Single Track Mountain Biking In Cusco

Detailed Itinerary

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Introduction

Take on the best mountain biking in Cusco with our single track trip, with its step jumps and lightning fast descents.

This MTB adventure holiday is a must for riders looking for top mountain biking trails in Peru – and we include the famous Mega Avalanche race route, too.

More classic routes are included as well as many that only select local mountain bike enthusiasts know about.

From Cusco, we cycle into the Inca heartlands to explore superb off road bike tracks in the region.

 

More on mountain biking in Cusco

We start at a relatively low altitude level in the Sacred Valley, to help you acclimatise. As the days progress, the routes get more extreme, and the mountains – and therefore the descents – bigger.

No mountain bike trip to Peru is complete without the Mega Avalanche race route, which sees you swooping down more than 1,500m of track, Inca Trail and road. Try to beat the race times or take it at your own pace on this testing route.

You can take a break from the adrenaline with a visit the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu too – although this has to be on foot.

If you can’t take your own bike, we can provide a range of Konas which ensure you get the most from the jumps, turns and trials which lie ahead.

Trip Highlights

  • Take on the famous Mega Avalanche race route.
  • Ride routes only select local mountain bike enthusiasts know about.
  • Best downhill mountain bike tour in all Peru.
  • Optional visit to Machu Picchu – on foot – for a complete Cusco experience.

Mountain Biking Cusco Itinerary

Day 1: Arrival in Cusco and transfer to Sacred Valley of the Incas

On arrival at Cusco airport, meet your guide and transfer straight to our base in Sacred Valley – this way we’ll avoid any potential altitude problems and guarantee ourselves a good night sleep.

The charmingly converted Hacienda Marcabamba is the perfect place to base ourselves for this holiday. Meals are taken in the communal dining room or in the delightful gardens.

After lunch we’ll assemble our bikes and those who want can take a quick trip into the nearby town of Urubamba to stretch the legs and begin to acclimatise to the rarefied air of the Andes.

Day 2: Chinchero-Moray-Maras-Saltpans-Urubamba (B,L)

Our first ride has been described as one of the finest one-day rides in Peru and it certainly is a classic.

Starting near Chinchero at 3,600m/11,811ft, we enjoy a variety of undulating dirt trails with spectacular views along the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the white peaks of mount Veronica, Pitusiray and Chicon. We arrive at the circular Inca ruins of Moray in time for visit and an explanation of this weird and wonderful site and enjoy a delicious picnic lunch.

This afternoon we join a truly fantastic ride down a donkey trail down to the colonial village of Maras, and from there descend a divine single track to the Salt pans. A final zigzagging single track brings us to the Urubamba river and back to our hacienda in time to enjoy hot showers, sundowners on the balcony and a delicious dinner.

Day 3: Calca-Amparaes-Abra Lares-Calca (B,L)

Now well acclimatised, we drive high into the Andes to just over 4,000m/13,123ft for two of the world’s best kept mountain biking secrets.

The single track down to Amparaes starts rough but soon turns into one of the most beautiful 16km trails – it’s as if someone has come along and swept away the rocks leaving super smooth path, allowing you to whoop and swoop past local villages, llamas and alpacas down to the small village of Amparaes in time for lunch.

We’ll climb back up now to 4,200m/13,780ft for another truly amazing single track, this time following an ancient Inca trail complete with original Inca stairways and Inca tombs in an incredibly beautiful canyon, before joining the road to Calca with some great short cuts for the more adventurous.

We arrive in Calca Plaza de Armas in time for a quick beer before returning to our hotel for the night.

Day 4: Huchuy Quosqo (B,L)

When the drive to the start of the ride is almost as extreme as the ride itself, you know you are in for a good day out.

This is one of our long time favourites and a true wilderness biking adventure, high in the Andes. We drive to 4,000m/13,123ft and leave the vehicle behind for the entire day. Stocked up on snacks and spares, we follow an Inca trail that winds its way up to an Inca ceremonial platform at nearly 4,200m/13,780ft.

From here, it’s nearly all downhill or cross country as we discover Inca sites and charming Andean hamlets – we even cross an Inca hanging bridge.

There is a short portage through an unrideable but truly gorgeous canyon and then we emerge at a viewpoint high above the Sacred Valley. Next, we cycle along well preserved Inca terraces and into the impressive Inca ruins of Huchuy Quosqo, thought to have been a royal palace.

Our support vehicle meets us here for a quick check-up on energy levels, and, for those who need more adrenaline, we still have another 800m to descend to the Sacred Valley by way of a delightful dirt trail (with the odd bit of walking) all the way back to Calca.

Day 5: Chinchero-Huayllabamba-Cerro Sacro-Urubamba (B,L)

Whilst body armour is not essential for any of this trip, if you’ve got it, today might just be the day to wear it and not take it off at all. The runs today are arguably two of the best single track down hills in the Sacred Valley if not the whole of Peru.

