Tag Archives: trekking

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

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

Inka Trail 2016 Update – Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

8 Dec

By Lisa McClendon Sims

We are happy to report that Alpaca Expeditions has now passed all of the qualifications and documentation required to requalify us as a licensed 2016 Inka Trail Tour Operator!

ARE YOU LOOKING TO TREK THE INKA TRAIL IN 2016?

Trekking the Inka Trail has become enormously popular since it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983 and voted one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. We expect permits for hiking the Inka Trail for this season (which starts March 1st, 2016) to be released around January 10th.

Last year, the entire month of May and quite a bit of April and June were completely sold out on the first day the permits were released. The rest of the year quickly sold out and people who were looking to book the Inka Trail found they needed to book as much as four months in advance to get Inka Trail permits, as only 500 permits are issued per each date.

The people who got the dates that they wanted in May only got them because they pre-booked prior to the permits being released. We were on the doorstep of the Ministry of Culture the moment they opened and we had all our ducks in a row – if one piece of information is missing or incorrect, they turn you away. We are happy to say that 99% of all our pre-booked reservations got the dates they wanted last year, and the other 1% got their second choice date.

We highly recommend that if you want to hike the Inka Trail in the first half of 2016 that you pre-book with us NOW! We will ask you for the date you want to travel, and then we will ask you for 2 alternative dates to insure that you get the dates you want. Many people on tight schedules wait until we have a permit date for them before making their flight arrangements.

We only ask for a deposit of US$200 per person to pre-book – the balance can be paid upon your arrival in Cusco. However – and this is very important – once we have a permit in your name and with your date – it is etched in stone – the Peruvian government does not allow any changes of any kind – no date changes, no name changes, totally non-fundable for any reason. So please be 100% certain of your dates before you book!
Having said that, should you miss the date that you were wanting to hike the Inka Trail, we do offer numerous alternative treks that do not require permits – the most popular being the Salkantay trek and the Lares trek, each of which have their own individual flavors and allure. There are many other alternative treks, all of which are described in great detail on our website or feel free to call our toll free number if you want some guidance in choosing which trek is best for you!

So if you are thinking Inka Trail 2016 – to avoid disappointment, pre-book now!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

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.

7 Day Salkantay and Inca Trail Trek

27 Aug

We have been so lucky to have so many of our clients post amazing reviews about their experiences with us on sites like TripAdvisor, Lonely Planet and other travel forums out there.  But some of these sites do not publish reviews of “multi-day” day tours – trying to avoid large travel companies from using the site.  But it also prevents some of your reviews from being published.  We recently had a trekker who really wanted to share her experience with everyone, but was not able to get TripAdvisor to publish, so I am publishing for her here.  Hope you enjoy!

Thank you Lillian.

 

BEST VACATION EVER!!!!

I have done my fair share of traveling, of all types. Without a doubt this was THE BEST TRIP OF MY LIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We did a private week-long trek to Salkantay and the Inca Trail. What a bargain for $1200 USD per person. I read over and over from satisfied clients that the food was better than restaurants and that they came back gaining weight. My first interpretation was that of course food was going to taste good after being starving from hiking all day. No, the food really is terrific and MUCH MUCH better than what we ate at restaurants in Peru. We were thoroughly pampered by our wonderful crew, Cesar (guide), Julian (head chef), Francisco (aka Pancho, sous chef), the chaskas – Cipriani, Beltran, Ephrahim, and Benefio, and our horseman.

Cesar, our guide, is truly passionate about the history and archeology of Peru. Nothing made him happier than having us ask him questions about the various archeological remains. He did everything to make our trip memorable. When I accidentally broke my camera on the first day, he gave me his camera to use. He was able to balance time in such a way that we had plenty of time with him and his guidance, but wasn’t always around so that we felt that we had a babysitter. It was the perfect amount of time with a guide and having privacy. Because of our great experience with Cesar, we know consider him a good friend.

