When is the best time to travel to Peru?

I know this is going to sound like a non-answer, but figuring out when is the best time to travel to Peru really depends on what you want to do! Peru is a vastly diverse country, and the climate is basically opposite on the South Coast compared to the Andes. That said, there is truly no bad time to come, and it is possible to combine regions in a single trip, no matter when you travel to Peru.

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Hiking in the Andes in the dry season is a little more pleasant and less treacherous than hiking in the wet season.

Many people will say that the best time to travel to Peru if you want to do a hike through the Andes is the North American summer, approximately from May-September. Technically winter in the Southern hemisphere, in the mountains around Cusco it’s better considered the “dry season”. Rainfall is the lowest in this period, making hiking in the mountains a little more pleasant and also less treacherous.

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One of the best things about travelling to Cusco in the dry season is the abundance of colourful festivals that are celebrated.

The other advantage to visiting Cusco during this period is the abundance of festivals. For some, the cultural high season is what makes this time of year the best time to travel to Peru. From Corpus Christi, to Qoylloriti to the Virgen del Carmen, the party practically never stops! And of course, who could forget Inti Raymi, the centrepiece of Cusqueñan festivals, celebrated in honor of the sun on June 24th. In addition to these big-name events, there are also a number of smaller, lesser-known but equally thrilling festivals, such as Señor de Choquekillca in Ollantaytambo. Even if you can’t stay for the festivals themselves, for weeks on end the main plaza in Cusco is a never-ending parade of traditional dancers from every region, making this definitely one of the best time to travel to Peru.

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One of the best times to travel to Peru is dry season, when the main plaza in Cusco is an unending parade of traditional song and dance.

Does this mean that the rest of the year is definitely NOT the best time to travel to Peru? Not so! There are lots of great reasons to visit the country from October-April, and in fact those two “shoulder months” are still considered great times for trekking. The onset of wet season in the Andes in October-November brings renewed life to the hillsides, as they turn from a dry brown to a lush green. As this is low season for tourism here as well, you will see fewer foreigners and the tourist sites will generally be less crowded.

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Enjoy Machu Picchu in near solitude if you go in February!

February is actually a great time to visit Machu Picchu. With the Inca Trail closed for maintenance, it can feel like you have this awe-inspiring citadel all to yourself! The more consistent rainfall means that it’s also more likely to be shrouded in an enigmatic mist, making it that much more mysterious. And low season also means low season prices! Expect to find some great deals if you venture to travel to Peru now. Read more about trekking in both wet and dry season here.

And don’t forget about visiting the coast! October is also the onset of the Southern summer, bringing clearer skies and warm temperatures to Lima and the rest of the coast. A perfect time to hit the beach, stroll along the malecón, or try your hand at hang-gliding! (you know you want to!) If this sounds like a dream vacation to you, then it’s definitely the best time to travel to Peru.

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Walking down to the malecon in Miraflores, Lima in January. Photo: Sarah Confer

So you see, with such a variety of climates and things to do, anytime is really the best time to travel to Peru!

 

 

 

 

 

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How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru: Part 2

Last week we gave you our top tips on How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru, going over the basics like physical fitness, acclimatization, and the essential packing list to get you fit and ready to hit the trail. In between reps at the gym and checking off the items on your packing list, though, it’s easy to overlook some of the other important stuff as you prepare for a trek in Peru. Here are a few things you don’t want to forget about!

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There’s more to preparing for a trek in Peru than hitting the gym and checking off your packing list. Read on for more top tips! Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

Money

The local currency in Peru is called the sol (plural, soles), and it’s important to have some on hand as you move around the region. While some places accept US dollars, many – especially, small local shops and restaurants – do not. Make sure you have small denominations (bills of 20 soles or less!) and that the bills are in good condition.

Fun fact: The current form of the currency is formally called the “Nuevo Sol” which means “New Sun” in Spanish. It replaced the previous currency, the Inti, in the early 1990s. Inti also means “sun” – in Quechua, the indigenous language of the Andes.

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Peruvian currency is called the “Nuevo Sol”.

