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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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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. 

Beers in the Valley

Apus Peru have a sister NGO called Threads of Peru www.threadsofperu.com with whom we work directly in support of their work; “..connect(ing) the world to handmade textiles of Peru helping to preserve ancient craft techniques and empower indigenous artisans.”

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Threads of Peru work with great commitment and dedication in their continued efforts to create a sustainable international market for the amazing textile products created by weaving communities in rural Cusco.

It seems we are not the only ones that consider Threads of Peru (ToP) a worthy organisation and positive contributing force in Cusco. The folk down at The Sacred Valley Brewing company (Cerveceria del Valle Sagrado) also think so too! http://www.sacredvalleybrewingcompany.com/about-us.html Their team consists of: Alex Ball (New Jersey, U.S.), Juan Mayorga (Peru), and Joseph Giammatteo, the Brew-Master (Maryland, U.S.).

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On the last Saturday of every month the brewery holds a party to celebrate their wonderful beer and 20 percent of beer sales go to a non-profit of the brewery’s choice. ToP was chosen for March, so naturally we headed out to the Valley in support of our friends and partners at ToP and to enjoy a couple of pints in the process!

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It was a really great turn out, the weather was perfect and the beer flowed freely all in support of a good cause! In addition to the monthly party, the tasting room (or tap room) is open to the public from Friday to Sunday in the afternoons or by special arrangement.

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Interested in making a visit as part of your Sacred Valley tour?? Please contact us at reservas@apus-peru.com

Six things that may surprise you on a trek in the Andes!

Even for experienced campers and trekkers, a trip in the Andes is often a unique experience with new challenges.  Here are a few ideas and suggestions to take into consideration as you prepare for your trek!

Trekking in the Andes is challenging – but easier if properly acclimatised. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

  • Altitude can greatly influence how you feel and what you are capable of. Depending on how long you are in Cusco or other high-altitude areas before you depart, the altitude of most Apus Peru treks can be very physically challenging!  For this reason we recommend at least 2, ideally 3 days at altitude pre trek, in order for your body to acclimatize and to recover from any symptoms of altitude sickness. During this time, it is a good idea to drink plenty of water, try the coca tea (it works 🙂 ) eat lightly and get plenty of rest the first day. After that, mild to moderate physical exercise can help you prepare for your trek.
  • You will get very dirty! Depending on the length of your trek, quite a long time can pass without an opportunity to shower or bathe.  While most people expect plenty of sweat during a long day of trekking, there is also dust and mud to deal with depending on the season. Wet wipes, plenty of clean socks and liquid hand sanitizer go a long way toward making you feel comfortable at the end of the day.

Trekkers on the hike to Huchuy Qosqo, a little known ruin in the Sacred Valley. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

  • Reading up on the region and route before departure will enhance your experience. The Andes and Cusco area have rich cultural histories and natural diversity, which you will be experiencing first hand! Our guides are well prepared to teach you about all of this, but arriving in Cusco with background knowledge in areas you are interested in will provide context and allow for deeper understanding.
  • The sun is extremely strong! Sunshine and UV rays are much stronger close to the equator and at high altitudes. You will be very happy to have your wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunblock once your trek is underway! If you have lighter skin or are especially sensitive to the sun, lightweight clothing to cover your arms and legs is useful for sunny days.

Guide Herbert provides an overview of the ruins at Huchuy Qosqo. Photo by Isaiah Brookshire.

  • Communicating with your guide before and during your trek is important. Our guides are professionally trained and experienced in what they do. That said, every client is different! Letting your guide know about any new medical issues or dietary requests before departure helps them prepare. Updates regarding how you are feeling, walking pace, if you need more drinking water, or any other question or concern will help your guide ensure that you have a rewarding and enjoyable experience during your trek.
  • Be prepared for surprises. Many times, the most memorable events on a trek are the ones you don’t anticipate! Because Apus Peru tries to give our clients unique, “off the beaten path” experiences, treks and tours often include unplanned sights and opportunities. Keeping an open mind can help you make the most of your trip!
Nosey llama, early morning misty clouds and Machu Picchu!!

Nosey llama, early morning misty clouds and Machu Picchu!!

