Current as of: June 14, 2024 - 14:58

The Inca Trail

The Inca Trail Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Peru
  • Programmes: Walking & Trekking
  • Activity Level:

    3 out of 7 - Moderate

  • 10 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 8 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: TPT
  • Carbon Footprint: 10kg CO2e

Trip Overview

Follow in the footsteps of the Incas as you trek to the once-lost city of Machu Picchu, a New Wonder of the World

Offering an unrivalled combination of history and dramatic scenery, the Inca Trail winds from the powerful Urubamba River, across mountain passes, through cloud forests and past crumbling fortresses, to the ruins of Machu Picchu, rightly named one of the New Wonders of the World. We designed this Inca Trail trip to give you more time to enjoy the route, arriving to Machu Picchu in the afternoon for classic photos before we stay overnight in the nearby town of Aguas Calientes. We return the next morning, fresh and well rested, for our in-depth tour of magnificent Machu Picchu.

Why trek with us?

  • More than 40 years’ experience running treks in Peru
  • Proceeds from this trip support our Porter Project, where we take porters to Machu Picchu, many of whom have never visited before. See our mini documentary Carried Away to learn more
  • We operate a zero-impact policy on the Inca Trail, removing all waste from campsites and separating it so it can be easily recycled or composted
  • Experienced English-speaking local leaders who are qualified in first aid and trained to spot and deal with altitude sickness
  • Free arrival and departure transfers for everyone on this trip. See the Joining Instructions for more

The Inca Trail

Join us to celebrate Exodus’ 50th anniversary! Select departures of this trip feature extra inclusions to mark the occasion: a funded porter visit to Machu Picchu (so we can all enjoy Machu Picchu), a local birthday celebration and a special edition Exodus kitbag. The selected departures on this trip start in Cuzco on 8 June 2024, 20 July 2024 and 5 October 2024.

At a Glance

  • Four hotel nights; three nights of full-service camping with dining and toilet tents
  • Four walking days with full porterage
  • Group sizes normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Minimum age: 16
  • Altitude maximum: 13,830ft (4,215m); average 10,000ft (3,050m)
  • 15lb (7kg) personal weight limit on Inca Trail
  • Travel by private bus and by train

Highlights

  • Complete the classic Inca Trail, South America’s most celebrated walking route
  • Enjoy camp life in the Andes − our expert staff take care of all the chores!
  • Explore Inca ruins as our knowledgeable tour leader brings them to life
  • Arrive at the famed Sun Gate at the ideal time to see Machu Picchu
  • Refresh after your trek with a stay in charming Aguas Calientes
  • Tour Machu Picchu, your experience enhanced after a restful hotel stay

Is This Trip for You?

This trip is graded Activity Level 3 (Moderate). For more on our trip gradings, visit our Activity Level Guidelines page.

There are four days of point-to-point walking with full porterage, reaching a maximum altitude of 13,830ft (4,215m) and an average of 10,000ft (3,050m).

Though strenuous in parts, the Inca Trail is possible for anyone with good health and fitness. However, we would not recommend this trip to someone with no previous walking experience.

If you are not a regular walker, you should put in physical preparation beforehand. The trek is also not suitable for those with bad knees due to the number of steep and uneven steps, particularly on the third and fourth days of the trek. The use of trekking poles will reduce strain on the knees.

Walking hours stated within the itinerary are given as approximates only. Timings stated include lunch and photo stops and vary depending on the group’s pace.

Altitude: As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the altitude warning within the Trip Notes. We spend two days in Cuzco (11,150ft/3,400m) acclimatising before starting the trek.

Delays: Protest action/strikes are not uncommon in Peru; while these are generally peaceful, they can involve roadblocks and cause disruption to travel. Occasionally, your leader may have to adapt your itinerary in response to this.

Please note, it is essential you read the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu regulations in the Important Information section of the Trip Notes before you book this trip.

Group

On the Inca Trail there is a full trek crew of porters, cooks and assistant guide.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16

Itinerary

TPT Map

Land Only

  • Start City: Cuzco
  • End City: Cuzco

Land Only Itinerary

Day 1
Start Cuzco

High in the altiplano hills, Cuzco was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast Inca empire, which stretched from present-day Quito, Ecuador, to Santiago, Chile, at its peak. After Spanish conquistadors invaded, they built on top of Inca structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of Spanish and Inca styles. There is a noticeboard in the hotel reception with details of where and when the group welcome briefing will be held.