Every morning we were woken up with a cup of hot coca tea. Then we were delighted with a hot breakfast (various different kinds of porridge, pancakes, fruit, eggs, etc). Before we left, we got a snack (fruit and some kind of cookie or cracker) and we went on our hike. The chaskis (porters) packed everything up and beat us to our lunch time location. Then they set up the dining/cooking tent and prepare a wonderful multi-course hot lunch – appetizer, several courses (meat and vegetables) and dessert. After stuffing ourselves, we took a quick nap. Then we went on our afternoon hike. Again, the chaskis packed everything up and beat us to our evening camping spot. When we arrive, it was happy hour time with tea, hot chocolate, cookies, and freshly popped popcorn. Next was dinner, another multi-course meal. They fed us so well that we usually couldn’t eat our snack

 

When to book your 2015 Inca Trail

8 Jul
KM 82

KM 82

Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu has become one of the most popular vacation adventures.  But do to this popularity, and some heavy regulations by the Peruvian government, getting your permit is not so easy.  In order to hike the Inca Trail you must have a permit to do so.  Only licensed tour operators, like Alpaca Expeditions, can obtain these permits on your behalf.  You can NOT enter the Inca Trail without a permit and you will enter through a checkpoint where the permit will be matched to your passport – must match perfectly.

The government limits the amount of permits for each day to 500.  Everyone needs a permit to enter the trail – even the crew that is hiking with you – so this limits the amount for travelers to about 200.  While this seems like a very small number, you will actually be thankful for this as you hike because it does limit the crowds along the way.  You only need a permit for your start day.

The government has a website, http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/, that shows how many permits are available for each day.  As I type this, they are all sold out until November 1st – today is July 8th, so you can see how quickly they sell out.  You can currently book a permit through the end of January and then the trail is closed for all of February for maintenance.

Inca Trail Map - Rusty

Map of the Trail

But what happens if you are looking to trek in March 2015 or sometime after?  These permits are not for sale from the government until January.  Around New Years, the Park office will tell us the exact date the permits are released, but for now we guess some time in the middle of January.  But this does not mean you should wait to book your 2015 Inca Trail trek until January.  Most companies like Alpaca are already taking reservations.  The day the permits are released is a bit hectic in Cusco and usually ends with a few days completely sold out of permits.  Last year several days in May sold out within just a few hours of the permits being released.  So its good to have your reservations secured early and have a company like Alpaca fight on your behalf for your perfect start date.

So start thinking of when you would like to visit us.  We ask for three possible start dates, in order of preference, and we will do everything we can to get your number 1 choice.  By getting all your information into us early you will be added to our list, helping us to keep organized and giving us a better chance to get that top choice of yours.

There is actually no risk to you to book early and lots of advantages.  While we do require a $200US deposit per person which is normally non-refundable, we will refund these deposits for 2015 until January.  If we were not able to get any of your 3 chosen start dates, we would refund your deposit 100% as well – but this will not happen.  And by securing your trek for 2015 this year, you are also locking in our current rate for the Inca Trail, which will be a savings.

So when should you book your Inca Trail trek for 2015 – why not now.  We would love to show you the Andes and be your guide and we promise, if you choose Alpaca, you will have the most amazing vacation adventure of your life.

Trek with Alpaca – you will remember this trip for a lifetime.

File0562

http://www.alpacaexpeditions.com

 

Huaynapicchu

29 Jan

First of all, Happy New Year to everyone.  Sorry we have been neglectful of our blog, but we were busy securing all our permits for 2014 and doing a little travelling ourselves.  As man you are booking your treks and visits to Machu Picchu now, many people wonder about hiking Huaynapicchu and why there are two prices for this trek.

Huaynapicchu
I will begin with, can you hike Huaynpicchu…OF COURSE YES!!!  While Huaynapicchu is limited to 400 hikers a day, if you plan early and book this extra hike at least 2 months in advance, we will definitely purchase your permit for the hike.

The permits are given for a window of time, either from 7-8AM or 10-11AM.  This is when you need to start the hike.  It takes approximately 45 minutes to the top, snap some photos, and then another 45 minutes down.

