Deep in the Andes- Sacred Valley to Cusco. Peru

“Inca Trail Trek to Machu Picchu”   May 23-31, 2023      

Small group for our AFS Fitbits led by Carol


Inca TrailJoin us on an unforgettable journey to the center of the ancient Incan Empire. It’s our 11th group into Peru – so near, so exotic, this mysterious country always intoxicates visitors with its enchanting scenery, ancient ruins and cultural wonders. This is our active AFS adventure along the classic Inca Trail, the most famous trek in South America and rated in the Top 5 treks of the world!

Imagine the drama of walking atop the Andes Mountains to arrive at sunrise to the majestic Sun Gate, back entrance to the Lost City of Machu Picchu that few get to see. It’s simply surreal. The 500-year-old trail provides countless photo ops along the way with stunning landscapes and colorful Andean villages. Our expert Peruvian guides will beckon you forward up to peaks 4200 meters high. Unplug from the world to rejuvenate your soul. This trail will call you to be determined and fully present. It’s tough, but the reward is great. The 500-year-old trail provides countless photo ops for stunning landscapes and colorful Andean villages. Our past 7 trekking groups loved this trip. 

rafting We fly into colorful Cusco for a tour of Sacsayhuaman Fortress and the lively Pisac market. Then we ascend into our lovely hotel and spa in the Sacred Valley where pet llamas roam.  Options here for mountain biking, kayaking, and rafting the Ollantaytambo River. Your four-day trek is fully equipped and guided with the best team in the country. We end with time to tour and explore delightful Cusco. (There’s even an adrenaline option for 12 of you to add an extension to the exclusive Sky Lodge Adventure Suites! You’ll zip line in to overnight in a luxury glass capsule that hangs cliffside on a mountain top. It’s like sleeping in a condor’s nest.)

If this is on your dreamy bucket list, we’ve got you covered with such ease.  AFS includes; hacienda stay, tours in Sacred Valley and Cusco, $150 entrance fee for MP,  all balanced meals, Vistadome Train, 24/7 certified guides, over 25 porters, oxygen, great tents and gear.  And our price can’t be beat for all you get. It will fill up fast.  We must get your permits now!  May is the best time to go. Trekkers often book a year ahead, but we secured your space and will book your permits soon. 2023 is the time to go before the Peruvian government drastically cuts visitor permits into Machu Picchu.

If you are fit, book this epic experience for your bragging rights! Each night, after a delicious meal under the stars, you slip into your tent with a smile feeling so blessed for the day’s accomplishment. Our guide Enrico says, “It’s the things we really work for that mean the most to our souls.” Come join us and be awed by dramatic nature at her finest.


Just a couple letters from our past groups.

Hi Suzy! The trip to Peru was wonderful. Our guide team were a true delight with a great sense of humor and lots of patience. What an adventure! We saw all the sites listed on your itinerary and wish we spent more time to explore Peru.- Jill & Julio

Hi Suzy. Just wanted to let you know that this trip was perfect!! I  still can’t believe that I completed it – the hardest thing I’ve ever done but has paid me back 10 fold. Something I’ll never forget. So fantastic, it was sad to say goodbye.  Thank you for all the amazing memories.- Joyce Pierce.

“What an intro to AFS! The trails were exhilarating and then to reach MP was indescribable. ” – John Wagner

(Note: “Sustainable Tourism” –  You may find cheaper treks online, but consider the cost of this once-in-a-lifetime experience. We booked the most passionate and knowledgeable, license, English-speaking guides to lead you and we deeply consider the welfare of all the local porters who carry your bags. Your participation empowers these Indian villagers with a good income. Unlike other companies, this is Responsible Tourism with no footprints left behind. You’ll have excellent equipment for camping for days, endless bottled water and renowned chefs with restaurant backgrounds are preparing delicious, healthy meals for you.)

Our Glorious AFS Itinerary


Click for printable PDF itinerary (Inca)

May 23            Depart USA – via Lima to Cusco.  Details in Trip Tips.  ** Recommended flight that arrives before 11am to Cusco or fly in a day early to relax.

May 24           CUSCO, SACRED VALLEY ARRIVAL                                                                  ** Recommended flight that arrives before 11am to Cusco

Welcome to Cusco!    Upon arrival you will be assisted and transferred to your Sacred Valley hotel, on the way you will visit the Sacsayhuaman Fortress built of enormous stone blocks expertly shaped by the Incas it is strategically located at the  top of a hill overlooking the city of Cuzco. Continue to the town of Pisac to visit its lively market, where local artisans sell their wares, from alpaca clothing and accessories to silver jewelry, pottery pieces, and the like. Finally, you will be transferred to your hotel in Sacred Valley. Overnight at Casa Andina Premium Sacred Valley Hotel, Superior room (2 Nights)

 Overnight at Casa Andina Premium Sacred Valley Hotel, Superior room (2 Nights)

PeruMay 25           SACRED VALLEY                           B

Breakfast at Hotel. Enjoy your day at leisure or opt for mountain bike or kayaking.

