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The stunning Salkantay Trek through the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu is an exciting blend of Peruvian culture and mountain adventure. Highlights include:
- Explore the remnants of several ancient civilizations, from the Incan Empire to the Spanish Conquistadors.
- Cross the 16,000' Incachiriaska Pass at the foot of Nevado Salkantay en route to Machu Picchu.
- Hike through remote valleys and the diverse ecological landscapes of Peru's Andes.
- Watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Benefit from the leadership of an RMI Guide throughout the trip, gaining from their experience, communication, oversight, and care as you venture to high altitudes and see why RMI continues to set the standard in guiding excellence.
Our journey to Machu Picchu begins in the city of Cusco, the former capital of the Incan Empire. We explore the bustling city streets while we acclimatize and prepare for the mountains. In Cusco we visit the nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas, a fertile valley fed by numerous rivers descending from the surrounding hills. Cusco is our first glimpse into the mix of civilizations that have inhabited Peru over the centuries. In this colorful city of contrasts, colonial Spanish cathedrals sit near Incan ruins, and the Quechuan language can still be heard.
Leaving Cusco, we travel to the small town of Cruzpata to begin trekking. We follow the Salkantay Trek, an incredibly scenic and less traveled route to Machu Picchu. Over the course of six days, we trek through the Andes, climbing from the arid western side of the mountains and crossing into the lush cloud forests of the eastern slopes en route to the stone citadel of Machu Picchu, an architectural work of art perched high in the forested mountains. Each evening, we set up camp in fields near local villages accessible only by trail.
RMI's Machu Picchu Trek is a fascinating adventure into the heart of the Peruvian Andes. We have designed our trip to offer an experience that is the best visit to one of the world's great places: we visit Cusco, travel through beautiful mountainous landscapes, and spend time exploring Machu Picchu, all within an approachable time frame that gives you the full experience of the fabled Machu Picchu Trek. The trek is open to individuals in good physical condition.
THE RMI DIFFERENCE
Rainier Mountaineering, Inc. was established in 1969 and is one of America’s oldest and most-trusted guide services. We are the largest guide service on Mt. Rainier and Mt. McKinley and leaders in guiding climbs and treks around the globe. Our years of leading mountain adventures give us the experience and knowledge to lead the best possible trips. We work hard to live up to our reputation as a leader. Our trip preparation before departure takes care of the details for you, from lodging to airport transfers schedules, so that you can focus on preparing for the adventure instead of the distraction that comes with coordinating logistics.
Our Machu Picchu treks are led by RMI's foremost U.S. guides, who bring years of climbing experience in Peru and on mountains all over the world, from the Andes to the Alaska Range to the Himalayas. As you reach higher elevations and test the limits of your experience, the value of an accomplished, highly trained RMI Guide, held to our standards, and who can effectively communicate with you and the local people, cannot be understated. Our professional guides make possible the experience of safely completing the adventure. We have a close relationship with our local outfitter in Peru, whose years of organizing Machu Picchu treks is evident in the outstanding local staff who accompany us. Our relationships there are the key to our trip's success.
Safety has always been RMI's top priority and we strive to create the safest mountain experience possible. RMI's experienced team of guides focus on leading a fun and successful climb without compromising safety. We apply the same standards of safety we bring to Alaska and the Himalayas to our Machu Picchu Treks. While the trek is a non-technical journey, we do reach high altitudes. Our guides are trained, experienced, and certified by rigorous American standards in wilderness and high altitude medicine, avalanche training, and Leave No Trace techniques. We have spent considerable time in the mountains and know how to do so safely and comfortably; we don't rush to the end of the trail, but instead focus on using techniques that allow us to adjust and even excel in the thin air. Comprehensive medical kits, rescue equipment, and radio and satellite communication equipment are carried with the team throughout the trek.
As you prepare for your upcoming adventure please feel free to contact our office and speak directly to one of our experienced guides regarding equipment, conditioning, the route, or any other questions you may have about our programs. We are available Monday thru Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at (888) 89-CLIMB or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Day 1: TRAVEL DAY
Depart U.S. for Cusco, Peru (CUZ). Some travelers will need to spend the night in Lima while in transit depending on individual flight schedules.
Day 2: CUSCO • 10,850'
Upon arrival in Cusco, we are transferred to our hotel for some rest and relaxation before our Welcome Dinner. Overnight in Cusco.
