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Answers to the most (FAQ) Frequently Asked Questions related with SAS Travel
A. BEFORE YOU GO.-
What is included in the price of the tour?
This link shows all the inclusions and what is NOT included in the price of the tour? http://www.sastravelperu.com/english/program/339/inca-trail-classic-4-day/
Where are the Departure points for our TREKS?
Pick up from your hotels at 05:30 am (have early breakfast, most hotels offer breakfast or pack breakfast) we depart at 06:00 am from just near hotel Marqueses (Plaza Regocijo near Restaurant Chicha) please provide a clear contact details of your accommodation at your check-in in the Cusco office. Your guides will provide procedure`s details at the “pre trek briefing” the night before you depart.
Arrival to Cusco and checkin at the Cusco SAS office We assume most people try to arrive to Cusco 2-3 days before the trek to allow adequate time for acclimatisation and a buffer in case of transport delays. Once you have settled in and rested you must come to the Cusco office to view and reconfirm the information we have pertinent to your trek, personal requirements and sign the conditions ( even if you have already paid in full.) There are occaisions when local holidays or unrest may require last minute changes to departure times or some additional information and so we have a short briefing at 7pm the night before your trek when you meet your guide and other group members and receive any rental equipment.
Where can I store my luggage while I am trekking?
On the trek/tour, you should only bring with you the things you really want/need and leave the rest of your things with us. SAS Travel offers Free luggage storage for all of our customers. If you have luggage that you wish to leave with us in Cusco then bring it to the meeting point on the morning of the departure. A SAS Travel Rep will take your things to be stored in the Hotel Marqueses (Calle Garcilaso 265- Tèl: 257819), which is right next door to our main SAS Travel office. You can then pick up your things up from the safe storage in Hotel Marqueses any time after your trek (the hotel is open 24 hours). You must bring the tag given to you as receipt when you first dropped off your items:
What should I pack?
This link shows a list of recommended items:
I don`t have a good sleeping bag. Can I rent one?
YES you can just organise it at the time of booking or book directly in the office on your check-in
Down sleeping bag minus 8º Celcius US $ 25.00
45 Lts Backpack $ 20.00
A pair of trekking poles $ 20.00
Personal shared porter for 6 Kg $ 50.00
Personal shared porter for 9 Kg $75.00
I don`t have a sleeping mat. Do I need one?
We include in the cost of the tour the loan of a sleep mat for the duration of the trek.
This is a fairly thick bulky mat that weighs 1 kg and we still say if you are travelling with a Therma-rest mattress or technologically advanced type of sleep mat then definitely bring that instead!
How much does the sleeping mat and sleeping bag weigh?
Sleepmat weight = 1 kg
Sleeping bag weight = 2.5 kg
I am on my own, will I have someone to share a tent with?
Yes another person of the same sex or if you prefer you can pay a single supplement for a tent just for you. This is US$ 70.00 (For the entire trek )
Will I need any extra money?
YES, so that you can take part in options such as bottle water/drinks, a hot shower on the 3rd night (5 soles), the natural hot springs in Aguas Calientes (10 soles), tips for your trekking staff, souvenirs, snacks in Machupicchu, drinks in your lunch in Aguas Calientes, etc. You should take at least 300 soles as emergency money that hopefully you will return to Cusco with! Also, for the passengers that are concerned about health, it may be prudent on your part to keep in mind that a train ride from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes costs approx US$40-50 (in the case you need to leave the trail early).
Do the guides speak English?
SAS Travel has high standards for our guides. All of our top guides must be educated in the field of tourism, first aid assistance and completely fluent in English. Our guides are also one of the most popular aspects of our tours as some of them are historians and archaeologists.
How many people will be in my group?
We require 6 person minimum for our treks, indicated dates on web availability are open groups in which you are welcome to join, Average 10-12 trekkers per group . We can have up to 8 trekkers with one guide and from 9 -16 trekkers we have 2 licensed trekking guides.
During low season the groups are more likely to be small and during high season the groups will likely be full.
The INC has a rule in place that limits the amount of passengers per 2 guides to 16 persons. If we are getting a lot of requests for a date and there are still a good number of permits available, we can easily open up a second group for the same date.