Many thanks to Amanda Zenick for this article, updated for 2015

For more information please visit our pre trip planning page on our website:

http://www.apus-peru.com/trip-planning/

Why change a trekking route?

Hot off the press: Choquequirao to Machu Picchu hikes to follow new itineraries!

Everyone agrees – the Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek is a wonderful hike through the high, isolated Andes visiting amazing Incan ruins along the way.

First glimpse Choquequirao

First glimpse Choquequirao

“I clearly remember talking to an old campesino as he pointed over the mountains and said – well of course you can hike to Choquequirao from here, and Machu Picchu too. It seemed so obvious to him, that all sites were linked by Trails, as they were in Incan times,” says Ariana Svenson, Co Founder of Apus Peru. “Six months later, in 2003, we armed ourselves with topographic maps, and old trekking guide books and set out to hike those Trails. But the key was that we hired local muleteers and they guided us from place to place. To them it was just following a trail, from A to B, that they had known their whole lives. To us, it was a great adventure.”

simply natural beauty

simply natural beauty

Several years later, Apus Peru was established as a travel agency and given the incredible nature of the route, the Founders felt that it was a “must see” trekking route for visitors to the region.  Memorable ruins, stunning mountain scenery and plunging river canyons – the glorious isolation of the Andes, Choquequirao and beyond became accessible. Two great ruins in one great trek!

Now, many years later, we have had many trekkers pass through our doors and enjoy this wonderful route with us, whether it was our 7, 8 or 9 day trek. However, Apus Perú strive to offer great experiences, and are constantly listening and responding to our clients’ needs, suggestions and feedback. This brings me nicely on to the reason for this blog.

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We have taken the plunge and recently made some necessary changes to these classic routes. Here we would like to take the opportunity to explain why – and how excited we are to be offering new itineraries!

As mentioned, back in the day of ‘trail blazing’, the tiny village of Yanama, situated about half way between Choquequirao and Lucmabamba and home to some of our arrieros, was exceptionally isolated and only reached on foot.

By 2012, with the onward march of progress, a road had been bulldozed in allowing vehicle access.  It has to be acknowledged that this is great for locals, easing the task of transporting goods and general all round connectedness. For more perspectives on roads and what they mean for small Andean villages, please read Co-Founder Ariana Svenson’s thoughts on roads accessing other remote villages: http://threadsofperu.com/road-to-chaullacocha/

So while we celebrate better services for the locals, we recognize it is not so great for the purist trekker looking for solitude and a taste of Andean wilderness!

Walking the last day of any trek along a road is not ideal, in addition to meeting a section of the now very popular and busy Salkantay trek, we felt that our guests were looking for remote hiking experiences – and it was time for change.

Now, our new, revised 9 day  Choquequirao to Machu Picchu trek route as goes via Vilcabamba!! Three great ruins in one great trek!

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Our 8 day trek option has been created with the purist in mind and is a real adventurer’s option. We get off the beaten path, literally, at Yanama and take our new alternative route to the Qhiswa Pass and on to Totora. Difficult? Most definitely. Worth it? Ultimately. However, this is not a trek to consider unless on day 6 of an already tough trek you will have the physical capacity for a long and demanding 22km one day loop!

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Our 7 day itinerary, removed the Yanama – Totora hike section and created an extra day to play with. The 7 day Choquequequirao to Machu Picchu now includes a very special introduction to Machu Picchu – the hike of Lucmabamba to Llactapata ruins. A wonderful way to end a memorable trek – by hiking back into civilisation with your first glimpse of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu from the East.

We look forward to exploring with you! For more information please contact: reservas@apus-peru.com

How to choose your tour operator.

With this week being the annual registration period for licenced Inca Trail operators, we thought we could offer a little advice when choosing who to trek with.

Thanks to Megan Gaston for this tantalising foto - 'Inca Trail - the start!'

Thanks to Megan Gaston for this tantalising foto – ‘Inca Trail – the start!’

1. Not all agencies are licensed tour operators:
There are two types of companies that will sell you an Inca trail package: registered tour operators and middle men also known as ‘endosars’. The registered tour operators are a handful of companies that run, sell, and operate their own trail packages. Companies like Apus Peru, Llama Path, Peru Treks, Quechuas Expeditions and G Adventures are all licensed operators who will personally take you on the trail. The representatives that you speak with are the ones who you will be working with directly, so if you have an issue, you can go straight to the source.