The Santo Domingo Cathedral
Day 3: SACRED VALLEY OF THE INCAS • 9,400'
A good day of acclimatization in the high plains visiting the Sacred Valley of the Incas, known also as the Urubamba Valley. There, the mild climate and fertile plains make a rare and fruitful combination. This provided the Inca of the high Andes access to the fruits and plants of the tropical lowlands. The Sacred Valley also served as a buffer zone, protecting Cusco from incursions of the Antis, the fierce jungle tribes who from time to time raided the highlands. Overnight in Cusco. (B)
The Streets of Cusco
Day 4: CUSCO • 10,850'
We allow one extra day of acclimatization by staying in Cusco, the former capital of the Inca Empire until the Spanish Conquistadores founded the city of Lima and centralized their capital of what would later become Peru. In the morning, we explore several historic sites surrounding our hotel, including the Koricancha Temple (Temple of the Sun) and the fortress of Sacsayhuaman. In the afternoon, we review the gear needed for our trek and pre pack our luggage for the trip. Cusco has a good selection of equipment items, which would solve any last minute needs. Overnight in Cusco. (B)
The Sacred Valley of the Incas The Ollantaytambo Fortress
Day 5: SORAYPAMPA • 12,460'
Cruzpata (10,160') to Soraypampa (12,460'). Trekking time is approximately 4 - 5 hours.
Departing Cusco in the early morning, we make our way to the start of the trail at Cruzpata. During the drive we catch superb views of the Apurimac River valley and the snow-capped Salkantay Peak at 20,500'. In Cruzpata we meet our horsemen and pack horses and begin trekking up the gentle valley towards Soraypampa. The trail weaves through small villages and fields with views of Humantay (19,359') above. We establish camp in Soraypampa for the night. (B, L, D)
Beginning the Trek
Day 6: PAMPACHUANA • 13,120'
Soraypampa (12,600') to Pampachuana (13,120'). Trekking time is approximately 6 - 7 hours.
Several hours of trekking bring us to the Incachiriaska Pass (16,010'), meaning "the place where the Inca cools down." After crossing the pass we pause at Sisaypampa, a flat area with incredible views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. We continue east, descending through a long and broad valley, some four hours beyond the pass, to our camp near the small village of Pampachuana. (B, L, D)
Views of Salkantay Peak
Day 7: LLULLUCHAPAMPA • 12,620'
Pampachuana (13,120') to Llulluchapampa (12,620'). Trekking time is approximately 6 - 7 hours.
Leaving camp, the valley immediately begins to narrow and the river becomes a canal as we follow one of the many aqueducts the Incas cut through valleys to increase their agricultural land. After a few hours walking down the steep valley, we arrive at the Inca fortress of Inkaracay (also known as Paucarcancha), where we spend time exploring.
Another half-hour walk brings us to the village of Wayllabamba, where we join the popular Inca Trail. Here, we leave the mules and switch to porters, who accompany us the remaining distance to Machu Picchu. Leaving Wayllabamba, we begin the ascent towards Warmi Huañusca Pass, traveling through dry alpine areas with sparse vegetation, cloud forests, and areas with domesticated llamas and alpacas. We stop partway to the pass at Llulluchapampa to make camp. (B, L, D)
Day 8: CHAQUICOCHA • 9,900'
Llulluchapampa (12,620') to Chaquicocha (9,900'). Trekking time is approximately 5 - 7 hours.
We reach Warmi Huañusca Pass (13,760') after several hours of trekking. Descending the pass, we enter the Pacaymayo valley at 11,800' and begin the ascent to a second pass of the day, the Abra Runkurakay (13,022'). We have time to visit an archaeological site with the same name sitting at 12,460'. The site contains a small oval structure believed to be a watchtower. After crossing the pass, we descend into the cloud forest to reach Sayacmarca (11,890'). Sayacmarca is an incredible ruin built in a semicircle with enclosures at multiple levels and intersected by narrow streets, fountains, patios and canals. A brief stretch of walking brings us to Chaquicocha, where we establish camp with impressive view of the surrounding mountains. (B, L, D)
Day 9: WIÑAYWAYNA • 8,700'
Chaquicocha (9,900') to Wiñaywayna (8,700'). Trekking time is approximately 4 - 5 hours.
