First Aid Training for Apus Peru Staff

Best Outdoor - Bandage practise 2

Popular guides Arturo and Urbano Enjoy  A Lighter Moment During First Aid Training

Recently, Apus Peru’s guides and a few others from the office who have been long-term employees took the opportunity to refresh our skills in wilderness first aid during a two-day course.

This was our chance to enhance our knowledge of dealing with problem case scenarios in remote areas, as well as to become empowered to administer ‘duty of care’ to our trekkers and clients across the board, if it ever becomes necessary.

Apus Peru continues to enforce our policy of appropriate training for all of the team, especially our guides.

The photos included below are intended to illustrate some important aspects of mountain safety that must be considered when on the trail; as well as depicting the serious fun we at Apus Peru have out in the wilderness.

You are in great hands when you trek with Apus Peru, in large part due to our well-trained staff.  We ensure that our guides and other faculty are well-equipped to handle routine first aid as well as emergencies. Visit our trek page to view our 2016 offerings.

-Matt Waugh April, 2016

Class room studies 3

Guide Mery and Erika from the Apus Peru office learn how to administer an injection.

CPR practise

Learning how to perform CPR

Indoor class work 1 -cpr

The mannequin is used as an aid for teaching CPR

Day time practical

We continued the training outdoors, practicing on a live person who pretended to  faint.

Day time practical 2

Practicing CPR in the field.

 

Everyone passing their examination

Happily, everyone passed the exam and received their diplomas.

 

 

 

A Trip to the Rainbow Mountain of Peru

 

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Communing with the Rainbow Mountain

Introduction

The ‘Rainbow’ mountain, ‘Stripy’ mountain, ‘Colored’ mountain…call it what you will, this natural geologic formation is fast attracting large numbers of visitors and is becoming as popular as more well-known attractions of Peru; and with good reason!

The mountain is known locally as Vinicunca. Cunca in Quechua means ‘neck.’ The meaning of Vini is unknown but could possibly refer to the different colors of mineral layers that comprise the rock formation. Therefore ‘Neck of Colors’ could be one likely interpretation.

The Route:

Ten members of the Apus Team drove the three hours from Cusco to Pitumarka, and then it was another hour on some fabulous winding roads through local farming terraces, rock formations and picturesque canyons to reach the village of ‘Hanchi-Pacha,’ a small farming village located at 4180 meters above sea level. From here we began our hike, which gradually ascended out of the valley to reach K’airahuiri, after another 1.5 hours and 400-meter altitude gain.

PHOTO 1.A

Apus Team at the starting point for the trek to Vinicunca

 

PHOTO 1.B

Getting ready to trek out of the valley 

 

PHOTO 2 - kairahuiri

Matt Waugh, from the office near the tiny hamlets of K’airahuiri

K’airahuiri actually consists of two villages: ‘K’airahuiri Bajo’ or ‘lower’ and ‘K’airahuiri Alto’ or ‘higher.’ After a half-hour hike, we passed through K’airahuiri Alto, where the local community greeted our team. We discussed some options with the villagers for future groups that we plan to bring to the region. We then trekked for another 1.5 hours to the pass. Our climb quickly became steeper and our breathing more labored, as we reached an elevation of 5000 meters in this last section.

PHOTO 3 - locals

Locals from K’airahuiri 

PHOTO 4 - route to top

 Route to the top

All our hard work was rewarded as we crossed over the Vinicunca Pass and attained magnificent views of the mighty glacier, Apu Ausangate!

We had reached our final destination and attained a height of 5000 meters with a total hiking time of 3.5 hours and a distance of 9.5 kms. trekked. However, just a few more meters of climbing up the “neck” gave us a better glimpse of why we had come to this particular spot. At last we could see the amazing view of Vinicunca and its fantastically colorful layers of rock sediment…turquoises, oranges, browns, and reds! We never would have believed this brilliant natural beauty existed had we not seen it with our own eyes!

 

Team_Vinicunca_edit

Team Vinicunca: A Feast for the Eyes

Summary:

I first saw a photo of Vinicunca in a gallery and art shop in Cusco called ‘Tawa Concept’ back in 2015; I honestly thought an artist had drawn a very imaginative painting and I subsequently wondered where he had drawn his inspiration. I was then informed that this was actually a photo of a real place in Peru.

Now I know that the place is indeed ‘real’ and not just a figment of someone’s imagination!

Vinicunca, The Rainbow Mountain of Peru: truly a glorious feast for the eyes!

