Peruvian Andes

The Moonstone Trek Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
Peru
Programmes:
Walking & Trekking
Trip Code:
TPM
Activity Rating - Moderate/Challenging
Moderate / Challenging

You are moderately fit and have an interest in remote or challenging environments. Some previous experience is required for activity based trips.

11 Days Flight Inclusive
9 Days Land only
Ages: 16+

Trip Overview

The trek starts in a quiet, rural valley between Cuzco and the Sacred Valley and finishes in Ollantaytambo, only seven miles upstream from the start of the Inca Trail. It passes through seldom‐visited Andean villages, Inca and pre‐Inca ruins and heads onto a beautiful altiplano plateau surrounded by glaciated peaks. Most groups won't encounter any other tourists for the entire trek and the combination of stunning mountain scenery and wildlife, fascinating relics and real isolation is truly rewarding.

At a Glance

  • 5 nights hotels in en suite rooms, 3 nights full-service camping with dining and toilet tents
  • 5 days point-to-point walking with full porterage
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus leader. Min. age 16 yrs
  • Altitude maximum 4600m, average 3600m

  • Travel by private bus and by train

Trip Highlights

  • Seldom walked trails and few other tourists (if any!)
  • Majestically perched Machu Picchu
  • Walk a section of the Inca Trail via Wiñay Wayna
  • Discover Cuzco with its distinct Inca-Colonial fusion architecture

Is This Trip for You?

This is a Moderate/Challenging grade trek (level 4) – please refer to our activity level guidelines. There are 5 days walking with full porterage, at a maximum altitude of 4600m, average 3600m. A little higher and tougher than the Inca Trail ‐ this trek is remote and on some fairly rough paths, some sections of which present mild exposure. Anyone of reasonable fitness and with prior walking experience should find no real difficulties, except for a satisfying challenge in ascending the high‐pass (about 800m of ascent to about 4600m). No prior experience of trekking at altitude is required.

As this trip spends considerable time at altitude, we ask you to refer to the altitude warning below. All of our itineraries have built in acclimatisation days before starting the trek.

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

List of Regulations for visiting Machu Picchu:

The main points impacting your visit are the following:

  1. The tickets are valid only for one entry which means that you cannot leave the site and re-enter.
  2. Once you have done the chosen circuit with your guide, you cannot walk back to view anything already visited and once you finish the circuit, you will have to leave the site. You can no longer explore the site further after the guided tour.
  3. The two visit times for visiting the site, either 6am-12pm or 12-16.30pm.
  4. The local authorities have restricted the temples which can visited at Machu Picchu depending on the time of the visit to the site.

These regulations will affect how long you are able to spend at Machu Picchu and which temples you can visit.  In the past, after the guided tour passengers could stay longer to explore the site, this is not possible anymore. The alternative that we are implementing on our visits to allow you further time, is to explore the upper part of Machu Picchu (Sun Gate and Inca Bridge) before starting the guided tour.  The guided tour will be about 2 hrs in duration, and unfortunately at the end of it, you will need to exit the site. You will be able to visit the Condor’s Temple, but not the Sun Dial Temple or the Sun Temple on this itinerary.

 Schedule of visit to Machu Picchu on this itinerary:

  • Early bus to Machu Picchu and explore upper part with the tour leader
  • Between 9-10am start the guided tour
  • Between 11.30am-12.30pm passengers leave Machu Picchu

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Group

On the Moonstone Trek there will be a full trek crew including horsemen, cooks and assistant guides.

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Cuzco
End City:
Cuzco

Land Only Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Start Cuzco (3400m); free time to explore the Inca capital

    Set amidst hills in the altiplano, the Imperial City of the Incas, Cuzco (3,400) was the geographic, cultural and political centre of a vast empire which, at its peak, stretched from present-day Quito in Ecuador to Santiago in Chile. After the Spanish conquistadores invaded the city they started building on top of the Incan structures, resulting in unique architecture, a fusion of the Incan and Spanish colonial styles.

    The group flight usually arrives around midday, giving time for a short orientation tour around the city or free time to wander the cobbled streets admiring the old houses, visiting its interesting museums, churches and pre-Columbian buildings, or to sit in a café and sample a coca-tea.

    It is recommended to take it easy upon arrival into Cuzco and to drink plenty of water to allow your body time to acclimatise to the altitude (3400m).

    There will be a welcome briefing in the hotel lobby this afternoon/evening.

    Accommodation: Hotel Warari (or similar)

  • Day 2

    Free day; optional Sacred Valley excursion.