Remember to take it easy on arrival in Cuzco (and drink plenty of water) to help your body adjust to the altitude (11,155ft/3,400m).

Accommodation: MamaSara Hotel (or similar)

Day 2
Free day for acclimatisation; optional Sacred Valley excursion
The Inca Trail

Adjusting to the altitude will maximise your experience on this trip; therefore, today has been left free for you to acclimatise and explore at your own pace. If you do want to get out, the Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people-watching, and Qorikancha (the Sun Temple) in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery is worth a visit. Mercado San Pedro is the place to try local produce and there are many handicraft markets to shop for souvenirs, such as alpaca jumpers and scarves.

Outside the town are more Inca ruins, notably the fortress of Sacsayhuaman, where the Inca armies made their last stand against the conquistadors. Cuzco is also the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas; if you wish to visit, your leader can help organise an excursion, including Pisac Market (optional).

If you would like something more active, there is an array of other optional activities available from Cuzco, including paddleboarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley.

In the evening, you need to pack and weigh your kitbag ready for the Inca Trail tomorrow – remember to keep your passport somewhere accessible for the Inca Trail checkpoint.

Accommodation: MamaSara Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 3
Start Inca Trail trek from Km82; walk along Urubamba River, climb to Huayllabamba
The Inca Trail

Early this morning, we transfer (1hr 30min) from Cuzco into the Sacred Valley. Reaching the town of Ollantaytambo, we drive for one hour along the final stretch of road to the start of the Inca Trail at Piscacucho, recognised among adventurers as Km82. After greeting our trekking crew, we show our passports at the checkpoint and begin the fabled Inca Trail trek. Our route today runs alongside the Urubamba River, beneath the snow-capped peak of Nevado Veronica, passing through cactus gardens and settlements, until we reach the terraced Inca ruins of Llactapata, where we continue up the Cusichaca Valley to camp near the village of Huayllabamba (9,186ft/2,800m).

Accommodation: Huayllabamba Camp (full-service camping)

Distance covered: 7mi (11km)

Activity hours: 6-7

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4
Summit Dead Woman's Pass; descend to Pacaymayu
The Inca Trail

The morning begins, as all do on our Inca Trail trek, with a hot drink delivered to your tent. Today’s journey is both challenging and rewarding, marking the most demanding and best-known stretch of the trail. A slow and steady climb takes us through a cloud forest to the meadows of Llulluchapampa, then we summit Dead Woman’s (Warmihuañusca) Pass, the highest point on the trek at 13,829ft (4,215m). After a well-deserved round of high fives and photos at the summit, we begin our steep descent on original Inca steps to reach our campsite in the scenic valley of the Pacaymayu River (11,811ft/3,600m). Warm up in the dining tent with a hot, fresh meal followed by a well-deserved sleep under the Andean night sky.

Accommodation: Pacaymayu Camp (full-service camping)

Distance covered: 6mi (10km)

Activity hours: 6-7

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5
Over Runquracay Pass to the ruins of Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca

After a hearty breakfast, we start the day with a climb, which takes us past the ruins of Runquracay and over the Runquracay Pass (12,894ft/3,930m), our second and final pass. From here, the Inca Trail becomes a clearly defined rolling path of flat boulders, providing access to sites only available to those on foot. One of the standout archeological sites we visit is Sayacmarca (11,893/3,625m), perched high above the green cloud forest. From here, we enjoy views of Salkantay mountain as we hike to our spectacular campsite on the ridge above the Inca site of Phuyupatamarca (12,073ft/3,680m), where we can enjoy the sunset and sunrise.

Accommodation: Phuyupatamarca Camp (full-service camping)

Distance covered: 7mi (12km)

Activity hours: 5-6

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6
Walk down Inca steps to Wiñay Wayna and Machu Picchu via the Sun Gate
The Inca Trail

From Phuyupatamarca, we take the famous Inca steps: a 1.2mi (2km) stone staircase that rapidly descends into an immense panorama, with the peaks of the Vilcabamba range above and the Urubamba River far below.

Reaching Wiñay Wayna, we have plenty of time to explore these beautiful ruins and eat lunch before continuing along a relatively flat section of trail (by Inca standards) through cloud forest and wild orchids to finally reach Inti Punku (the Sun Gate).

From here, we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu, with the Huayna Picchu mountain rising behind… congratulations, you made it!

Inti Punku is traditionally busy with photo-taking trekkers in the morning, so our late afternoon arrival affords us unobstructed views of the magnificent ruins. We also get a chance to snap some classic photos of Machu Picchu before we take the 30-minute bus down to Aguas Calientes for a shower and a comfortable bed for the night.

