Tag Archives: travel

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!

Pisac_Peru_13

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

machu picchu tours

(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

Advertisements

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

machu picchu tours

Congratulations Graduating Class of Wakatinku Village

7 Dec

Over a year ago we started working with Wakatinku village and always focused on helping their school and schoolchildren. We have installed computers and internet in the school and sponsored a teacher to make sure their English and math education continued – and it has been such a pleasure to watch these kids grow and learn during this time. We feel honored to have been a small part of it.

When the Director of the school explained to us that this would be the first graduating class ever from the school, we knew we needed to do something a little extra special for them. We invited the 17 graduating students, their families and some teachers – 52 people all together, to enjoy our 2D/1N Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu tour.

It was their first time visiting Machu Picchu and it was so clear that they were in love with the citadel as soon as they entered. We of course all learn about our history growing up in the small villages outside of Cusco, but seeing our history alive is truly special!
This is how we spent the 2 days:

Nov 7th: Pick up was at 6.00 am from their village. We travelled the 4 hours back to Cusco to visit one of the most important ruins, Sacsayhuaman. Amazing Alpaca Tour Guides, Amoroso, Herlin, and Franzs explained everything to them, in their native language Quechua. After spending quite a bit of time there, we continued on to Pisaq Inka site. Everyone enjoyed a lovely picnic lunch in Urubamba and afterward we headed to our final stop, Ollantaytambo. Dinner was after the tour and then the 9PM train to Aguas Calientes for the night.

Throughout the day, many of the students approached Raul Ccolque, owner of Alpaca Expeditions, about how much they appreciated this opportunity. These kids never imagined getting to these places and it is a moment we will never forget.

Nov 8th : Early breakfast at the same restaurant where all our past clients have had lunch and dinner: El Tupana Wasi. At 7 am we boarded 2 buses for the 25 minute ride up to Machu Picchu. Words cannot describe the faces of the 52 villagers seeing Machu Picchu for the first time. What is amazing is that a lot of the families are our porters – and even though they have done the trek 100s of times, they have never had the chance to actually go inside – until now. It reminded us of how important these social projects are and renewed our dedication to keeping them up and expanding them.

We separated into three groups, with our guides continuing their presentation and took countless photos. It made everyone involved so proud to be Cusqueñan and the descendants of the amazing Inka civilization. For three hours we walked around and explained more of our history, exploring The Temple of the Sun, the Quarry, the Intiwatana (Sun Dial).

After the tour they had some time to explore on their own, take their own pictures (perhaps some selfies!) and they promised each other they would come back one day.

Once we were back in Aguas Calientes, lunch was ready for them. Everyone did a little shopping and exploring in Aguas Calientes before their evening train back to Ollantaytambo and 5 hour drive back home.

This story might seem repetitive of the previous trip to Machu Picchu last February when we took our porters and their families to Machu Picchu, but it is amazing (and a bit sad) how hard it is for our own people to visit this amazing Wonder of the World. We will never stop taking these trips. It is a shame how expensive it is for people to get to and get in Machu Picchu. We love sharing our ruins with our friends from other countries, but it is not right for these private companies who own services like the trains to charge so much to Peruvians which make it prohibitive for our people to visit. It is important for all Peruvians to be able to witness first hand our history. We hope to help make that happen.

Are you from the Washington, DC Metro Area

27 Dec

Fly.com is currently running a special for anyone travelling from the Washington, DC area flying to Lima in February, March and April for flights as low as $500 roundtrip. If you are interested in one of these flights, go to the link below.

http://www.fly.com/Deal/?Id=WAS122713&utm_source=tzoo&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=WAS122713&v=1

Come visit us and we will bring you back in history to the Inca times and show you why this civilization is so important to remember.

Machupicchu_hb10

 

Trek With Alpaca!

 

 

10 Foods to Try While in Peru

17 Sep

This is a great article from National Georgraphic.

In recent years, Peru’s eclectic cuisine has earned acknowledgement as one of the world’s finest. But while quinoa and pisco sour cocktails have migrated to become favorites around the world, the best Peruvian specialties are still found in their home country. Here are ten to try en route to Machu Picchu.

