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!

 

 

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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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Changes to Machu Picchu Entry

Changes to the Machu Picchu entry began to be implemented on 1st July 2017.

The most significant change is that each day there will be 2 or 3 entry periods and people’s time on site will be limited.   The second major change is that it is no longer possible to enter Machu Picchu without a registered guide – this will not affect most of Apus Peru clients, but will impact independent travellers.

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First entry period:  6am to 12noon/ Cost 152 Soles/ You are able to get tickets to do Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain for this turn (Cost 200 Soles)  You can get up to an hour extra on site if you do Huayna Picchu.

Second entry period : 12 to 17.30pm / Cost 152 Soles/

Third Entry period:  1pm to 5.30pm/ Cost 100 soles

  • For all trekking groups that arrive from the Inca trail, you will enter on the First turn.
  • We will also be recommending that all Alternative Trek guests will be entering on the 6am to 12noon turn.

For guests that have ALREADY booked an extra day at Machu Picchu, Apus Peru will be including a guide to assist with your entry on this day (as per these new regulations).  This will be for no extra charge.  If you have not already booked an extra day, there will be extra charges for the guide service.

For guests who have booked, or are considering a Machu Picchu by Train tour, we are currently waiting on publication of new train schedules to re-organise the itinerary.  For a 1 day tour, you would enter the 12-5.30pm session and we are currently evaluating the situation for the 2 day tour.

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When is the best time of the day to visit Machu Picchu?

Plenty of glossy brochures talk about ‘being at Machu Picchu at sunrise.’ In our experience it’s over rated as the site seems shrouded in mist in the very early morning and the sunrise comes up over one of the neighbouring mountains.   Not with-standing the point above about Sunrise (change your expectations and you will be fine!), by going early in the past you were be rewarded by less people and some stunning clouds over the site.  The site opens at 6am, and by 9am there are a lot of crowds.  BUT  generally our favourite time for people free photography has been about 4pm when most people have gone home and the site is blessed with a gentle light…  the afternoon has traditionally seen much less visitation (35% vs 65%in the morning) and so if that trend continues some people may opt for this option.

In short, we think that there will be pros/ and cons to the new system as it begins to roll out.  We will keep you informed as more information comes to hand.

And – ultimately – we support these new regulations which will better regulate the flow of people and help contribute to the site’s longevity.

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Recent articles that provide further context

http://theonlyperuguide.com/2017/05/machu-picchu-new-entrance-rules-july-01-2017/

DISCLAIMER:  For 2 months we have been attempting to collate an accurate and helpful memo regarding the changes.  Each day, the governing bodies of Machu Picchu make small adaptations to the information – presumably as more cases and scenarios get asked- and we are left unsure of what the day by day entries will look like. This information may change tomorrow; with that in mind, please understand that we are doing our utmost to get the best experience for you. 

The best way to visit the South Coast

 Welcome to this week’s edition of the Apus Peru FOCUS – The best way to visit the South Coast!

This series is a collection of travel tips and stories shared by other bloggers and traveler’s around the web.

We hope these tips and stories will inform and inspire you to visit the South Coast in Peru! If you have already been, please share a tip on things to see and do in the South Coast

 

 

South Coast Travel Essentials – What you need to know about a visit to the South Coast

A Short Overview – A short, but a very informative overview of the South Coast region of Peru. It discusses climate, history and even lists a few things to do while visiting!

Idea-Packed Travel Guide – A helpful travel guide that provides a more in-depth overview plus more! They even have a section to help you plan your trip ie. different transportation options, medical etc.

 

Things to do in the South Coast

Adventures You Can’t Miss Out On – A short but excitement packed list of activities to do while visiting the South Coast. Riding and sandboarding on the dunes sounds like a ton of fun! Have you ever done either of those?

 

 

Things to do with kids in the South Coast

Family Friendly Activities – If you by chance, need to take your little ones on a vacation with you, don’t fret! In the South Coast of Peru, there are many fun and family-friendly activities that everyone can enjoy!

Where to eat in the South Coast

Food For The Trip – A great list of restaurants located all along the South Coast of Peru. If you click on the name of the restaurant, you will be able to see the location, contact information, and a short description!

 

Where to stay in the South Coast

Finding A Place To Stay – A great list of some beautiful hotels located along the South Coast. As with the link for the restaurants above, once a hotel name is clicked you will be able to view a short description, location, contact details and you can even book a room directly from the page! How convenient is that?!

Children Friendly Accommodations – A short list of four great options for child-friendly accommodations while visiting the South Coast! Don’t worry, you will have the chance to relax! All of these hotels have been kid tested, and approved!

 

The best way to visit Nazca, Peru

 Welcome to this week’s edition of the Apus Peru FOCUS – The best way to visit Nazca, Peru!

This series is a collection of travel tips and stories shared by other bloggers and traveler’s around the web.

We hope these tips and stories will inform and inspire you to visit Nazca, Peru. If you have already been, please share a tip on things to see and do in Nazca, Peru

 

 

Nazca Lines Travel Essentials – What you need to know about a visit to Nazca, Peru

A Mystery of Old – This is a fantastic post from National Geographic that speaks about the history of the Nazca lines – aren’t they incredible? Have you ever heard a theory as to how they got there?

Things You May Not Know – This is a short list of 15 fun facts about the Nazca lines that you may not know as of yet! The lime in the rocks helps keep the designs from eroding! They are a pretty stunning sight if you ask me!

Prepare For The Trip – This post is a very informative, and helpful place to find tips on how to prepare for your flight about the Nazca lines! It’s better to be safe than sorry as they always say!

Things to do in Nazca, Peru

There’s More Than Lines Nearby – Nazca, Peru is home to many exciting activities other than just flying above the lines. This list provides 7 other options that are sure to delight! Have you ever been to Nazca, Peru? What did you do to bide the time?

Keeping Busy in Nazca – While this isn’t a post – it’s a good list of thing you can do while in Nazca, Peru! Among the activities are quite a few interesting museums and some ancient ruins, not to mention much more! You are able to see the ratings, and reviews that each location has acquired.

 

 

 

Where to eat in Nazca, Peru

Food For The Trip – A decent sized list of great restaurants in and around the area of Nazca. If you click on the name of the restaurant you’ll be able to see price range, website, and a short description! Pretty helpful, I’d say!

 

 

Where to stay in Nazca, Peru

Finding A Place To Stay – A great list of some beautiful hotels in and around Nazca, Peru! If you click on the name of the hotel, you can see their website, location, price range and a short description!

An Alternative Option – If you are staying in Nazca, Peru and are looking for an affordable place to stay – consider this highly related hostel! It’s clean, bright and comes with some wonderful amenities!