Pioneer supporting sustainable, responsible & ethical tourism in Peru.
Highly Recommended by:
South American Handbook (Footprint)
Lonely Planet Peru Guide
South America on a Shoestring (Lonely Planet)
Peru Handbook (latest edition)
Cusco & the Inca Trail Handbook
The Inca Trail Cusco & Machu Picchu(Trailblazer),
Moon Handbooks Peru (latest edition),
Andean Travel Web Guide to Peru
South American Explorers Club.
Awarded Best Cusco Travel Agency by the Ministry of Tourism.
Katie FennAugust 2017
I recently did the 4 day Inca trail. Our tour guide was Isaac, and he was teamed up with an excellent chef- Walter, and porter team lead by Benedict. Isaac was excellent, definitely seemed like he was the most well connected, and positive guide on the trail. Walter was super impressive! I couldn’t believe the quality and diversity of the food he was serving- unreal! Benedict lead a very happy and hard worker group of porters. Overall, kudos to the staff team that you employee.
I will write a review on tripadvisor as well.
Very well organized and executed. Cooks, guide and office staff were always quick with a solution and answered all questions. Of particular note, our guide Elias Lazo was both an expert in his country's history but an outstanding guide. I would highly recommend him. Staff and hotel accomodations at the Matqueses Hotel (two doors away from SAS office) was tremendous too. My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this trip.
- We did this trail with SAS Travel and Henry/Louis as our guide, Julio/Fred as our cooks, Smiler/Matteo/Bellisario/Enrique etc. as our porter team.
- This was a great team and always willing to help and made our hike very memorable.
- Overall, the hike was very enjoyable with food and views being the best part! The hardest was Day 2 and going down the steep stairs and the monkey steps on Day 4 to Initpunku.
- Hiking poles are very useful
Tips - 1 - Make sure to get electrolyte powder and keep hydrated.
2 - DO NOT Overpack (like we did!), lighter the better and maybe get a porter which was something we did not want to do but it might actually get someone employed.
3 - High socks, head lamps are recommended and the toilets at each site, except the first site are an experience I would like to erase of my trip.
Hike Orientation (pre-day 1 at 7pm) - Henry/Louis did a good job at orientation and this introduced us to the team and provided us with an overview of the hike.
Day 1 - We started out on a bus at 6am with the team, guides and cooks. We stopped for breakfast at Urubamba and got acquainted with rest of the team. Louis was good enough to point out some "Inca activators' - cocoa leaves and a black colored activator (probably Leija) and a eucalyptus concentrate (was very good to open up the lungs). Porters were picked up along the way at Ollataytambo and we proceeded to Km. 82 (which I believe is the rail road mile marker).
At Km. 82, we secured all our stuff and proceeded to the check point. We got a team picture at the trail's classic representative sign board. Passports and permits were verified ahead of crossing the bridge...and then we started the 4 Day "holy" trail with magnificent views of Mt. Veronica on our rear.
We had two Inca sites along the way and Henry was passionate about Inca culture in his descriptions and told us about "Pacahkuthec" (earth re-biulder - Thanks Louis!)
Overall, Day 1 (about 8 hrs, including lunch and breaks) was undulating (maybe 3X200m), although the schematic from SAS shows gradual climb up (1X200m). This is more like a pre-trail test and depending on how you feel, you can make a decision to continue or return.
The tents were already setup and there were hot showers here for 10/S and we could buy water etc. We had good views of veronica and the milky way's arm with an abstract view of a Llama and her calf which was somewhat used by Inca astrologers as an anchor.
We had happy hour with hot chocolate, tea, biscuits, coffee, conversation, POPCORN etc.
Lunch - Ceviche to stat, Avoacado salad, Giant corn kernel cobs, rice, fish, mint tea
Dinner - I forgot to get a picture...Darn!
The bathroom was nice at this location and probably maintained by one of the villagers.