For further information and bookings, go to;

http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/vinicunca_rainbow_mountain2d.html

By Matt Waugh   April 2016

Complete Travel Insurance is Essential For Your Peru Trip

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Come to Peru to see spectacular Machu Picchu – but remember to first buy travel insurance!

We get it. There is already so much planning involved in your trip of a lifetime to Peru. You have to make sure you have packed everything you need, make sure someone is there to take care of your pets/kids/plants, make sure your job is covered, your car stored, your home protected—everything safe and secure waiting for you to return. You don’t have time to get travel insurance, and besides, what could go wrong? You have medical insurance, is that not enough?**

Turns out….No. Your home medical insurance will provide little to no assistance should you encounter an emergency in a foreign country. Say you are vacationing abroad and you left home without a travel insurance policy. An emergency happens, something beyond your control. Travel insurance was your best bet and now it’s too late- what could have cost you very little in terms of money and time has now cascaded into enormous expenses involving emergency evacuation, medical care in a foreign land, and guess what- you still have to pay for your tour.

WHAT?! WHY?

Weeks before your trip, the hotels, porters and services for your trip have already been commissioned. They cannot be “unhired” without a huge loss to the company and to many folks who were involved in purchasing supplies, preparing services, and blocking out time/ space to accommodate you during your stay. This is why we clearly state multiple times on our website and during the booking process that we very strongly recommend that you protect your trip with complete travel insurance.

Travel Insurance- full coverage, not just the medical portion, can compensate you for the loss of many of the expenses involved should your well-laid plans be interrupted by unforeseeable circumstances.

Your best bet is to do your research among the various websites that sell this important coverage, and then take a few minutes to sign up. If the emergency that you thought unlikely to occur does occur, you will have one less issue knowing that you have managed to take the best precautions possible in an unpredictable world.

As an adventure travel company, Apus has accumulated several of our own tales that illustrate the woes encountered by folks who failed to take the time to get coverage.

In one case, a family consisting of a dad and his grown kids booked a trip with us. Unfortunately, the day before the trip was to begin, he suffered a heart attack in his hotel room. The family had failed to obtain travel insurance and were terribly upset when they realized that the trip expenses were not covered and they would have to pay for the entire trip, including hotels, services, and porters, because of their failure to take a few minutes to obtain travel insurance before leaving home.

This family, whose enormous stress was of course understandable, had to suffer the additional and unnecessary pain of losing most of the cost of the trip simply due to their neglect of this essential item.

In another incident a traveler with full travel insurance left valuable items in a taxi. We helped her to fill out the forms to make a claim on her travel insurance, which she had had the foresight to acquire before leaving home. No worries!

With all the expenses involved in your trip, it seems silly not to pay the small amount necessary to protect it. Full travel insurance costs a tiny fraction of the amount you have laid out for this trip. You won’t even notice this small but essential expenditure next year, but if everything doesn’t go as planned you will certainly notice your failure to have acquired it.

When traveling with Apus, remember, too,  to check the fine details on your policy and make sure it covers the activities you will be participating in, especially high altitude trekking and emergency evacuations. During our treks you will be traveling more than a day’s walk from any road – and should you need to be evacuated, the only way out is by an extremely expensive helicopter evacuation.

Even the most conscientious travel companies, a group we are proud to belong to (see our Trip Advisor reviews here), can’t account for random events that are not under anyone’s control. So please do us all a favor and plan full travel insurance into your trip.You’ll barely remember the expense, but in the rare case that something does occur, you will be very thankful for one less hassle if and when you have to deal with difficult circumstances far from home.

**For more detailed information about the differences between travel and medical insurance see this link: http://www.ustia.org/uploads/2/4/8/8/24887869/health-insurance-vs-travel-insurance.pdf

The US Travel Insurance website, www.ustia.org/ contains comprehensive information about travel insurance options for United States travelers to foreign lands.

 

 

 

 

Apus Peru Giving Back to Communities: Christmas Chocolatada 2015

Christmas Chocolatada 2015 – Apus brings a bit of Christmas spirit to those living in the remote region around Lares, Peru.

Apus Peru’s Lares Valley to Machu Picchu Trek is the signature trek we offer to this gorgeous mountainous region located approximately three hours by car from Cusco. High mountain lakes, thatched roof houses, graceful llama herds, and the sight of authentically dressed villagers going about their daily tasks are a few highlights of this beautiful scenic trek.