IMG_1312Cuy

There’s no way to sugarcoat it. This staple meat raised in many households of the Andes goes by a different name in the United States: guinea pig. (One indication of how important the dish is to the rural Peruvian diet: In a cathedral in Cusco hangs a replica of Da Vinci’s Last Supper, in which Christ and the 12 disciples are seated around a platter of cuy.) The meat, which is quite bony, is usually baked or barbecued on a spit and served whole—often with the head on. It has a pleasant, gamy taste like that of rabbit or wild fowl.

Causa

A visitor to any market in Peru is certain to find two things—hundreds of varieties of potatoes, which may have originated here (Peru’s longtime rival Chile also claims tuber originality), and piles of avocados large enough to toboggan down. A traditional causa layers these two ingredients into a sort of casserole, which is sliced and served cold. Other layers might contain tuna, meat, or hard-boiled egg.

tumblr_loydpwZoKQ1qj1tuao1_500Lomo Saltado

A hundred years before anyone had heard of Asian fusion cuisine, boatloads of Chinese immigrants arrived in Peru looking for work. The ingredients and techniques they added to Peru’s food vocabulary are probably best exemplified by this hearty hybrid stir-fry, in which beef, tomatoes, peppers, and onions are blended in a pan with soy sauce and fried potatoes. Not a dish for the carb-phobic; it’s usually served over white rice.

Aji de Gallina

The yellow aji pepper lends its color—a hue similar to Tweety Bird’s—as well as its mild kick to several Peruvian dishes. Among them is this rich, velvety stew made with chicken and condensed milk and thickened with de-crusted white bread. A vegetarian alternative with a similar flavor is the ubiquitous papa a la huancaina, boiled potato with creamy yellow sauce.

Anticuchos

These skewers of grilled, marinated meat (much like shish kebabs) are served everywhere in Peru. High-end restaurants offer them as entradas, or appetizers. Street-cart vendors sell them slathered in a garlicky sauce. While almost any meat can be prepared this way, the most traditional—and best—anticuchos are made with beef heart, a practice believed to trace back to the days when Peru’s Spanish conquerors would consume a cow’s choicest cuts and leave the organs for their slaves.

Ceviche

The icy Humboldt Current that flows through the Pacific Ocean just off Peru’s coast supports one of the world’suntitled most bountiful sources of seafood. If Peru had an official national dish, it would probably be this preparation of raw fish marinated in citrus juice. The acid in the fruit “cooks” the fish, giving it a delicate flavor and slightly chewy consistency. The dish is usually spiced with red onion and aji pepper, and served (typically at lunch) with sweet potato or choclo, a white Andean corn with dime-size kernels. Bold gastronomes can drink the leftover citrus marinade, which is known as leche de tigre, tiger’s milk.

Rocoto Relleno

This dish is typically associated with Arequipa, Peru’s second largest city, but it is served everywhere. What appears to be a plain-old red bell pepper is actually a fiery Capsicum pubescens (at least ten times as hot as a jalapeño when raw, but boiled to reduce its thermonuclear properties), stuffed with spiced, sautéed ground beef and hard-boiled egg. This is topped with melted white cheese, baked, and served whole.

Alpaca

In the Northern Hemisphere, the name alpaca refers to expensive wool used to make sweaters and socks. In the Andean highlands, this camelid (a smaller cousin of the llama) has also been a source of meat for centuries. The taste is similar to buffalo or other grass-fed meats: somewhat gamier than beef and very lean. Alpaca’s lack of greasiness makes for excellent jerky, which coincidentally is another ancient Peruvian culinary innovation. (The name comes from the Quechua word charqui, meaning “to burn.”)

Lucuma

While Peru’s cuisine is most famous for its spicy and savory dishes, Peruvians adore sweets, too—as evidenced by the popularity of Inca Kola, a teeth-melting bubblegum-flavored soda. Lucuma is a tree fruit that looks like a mango, but it has a custardy taste akin to maple syrup. It’s usually used as a flavoring in desserts, and is justifiably popular as a variety of ice cream.

Pollo a la Brasauntitled

This Peruvian-style roast chicken is so delicious—and popular—that it’s now available in cities around the globe. The secret is marinating the bird in soy sauce flavored with red peppers, garlic, and cumin, which gives the meat and skin a smoky, salty taste. Outside Peru it’s typically paired with French fries, but the more traditional accompaniment is fried yuca, a waxy tuber that has a pleasant chewiness and holds its own against the spicy dipping sauces with which pollo a la brasa is typically served.