    Today has been left free for exploring Cuzco, one of South America's most beautiful cities. The Plaza de Armas is a fantastic spot for people-watching, and Qorikancha – the Sun Temple, located in the Santo Domingo Church and monastery, are worth a visit. The Mercado San Pedro is the place to try some 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 Conquistadores. Cuzco is also the gateway to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and should you wish to visit the sites, your leader can help organise an excursion, including Pisac Market (optional).

    If you fancy something more active then there are an array of other optional activities available from Cuzco including paddle-boarding on a lake, mountain biking, or a combination of via ferrata and zip-lining in the Sacred Valley.

    Accommodation: Hotel Warari (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Start the Moonstone Trek; walk past ruins and hamlets to the village of Chillipawa

    An early start as it's a very busy first day! We take a private minibus to the trailhead, stopping first to explore the nearby ruins from which the trek takes its name. This is a large site with several distinct Inca remnants, clearly of religious importance. As with the rest of the trek, we are most likely to have the site completely to ourselves. The Moonstone itself is a large carving on an enormous boulder, and its significance is not yet understood.

    The trailhead is in a quiet, dusty valley and we soon climb high enough from the floor to enjoy some great views. At around lunchtime we stop to explore the imposing pre‐Inca fortress of Wata that straddles the trail. The ruin has not yet been accurately dated and pottery can often still be found lying on the ground. The path then traverses along a green side valley as we make our way above a few tiny villages before entering the village of Chillipawa, where we camp.

    Walk Profile: approx. 10.5km / 6‐7hrs walking

    Full‐service Camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 10.5 km / 6.5 miles
    Activity (hours):
    6-7
  • Day 4

    Up the Accoccosa Pass and onto the high pampas

    A long, steady climb with plenty of rest stops to aid acclimatisation takes us above the villages and into the high pampas ‐ rugged meadows of long grass. We normally stop for lunch shortly before the crest of the Accoccosa Pass (and the very rare Andean Flicker is sometimes seen (although often heard!). The last leg of the pass is on loose red scree, but the view from the top makes it all worthwhile: a broad, hidden valley surrounded by snowy peaks ‐ the Huayanay Range on the left, the Urubamba Range straight ahead and beautiful, triangular Mt Veronica (5800m) to the right. We have time to explore this plateau and experience walking in the high altiplano before returning to our camp for a well‐deserved hot dinner. The camp's isolation, well away from any settlements, results in spectacular night skies when clear.

    Walk Profile: approx. 8.8km / 4‐5hrs walking

    Full‐service Camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 8.8 km / 5.5 miles
    Activity (hours):
    4-5
  • Day 5

    Continue along a narrow canyon and Incan aqueduct before crossing over to the Inca quarry of Cachicata

    We start after breakfast by following the stream from down this hidden valley into a narrow canyon. Rare polylepis trees grow here and we pass through a small grove as we leave the canyon. Our path then turns North and traverses very high above a deep and steep valley separating us from the Huayanay Mountains. This is probably the most spectacular section of the trek and we roughly follow a (now defunct) Inca aqueduct spectacularly carved out of the cliffs to take water from the hidden valley of our campsite to the Sacred Valley several miles away. At the end of the traverse we have a short but steep climb up to our lunch spot, a flat, ridge‐top meadow facing straight across the Sacred Valley to the snowy Urubamba Range.

    After lunch we walk down to Huayrapunku. Meaning "Gate of the Wind", this is a ridge‐top Inca shrine oriented to Mt Veronica, of which it has a simply incredible view. A short walk brings us to our final campsite in amongst the granite stones of the Cachicata Quarry. It was here that huge blocks were cut from the rose‐coloured granite before being dragged down the mountainside and across the river to the Sun Temple at Ollantaytambo.

    Walk Profile: approx. 11.8km / 5‐6hrs walking

    Full‐service Camping

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch,
    Dinner
    Distance covered: 11.8 km / 7.3 miles
    Activity (hours):
    5-6
  • Day 6

    Descend to Ollantaytambo where the trek ends

    Photographers are advised to wake up before dawn this morning, to watch the sun rise over the Sacred Valley from our campsite high above it. The sun's first rays catching the glaciers of Mt Veronica certainly makes the effort more than worthwhile. This is our last day on the trek and we descend from the pampas down into the lush valley floor along the enormous stone ramps on which the Incas dragged the stones. We cross the river and explore the huge Sun Temple complex to see where the stones ended and what use they were put to. 

