Introduction to Colombia

Colombia is the country that has everything you could need from a South America holiday.

Diverse people and landscapes make this a country rich in wildlife, landscapes and culture.

Hikers can choose to trek to glaciers on snow-capped peaks, or through steamy forest to hidden ruins, or to unique Paramó plains.

Cyclists can pedal over and around the Andean peaks that dominate, and adventure seekers can try anything from paragliding to canyoning.

Beach lovers can enjoy surfing and relaxing with a Colombian twist, or head to islands for a more Caribbean vibe.

Prefer wildlife? Try the pacific coast and its whales and turtles, or perhaps the Amazon and its diverse flora and fauna.

The cities are cosmopolitan and cultured, replete with incredible museums with enormous collections.

Geography of Colombia

Colombia is divided into five main geographical regions: Pacific, Llanos, Amazon, Caribbean and Andes.

The Andes dominate and have three main branches, all running roughly from south to north.

The Cordillera Occidental lies furthest to the west, running parallel to the Pacific coast; Furthest east lies The Cordillera Oriental running almost to the whole length of the country and incorporating Bogota; and in between these two, is the Cordillera Central.

Less than 3% of the population live in two lowland areas that comprise more than half of Colombia’s overall size.

The first lies to the east of the Andes called Llanos and is a savannah, and forms a part of the Orinoco river basin.

The second is Colombia’s steamy Amazon rainforest, which lies to the far south east of the country and covers almost one third of the entire country.

In the north is the hot and humid Caribbean coast, characterised by beautiful beaches and turquoise seas as well as fertile and low-lying plains and La Guarija Desert.

Colombia lays claim to two small islands, close to Nicaragua, called San Andres and Providencia, and islands in the Pacific and these are known as the insular area.

The narrow Pacific coastal lowlands are densely covered with vegetation, with very few people living here.

Weather in Colombia

Colombia has warm to hot average temperatures all year round.

Cartagena on the Caribbean coast, for example, averages around 325 days of sunshine a year, even during its ‘winter’.

There are, however, two rainy and dry seasons that Colombians call summer and winter.

The severity and length of these seasons also depends on where you are in the country – the coast has slightly more severe and longer dry seasons than the Andean region, for example.

 

Dry season

Dec-March and July-early Sept.

On the coast the rainfall stays low during the whole of September.

 

Wet Season

April to June and October to early December.

Much depends on where you are in the country. Up in the mountains one of the great attractions of Colombia is the fact that within half and hour of travel, either losing or gaining altitude, you can emerge in a totally different climate, substantially hotter and drier, or colder and more humid, depending on where you are.

On mountain treks the temperature will decrease around 6°C for every 1,000 metre (3,300 feet) increase in altitude.

In the Paramo, temperatures average around 5ºC and drop below freezing at nighttime.

Again, variations depend on geography.

Visas for Colombia, 2017

Nationals of the UK and most of Western Europe, the Americas, Japan, Australia and New Zealand, do not need a visa to enter Colombia.

It’s a good idea to check this before your planned trip, because visa regulations change frequently.

Please check your passport is current and make a photocopy that you can carry with you at all times.

All visitors get an entry stamp or print in their passport from DAS (the security police responsible for immigration) upon arrival at any international airport or land border crossing. The stamp says how many days you can stay in the country.

The maximum allowed is 90 days.

Vaccinations for Colombia

We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Colombia visits their local doctor/travel clinic prior to departure for the latest vaccination information.

 