OPTIONAL: Full Day River Rafting Ollantaytambo with Lunch  

Level: Class 2-3 rapids, Duration: 1 ½ hours approx. in the river,  Sacred Valley – Cusco  Your guide will pick you up from your hotel and drive you until we reach our private river put-in located in Pachar. Here you will receive your rafting equipment and a safety briefing. (Toilet facilities are available).

After a brief period, practicing on the flat parts of the river, we will start our journey on easy waters, while we admire the spectacular view of the mountains and archaeological remains. We will continue towards Ollantaytambo and its amazing Inca terraces, at time we will experience class 2-3 rapids, to finish with “El Resbaladero” (The Slide), a strong class 3 rapids that includes waves and small whirlpools. We will then have lunch in a traditional restaurant located on the riverside owned by the local community. This is a great chance to enjoy the Andean cuisine while supporting community projects. Finally, you will return to your hotel.  Expensive, but all loved it.

USD $180.00 per person (based on min. 10)  INCLUDES: Private transportation from hotel to the starting point and from the end of the adventure back to hotel, Lunch in a local restaurant, Top of the Line rafting equipment (V river rafting gear) and self-bailing rafts, Safety and professional river procedures, Best class V river guides (international training, swift-water rescue, and wilderness first responder courses), Safety kayak, Professional First Aid Kit, Environmental care


Note: Your luggage will be taken to your hotel in Cusco, please indicate if there is something valuable, fragile, medicines and review that the luggage is in good condition.

Breakfast at the hotel and then this morning group will start their 3 night/ 4 Day Inca Trail Hike

INCA TRAIL – You will be picked up from your hotel in Sacred Valley and transferred to Ollantaytambo, where you will have time to do some last-minute shopping before starting your trek. You will then head to Piscacucho community, at Km. 82, where you will find the starting point of your excursion. You will take the course and walk about 3 hours along the Urubamba River, enjoying unparalleled landscapes and beautiful wildlife along the route. You will arrive to Willca Racay at the archaeological complex of Llaqtapata, where you will have some time to enjoy and appreciate the ruins have lunch and rest before continuing with your walk. You will resume the journey to ascend to the community of Huayllabamba, where the camp will be established.

Hike: 5.5 hours approx.  Walking distance: 12 km,  Min height: 2700 masl / Max height: 3000 masl  Difficulty ranking: 2 of 5.  Full details will be provided in your trip tips coming soon.

Included in the Inca Hike:  Camping gear: Brand The North Face tent Four Season Mountain 25, Inflatable mattress Therm-a-rest, Personal duffle bag 7kls / 15.43 lbs., Dinning, tent, cook tent, bathroom tent, Kitchen dishes

  • Bilingual speaking guide (Spanish – English)
  • Entrance fee to the Inca trail,
  • Private transportation to Piscacucho (where the trek begins)
  • Transportation from Ollantaytambo to Sacred Valley hotel or Cusco hotel. (Fourth day), Bus one way (fourth day), Vistadome train until Ollantaytambo (Fourth day),
  • Full meals during the trek (3 Breakfast, 3 wake up tea, 3 snacks, 3 Lunch, 3 Teatime ,3 Dinners)
  • Filtered and boiled water
  • Chef and supporting staff
  • Porters for passenger’s luggage and camping equipment
  • First aid kit, walkie-talkies, oxygen and sleeping bags

May 27          INCA TRAIL HIKE – HUAYLLABAMBA – PACAYMAYO                                       B, L, D

After a healthy breakfast, you will begin to ascend towards the first and highest pass of the Warmiwañusca route (4215 m.a.s.l.), from where you will have a spectacular view of the Vilcabamba and Vilcanota Mountain ranges. This ascent will take you almost all morning, arriving at Lllulluchapata at lunchtime. After having time to rest and eat, you will continue your walk to Pacaymayo, where the camp will be set up at 3600 masl, basically the most challenging day of the walk.

Hike: 8 hours approx.  Total walking distance: 11 km  Min height: 3000 masl / Max height: 4215 masl  Difficulty ranking: 4 of 5.