Tip - If you are at slow or on the latter half of the group to arrive, I would suggest starting early, say 15-30min, so you can catch up with everyone at lunch and then do the same so everyone meets up as close as possible at campsites etc.
Day 2 - We woke up early around 530am and before we started did introduce ourselves to the "Blue" team and vice-versa.
It was mentioned on the SAS travel graphic that today would be tough due to the ascent (~2000m). After a few minutes of ascent, we stopped for a quick break, sunscreen, bug spray, rest room etc., before we started the steep hike.
We ascended ~1000ft ahead of our first break, had a snack and then checked in with permit office. We started our second ascent ~1200ft. to Ayatapata. This was a good spot for break with rest rooms. The next ascent was ~1000ft to Llulluchapampa where we stopped for lunch. This has great views of parts of the Andes range.
This was a tough climb, but we kept slow and steady pace and reached the pass around 4pm enjoying the views around at ~13800ft (started at around 8800ft). It offered fantastic views of the surrounding mountain range.
The weather can change very rapidly here, the clouds started moving in with moderate visibility. We got to the campsite by 630pm.
This site had a lot of other groups camping as well, with common bathrooms (an experience I would like to erase of my Inca Trail trip).
Breakfast - Quinoa oatmeal, bread, jam, caramel spread, tea/coffee
Lunch - corn and veggie fritter?, Salad, Fried rice(with pork), Potato soup, Chicken in mushroom sauce
Dinner - As usual started with happy hour, pop corn etc., and I cannot remember but it was great!
Day 3 - It was a bit colder as expected and supposed to be the longest day. As we were slower than the group, we started hiking 20-30min earlier. The group caught up with us at the first Inca site, a watch tower, Runkurakay.
Then came the second pass, which offered similar views as dead woman's pass. It was also considered sacred to some extent to pile up stones and thank, "pachamma" - mother earth. We stopped here for a light snack.
The path after here was steep down until we reached the next Inca site. This was larger, was a watch tower, had a sacrifical place, living quarters etc. The second site's climb was very steep. We could also see another storage site and the lunch site site as well.
The path after this was undulating before it went steep down after Phuyupatamarca campsite. We were about one hour early than the group here and the weather changed very rapidly with clouds reducing visibility.
After here, we kept going down to Intipata, where there were more terrace farms and we could get beautiful views of the valley, train tracks and we saw a herd of llamas grazing.
After here, it was going down to the last campsite which also had a bunch of other teams.
Breakfast - Rice pudding(oatmeal?), bread, jam, tea/coffee, Omelettes
Lunch - Stuffed pepper, steak with mushroom, Egg Salad, Fried rice(with pork), lentil soup
Dinner - As usual started with happy hour, pop corn etc., Pizza etc. and I do not have a picture
- We had a little tipping ceremony for the porters this evening and the chef made a special CAKE!!!
Day 4 - After three days of beautiful weather, it started raining and kept on from the previous night to early this morning.
We woke up early as the porters had to pack up and leave to catch their train.
- There was some confusion on when to start, previous night briefing mentioned 530am but we had to basically pack everything up by 430am finish our breakfast and departed at 445-5am. After a brief walk, we came to a check point where our permits were verified. There was really bad stench at the point.
After checkpoint, the hike was undulating until it was very steep ("monkey steps") and then a gradual hike up to InitPunku where everyone was waiting for the fog to lift and get a glimpse of the Lost city of the Incas - Machu Pichu. We stopped here for maybe 15-20min and started our hike down. Along the way, we stopped at what is supposed to be "Customs" check during the Inca times with an altar to offer your prayers etc. Apparently, this was the place where only royals/nobility would enter and rest of the folks go back to Phuyupatamarca and hold.
We continued our hike down and got to the spot to get a representative view of Machu Pichu but it was still foggy and after about 15-20min, we started exploring rest of the sites. We went to the agricultural terraces, Temple of four elements, quarters, main square, Huayana pichu entrance, astronomical clock etc. where we ended the trip. The fog started to disperse around 11am and we went back up to get our pictures, took us about 20min. Ahead of going around the sites, we exited Machu Pichu and re-entered after leaving out bags at storage.