    Walk Profile: approx. 8km / 2‐3hrs walking

    Accommodation: Tunupa Lodge (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 8 km / 5 miles
    Activity (hours):
    2-3
  • Day 7

    Day walk along Inca Trail via Winay Wayna ruins

    Today we have a day walk along a section of the Inca Trail, starting early with a train from Ollantaytambo.  After showing our passports at the check point, we will pass by the archaeological site of Chachabamba and start our trek. The trail has impressive views of the valley and the Urubamba river, with orchids and begonias along the way and the sight of magnificent mountains all around. The trail passes the ruins of Wiñay Wayna where we will stop to explore and have our packed lunch. After visiting the attractive ruins of Wiñay Wayna, we have an undulating walk through cloud forest high above the river to Inti Punku, the Sun Gate. From here we get our first full sight of Machu Picchu itself, with Huayna Picchu rising behind.

    Walk Profile: approx. 11km / 6-7hrs walking

    Accommodation: Intipunku El Tambo (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast,
    Lunch
    Distance covered: 11 km / 6.8 miles
    Activity (hours):
    6-7
  • Day 8

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

    In order to beat the day-trippers arriving from Cuzco and reach the ruins as early as possible, a very early start is required to queue for Machu Picchu; only government-registered buses can make the 30-minute drive up the winding road to the site entrance, and during high season (May-October) queues can be hours long. 

    Machu Picchu is one of the architectural and engineering marvels of the ancient world and what makes it all the more dramatic is its mountain backdrop of staggering immensity. The Spaniards never found it; the Incas left no records of it, and so Machu Picchu remained a great enigma, a city lost for centuries in the jungle until it was rediscovered in 1911 by the American historian Hiram Bingham. 

    New regulations for visiting Machu Picchu are now fully enforced; of the three possible visiting slots, we will purchase the morning slot from 06:00 until 12:00 (unless unavailable), you will be limited to a maximum of four hours within the site and must be accompanied by a guide. There will also be three set routes to follow around Machu Picchu; we select the most comprehensive route. 

    We catch an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo (1hr 30 mins) and continue by private bus to Cuzco (2hrs 30 mins).

    Accommodation: Hotel Warari (or similar)

    Meals included:
    Breakfast
  • Day 9

    End Cuzco

    For land only travellers, the trip ends in Cuzco after breakfast today. Those who are travelling on the group flights will be taken to Cuzco airport to catch the overnight flight back to London.

    Meals included:
    Breakfast

All ascents, descents and distances listed above have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Extend Your Trip

Amazon Rainforest extension (from Cuzco)

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

Please ask your sales consultant for more details.

Price from: £449 (compulsory supplement of £80 for single travellers)

Post-trip Extensions

Lake Titicaca extension

Journey across the spectacular high altiplano to Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable freshwater lake (3,800m). Explore its waters by boat and visit the descendants of the Uros Indians who live on floating reed islands, and are also known for producing fine textiles. Back on the mainland, we visit the pre‐ Incan site of Sillustani, comprised of burial towers with fantastic views over the region. The 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 consultant for more details. 

Price from: £209 (compulsory supplement of £48 for single travellers)

Accommodation

Hotels & Camping

The hotels normally used are indicated within the itinerary, however, accommodation may differ from those stated depending on your departure date. All of our Cuzco hotels are small and locally-owned with en-suite bathrooms and breakfast facilities. All are located within walking distance of the central Plaza de Armas. Most hotels have a safety deposit box in the room but if not, there will be one at the reception.

Please note that central heating is very rare in Peru, even in good standard hotels. Most hotels provide plug-in heaters and spare blankets. Additionally whilst all of the hotels have a hot water supply, it can be temperamental when there is high demand.

A railway line runs straight through the centre of Aguas Calientes and whilst we try to allocate rooms away from it whenever possible, the trains might be heard from some rooms.

The Moonstone trek is on a full-service camping basis with full porterage, meaning that our camp staff will erect and dismantle the tents for you, cook, and do all of the camp chores for you. You need only carry your daypack. There is a separate dining tent for meal times, as well as a toilet tent for use both in camp and during lunch stops. On the Moonstone Trek we use wild campsites.

Should you wish to extend your stay, we can book extra nights accommodation in Cuzco for you. While we endeavour to book your pre/post tour accommodation in the same hotel that you will start/end the trip, it may not always be possible. If your extra accommodation is in a different hotel to where the group will start/end the trip it is your responsibility to make arrangements to get to/from that start/end hotel.

