Monday, November 30, 2015

Wayna Picchu

So you are all booked up to head to Machu Picchu and are thinking about also purchasing a ticket to hike up the neighboring mountain of Wayna Picchu. By no means is hiking Wayna Picchu an easy feat, however the stunning views over the citadel of Machu Picchu are absolutely worth it, and for many people, a highlight of their trip to Machu Picchu.

How long does it take?

It takes around 1.5 hours to ascend and another 45 mins - 1 hour to descend.

INC (Peru's National Cultural Insitute) restrictions:

To prevent the deterioration of the mountain paths and the citadel, the INC implemented a restriction on the amount of people that can climb Wayna Picchu to 400 people each day. They also restricted the times someone can climb the mountain to 2 groups: a morning group, between the times of 7-8 am and the second from from 10 am-11 am. This means that the first group need to have reached the bottom of the mountain again by 10 am and the second group have to have returned by 1 pm, though as many people like to take their time and enjoy the stunning views at the top, this is rule is seldom abided by. Only 200 people are allowed to climb during each time slot. Children under the age of 12 are not permitted to climb Wayna Picchu.

Should I climb in the first or second time slot?

Ascending in the morning slot means that there are no tourists descending as you are climbing up and the top of Wayna Picchu will be significantly quieter as well. However, as the non-trekkers arrive on the train at 11 am, you will end up exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu at peak time and have to contend with the mass crowds. If you choose to climb in the afternoon, you have the quieter morning period to explore Machu Picchu, though as you are climbing Wayna Picchu, there will be people coming back down. Most people however, would recommend climbing in the afternoon, as it reduces the chances of there being fog obstructing the views and once you have descended the mountain, most people in the citadel will have departed to grab some lunch.

When should I purchase my ticket for Wayna Picchu?

Wayna Picchu is an extremely popular addition to Machu Picchu. Therefore, it is best to get your ticket at least 2-3 months before the climb (closer to 3 months in high season). Particularly in low season, it may be possible to acquire a ticket closer to your travel date than this, however it can never be guaranteed that there will be tickets available for the date that you wish to go.

What if I don't get a ticket?

It is not possible to purchase a ticket for Wayna Picchu at Machu Picchu. It must be done in advance. Even trying to purchase a ticket in advance cannot guarantee that it will not already be sold out. But don't panic! There are some alternatives that you could take a look at. 

Machu Picchu Mountain

Like Wayna Picchu, this mountain requires a permit that you can buy as an add on with your original ticket. The mountain lies opposite Wayna Picchu on the other side of the citadel. The views are equally as spectacular and because it is lesser known, there is a much smaller crowd to contend with. It takes around 2 hours to reach the summit and another hour to descend. Permits for this mountain are from 7 am-11 am. Though some people say that the best time to climb is late morning as you have the morning to explore the citadel before the  crowds arrive and still have time to climb the mountain before the site closes for the night.

Putukusi Mountain

For those spending a couple of days in Aguas Calientes, you can climb the Putukusi Mountain. However, this is no easy task and is significantly harder than the other two treks. The ladder sections of the trek can be incredibly daunting therefore this trail is only suggested for those experienced trekkers looking for a bit of adventure. To get to Putukusi Mountain, you follow the train tracks from Aguas Calientes towards Machu Picchu until you see a sign that guides you towards the trail. It takes around 2 hours to climb and around the same time to get back down due to the dangerous steps and ladders. No permit is required for this trek, and despite the amazing views at the summit, this trail is generally deserted or extremely quiet. It is not recommended for those who do not have a good level of fitness and/or are afraid of heights.

Inti Punku (The Sun Gate)

For those who are visiting Machu Picchu via the Inca Trail, this is one of the first sites you will see. Many people coming to Machu Picchu via alternate routes or by train, backtrack  down the Inca Trail from the citadel to be at The Sun Gate to watch the sun rise. The hike takes about 1 hour each way, though the hike from the citadel to Inti Punku is a tough uphill hike and can be a little challenging. You do not need an additional permit to hike to The Sun Gate as it is included in your entry ticket to Machu Picchu.

So if you are planning your trip to the World Wonder of Machu Picchu, why not add one of these extra adventures to your itinerary?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Is the Sacred Valley worth visiting?

The Sacred Valley is home to many beautiful towns and villages, surrounded by stunning mountains and some of the most impressive scenery you will ever see. Despite drawing in quite a few tourists, compared to the bustling city of Cusco, much of the Sacred Valley has a feeling of serenity about it. It would be a shame to travel all the way to Cusco without experiencing at least a little bit of the Valley.