Recommended vaccinations

  • Up-to-date diphtheria and polio.
  • Tetanus or tetanus booster. (These three are effective for ten years.)
  • ‘Havrix’ for Hepatitis A. The course of two injections protects you for ten years. Gamma globulin is cheaper butless effective.
  • Typhoid vaccine is recommended by some doctors although it will not provide total protection and being careful about what you eat and drink is your best defence. It is given in two shots, four weeks apart and lasts for three years. Unless at exceptional risk, people over the age of 35 who have received four or more courses of typhoid immunisation need no more.
  • A pre-exposure rabies vaccination is worth considering if you are going to be in contact with animals or morethan 24 hours away from a reliable source of vaccine. Hikers are at some risk from rural dogs, certain of which carry rabies, and those visiting coastal or rainforest areas could be exposed to rabid bats.
  • Yellow fever. Required for entry to Santa Marta (Tayrona Park and Palomino area), La Guajira area, Chocó (Pacific Coast) and the Amazon region. Also wooded areas of the Orinoco, Meta, Vichada, Guaviare, Inírida, Vaupés, Putumayo and Caquetá Area. Not effective until ten days after inoculation; not recommended for pregnant women. This is also effective for ten years.
  • Anti-malarial protection. Malaria is present throughout the year. Risk is present in most municipalities but is highest in departments of Choco, Antioquia, Cordoba, Narino and the Amazon (Vichada, Guaviare, Vaupes, Guainia and Amazonas). There is no risk at high altitude and in the cities of Bogota and Cartagena. It is important that you follow the prophylactic regime carefully. Atovaquone/proguanil OR doxycycline OR mefloquine is usually advised for those visiting risk areas. In the UK, contact the Malaria Reference Laborator. North Americans should contact the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Zika. Spread by mosquito bikes and also a risk of sexual transmission. People planning pregnancies / pregnant women are advised against all travel to areas reporting Zika. If you develop any feverish illness whilst travelling or on return medical attention must be sought quickly.
  • Dengue Fever. There is no vaccine and prevention is through avoidance of mosquito bites. The mosquito that spreads dengue bites during the day and is more common in urban areas. Symptoms include fever, headache, severe joint, bone and muscular pain – hence its other name ‘breakbone fever’.

Quick facts about Colombia

 

Official name: Republic of Colombia

Population: 48,000,000

Capital city: Bogotá (7.8 million)

Largest cities: Bogotá, Medellín, Cali, Barranquilla

Languages: Spanish (official) + 68 more recognised.

Latitude/Longitude: 4º S, 72º W

Official currency: Peso (COP)

Major industries: Finance, minerals, emeralds, oil

Time zone: GMT-5

Colombia Festivals

February 

Festival: Barranquilla Carnaval 

4 days of parades, music and dancing.     

Location: Barranquilla.    

 

March / April  

Festival: Semana Santa / Easter  

2 Km procession.  

Location: Popayan  

 

August  

Festival: Salsa Festival  

Week of dance and music events.   

Location: Cali  

 

Festival: Feria de Las Flores /  Flower Festival  

Concerts, shows, parades and celebrations.  

Location: Medellin  

 

December

Festival: Festival of Cali 

5 day festival between Christmas and New Year with music , horses, classic cars and salsa.  

Location: Cali 

Kit list

Good kit is vital for every trip.

Book with Andean Trails and get 15% off Páramo’s fantastic ethical and high performance outdoor gear.

 

Overview

Bogotá is a city high in the Andes Mountains (2625 metres) and has a spring-like climate, when the weather is generally cool and variable. It can rain, the sun can shine and it can be foggy and chilly.

Bogotános like to say that in Bogotá you can experience the four seasons all in one day.

On the Carribean coast it is usually hot and humid. In general you’ll need cool clothes. The Caribbean coast of Colombia is very hot most of the time and your change in altitude during the trek isn’t a lot. Whilst you’ll be kept a little cooler by the surrounding water and dense vegetation you will be pretty hot and sweating  during most if not all of the trek.

Give plenty of thought to kit selection, and try to keep weight down.

Below is a more detailed guide.

 

Detailed kit list

  • Light weight waterproof jacket.
  • 2-3 long-sleeve shirts – no cotton.
  • 2-3 short-sleeve T-shirts – no cotton.
  • 2 pair of hiking shorts – cotton or synthetic material (no jeans).
  • 2-3 mid-weight (wool or synthetic) socks.
  • 2-3 liner/thin/running socks if needed.
  • Athletic-type socks, for city use.
  • Light weight hiking boots that are waterproof and well broken-in, and suitable for muddy terrain.
  • Training shoes / all-terrain sandals – for crossing rivers and relaxing at camp.
  • Swim suit
  • 1 fleece or sweat trousers (for cold evenings in Bogota).
  • 1 lightweight wool sweater or windproof fleece
  • 1 wool or synthetic warm hat.
  • Broad-brimmed sunhat, essential.
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Bandana – to protect neck from strong sun.
  • Daypack (at least 30 litres). Comfortable and with waterproof lining or cover.
  • Large rucksack / sports bag for main luggage.
  • Sheet sleeping bag & pillow case  – mosquito netted mattress and a blanket and pillow are provided.
  • Water bottle (2 litres approx.) & purification tablets.
  • Personal first-aid kit to include: painkillers, plasters (band-aids), moleskin, anti-biotic cream, general antibiotics (ask your GP), after-bite (tiger balm), anti-diarrhoea tablets, throat lozenges, re-hydration salts & personal medication.
  • Insect repellent (just in case) – the mosquitoes aren’t awful but they can be a nuisance when you stop for a rest, at Ciudad Perdida itself and at camp.
  • Quick dry towel & wash-kit.
  • Trekking poles (optional).
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries) – after campsite 1 there is no power so you need to charge up here for the next two days.
  • Penknife.
  • Travel alarm clock.
  • Plastic bags – ‘Zip-loc’ & tough bin liners.
  • Camera and film / memory cards (take at least twice the amount you think you will need!).
  • Powertraveller charger (US type socket)
  • Book, e-book, mp3 player/ipod or other to help pass the time.
  • Binoculars.
  • Spanish/English phrasebook.
  • Extra snacks i.e. cereal bars or favourite chocolate bars.
  • Assorted stuff bags.