We purchase the second time slot for all our travelers, the 10-11AM time slot, so that you can enjoy your tour of Machu Picchu with your guide first.  Once your tour of the ruins are over, your guide will show you where you begin this hike.  This is usually done on your own, but if you need your guide to join you, please let the office know and we will arrange beforehand.

just let us know if you want the permit for Huaynapicchu.  The permit is $25 per person to hike UNLESS you are doing one of our Inca Trail treks.  Unfortunately if you are trekking the Inca Trail, no matter how long of a trek you chose, it will be $65 per person to climb Huaynapicchu.  Why so much more for Inca Trail trekkers?

So when we purchase your permit for the Inca Trail, the permit includes entry to Machu Picchu.  You don’t need a physical ticket into the Lost City of the Incas.  But when you climb Huaynapicchu you need a permit for the hike, plus a physical entrance ticket to Machu Picchu.  This is something required by the Park office and not something done by Alpaca.

When choosing to purchase this extra hike please remember that it is challenging, quite steep.  While the views are extraordinary, they are similar to the Sun Gate which is free to access and it does get crowded.  But if you choose to do this hike, you will have your facebook profile photo for life – the views are incredible.

Please let us know if you have any further questions about Huaynapicchu, Machu Picchu mountain or the Sun Gate.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Great Books About Machu Picchu

19 Sep
Amazing Alpaca guide Efrain receiving a copy of Turn Right at Machu Picchu as a gift from a happy client.

Amazing Alpaca guide Efrain receiving a copy of Turn Right at Machu Picchu as a gift from a happy client.

National Georgraphic came out with another great list of suggested books to read before visiting or while visiting Machu Picchu.  Of course Turn Right at Machu Picchu has been on best sellers list and is really popular with many travelling.  Some have even thanked their Alpaca guide with a copy of the book (Thank you Kathy).

National Geographic created the below list of books, separated into categories for easy reference.  If you have any books you see missing, please let us know.  We are beginning our own list.

By Jason Golomb

Discovery

Lost City of the Incas by Hiram Bingham

Phoenix Press (2003)

Bingham wrote his classic synthesis of adventure, discovery, and history in 1948, 37 years after his discovery of Machu Picchu and just a few years before his death. Bingham reconfirmed what he thought he’d found at Machu Picchu—the fabled last stronghold of the Inca. With Machu Picchu, he’d absolutely found a lost city, just not the lost city. Another of his discoveries at Espiritu Pampa was confirmed as the lost city in the 1970s. Though his conclusions about what he’d found are inaccurate, one can’t help but be drawn into his very real-life jungle adventure.

History

Last Days of the Incas by Kim MacQuarrie

Simon and Schuster (2008)

MacQuarrie writes a detailed and narrative history of the Spanish conquest of the Inca. Dramatic and historic, this reads more like fiction than the modern standard-bearer of the epic tale of exploration and invasion, John Hemmings’s Conquest of the Incas. It’s interesting to compare MacQuarrie’s more serious history with Bingham’s Lost City to see where Bingham made his leaps of faith, as well as understand how well researched his expeditions were. MacQuarrie also spends a few chapters on the history of Inca research and discovery since the conquest, including Bingham’s adventures as well as explorer Gene Savoy’s work at Espiritu Pampa.

Guidebooks

Machu Picchu Guidebook: A Self-Guided Tour by Ruth M. Wright and Alfredo Valencia Zegarra

3D Press (2004)

The Inca Trail, Cusco & Machu Picchu by Richard Danbury and Alexander Stewart

Trailblazer Publications (2005)

Both of these guidebooks are the most detailed and accurate offerings in this category. Machu Picchu Guidebook is a rich guide written by two Machu Picchu experts. It features photos or drawings for each building and object at the site. The guide comes with a full-color architectural rendering of the site as well as a poster that once accompanied an issue of National Geographic magazine.