We offer an optional full day tour to the Sacred Valley which allows you to see many of the highlights accompanied by a knowledgeable guide who can inform you of the history of each place you visit. You are collected from your accommodation at 8:30am and are taken to various towns and traditional markets throughout the Valley.


The first stop on the tour is the town of Pisac. It is a lovely community with a huge market in its core.  You will spend around 30 minutes in this town where you will have the opportunity to buy the perfect souvenirs for your loved ones. Pisac is not only famous for its markets, but it is surrounded by many Incan ruins with a rich history as many people believe that Pisac used to defend the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley. So after a spot of shopping, you head up to the ruins for a guided tour of the citadel for a total of 90 minutes.


After an exciting morning in Pisac, the tour continues to the larger town of Urubamba where you will stop for 45 minutes for lunch. The largest town in the Sacred Valley is located under the snow-capped mountain of Ch'iqun. It is home to some great restaurants and cafes (try the coffee!). 


Surrounded by mountains, in Ollantaytambo, you will be exposed to even more Incan constructions as well as seeing the traditional dress of the local people. You will get to explore the town for around an hour with the guide giving interesting information on the sights that you encounter. 


On the way back to Cusco, the group will stop by the town of Chinchero, where there is another traditional market with handmade products as well as a number of stunning architecture. Here you will have a 30 minute visit to the famous church and archaeological site before heading back to Cusco for around 7pm. 

The Sacred Valley is a must-see for those who visit Cusco, with skillfully built architecture and quaint towns and villages under towering mountains. So why not join us on our day tour? Don't miss out on these unbelievable sights! 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

How to get off the tourist track

You want to trek through the Peruvian landscapes but want to move away from the business of the Inca trail and experience something a little lesser known. We offer a number of treks that will take you away from the tourist track down the road less-travelled.

Huchuy Qosqo

This 3 day tour will lead you to Machu Picchu via rural Quechuan communities in the mountains but on the second day, still allows you to get a little taste of the Inca trek as it follows the trail for a short time into the Sacred Valley.

Day 1

Start at the Incan site of Tambomachay, just outside of Cusco, and head through valleys, small communities and stunning lakes. With the various landscapes and grasslands, there are many varieties of wild birds including birds of prey that can be spotted along the way.

Today, will see you reach the traditional Andean community of Qenko. As tourists rarely venture into their village, they welcome those who do with open arms and are always intrigued by the visitors they receive.

Day 2

Learn about the culture and traditions of the people by visiting the home of a local family, and after, if you wish, buy some locally made souvenirs. After this, follow the route of the Inca trail to Huchuy Qosqo to enjoy a guided tour around the site. In the afternoon, you will head down to the quaint little town of Lamay where you will take a bus to Ollantaytambo then a train to Aguas Calientes.

Day 3

Rise and shine bright and early to head up to Machu Picchu to watch the sun rise over the stunning citadel. Following a guided tour with one of our extremely knowledgeable guides, you have time to explore the ruins yourself, before heading back to Ollantaytambo via train and then Cusco by bus.


For those that don't want to wander with the masses in Machu Picchu, why not head to Choquequirao? These lesser known ruins are equally as spectacular but a lot less famous, drawing in a significantly smaller crowd.

Day 1

After a four hour drive outside of Cusco, you begin down a path to the Apurimac Valley where you will have beautiful views of the snow-capped mountains. Though there are some groups that choose to hike to Choquequirao, our guides will take you to an alternate campsite further down the trail from the other groups giving opportunity to take in the breathtaking scenery without distraction.

Day 2

On day 2, the hike is tough through humid conditions, however, the stunning natural floral displays to be seen make it all worth while. After a tough trek, you settle at a campsite close to Choquequirao to enjoy the views, and, on a clear night, the views of the sunset are crazy good and it can be possible to witness the condors soaring above the valley below.

Day 3 

Waking early, you will head into Choquequirao for a guided tour of this mysterious forgotten city. As only 25% of it has been discovered, much of it is still hidden and little is known about its history. After the tour, you begin the track back along the path on which you came, making camp in the vally by the Apurimac river.

Day 4

This is the final stretch of the trek, travelling back to Cachora where you will board a bus that will take you back to Cusco, but not before a final view of Choquequirao as you wind your way back up the valley.


Get completely off the tourist trail with this 7 day trek. This challenging trail may not visit any ruins but it gives you some great cultural perspective with visits to numerous Quechuan communities in the mountains.