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Lares Country- high mountain lakes

Apus Peru loves to give back to the communities around the region by offering the communities a Christmas Chocolatada every year: we bring Christmas treats and gifts and serve them up to the delight of the village children and their parents. This year, although he weather wasn’t perfect, our hot chocolate, festive panetón bread, presents, and clothes were well received by the communities of Chupani and Chaullacocha.

FIRST PHOTO

First cup of chocolate being poured!

The day began at 5am, when we loaded everything we had bought in the previous days into the van, and then travelled 3.5 hours from Cusco to Chaullacocha. Our first job was to unpack all the goodies, including 100 cans of milk, in order to prepare hot chocolate for the entire community.

Mauro Chocolate

One of our cooks Mauro, using the secret chocolate recipe that only he knows!

One of Apus Peru’s main guides, Urbano spoke to everyone in Quechua and coaxed the kids into singing for their presents, which were the traditional Peruvian mini-Christmas fruit-breads, known as Panetones- one was gifted to each child. It was quite a festive sight to see children all ages gathered together wearing the brilliant red-fringed ponchos and fancy top hats that are a mark of this region.

CHILDREN GROUP

Beautiful Sight: Children gathered together in colorful traditional clothing

 Lourdes Hancco  from Threads of Peru played soccer with the women along with our operations assistant, Ruth Gutierrez. Lots of fun was had by all, even though everyone involved got pretty wet and muddy.

Womens Soccer

A soccer game- fun in the mist!

Our guide Urbano Huayna got the kids to sing for their prizes (mini panetones- a traditional Christmas cake in Peru. Some of the kids were a bit shy, but took it all in good humor.

PANETON GIFT

Urbano asks for a song

The community members lined up for their Christmas treats. It was great fun pouring out the chocolate and giving everyone some bread to eat. Since the day was cold and wet, the community was happy to get a steaming cup of hot chocolate and a piece of bread to accompany it.

Bread and chocolate

Bread and Chocolate for all

 Our Threads of Peru team, Arturo  (Guide), Ruth (Ops team) and Adrian (Inventory and stock room caretaker)) gave out donations of warm coats and jackets, so the kids in the community will be able to wrap up extra warm for the cold, wet season ahead.

CLOTHING

Distributing warm clothing to the children

 You can see the recent Chocolatada promotion on Threads Instagram here:

https://www.instagram.com/threadsofperu/

 

 

 

Cleanup Treks 2016 Now Scheduled!

Clean Up trek Departures scheduled…

Apus Peru is announcing three ‘Clean Up in the Community’ treks to take place in March, April, and June.  Please note that we offer a 25% off of our published prices for anyone wishing to participate in these scheduled group trips for up to 12 people. Please note we need a minimum of 4 participants to run the trip.  The first four trekkers to book will be offered a free sleeping bag and walking stick! 

Volunteer Clean Up Trek to Lares

Go Team!

Note: If we do not get enough people, we will cancel the departure no later than 14 days before the trip departure date and offer a full refund on any deposit made. This allows ample time to find your trek with another provider (except for the Inca Trail); or with another Apus group provided we have some other route of interest confirmed that coincides with your dates.

Link for further information: http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/special_treks.html

Confirmed departures are listed below –

Departure for March 20th-23rd : Lares & Machu Picchu Four-Day Clean-Up Trek

Link: http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/lares_machu_picchu.htm

This four-day trek is ideal for those who wish to visit Machu Picchu and do a shorter trek that’s slightly easier than some of the other high-altitude treks we offer, but still by no means classified as a ‘breeze’!

Minimum 4, Maximum 12.  Currently 2 spaces booked, currently 10 spaces available

Lares hot springs

Camping at Lares Hot Springs

Departure for April 23rd-May 1st: Choquequirao to Machu Picchu Nine-Day Clean Up Trek

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

This is one of our signature treks and is more remote than the others. It ends up at the magical site of Machu Picchu.  This nine-day trek is more relaxed than our faster paced eight-day option, but due to the amount of time spent trekking and camping along the way, it’s not for the faint-hearted, either.  A lovely trek with diverse panoramas, a variety of climate zones, and plentiful nature.

Minimum 4, Maximum 12.  Currently 0 spaces booked, currently 12 spaces available

Made it to Machu Picchu

Departure for June 15 – June 20: Six-Day Sibinacocha Ausangate Clean Up Trek

Link: http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/ausangate_sibinacocha.htm

This rarely hiked version of a classic route offers some amazing scenery as well as some challenging high passes and cold nights.  With mountain glaciers and lakes aplenty, those avid and adventurous hikers that are able to wrap up warm and can tolerate trekking at heights of over 5000 meters will be amply rewarded! NOTE: MACHU PICCHU IS NOT INCLUDED WITH THIS TREK.