 

Miscellaneous others

  • Money belt.
  • Passport.
  • U.S. dollars cash, mixed-denomination notes, undamaged and unmarked.
  • ATM cash/credit card.
  • Any inoculation certificates.
  • Personal & medical insurance certificates.
  • Presents e.g. Postcards from home.
  • Comfortable clothes for travel, smart clothes for night life.

ATOL holiday protection

Andean Trails has two decades of experience of dealing with South America holidays.

We pay a fee to the CAA for every licensable passenger we book since we hold an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence granted by the Civil Aviation Authority. In the unlikely event of our insolvency, the CAA will ensure that you are not stranded abroad and will arrange to refund any money you have paid to us for an advance booking.

We also offer ATOL (Civil Aviation Authority) protected holidays to give our customers peace of mind when booking and travelling.

When you buy an ATOL protected air holiday package from Andean Trails Ltd you will receive a Confirmation Invoice from us confirming your arrangements and your protection under our Air Travel Organiser’s Licence number 6275.

You can read more about ATOL, who is covered and what protections you have if not ATOL-covered, on our ATOL page.

 

What is ATOL?

The CAA’s ATOL scheme offers protection to your money and your holiday if you book with us. Not everybody is covered (see ‘Who is covered?’ for more), as you must purchase an ‘air package holiday’ with Andean Trails to be protected.

And  ‘air package holiday’ is defined as including a flight and some ground services (hotel, transfer, trek etc). This is also known as an ‘ATOL-protected holiday’.

 

Who is covered?

To be covered by ATOL, you must book a flight and some ground services with us and be from the UK. If you are from the UK and only book ground services and no flights, you are not covered by ATOL (see below for more on how non-ATOL clients are covered).

If you are outside the UK and buy flights with us, you will be ATOL protected IF any of the flights booked with Andean Trails touches/stops in the UK at any point during your holiday package booked with us.

If you buy your flights elsewhere, please check with that agent if you are ATOL protected. Be careful with online flight purchases and make sure you know what protection you have, if any, before paying for flights.

Not all holiday or travel services offered and sold by us will be protected by the ATOL scheme. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking.

For land only holidays not involving any air travel, in accordance with “The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992”, all UK passengers booking with Andean Trails Ltd. are fully protected for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of all money paid to us, arising from cancellation or curtailment of travel arrangements due to the insolvency of Andean Trails.

 

I’m not ATOL covered, what protection do I have?

If you are not ATOL covered, any payments you make to us go to a Trust account.

We can only access this money once your tour has been completed, meaning that if anything happens to Andean Trails Limited while you are on holiday, then your money is secure and you can either complete the trip or be able to make it home.

If you pay for your holiday with a credit card, some offer payment protection – please check with your cardholder.

You also should have cancellation protection written into your insurance (which we recommend you have at the time of booking) in case you need to cancel.

Be safe in Colombia

General security

Although Colombia is relatively safe, we strongly recommend checking with the Foreign and Commonwealth office about safe travel areas before you depart.

Many areas are safe for travel but other areas are not. Our tours pass for through safe areas.

General advice for anywhere in Colombia is:

 

  • Leave paper valuables in hotel safe (caja fuerte), taking only what you need for the day. Carry a copy of passport (leave original in safe). When travelling, carry paper valuables in a money belt under clothing, not in a ‘bum-bag’.
  • In Bogota and other big cities, be suspicious of ‘overly-friendly’ locals or ‘tourists’ who might be con-men/women. Beware bag-snatchers on the street.
  • We suggest you do not exchange money on the street. Use a casa de cambio (bureau de change) or bank, ATM machine, and lock the ATM door.
  • Only take a daypack if you’re in a group. We suggest you carry this on your chest. Carry camera in bag, replacing after use. If alone, you’re advised to avoid walking in cities at night.
  • Always take special care in markets and busy streets. Great care is needed in the markets and bus stations.
  • Never carry a bag or valuables in these areas. Beware of distraction techniques.
  • At night, avoid quiet streets or streets with poor lighting, especially if alone; it’s best to use taxis at night, wherever you are.
  • NEVER leave your bags unattended, especially in airports, bus terminals and hotel lobbies.