From camp, we begin ascending to the pass at Abra de Phuyupatamarca at 12,130'. The Incan craftsmanship is apparent in their trail building as the path weaves smoothly through the steep landscape. We pass through a tunnel just before the pass and then descend to the Abra de Phuyupatamarca ruins. Sitting at the top of a mountain, it is one of the most comprehensive and best preserved archaeological sites on the Inca Trail. From here, we descend the stone steps to a camp near Wiñaywayna. Wiñaywayna is home to several buildings of beautiful Incan stonework and a sequence of ten baths, suggesting that the site was likely a religious center associated with the worship of water. Ritual cleansing may have taken place here for pilgrims before their final leg of the trail into Machu Picchu. (B, L, D)
The Phuyupatamarca ruins
Day 10: MACHU PICCHU • 7,972'
Wiñaywayna (8,700') to Machu Picchu (7,972'). Trekking time is approximately 1.5 - 2 hours.
We make an early morning departure to complete the final stretch of the trek to Machu Picchu. The trail of flat stones contours along the mountainside, which drops into a cloud forest below, reaching an almost vertical flight of fifty steps leading up to the final pass at Intipunku (Sun Gate), where we find Machu Picchu spread out below. The "Lost City of the Incas" is completely spectacular! We take the time at Intipunku to watch the sun rising from behind the mountains over Machu Picchu and then descend the short stretch into Machu Picchu to meet our local historic guide and explore the ancient city.
We spend two hours exploring the city with our local guide, visiting the Temple of the Moon, the impressive Inca Bridge, or climbing Huayna Picchu, a peak overlooking the city with spectacular views of all of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains and valleys. In the afternoon, we descend to Aguas Calientes, a town known for its hot springs. Overnight in hotel. (B, D)The ruins of Machu Picchu View from Huayna Picchu
Day 11: CUSCO • 10,850'
We have a relaxed morning to return to Machu Picchu and explore on our own or relax in Aguas Calientes. In the afternoon we take a train back to Cusco. Overnight in Cusco. (B)
The town of Aguas Calientes
Day 12: TRAVEL DAY
Depart Cusco for scheduled flights to the U.S. (B)
Day 13: TRAVEL DAY
Arrive home. *Some travelers may return home on Day 12 depending on individual flight schedules.
Machu Picchu Equipment List
The following is a list of required equipment. We may encounter a variety of weather conditions throughout our climb, including rain, wind, snow, sleet and extreme heat. Skimping on equipment can jeopardize your safety and success, so we want you to think carefully about any changes or substitutions you are considering. If you have questions regarding the equipment needed for your upcoming climb, give us a call and speak directly to one of our experienced guides.
Most of the required equipment is available for rent or purchase from our affiliate Whittaker Mountaineering. RMI climbers receive a 10% discount on new clothing and equipment items ordered from Whittaker Mountaineering. This offer excludes sale items. For internet orders, please use the discount code RMI2015.
Pack & Bag Guides' Pick
1 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.
1 SMALL DUFFEL: Needed to store gear in Cusco.
BACKPACK: A 40+ liter pack is the recommended size for this trek.
DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.
SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated 20° F will keep you warm. You may use either goose down or synthetic.
SLEEPING PAD: Not required for this trip. One inflatable sleeping pad is provided for you in Peru.
Technical Gear Guides' Pick
TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.
Head Guides' Pick
BUFF / NECK GAITER / BALACLAVA: One item for face protection is required. Our primary recommendation is the Buff. A neck gaiter or balaclava is also acceptable.
SUNGLASSES: Quality sunglasses with some side protection or wrap-around sunglasses are needed. Super dark glacier glasses are not necessary.
Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.
LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.
We recommend a minimum of five upper body layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Two of these should be insulating layers, one light and one medium, that fit well together. Today there are many different layering systems to choose from, including fleece, soft-shell, down and synthetic options.
2 LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Long-sleeve wool or synthetic top. Quarter zip styles will allow for better temperature regulation. We recommend light colors, which best reflect the intense sun on hot days.
RAIN JACKET (HARD SHELL): A jacket made of rain-proof material with an attached hood. We recommend a thinner lightweight jacket rather than a heavier insulated jacket.
INSULATED PARKA with HOOD: Down or synthetic filled, it should fit over all of your clothing layers but does not need to be expedition weight.
2 HIKING SHIRT: Lightweight, synthetic shirt with either long or short sleeves. The long sleeve is preferred for sun/bug protection.
We recommend a system of four layers, all of which can be used in conjunction with each other. Products which combine several layers into one garment, such as traditional ski pants, don’t work well as they don’t offer the versatility of a layering system.
2 - 3 UNDERWEAR: Non-cotton briefs or boxers.
LIGHT TO MEDIUM WEIGHT BASELAYER: Synthetic or wool.
