Tag Archives: Hiking the Andes

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

machu picchu tours

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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