Food and drink in Colombia

Starters

Empanadas                                Fried meat ( pork or beef ) pasties.

Pandebono                                 Traditional Colombian cheese bread.

Papa rellena                              Stuffed potatoes usually with meat).

Picada                                        A platter of fried meats and vegetables.

Pan de Yuca                               Bread made with yuca flour and cheese.

 

Mains

Bandeja Paisa                         Beans, white rice, chicharrón, beef or pork, chorizo, fried egg, ripe plantain, avocado and arepa

Puchero Santafereño:             Stew that usually includes beef, chicken, pork, plantain, yuca, potatoes, corn, chorizo, and cabbage.

Tamales                                   Cornmeal mixed with meat, chicken or fish wrapped in a banana leaf.

Sudado de Pollo                      Chicken stew served with rice.

Pescado frito                           A whole fried fish, usually served with green plantain, coconut rice and a tomato salad on the side.

 

Desserts

Salpicón de Frutas               Fresh fruit cocktail with watermelon juice and sometimes a scoop of ice cream.

Cocadas Blancas                  Sweet sticky shredded coconut balls.

Flan de Coco                        Coconut milk pudding.

Arroz con Leche                    Sweet, and creamy rice pudding.

Dulce de Brevas                    Figs cooked in a sugarcane syrup, served with cheese.

 

Drinks

Jugo de Tamarindo               Tamarind juice.

Aguardiente                           Sprit made from anise and sugar cane.

Limonada de Coco                Coconut limeade.

Chocolate Santafereño          Hot chocolate with a touch of cinammon.

Tinto                                       Strong, sweet black coffee.

Money matters

Currency & Money Exchange

Colombia’s monetary unit is the “Colombian Peso”.

Most businesses (unless a tourist shop/restaurant) will only accept Colombian pesos. Note that the Peso comes in very high denominations (see below), so you’ll need to get used to very big numbers on bills that are not worth very much.

ATM debit/credit cards are widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees) in major towns and cities. There are plenty of ATMS (hole-in-the-wall) cash machines throughout the country, although in rural areas there are none.

There is often a limit on the amount you can withdraw in one go (around USD 100), and your bank as well as the Colombian bank may charge you for withdrawals.

If you do take foreign currency to change take US dollars. These should be new notes, or at least unmarked and undamaged notes, in smaller denominations of 10s, 20s and maybe some 50s. Do not take USD 100 bills as they are unlikely to be accepted.

When changing money, don’t change with street changers (cambistas). Use a bank or casa de cambio (bureau de change). Count your bills carefully before handing over your US dollars, and look out for forged notes.

Exchange rate: USD 1 = 2800 Colombia Peso (approx.), June 2018.

Peso banknotes: 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000, 100,000 pesos

Peso coins: 20, 50, 100, 200, 500, 1,000 pesos

Eating and drinking

Colombia has a proud culinary history, with a wide variety of ingredients now being fused with international styles to create exciting new menus.

There are more and more high quality restaurants in most towns and cities, albeit it more rural areas there are very local eateries.

Prices vary greatly, below is a rough guide to what you can expect to pay in Colombia.

 

Local café/restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 1-2

Menu del dia: USD 3-7

Coffee: USD 1

 

Tourist style restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 2-4

Main dish: USD 10 upwards

Coffee: USD 2

Tipping

Tipping is entirely voluntary and how much you give depends on how you feel about the service you have received.

This is a rough guideline:

  • Airport porters: Minimum USD 0.50 – 1.00 per bag – compulsory.
  • Hotel staff: USD 0.50 – 1.00 per bag / per breakfast.
  • Transfer drivers: Generally not expected.
  • Drivers: USD 4-8 per day total from the group.
  • Specialist guides: USD 10-15 per day total from the group.
  • Tour leaders: USD 10-15 per day total from the group.
  • Restaurants: 5-15% for adequate to excellent food and service.

Plugs and voltages

Electricity

Colombia uses 110 volts, with a frequency of 60 Hz.

Most cameras, phones and computers are dual or multi voltage and probably won’t need a convertor – please check before leaving.