Middle men on the other hand, are companies that sell the trail package for each day, and then pool all these people together. So for example, if you buy a package through company X, they may send you along to tour operator Y or Z, where you will be joined by others who might have booked with Company A or B. So if you are having an issue on your trail, or would like to register a complaint, it’s much more challenging to report. Do you contact the original company you booked through, or go through the channels to find the office of the tour operator you were eventually placed with?

This also means that during the high tourist seasons you can be thrown together with much larger groups than are ideal. Registered tour operators will typically run tours every day, no matter how many people they have registered. If you are looking to join a smaller or larger group, you can always contact them to see what they have scheduled for your available dates, while with middle men operators you never know what you will end up with.

2. You get what you pay for:
One perk of booking with these middle men, is that they tend to offer much cheaper rates than the licensed operators. This can be great for the budget traveller, as well as the experienced trekker, who does not need much hand holding along the way. However, consider what things you may be giving up in exchange for a cheaper deal.
Registered companies offer superficial perks like group t-shirts, and uniformed porters for a more polished feel. They also tend to serve higher quality food, arrange personalized transportation from Machu Picchu and will accommodate most dietary and religious requests.

dessert Apus Peru

dessert Apus Peru

With middle men, you usually don’t know which company you are being placed with until the start of the trail. So it’s much more challenging to make special requests. The overall experience is decidedly less glamorous and less reliable.

If you are looking for a truly budget Inca Trail experience, and have relatively few demands, you may be fine using a middle man touring company. Just make sure you are completely informed on what you will be experiencing, prior to booking your tour. However, make sure you consider the things you may be giving up for a better price. At the end of the day, it all comes down to you, your priorities and expectations for this trip.

The Inca Trail is all about YOU. Why not have the best possible experience?

Many thanks to Leora Novick for this great information!

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/inca_trail.html

Why trek to Choquequirao now?

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Choquequirao is a must see site in the Andes – currently only reached on foot on a stunning 4 day trek.

Why trek to Choquequirao in 2015?

 

If you enjoy solititude, amazing views and the satisfaction of a trek we recommend that you start planning your trek right now!   If you visit these breathtaking ruins before November 2015 you will be able visit without the impact of the cable car construction. The project is approved and going ahead with an estimated start date of November next year.

Having recently returned from a short 4 day hike to the ruins of Choquequirao, it is obvious to see why this is a trek that few people are currently taking on. There are some tough ascents and descents and it also happened to be extremely hot!

IMG_1052The path itself is solid and sturdy with just a few technically trickier sections such as the switch backs, built into some of the steeper parts, taking you down to and then up from the Apurimac river. This is quite a test for the legs, but for most it is a test of will power and perseverance with the seemingly endless zig-zags and exposure to the sun.

choq 1Choquequirao (which means ‘Cradle of Gold’) is also known as the ‘sister city’ to Machu Picchu but is more than double it’s size. Restoration work is still very much taking place here and discoveries are regularly being made by archeologists. Once at the ruins you are rewarded with incredible 360° views of surrounding mountains and very few people… for now!

llama wallA unique feature of Choquequirao is the Llama terraces with impossibly steep steps, not for the faint hearted! These are situated outside the main complex, to get here it is best to consider our in depth 5 day Choquequirao hike which gives you more time around the Choquequirao ruins themselves.

IMG_1060With Inca Trail permits not meeting public demand and trekkers saturating other nearby trails, the Choquequirao trek is a great alternative – and currently – off the beaten track option.

Our advice, consider trekking within the next 12 months. I trekked the route in August – peak high-season – and only saw 1 other small group. Other than us, there was not a soul at the ruins themselves. I could have a very different report to make in 12 months time!

Matt, October 2014

To take on one of our Choquequirao routes contact us at reservas@apus-peru.com or please see the following links;

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/choquequirao.htm

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/choquequirao_indepth.html

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/choquequirao_machu_picchu.html

For more info about the cable car click here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/08/28/choquequirao-tramway-mach_n_3829270.html