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Inca Trail - how much and who to go with

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1. Posted by Jason316uk (Budding Member 11 posts) 9y

Jason316uk has indicated that this thread is about Peru

A very simple one ladies and gentlemen for those who have gone and explored before me - I am looking at the Inca trail experience around the early April time this year. The Lonely Planet (seems to be Lonely Liar) says US $220 is the bare minimum and initial feedback on this www. suggests $350-400 is a more reasonable expectation.

I realise you get in life what you pay for - but what I am looking for is a decent experience, with decent guides and porters and a decent rate. Can anyone offer their valuable experience to me.

Would be much appreciated.

Warm Regards

Jason

2. Posted by bentivogli (Travel Guru 2398 posts) 9y

In you want to do the Inca trail: book in advance, don't wait until you arrive in Cuzco unless you don't mind waiting a few days.

There's plenty of companies mentioned in the other posts re this issue; they're all more or less comparable as to the experience for the tourist, but some are more decent towards their own staff (porters) and the environment than others... One that I believe has a good reputation in this respect is Llamapatha, but I may not recall correctly; it's all in the forum.

If you want a slightly less frequented hike to MP, consider Salkantay, which is cheaper, more challenging and equally rewarding in the end. Even better, as you can see the beauty of the Inca trail from afar, rather than being on it in the midst of a giant herd of other backpackers. If you speak decent spanish, you could even try to find a personal guide, who could take you on even more interesting routes that aren't offered by the tourist industry.

Niels

3. Posted by boreal2673 (Respected Member 345 posts) 9y

I just did the Inca Trail in August and loved it. If you want to do the standard trail I would recommend using SAS (http://www.sastravelperu.com/index.html). They were incredible from begining to end. The guides (Victor and Omar) were helpful and patient when we wanted to take a thousand pictures. The price was good not sure how much so take a look at the website. There office in Cuzco is really easy to find off the main square. They were not the cheapest but also not the most expensive. The food they prepared was incredible. From talking to other people on the trail several were disapointed with the company they chose. I would also recommend spending the extra night in Aguas Calientes. Cool little town and worth a stay over. If you are up for it, get up early and hike to the top of Putucusi. It is an Inca trail that starts about a 5 minute walk outside of Aguas Calientes. Start by following the railroad tracks away from town and you will see a sign for the trail on the right. The trail is short but hard with vertical ladders through a large section. It takes about an hour to the top and there are incredible views of Macchu Picchu from there. Well worth it if you still have the legs to get there. Brent

4. Posted by Moonmonkey (Budding Member 52 posts) 9y

Hi guys

I have an additional question about the Inca Trail. I recently read in the LP book on Peru that you should book your tour months in advance which seems to contradict what I've heard from other people. I understand that the later you leave it could land you in a slightly worse campsite (as the best campsites are booked up first) but would anyone say that a week or two in advance should be enough time to book?

Thanks

Paul

5. Posted by Trekky (Budding Member 2 posts) 9y

Hi,

The reason to book in advance is not really the "quality" of campsites, but the limited number of spaces. This trek is limited to 500 people per day, including travel agencies staff for the trek (cooks, porters, guides, etc). That means that there are not really 500 spaces for tourists but a lot fewer. You can check this website www.inca-trail.com.pe which shows real availability on-line to see how much spaces are left the day you want to do it. It is amazing, spaces go away very fast... I am doing it with some friends by the end of the year, and we already booked our trek...

Good luck and good trek!

6. Posted by natashahop (First Time Poster 1 posts) 9y

Hi

The Inca Trail cost varies enormously depending on what type of trek you are after. You're right you get what you pay for, especially in Cusco. At the budget end you will have to pay around US$360 (as a student).

It's important to remember that what you pay often reflects on what the local operator pays its staff.