We recommend the early booking of single supplements and of pre/post-tour accommodation. Single accommodation (including tents) can be arranged, subject to availability. Please request this at the time of booking.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £240.00

Food & Transport

Eating & Drinking

All breakfasts, 5 lunches and 3 dinners are included in the price of the tour. 

Peruvian cuisine has developed a reputation for its flavours and originality and it’s well worth trying out a few of the local delicacies. Amongst these are ceviche (a spicy dish of seafood or fish marinated in lime juice), lomo saltado (a Peruvian take on a beef stir-fry) and various hearty soups such as the delicious quinoa soup. Other dishes include roasted cuy (guinea pig), alpaca steak, and to drink, the national beverage: Pisco Sour.

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

Hotel breakfasts are normally simple buffet-style affairs, usually including bread/toast and jam, cereal, sometimes eggs or a cooked dishes, sometimes fruit, tea/coffee and fruit juice. Regrettably, we cannot guarantee that wheat/gluten-free products will be 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'll visit a variety of cafes and restaurants.

During the Moonstone Trek hearty breakfasts are served and good quality cooked lunches and dinners are provided, and usually consist of soup or a starter, a main course with meat/fish and some form of carbohydrates, followed by a dessert. Some snacks between meals are also provided. Bed tea/coffee is brought to your tent each morning and juice or hot drinks are provided with all meals during the trek.

 

Transportation

A variety of transport is used during this tour and vehicle types may vary depending on group size: travel is by bus and by train.

Airport transfers are by private car or mini-bus. All main road journeys are by private mini-bus or coach with heating/air-conditioning.

We travel by train (with Peru Rail/Inca Rail) between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes (the town below Machu Picchu) in Expedition/Executive Class. Seating is four seats to a table, the carriages have panoramic windows and there is air conditioning/heating. On day 7 (for the guided tour of Machu Picchu) we take the public bus for the short journey between Aguas Calientes and Machu Picchu – this is the only transport option available on this route as private vehicles are not permitted. Queues can be very long first thing in the morning, especially during the peak summer months.

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

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

Peru's diverse geography results in climate which varies greatly by both region and season.

Cuzco and the Andes have a temperate climate. December to March is the rainy season in Cuzco/the Andes and April to November is the dry season; characterised by clear skies and strong sunshine in the mornings, sometimes clouding over as the day progresses. Daytime temperatures are usually pleasant (approx. 20 degrees C on average) but night times only 5-10 degrees C, 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 as such attract 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-August.

Peru is affected by the El Niño weather phenomenon whereby 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. A strong El Niño event occurred in 2014-16. 

Weather Charts

Cuzco, Peru

Cuzco, Peru

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 11 days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We will normally use LATAM or Avianca (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly, we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Collecting Baggage in Lima

If you are travelling on the group flights via Lima, please note that you will need to collect your baggage in Lima, even if your bag has been checked all the way through to Cuzco (and even if you are told in London that you do not need to pick it up). 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 also applies to your return flight.

Travelling land only: 9 days starting and ending in Cuzco

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Cuzco in the afternoon of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions – sent approximately two weeks before departure. Accommodation check‐in times are normally from around 3pm.

As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure. The usual, standard check-in baggage weight allowance is 20kg.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

Free Transfers

Exodus offers FREE airport arrival and departure transfers on any flight for this trip, for both Land Only and Flight Inclusive clients. Unless specified otherwise, the transfer will be to the Exodus 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 may be shared with other Exodus customers on the same flight, or on a flight with similar arrival times. All those taking advantage of the free airport transfers must provide full flight details for both arrival and departure in advance. 

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

  • A 3 or 4-season sleeping bag (4-season for May-August departures)
  • Warm jacket
  • Several layers of clothing to cope with varying temperatures during the trek
  • Leather or lightweight walking boots
  • Warm hat and gloves
  • Waterproof jacket and over trousers
  • Sun hat, sunglasses and sun cream
  • 2 x 1-litre water bottles (ideally metal or reusable Nalgene due to trail restrictions)
  • Daypack (between 25 and 35 litres should be sufficient for trekking days)
  • A lightweight quick-drying towel
  • Head-torch
  • Insect repellent
  • Small trek towel

Exodus provides (in Cuzco) a sleeping mat for the duration of the trek. The mat is full length and approximately 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$20 (PEN66).

Moonstone Trek Baggage

Whilst any type of normal luggage or suitcase can be used for this holiday, a soft kitbag or duffel bag (measuring approximately 70cm x 30cm) will need to be used for the trek portion (since the horses cannot carry hard suitcases or bags with wheels etc.). 