Accommodation: Terraza de Luna (or similar)

Distance covered: 6mi (9km)

Activity hours: 6-7

Meals included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 7
Guided tour of Machu Picchu; return to Cuzco by train and road

Well-rested and refreshed, we return to Machu Picchu this morning for our guided tour. Machu Picchu is an architectural and engineering marvel, the staggering mountain backdrop making it even more dramatic. The Spaniards never found it, the Incas left no records of it, and so Machu Picchu remained an enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. Your guided tour highlights the history, culture, architecture and mysteries that Machu Picchu still holds today.

This afternoon, we catch the train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30min) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (1hr 30min).

Accommodation: MamaSara Hotel (or similar)

Meals included: Breakfast

Day 8
End Cuzco

We begin our return journeys home after breakfast. But if you’re not ready for the adventure to end, you can always book onto our Lake Titicaca extension, where you explore the sky-high waters by boat, visit an indigenous community and explore the pre‐Incan site of Sillustani. Alternatively, join our Amazon Rainforest extension to explore lakes, rivers and jungle trails in search of tropical wildlife.

Meals included: Breakfast

Extend Your Trip

Amazon Rainforest extension (from Cuzco)

Easily accessible via a short flight to Puerto Maldonado from Cuzco, the Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world and home to an astonishing array of wildlife, plus countless plant species. Spending three nights at a lodge in the incredibly rich Tambopata Reserve, we use motorised canoes to explore lakes and rivers, and follow jungle trails to navigate dense forests. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 699


Mandatory Single Supplement

£ 135

Post-trip Extensions

Lake Titicaca extension

Journey across the spectacular altiplano to Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable freshwater lake in the world at 12,467ft (3,800m). Explore the waters by boat and visit the indigenous Uros community who live on floating reed islands and produce fine textiles. Back on the mainland, we visit the pre‐Inca site of Sillustani, composed of burial towers with fantastic views over the region. The Lake Titicaca extension is only available after your main tour as we do not recommend arriving straight into Puno due to the altitude. The detailed itinerary can be found here.

Please ask your sales representative for more details. Prices listed are starting prices.

Price per person

£ 349


Mandatory Single Supplement

£ 150

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 11,480ft (3,500m) above sea level, where there is a genuine risk of being affected by acute mountain sickness (AMS). If left untreated, AMS can be life-threatening. We expect most clients to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness, such as headaches, shortness of breath while walking or sleeplessness. Our leaders are trained to identify symptoms of severe AMS and if a client requires extra care, arrangements such as rapid descent, will be made immediately.

On some days, this trip climbs faster than commonly published ascent-rate recommendations. Based upon an assessment by our external safety and medical advisors and our risk-assessment process, we consider the ascent rate acceptable due to the additional safety measures in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude-safety standards, which minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring while travelling at altitude.

Several medical conditions or medications can reduce your body’s ability to acclimatise. This may affect your performance and make you more susceptible to AMS. If you are worried about any pre-existing conditions, such as heart conditions, or your overall physical ability, you must seek medical advice prior to booking. The drug Diamox (also known as acetazolamide and normally only available on prescription) has been shown to aid acclimatisation in some individuals, and therefore may reduce the risk of AMS. Clients considering using Diamox should speak to their doctor about the drug, its side-effects and a prescription. While we endeavour to assist all our clients in achieving their goals, there may be times when your leader decides to delay or stop your ascent based on your overall condition or the onset of AMS.

If you are not taking out Exodus Travel Insurance, make sure your policy covers you up to the maximum altitude on this trip (if trekking in the Himalaya your policy should also cover the use of a helicopter for emergency medical evacuation).

Ascents, descents and distances: All ascents, descents and distances listed in the daily itinerary have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders, in many cases with satellite-based mapping software. However, different GPS measuring devices can give differing results, particularly on winding paths or in mountainous terrain. Measurements stated throughout these Trips Notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter. Timings stated will vary depending on the pace of your group.

Accommodation

Hotels and fully supported camping

The Inca Trail

The three-star hotels selected on our Andean trips feature an excellent blend of quality and comfort, with easy walking access to city and town attractions. The Inca Trail is offered on a full-service camping basis with full porterage, meaning our camp staff put up and take down the tents for you, cook, and do all the camp chores. You need only carry your backpack for the day and enjoy your time on the trek.