AFS Inca HikeMay 28          INCA TRAIL – PACAYMAYO – WIÑAYWAYNA                                                      B, L, D

Your third day of trekking will begin with an ascent to the second step, Runcuracay, which is a little lower afs ince hikethan the first one (4000 m.a.s.l.). Then, you will descend for a couple of hours to Phuyupatamarca, where you can rest and have lunch surrounded by the beauty of the place. At the end of your lunch, you will continue your journey to Wiñaywayna, enjoying the view of the snowy mountains and the valley as you go. Finally, you will arrive at the area where you will camp, This day is the longest of the entire walk, passing through cloud forests and visiting few archeological sites built by The Incas.

Hike: 9 hours approx.  Total walking distance: 16 km  Min height: 2650 masl / Max height: 4000 masl  Difficulty ranking: 3 of 5.

May 29          INCA TRAIL – WIÑAYWAYNA – MACHU PICCHU – CUSCO                                B, L

Your last day will also start very early and with an energetic breakfast. The journey will start towards Inti Punku, or Sun Gate, from where you will have an impressive view of Machu Picchu. You will walk a little more and you will find yourself inside Machu Picchu, where after a short break your guide will explain the history, organization, and mysteries of the place. At the end of the almost 2-hour tour, you will board the bus that will take you to the town of Aguas Calientes, where you will have lunch and some free time. Then, you will board the Vistadome train that will take you back to Ollantaytambo station, from where you will be taken to your hotel in Cusco to check-in.

Hike: 3 hours approx.  Total walking distance: 6 km  Min height: 2400 masl / Max height: 2700 masl  Difficulty ranking: 2 of 5 Distance.

Overnight at Novotel Cusco, Standard room (3 Nights)

May 30       CUSCO – HALF DAY WALKING TOUR                                                                   B, D

Everyone always loves Cusco.  Breakfast at hotel and today enjoy a half-day private walking tour through the streets of Cusco.

Take a tour of Cusco, the imposing Imperial City, an example of the harmonious coexistence between the Andean and Spanish cultures. You will start with a visit to the Main Plaza, where you will visit the Cathedral, the most important temple in the city. Then, you will continue by foot until you reach the Koricancha Temple, an ancient Inca palace and cult center of the Sun God, on which the order of the Dominicans built a church, which remains standing to this day. Your tour will finish with a visit to the bohemian neighborhood of San Blas, also known as “the artists’ district”, the cradle of well-known folk artisans, with its narrow and winding streets and its popular art and knick-knacks shops.  Incredible retail therapy here.

Later at night, you will be transferred to Tunupa Restaurant to enjoy a farewell dinner.  Tunupa is in the heart of the majestic Inca city of Cusco, offers you an impressive view of the main square and its surroundings.  We toast each other goodbye with a journey well done until next year.

Overnight at Novotel Cusco

May 31-  Depart for home.  Transfer to airport for flights home.  

Land Price:  $1875 pp twin share based 0n a min of 20 participants or  $2075 based on 15.  (10 min needed to go)  plus $120 added for pre-paid gratuities for guides, drivers, 30+ porters, hotel staff.

  • 4 Night hotel accommodation as per itinerary based on twin share
  • 3 Night camp on Inca Trail during hike
  • All transfers and transportation is by private, air-conditioned coach (Any individuals traveling outside the group arrangement must organize own transportation)
  • Arrival Meet & Greet guide assistance, Departure guide assistance
  • Sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • Local English-speaking guides and AFS GTL
  • Local taxes on accommodation and sightseeing tours, based on current rates
  • Meals as indicated on itinerary (B-full breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner)
  • Tips & Gratuities  $120 added to base price
  • Exclusions in above prices:
    • Air, rafting, Skylodge, travel insurance

Deposit $600  to get your $400 non-refundable permit now in your name! – Details later in Tips.

Group Air: It is too early to price out-group air. This may be offered as we get closer.  We will present a group air option 9 months prior.


May 31 – June 1 SkyLodge Option limited to just 12 people – on a  first-come basis. Special AFS price  $650  (gratuities not included.)  You’ll find this as an option to choose upon booking provided space is available.  Listed as an option at booking.  You must be fit for the tough challenge to get in.

Skylodge has three totally transparent capsules suites and a dining room/kitchen 400 m above the valley floor. Getting to your bed has never been such a fun adventure. Our past groups loved it. After a 2-hour climb up the mountain, you’ll enjoy gourmet meals in a circular, glass dining room pod and then enjoy a good night’s sleep under the stars in your sleeping capsule (complete with its own private bathroom.)