Day 1

The first day involves a 6 hour drive to Tinki. But, don't fret. There are numerous stops at interesting points along the way. The first stop is at Urcos where you can take some memorable photographs of the colourful market. Then, stopping at Cattca, a small community where you can take in the amazing views. The final stop is at the capital of the district, Ocongate, before driving a further hour and a half to Tinki where you will rest in local lodge ready for the beginning of the adventure the following day.

Day 2

After breakfast, you pay a visit to a Tinki public school where you can spend some time with the children of the local community and gift them with things like school supplies. After this will begin the two and a half hour walk the next rural village of Pacchanta. Here, we will have lunch and you can take a midday dip in the hot springs whilst enjoying the incredible views of Ausangate mountain. The afternoon sees you continuing up the valley to the first campsite, where there are impressive panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.

Day 3

After a morning of hiking, enjoy lunch by the group of turquoise lagoons. You will continue the hike in the afternoon, eventually stopping in a valley; making camp with views of the three peaks that surround it. 

Day 4

The morning takes you past the Black Lagoon, called this way because of the volcanic soil giving the impressing that its waters are black in colour. After heading over the mountain pass, you are met with beautiful coloured mountains and three spectacular lagoons.

Day 5

On day 5, you will face the challenge of the mountain pass you camped next to the night before.It will be tough, but the views will be amazing! After the ascent, you cross another mountain pass before descending to the lake and lagoon of Sibinacocha, witnessing the impressive glacier that nourishes its waters. This is where you will camp for the night.

Day 6

Hiking along the shores of the lagoon, you will walk until you reach the community of Yayamari beside the mountain of the same name. From here, you will continue to the final lagoon of the trek where you will make camp. It is surrounded by snow capped peaks and small, rural communities.

Day 7

The final stretch of the trek takes you to the Andean community of Phinaya, where the only vehicles in the town are horses and bicycles. After lunch, you will drive back to Cusco, arriving at nightfall. 


For the adventurers that want to experience the wonder of Machu Picchu but want to get off-the-beaten-track, the 4 day Lares trek is perfect for you, letting you experience the authentic communities along the way.

Day 1

Leaving Cusco early, we travel to Ollantaytambo then drive to Patakancha, a rural community that live traditionally. Visit the community as well as the local school before beginning the hike up a mountain pass, past lagoons before heading downhill towards your first campsite.

Day 2

After breakfast, descend into another rural community whilst enjoying the views of the vast grasslands. You will learn weaving techniques from the locals in this thatched village. Following another few hours hike, you find yourself at the hot springs where you will set up camp for the night.

Day 3

After a short trail, a bus will pick you up and you will be driven to Ollantaytambo. Here, everyone can rest and enjoy some lunch in the scenic town. From there, you will hop on a train that will take you on a journey with wonderful views of the mountains and through the tropical vegetation. You will spend a night in a hotel in Aguas Calientes (hot showers!) and get some rest for the big day tomorrow! 

Day 4

After an early breakfast, you will board a bus that will take you up to Machu Picchu to watch the sunrise over the citadel. The guide will take you on a tour of Machu Picchu for 2 hours, after which, you are free to explore the ruins yourself. Meeting the guide in Aguas Calientes for lunch, you will receive your train tickets and head back by train to Ollantaytambo where you will be taken, by bus, back to Cusco.

So why not give it a try? Take the road less travelled. See sights that few people have seen. Have an adventure on one of our Inca trail alternatives.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Not sure when to visit Peru?

You want to visit Cusco and experience all the culture that this great city has to offer, but you're not sure exactly when you want to head on over. There are so many great celebrations that are a must in this wonderful country, so if you can make it over for one of them (my personal favourites are New Year, Carnaval, Corpus Christi and Inti Raymi - not to mention Christmas), it makes a great addition to your trip.


Peru's climate is formed by two seasons; the wet season and the dry season. This being said, weather varies greatly from region to region. In the highlands, January is the middle of the wet season while the coast enjoys its dry summer.
  • AÑO NUEVO. (NEW YEAR): Partygoers wear yellow (including underwear) to ring in the New Year. Yellow is considered a lucky color.
  • FIESTA DE LA MARINERA: This national dance festival held during the last week of January is especially popular in Trujillo. The marinera (sailor dance) is a synchronized choreographed dance between a man with a straw hat and a woman with a handkerchief. They seductively step around each other without ever touching.


In February, the Inca trail to Machu Picchu is closed for its annual clean up!
  • VIRGEN DE LA CANDELARIA: This highland fiesta (February 2nd) is particularly colorful around Puno, where folkloric music and dance celebrations last for two weeks.
  • CARNAVAL: Carnaval is held on the last few days before Lent (February/March), and is often celebrated with weeks of water fights, singing, dancing and parades. It is especially popular in the highlands.