There are numerous ATMs in Cusco where you can withdraw cash in soles or US dollars, and currency exchange kiosks line the main street. Most ATMs will only dispense $200-300 at a time, though, so plan your cash needs accordingly!

Insurance

It’s impossible to predict what will happen on any journey, and so taking out comprehensive travel insurance is a smart way to prepare for a trek in Peru. Make sure you look for a policy that will cover health concerns, strikes, natural disasters, and anything else that could impact your ability to complete your trek. Specifically, you will want travel insurance that covers you for medical emergencies outside your home country. Read the fine print!

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Travelling to Peru is an incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experience – make sure you’re prepared for anything that could happen!

Passport

It might seem obvious, but make sure you bring your passport with you when you prepare for a trek in Peru! If you are hiking the Inca Trail, the Peruvian Ministry of Culture may actually ask to see it in order to compare your name to those on the issued permits. AND you will also have the opportunity to get an official stamp at Machu Picchu – but only if you have your passport with you!

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Don’t forget your passport when you prepare for a trek in Peru!

How to prepare for a trek in Peru: The little extras

Most personal items and other supplies are available in Peru, but when you prepare for a trek in Peru, it’s a good idea to stock up before you leave home. Here are a few items that we consider a must:

  • travel-size hand sanitizer or wipes
  • insect repellent
  • sunscreen
  • lip balm
  • travel-size hand cream
  • toilet paper or facial tissue
  • small plastic bags (such as Ziploc bags) – so, so useful
  • band aids, mole skin or “second skin”
  • pain killers
  • altitude pills
  • anti-diarrhea pills
  • a course of antibiotics – just in case
  • feminine hygiene products
  • a headlamp or small flashlight
  • refillable water bottle
  • extra batteries for your camera or other equipment
  • a small daypack for on the trail
  • a swimsuit
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Preparing for a trek in Peru can seem daunting, but the Apus Peru team is here to help, with more packing and preparation tips.

There is so much to consider when you prepare for a trek in Peru, it can seem overwhelming! For more information on what to bring, see our Packing List, or contact our Customer Service team for more tips. And when you arrive to Cusco, remember that the best thing you can do to prepare for a trek in Peru is to spend those first few days taking it easy and drinking lots of coca leaf tea!

How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru: Part 1

You’ve been dreaming about this your whole life. You’ve selected your dates, booked time off work, and now you’re finally going to take that once-in-a-lifetime trip to Peru: mysterious Machu Picchu, majestic Andean peaks, fascinating history, and rich, diverse culture await you. You’re all set! Right? But wait – now you’re wondering, what exactly do I have to do to prepare for a trek in Peru?!

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Read on for our top tips on how to prepare for a trek in Peru!

Peru is an amazing country, and trekking in the Andes a truly unforgettable experience. But you’ve probably never been somewhere quite like this, where life operates at a different pace, and the altitude starts at 3200m. So, preparing for a trek in Peru might seem a bit daunting. But fear not! We’ve got you covered. Here are our top tips for how to prepare for a trek in Peru:

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Peru is an amazing country, full of lively festivals and rich cultural traditions. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

How to prepare for a trek in Peru: Prepare for everything!

Weather in the Andes is notoriously fickle, and it’s entirely possible to experience intense sun, freezing wind, chilling rain, and even snow or hail, all in the same day. Even in dry season (May-September), when rain is scarce, the temperature can range from 25˚C in the daytime to -5˚C, or less, at night. That’s a drastic change! In the mountains, weather can turn on a dime, so when you prepare for a trek in Peru, it’s best to expect the unexpected, and carry gear that will protect you from all the elements.

Don’t leave home without these clothing essentials:

  • a sun hat – believe us, sunscreen is not enough to protect you from the intense rays at high altitude!
  • a warm winter hat, toque or beanie – for those cold nights under the stars;
  • a headband – I swear by this to protect my ears from the biting wind!
  • a long scarf – a versatile piece that you can wrap around you for warmth or to protect you from the wind;
  • gloves and warm socks – to keep your digits toasty!
  • layers, layers, and more layers – so you can go from summer to winter wear in a flash;
  • a rainproof, windproof shell – make it lightweight and foldable for easy storage.
  • sunglasses – rain gear and sunglasses, at the same time? Believe me – it happens.
  • adequate footwear – good-quality, well broken-in trekking boots to protect your feet on the trail, AND flip flops or sandals for walking around the campsite, your hotel room or luxurious hot springs!
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Good quality gear is essential when preparing for a trek in Peru. Make sure you’re ready for rain, sun, and cold – anything is possible in the Andes! Photo by Megan Gaston.