LIGHT WEIGHT TREKKING PANT: A lightweight, synthetic pair of pants is a good option for the approach trek when hiking at lower altitudes and in warm conditions. These pants have no insulation, are typically made of thin nylon, and commonly feature zippers to convert between pants and shorts.
HIKING SHORTS: Good for lower elevations and warm, sunny days.
CASUAL CAMP PANT: A pair of jeans or cotton pants, great for wearing around camp.
Feet Guides' Pick
HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.
LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.
5 - 6 PAIR SOCKS: Either wool or synthetic. Whatever sock combination you are accustomed to wearing during your training or previous adventures (whether single medium weight socks, a medium weight with a liner sock, two medium weight socks together, etc), should work just fine for this climb.
Miscellaneous Items Guides' Pick
SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.
2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required.
2 - 3 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your day pack and duffel bag with garbage bags to keep items completely dry.
SMALL HAND TOWEL: Daily wash water provided. Towel is used to dry face and hands.
LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.
SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.
PEE BOTTLE (PEE FUNNEL FOR WOMEN) - OPTIONAL
Personal First Aid Kit
ASPRIN / IBUPROFEN / TYLENOL
PEPTO-BISMOL (STOMACH RELIEF)
SMALL ROLL OF ADHESIVE TAPE
ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.
ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics for upper respiratory infection.
TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain
ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness
Utensils Guides' Pick
CLEANSING FACE WIPES
TRAVEL SIZE MOISTURIZERS
READING MATERIAL / JOURNAL
PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.
COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.
COPY OF FLIGHT ITINERARY
4 EXTRA PASSPORT PHOTOS
Purchase travel insurance.
Return the Registration Packet to the RMI Office.
Purchase airplane tickets.
Reserve rental equipment.
Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!
RMI provides the following equipment for your program: sleeping tents, sleeping pads, dining tent, stoves, chef and group cooking equipment, fuel, tables, chairs, and private biological toilet at each camp,
Every guide on your climb will carry rescue equipment and a first aid kit. Each climb has two-way radios and a satellite phone for emergency contact.
Breakfast, lunch and dinner meals on the trek are included as indicated in our Trip Itinerary. With the exception of hotel breakfasts, most restaurant meals are on your own. Your trip fee does not included bottled water and drinks.
Please list any special dietary needs on the Participant Information Form. The form must be returned to the RMI Office 90 days prior to the program departure date.
Full course meals are provided for the days of the trek. A local cook will prepare elaborated dishes for every meal.
Hot drinks (coffee, tea, cocoa, cider) along with scrambled eggs, oatmeal or cereal can be expected for breakfasts. Vegetable creams, omelets and deli items usually constitute our on the trail lunches.
Dinner normally begins with soup and ends with dessert, followed by a round of hot drinks. Healthy one-pot meals, incorporating fresh local food whenever practical, are served as the main course.
In addition, we recommend that a light variety of snacks (about 2 lbs) are taken additionally on the trail. Your favourite candy bars, hard candies, Gummy Bears, cookies, energy bars, and drink mixes (Gatorade/Kool-Aid) are a good choice to supplement the snack provided and to guarantee that you have additional variety.
Cusco has a number of stores where we can buy some or most of the snacks we can find at home.
This trip is open to all individuals in excellent physical condition. No previous mountaineering experience is required.
Physical Fitness Training
Trekking requires a high degree of physical stamina and mental toughness. Even for the healthiest and fittest individuals, trekking at altitude qualifies as a challenging endeavor.
- Start immediately. Start a rigorous fitness and training program now with the goal of arriving in top physical condition and confident in your skills.
- Be intentional. Focus on gaining the necessary strength, stamina and skills to meet the physical and technical demands of the trek.
- Be sport-specific. The best fitness and training program mimics the physical and technical demands of your objective. The closer you get to your program date, the more your training should resemble the trekking.
For Machu Picchu, you are preparing for:
- Hiking/trekking with a 15-20 lb load
- A 6+ hour days
Nothing ensures a personally successful adventure like your level of fitness and training. Bottom line: Plan on being in the best shape of your life and ready for a very challenging adventure!
Please refer to our Resources for Mountaineering Fitness and Training for detailed fitness and training information.
The key to climbing high is proper acclimatization. Our program follows a calculated ascent profile which allows time for your body to adjust to the altitude.
Excellent physical conditioning significantly increases your ability to acclimatize as you ascend. Trekkers in excellent physical condition simply have more energy to commit to the acclimatization process throughout the days and nights of the ascent, allowing their bodies to adjust to the altitude more easily.