Cuzco: MamaSara Hotel (nights 1-2 and 7)

The Inca Trail

Just a few blocks from the historic centre, MamaSara is well located for our adventures in the one-time Inca capital of Cuzco. The design of the rooms pays homage to the city with locally sourced furniture and artwork, while the restaurant serves Peruvian Andean cuisine.

Inca Trail: Camping (nights 3-5)

The Inca Trail

We sleep and dine in good-quality four-season tents. We also have a toilet tent set up both in camp and during lunch stops. Boiled and filtered drinking water is provided to guests in the mornings, at lunch and dinner times so we can refill our water bottles.  While on the trek, a bowl of warm water for washing is provided each morning and evening. On the Inca Trail, we stay in official campsites where additional bathroom facilities are available.

Aguas Calientes: Terraza de Luna (night 6)

The Inca Trail

Terraza de Luna is conveniently located in Aguas Calientes near the train station and buses to Machu Picchu. In addition to the standard comforts and warm service, it has a wonderful rooftop terrace with a bar and lounge area to enjoy a drink and take in the views of the mountains and Urubamba River.

Worth knowing

  • Single accommodation (including tents) can be arranged, subject to availability. Please request this at the time of booking.

Single supplement from £ 270

Food & Drink

All breakfasts, four lunches and three dinners are included.

Peruvian cuisine is loved for its flavours and originality; it’s well worth digging into the local delicacies. Among these are: ceviche, seafood or fish marinated in lime juice; lomo saltado, a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry; and various hearty soups, including the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig) and alpaca steak. To drink, there’s pisco sour, the national beverage.

Drinking water is included throughout the trip as the tap water in Peru is not safe to drink; boiled and filtered drinking water is provided on the trek; elsewhere your leader buys large water containers from which you can refill your bottle.

Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffets, usually including bread/toast, preserves, cereal, sometimes eggs or cooked dishes, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we cannot guarantee that wheat-free or gluten-free products are available for breakfast in all locations – if you have an intolerance you may wish to bring your own breakfast food.

Where lunch and dinner are not included in Cuzco/Aguas Calientes, we visit a variety of cafes and restaurants.

During the Inca Trail, hearty breakfasts are served and good-quality cooked lunches and dinners are provided. They usually consist of soup to start, a main course with meat/fish and some carbohydrates, followed by a dessert. Between meals, snacks are also provided. Tea/coffee is brought to your tent each morning and juice or hot drinks are provided with all meals during the trek.

Transport

A variety of transport is used during this tour and vehicle types may vary depending on group size: travel is by bus and train. Airport transfers are by private car or minibus. All main road journeys are by private minibus or coach with heating/air conditioning.

We travel by train (with Peru Rail/Inca Rail) between Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) and Ollantaytambo in expedition/executive class. Seating is four seats to a table, the carriages have panoramic windows and there is air conditioning/heating.

We take the public bus for the short journey between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu; this is the only transport available on this route as private vehicles are not permitted. The wait can be very long first thing in the morning, especially during the peak summer months.

This point-to-point trekking trip requires you to walk between each overnight stay under your own steam. Other forms of transport may be available along the route (horses, mules etc) but Exodus is not able to take responsibility for the safety or the cost of any transport you choose to take, even if provided with the assistance of our leader or staff.

Weather & Seasonality

The diverse geography of Peru results in a very varied climate between different regions. Cuzco and the Andes have a temperate climate. December to March is the rainy season in Cuzco/the Andes. April to November is the dry season, which is characterised by clear skies and strong sunshine in the mornings, sometimes clouding over as the day progresses.

Daytime temperatures are usually pleasant (20C/68F on average) but nights are lower (7C/44F), except for May, June, July and August when days are cooler and nights are often close to, or a few degrees below, freezing. In the Andes, however, anything is possible at any time of year, including cloud, rain or even snow, with rapid and unexpected changes.

Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu are in the cloud forest and experience large amounts of precipitation all year as clouds move up from the Amazon Basin. Rain here can be heavy but is seldom prolonged. Cold fronts sometimes occur from July to August.

Peru is affected by El Niño, a weather phenomenon where warming of Pacific Ocean surface water off South America drives a shift in the atmospheric circulation, resulting in abnormally high levels of rainfall over parts of South America. These events occur at irregular intervals of two to seven years, and last nine months to two years.