Companies like Andina Travel in Cusco who have a really good track record, pay their crew a decent wage and therefore you will pay more. Depending on the number from US$410 to US$870. A friend trekked with them last year and had a great time, see www.andinatravel.com. The lady who runs the company is lovely.

Alternatively there are now some really good alternative trails that get you away from the crowds and you don't need to get permits early. www.dragoman.com/destinations/incatrail.php gives an overview of a couple of different trails.

If you do decide that its the Classic Inca Trail you want remember to avoid August, over 500 trekkers per day (that's a hell of a crowd), and permits are VERY limited.
Check out www.inca-trail.com.pe to see what dates are still available.

Cheers and happy trekking

Tash

7. Posted by boreal2673 (Respected Member 345 posts) 9y

From an earlier post of mine.

I just did the Inca Trail in August and loved it. If you want to do the standard trail I would recommend using SAS (http://www.sastravelperu.com/index.html). They were incredible from begining to end. The guides (Victor and Omar) were helpful and patient when we wanted to take a thousand pictures. The price was good not sure how much so take a look at the website. There office in Cuzco is really easy to find off the main square. They were not the cheapest but also not the most expensive. The food they prepared was incredible. From talking to other people on the trail several were disapointed with the company they chose. I would also recommend spending the extra night in Aguas Calientes. Cool little town and worth a stay over. If you are up for it, get up early and hike to the top of Putucusi. It is an Inca trail that starts about a 5 minute walk outside of Aguas Calientes. Start by following the railroad tracks away from town and you will see a sign for the trail on the right. The trail is short but hard with vertical ladders through a large section. It takes about an hour to the top and there are incredible views of Macchu Picchu from there. Well worth it if you still have the legs to get there. Brent

8. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Hi Jason,

With the more reputable companies, 350+ is a more realistic expectation, but it's worth doing a bit of research to see what you get for that money.

I did the Inca Trail last January 2006 (low season). I booked ahead online a few weeks in advance with a company called United Mice. For the 4 day trek I paid $360US. For that, our group got a great tour with excellent guides and surprisingly good food! Porters would not carry anything unless they were paid per day. In my opinion, fair enough. A lot of people complained about that but if you saw what the porters hike up those mountains, you'll feel like a big wuss struggling with your small pack

At that time, two girls I met in Cuzco did the same trek with another company which they just booked in Cuzco on the day they arrived. (This is something you can do in the low season, but by April I'd say you might be wiser booking ahead).
They paid 240$US. They seemed perfectly happy with the service they got. Unfortunately, I dont know the name of the company they went with. :(

One thing I know about the United Mice group is that from that $360 they pay their guides well. So, that's something to consider. It's not something that will matter much to you now maybe, but you probably will care a lot once you are there. ;) The porters with United Mice were great. Our guide, Raul, was hilarious and great to talk to. He spent a little bit of time walking with different people in our group and he knew all the local history. He even took us to some incan ruins near the third camp where he said not a lot of groups go. ;)

On our last night together, we had a fantastic meal and all the porters and guides ate with us, and we gave them all individual gifts of money we had collected. It was one of my nicest memories from Peru. :)

I couldnt recommend United Mice highly enough.

9. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 9y

Ooh, just something else that occurred to me:

United Mice and SAS both get the hardest climb out of the way on Day 1. They hike 1100mm on the first day alone. On the second morning there is a shorter climb to Lady's Pass than a lot of the other groups have.
On Day 1, I thought that was terrible.
On Day 2, I thought that was great.

It makes a difference I think. ;)

10. Posted by cat009 (Budding Member 28 posts) 9y

I did the Salkantay trek which was excellent. We used United Mice who were very good. We basically had the trek to ourselves for 4 days before getting to Aguas Calientes. A very different experience to the Inca Trail. I didn't find it that hard but we'd spent quite a lot of time at a higher altitude in Bolivia before going to Peru. I think we paid about $300.

My girlfriend did the traditional Inca Trail with SAS and also found them to be very good too.

Enjoy your trip