Deep in the Andes- Sacred Valley to Cusco. Peru

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

Small group for our AFS Fitbits led by Carol. Closing soon as permits are nearly gone for our dates.

Price listed below the daily itinerary

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: 3 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: 4 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.
      • Click here to read the Tips for this Trip

AFS Tips for the Trip Peru Inca Trail  2022

Prepare to be amazed by the mysteries and scenic wonders on our 8th AFS trek to Machu Picchu. Our past groups loved 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.  Please tell your friends as we need a few more to reach the minimum.  At present, we have a wonderful group of 18 travel lovers and your permits are secure. We really need one man and one woman to balance now and two more will protect your price of $1875. Please tell your friends and share the trip link with them now. Permits are nearly sold out for 2023 as well as the Skylodge so we want to act fast.   Connect on your private Facebook group to get to know each other now. This May adventure will come sooner than you expect!

Thank you for your trust in booking this AFS trip. Together we will adapt to any new travel norms for the privilege of travel.  Our vetted local teams in each city are fully trained in the latest health and safety protocols and are happy to assist you.  Things are constantly monitored. 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.


Our new booking platform by WeTravel allows you to pay by check electronically without a fee. Simply follow the instructions. Credit cards will be assessed a processing fee at time of purchase.  As a small business, this helps mitigate costs and allows us to give you the very best price.   If you prefer to use the mail, make your payment to AFS.

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

GTL Carol Carol has been on 50+ AFS trips over the years and has led many of our solo travel tours over the past 15 years. She has been a ray of sunlight to each of those groups. She has a passion for seeing the world and experiencing new cultures. Having traveled to over 120+ countries and all 7 continents, she continues to pursue her dream, while working for a startup company that provides Employee Gift Matching Benefits. Her goal is to build relationships, problem solve, keep clients happy and help make the world a better place. She genuinely cares for people and is cool under pressure. These are great qualities for the business and the travel world.


  1. Read the revised Heading Abroad with AFS, especially if you are new to AFS.
  2. 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. If you lose your passport, US embassies now except a digital copy from your email.  Also good to scan any docs, Covid test, trip tips, etc.
  3. To speed through US Customs download Mobile Passport.  Look in your App Store for details.
  4. Notify bank and cc company of travel dates so they don’t block charges.
  5. Vaccines – 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.
  6. All airline rules differ.  It is imperative to read your airline rules on their website to ensure a smooth departure!  Airlines are in the process of making routing and scheduling changes now. Always check your flight before departure.

AFS Optionals:

  1.  Sky Lodge capsules $650. Once in a lifetime experience.

Air – Air challenges today – Many route changes now on domestic flights to get to your international flights. Consider flying in early to ensure you’ll be there once trip begins.  (Watch for new DOT rules to protect you. Soon airlines will be required to refund or issue a credit good forever if there’s a significant change to your flight).   They are required to notify you of changes.)  Always download and use your airlines app! Use app to track your booking, delays, bags, to show boarding pass and to contact them. If you have a flight problem go to the airline’s website “contact us” page or reach them by text, social media, Skype or call their international number.  Also, premium credit cards often offer many air perks, assistance, insurance, lounge passes, global entry and more. Read more at for best cards.  Travel hack – buy a refundable airline ticket at higher cost but keep an eye out for cost and if the price goes down, cancel it and rebook at a lower price.

Air dates May 23 to 31 round-trip USA to Cusco. (Land starts May 24 in Cusco (CUZ)  at 11AM at airport for dive into Sacred Valley.   If you opt to add Skylodge Adventure Suites your return is June 1.

As a small group and savvy travelers, there is no group air.  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. Just note everyone must be in Cusco by 11 AM on May 24 when we transfer you 90 minutes down into the Sacred Valley!   Note – You may need to arrange overnight in Lima or Miami.  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.

Doing Own Air–   We find few people book group air now and may find better rates on own direct from hometown.  This provides you better flexibility to go early or extend at trip end.   We recommend you now book flexible air tickets that can be refunded or changed.  (For decades, AFS presented group air to make your trip totally hassle-free. Guides greet you on airport arrival and if any flight changes, we had your back.  Sadly now, only around 10% want group air and often meet can’t minimum.)  We like Google Flights, Kayak or Momondo.  3rd-party booking engines like Expedia, make it near impossible to handle air problems.  Buy direct from airline or pay a travel agent to ticket you.  Buy travel insurance and have a flight backup plan.

Airport Transfers-  Carol will be collecting all your arrival dates and times a month out to coordinate airport pick up and drop off.  We will get 1 group pickup and drop off.  With travelers arriving and departing on different days and times, it is insurmountable to manage. Group air airport transfers are based on set time. Without group air, there can no longer be any pick-up or drop-offs without group air.  Unfortunately now like other tour companies, transfers are your responsibility. (We’ve spent weeks each trip making spreadsheets of each persons air to send to the supplier and then flights change. We then hire a guide, driver and pay parking fees. 2022 groups, only half showed up as guides waited hours looking for others. Sometimes no AFSers showed up without informing us.). Transfers are not expensive. First google your arrival airport website to see transfer tab. Suggestions to appear like airport bus, taxi details, Uber and more. Then connect on group Facebook page to set up sharing transfer cost if you like.  We can always book you a private meet and greet transfer, but cheaper just to grab a cab.  If you go early and check-in AFS hotel before group arrives, it’s your responsibility to change rooms with your roommate if necessary day one when trip begins.