Some items you may bring, such as hairdryers, may need a convertor. They may short if you use them without the correct convertor.

 

Plugs

Colombia mainly uses two-pin, flat-pronged Type A plugs and some sockets take Type B plugs.

Type A plug

Type A plug

Type B plug

Type B plug

 

 

 

 

 

Communication

Dialling codes

The international code for Colombia is +57.

Regions have single digit dialling codes.

 

Landlines

Colombia’s landlines have 7 digits, and to call landline-landline in the same city, simply dial the 7 digits.

If calling landline to another regional landline/city, start with a 0 then the city area code.

If using your own mobile phone to call a landline, dial the country code, the regional/city code without the 0, and then the number, e.g. +57 1 1234567.

 

Mobiles

Mobiles have 10 digits.

If you are dialling mobile to mobile, simply dial the 10 digits.

If using your own mobile phone to call a Colombia mobile, dial the country code then the 10 digit number e.g. +57  1  12345-67899.

You will see many street vendors selling minutos (minutes). You can make local calls from their pre-paid mobiles at a cheap rate.

Almost all unlocked phones will work in Colombia with a local SIM, and 3G coverage is excellent. Check with your provider before arrival if your phone will work.

Roaming charges may be high – again, best to check.

 

Internet

Most hotels, cafes, restaurants and airports offer free and generally good Wi-Fi. Lots of plazas, libraries and more public spaces also have free Wi-Fi – Colombia is a very connected country.

Internet cafes are slowly disappearing, but most towns and cities will have some in the main centres.

 

Post

Head to the official postal service, oddly named ‘4-72’, for postal services.

Useful Spanish phrases

Learning a few words of Spanish can really ingratiate you with the locals you’ll encounter, adding to the enjoyment of your holiday.

Below are some basics to get you started.

 

Greetings:

Good morning                                         Buenos días

How are you?                                         ¿Cómo estás?

Good afternoon                                      Buenas tardes

Good bye                                               Adiós

 

Most frequently asked questions (theirs):

Where are you (plural) from?                   ¿De dónde eres (son)?

What time is it?                                           ¿Qué hora es?

Where have you come from?                    ¿De dónde vienes?

Give me (frequent, unwelcome question)    Dáme / regálame

 

Most frequent questions (yours):

How much is it?                                      ¿Cuánto vale?

What is this place called?                       ¿Cómo se llama este lugar?

What’s your name?                                 ¿Cómo te llamas?

Do you have a map?                                ¿Tienes un mapa?

 

In the street / places:

Where can I find a currency exchange?    ¿Dónde encuentro una casa de cambio?

Where is there a cash machine?                ¿Dónde hay un cajero automatico?

Where is the underground/subway station? ¿Dónde esta la estacion de metro/subte(Buenos Aires)?

Where can I find a taxi?                             ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un taxi?

Where can I find a Supermarket?            ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un supermercado?

Where is the hospital?                               ¿Dónde esta el hospital?

Where can I find a restaurant?               ¿Dónde puedo encontrar un restaurante?

 

In the hotel:

What floor am I on?                                   ¿En qué piso estoy?

Where are the elevators/lifts?                 ¿Dónde están los ascensores?

How do I access the Internet?                 ¿Cómo puedo acceder a Internet?

How do I call for room service?                ¿Cómo llamo para el servicio de habitación?

How do I call down to the front desk?      ¿Cómo llamo a la recepción?

 

In the restaurant:

A table for two/four please                     Una mesa para dos/cuatro, porfavor

I would like to drink…                             Me gustaria tomar….

May I see a menu?                                   Puedo ver la carta/menu?

I would like to order..                              Me gustaria pedir…

Can you bring me the check/bill please.     Me trae la cuenta por favor

 

Emergency:

I need help.                                              Necesito ayuda.

I have lost my passport.                        He perdido mi pasaporte.

Someone stole my money.                    Alguien robó mi dinero

I have been robbed.                                Me han robado

I need to call the police.                         Necesito llamar a la policía

I need to call the (country) Embassy     Necesito llamar a la embajada de (country)

Help!                                                           ¡Socorro!

 

Responsible Travel - our ethos

Andean Trails believes in Responsible Travel and actively supports several community projects.

Please see Our Advice and Our Ethos for more, and learn about the Projects We Support.

We operate the Inca Trail, our treks and tours with local firms.

We make sure that on our tours and Inca Trail we employ local staff, who are paid fair wages.

