Climb Details


13 day(s)
Level 2 difficulty 

Upcoming Climbs

July 19, 2016 - FULL
July 30, 2016 - FULL

The stunning Inca Trail through the Peruvian Andes to Machu Picchu is an exciting blend of Peruvian culture and mountain adventure. Our trek to Machu Picchu begins by accessing the Salkantay trail at Cruzpata.  We circumnavigate Nevado Salkantay, one of the most astonishing glaciated peaks in Peru, before joining the Inca Trail for our remaining trek to Machu Picchu.  Highlights include:

Highlights include:

  • Approach the historical Inca Trail via a mountaineers route; 16,000' Incachiriaska Pass at the foot of Nevado Salkantay en route to Machu Picchu.
  • Explore the remnants of several ancient civilizations, from the Incan Empire to the Spanish Conquistadors.
  • 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, and care as you venture to high altitudes and see why RMI continues to set the standard in guiding excellence.

Machu Picchu Salkantay Trail

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, hike along the famous Inca Trail 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.


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.

Stopped on the Salkantay TrailMachu Picchu

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

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

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)
Cathedral in CuscoThe 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.Salkantay Peak

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

Machu PicchuDay 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

Depart Cusco for scheduled flights to the U.S. (B)

Arrive home. *Some travelers may return home on Day 12 depending on individual flight schedules.

Machu Picchu Equipment List

Whittaker Mountaineering

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

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1 DUFFEL BAG(S): A 120+ liter bag made of tough material with rugged zippers.

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1 SMALL DUFFEL: Needed to store gear in Cusco. 

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BACKPACK: A 40+ liter pack is the recommended size for this trek.

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PACK COVER (OPTIONAL): Protects your pack from rain while on the trail.

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DAY PACK: A 25+ liter day pack to use as carry-on, while traveling or sightseeing.

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SLEEPING BAG: A bag rated 20° F will keep you warm. You may use either goose down or synthetic.

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SLEEPING PAD: Not required for this trip. One inflatable sleeping pad is provided for you in Peru. 

Technical Gear Guides' Pick

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TREKKING POLES: Lightweight and collapsible poles are preferred. Larger baskets work well with deep snow. Ski poles will also work.

Head Guides' Pick

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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.

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SUNGLASSES: Quality sunglasses with some side protection or wrap-around sunglasses are needed. Super dark glacier glasses are not necessary.

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HEADLAMP: Be sure to begin the program with fresh batteries.


Each glove layer is worn separately as conditions change during the climb.

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LIGHT WEIGHT GLOVE: One pair of fleece, soft-shell or wind-stopper gloves.

Upper Body

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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2 HIKING SHIRT: Lightweight, synthetic shirt with either long or short sleeves. The long sleeve is preferred for sun/bug protection.

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SPORTS BRA: We recommend a moisture-wicking, active-wear bra.

Lower Body

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.

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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.

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CASUAL CAMP PANT: A pair of jeans or cotton pants, great for wearing around camp. 

Feet Guides' Pick

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HIKING BOOTS: A pair of lightweight boots for approaches and hiking on rugged terrain.

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LIGHTWEIGHT HIKING SHOES: Great for travel, day hikes, and camp.

Garmont Zenith Trail
La Sportiva Exum Pro


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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

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LIP BALM: We recommend SPF 15 or higher.

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SUNSCREEN: We recommend small tubes of SPF 15 or higher, which can be carried in pockets for easy access and to prevent freezing.

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2 - 3 WATER BOTTLES: Hard-sided, screw-top, one-liter water bottles with wide mouths are required. Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content and BPA-Free are recommended.

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2 - 3 GARBAGE BAGS (LARGE): We recommend lining your day pack and duffel bag with garbage bags to keep items completely dry.

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SMALL HAND TOWEL: Daily wash water provided.  Towel is used to dry face and hands.

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LUGGAGE LOCKS: For your duffel bags. Must be TSA approved.

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Travel Clothes

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SHIRTS: For hotel dinners and while traveling.

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Toilet Articles

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2 - 3 HAND SANITIZER(S): Personal size (2 oz.) bottle.

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Personal First Aid Kit

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Dr. Scholl's Blister Cushions and Moleskin
Spenco 2nd Skin

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Personal Medications

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ANTIBIOTICS: Broad spectrum antibiotics for Traveler's Diarrhea.

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ANTIBIOTICS: Antibiotics for upper respiratory infection.

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TYLENOL #3: Tylenol 3 for pain

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ACETAZOLAMIDE: For Altitude Illness

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Utensils Guides' Pick

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INSULATED MUG: Plastics made with high post-consumer recycled content are recommended.

Optional Items

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Travel Documents

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PASSPORT: Valid for six months beyond your return date.

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COPY OF PASSPORT: The first two pages of your passport.

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Pre-Trip Checklist

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Purchase travel insurance.

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Purchase airplane tickets.

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Reserve rental equipment.

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Be in the Best Shape of Your Life!

Provided Equipment

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.



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.