 INCLUDES: Private transportation from / to hotel in Cusco or Sacred Valley, Guides, Team Via Ferrata (harness, helmet, set via ferrata and gloves), Zip-line equipment (harness, helmet, zip-line set and gloves), Dinner and a bottle of wine, Breakfast

(Video is from our last group and has no sound to avoid copyright issues.)

MAY 31  You will leave your hotel in Cusco to head to Pachar, the starting point of your activity. There, you will receive a brief safety talk, as well as the designated equipment for the day’s activities. You will ascend by zip-line or Via Ferrata 2-hours as you choose- until you reach the Skylodge Adventure Suites. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed with a cup of coffee or tea. You will learn a little more about the lodge’s operation before heading to dinner.

JUNE 01  You will wake up early to enjoy a replenishing breakfast, which you can enjoy in your suite if you wish. Then, you will descend by zip-line or Via Ferrata to Pachar, from where you will go to Cusco.

Important:  People book these a year ahead.  Maximum capacity: 12 people.  Departure time from Cusco 2:00 pm. The pick-up time may vary according to the passenger’s itinerary.

      • Land prices per person twin share. Trip price based on a minimum number of participants.  
      • Should foreign exchange rate change by more than 4%, we reserve the right to change prices accordingly.  
      • Single rooms limited with $ supplement.  Cost varies.  Email us for availability.  AFS will find you a roommate.
      • The earliest we present group air is 10 months prior. We’ll send email to ask who wants it.  A minimum number of 12 is needed.
      • Please review AFS Terms and Conditions, Heading Abroad with AFS, Covid Policy.  Travel insurance is important nowadays.  It’s rare, but we reserve the right to modify schedules, tour and hotels.
      • Read Trip Tips on its own tab next itinerary for latest details. 

AFS Tips for the Trip Peru Inca Trail  2022

Prepare to be amazed by the mysteries and scenic wonders on our 5th AFS trek to Machu Picchu. Our past groups love this as well as the other activities we packed around it! This classic trek following the original footsteps of the Incas draws hikers from around the world. There’s nothing like entering the Sun Gate at dawn to see the majesty of the Lost City of the Incas. At present we have a great group of 21 fit travel lovers. All permits now sold out so you are the lucky ones. Connect on your private Facebook group to get to know each other now. This May adventure will come sooner than you expect.

Trip Tips are designed to answer trip-related questions. It’s your responsibility to read this information.  Updates and addendums will be posted here.  Check back from time to time.  It is your responsibility to read our important emails and updated notes here.  Let us sweat the small stuff as we strive to make your trip worry-free. This may well be the best time to go and fully enjoy your vacation!  Bookmark this page to conveniently find your way back.

  • Cost of return Covid Test?   Antigen Test (110.00 soles (aprox US$ 30.00 per pax) include the test in the hotel in Cusco.  I have sent the supplier all the international flight departure flight time for the passengers and asked them to make appointments and secure the test an accurate time. (waiting on this still)
  • Can clients rent hiking pole and how much?   Yes, the aprox. cost is US$ 10.00 per day, the passenger can request directly in the arrival to Cusco.  (You can buy these on Amazon for $20.)

Covid Rules are ever-changing depending on country and time of year.  Therefore, I created a single Covid rule page so everything can be up-to-date for participants on our trips.   Covid Rules Click Here

Emergency Contact – AFS Phone 770-432-8225, or email us at  and more contacts will be provided with your Final Docs email 2 weeks before departure. Your guide can handle a call home for a true emergency. Do not expect to use your trip leader’s cell phone; you’ll need to use your own cell phone.  3 weeks prior to departure more details on this will be emailed.

Travel Insurance –  While travel insurance is optional, in today’s world we highly encourage you to get standard coverage to cover trip interruption and cancellation.  Call to ask what Covid coverage they have.   Some companies cover Covid related issues. The best source for all is   CFAR or “cancel for any reason may cover Covid but it is expensive.  Always call the company and ask specifically what you are looking to insure.  Note that no company covers for fear.  Preexisting conditions – If you would like the security of travel insurance and have a pre-existing condition (elderly parent, medical, etc.), you must purchase insurance within 15 days from your initial trip deposit in order to assure full coverage.  The trip cost can be amended or adjusted as needed after your initial purchase (eg. like adding an air ticket cost later). You can buy travel insurance at any time, just know that there may be some possible limitations if purchased outside the 15 day period.  We like TravelSafe, World Nomads and Seven Corners.

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Your fearless GTL (Gracious Trip Leader, not a guide but liaison between our guides and group to ensure things run smoothly.)