There are many miles of Inca trails across the former empire, and The Inca Trail focuses on those in and around Cusco and Vilcabamba, including the famous Inca Trail that leads to Machu Picchu. The book is filled with detailed trail maps, as well as archaeological site maps of the ruins strewn throughout the region. An updated fourth edition is in development. A strong companion piece to these two guides is Johan Reinhard’s Machu Picchu: Exploring an Ancient Sacred Center, which helps synthesize what Machu Picchu and the surrounding sites may mean.

Adventure/Travel

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time by Mark Adams

Dutton Adult (2011)

Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham, a Real-Life Indiana Jones, and the Search for Machu Picchu by Christopher Heaney

Palgrave Macmillan (2010)

While a little hard to classify, Adams’s Turn Right at Machu Picchu is a serious (and seriously funny) travelogue, a smart and tightly written history, and an investigative report into perhaps the greatest archaeological discovery in the last century. Adams sets off on a rediscovery of Machu Picchu, the way Bingham did 100 years ago this July, by hiking, climbing, slogging, tenting, and exploring his way through the jungles of Peru. His adventure culminates with a visit to the site that was recently named one of the world’s new seven wonders.

Cradle of Gold recounts the discovery of Machu Picchu, but also dives deeply into the expeditions leading up to this seminal archaeological discovery, as well as later expeditions and the political intrigues that still exist today. Heaney provides a thrilling account of Bingham’s journeys, through the multifaceted lenses of reports related to his Peruvian expeditions, as well as his own well-known accounts.

For Children

Lost City: Discovery of Machu Picchu by Ted Lewin

Philomel Books (2003)

This picture book traces Hiram Bingham’s trek from Cusco to his discovery of Machu Picchu. A few of the key characters involved in this portion of Bingham’s 1911 trip are interspersed into the short book, but the boy who ultimately led Bingham to the ruins adds a dreamlike quality to the tale. Lewin’s watercolors fill entire pages and explode with color. This book makes the adventure into the Inca heartland accessible and exciting for a would-be traveler and his family.

 

For the original article posted by National Geographic, click here.

Camping at Winawayna

11 Feb

winawaynaAs many of you are now realizing, as you are booking your 4D/3N Classic Inca Trail treks, getting a permit is now very difficult for the next few months.  All of the May permits are completely sold out for the Inca Trail and March, April and June are getting close to it.  When you search the government’s site for permit availability, which can also be search on the alpaca website at Inca Trail Availability, and you see that a few permits still exist, you need to know these few facts about how your trek changes when there is less than 150 spots left.

First of all, remember that your guide and porters need permits too.  If you are booking a trek for 2 people, 8 permits are actually needed to accommodate our staff.  If you are booking for 4, you will need 12 permits and so on.  Also, if you are booking a trek when there is less than 150 permits, and we don’t already have a trek arranged, your itinerary will actually change.

That is what this post is really addressing.  The Inca Trail limits the permits to 500 to make sure the trail is never overwhelming with trekkers and remains to be safe.  You can’t trek without a licensed guide through a licensed company, and all of us companies also try to make sure we use different campsites to spread out over the mountain and not be on top of one another.  But for the third night, we all use the campsite at Winawayna, the most beautiful of the inca ruins on the trail before Machu Picchu.  This campsite is next to the final checkpoint that you will have to go through to reach your final destination.  From this checkpoint it is one hour to the SunGate, but its the most narrow portion of the trek and the most dangerous.  The government has decided, wisely we believe, that this portion of the trek should only be done during the daylight so they stop all of us from going past in the late afternoon.  So this last campsite is the ideal place to stay that last night – closest to Machu Picchu making your last day all about getting to your final destination.

But since every agency tries to book this last campsite on the third night, it does sell out, once you see less than 150 permits left for your start date, it does mean that the camping site by Winawayna, by the last checkpoint is sold out, which will change your itinerary.  If we already have a group arranged for your trip, its no problem – but ask the company you book with to make sure they are not changing your itinerary without your knowledge.  Some of us can change your last camping site to something that will be equally rewarding, but some companies may change you to a spot that is further from that last checkpoint and you will be hiking much longer on day 4, will have less time in Machu Picchu, and you will probably skip Winawayna.

So always ask your trekking company, will I be camping at Winawayna?