Should I hire an extra porter?
If you have not trekked in altitude before we would suggest your organise the extra porter. Unless you have hired an extra porter you will need to carry your own back pack, sleeping bag and the mattress and water for the day. 75% of our travellers hire the extra porter for 9 Kg for US$75. If you would like to have a porter carry your things, one can be hired for US $50 for every 6 kilos or $75 for 9 kilos ( shared porter, each porter carries 18 Kg plus his gear) SAS provide a duffle porter bag at the briefing the night before your hike. You should bring only what you absolutely need/want on the trek, and store the rest of your belongings in Cusco (see the information on our Free Luggage Storage).
Even if you do hire a porter you will still need a day pack with you so that you can carry such items as your camera, water bottle, snacks (energy bars, dried fruits, nuts, sweets, remember glucose is a big help and imperative in heights), sunscreen, sun-glasses, a fleece or something warm and a poncho (during the rainy season or cloudy days) and anything else you will need before lunch as the porters do not walk alongside you. You will meet up with your bag at lunch and then it will be waiting for you in your tent at the campsite.
It is best to put everything up to 18 kgs in one duffle bag if you are a couple or 2 for the porter so that you don’t have 2 large backpacks in your tent. We can provide you with a duffel bag to use. At the final lunch in Aguas Calientes town the staff will provide white sacs to those who hired extra porters for transporting your belongings back to Cusco. Please return it to our main office in Cusco.
Please note that there are fines and notifications if you give an excess of 9 Kgs or 18 kgs, so try to under-pack rather than over-pack—if it is overweight at the weigh station, items will have to be removed to reduce the weight.
B. ON THE TREK.-
I am not really an experienced trekker?
What if I can’t keep up?
How difficult is the Inca Trail?
Most people have that concern but don`t worry. Only in extremely rare circumstances does a passenger need to come back early. You just need to remember that you are able to go at a speed that is comfortable for you. Take your time, pace yourself, and enjoy this awesome walk.
The Inca Trail is considered a moderate hike. It's not a technical hike but there are a lot of Inca stairs to walk up and down, and the altitude may affect some individuals. We recommend using a trekking poles...and have an early night before the trek! Also knee supports or vandages are very useful after second day.
Are Trekking poles really necessary?
For this trek more than any of the treks, we DO recommend the use of Trekking poles, especially for those passengers with known knee problems. There are multiple times during the trek that a Trekking poles is handy, be it ascending a mountain or walking down immense sets of Inca stairs. It will help with your balance and reduce the impact on your knees. SAS Travel and the INC ask that you not use trekking poles with metal tips as it damages the trail. You can purchase rubber tips for metal poles from any local camping shop.
How long will I be walking every day?
How long is the trail?
46 Km/ 28 Miles
This is an approximate breakdown according to our regular campsites:
Day 1: 12 kilometers (8.6 miles) 6-7 hours Ayapata camp.
Day 2: 18 kilometers (10.9 miles) 7-8 hours (“Dead Womans Pass,” the highest pass of the trek at 4,200m, is on this day and the longest day )
Day 3: 10 km (7.3 miles) at 5-6 hours.
Day 4: 6 Km around 2 hours walk before arriving to Machu Picchu.
You will wake up around 4.30 am, 1 hour to Inti-punku \"Sun`s Gate\"
The entire trail is about 46 kilometers (27 miles) long from start to finish. If you still want more, climbing Huayna Picchu provides yet another hour and a half round trip. Check for the free passes with your tour guides.
Is altitude sickness common? And how high is the Inca Trail?
It's impossible to predict who will be affected by altitude. Your ability to adapt to high altitude is determined by your genetic makeup and has little to do with fitness or health. Most people will have no problems as long as they take the time to acclimatize properly. A full day spent in Cusco (3399m), taking it very easy and drinking plenty of water is enough for some people but if you can arrange to have minimum 2-3 days in case of any travel disruptions as well then this is what we recomend as there is also so much to do here!. The highest point you will reach while hiking the Inca Trail is 4200m/13818ft. You will sleep at 3340m/10988ft for two nights.
What if I am unable to finish the trail?