Joey McGlammory –  My guiding/leading adventures began in 2013 with helping or leading events in which athletes with disabilities were involved. Before that, I had already competed in many endurance events. Since that time I’ve taken part in many more adventures. I am a certified rehabilitation fitness therapist and personal trainer with over thirty years in the health and fitness industry. Below are but a few of over 610 events that I’ve completed.

3-Worlds Toughest Mudder (24 hr nonstop endurance race), 5-Spartan World Championships, 7- Spartan Beast Races up Mt Killington, 6-100 mile trail and road races, 27- Full Marathons, 48- Half Marathons, 18- 10 mile road races, 64- 10k road races, 1-60 hour nonstop endurance event and more.

At this time you’ll need a rapid PCR test 72 hours before arrival to Peru. A month out, I’ll send you all final rules.

  • Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  • Ensure your passport is valid 6 months after return date with two blank pages.  We recommend renewing your passport well ahead of any planned international travel. Take a photo of your passport to store in the cloud or bring a copy. Scan your important documents – Covid tests, trip tips, passport etc. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email folder on your phone to re-issue new one quickly.
  • To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  • Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  • Vaccines – I got mine feeling it will eventually be necessary for travel. Many countries now are eliminating Covid test and quarantine for vaccinated visitors.  Bring your vaccine card.  Don’t laminate vaccine card as some countries won’t accept it.  You can take photo of both sides and store on phone or copy both sides and laminate the copy.  Login to your trip file booking form and answer question about Vaccine Yes (or will) or No.  Suppliers want this info.
  • All airline Covid rules differ.  It is imperative to read your airline rules to ensure a smooth departure!  Click here for the latest info on PCR tests required to travel abroad Latest Covid Testing Info.  Failure to get the correct test may cause the airline to turn you away.   It’s your responsibility to know the airline rules that can change right up to departure. They won’t speak to us with reservations in your name. All websites post their Covid rules at top of landing page. All airlines in the process of making significant routing and scheduling changes now as they scramble ramping up hiring for the travel surge to come. How to reach them?  Call direct or request a callback time. Check to see if your questions can be resolved on the airlines mobile app or via Twitter or turn to their social media for assistance. Travelers get best results via Facebook message to the airline.
  • The local supplier and AFS may require you sign a Travel Pledge before departure.  If so, we’ll email a form to you  prior.
  • At this time Peru does not require CV vax to enter.  This was the latest from our Peruvian supplier… Updated COVID-19 regulations in Peru. All travelers (vaccinated or not vaccinated) over 12 years of age can enter the country presenting: A negative PCR test (max. 72 hours before traveling)

Land starts May 24 in Cusco (CUZ)  at 11AM to depart May 31.  (Skylodge departs June 1).

  1. Arrange an air from USA via Lima to Cusco. Note it’s easy to book round-trip to Lima on many carriers but only a few fly up to CUZ. Airlines include – Delta, American, United, LATAM, Avianca, Viva. No rush, wait until we get group air option. Just note everyone must be in Cusco by 11 AM on May 24 when we transfer you 90 minutes down into the Sacred Valley!
  2. Check Google Flights
  3. If you need help call our friend Raj Singh (281) 912-9173

Note – You may need to arrange overnight in Lima or Miami with other carriers.  You’ll need to Google airport hotels and book on own.  You may want to wait until late Dec. or early Jan to get air to avoid schedule changes, which are common with flights to Latin America.

Latest air update sample…

  • Whitewater Rafting – $160 See Itinerary and email us if you want to go or choose when booking. $160
  • Skylodge Adventure Suites Capsules – One spot open call 770-815-7778.
    • MAY 31  You will leave your hotel at 2PM in Cusco to head to Pachar, the starting point of your activity. There, you will receive a brief safety talk, as well as the designated equipment for the day’s activities. You will ascend by zip-line or Via Ferrata 2-hours as you choose- until you reach the Skylodge Adventure Suites. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed with a cup of coffee or tea. You will learn a little more about the lodge’s operation before heading to dinner.
    • JUNE 01  You will wake up early to enjoy a replenishing breakfast, which you can enjoy in your suite if you wish. Then, you will descend by zip-line or Via Ferrata to Pachar, from where you will go to Cusco.  Important:  People book these a year ahead.  Maximum capacity: 12 people.  Departure time from Cusco 2:00 pm. The pick-up time may vary according to the passenger’s itinerary.  As space is extremely limited, Sky Lodge provides no refunds on bookings.