Joining Instructions

Start hotel: MamaSara Hotel, C. Saphy 875, Cuzco 08002
Phone: +51 84 223907
Recommended arrival time: You can arrive at any time today. There is a welcome briefing in the afternoon/evening, but if you miss it the leader will update you separately
Airport: Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ)

Getting to the start hotel

Our Cuzco hotel is approximately 20 minutes’ drive from the airport. Exodus provides free arrival transfers to the start hotel from the airport for all customers.

Collecting baggage in Lima
If you are flying via Lima, you need to collect your baggage in Lima, even if your bag has been checked all the way through to Cuzco. After collecting the bag, you are required to clear customs, and you should then drop it off at the bag drop for the onward flight. If you do not pick up your bag, there is a chance it may not reach Cuzco for the start of the trek. This is a requirement of Lima airport and applies to your return flight.

Catching your return flight

Exodus provides free departure transfers for all customers to Alejandro Velasco Astete International Airport (CUZ) from the end hotel.

Please note, unless specified otherwise, the transfers will be to the start (or pre-tour) hotel and from the end (or post-tour) hotel and will be on the date on which the tour starts/ends; transfers to other hotels in the same city and/or on different dates may attract an extra charge. Transfers should be booked with your sales representative at least two weeks before the tour starts.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Cuzco
Location end: Cuzco

What To Take

Essential Equipment

For full details of what to take, please see our Inca Trail kit list.

  • A three- or four-season sleeping bag (four-season for May to August departures)
  • Warm jacket
  • Several layers of clothing to cope with varying temperatures during the trek
  • Comfortable, waterproof walking boots
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Waterproof jacket and overtrousers (overpants)
  • Sun hat, sunglasses and sunscreen
  • Two large refillable water bottles (ideally metal or reusable Nalgene due to trail restrictions)
  • Backpack (25-35 litres should be sufficient for trekking days)
  • A lightweight quick-drying towel
  • Headtorch (head lamp) or torch (flashlight)
  • Lip balm
  • Insect repellent
  • Essential toiletries (toothbrush, toothpaste, etc…)
  • Personal wipes and/or toilet paper (for public restrooms and trail)

In Cuzco, Exodus provides an inflatable Therm-a-Rest sleeping mat for the duration of the trek. The mat is full length and approximately 1.57in (4cm) thick when inflated.

A sleeping bag is not included but is required for the trek – these can be hired locally through your leader in Cuzco from US$26.

Inca Trail baggage
Any normal luggage or suitcase can be used for this trip, but a soft kitbag or duffel bag (measuring approximately 27in x 12in/70cm x 30cm) must be used for the trek (since porters cannot carry hard suitcases or bags with wheels etc).

If you book this trip, we provide an Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in while on trek. Once you have booked, you will be sent instructions on how to claim your free bag (they will not be sent out automatically). There are also details on how to claim for another item from the Exodus shop should you already have one of these. If you book via an agent, it is at the agent’s discretion, and you should speak directly to them to arrange delivery. Please note that if you book less than three weeks before the departure date, we cannot guarantee that your kitbag will arrive before your trip starts; if this is the case, please contact us on datateam@exodus.co.uk to let us know. For full T&Cs see www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags.

The kitbags do not have wheels, so you may prefer to pack it inside your own wheelie case for ease of travelling to, and moving through, the airport. Your suitcase can then be left in Cuzco with anything not needed for the trek, while the kitbag will be carried by your porter on the trek. If, however, you can’t fit the Exodus kitbag in your main luggage (or do not receive one in time) then our local partners will provide a soft kitbag in Cuzco (this should be returned to your leader after the trek).

Inca Trail weight restriction
There are regulations regarding luggage on the Inca Trail, which are strictly enforced and were created to reduce environmental damage to the Inca Trail and to comply with porter work laws.

Porterage for up to 15lb (7kg) of personal gear is allowed on the Inca Trail trek. This is inclusive of your sleeping bag, which usually weighs approximately 4.1lb (1.8kg). Your sleeping mat, however, does not count towards your personal weight limit. If your packed kitbag exceeds the allowed weight, you must transfer excess items to your backpack.

Donations for porters
The porters we work with are mostly from farming communities. If you have any old walking gear you no longer need, or any unwanted warm children’s clothing, these would be much appreciated by the porters and their families. Please leave any donations with your leader in Cuzco, or you can give items directly to your porters on the last night of the trek.

Environmental considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impact wherever possible, even when nature calls. If no facilities are available, you may need to go behind a tree, bush or rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind, we recommend taking biodegradable bags with you. Once you have done your business, put the used paper in the bag and dispose when appropriate facilities are available.

