bags in their office, and seamlessly got us and our bags settled in (5 days later) to another hotel in the Sacred Valley – all without complaint or extra charges!

My hypothesis is that Raul’s own experience leads him to hire great people. It is SO IMPORTANT to have a good guide, cook, and porter for an experience like this because you will be spending lots of time with them. We are independent travelers and normally hate booking any kind of guided tour. Our guide, Erlin, was one of the best guides we ever had. He was the perfect coach, friend, guide, etc. for our experience. Always a smile, always enthusiastic about Andean culture, nature, etc.; always willing to help; always looking out for us —I could go on and on but simply put Erlin was our trip and he made it WONDERFUL.

Of course, the trek is more than a guide. Cooks Fernando and Lorenzo always had a smile and were equally hard working and enthusiastic. We especially loved the delicious soups they prepared.

Alpaca also seems to have a distinct advantage in terms of local knowledge and the best ways to organize a trek. Our guide explained that most groups structure their tours differently and miss what we thought was the best campsite of the trip, a beautiful hilltop that looks across to the snowcapped peaks & Machu Picchu. The night we were there, we were the only ones. Also, we noticed that our guide, Erlin, seemed to know everyone on the trail – therefore he was great at modifying our trip as needed, whether it was eliminating part of our walk on Day 2 (and helping us hitch a ride on a truck); helping us buy coffee from a local grower, etc.

Alpaca is really so passionate about offering the best to the customer. Sadly we did have some stomach issues a couple of times during the trek. Erlin, Fernando, and Lorenzo made sure that we got easier food to eat and prepared us herbal teas so we could heal and keep going. Bonnie reached out to us the day we ended our trek and even called our hotel to make sure we were okay! Before we had even finished the last day, she had even responded to our feedback survey (which was 80% positive but did share the hiccups regarding our stomach issues & an issue with our tent). I can’t think of another experience where a company has been so keen to improve.

Assuming you’ve read this far, hopefully you’re clicking on the Alpaca Expeditions link and making your booking. One more note, if you have a question about treks to book; we suggest the Salkantay, especially for busy season. We were so happy that we did the Salkantay trek rather than the Inca Trail. We saw maybe 20 other people in 4 days; I understand that things are quite different on the Inca Trail in a busy season like June when we went. Having the beautiful views to ourselves, the personal attention of a guide (thanks to Alpaca we had our own private tour at a great price), and being able to use mostly horses rather than porters to help carry our items were all reasons we loved the trek we picked. Also, we had the distinct advantage of reaching Machu Picchu early in the morning before many people who were on the Inca Trail, since we just took the bus up from Aguas Calientes rather than hiking in (which depending on your campsite location could take a while).

Visited June 2013

 

Marriott Comes to Cusco

27 Sep

New JW Marriott at Gateway of Machu Picchu is built on grounds of Colonial Monastery and features ancient Inca artefacts

Marriott International continues to grow its world-class luxury JW Marriott hotel brand with the opening of the 153-room JW Marriott Cusco. The much anticipated hotel stands at an altitude of 11,154ft above sea level, the company’s highest-altitude hotel, and is situated at the gateway of the Andes mountain sanctuary Machu Picchu.

Located in the heart of Cusco historical center, the hotel was built around a colonial church and ancient Inca artefacts found on the site and will feature two restaurants – Pirka Restaurant, which will include an original colonial wall from the convent and offer modern Peruvian cuisine; and the Qespi Bar & Ninna Sonnco Lounge. The hotel will also feature 24-hour room service, a foreign currency exchange office and retail stores such as HStern, Ilaria and Kuna. To ensure guest relaxation and well-being, the hotel will boast a state-of-the-art fitness centre and a 3,300 square foot Spa with dry saunas, steaming rooms, and a relaxation pool..

“In the last few years Cusco has become known for its luxurious accommodations and spas, making it a natural decision for Marriott International to introduce the JW Marriott brand as our first property in the destination,” said Rob Steigerwald, Chief Operations Officer for the Southern Americas at Marriott International. “We are thrilled to have Inversiones La Rioja as a partner on this project, and reveal our first world class JW Marriott luxury brand hotel to Cusco.”

“We are confident that this unique and visually stunning hotel will become a historic landmark in Cusco attracting travellers and groups from all over the world,” said Heinz Prelle, General Manager at the JW Marriott Cusco. “The hotel honours the vibrant history, culture of the Incas and the rich heritage of Peru.”

To make a reservation or inquire about the hotel, click on the link below.

http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/cuzmc-jw-marriott-hotel-cusco/

Book your 2013 Trek Now!!!

9 Jul

Alpaca Expeditions is now taking reservations for 2013.

 In fact, if you book your trip before September, we will give you 25% off the price of your trek/tour.

So don’t delay booking your trip visiting one of the 7 Wonders of World.  With Alpaca Expeditions, you will get to enjoy the sites and treasures of the Incas with the most knowledgable and passionate tour guides in Peru.  We promise we will work with you to create the trip of a lifetime.  And now with a little extra incentive – 25% off.  Book now at info@alpacaexpeditions.com.