We completed the Classic Inca Trail in May and just loved the experience. Elias was a wonderful guide and the porters and cook cooked up delicious food and looked after us so well. This is a once in a lifetime experience and not to be missed!
We did the classic inca tail, everything was perfect! The group, Elvis and Hans our guides were so kind and gentle, taking care of all!! The portes, Walter, Jose and all the crew, amazing, carring all our belongins and more, always with a a smile!
The chef, Quino and his sous chef, provided us with great food, delicious!
Liliana from SAS was great!
Thank you all for making this trip to Cusco and the inca trail a great experience!!
For more than 25 years SAS Travel based in Cusco city having as a main and operation office we are very privileged to be able to use some of the profits from the agency to contribute something back to the real people of Cusco where most people who visit Cusco only see one side of the Capital of department the city itself and part of the Sacred Valley without realizing the existence of 108 Districts in 13 Provinces located around Cusco capital.
Tourist industry generates work only for 2 provinces (Cusco and Urubamba region) where is located Machupicchu. 100% of porters for Inca Trail came from no more than 10 communities so you can understand the controversy of unemployed people in Cusco and the social strikes on streets protesting... Tour guides and cooks live in Cusco. Most of cooks started as a porters on Inca Trail route few years ago... and thanks to their hard work and opportunities received by SAS Travel several cooks could affort to study at guides institude and learn english to became a guides and many of then are working successfully. Most of their children now are studing at institute also to became a guide so one day soon they will start contributing to their families.
We remember many years ago visiting the villages of our porters on top of Pisac town Sacaca, Amaru, Pampallaqta or around Chincheros or around Chacan Anta... where we used to bring a lots of educational materials for children books, computers for schools second hand clothes, shoes, groceries, bread and meals as well... without realizing we were changing the life of those families, those kids will be the new peruvians proud to belong to Inka´s heritage, hard workers but over all honest with the community and because they found an oportunity... and all of this happen thanks to you dear traveller to help us to help other.
Not all here is pleasant plazas and archaeological marvels. Life is difficult and often a struggle for many and so we hope that you also realize this brings another side with it to our impression of Cusco and we don´t want to hide it.
So if you have an interest in knowing what the Peruvian struggling economically and then requiring hospital treatment for one of their family has to deal with then check out our hospital support project.
PLAY GROUNDS FOR CHILDREN.-
In 2006 thanks to Mr Jonathan Bryan boss from Discover Adventure we together build bathroom and a play ground for a kinder garden in Anta, town of one our porters, cooks and helpers Donation of computers to the school in Anta
Play grounds in the school of Quelloquello
Chrismas gifs for Kids and food for people in Quiswarani near Lares
Play ground in the Kinder garden of Cuyo Chico
Construction of weaving work house in Pampallaqta in Pisac
School desks, wooden floor and educational material in Chawaytire
Also a small project run in Hotel Marqueses by SAS staff is the -Wawa wasirun each Saturday so you are welcome to read on and visit us!
ICA AND PISCO EARTHQUAKE.-
In coodination with the AATC a Cusco Tour Agencies Association we sent 200 hundred tents and 200 wool blankets, water, rice and sugar in our bus-truck, thanks to Mr Jose Zavaleta our experienced driver who cooperate in this great help to our brothers and sisters in Pisco and Ica
LUCRE RAIN DISSASTERS.-
Our great cooks as Julio Conde, Guido Humpire, Humberto Gonzales , Julian Huaman, Hilario Sallo, cordinators and camp helpers organized and prepared food to offer this people who suffered from this nature rains disaster, many of their mud bricks houses collapsed and local institutions as Defensa Civil or Indeci never assisted, thanks as well to voluntaries who can with us to help. When some other owners of tour companies and guides went there to take pictures... we were sharing and providing meals for this unfortunate local people.