Minimum 4, Maximum 12.  Currently 0 spaces booked, currently 12 spaces available

What better way can there be to vacation, than to be surrounded by the beauty of Peru while at the same time benefiting local communities? A win-win situation for all!

Full trash bag

Get Your 2016 Inca Trail Permits Now!

Among the most famous treks in the world, the Classic Inca Trail brings you to Machu Picchu under your own power- and there’s nothing like it! This four-day, three-night trek retraces the footsteps of the Inca along restored stone walkways that are more than 500 years old! The moderately difficult trek traverses the diverse ecological zones that comprise the Machu Picchu Historic Sanctuary. Trekkers have the opportunity to view a variety of flora and fauna species, including exotic orchids, colorful birds, and perhaps even the endangered Spectacled Bear, the only surviving bear species native to South America!

Trekkers visit multiple Inca ruins while camping under the stars each night. The trek culminates on the fourth and last day, when after a two-hour ascent to the famous Sun Gate, Inti Punku, Inca Trail hikers finally arrive at Machu Picchu! Trekkers who have completed the Inca Trail call it a life-changing experience.

Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Machu Picchu Morning – Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

If you dream of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2016 –please take a few moments to read this blog and be sure to submit your details to your travel provider as soon as possible so you don’t miss out! Spots fill up fast!

The following paragraphs include some useful information for getting your preferred Inca Trail trek dates.

The Classic Inca trail to Machu Picchu is limited to 500 permits each day- that translates to 200 permits for trekkers and 300 for trekking staff, mainly consisting of the porters that carry equipment for the trekkers.

Team of Porters on the Inca Trail

Trekker with team of Porters on the Inca Trail –  Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Since they are limited, permits sell out 5 months in advance for the high season – May, June, and July.  In spite of the fact that this system has been widely publicized on the Internet and in the guidebooks, Apus Peru receives literally hundreds of emails from people each year who are upset to have missed out on the traditional Inca Trail trek! In these cases, we may be able to offer alternate Peru treks; however we cannot emphasize this enough: if it’s your goal to hike the Inca Trail this year, apply for your permit as soon as possible!

Inca Trail permits go on sale around January 1st each year to authorized Inca Trail companies who have passed an inspection carried out the previous November.  Inca Trail companies that have the names, passport numbers, and monetary deposits of their clients enter a lottery in order to purchase the permits. Since the Inca Trail is closed due to maintenance in February, the first permits sold are for March 2016, followed by April 2016, then May… etc.  If you have not submitted your information early in January, then you have to wait until after the lottery period has passed, which can be as late as the end of January, to purchase Inca Trail permits – if they have not already sold out!

Patallaqta Ruins- Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Patallaqta Ruins- Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Every year is different, but generally the main dates that sell out in the lottery period during January are…

  • The first week of March
  • Around Easter (in 2016 Good Friday will fall on March 25th). We anticipate that the period between March 25th and April 4th may sell out during the initial lottery period.
  • Various dates in May.
  • Around the Solstice and Inti Raymi – June 21st – 24th.

Once a date is sold out – it’s literally SOLD OUT – permits are non-refundable and non-changeable, so you can’t pick up a spot if there is a cancellation. Getting your information to us in early in January is, therefore. your best bet to get the dates you want.

If you are already travelling and already have your flights booked, with little flexibility, then we strongly advise that you submit your details, passport number and deposit to your travel agent as early in January as possible. As the “Inca Trail Lottery” is truly a lottery, it’s impossible to predict what demand there will be for permits in 2016; however the demand increases every year. Therefore, some or many dates may sell out during the lottery period at the beginning of January.

If you have some flexibility with dates, and you are not ready to commit, we recommend that you get in contact with us, or your travel agent, as soon as possible. However, be aware that while we will do everything we can to secure your permits, the options for your departure dates may be limited, the longer you wait; and if you wait too long, the likelihood is that Inca Trail permits will be sold out.

Inca Trail Snow Peak - Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Inca Trail Snow Peak – Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Please note, if you book with Apus Peru you are dealing directly with an official Inca Trail Trek Operator: we are licensed by Peru’s Ministry of Culture to operate this trek. If you are dealing with a third-party operator, please be careful. Most importantly, we don’t want you to miss out on trekking the Classic Inca Trail in 2016 – reserve your Inca Trail Permits now!