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Optional Equipment

Trekking poles: We strongly recommend taking collapsable trekking poles for the Inca Trail as the number of steps can be hard on the knees. Due to recent environmental legislation, poles must have a plastic tip or protector fitted on the end. Walking poles with rubber tips can be hired through your leader in Cuzco from US$8 per pole. Walking poles are not permitted inside the Machu Picchu ruins without a medical certificate detailing their necessity.

We also recommend:

  • Small sewing kit (with safety pins)
  • Wet wipes
  • Biodegradable cold-water detergent or laundry soap
  • Personal music player/books/pack of cards

We strongly recommend storing electronics in a sealed waterproof bag to prevent damage during rain

Practical Information

Passport

Remember to check the expiration date of your passport if travelling internationally. Many countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months after the date of your scheduled return.

Visa

Peru

Travellers from the UK, US and EU normally do not need a visa to enter Peru. Please note, visa requirements often change and it is your responsibility to obtain any required visas for this trip. Therefore, we recommend that you check with the nearest embassy or consulate of your chosen destination(s), including any countries you may be transiting or transferring through.

Some local governments provide guidance on what visas their citizens need. To help, we’ve gathered a selection of useful links below.

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Program, you are required to register in advance for an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization). There is a US$21 charge, which is only payable online. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information.

Please note, not all nationalities have the same eligibility for travel to or transit via the USA, and you may not be covered by the visa waiver program. Regulations stipulate that any person who has travelled to Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Syria or Yemen since March 2011, or have dual nationalities of these countries, may no longer qualify. In addition, if you have travelled to Cuba since 12 January 2021 you will not be eligible for the visa waiver program and should instead apply for a visa.

If you are in doubt of your eligibility, please check the visa requirements with your local US embassy.

Vaccinations and Health

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements; however, recommended vaccinations are polio, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis A.

Also note, zika virus, a mosquito‐borne viral disease, is a known risk in places visited on this trip. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available. We therefore strongly recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

If you are travelling to the Tambopata reserve in the Amazon rainforest, the risk of malaria is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. We also strongly recommend you obtain a yellow fever vaccination.

Dengue and chikungunya are also known risks in the Amazon region. Both are tropical viral diseases spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for either, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites: always apply insect repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and trousers while in the rainforest to avoid being bitten.

Local Time

Peru's time zone: America/Lima (UTC -05:00)

Electricity

Peru’s electricity: Plug types A (two flat pins), B (three pins: two flat, one round) and C (two round pins) – 220V, 60Hz. There are no charging facilities available on the Inca Trail, so we recommend you take spare batteries or a solar charger with you.

Amazon extension: There is no mains electricity in the Amazon lodges; a generator provides power for a few hours a day only in the main lodge/dining area, while lanterns, torches (flashlights) or candles are provided in the bedrooms.

The Inca Trail

Money

Peru's currency: Peruvian nuevo sol (PEN)

ATM Availability

ATMs are available in the larger cities and towns and are particularly recommended since they often allow you to withdraw either dollars or soles and exchange rates are generally good. Most international credit and debit cards are accepted, but you should inform your bank you are travelling to Peru and check if your card will work in the local ATMs.

There are some ATMs in Aguas Calientes, but they can run out of cash so it is a good idea to take your spending money for Machu Picchu with you on the trek itself. Credit card acceptance is increasing, but generally they can be used only at the large (and more expensive) restaurants and shops. Check with your card provider to ensure your card can be used in Peru.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

We recommend either taking cash with you to change into sol locally or using local ATMs to withdraw money in Peru as you go, so you are not left with excess at the end of your trip. It is a good idea to change a small amount into sol at the counters in the baggage hall upon arrival. Change is often in short supply, so ask for small denomination banknotes and try to break up any large notes at the earliest opportunity.

It is possible to obtain Peruvian sol before you travel but exchange rates can be lower than exchanging money locally in Peru. Some larger establishments and hotels accept US dollars, but most places only accept sol.

Food, drinks and similar incidentals can vary in price enormously in Peru and are relatively expensive compared to other developing nations. Allow about 55-75 soles (US$15-US$20) per meal to eat at tourist-class restaurants. Cheaper food is abundant at small local cafes, although sanitary conditions at these places cannot be guaranteed. Bottled water and soft drinks are readily available for around 3.75-7.50 soles (US$1‐US$2) each.

You may want to hire equipment for your trek in Cuzco – please see the Packing Section for prices. Peruvian airport taxes are included in the price of your flight ticket and there will be no need to pay these locally. Please note, there is a possibility the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism may increase entrance fees to archeological sites at any time. If this happens, we will inform you of the increase and the additional amount will be payable locally.

