Tag Archives: Alternative Treks

The Majestic Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu – Machu picchu tours

17 Mar
Salkantay_Map.png

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

machu picchu tours

Navigate the skies with us – Inca trail

5 Feb

For those of you booked with us on one of our Alternative Treks, we have now added Telescopes to our campsites (one campsite on each trek). See how the Peruvian skies differ from your sky at home. Learn about our constellations and why the Incas relied on them so much for weather and farming conditions.

For those of you coming from the northern hemisphere, this will be especially interesting. With the South Pole facing the galactic center of the Milky Way, the southern skies provide a much brighter white stripe of the Milky Way – and the majestic Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (our Milky Way’s satellite galaxies).A northern observer will see things topsy-turvy when looking at the southern skies – familiar constellations seem upside down – but getting a glimpse of Crux, the Southern Cross, which is the smallest and the most famous constellation in the southern hemisphere (it is displayed on the New Zealand, Australian, and Brazilian flags) is a thrill that reminds you how dependent we used to be on the stars to navigate our way across the world. Equally impressive is the glowing band of our own galaxy – the Milky Way – with its patches of light and dark stretching across the sky. The non-luminous part of the Milky Way is called the Great Rift (or more poetically “the Dark River”); it is made of overlapping dust clouds containing about 1 million solar masses of plasma and dust situated in the Sagittarius Arm of our galaxy Differences For Northern and at a distance of about 300 light years from Earth.
Image of the Milky Way (source)

The Incas’ Constellations:

For the Incas, “Mayu,” (the Milky Way) was a life-giving river in the heavens with its earthly counterpart – the Urubamba River in the Sacred Valley, high up in the Andes Mountains. The Incas grouped constellations into two different types – luminous and dark. The first was made up of sparkling stars that depicted geometric forms in the sky. These luminous constellations were seen as inanimate. The other kind – the dark cloud constellations – were contained within the dark blotches of the Milky Way, and were considered living forms, representing animals the Incas knew. These dark patches represented the silhouettes of animals that came to drink from the waters of celestial river, obscuring the heavenly glow of Mayu.

One of the most important dark cloud constellations was Yacana –the llama, which rises above Cuzco, the ancient capital city of the Incas, in November. It consists of two llamas – the Mother Llama, seen between the Southern Cross and Scorpio, and the Baby Llama, suckling at her mother’s breast. Although The Llama is a dark cloud constellation, the eyes of the Mother Llama are the two bright stars from the constellation Centaurus. One is Alpha Centauri, which is the third brightest star in the night sky (to the naked eye it appears as one star, but is in fact a binary star system), and the other – Beta Centauri, is a trinary star system.

Another dark constellation is the Serpent – Mach’acuay –a wavy black ribbon between the star Adhara, in Canis Major, and the Southern Cross. It appears above Cuzco in August and sets in February, when its earthly counterparts become visible and more active in the area. Mach’acuay was in charge of all snakes and vipers on Earth, and offerings were made by the Incas to protect themselves from snake bites.

This painting shows some of the animal shapes that the Incas saw in the dark spots of the Milky Way Photo by Koricancha Sun Temple/CuscoThis painting shows some of the animal shapes that the Incas saw in the dark spots of the Milky Way. Two black spots near the Southern Cross are Hanp’atu, the Toad, and Yutu, the Andean ground Partridge. These two keep a safe distance from the Serpent in the east, and from Atoq, the Fox, in the west. The dark constellation of Yutu (the Partridge) occupies the same area as the dark Coalsack Nebula in the constellation Crux, which in Australian Aboriginal astronomy is the head of their dark constellation “Emu in the Sky.”

The reason why the Incas revered the skies and celestial events was two-fold. First, their observations of stars, of constellations (dark and stellar), and of the movements of the sun and moon, provided them with units of time, and a calendar system which helped them plan agricultural and herding activities.

Second, although the Incas worshipped dark constellations, they thought of themselves as descendents of the sun god – Inti. The Festival of the Sun “Inti Raymi “ is still celebrated in indigenous cultures throughout the Andes. “Inti Raymi” was celebrated by the Incas on the shortest day of the year during the winter solstice, and was the most important event in their lives. Little did they know that the object of their worship was a gigantic ball of hot plasma with an internal temperature of 15 million degrees Celsius, and racing inside their celestial river “Mayu” at the speed of 225km per second.