From now until January 16th, Apus is offering a 6% discount for Inca Trail treks: use the code BLOG16 when booking the Inca Trail!

This links to directly to the form for you to contact us with your information: http://www.apus-peru.com/contact-us/

This is a link to the Classic Four-Day Inca Trail with Apus-Peru: http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/classic_inca_trail.html

**Note: Several other treks that Apus Peru offers also include all or part of the regulated Inca Trail, and also require permits.  These routes include our two-day Short Inca Trail http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/short_inca_trail_2.html;

Our six-day Salkantay-Inca Trail http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/salkantay_inca_trail_machu_picchu_2.html;

and our twelve-day Choquequirao-Salkantay-Inca Trail route http://www.apus-peru.com/treks/choquequirao_salkantay_inca_trail_machu_picchu_2.html

HAPPY TREKKING!!

Inca Trail- Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Inca Trail- Photo Courtesy of Megan Gaston

Trekking with Young Ones!

 We occasionally get inquiries from intrepid parents who want to go trekking with their little ones – by little ones, we mean children that can still be easily carried by their parents, so young people aged between 6 months and 3 years.

This blog provides some useful considerations about whether you really want to head out on the trail with a very small child.

Ariana and baby

On our way!

For children that can no longer be carried, but still have short legs and even shorter attention spans, e.g.; kids between the ages of 4 to 6 years, many of these questions also apply.

1. How often do you trek yourself? Do you like to do long distance trekking and are you comfortable with camping and sleeping in a tent?

2. What kind of trekking have you done with her recently – and how did she like the backpack?  For 4 years plus: have you gone trekking recently, what were the difficulties, and how many hours were you able to go without stopping?

As parents know (or soon discover) children have very unique personalities. My daughter was generally a tranquil child, and walked at 14 months. Within reason, she didn’t mind hiking for several hours while in the backpack, though we needed to stop frequently (every hour or so) and that added to the overall length of the day.

My little boy walked before he was 1 and is an active and determined child. We took him to Machu Picchu when he was 20 months old and had 2 different styles of backpacks and a harness. We left the ruins after several hours: his screaming was in no way enjoyable for us or for the other visitors!

by the lake

Trekking with a baby AND a toddler!

So – before you decide to tackle a long trek ask:

Is your child going to be OK with 6-8 hours a day in the backpack? Have you taken her on hikes of that length in recent times?

3. Sleeping – how will you and your child feel about sleeping in freezing cold temperatures in the high mountains?

4. Altitude- The best advice I have ever read regarding travel at high altitudes is, “how well do you know your baby/toddler and can you distinguish between bad temper/terrible twos/ teething, and altitude sickness?” The answer is that it’s pretty difficult, as symptoms of altitude sickness can be anything from sleeping poorly to headaches to vomiting.

5. Are you a relaxed parent, or do you get stressed? Imagine that you are 2 days’ walk from the nearest road. Your child has a temperature – are you going to be able to cope with this? Or your child is vomiting at high altitude… Having had this type of experience, it’s very stressful and even though I know the mountains, I was still very worried. How will you react under these conditions?

We strongly recommend 3 days minimum at Cusco for acclimatization of a small person (e.g. under 3 years); longer if you can- before tackling the high mountain treks like Ausangate, Salkantay or the Lares trek to Machu Picchu.

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Happy Dad and Son, trekking along

I recently took both of my kids to 4300m for an overnight stay and even though I am experienced in hiking in the mountains, when they woke up more frequently than usual I had to ask myself – is it altitude sickness? (This is despite them having been in Cusco for the 2 months prior to the trek.)

6. Who will carry them? Depending on their age – they can weigh up to 20kg and still be carried in a trekking backpack. How comfortable is that backpack for you (and again, for long distances)?

I like my Ergobaby for short trips around town and find it much easier to maneuver than the proper trekking backpack: for short hikes of less than a couple of hours, that’s my choice. For longer treks, we use a Deuter 3 with sun protection.

Deuter 3 sun protection

Deuter 3 Backpack with Sun Protection

Most people find a smaller baby of up to about 12 months ok to carry – but by the time they are two, they are quite heavy!!!! So consider getting a porter to help!

Conclusion

If you are enthusiastic to do a hike in the Andes with your little ones, the very first thing to do is a day hike near your home and see how it goes with the kids. If it’s a ‘piece of cake’ then a trek in the Andes might be OK for you. Happy trails!

Cesar and the baby

Happy Trekking!

Coming soon: Trekking with older children and tweens.