Finally, physical performance and acclimatization are also related to how well you have taken care of yourself throughout the hours, days and weeks prior. Arriving healthy and well-rested, maintaining proper hydration and caloric intake, and protecting against unnecessary heat loss (staying warm) are all key factors in an individual’s success on an adventure such as this.
RMI has partnered with Erin Rountree to provide comprehensive travel support. We have been working with Erin for many years. As an independent agent of the Travel Society, she has booked countless miles for adventure travelers across the globe and is extremely knowledgeable about the travel needs of our programs. In addition to travel arrangements, Erin can also provide information and coverage for evacuation policies and insurance options. Please call (208) 788-2870 or email email@example.com.
Cancellation Insurance, Medical Evacuation & Security Evacuation
We strongly encourage everyone to purchase Travel Insurance which can cover trip cancellation, interruption, delay, baggage loss or delay, medical expenses, medical evacuation, repatriation and more. The wise traveler, while perhaps able to walk away from the non-refundable cost of an adventure, recognizes that travel insurance offers the best possible protection in the event of a sudden, unexpected illness or injury prior to or when traveling. Note that many of the insurance options can be purchased under one policy but some coverage may only be available if purchased within 14 days of making your trip deposit or if purchased as an upgrade to an existing policy rather than as a stand-alone option.
Due to the remote nature of this program, we strongly encourage participants to consider both cancellation insurance and a separate medical evacuation policy.
Cancellation Insurance: Cancellation insurance offers protection of deposit and registration funds should you need to cancel from a program. This might be due to an injury during training, a personal illness, or it might be due to extenuating circumstances, such as family emergencies. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including adventure/sports coverage.
Medical Evacuation: An illness or injury in a remote area could require a medical evacuation costing well over $100,000. Travel insurance providers (such as AIG Travel Guard and Travelex Insurance) typically offer reimbursement for medical evacuations. Additionally, crisis response companies (such as Global Rescue) can orchestrate an actual field rescue as necessary in medical, security or other evacuation situations, even from extremely remote areas. Check with the insurance providers listed below for specific coverage details and options, including details of what constitutes a medical vs. a non-medical emergency.
Security Evacuation: This policy offers crisis evacuation services in non-medical situations. Examples include evacuations from areas affected by natural disasters, war or conflict zones, terrorism, and other areas in which participant security is threatened.
For more information please visit one of the websites below, or contact your local travel agent.
|AIG Travel Guard||Erin Rountree|
|Travelex Insurance||Global Rescue|
Travel Advisories / Warnings
Please confirm any current travel advisories/warnings as well as entry requirements with the U.S. Department of State.
Several U.S. airlines offer daily flights to Lima, Peru (LIM) with connections to Cusco (CUZ). Many flights arrive in Lima early enough to catch the Cusco connection. Trekkers not able to make the connection may require a short or overnight stay in Lima before flying to Cusco. Plan to arrive in Cusco on Day 2 prior to 3 p.m.
Flights departing Lima may be booked for any time in the evening on the final day of the program.
A valid passport is required when traveling to Peru. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the expected return date. U.S. passport holders may stay up to 90 days without a visa.
We suggest making a copy of the first two pages of your passport and keeping them in a separate bag as a backup. A copy should also be left with your emergency contact.
Upon arrival at the Cusco airport please collect your baggage and proceed to the arrivals area. A private shuttle will take you to our hotel.
The provided ground transportation in Peru as stated in the itinerary is via private vehicle.
Immunizations & Travel Medicine
For the most current information on inoculation requirements and recommendations, please refer to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention.
Travelers may suffer from upset stomachs when in foreign countries. There are some basic rules, however, that can help keep you healthy.
Hygiene - It is important that you wash your hands thoroughly before meals and after using the restroom. If water is not available for washing, we recommend using a hand sanitizer.
Water - The number one rule is: don't drink the water, and that includes shower water and ice! Brush your teeth with purified water rather than tap water. You should check bottled water for a good seal and use a napkin to wipe excess moisture from drinking glasses. Take care with fruit juice, particularly if it has been diluted with water. Carefully clean the tops of bottled beverages before opening.
Food - If it is cooked, boiled, or can be peeled, you can usually eat it. Salads and fruits should be washed with purified water or peeled where possible. Be wary of ice cream and shellfish. Always avoid any undercooked meat.
Excellent care for minor illnesses and injuries is readily available. In the event of more serious illnesses or injuries, we recommend transport to any of the Level 1 care centers in Lima.
