Hi, I did this trip last October, was absolutely amazing. Here are my tips:
Avoid dodgy looking restaurants in Cuzco, people who ate fish etc got bad stomach upsets. Eat probiotic yoghurt and drink Yakult before you go. Avoid drinking too many pisco sour cocktails in Lima the night you arrive, you will regret it the next morning! I would recommend an alpaca steak though.
I got on fine without altitude pills, the koka leaf tea is good, any kind of headache tablet helps as well. The main thing with altitude is to put on warm layers as soon as you arrive in Cuzco, take it easy, drink fluids and don't eat fatty food.
Trekking poles (with compulsory rubber tips) were the best thing I took on the trip, going down from the highest pass was a breeze, if only going up was that easy!
Watch out for the sun, it is very strong due to the altitude and the latitude. Take a wide brimmed hat.
Work out how to use the macro (closeup) mode on your camera for taking pictures of insects in the rainforest. A good zoom on the camera and good binoculars will be useful.
If you go when it is a full moon, you will get a spectacular evening view on Lake Titicaca
Good travel clothing (e.g. Rohan, Craghoppers) is a must and travel light. Take a long sleeved shirt for the rainforest and for the sun on the trail. Make sure you have good waterproofs (not old ones which have lost their water repellency) or buy a decent poncho in Cuzco, not a cheap plastic one. The rain in Peru is something to behold! Get a good mid-size backpack with a rain cover. Take some lightweight trainers so you can take off your boots when you get to camp. Finally check out this excellent packing list here.
I went on the Classic Peru last September and had a holiday of a lifetime.
Hope this is helpful Have a fabulous holiday – I did.
Having done the Classic Peru trip between 8th and 23rd June 2008, I’d just like to make a quick few comments for those considering any of the Inca Trail, Inca Trail and Amazon Rainforest, Classic Peru or Lake Titicaca and Inca Trai. I had a brilliant time, which finished with me having slightly too much to drink in a club in Lima (ask your guide about the best places!!!). Be careful with the Pisco Sour too! Cuzquena is probably the best beer I’ve tasted outside Europe. Beware the weight limit for the Inca Trail though (see below)!
1) MOST IMPORTANT, keep your passport with you at all times, as this is effectively your photo identity (in place of the compulsory ID card in Peru). You WILL be required to hand it over at each hotel / hostel you stay at and also at the beginning of the Inca Trail and to get into Macchu Picchu. In theory, you can be asked to present it at any time by someone in authority.
2) Although I didn’t encounter any problems in Lima myself, beware of pickpockets as you would in say London. With the hotel in Miraflores, you’ll be extremely unlikely to encounter any problems.3) The difference in accommodation between the ‘Classic Peru’ (hotels) and the ‘Inca Trail and Amazon Rain Forest’ (hostels) trips does not appear massive. For example:
4) ALTHOUGH THERE IS NO WEIGHT LIMIT FOR TAMBOPATA LODGE IN THE AMAZON (AND THE BOATS TO IT), YOU ARE ONLY ALLOWED TO TAKE AS MUCH AS YOU CAN PUT INTO ONE OF THE LODGE’S OWN BAGS. The rest of your gear, you have to leave in a locked room in Puerto Maldonado. Thus much of what I say for point 11) on the Inca Trail weight limit following also applies here. Ignoring this gets you fed to the pirhranas (which considering they’re largely vegetarian is not really much of a threat).
5) The Amazon Rain Forest was interesting for the little things, but don’t go expecting to tick off lots of high profile wildlife from your list as you might in India or Africa. You hear more than you see and the dense jungle can make viewing any wildlife hard work. I did see a couple of caiman, a couple of species of monkey (the Howler Monkeys were good), some parrots, a couple of toucans and a number of other bird species. Cutest of the lot were a family of capybara, however, no wildlife sightings are guaranteed. It’s good for flora (plant life) mind, plenty of ‘fig-ing ironwood’!
6) Cuzco was a really nice place. It is a lot safer than the guidebooks make out (police everywhere in the town centre – but to be on the safe side don’t stray into the surrounding shanty towns). However, the restaurants are variable, thus you should ask your guide about the best places as you don’t want to hit the Inca trail suffering from a tummy bug. Be a little careful in the Amazon too (play the veggie card in the Amazon to be safer) as one of our number ended up with a doze of amoebic dysentery (giardia). As I’ve already said, however, I’d have gladly missed out on the city tour to get a little time to myself here to do my own thing, as the middle of town really is a little gem.
7) If you’ve come straight up from sea level, the altitude may well have an effect for the first day or two. The most you should face is a headache and a little loss of appetite, however, you can get Diamox easily from local pharmacies to alleviate symptoms if you need (or equivalent – the pharmacist mentioned a new drug I’ve never heard of). Drink the Cocoa tea (or better for me at least, a Coca Cola a day – my personal ‘mild’ remedy) as taking on plenty of fluid helps too. Oxygen should be available for the very severe cases. Take it easy for a couple of days and don’t do anything strenuous.