The Inca Trail is open once again, although the weather is still rainy.
  • FIESTA DE LA VENDIMIA (Wine Festival): March is the perfect time to sample local piscos and wines in Ica. The festival is held in the second week of March when you are likely to see fairs with floats, musicians and beauty queens stomping grapes.


Holy week is a major event, so book a hotel and transportation in advance.
  • EMANA SANTA (Holy week): While Easter itself is a solemn event, the week prior to it is celebrated with almost daily spectacular religious processions all over Peru.


In May in the highlands, the rainy season is coming to an end.
  • FESTIVAL OF THE CROSSES: This festival, held on May 3rd, is celebrated most intensely in Lima, Ica and Cusco. During the festivities, people carry crosses of various sizes in processions that lead to churches.
  • QOYLLORITTI: A Christian pilgrimage with ancient overtones is held at the chilly foot of Ausangate, a mountain outside of Cusco, in May or June.


It's the beginning of the dry season in the highlands, which naturally coincides with the peak of the tourist season and lasts until august. Reserve hotels and domestic air travel well in advance during this time.
  • CORPUS CHRISTI: This celebration commemorates the holy Eucharist as the body of Christ. It is held on the ninth Thursday after Easter. The processions in Cusco are especially dramatic.
  • INTI RAYMI (Festival of the Incas): Inti Raymi was the Inca sun god. This festival celebrates the winter solstice in his honor on June 24th. It´s the spectacle of the year in Cusco and attracts thousands of visitors.
  • SAN PEDRO Y SAN PLABLO (Feasts of Saint Peter & Saint Paul): Peter and Paul are the patron saints of fishers and farmers, and they are honored with a procession to the sea. An image of Saint Peter is taken by a decorated boat to bless the waters for the fishing season.


The best time to see visit the amazon, as in this period it is drier than at almost other times of the year (although not necessarily dry).
  • LA VIRGEN DEL CARMEN: This holiday (July 16th) is mainly celebrated in the southern Andes, and is particularly important in Pisac and Paucartambo. The virgin is the patron of mestizos (mixed people of indigenous and Spanish backgrounds).
  • FIESTAS PATRIAS (National Independence Days): Independence from Spain is celebrated nationwide on July 28th and 29th. It is celebrated with festivities in the southern Andes beginning with the feast of St. James (known as Santiago) on July 25th. It is very difficult to find a seat on a bus or a plane during this time.


August is a popular time for travel in the highlands, so plan ahead.
  • FEAST OF SANTA ROSA DE LIMA: Major processions are held on August 30th in Lima and Arequipa to honor the patron saint of Peru and of the Americas.


Spring begins in the coastal regions.
  • EL FESTIVAL INTERNACIONAL DE LA PRIMAVERA (International Spring Festival): Expect horse parades, dancing and cultural celebrations in Trujillo during the last week of September.
  • MISTURA: Generally held in early September, this annual food festival in Lima gathers Peru´s top chefs, along with invited food connoisseurs from all the over the world for cooking demonstrations, talks and lots of sampling.


The bullfighting season begins in October and lasts through to November.
  • LA VIRGEN DEL ROSARIO: The patron saint of slaves is honored on October 4th in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. You can expect processions, marinera dance competitions and los diablos (people dressed in native devil costumes) dancing in the streets.
  • SEÑOR DE LOS MILAGROS (Lord Of The Miracles): In Lima, this is a huge religious procession honoring local Christi. The main day of the celebration is October 18th, but there are events throughout the month. In these events, everyone dresses in purple to seek blessings and miracles. There are lots of processions around the country during this time.


In November, summer begins along the pacific coast, and the fog known as garúa lifts. In the Andes and the Amazon, the intense part of the wet season begins.
  • TODOS SANTOS (All Saint´s Day): This is the first part of a two-day holiday that begins on November 1st. Families go to mass and then head to the cemetery to spend time with departed loved ones.
  • DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS. (All Souls' Day): The second part of the holiday is more festive. There are food gifts, drinks and flowers that are taken to family graves. Similar its Mexican counterpart.


The wettest months continue through to March in the highlands, and until May in the eastern rainforest.
  • FIESTA DE LA PURÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN (Immaculate Conception): This national holiday (December 8th) is celebrated with processions in honor of the Virgin Mary.
  • CHRISTMAS: Held on December 25th, Christmas is less secular and more religious, especially in the Andean Highlands. Keep an eye out for unique nativity scenes with regional holiday flourishes.