Peru Country Facts
Peru, in western South America, extends for nearly 1,500 miles along the Pacific Ocean. Colombia and Ecuador are to the north, Brazil and Bolivia to the east, and Chile to the south. Peru is divided by the Andes Mountains into three sharply differentiated zones. To the west is the coastline, much of it arid, extending 50 to 100 miles inland. The mountain area, with peaks over 20,000 feet, lofty plateaus, and deep valleys, lies centrally. Beyond the mountains to the east is the heavily forested slope leading to the Amazonian plains.
Peru is an emerging, market-oriented economy characterized by a high level of foreign trade. Historically, the country's economic performance has been tied to exports. Its main exports include copper, gold, zinc, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, machinery, services and fish meal. Currently, tourism in Peru makes up the nation's third largest industry, behind fishing and mining.
Peru is a multi-ethnic, multicultural country whose people, subsequently, identify their nationality by citizenship rather than ethnicity. The Peruvian census does not contain information about ethnicity so only rough estimates are available. Its population can be composed of Mestizos (European-Indigenous ancestry): 47%, Amerindians (Indigenous): 31%, European: 18.5%, Afro-Peruvians: 2%, Asians and others: 1%.
Lima is the capital and largest city of Peru and together with the seaport of Callao, forms a contiguous urban area known as the Lima Metropolitan Area. With a population approaching 9 million, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru.
Cusco (or Cuzco) was the site of the historic capital of the Inca Empire. Though home to less than half a million people, it is a major tourist destination, receiving approximately two million visitors each year. Cusco lies at 11,200 feet in elevation.
Peru was once part of the great Incan Empire and later the major vice-royalty of Spanish South America. It was conquered in 1531–1533 by Francisco Pizarro. On July 28, 1821, Peru proclaimed its independence. For a hundred years thereafter, revolutions were frequent. Political unrest, border conflicts and Maoist guerrilla group dominated Peru’s history through the middle of the 20th century, but the country now stands as a democratic republic with a multi-party system, headed by a president.
The weather in Lima, Cusco and while traveling to and from Machu Picchu can be very warm. We recommend bringing a pair of shorts and a T-shirt. For current weather conditions, check Weather Underground.
The two principal seasons in Peru are the rainy season and the dry season. The dry season typically runs between May and September and is the best time to travel to Machu Picchu.
Temperatures during the dry season run from around 50 F at night to the upper 80s F during the day. Given its exposed location, it can get quite hot in Machu Picchu.
The people of Peru are generally very warm and friendly to tourists. Although it is not expected that we dress formally, we should dress modestly. Casual and comfortable clothing is suggested along with comfortable shoes. Showing expensive cameras, watches, jewelry, etc. is considered unseemly and may attract unwanted attention.
When entering a shop or home, politely use a greeting such as buenos días (good day), buenas tardes (good afternoon), buenas noches (good night). Similarly, upon leaving, even if you've had only minimal contact, say adios (goodbye) or hasta luego (see you later). Peruvians usually shake hands upon parting as well.
On city streets, children selling small items and shining shoes can be quite persistent. Some ask directly for money. To keep from being hassled, a polite but firm "No, gracias" is generally sufficient.
It is expected that you engage in some degree of bargaining for market or street purchases. This is fun, and should be taken lightly.
Horsemen, Pack Horses & Porters
Horses are used along the trek for the first few days to assist in carrying loads. As horses are not allowed on the Inca Trail, we will receive porter support for the final section. Our hard-working porters are Quechuan, a people group indigenous to Peru. They will carry up tp 20 kg (which includes a 4 kg allowance of their own clothes & blankets).
Electricity in Peru is 220 Volts and 60 Hertz. Carry a universal convertor and plug adaptor travel kit.
Peru's official currency is the nuevos sol (S/), divided into 100 centavos. Check a financial newspaper or www.xe.com for the current exchange rate prior to departure.
You should find that $200-$300 for spending money is adequate for restaurant meals, drinks and pocket money. You may choose to bring more depending on your shopping plans and length of stay.
Cash machines are readily available in Lima and Cusco airports. Credit cards are accepted in most, but not all, areas.
Everyone has a preferred way to carry money. Some use money belts, others have hidden pockets. Whatever you do, be aware of pickpockets and thieves in any area which caters to tourists.
Local waiters, drivers, and other service personnel expect to be tipped. Ten to fifteen percent is standard.