8) Before you start the Inca Trail, ensure your guide has got the sleeping bags and mats required for the camping. In our case, he’d been handed a piece of paper saying ‘zero’ bags (not his fault) and mats were needed and assumed as a result we were bringing our own. This was fortunately sorted out the night before the trek started.
9) The Inca Trail, through spectacular mountain scenery and culminating at Macchu Picchu, was easily the highlight. Dawn over the mountains on the last day of the trek was breathtaking. Macchu Picchu with its mountainous position really is a spectacular sight, however, be aware that after a couple of hours there you’ll feel you’ve seen everything. Forget about trying to go up Wayna Picchu, as this takes too long. If you get bored, the Inca Bridge / Drawbridge makes for an okay 20 minute walk, with some of the best views of Macchu Picchu (in my opinion at least) just before you disappear into the woods. The path to this is at the top of the site on the opposite side of the Inca trail entry.
10) Another point about the Inca Trial is even in the so called ‘dry season’ (late May to early September), is that there can be the occasional heavy downpour. Our party got two days of rain, which is unusual for the time of year.
11) BEWARE THE WEIGHT LIMIT FOR THE INCA TRAIL, for which you’re allowed only 10 KGs in your main luggage (which the porters will carry). The shocker is this includes your sleeping bag, which locally supplied with the underlying mat and liner comes in as much as 5.5 KGs (and your bag will be weighed officially). This can be met as follows:
12) The trip to Lake Titicaca (if your trip goes there – or from there on the ‘Lake Titicaca and Inca Trail’ trip) is a ten hours long and the option of breaking the trip to visit a couple of places was welcome. Once there, Puno (as with many Altiplano towns) is a rather ramshackle town with not much going for it apart from the lake and an ornate if slightly decayed main church or two.
13) On the lake itself, at first you will be astounded by the reed islands, the boats and other structures made out of reeds. However, look under the surface and you soon realise you’re in a touristy, theme park type attraction that can be very skilled at getting money out of you (though strangely it’s all still fun to experience). Taquille Island is just an island with local people on it, with a few dances laid on and (for people not on the ‘Classic Peru’ trip) an overnight stay. I wonder if I might have felt differently had I stayed there overnight (the guide did say he was cramming in a two day trip into one day for the ‘Classic Peru’ trip), however, neither the Uros floating reed islands of Taquille to me really represented a true ‘meet the locals’ cultural experience as I’ve had elsewhere in the world (though still, as I said, fun). Don’t expect too much is all I’m saying.This was underlined by seeing some of the lads out of costume from the floating reed islands, playing football on a bit of waste ground on the way back to Puno (just as well I was on the boat or I’d have stuck in a hattrick – no formation, disregard of the offside rule, no clue how to defend, cannot cross a ball for love nor money, no wonder Peru are the poor men of South American football!). I also saw some of the girls from Taquille Island shopping in Puno the following day (suspect straight on boat to get them back to Puno once tourists are out the way). Progress!!! It’s still a nice, enjoyable experience being on the lake though and for that I’m still glad I went to Lake Titicaca! Perhaps I’m too cynical. Perhaps Lake Titicaca is an experience in a different way?
14) Passing through Juliaca near Puno was an experience. Our guide described it as the smuggling and faking capital of Peru (it resembles a poor man’s Honk Kong). Interesting to view the commerce going on there from the bus mind!!! Oh, and get used to lots of police stops once away from Cuzco, sometimes within a couple of hundred metres!!!
15) Remember Peru airport departure taxes at approaching $10 (domestic) and $35 (international) at the current time. These will rise.