If you book this trip, we provide an Exodus kitbag to pack your luggage in whilst 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, so if this is the case please contact us on [email protected] to let us know. For full T&Cs see www.exodus.co.uk/kitbags.

As the kitbags do not have wheels, 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, whilst the kitbag will be carried by horses 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 duffel bag in Cuzco (this should be returned to your leader after the trek).

On the Moonstone trek please try to keep your duffel bag to a maximum of about 10kg (give or take a couple of kgs) so as not to overladen the animals.

Donations for porters

The porters we work with are mostly from rural 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 alternatively, you can give items directly to your porters on the last night of the trek.

 

Water Included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, 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 in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!

Environmental Considerations

We believe in reducing our negative environmental impacts wherever possible, this goes for when you need to spend a penny in the great outdoors! If no facilities are available there may come a time when you need to go to the loo behind a tree/bush/rock. To avoid leaving toilet paper behind we recommend taking biodegradable dog poo/sandwich bags with you. Once you have done your business you can pop the used toilet roll in here and take it off the mountain or trail at the end of the day and dispose of it when there are appropriate facilities available.

Optional Equipment

We strongly recommend taking trekking poles for the Moonstone Trek as the number of steps can be hard on the knees, but note that 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$10 (PEN33) per pole. Please note that walking poles are not permitted inside the ruins of Machu Picchu without a medical certificate detailing their necessity.

We also recommend: A small sewing kit (with safety pins), wet wipes, cold water detergent or laundry soap (biodegradable), a personal music player/books/pack of cards, swimwear for hot springs.

We strongly recommend storing electronics (cameras etc.) in a sealed waterproof bag to prevent damage during rain.

Internal Flights Weight Limit

The weight limit for internal flights in this destination is generally 20kg.

Challenging peaks of the Moonstone Trek

Practical Information

Passport

Peru

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Peru. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Visa

Peru

Visas are not required by UK citizens, Western European nationals, Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, South Africans and most other nationalities. If you are in any doubt please contact the nearest Peruvian Embassy.

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

If you are travelling via the USA and are eligible to transit under the Visa Waiver Programme (most British and western European citizens with a machine readable passport are), you are now required to register in advance for an Electronic Travel Authority (ESTA). There is a US$14 charge for the ESTA, which is only payable online with a credit card. Please see our website www.exodus.co.uk/usvisa for further information. All other nonresidents passing through the US must get a visa in advance. Check with your local embassy or consulate for more details on how to obtain a visa.

Vaccination

Peru

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements.

Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

Zika fever is a mosquito‐borne viral disease and 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 that you obtain a Yellow Fever vaccination. Dengue fever and/or Chikungunya are 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.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

Altitude warning

This trip includes one or more nights over 3500m 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 and 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 is acceptable due to the additional safety measures that are in place for our customers. All our trips operating at high altitude meet our internal altitude safety standards that minimise the risk of serious incidents occurring whilst travelling at altitude.

A number of 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. Please note that 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 that 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).

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Peru's Timezone:
America/Lima -05 (GMT -05:00)

Electricity

Peru's Electricity:

220 Volts/60hz. Most sockets will take both European round pin plugs and flat U.S. plugs. On camping treks, spare batteries or a solar charger may come in handy. If staying in an Amazon lodge there is no mains electricity; a generator will provide power for a few hours a day only in the main lodge/dining area, whilst lanterns, torches or candles will be provided in the bedrooms.

There are no charging facilities available on the Inca Trail, and we recommend you take spare batteries or a solar charger for the duration of the trek and the visit to Machu Picchu.

Money

Peru's Currency

The national currency of Peru is the Peruvian Nuevo Sol (PEN), with an exchange rate at the time of publication (August 2021) of approximately 5.63 to the GBP, 4.09 to the USD, 3.24 to the CAD, 4.79 to the EUR, 2.96 to the AUD and 2.81 to the NZD.

Most major currencies including Sterling, Euros and US Dollars can easily be changed into local currency (Sol) at all bureau de change in Peru, although US Dollars usually attract the best exchange rates. Torn, damaged or marked foreign bills are often refused in Peru.

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 several ATMs in Aguas Calientes, but they do sometimes 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. You should check with your card provider to ensure your card can be used in Peru.

We do not recommend taking travellers cheques as these are becoming increasingly difficult to exchange.