How to prepare for a trek in Peru: Physical Preparation

As we mention in our blog Top 5 Things that Make the Inca Trail Awesome, the Inca Trail – like all hikes in the Andes – is no walk in the park. This is challenging stuff! The best way to prepare for a trek in Peru is to make sure you’re fit and well-acclimatized to the altitude before starting.

Before you leave home, try doing plenty of aerobic exercise like running, spinning or aerobics classes – Zumba is a personal favourite! Get out and do some one day hikes in your area, testing out how you feel walking for 4-6 hours at a time. If you’ve never slept in a tent in the great outdoors – or it’s been a while – now’s the time to roll out your sleeping bag and take a couple of camping trips, too.

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There’s nothing quite like sleeping under the stars, but if it’s been a while – or maybe never! – doing some camping before you leave home is a good way to prepare for a trek in Peru.

And possibly the #1 thing you can do to prepare for a trek in Peru is to make sure you have adequate time built into your itinerary to acclimatize to the altitude. We recommend a minimum of 3 days of acclimatization at high altitude before beginning any trek.

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Hiking at high altitude is never easy – make sure you take the time to acclimatize!

Stay tuned for more of our Top Tips for How to Prepare for a Trek in Peru – coming next week!

Being Handy in the Andes: Why Apus Peru Clean-up Treks are Special

One of the things we strive to do through our alternative treks is to give back to the community that we are trekking through, ensuring that the benefits of tourism actually reach the people who live here. That’s why we innovated our special Apus Peru Clean Up Treks.

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The group gets a rundown of what to expect on this Ausangate Vinicunca Clean Up Trek.         Photo: Two Sundowners

One of the most damaging effects of adventure tourism we have witnessed is the garbage that is left behind by trekkers. Apus Peru aims to minimize this damage in two ways: (1) we carry out all trash generated on our treks; and (2) we organize special Clean Up Treks throughout the year as an extra way of giving back to the community, and doing our part to care for the environment.

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Intrepid and conscientious trekkers give back while on holiday on this Ausangate Vinicunca Clean Up Trek. Photo: Two Sundowners.

Why should you join a Clean Up Trek with Apus Peru? Because they’re a lot of fun! Join a group of up to 12 people on one of our normal trekking routes, enjoy Apus Peru’s superior service and give back to the Andes as much as you receive. We organize 6-8 Clean Up Treks per year along routes such as the Lares & Machu Picchu 4-day trek and the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu 9-day trek .

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William and the Clean Up Trek crew having a blast while doing good on the Salkantay route in 2017. Photo: Two Sundowners.

Not only will you feel great about helping the local environment, you will also receive a 20% discount off the normal trek price AND a fabulous Apus Peru Clean Up Trek t-shirt! Not only that, but we will also throw in a free sleeping bag and walking stick rental to use on the Clean Up Trek.

Garbage disposal in the Andes is a hugely challenging problem – in that it doesn’t exist. There are few roads on the routes we trek through, and no way for the distant municipality to coordinate garbage pick-up.

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Feel great and look great in your Handy in the Andes t-shirt, your reward for doing good on an Apus Peru Clean Up Trek! Photo: Two Sundowners.

The Clean Up Treks are a great way for the adventure traveller to see another side of Peru, and really get immersed in the local environment. The group works in rotating teams so that everyone has a turn being tasked with collecting garbage, but also has an opportunity to enjoy the hike, undistracted. Apus Peru has thought of everything – extra staff and mules accompany the group on Clean Up Treks, ensuring an easeful as well as a useful trip.

So if you’re a traveller interested in volunteering a bit of your time while on holidays, consider booking an Apus Peru Clean Up Trek today!