Fitness – . You must be fit to book this trek. So I’m consider it moderate as others consider difficult. If guides determine you are not fit to complete the trek, you will be escorted back to the hotel at your expense. This is never happened before with our groups. We urge you to start training now and to get travel insurance.

The trail will call you to be strong and determined. There will be some steep rocky inclines but the rewards are countless with the splendor of the Andes mountains.  There is a difference between endurance and athleticism.  They are subjective based on age, weight, genetics, etc.  You should be in good fit shape capable for long hikes over 4 days on this 35 mile trail.  The air is thinner with altitudes between 9000 to 13,600 ft.    May is the perfect month to do this trail.  I pray the Incan sun gods will be with you.  You will have excellent guides and dozens of porters with you throughout.  100% of our four past groups loved this trip.  They said day 5 is most strenuous.

On the Trail –  We purchased your permit so you are all set. We secured the top expert Peruvian guides for you. Trek includes all entrance fees, daily guided tours, Vistadome Train, balanced daily meals including tea times and snacks (great chef!), filtered water throughout, Northface tents (3 man tent for 2), inflatable Thermarest mattress, duffel,  bathroom tent, kitchen tent, oxygen, and communication equipment.

 Staying Healthy –. Some regions high altitude: Cusco 11,000 ft, Urubamba Valley 7800 ft, highest point 13,600 ft. Upon arrival day move slowly, eat light, hydrate and drink coco tea that’s always available.

Baggage:  I always tell people to pack light to ease your burden.  On this trip, it is essential to do so.  You can leave suitcase at first hotel, which will be transferred by bus to last hotel in Cuzco and locked in storage.  On the trail you’ll get a duffle bag for all your items.  Porter can carry your bag.  Weight restriction on trail is 8kg or 18 lbs.

Sleeping bags – you can rent mummy-style bags for $40.   All but 2 ordered these.

 Packing:  This is pure nature, so a totally casual trip.  You are in camps 3 nights.  See list attached.  It is wise to simply carry a daypack for your water, hat, etc and to layer clothes.  Convertable Zip-off pants are great.  Don’t forget sweater/jacket and sweat pants for cool nights.  Also rain poncho, swimsuit, sneakers and trekking shoes (not new.)  Bring mini-flashlight, extra batteries for phone/camera charger, Band-Aids and a small towel.  The best way to pack your clothes for the Inca Trail is in layers.This way you don’t need to pack too many things, but packing smartly and with a little help, you will be definitely prepared for each day on Inca Trail! See below clothing items we suggest you to pack for the trek.  The sun gets very strong during the day, stronger than normal probably from where you are, here you will hike in high altitude and sun can badly burn, so it is very important to save your head from its unwelcome effects. Also, it’s chilly nights require a hat to keep your head warm, if you don’t have one, you can easily get on cheap in Cusco!

More Stuff…

  • Broken in hiking boots, sneakers, sandals
  • Sunscreen, insect repellent, Imodium, moleskin, or blister packs
  • Clothes to layer for warm days (shorts, tee shirts)  and cool nights (windbreaker, fleece or hoodie for chilly nights at the campsite, long pants, hat, gloves, sweats, 3 pairs of warm socks),  long sleeve shirt. Don’t use cotton for trek, this material takes longer to dry, bring Quick dry instead.
  • Wide brim hat, UV Sunglasses, swimsuit
  • Headlamp/ LED flashlight, poles, water bottle.  Toiletries, handi-wipes, small towel

During the Inca Trail you will hike between 6-9 hours per day, very important to be prepared and enjoy the views during the walk but not sore feet.

  • Walking poles – great stuff to add in your Inca Trail packing list, helps with your balance, reduce weight for your legs, great help to keep safe going down steep stairs. We have them for rent at the agency.
  • Hiking boots – don’t try your luck with brand new hiking boots, you will probably will end up with painful blisters after first day. Choose your oldies to secure comfort for your feet.
  • Bottle of water – we would highly recommend use a refillable bottle, you will be provided with water every day, this way you and all trekkers reduce the pollution and plastic rubbish on the Inca Trail.  Consider a water bladder.

Money Matters – You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 in cash should suffice. (Venmo may be convenient at home, but useless overseas, ATM may eat your card.  Always bring some cash!  Wise to have new crisp bills.)   Change currency arrival at airport, bank, or hotels or withdraw local currency from an ATM.  Note -independent ATMs are risky due to skimmer scams. Safest ATMs are at airport and banks. Always shield your pin number when entering. Avoid using unless it’s an emergency.  Master Card and Visa widely accepted.  Amex rarely accepted.  Be sure you bring New Bills (dates after 2016) as countries may not accept older bills when changing money.  Credit cards are far safer than using your debit card. I convert half of it upon entry. I use my credit card for most purchases.  Many cards now offer no foreign transaction fees.