Peruvian passport or Identity Card holders
Our trips in Peru are based on the assumption you do not hold a Peruvian passport or residents card. If you are officially resident in Peru or a Peruvian passport holder, you are liable to an additional 18 percent tax on most services, and this extra sum is payable locally to our local partner.

Other nationalities are exempt from this tax. Please notify us at the time of booking if you are legally resident in Peru or hold a Peruvian passport so we can advise you of the total cost of these taxes.

Optional excursions
Your tour leader can tell you about the full range of optional excursions available throughout your trip; however, the most popular ones are as follows:

  • A partial tourist ticket (BTG) is required for entrance to the sites in and around Cuzco and the Sacred Valley – this is not included in the excursion prices below but can be purchased locally from approximately .
  • City tour and four ruins (half day/five hours). From US$48 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. This includes visits to the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Tambomachay and Puca Pucará, plus a city tour, which includes the Plaza de Armas, where the cathedral is located, Qorikancha Sun Temple (entrance included) and San Pedro Market.
  • Sacred Valley tour (full day/eight hours). From US$58 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. Drive to the Sacred Valley, stopping at El Mirador viewpoint en route. Visit Pisac Market and fortress and Ollantaytambo; return to Cuzco.
  • South Valley tour (full day/seven hours). From US$66 per person (based on four participants), excludes BTG. Visit the little-known valley to the south of Cuzco, including the terraces at Tipon, the pre-Inca ruins of Pikillaqta and the ‘Sistine Chapel of the Americas’ in Andahuaylillas (entrance included); return to Cuzco.
  • Stand Up Paddle (half day/four hours): From US$82 per person (based on two participants). Includes private transfer, specialised guide, fruit, water and hot drinks. Price can vary if there are more people.
  • Zip line (full day/eight to nine hours). From US$60 per person. Includes transport, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • Via ferrata (full day/eight to nine hours). From US$60 per person. Includes transport, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • Via ferrata and zip line (full day/eight to nine hours). From US$100 per person. Includes Transport, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.
  • Mountain biking excursion in the Sacred Valley (full day/seven hours) From US$130 per person (based on two participants). Includes private transfer, security equipment, specialised guide, and packed lunch.

Prices of excursions vary depending on the number of people taking part. The prices given within these Trip Notes are intended as a guideline only. Actual prices will be more for smaller group sizes and less for larger group sizes. All tours use private transport and there will be an English-speaking guide. Please note that cash is the preferred method of payment for any of the optional activities.

For some activities, a minimum number of participants may be required. Some activities may not always be possible due to weather, seasonality, national holidays, or unforeseen circumstances.

Tipping

Our local staff are paid fairly for their work but tipping is customary in Peru. Tipping is greatly appreciated, but not compulsory and based on service provided. Whether and how much to tip is a personal decision; however, we have included some guidelines below.

Please note, Peruvian sol is the preferred currency for tips (but US dollars are also fine).

Tipping kitty: We recommend running a tipping kitty on this trip. A tipping kitty means we tip as a group, and individuals don’t need to worry about giving out small tips to various people who have helped during the trip (ie drivers, local guides, hotel staff). The tipping kitty excludes tips for the Inca Trail trekking crew and the Tour Leader. The contribution we suggest is 25 soles (US$6) per person per day.

Tour leader: Leaders are paid fairly for their role but are always grateful for recognition of their skills and hard work. Tips for your leader should be based on their performance and engagement with the group. If you are happy with the leader’s work, we recommend somewhere around 25 soles (US$6) per person per day, but customers are encouraged to contribute what they feel happy giving.

Trekking crew: The trekking crew is made up of guides, cooks, kitchen staff and porters. Tips are best arranged on a group basis, and a volunteer from the group should gather the money and split the total collected into smaller amounts for each person. This is normally done on the last night of the trek. Your leader is happy to assist as needed.

    • Inca Trail: The recommended contribution per group member is approximately 160-210 soles (US$40-US$53) per person for groups of seven or more, and 180-240 soles (US$45-US$60) per person for groups of six or fewer.

Around 200-300 soles (US$50-US$75) of the total collection would normally be allocated to the main trek guide.