 

 

Top 5 Things that Make the Inca Trail Awesome!

Looking for an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience? One that is full of adventure, incredible landscapes, rich history, and personal triumph? Then hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Peru may be just what the doctor ordered! Let’s take a quick look at what makes the Inca Trail awesome, and an unforgettable experience!

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Hiking the awesome Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure!

#1. The Awesome Inca Trail by the Numbers

Some quick facts about the awesome Inca Trail: the classic route is 82 km long, and takes 4 days to complete. Trekkers reach the highest point at Dead Woman’s Pass at over 4200m (13,800 ft). By comparison, Whistler’s peak is a mere 2184m and even the majestic El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is just 2307m. That is an impressive height that trekkers can feel proud of reaching!

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The awesome Inca Trail stretches an astounding 82km long and reaches heights over 4200m!

#2. The Awesome Inca Trail is an Unforgettably Unique Experience

The Inca Trail is unique among all the other Andean routes: on the last day of the 4-day trek, your weary body is rewarded with the incredible sight of Machu Picchu as you walk through Inti Punku, the Sun Gate, at sunrise. No other trek does this.

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The spectacular view of Machu Picchu at sunrise

Did you know? Only a special few actually get to hike the awesome Inca Trail every year. Peru’s permit system means that just 500 people are allowed on the trail every day, and that’s including guides and porters! Permits are in high demand and can sell out as much as 6 months in advance! And with the Inca trail closed in February due to rainy season – as well as rumours that it might one day be closed entirely – it remains a true privilege for anyone who gets to hike its awesome length.

#3. Hike the Inca Trail and you will feel AMAZING. Guaranteed.

Let’s be frank: the Inca Trail, awesome as it is, is no walk in the park. It is a strenuous, uphill hike, over difficult terrain. And all that at high altitude. The intrepid folk who venture out onto the trail battle sore muscles, burning lungs, and mosquitoes. During the day, the blazing sun threatens to turn you into a puddle of sweat, while at night, freezing temperatures keep you tightly bundled.

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A well-deserved rest on the trail

But then…walking through the Sun Gate, that first glimpse of the ancient Inca Citadel, Machu Picchu, the sun just beginning to rise over the distant peaks of those glorious, verdant mountains, and you realize: it was all worth it. There’s truly no beating the sense of accomplishment you feel after battling such physical and mental adversity, knowing that you’ve made a historic journey, and being rewarded by some of the most spectacular views in the world.

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A local resident peeks through a doorway in the ancient Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu

#4. Did we mention it’s beautiful?

Simply put, the Inca Trail is stunning. Every day, there is a wonderful array of archaeological sites on which to feast your eyes, not to mention the breathtaking Andean scenery that surrounds you every step of the way. From snow-capped mountains and alpine tundra to lush cloud forest and sub-tropical Andean jungle, the awesome Inca Trail provides an unparalleled journey through a series of micro-climates.

#5. The Awesome Inca Trail is Steeped in History

And, for the history buffs out there, the Inca Trail is more than just thigh burn and gorgeous vistas. The story of the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu begins more than 500 years ago, during the height of the Incan Empire. During that time, the Incas built an enormous network of trails that connected their entire empire, from Ecuador and Colombia through Peru and down into Chile, even crossing parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. We’re talking an incredible feat of engineering: the roads covered an estimated distance of between 23,000 km and 45,000 km!

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Retrace the steps of Hiram Bingham and ancient Incan religious pilgrims as you follow the Royal Road to Machu Picchu

And while many of the roads were used by the Incan Empire to facilitate transport for trade and during wars, the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu was part of the Qhapaq Ñan, or Royal Road, and was used solely for religious pilgrimage.

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Hiking the Inca Trail is like being magically transported through time, full of glimpses of ancient Inca ruins shrouded in mist.

Join today’s Classic 4-day Inca Trail trek and you will retrace the steps of American explorer Hiram Bingham. The journey is said to be modelled on Bingham’s 1911 hike that first led to Machu Picchu’s momentous rediscovery. A hike along the Inca Trail is like a journey through time! How awesome is that?

