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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.read more
Inca Trail - Classic 4D/3N -
- 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.
Breakfast - Papaya juice, Tea/Coffee, Bread/Scrambled eggs
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!read more
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!!
Inca Trail, Tours to Machu-Picchu & Alternative Treks Specialist !! Office: Calle Garcilaso 270 (near Plaza San Francisco) CUSCO
Phones: + 51 84 249194 , 256324 , 261920 / Emergencies: +51 974 218769, +51 984 652232
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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.
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