It had been a long time ambition of my partner to trek the Inca Trail, to see the wonderous site from having gotten there under your own steam, not just another tourist arriving on a train/bus and i must admit i was glad he had talked me into it, it was a life changing moment and made all the more special by the new friends made along the trek.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
- Day 4 - Watching the sunrise before heading down to Machupicchu, the first glimpse of the famous ruins as you come through the sun gate of the greatest Inca city and then the relaxing thermal waters with the rest of your group, all bonded through the sense of achievement at reaching your goal and excited at the prospect of exploring the city further on the coming morn.
- What did you think of your group leader?
Rene was a fantastic group leader, he was very knowledgeable, enthustastic, approachable, helpful, full of encouragement and praise, excellent sense of humour, had a great repore with the group and the trek support team. Ran an excellent site especially given the equipment they had to use and years of eating the same trek food.
Admil (assistant guide) had the same qualities/skills as Rene and he was always on hand to help those members of the group bringing up the rear and will make a fantastic group leader when given the chance to progress.
All support staff, (porters/chef/assistant) were friendly, helpful and i can only applaud them for the work they did to make our trek as comfortable as possible.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
If you book as a couple then insist on Exodus taking your booking as a couple, they treated us as single travellers even though we booked together and as such we were seated apart on the flights to Peru, not good on the short haul leg and completely frustrating on the long haul flights - which meant our much awaited dream holiday off to a poor start!
Dont pre-order your sleeping bags from Exodus, much heavier than ones you can purchase yourself here as they take up your much needed weight allowance.
The sleeping mats have all seen better days so perhaps it would be worthwhile purchasing your own, having to manually blow up the mat after 7 hours treking in high alititude, not for the faint hearted.
Dont take the Exodus travel bag with you thinking this is what you will be using for the trek, they provide you with duffle bags upon arriving in Cusco.
Transfer enough money into local currency to pay for the tourist ticket, we all came a cropper when arriving at Sacsayhuamán at 8am with only america dollars, luckily our group leader was fully prepared and generous enough to lend us the money required until we all could get to a cash machine otherwise we would have all missed out.
Exodus notes imply that you need a yellow fever injection, at no point were we asked for the certificate, check with the Foreign Office before spending your £50.
Be careful when purchasing alcoholic when airside in Lima as they will be confiscated under teh new EU guidelines when flying back into Europe, it does say on page 82 of the KLM in flight brochure but we learnt this a little late.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Exodus has not invested in the equipment used on the Inca Trail in 10 years, it was a constant battle to open and close the dodgey zips with 'dears' having to re-sew/un-jam tents every morning! These tents are put up and taken down on a daily basis and have all seen better days, as for the toilet facilities................! Exodus should start to replenish this equipment with modern replacements.
The hotel quality in Lima was poor especially when you consider the cost of the holiday, you arrive cold and tired after a long flight to find a poorly lit hotel with no heating, uncomfortable beds and grey washed out linen and we wont even mention the shower!
Thanks for your feedback on the Inca Trail trek. I'm glad you found the trek to be such a rewarding experience, and that you were pleased with the attention and professionalism of the staff on the trail. I will pass on these comments to our local partners so that they can let Rene, Admil and the cooks / porters know that you appreciated their services on your holiday.
In repsonse to your other comments, I have asked our local partner to update us on the quality of equipment being used on the trek, and to replace any damaged tents if necessary. As you say, the tents do get quite heavy use, especially during the peak trekking months, and so it is important that they are regularly checked and maintained. You have also mentioned the sleeping mats, and although the high altitude can lead to shortness of breath, Thermarests can usually be inflated in a couple of minutes. As the valves are resealable, I would advise that you partially inflate them mat, take a short rest, and then inflate it further in order to combat any shortness of breath.
We provide kit bags specifically for the trek, and although our local partners do provide you with duffel bags if required, it is not essential that you use them. Therefore you can confidently pack your trail equipment in these bags and the porters will carry them for you on the trek. The sleeping bags available in Peru do tend to be heavier than those on offer in the UK, but we use these bags as they are easy to maintain locally, they provide the necessary level of protection against the cold, and because the cost of obtaining and then maintaining the lightweight expedition bags in Peru is very prohibitive. If you are concerned about the weight and the fact that there is a 10kg limit on the personal gear carried by each porter, then I would certainly advise taking your own sleeping bag.
Thank you for pointing out the inaccuracy in the trip notes regarding the Yellow Fever vaccination - this particular vaccination is not required for visits to the highland areas of Peru, but it is strongly recommended for anyone travelling to the Amazon as part of the trip extension. Until recently, it was compulsory for all rainforest visits, but the restrictions have been relaxed somewhat lately. Rather than checking these restrictions with the Foreign Office, I would recommend that you discuss the latest rules and advice with your doctor before travel, since regulations can and do change.
Finally, regarding the EU ban on liquids being carried on flights, this has been in place since mid-2006 and applies to all flights departing from a European airport. Posters are displayed at all UK airports advising of these restrictions, but if you are considering bringing liquids back into the UK it is still permitted for them to be transported in your hold baggage. This does mean that you can't purchase "duty free" alcohol, but in Peru you will almost certainly find that the cost is actually lower in local supermarkets than it is in the airport, although the variety may not be as great.
We rely on customer feedback as a vital method of evaluating our trips, and so I would like to thank you for taking the time to send us your comments on your holiday. As I have mentioned, your comments have been brought to the attention of our local partner so that we can review and improve the quality of equipment used on the trek and continue to provide the best levels of service possible on the trip.
Tim Fearn (Trip Manager - Peru)