Meet Up With Group- All meet at Cuzco airport by 11 AM. You may want to fly in a day early as there’s so much to do here.  Your first hotel is Casa Andina Valle Sagrada, a beautiful property set in Uraamba  sacred valley. Spa with Andean therapies, planetarium for stargazing, free Wi-Fi, gourmet restaurant and bar, bikes, optional horse rides, resident baby alpacas to play with. Hotel in Cusco is Novotel.

ACTIVITY LEVEL   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, with many steps up and down on this 27 mile trail.  The air is thinner with altitudes between 9000 to 13,600 ft.  It is good you have 2 pre-hike days to acclimatize.  Day 5 is the most arduous.  Read itinerary once again.   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 past groups loved this trip.

Click here for More Tips like transfers, packing, money, shopping and more


Baggage– Think light to ease your burden, not like you’re fleeing your homeland.  You change hotel properties several times. 1 carry-on bag& 1 medium suitcase not to exceed 45lb checked bag – weigh on a bathroom scale.  If you overpack by adding pre-or post-trip luggage, make prior plans as to where to stow the excess luggage. You may be responsible for any overage charges. Apple AirTags works great to track checked bags when the airline cannot, also good for carry-on.    The new hard cases are difficult to fit in safari vehicles. Leave space for great souvenirs. Be sure to attach ID to carry-on and bag to assure your bag never gets left behind.

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 lock in storage.  On the trail you’ll get a duffle bag for all your items.  Weight restriction on trail is 24lbs (which includes your sleeping bag).  (You can tip your porter extra to carry stuff.)

Sleeping bags rental – you can rent mummy-style bags for $45.  Most past clients did this.  Will need your order by Feb. 20, as these are limited.

 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, camera, etc and to layer clothes.  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 camera charger, Band-Aids , moleskin for blisters, Imodium, small, inflatable, pillow, wet wipes.

Sun protection – at high altitude, sun gets very strong. Always wear a hat or head cover.  Nights get very cool, so wear hat/cap to keep head warm.

Packing suggestions…

  1. Underwear and base layers. For ladies advisable bring a pair of sport bras
  2. 3 short sleeve shirts
  3. 1 long sleeve shirt. Don’t use cotton for trek, this material takes longer to dry, bring polyester ones instead.
  4. 1-2 hiking or comfortable trousers and shorts. Ideal if you have 2in1 hiking pants with the zippers to make it as shorts!
  5. Warm jacket. Better if it has a hoodie, if not get a hood, you may need it to keep warm your ears during the chilly nights at the campsite.
  6. Rain gear/poncho. On a dry season very little possibility for the rain, but better pack it, as it won´t take much space but in case will save your day!
  7. Sun hat
  8. Hat
  9. Sunglasses
  10. Headlamp/torch- no electricity at the campsite, quite useful tool in need to prepare your bed or find services.

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.

  1. 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. You can rent them, but don’t. By collapsible polls cheap on Amazon.
  2. 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.
  3. Bottle of water – 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.

Electric– Don’t forget a portable backup charger, cords, gadgets, etc. Cell phones and tablets do not need a converter; you only need an adapter plug.  AFSers often leave charger cords in room, so be sure to double-check your room before check out.


Money Matters – Always bring some cash!  You will need some cash for personal tipping, meals, and shopping. $300 to $500 cash should suffice.    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. (Some countries in Africa and Asia require new bills dated after 2016. Older bills not accepted when changing money.)

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 $7 domestic tax on Cusco arrival and $31 international departure tax – US Dollars ok.  Please hold these amounts separately.

Gratuities:  Trail – We have procured the top local land staff and trail outfitter.  They are separate.  It is protocol to tip your divers, guides, airport assistants, porters, cooks, lead trails guide, etc.  To simplify, we have added $120 gratuities to your bill and Carol, your GTL will distribute as necessary, on the hike portion.

Cusco – It’s protocol to tip your drivers, guides, airport assistance.  You will be responsible for tipping drivers from airport, porters at your hotel, for meals and housekeeping, and others that are not included in the hike.  Please bring envelop of $25 for ground services in Cusco.  These are minimum suggestions, feel free to tip more directly if you’d like.  I always bring a personal envelope of one dollar bills to tip as well.

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

Roommates –  Single supplements have significantly increased in price– 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.   (The best option is to invite a friend.  We be able to give you a $100 discount.). Note, kindness begets kindness.  How many of our season travelers bring headsets to drown out any excess noise.  We share rooms only to sleep at night.  If AFS room list ends up with unbalance gender, and forces a single room we will offer it to all in group or share in the added cost. If none want it, if you were the last to book we may have to remove you from the trip.

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.

Amending tour pre-or post-trip. We honor your independent spirit, but encourage you to extend more days at the trip’s end when you’re acclimated well to the destination.   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 no responsibility for the quality of your trip.

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.  The link can be found in your Wetravel welcome letter after your initial deposit.  (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 or misinformation. All important information is ALWAYS emailed to each participant and posted in Trip Tips under UPDATES. Nobody misses a thing.)

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.  Best source for all is   CFAR or cancel for any reason covers Covid but is expensive.  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, Allianz or Seven Corners.

Emergency Contact –  phone / text 770.432.8225

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. 


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.