Apus Peru offers loads of awesome Inca Trail experiences. Permits for 2018 have already gone on sale, so book early and make 2018 the year you join the ranks of the lucky few who get to experience this once-in-a-lifetime journey!

Virgen Del Carmen Festival: A taste of Mardi Gras, Peruvian style!

Want to experience a festival like the locals do here in Peru?

There may not be a finer example than the Virgen Del Carmen, celebrated every year in mid-July. Imagine a festivity that combines, religion, art, dance, drinking and more, all rolled into one!

Apus Peru offers travellers the unique opportunity to be entertained during the main event every 15th and 16th of July, and this year (2017) was no exception! My group and I joined Apus Peru expert guide Arturo for what turned out to be an unforgettable experience.

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The streets of Paucartambo, teeming with dancers and festival-goers

 

Our journey began with a few hours’ drive to Paucartambo, stopping along the way at the Pre-Inka cemetery known as Ninamarka, which in Quechua means the ‘far-away place’.

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Ninamarka, the ‘far away place’

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Pre-incan cemetery ruins

We rolled into town around lunch time, before the crowds started arrive, which was good news for us: we had time to prepare before the streets were filled to overflowing, as people got ready to watch the first performers. In all, we saw 19 different dance performances! Luckily, Arturo knows all the best routes and viewing posts in town, allowing us to catch some glimpses of the dancers away from the main crowds.

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Plotting the perfect spot to view the festivities

Top tip: bring your hard hat! Some of the performers like to throw random items into the crowd: fruit, vegetables, balls and wooden spoons. We decided we best find a better vantage point a little farther afield. Arturo used his local negotiation skills to score us a primo spot on a balcony, right in the main plaza, where the heart of the festivities took place. We also ended up perfectly positioned to take in some amazing firework displays later on!

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Amazing fireworks at the Virgen del Carmen festival in Paucartambo, Peru

The next day was the Main Event, what we were all eagerly awaiting – the time when they parade the Virgen Del Carmen through the town, just as they have done for centuries. The classic place to watch the statue of the Virgin being carried is from the Colonial Bridge, a village icon built by King Carlos III of Spain in the 1760s. Our group managed a pose before it got too busy!

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Our group, posing on the Colonial Bridge!

Naturally, our itinerary included the customary short drive to the Tres Cruces look-out point in the early morning of the 16th. This is the place where the Andes meets the Amazon. This is not the time to sleep in, as early risers are treated to the most spectacular sunrise and, sometimes, a strange phenomenon that gives the illusion of seeing three suns rising! This is due to the special lighting at this time of year and the rare, changing micro-climate. The story goes that there are just two places in the world where this natural miracle can be observed – here, at Tres Cruces, and in China!

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The glorious sunrise at Tres Cruces, just peaking over the cloud forest below.

After two long and eventful days, we were understandably exhausted, but there were no complaints as we had just witnessed something truly unforgettable. As one of the group put it – “it’s like being at Mardi Gras, Easter Sunday mass, and St Patrick’s Day, all at once!” Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

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One of the dancers, in full festival regalia.

Want to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2018?

Yes, we are talking about the “famous trek” – the one that takes 4 days, goes over 3 passes, and on the final day at dawn you see the Sun Gate from Machu Picchu.

If you want to do the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in Summer 2018 you need to get your family, friends or significant other into “planning mode.”  PRONTO.

In the past few months some changes occurred in the conditions regulating the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and one of them is that the booking period has been brought forward.  This means that the most popular months of May and June 2018 will sell out in October.  We expect April, July and August to sell out in November.   These are estimates; but each year places sell out quicker and quicker.

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If you going to make it HAPPEN this year

  1. Check out our Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu page and make sure it’s something you really want to do.
  2. Decide whether you want to pick your own dates, and form your own group (ideal for families or groups of friends) or join another group.
  3. Get in contact NOW via http://www.apus-peru.com/contact-us/

Once you are in contact we can be keeping you updated as to exact dates that permits will be released; or advertise to form a group.

For 2018 bookings before 31st August quote PERU2018Yeah for a 5% discount.

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Photos courtesy Megan Gaston

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