With the Inca Trail, We provide free life insurance to all of our porters. Tented accommodation and meals are provided for all trekking staff as well as foam mats, sleeping bags and rain ponchos. We have also provided the staff with trekking shoes. We ensure our porters carry a maximum of only 20kg. We offer them backpacks and they generally use back supports.

Clean burning fuel is used to cook the meals on the Inca Trail and porters carry gas stoves and butane bottles. We use biodegradable detergents when washing the cooking and eating utensils. If any part of our tour or trek is operated by another company, we try to ensure that high standards are maintained.

Our additional support helps the Huchuy Yachaq project which supports children and families in one of the poorest communities in the district of Cusco.

Responsible Travel - travel tips

Responsible Tourism – Code of Conduct:

  • Find out about your destination – take some time before you go to read about the cultural, social and political background of the place and people you are visiting.
  • Go equipped with basic words and phrases in the local language – this may open up opportunities for you to meet people who live there.
  • Buy locally-made goods and use locally-provided services wherever possible – your support is often vital to local people.
  • Pay a fair price for the goods or services you buy – if you haggle for the lowest price your bargain may be at someone else’s expense.
  • Be sensitive to the local culture – dress and act in a way that respects local beliefs and customs, particularly at religious sites.
  • Don’t undermine the local economic systems – we recommend you don’t give gifts, especially sweets as there are few dentists in the Andes. Much better to spend time chatting, playing and showing postcards of home. If you would like to donate clothes and shoes etc we are more than happy to do so through the relevant channels. Your tour leader can do this for you and some of the projects we support can be visited.
  • Ask permission before taking photographs of individuals or of people’s homes – and remember that you may be expected to pay for the privilege.
  • Avoid conspicuous displays of wealth – this can accentuate the gap between rich and poor and distance you from the cultures you came to experience.
  • Make no promises to local people that you can’t keep – be realistic about what you will do when you return home.
  • Minimise your environmental impact – keep to footpaths and marked routes, don’t remove any of the natural habitat and reduce the packaging you bring.
  • Don’t pollute local water courses- use biodegradable products, and wash basins.
  • Slow down and enjoy the differences – you’ll be back with the familiar soon enough.

Our environmental policy

All our activities are governed by our respect for the environment and the people who live in it. We aim to make a positive impact both in the UK and in the Andean countries we work in (Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina).

We agree with the principals of sustainable development and specifically promote environmentally aware tourism in the Andean countries, in order to preserve the heritage of the people who live there and to help protect their environment.

In the UK we use recycled paper where possible, recycle what we can and attempt to keep waste to an absolute minimum.

Throughout South America we work together with local people, paying them a fair price, and putting money into the local economy. We do this by using local agents, local trek staff and experienced and qualified local mountain and cultural guides who have an in-depth knowledge of their own country. Our porters on the Inca Trail are fairly paid, carry a maximum load of 20kg and are supplied with tents and food. In other areas we use donkeys or horses to carry loads.

We use locally owned services such as hotels and restaurants, wherever possible. We buy fresh local produce for all of our treks from markets in each departure town. We use public transport whenever possible and feasible.

We have ongoing contact with the teams that we work with and also with local families in the areas we trek through, developing relationships with them and donating goods such as clothes and shoes to their communities, through appropriate local agencies. We also support local Peruvian charities, specifically NIÑOS in Cusco, and CARE in the Huaraz area, plus Huchuy Yachaq.

If you have any suitable (warm) clothes and shoes that you would like to donate to Peruvian children please take them with you and give them to your tour leader, who will ensure they go to a suitable organization.

When out on tour we encourage learning about the countries we travel in, the local culture of the teams we work with and the areas we pass through. Our guides hold informal talks with groups to inform about and discuss with them all aspects of local life. This helps understanding of the area and appreciation of the people who live there.

Our group sizes are kept to a maximum of 16 people, and we encourage smaller groups where possible. This minimises the negative impact we make on the local people, the wildlife and the environment, and increases the quality time spent in contact with the local people and environment.

When trekking we adhere to a responsible tourism code of practice and are also involved in ongoing training of our trek staff.

Health and Safety

A full Health and Safety document will be sent to you at the time of booking and before you travel.

You can also read it on our website, or contact us for more information.

Travel Insurance

It is a condition of booking any of our holidays that you have comprehensive travel insurance to cover you for trip cancellation (by you), activities involved and destination. This cover should include repatriation costs, air ambulance and helicopter rescue.

We work with Travel Nomads, who offer insurance solutions to people in more than 140 countries across the world.

Should you decide not to purchase this insurance, you must provide us with details of your alternative insurance with or before your final payment.

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