Our guides work hard to ensure your well being and success on the trek. If you have a positive experience, gratuities are an excellent way to show your appreciation. Amounts are at your discretion and should be based on your level of enjoyment. Tips for excellent service normally average 10 – 15% of the cost of the program.
Fodor's and other travel service websites are readily available and describe Peru travel and facts.
A deposit of $1,500 per person secures your reservation. Final payment is due 90 days prior to the start of your program. Final payment may be made via check or wire transfer only. Trips departing within 90 days from the reservation date must be paid in full at the time of reservation.
We will send you a payment reminder approximately three weeks before your payment is due. If your final payment is not received within 90 days of the program your reservation will be cancelled and all fees forfeited.
Once we receive written notification (mail, e-mail, or fax) that you are canceling an individual participant or your entire reservation the following fees will apply. A fee of $750 per person will be charged for cancellations made more than 90 days before departure. There will be no refunds for cancellations made less than 90 days before your program.
Cancellation Insurance: We strongly suggest that everyone purchase travel insurance. Please see our Travel Page for details.
Included are the following:
- RMI Leadership
- Hotel accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, based on double occupancy*
- All park entrance fees
- All group transportation in country as indicated in the itinerary
- All group cooking, trekking and camping equipment
Not included are the following:
- International airfare
- Travel insurance, medical evacuation insurance and security evacuation insurance
- Excess baggage fees and departure taxes
- Meals not included in the itinerary
- Bottled water and personal drinks
- Customary guide gratuities
- Additional room charges including laundry service and other personal expenses
- Hotel accommodations not indicated in the itinerary
- Medical, hospitalization and evacuation costs (by any means)
* Accommodations are based on double occupancy. A Single Supplement Fee will be charged to those occupying single accommodations by choice or circumstance.
Safety is RMI's number one priority. Our guides manage significant hazards inherent in mountaineering such as avalanches, ice fall, rock fall, inclement weather, and high winds, but they cannot eliminate them. RMI guides draw from their wealth of experience and training to make sound decisions that improve your chance of reaching the summit without compromising the necessary margin of safety.
Please clearly understand that mountaineering is inherently a hazardous sport. You are choosing to engage in an activity in which participants have been injured and killed. While those accidents are indeed infrequent, they may occur at any time and be out of our control. We ask that participants acknowledge the risk and hazards of mountaineering, and make their own choices about whether or not to engage in this activity.
Mountaineering is both an individual challenge and a team endeavor. Some of the responsibility for the team is carried by the individual climbers. For this reason, we ask that each participant:
- is physically and mentally fit, properly attired and equipped, and continues to self assess throughout the program to ensure as safe a climb as possible. If a climber's own physical fitness limits his or her ability to safely continue upward, that can have a negative impact on the summit experience or opportunity of other climb participants.
- honestly and accurately describe themselves, in terms of fitness, health and skills, and their equipment to their guides, and that they adhere to the advice of their professional mountain guide.
Age-Appropriate Guidelines & Restrictions
In the interest of the safety and well-being of all participants, RMI adheres to the following age-appropriate guidelines and restrictions on all climbing programs, domestic and international.
- Ages 15 & under: No participants age 15 & under
- Ages 16 & 17: Accompanied by parent or legal guardian
- Ages 18 & above: No restrictions
An individual’s birthday must precede the departure date of the program. For example: a 15 year old who turns 16 on July 1 may participate on a program beginning July 2.
Accompaniment by parent or legal guardian is required for the program or climb.
Under-aged participants on Private Climb or Group Climb programs are assessed on an individual basis.
RMI's program plans and itineraries are subject to change or adjustment based on a number of factors. These include, but are not limited to, route conditions, weather, terrain, and many other factors. RMI has complete discretion to change plans to accommodate any of these or other factors, including discretion to change program schedule or itinerary, and change guides or staff, as necessary for the proper and safe conduct of the program.
We reserve the right to cancel any program due to inadequate signups, weather or route conditions. In such a case, a full refund is given; however, RMI cannot be responsible for any additional expenses incurred in preparing for the program (i.e., airline tickets, equipment purchase or rental, hotel reservations).
RMI cannot guarantee that you will reach the summit. Weather, route conditions, your own abilities, or the abilities of other climbers may create circumstances that make an ascent unsafe, and you or your entire party may have to turn around without reaching the summit. Failure to reach the summit due to a person's own lack of fitness or to any of the events associated with mountaineering (such as weather, route, avalanche hazard, team dynamics, etc.), are not Rainier Mountaineering, Inc.'s responsibility and will not result in refund or reschedule.