Currency: Nuevo Sol  4 sol=$1.  Everything is included except a few meals and tips.  $300 should suffice, change $100 into sols on arrival at airport, hotel or bank or use ATM.  Currently, there is a small tax on Cusco arrival and departure tax – US Dollars ok.

.Gratuities –  It’s protocol to tip our local guides, assistants, porters, drivers and ground staff. Guidelines have increased globally.  At present, $120 is recommended by outfitters there.  Please understand this is only the suggested minimum.  For ease of distribution, your GTL will tip the different ground services for the entire group each day. We have already invoiced you for $90 for the outfitter which includes the head guide, assistants, porters and cooks.  Please bring an envelope of $30 to hand to your GTL Joey who will use for distribution accordingly throughout our ground services for Cusco and Sacred Valley.

These are minimum suggestions.  I always bring a personal envelope of one-dollar bills to tap as needed.

Cuisine:  Fresh organic veggies, chicken stews, ceviche, grilled guinea pigs (yummo), coca tea, great salads, local beers.  Careful with Pisco Sours (strong drink.)

Shopping:  Exquisite weavings, alpaca sweaters and scarves, colorful paintings, silver, beadwork, leather goods, carved gourds, handicrafts, coffee.

Communication– Internet is available. With smartphones, be sure to check with your provider for rates and coverage for international phone plans before departure. Data Roaming rates can be expensive. To reach home – Texting, iMessage, WhatsApp, and Facebook messaging when using WIFI. Be cautious using public Wi-Fi without using VPN. Without VPN never open attachments or view financial or personal accounts on the Internet while abroad.  Phone calls, text messages, and data usage of all kinds, it is crucial to understand that, unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, every use of your phone incurs a data toll. That means that viewing and downloading email, browsing the web, viewing social media, and mapping all incur data charges, as do applications that we sometimes assume to be “free,” such as Skype and WhatsApp. Unless you are connected to Wi-Fi, however, WhatsApp is using cellular data, so you are getting charged at your provider’s international roaming data rate.  Facebook Messenger Phone is an easy free way to make calls.

Get Smart: Avoiding Hackers on Vacation.  Thieves not only want your money but also your data.    Change passwords often. Check device security settings before you leave for your trip. Back up, update, and encrypt your devices and data using a virtual VPN.

  • In hotel rooms, hide tech to avoid “evil maids” that want to clone your tech.
  • Bottled water is always best abroad, as our gut isn’t accustomed to local tap water. Eat clean food and avoid street vendors.
  • Pickpockets are everywhere now, especially at night.  Never carry your passport outside of the room.
  • It’s wise to grab a business card from the desk before heading out on own.  To get back just show the card to a taxi driver- no memory or English needed.

Photography – Before taking pictures of locals, know it is polite to ask.  Your AFS Private Facebook Group Page is a great way to share your best shots with each other. AFS loves photos with group participants (not typical churches, monuments, or any shot that looks like you pulled it off of the net, etc.) for our website. The best photos are ones that include a group member with a local, children, animals, or at iconic sites in the same frame!

Accommodations –Accommodations – Our itinerary has links to each hotel.  Hotels can change, but it’s rare.

Roomies – Single supplements have significantly increased – if available at all.  Save money and buy yourself an awesome local gift. We all live alone, but save money when traveling by rooming together. Suzy spends a lot of time on roommate matching.  99% of our clients are wonderful and you’re only in your room to sleep at night.   Note, kindness begets kindness.

Leisure Time –  For your free time, it’s best to arrive and ask our local expert guides for suggestions.  We notice many newer clients pre-plan many activities on the AFS trip well before they arrive, often with disappointing results.  Our daily itineraries are pretty full, but there will be some free time. Expert travelers revel in the element of surprise in a new destination and allow the wind to blow them where it will. Use Google Maps on your phone to find everything nearby.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip or arranging private tours during free time.  We often see many AFSers on Facebook urging others to join them to countries before/after our trip. Stopovers are great to add, but understand AFS has nothing to do with this and is not responsible for the quality of these trips.

Private Facebook Group Page  –  The benefit of the Private FB Group Page is that you have an opportunity to introduce yourself to your fellow travelers before departure and share trip photos during and after the tour.  Where can I find the FB link? Ask us for an invite.