In the scenario that you are unable to finish the trek due health issues, SAS Travel will do everything in its power to get you to the nearest civilization and get help or transportation to help. If the issue is respiratory or due to altitude, we do carry at least one tank of oxygen on trek that you will have access to. In extreme cases, a helicopter pick up can be arranged at your own expense.(Travel Insurance required) There are no refunds in the situation that you are unable to finish though.
Generally if due to altitude sickness people can`t make it over the pass on the 2nd day they come back to Ollantaytambo accompanied by a porter if just mild (or guide if serious) and if they recover from altitude sickness they stay the night here in Ollantaytambo and then take the train to Aguas Calientes the next day ( Day 3) and we look after them in Hostal Viajeros and then they rejoin their group in Machu Picchu early on Day 4 and continue the tour as normal. the additional costs for this such as train ticket and accommodations is payable by the passenger and usually is between $60 and $100 total and a document for insurance purposes is provided for your claim.
Can SAS Travel accommodate my dietary needs? What kind of food will there be?
Not to worry, SAS Travel is able to accommodate many types of dietary needs upon request at the time of booking. If you are a vegetarian, or cannot eat gluten or have allergies to certain foods, it will not be a problem. The meals of our chefs are one of the most popular parts of our tours too, and the quality will not be reduced when accommodating your dietary needs. The meals are served buffet style and you are able to choose what you would like to eat. Your guides will let you know what time the meals will be served.
Our cooks prepare excellent high-energy meals appropriate for a trek of this nature. The menu usually includes quinua sauces and soups, cereals and vegetable soups, Beaf Lomo Saltado with rice, chicken cacerole, fresh fruit and vegetables and a variety of oatmeal, eggs and other breakfast foods as scramble egg, quinua panqueques, avocados and other potatoes delicious dishes ….
Will I need to bring water?
We recommend that you purchase a 1.5 – 2 litre bottle of water to take with you on the first day. Every night during the trek, we will boil water so you can refill the same bottle every morning before setting out. If you are planning to drink from any streams or waterfalls, we strongly suggest you bring water purification tablets or filters.
Also, you will be able to buy water along the way on Day 1, for the first few hours of Day 2, then again on the afternoon of Day 3, and of course at Machu Picchu.
Are there bathrooms along the way?
Along the trail there are several sites with toilets. Bring a roll of toilet paper. As far as other trash goes, please carry your own trash to each campsite where the porters will pack it up and take it out. Leave no trace! Please do not litter.
Is it OK to bring toddlers on the trail?
If you are thinking of bringing any small children with you, we highly recommend arranging a private tour with us instead of going on a group service departure. That way, you can get the extra attention that you will require from the guide. It should be remembered that it is likely you will have a difficult time as it is, so if you have never done higher altitude trekking with your child before, you’ll want to carefully consider your enjoyment and the enjoyment of the child. Also, it should be kept in mind that the emergency rescue services while on the trek are extremely limited.
Is there a chance that my trek will be canceled?
There is very little possibility of a cancellation of a trek by the INC (Park Office) even under extreme weather circumstances or even in case of a strike there will be no cancellation. The INC or SAS Travel cannot change the date of a trek if there is a general strike. We do everything possible to ensure you get to the trail head to start the trek for the permit date and this means that we must have correct contact details as about 4-5 times a year there is a general strike. This means no land transport is allowed to travel and so the night before the trek /strike date we have to gather everyone together and drive to the trail head area to camp the night before so we make sure that the trek goes ahead.
In the case that a passenger decides to cancel the tour for whatever reason, you will just have to pay US$45 more and we can put you on a train to Aguas Calientes. That way you are still able to use the Machu Picchu entrance join your group for a tour and return train ticket at least.
Is the trail still good during the rainy season? Is it safe?
The trail is perfectly safe during the rainy season. Some people actually like to go during the rainy season because there are fewer tourists. If you are one who doesn’t mind the rain, then we say ‘Go for it!’ You will just have to bring good rain gear and waterproof boots.
What kind of weather can I expect on the trek? Temperatures?