HELP FOR PEOPLE IN YUCAY.-
**Proyects with Charities from aboard tour companies as Discover Adventures UK, Far Frontiers UK, Calpoly College USA, Overland Adventures USA, Moondance Adventures USA, Inca Tours Australia, SAS Travel Peru strives to channel the generous contributions from our clients so that they reach the local people directly.
Play Ground and Bathrooms in Santiago Kindergarten Chacan Izcuchaca.
Kids Play Ground in Qèllo Qèllo community School in Pisac.
Kids Play Ground in Pampallaqta Community School in Pisac.
Computers gift for Chacan School 2006 Miles Buckinghamshire
Walk a Mile in My Shoes Proyect
Educational Materials in Chacan, Quiswarani, Huacawasi, Cuncani, Pallata, Chincheros, Piuray Lake, Qello-Qello, .. so many people to thank...but Beth Cummings (Shetland Islands) who donated her entire 2007 Birthday money to support many activities and ensure that so many children received educational materials in isolated communities will be thanked for many years.
Helping Choquecancha, (Lares) Chincheros, Pampallaqta, Qeros near Paucartambo Communities Weavers so they can sell their beautiful work at Hotel Marqueses.
This is a SAS Travel and Hotel Marqueses Project to enable weavers in isolated mountain communities to sell their products direct to the public and by cutting out the middlemen who take all the commission ensure fair pay for their work but overall get have a safe place for a fair money
Education Scholarships for some individuals who lack resources to realize their valuable potencial.
Construction of the WEAVER HOUSE in Pampallaqta Far Frontiers UK
Educational Material for Children in Chawaytire in 2009 and 2011 and Pampallaqta. Far Frontiers UK -
Wawa-Wasi Children of single working mum`s Project, Library, Activity, Toy room and weekly nutricious meal
Values, Moral and Material Support for young -working boys shoe shiners, etc The young working boys Hotel Marqueses
Wawa Wasi Projects are generously supported and made possible by the kindness of the Canadian Community.
SAS Travel Peru is committed to sharing the spirit of Christmas giving and participates in activities distributing presents, meals / hot chocolate to around a 1000 children. All of these small activities could not happen without the support we have received from so many tourists and so have named our CD of photos (We couldn`t have done it without YOU) We want to take this chance to thank you sincerely for bringing out childrens shoes, clothes and educational items which have been so gratefully received and people who generally supported the Ica Earthquake Victims in so many ways.**
Our cooks and porters prepared and offered food for 1000 person in the rain disasters around Cusco in 2010 in Lucre, Huacarpay, Yucay, Calca (also blankets, tents, sleepining bags and mattress provided).
LITTLE HELP TO MARCACHEA IN QEROS.-
Help to transport their potatoes production to sell in Cusco.
Help with food for 50 families to the community of Marcachea in Qèros, thanks to Far Frontiers UK -2011 (Mr Murray and Andrew)
"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do
than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor.
Catch the trade winds in your sails." "Explore. Dream. Discover." Mark Twain
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SAS Travel is supporting many of the community projects run by Hotel Marqueses: Eg. "Cusco Hospital Regional Project", "Walk a Mile in my shoes", "Shoes shiners boys"
If you are coming to Cusco please make a space for a couple of second hand clothes, shoes especially for kids, school equipment, toys and drop them off in our office. We will help distribute the items to people who really need them in small village schools and communities in the mountains of Lares. The project in the Cusco Regional Hospital is partly play therapy and so larger durable toys (like second hand fisher price items) are lent to the children not as presents but as part of daily therapy activities and are always appreciated. Smaller toy/ gifts are used for children spending Birthdays in Hospital or who have been specifically identified as having a particular need. Medicines such as Rifamacina, are what are gifted for patients particularly in the Burns Unit. Any one bringing a donation is welcome to come with us to the hospital to see the project and donate personally. Thank you.