If the Participant decides to leave a trip at any time after the start of the trip and prior to its conclusion, he or she will not be entitled to a refund.
RMI reserves the right to dismiss the Participant from a trip or to send the Participant to a lower altitude at any time if RMI determines, in its sole discretion, that the Participant is not physically, technically, or psychologically prepared for or capable of participating in the program.
What is a brief history of the Inca Roads and Machu Picchu?
The road system of the Inca stretched from present-day Quito, Ecuador all the way south to Santiago, Chile, covering more than 14,000 miles in western South America. The roads saw mostly foot-traffic as the Inca neither used horses nor wheels, although llamas were commonly used to transport goods.
Many of the roads crossed through Cusco, the capital of the Inca. Machu Picchu, described by the Quechuan word, Old Peak, is located on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley, 44 miles from Cusco.
The Incan city of Machu Picchu was established around 1450 and was likely home to some 800 to 1200 people at its peak. It was abandoned in advance of the Spanish invasion, a move that helped protect the city from a total razing.
Why did RMI Expeditions choose the Salkantay Trek?
RMI Expeditions chose the Salkantay Trek because it is off the beaten path, offers unbelievably spectacular mountain views, and provides a bit more of a challenge than the shorter, classic Inca Trail. We end our trip by joining the Inca Trail into Machu Picchu.
What is a day on the trek like?
A typical day on the trail begins around 7:00 a.m. when we meet for breakfast. We begin trekking shortly thereafter and walk for 6 - 8 hours. The trail is not a difficult hike but the altitude does make it a physical challenge. The Salkantay Pass, at over 15,000 feet above sea level, is recognized as the most difficult section in the 45-mile trail.
After reaching our camp for the day (normally by early afternoon) we have the afternoon to rest and relax, before meeting for dinner. There is plenty of down time - an important part of the acclimatization process - during the trek. Be sure to bring along a good book or a deck of cards!
How much weight am I carrying in my pack?
Backpacks on the trail should weigh approximately 15 to 20 lbs as we only carry the day's snacks, water, and a few extra layers in case of rain or cold temperatures. Porters assist us on the trek, carrying all of our sleeping gear, extra clothing, and equipment. Our porters are always available to help lighten your load if your backpack is proving a hindrance while on the trail.
What is the trekking pace like?
We travel at an appropriate speed to cover the distance we need for the day without going too quickly or too slowly. While the actual distances are relatively short, the altitudes to which we travel are high and the days of hiking are still challenging.
What is the food like on the mountain?
Please see our Food details for an example of meals while on the mountain.
Is the water okay to drink?
We do not recommend drinking tap water in Peru. Bottled water is readily available in Lima and Cusco. On the trek, we provide our teams with filtered, boiled water that is safe to drink. Personal water filters or water treatment tablets are not needed.
What are the camps like?
We take the necessary time to establish nice camps that are surprisingly comfortable considering that we are on a remote trek! We provide three-person tents for every two trekkers. The cooking is done in a separate kitchen tent and our dining tent, with tables and chairs, is a nice to place to hang out and escape from the sun in the afternoon before the team sits down together to dine around the table.
What are the toilets like?
We provide toilets at all our camps. Our toilets are small, biodegradable chemical toilets used exclusively by our group and enclosed in small tent to offer plenty of privacy. While on the trekking route, where no toilets exist, we use bio-bags to collect our solid waste. We recommend that you bring hand sanitizer for use after visiting the toilets.
How will I be able to stay connected with those at home?
We suggest bringing a smart phone or a WIFI-enabled device and using it where WIFI and internet services are available, as in Lima and Cusco. Along the trekking route, however, WIFI access is not available. Cell service is widely available across most of Peru, see below.
Should I bring a cell phone or a satellite phone?
Cell phone coverage does not exist on the majority of the trek, however, coverage is generally available in and around towns. If you’d like to make phone calls from along the trek, you will need a sat phone. Phone rental is available through Remote Satellite Systems International.
Check with your cell phone carrier to see if they offer international coverage in Peru and make sure you have the appropriate international plans and understand the associated rates.
RMI carries a satellite phone with the group through the entire trip for emergency use.
Do iPhones function well at high altitude?
Yes. However, the cold can impact the battery life making it necessary for it to be charged a few times on the trip.
Is a Kindle or Nook practical on this trip?
Yes, but if you wish to take it on the trek you will certainly need to recharge it once in a while using a personal solar charger. We recommend downloading all of your desired books before arriving in Peru.