Thank you!

27 Sep

So many of you have taken time out of your day to write amazing reviews about your experience with Alpaca on websites like TripAdvisor and Lonely Planet.  This is something that is so appreciated by us.  It’s an honor to us just to be chosen as your tour operator.  We hope that each and every one of you falls in love with Cusco, Machu Picchu and everything Peru has to offer.  And we hope that your trip is truly enhanced by being part of the Alpaca team for just a little while.  We honestly strive to make amazing memories for everyone and always want to hear your honest feedback after the tour/trek.  Some times reviewers are able to articulate our ideology as a company better than we can, so we are highlighting the review we received today that just seemed to understand the motivation we have for every single trip.  Thank you so much everyone and thank you Sivia for this review…

As seen on TripAdvisor.com…

“Excellence in every extent of the word”
Reviewed September 26, 2013

The cWacawasiompany and tour team- Our close friends and us just completed the Lares Trek with Alpaca Expeditions and I am at a loss of words to describe the breath taking experience this was for us (no pun intended). If you’re planning to visit Machu Pichu, look no more. You have found the best company to guide you. There are many things to be said about them, but after having spent 4 days in their company, one stands out from the rest. They are a socially responsible organization. They CARE. Raul, its owner, has managed to build such ownership in each and everyone of his employees in a way that is quite tangible in the way they perform their jobs. You see passion in their eyes. They will make you fall in love with their country. The Green Machine as they call themselves will go the extra mile to make this a once in a lifetime experience for you. By the way, they truly live up to the green machine standards. Although the Lares Trek may quite possibly be the less traveled road, there are other companies who offer it and we were appalled by the litter they’d leave behind. Our guide carried a plastic bag with him and picked up any trash we’d run into on our trek. Respect and love for the environment is a value we hold dear to us and were glad to have shared it with the team.

The food- our expectations were exceeded! We were beyond spoiled. I’m quite certain I have never eaten so well before in my life! Our Chef Roger is a rockstar! He didn’t just feed us, he nourished us. The menu is well thought of to sustain the physical challenge it requires for this trek. I’m talking varied, fresh, delicious and well ballanced meals. The best food we had while in Perú, was cooked by him. He did so much in such limited space and very little tools. He’s an inspiration indeed. I mean, for our last day, he baked a cake! A freakin’ CAKE! Without an oven. That’s a rockstar if you ever saw one!

Equipment- They’ve invested on a port-a-potty which made it comfortable for us to use the restroom. I’m telling you, they think of everything! Their tents, poles and all around equipment, are state of the art, so worry not. They will see to your comfort 100%. They pay so much attention to detail.

The trek- everytime we thought we had seen the most beautiful landscape yet, another one came right around. This happened throughout the whole trek. We got to interact with local Andean habitants, got up close and personal with alpacas and llamas, got amazed by the beautiful rivers and glaciars. Don’t under estimate the beauty of the treks other then the incan trail. Although dissapointed at first, we are now glad the incan trail was booked and experienced the Lares Trek instead.

Our guide- last but not least, Sabino, our guide was hands down the highlight of our trip. He’s so passionate about his heritage, that you have no choice but to partake of his passion and submerge yourself in the incan history. He’s incredibly knowledgeable on the flora and fauna as well. At one point, I started to feel the symptoms of altitude sickness, and he was quick to let me inhale an herbal oil that quickly made me feel better. He encouraged us every step of the way and I will NEVER forget his words when we reached the highest and toughest part of our trek (Condor Pass) after thinking I wouldn’t make it. Even now, I tear up to think of that very emotional and happiest moment of our trip. Throughout the trip, he took the time to talk to the locals, give out coca leaves and tell us about the people and their culture. He’d say “I was like them. That’s where I come from” making it all the more maningful of an experience for us. We don’t think of him as our guide. He’s a friend now. He’s our Peruvian Compadre 🙂

Once we got to Machu Pichu we felt like it was the icing on the cake, it was beautiful and everything we had hoped for it to be, but nothing could have prepared us for the amazing experience of our trek, thanks to Alpaca Expeditions. The journey truly was our destination. THANK YOU!

Visited September 2013