Based on the above distributions, tips for everyone (inclusive of a tipping kitty and a tip for your trekking crew and tour leader) for the whole tour duration should amount to a total of around 575-655 soles (US$145-US$165) per person, depending on the group size.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that improve life for the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Find out more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here, and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:

People

How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • The use of a local guide means our customers will be well informed about local traditions, and cultural and social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels and restaurants, the emphasis on eating locally produced food, and by supporting other local enterprises.
  • The porters we work with are not directly employed by our local partner, but we work with the same communities each year; they are fairly paid and we also supply uniforms, walking shoes and provide safe transport and community support for them. Our trek manager is a leading figure and consultant for the Porters’ Federation, which campaigns for the fair treatment of porters in the region.
  • We’re passionate about the welfare of our punctilious porters. Alongside setting the golden standard for fair treatment, we’ve taken the next step with our pioneering Porter Project. In Peru, despite trekking the Inca Trail numerous times, most porters never have the opportunity to visit the Machu Picchu ruins. We’ve taken the initiative to fix this and in 2018 started a project to ensure each of our porters can experience an important part of their cultural heritage. We can now say more than 160 porters have been involved this project, and our mini-documentary about our porters, Carried Away, has helped raise awareness of the awesome job they
  • Funded by the Community Kickstart Project, our operator is working with Medlife to deliver emergency food parcels to the households of porters and other staff members who have continuously worked hard to guide our clients along the iconic Inca Trail.

Places

How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, led by a local guide, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • Trekking trips have little detrimental impact on the environment and our entry fees to the trail and historic sites contribute directly towards their maintenance and upkeep.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively eliminate or reduce waste, for example eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles and instead providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • We operate a zero-impact policy on the Inca Trail removing all waste from campsites and separating it so that it can be easily recycled or composted. This ensures no rubbish or plastic is left behind in the places we visit.
  • Our local operator has been certified and verified by Rainforest Alliance since 2015.
  • Our Animal Welfare Policy ensures all our trips adhere to ABTA’s industry-leading animal welfare guidelines to ensure the best possible practices with regards to working animals and wildlife viewing.

Planet

How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Through our Planet Promise, we have pledged to halve the carbon footprint of our trips by 2030 and made rewilding and carbon compensation commitments for every customer who travels.
  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Vegetarian and vegan options are available at majority of accommodation and restaurants.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish behind in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, we’d ask you to consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring your own reusable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

Inca Trail regulations

There are several important Inca Trail regulations we would like to make you aware of:

  1. Spaces on the Inca Trail are on a first-come, first-served basis and we urge you to book as early as possible.
  2. If you cancel your booking more than eight weeks before departure and wish to transfer your deposit to another departure or another trip the transfer fee is approximately £150 (US$210 / CA$252 / AU$308 / €191) as we will lose the permit we have purchased on your behalf. This is an amendment to our Booking Conditions. No transfers are possible within eight weeks of departure.
  3. Bookings can only be made if we are supplied with your full name, passport details, date of birth and nationality, exactly as per the passport you will be using to travel to Peru (this information is used to purchase your Inca Trail permit). If your passport details do not match those on your permit you will be refused entry to the Inca Trail by the local authorities.
  4. Should the passport used to purchase your permit be lost, stolen or expire before your Inca Trail start date, you must purchase a new passport and notify Exodus immediately as we will need to apply to amend your Inca Trail permit. To do so, you must supply copies of both your old and new passports to Exodus in advance of travel and pay an administration fee of £25 (US$35 / CA$42 / AU$52 / €32). For this reason, we strongly recommend that you make a copy of your passport at the time of booking and keep it somewhere safe.
  5. Please be aware that these regulations may change at any time, and Exodus is not responsible for the decisions made by Peruvian authorities.
  6. There is a possibility the Peruvian authorities may increase the entrance fees to the Inca Trail, Machu Picchu and other major sights at any time. If they do so, we will inform you of this increase and the extra amount will need to be paid locally in cash in Peru.

Please note: While your departure date may be ‘Guaranteed’, your Inca Trail permit itself will initially be ‘On Request’. If you’re travelling within the current year, we try to purchase your permit immediately upon receiving your booking. If travelling next year, we will apply for your permit as soon as they are released for sale. If we are unable to get your permit, we will contact you to discuss your options.

Machu Picchu regulations

  1. Tickets are valid for one entry
  2. We spend approximately three hours at Machu Picchu and our guided tour lasts about two hours
  3. Upon finishing our one-way Machu Picchu guided tour, we must exit the site

Please note, we visit Machu Picchu in the morning or afternoon to avoid the peak entry time (10am to midday).

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.

Licensing

Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.