 

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 the vast majority of places will 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 US$15‐20 per meal not included 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 US$1‐2 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 that there is a possibility the Peruvian Ministry of Tourism may increase entrance fees to archaeological 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

Please note that the cost of Exodus holidays in Peru is based on the assumption that you do not hold a Peruvian passport or resident's card. If you are officially resident in Peru or are a Peruvian passport holder, you will be liable to an additional 18% tax on the majority of services, and this extra sum will be 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 that we can advise you of the total cost of these taxes.

Optional Excursions

Your tour leader will be able to tell you about the full range of optional excursions available throughout your holiday 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 PEN70 (approx. US$21).

City tour and 4 ruins (half day – 5 hours): From US$48 per person (based on 4 participants), excludes BTG. This includes visits to the nearby ruins of Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Tambomachay and Puca Pucará as well as a tour of the city itself, including the Plaza de Armas, where the Cathedral is located, Qorikancha ‘Sun Temple’ (entrance included) and San Pedro Market.

Sacred Valley tour (full day – 8 hours): From US$58 per person (based on 4 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 – 7 hours): From US$66 per person (based on 4 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 – 04 hours ): From US$55 per person. Fruit, water and hot drinks included.

Zip-Line (full day – 8-9  hours): From US $66 per person. Includes Transport security equipment, specialized guide, box Lunch.

Via Ferrata (full day – 8-9  hours): From US$66 per person. Includes Transport, security equipment, specialized guide, box Lunch.

Via Ferrata + Zip line( full day – 8-9  hours): From US$100 per person. Includes Transport, security equipment, specialized guide, box Lunch.

Mountain Biking Excursion in the Sacred Valley (full day 07  hours): From US$172 per person (based on 2 participants). Includes private transfer, security equipment, specialized guide, box Lunch.

White Water Rafting (full day – 8 hours): From US$130 per person (minimum of 2 participants). Drive to the Chiquicahuana area of the Southern Valley to start rafting in Vilcanota river. Spend 2-3 hours rafting and experiencing rapids level III and III+. Finish your adventure with a picnic lunch before heading back to Cusco. Activity available from April-December.

Prices of excursions vary depending on the number of people taking part. The prices given within these Trip Notes are based on 4 participants and 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

Exodus encourages customers to tip local support staff if they would like to. In Peru, it has become customary for local staff to receive tips and these tips can be an important source of extra income for hard-working crew. While whether and how much to tip should be a personal decision, customers often ask us for a suggestion of appropriate amounts for different individuals. Together with our local partner, we have prepared the below guidelines which we hope will be useful. Please note that PEN is the preferred currency for tips.

Tipping Kitty: On this trip we recommend running a tipping kitty. 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 (i.e. drivers, local guides, hotel staff). The tipping kitty excludes tips for Moonstone trekking crew and the Tour Leader. The contribution we suggest is US$50 (PEN 150) per person.

Tour Leader: Leaders are fairly paid for their role but are of course 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, and if you are happy with the leader’s work, we recommend somewhere around US$5 (PEN 15) per person per day, but customers are encouraged to contribute what they feel happy giving - either less or more than the amount suggested above. 

Tipping of your trekking crew: The trekking crew is made up of guides, cooks, kitchen staff, and horsemen. 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 will be happy to assist as needed. The recommended contribution per group member is PEN140-190 (or PEN 160-210 pp for small groups of 6 or less). Around PEN200-300 of the total collection would normally be allocated to the Main Trek Guide.

Based on the above distributions, tips for absolutely 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 approx.US$145-$165 (PEN 445-515) per person, depending on the group size.

Responsible Tourism

We work hard to create trips which 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 support of other local enterprise.
  • 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 stunning ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. We’ve taken the initiative to fix this and in 2018 started a project to ensure each of our porters has the opportunity to experience an important part of their own cultural heritage. We can now proudly say that over 164 porters have been involved this project, and our mini-documentary ‘Carried Away’ about our porters, has helped raise awareness of the awesome job these porters do.
  • The free day in Cuzco is a good chance to visit Café Manos Unidas, the first vocational training site for young adults with disabilities in Cusco, creating employment opportunities for youth in their own community. In 2018, Exodus funded £5,000 where during the first three months of operation has directly benefitted 15 youths as well as 52 other community members indirectly.
  • 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 re-usable bottles.
  • We operate a zero-impact policy while trekking, 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 re-usable water bottle on this trip; filtered water will be provided where tap water is not drinkable.

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake 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.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances 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.

On all trips

In 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 you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 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.

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; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, 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.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

Important Notes

Important notes

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. Book with confidence: 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 monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.