16) As well as Lima, Cuzco and Puno, there are cash points in Agues Caliente at the end of the Inca Trail, though don’t rely on there being money in these.--------Now for budgeting. Don’t let this put you off, as I’m just trying to be honest about what you’ll face – just make sure you budget!I went out there on a slightly limited budget, but opted for ‘Classic Peru’ ahead of ‘Inca Trail and the Amazon Rain Forest’ due to my regular booker’s discount (5%) and perception I’d get more out of the slightly more expensive trip. In retrospect, I wish I’d done the opposite as extra free time especially in Cuzco would have been really valued.Any trip to Peru is going to be expensive with the flights themselves accounting for up to £900 of the money you pay up front. Booking your own flight will not reduce this much. IF YOU ARE ON A LIMITED BUDGET, just do the ‘Inca Trail’ (Cuzco, Inca Trail, Macchu Picchu, back to Cuzco, with the option of paying a little more for the Sacred Valley tour) as this was easily the best bit. Whatever you think you’re going to pay (approximately £1890 minimum17 for your 11 days), add at least an extra 10 to 20% to the cost of your holiday, as tipping (generous tipping at that, thanks to the habits of our American cousins) is expected for even the smallest service. Food can be pricey too, but using the better restaurants also reduces the chance of tummy bugs. This will take things to £2200 – 2300 before you’ve bought souvenirs.If you can afford a bit more, by all means add on either or both Lake Titicaca and the Amazon Rain Forest (an extra £300 to £700 depending on the trip) to the basic Inca Trail trip. I felt these parts of the trip not really the big experience I felt on the Cuzco and Inca Trail parts (again, the overnight stay on Taquille Island I missed out on might have made my perspective more positive), though still reasonably good. But also remember that your trip will be longer and that will incur extra food costs and (dare I say it) ‘tips’!!! Again add extra onto the greater expense to account for this. I reckon I’ve spent about £2,900 (including the cost of the holiday) on the ‘Classic Peru’ trip (basic trip cost approximately £2300 minimum), leaving me a couple of hundred over what I budgeted for even with my regular booker’s discount. I was taken by surprise by the level of tipping, but that you’ll have to get on with.That said once you’re out there, DON’T go on about money (the above is to let you know what’s coming). You’ve made your choice and you’re going to pay. The locals don’t like foreigners whinging about money (neither do your fellow travellers), as firstly you’re seen as moaner or misery and secondly they don’t believe you as your all rich foreigner gringos with inexhaustible loads of dosh regardless of what you say (AS WAS BLUNTLY IMPLIED IN A BOOK I WAS READING IN PERU). Pay up, put up, shut up and do it with a smile on your face!!! What the locals really like to hear is how much you’re enjoying things and the odd joke is going to get you much further and put a smile on their faces too!You can try to haggle over prices, but Americans wading in and paying first price means you’re unlikely to get them to budge from this (this used to be a British peculiarity). They know that the Americans will be along later and will pay the first asking price. If you’re lucky, you might knock off 10 to 15% in, say, the markets next to the train station in Agues Caliente. Forget about knocking off two thirds of the price as you might do in Asia or Africa. And remember to be happy (certainly a way of sometimes getting a little knocked off the price)!!!That said, don’t get paranoid about expenses or other ‘negatives’; as I said above, just make sure you’ve properly budgeted for it. Go out there, enjoy yourselves and live for the moment as Peru is an experience. It is a surprisingly ethnically diverse country with a liking for a good time (as I found out in that club in Lima). Make the most of every minute of it!!!
Ian A. Inman
(http://www.tibet.freeserve.co.uk / http://mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/kathmandu)
Thanks to all contributors - I found this string really useful. I'm doing the High Inca trail on 23rd Aug and my kit list is pretty much sorted now, so having all the tips really helps. About the only extra I would probably add is a pack of Wet-Wipes.
Here's some thoughts from me, having just got home:
* Don't go on this trip if you need your creature comforts....
* Walking poles are an advantage for most people, but half of our group didn't have them and didn't really need them. I found them to be of greatest help in the wet (which we had relatively little of).
* You need clothes for cold weather on the trek overnight - I bought a wooly hat and socks when I was over there and they were both needed. Thermal sleeping clothes are needed.
* You can wash clothes a couple of times, so I'd recommend taking 3 long sleeved shirts for the rainforest & trek. I only took 2 and wished I had another. In the rainforest you need them for the mozzies and on the trek for the sun. I took good quality "technical" walking gear which keeps you cool and sweat free, and it was well appreciated. This would be my major tip.
* A torch with a set of spare batteries is essential. I got a good quality, bright head torch and was very glad I spent a bit more on it.
* Factor 30 sun cream is the minimum I'd take.
* I took a wide brimmed hat and was very glad of it instead of my usual cap. Keeping the sun off you is key.
* I'd recommend taking one of the pouches with a tube for water so you can drink constantly. You will get out of breath, and when you do your mouth will dry up. This makes bottled water more of a pain to use.
* Consider hiring a sleeping bag from the local company. They're good quality and it saves you carrying it round and flying it over there.
* The trek is 27miles and very very hard going at times. Good quality blister plasters (compeed) and good socks and boots are recommended.
* You don't need to take UK chocolate or anything - there's plenty over there.
* Cusco is well set up for buying adventure clothing and stuff if needed, so if you forget anything (even walking poles and stuff) you can buy them there.
* Finally, you'll be well looked after so give good tips, especially to the porters who carry 25kg of your stuff around!
Hope you all enjoy - I certainly did!
On return, did anyone find any problems exchanging Sols back to
Thanks for spending all the time to write out the useful advice. I'm currently going through the courses of vaccinations and the subject of Yellow Fever was brought up.
According to the 'health' map at my GP, Yellow Fever risk was a possibility (for the Amazon trip I'm going on in October/Puerto Maldonado). Is this something I should vaccinate against?
hi i'm heading out to peru in 15 days time:) on the vaccination front on our forums we have discuss lots. So no to yellow fever unless travelling through america, yes to malaria tablets (mainly for jungle bit) then lots of deet.
enjoy, great advise above folks.
ta lots ema
Having done some research I am going to go with the yellow fever vaccination. Exodus strongly recommends it:
The subject title isn't directly related, but the Amazon Jungle extension is referred to.
Hi - the link to the packing list is no longer valid, here's the link to all the lists on the itchyfeet website:
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