During the “rainy season” (1 Dec – 1 May), you could have some rain any day but you can expect that it could rain every day in Feb and could be heavy! Often in Dec and Jan you may just get some light continual showers or it could be fine and then a heavy afternoon downpoor but in truth you could also have fine days. At the same time, it will also be noticeably warmer at night. The day times will get up to about 25 degrees Celsius, the low will be about 2 degrees Celsius.
On the other hand, during the “dry season” (June – Nov) the daytimes will seem strikingly like spring time, with bright and sunny skies, but it will be much colder at night. During the daytime you can expect it to be somewhere in the range of 20 to 30 degrees Celsius and at night it will be as low as 0 to -5 degrees Celsius.
It is always best to dress in layers during anytime of year, really. As you hike, put them on when you feel cold or shed them and put it in your day pack when you get hot.
As you move from sunshine into shaded areas the temperature can drop 10 degrees in a second, as the high altitude air is cold but the sun is so strong and hot that your awareness of the cold is only on cloudy days and these are more often from Nov to March! So you always need a warm layer or rain protection to put on or take off as the weather can change from cold mornings, to sunny midday and then heavy cloud cover and cooler, and quite possibly showers and hail in the afternoon or vice versa! Nobody tries to predict weather only be prepared for 4 seasons in a day!
How many trekkers and trek crew are in a typical group?
For a group of max 16 trekkers our typical trekking staff comprise of: 01 guide, 01 assistant guide, 01 cook, 01 assistant cook, 01 general assistant in charge of setting up and organization of safe campsites and 18 porters or carriers.
If the group is 8 or less then just 1 guide, 01 cook, 01 general assistant in charge of setting up and organization of safe campsites and 12 porters or carriers.
What is the standard procedure when it comes to tips?
Tips for the above mentioned trekking staff are not included in the price of the trek. Tips are optional not mandatory. Generally tips are distributed amongst the trekking staff (except the guide and the assistant guide ) on the third night of the trek at Wiñaywayna camp after the evening meal since these trekking staff will not accompany the group to Machupicchu.
Tips for the Cook, Assistant cook, Coordinator and Porters: On the third night at dinner time someone from the group is usually elected to collect the tips. Please remember to take plenty of small denomination bills in Peruvian Soles. We recommend that the cook should receive about 50% more than the other trekking staff. The money should be paid directly to each individual or representative of porters rather than given to the guide or cook.
Deciding how much to tip is always a difficult and sometimes uncomfortable decision. SAS Travel pay our trek staff fairly and treat them with respect and try to provide good working conditions. We think that a tip should not be used to subsidize a poor wage but should be a way to show the staff that you have enjoyed the trek and appreciated the services that they have provided. The tip should therefore be optional and not mandatory. However, if you have enjoyed the service, we recommend that each person in the group contributes between 50 and 60 soles ( US$ 17-21 ) to a “pot” which is then distributed amongst the cook, assistant cook, general assistant and porters. This should ensure that each person will receive a tip of about US$15 and the cook around US$30. Obviously if you want to tip more please do so.
Tips for the Assistant Guide: The assistant guide will accompany the group to Machupicchu and Aguas Calientes, he is incharge of getting the passes for Wayna Picchu climbing. We therefore recommend that you tip the assistant guide at the lunch time on the fourth day in Aguas Calientes at the lunch time in Hotel Viajeros. We suggest that each person in the group tips the assistant guide between 15 and 20 soles. (US$5-7) Again, tips are optional not mandatory and dependent on the level of service provided. Obviously if you want to pay more please do so.
Tips for the Guide: The guide will accompany the group throughout the tour including Machupicchu. We recommend that you tip the guide after the tour in Machupicchu at the time of lunch at Hotel Viajeros in Aguas Calientes We suggest that each person in the group tips the main guide between 18 and 28 soles. (US$8-10) Again, tips are optional not mandatory and dependent on the level of service provided. Obviously if you want to pay more please do so.
SUMMARY: Like in most American countries, tipping is normal practice. If you have enjoyed the service provided by the trekking team we would recommend bringing between 70 and 85 soles ( US$ 25-30 ) to covers tips for the trekking staff. However if you think that you have received poor service you are under no obligation to pay a tip. The trekking team will soon get the message. Please pay tips in cash and do not pay in kind such as in beers etc. We have tried to be as clear as possible about tipping but we understand that this is a complicated issue when many different cultures and lifestyles come together.