(We found that some never read the Trip Tips jumping right to the Private FB Group Page assuming they will get all trip info needed. Often, they only receive rumors and misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted here in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

Machu Picchu, at an elevation of 8,000 ft/2,450 m (much lower than nearby Cusco), has the most spectacular setting of any ruin in the world—even those who aren’t normally excited by archaeology will be impressed. This Lost City of the Incas is a place everyone must see at least once.

Unknown to the outside world until Yale’s Hiram Bingham rediscovered it in 1911, Machu Picchu sits on the spine of a ridge 2,000 ft/610 m above the rushing Urubamba River. Capping the end of the ridge is Huayna Picchu, a soaring peak that offers a challenging climb—and a bird’s-eye view of the complex as a reward. Once atop Huayna Picchu, linger for a view of the surrounding misty green-clad mountains and you’ll understand why the last Incas chose to hide there.

Machu Picchu’s grassy central court is surrounded by almost 200 houses, palaces and temples built from perfectly fitted stone blocks. Especially notable are the Temple of the Sun (the only round building), the Temple of the Three Windows (trapezoidal openings), the Sacristy (full of mysterious niches) and the Intihuatana (Hitching Post of the Sun). Stone and earth terraces (designed for farming and defense) descend the mountain around three sides of the city—the fourth side is a sheer cliff.

Cusco (the Inca word means “navel” or “center”) is the ancient capital of the Incas high in the Andes and about 370 mi/600 km southeast of Lima. Legend says that Manco Capac and his sister-consort, Mama Oclio, were born on the Island of the Sun (Isla de Sol) in sacred Lake Titicaca and founded the Inca empire in Cusco, creating the huancaypata (today’s Plaza de Armas) as the symbolic center of the empire.

As the most-visited city in Peru, Cusco (also sometimes spelled Cuzco or and Q’osqo) serves as the center of the tourist trade, with more than a million visitors annually.

In 1534, Pizarro invaded the city and began pulling down the Inca structures and building a new Cusco on the foundations of the old. The Cathedral (which has a solid silver altar) is built on the base of the Inca Viracocha Palace, and the church of Santo Domingo (one of the largest Roman Catholic churches in the world) is built over the Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha)—excavations on the temple itself continue, despite opposition from the Catholic church. The temple is said to have had 700 gold panels, weighing 5 lb/2 kg each.

Another fine church is La Merced, which has a solid-gold monstrance (case for the Host) covered in jewels. The church is open for services in the morning and again late in the afternoon. The complex of La Merced also contains a monastery (women are not allowed into the monastery).

Some of the most important sights in Cusco include ancient Inca ruins, such as the Tambomachay ritual bath, the Q’enco (amphitheater of sacrifices) and the fortresses of Pucara and Sacsayhuaman (its three ancient central towers—a symbol of the empire—were destroyed by the Spaniards). The sun-worshipping ceremony of Inti Raymi takes place at Sacsayhuaman on 24 June each year.

Also visit the archaeological museum, which has an excellent display of Inca artifacts. But spend some time just walking around town, too: Now and then it feels like it’s still ancient. The mix of old with modern, handwoven with machine-made is fascinating.

When you arrive in Cusco, buy a visitor’s ticket, or Boleto Turistico, at the tourist office: It will let you into more than a dozen ruins and museums.

Cusco is also a popular base for trekking, especially along the famous Inca Trail. This two- to four-day route takes you through dense cloud forest, ancient Inca outposts and the great Urubamba gorge, ending with a dramatic descent into Machu Picchu. The number of hikers on the trail is limited to 500 per day, and everyone must be accompanied by a government-certified guide. (Travelers must arrange Inca Trail hikes several months in advance for the July-August high season. Many outfitters in Cusco can arrange this.) The Inca Trail is closed for maintenance in February.

Outside Cusco, throughout the Urubamba River Valley, there are other places of interest. Half-day rafting trips can be taken down the Urubamba River, passing terrace-lined valleys and Inca ruins. Nights are usually spent in lodges and a growing number of resorts. Pisac, a temple complex high atop a ridge, has a well-preserved sun temple, houses, terraces and baths. It also has a well-known market on Sunday morning.  Chinchero’s central plaza and colonial church are built on huge Inca walls with man-sized niches. Chinchero hosts a lively Sunday market.

Please understand that things differ in foreign countries.  The people are most hospitable here, yet travel abroad always requires an open mind, flexible attitude and adventurous spirit.  We love intrepid tourists who are willing to embrace the unpredictability and exoticism of foreign lands.   The purpose of this journey is to have fun, explore, get great photos, make new friends and return home safely with memories always worthy of recollection.