To read the article as published by National Geographic, click here.

Commonly Asked Questions before Booking your Inca Trek

1 Jul

Do you need to book ahead ?

          YES! It is imperative to book your trek in advance.  The classic Inca Trail is extremely regulated by the Peruvian government and now only allows 500 permits per day (this includes tourists and hiking staff). The alternative treks are less regulated, by still a lot of preparation goes into the hike and we book up quickly.

Is it possible to do without an agency?

          NO! Since June 2002 trekking independently on the Inca Trail has been prohibited. Regulations state that each trekker must be accompanied by a professionally qualified guide. The UGM (Unidad de Gestion Machu Picchu),is the regulatory body responsible for controlling access to MP and the Inca Trail. Companies must meet certain basic requirements proving that they have professional guides and good camping equipment, radio communications and emergency first aid including oxygen.  Their license is renewed each year in early March.

If the Inca Trail is booked, are their alternative treks to take?

          Yes, the Inca trail is not the only option to hiking to Machu Picchu – in fact, some of the alternative treks are more beautiful, less crowded and less expensive.  Here are a few:

Salkantay 7 day trek – moderate to difficult.

Ausangate 6 to 7 day trek – moderate to difficult

Lares Valley 4 day trek – moderate

Choquequirao 4 to 5 day trek – moderate

Vilcabamba 7 day trek – moderate

Are numbers of day visitors to Machu Picchu also limited, like those doing the Inca Trail hike? Or can I just buy the bus / train and entrance ticket on the day I want to go?

          No limit to Machu Picchu number of visitors, everyone can visit the ruins .You can stay overnight in Aquas Calientes and take the first bus up to the ruins, this way you see Machu Picchu before the 1500 visitors of the train arrive.  The trains are normally full so make your reservations in advance.

How Is the 2 days Inca trail ?

The shorter Inca Trail is for those trekkers with limited time on their hands or who just want to take things a little bit easier. This trail starts at km104 and ascends to the ruins of Wiñay Wayna before continuing on to Machu Picchu. Since you don’t have much time at Machu Picchu on the first day most people spend the night at the town of Aguas Calientes and return to MP again the following day. This trail is subject to the Inca Trail regulations and trek permits must be reserved well in advance

Should I pay for the extra porter?

          All treks include porters to carry all the hiking equipment which includes tents, food, dining equipment, etc. but you will need to pay extra for a porter to carry your belongings.  Each 8kg you want carried costs $65 USD.  Many people prefer to pay this instead of carrying their clothes on their back.  The lighter you pack the less weight/porters you will need to hire.  Remember that less is more.

Do I need to tip the porters/chef/guide?

Generally speaking if all the group have been pleased with the service then it is customary to tip your team.  If you aren’t sure about how much to tip the porters and chef, ask your guide and he will answer honestly. If you ever have equipment that you bought for the trek that you think you will never use again, gift them to our porters.  You will not find harder workers anywhere.

What is the weather on the Trail?

Weather on the Inca Trail

Just how tough is it? How fit do you have to be?

           It is a common misconception that because many people do the Inca Trail that it must be easy … it isn’t. The trail is 45km (26 miles) long and involves great physical exertion to complete. On the second day you climb nearly 1200m (about 4000 ft) in the morning. Combined with high altitude (lack of oxygen) and extreme weather (you can easily burn in the high altitude sun during the day and temperatures can drop to below freezing at night) the trek can be hard work. However all this suffering can make the final arrival at Machu Picchu all the more enjoyable.

What about Altitude sickness?

In general if you take regular exercise and spend a few days in Cusco, or better, in the Sacred Valley, acclimatizing to the altitude you shouldn’t have to suffer too much.  Just remember to walk slowly and let your body adjust.

How many people in the groups?

          The maximum allowed group size is 16 people.

What does the trail look like in the peak season?

          It could get a little bit crowded, but with the regulations in place, you have enough space for everyone.

Are there toilets on the trail ?

          Toilets have improved a lot in the last couple of years and all of the larger campsites have toilet blocks with flush toilets and running water. On the whole they are kept pretty clean.