The procedure and amounts listed above have been written in conjunction with our guides and trekking staff. We accept that not all of our clients will be in agreement with this information. It is important that you tip the amount that you feel comfortable with. Please try not to let the procedure stress you or cause anyone to feel badly towards other members of the group who wish to pay less than the recommended amount or decide not to pay a tip at all.
Will I be able to witness the sunrise at Machu Picchu?
In truth it is not typical sunrise. As long as you don´t have too much mist or low cloud thenyou see the first light illuminating Machu Picchu. It is after dawn though as the sun musg rise up over the high mountains surrounding Machu Picchu.
Will I be able to climb Huayna Picchu (300 mts)
If you are wanting to include an ascent of Huayna Picchu in your visit to Machu Picchu, note that The trail to Huayna Picchu is safe but very vertical and is about an hour and a half round trip.….. beware that there are new regulations since July 2011 and permits have to be bought in advance. The cost to have a Machu Picchu entrance that includes the permit to climb Huayna Picchu is $70 if you want us to organise your permit to climb Huayna Picchu and we must have this request in writing and confirmed at the time of your booking indicating you will pay the extra $ for this permit. Deposit for this tour including Huayna Picchu permit is $310 instead of $250.
There is a limit of only 400 permits for climbing Huayna Picchu and only 200 people are permitted to enter for each of the 2 sessions scheduled for 7am and 10 am. The guide will organise the tour of Machu Picchu around peoples climb of Huayna Picchu depending on how many in the group have permits. Please note your entrance to Machu Picchu and permit for Huayna Picchu are with your name and passport details so are non transferable and non refundable.
How long am I able to stay at Machu Picchu? How I will I get down to Aguas Calientes?
You will have a guided tour of the ruins that lasts approximately 2-3 hours, after which time you will have 2-3 hours more to spend on your own. You can climb Huayna Picchu or just explore. After the guided portion, your guide will give you a bus ticket for the transfer down to Aguas Calientes. You can take the bus anytime you like. We will be serving a buffet lunch at the Hotel Viajeros starting at 1.45 pm so that is something to keep in mind. If you choose to skip the lunch, then you just need to be down in time for your train ride.
What is the Special 4th Night in Aguas Calientes? Is it for me?
Inca Trail 4D/4Nights Group Service is the regular Inca Trail 4d/3n plus 1 night (based on double/triple accommodation) in Aguas Calientes (Machupicchu town) in Hostel Viajeros or similar level accommodation. It is a great way to take advantage of the relaxing jungle ambiance of Aguas Calientes. There are more trails to venture on for further exploration including the Putukusi Trail, where the summit offers an amazing view of the immense site and Huayna Picchu Mountain. Or to wind down after a grueling trek, soak in the natural hot springs for 10 soles. The soothing, naturally heated waters are said to possess healing properties.
For more information see the actual trek Inca Trail 4D/4Nights -Group Service
What time will I be back in Cusco?
You generally arrive back to Cusco around 8.30 -9pm so don`t expect to be able to book a flight out for the same night as flights do not exist after 4.30pm.
Can you explain the train service a little more??
Many of our travellers request a later train so they can spend the full day at Machu Picchu, to climb Wayna Picchu or to visit the natural hot baths (for which the town Aguas Calientes is named). We therefore generally reserve a late afternoon train around 5 - 6 pm for our travellers. Occasionally it is direct to Cusco, but otherwise the service is to Ollantaytambo with a private bus transfer onwards to Cusco. But still, these reservations are only confirmed by Peru Rail 6 days in advance. During high season and holidays, when demand exceeds availability, we will always try to obtain tickets for an earlier service rather than one late at night for a more comfortable arrival to Cusco.
Often passengers decide to stay a further night in Aguas Calientes instead of returning on the 4th night. This is fine, and we can coordinate your accommodation, but any changes you would like to make with train tickets must be made in person with Peru Rail in Aguas Calientes with proof of identity (i.e. your original passport). They will charge a fee for change of dates and coach options will be according to availability.