From the delightful market town of Chinchero we traverse a vast set of Inca terraces on a perfectly restored and wide royal Inca trail. A series of ride-able (or walk-able) steps take us down through a Eucalyptus forest and a spectacular view point for more technical single track back down to the small village of Huayllabamba. The local record is about 45 minutes, but we’ve got all morning (and usually need it!)

A short drive back up the hill to Cerro Sacro (this is where some folk paraglide from) where we’ll have a lunch with 360º view before another truly classic trail. Super smooth and ridiculously fast, if you dare, we swoop back down to Urubamba.

There are a variety of routes to choose from, from the sublime to the ridiculous and those with any adrenaline can cool off with a quick blast back to the hotel – or pottery shopping anyone? If your adrenaline levels are already depleted from the past days of riding, we can suggest a series of lovely road rides, a bit of retail therapy at a local artisan market or a total chill out at the hacienda – there’s a great spa/bar nearby too.

Day 6: Mega Avalanche downhill mountain bike course (B,L)

Steve Peat won it in once in 24 minutes, most racers take 30 – 40 minutes and we’ve got all day to enjoy this truly amazing trail, which hosts the annual “Mega Avalanche” downhill race.

A short drive to 4,300m/14,108ft and we are off. Your guides will help to point out the best lines, with regular stops to regroup. There are some huge jumps that are easily avoidable (or we’ll talk you through them) as we blast down 1,550m/5,085ft of descent on a mix of tight single track, divine Inca trail and even a bit of tarmac.

After lunch, those who are up for it can go back up and do it again; or you can enjoy a lovely and mostly flat ride back to the town of Ollantaytambo for strawberry milkshakes and banoffee pie.

Day 7: Machu Picchu or return to Cusco (B)

Today you have a tour to the spectacular lost city of the Incas – Machu Picchu.

An hour and a half by train down the Urubamba gorge brings you to Aguas Calientes where you are met by your expert guide and taken by bus to the ruins for a full guided tour. You have time to explore by yourself before catching the afternoon train back up the Urubamba valley and a short bus transfer back to Cusco.

Once back in Cusco there are penty of fabulous resturants, bars, cafes and even night clubs so you can head out to enjoy a bit of Cusco nightlife.

Day 8: Best of Cusco single track (B)

By now you’ll be fully acclimatised and totally sensitised to the delights of Peruvian single track so we’ve saved the best for last.

The hills that surround Cusco are our guide’s local playground and they have a treat in store for you. Dubbed ‘Three Downhills in Three hours’ we start with ‘Salkantay’ – 750m vertical descent on sweet single track, Inca ruins en route then eucalyptus forest and all ending back in Cusco. This first ride could be a contestant for best ride of the trip – and we still have two more to go.

Back up the hill, we follow an ancient Inca trail past more Inca ruins as we join ‘Antisuyo’, which is a a recently restored Inca trail leading to the jungle. This is a perfect set of steps – not to narrow to ride, but steep enough so that if you haven’t learnt to step jump, you will have by the end. We head all the way down to San Blas and the Plaza de Armas of Cusco.

We’re not finished yet. We have a choice of rides from Yuncaypata, which is the locals’ favourite downhill biking area. You can choose from the ‘Red Bull course’ (pretty steep but doable) or the ‘Birthday route’ (ask your guide). Both are sweet single track with Incas ruins en route and a few steps if you want.

Biking over, it’s time for a shower and a chance to experience the culinary delights of Cusco (guinea pig is a local speciality) and/or the busy nightlife where you can salsa till dawn – if you’ve got the energy.

Day 9: Pack bikes and PM flight to Lima (B)

A nice late start, we’ll help you pack up your bikes and take you back to Cusco airport, bus or train station for your flight home or onward travel.


What's Included?

Bi-lingual guide/mechanic, support vehicle and transfers to and from Cusco, first aid kit, all meals and accommodation as listed. Machu Picchu extension and tour.

 

What's Not Included?

International or internal flights (we can look into these for you), mountain bike (can be hired), personal cycling equipment (can be hired), personal belongings, sleeping bag, travel insurance, personal expenses and tips.


Accommodation

Hotels and hosterias in the area, 2-3* with private bathrooms.

Tour Staff

Our guides are true mountain bike fans who love biking in and around the area. Most of them enter regular races in the area, and know all the best routes.

Support staff have worked with us from many years and provide great food, mechanical support and help along the way.


Meals

Almost all dietary requirements can be catered for – please ask us for more information.

Breakfasts at hotels will feature teas, coffees and juices to drink, plus cereals, fruit, eggs, toast and jams etc.

While out riding, we either supply a packed lunch of sandwiches, snacks, soup, fruit etc, or we eat at a local restaurant. These are often buffet style with soups, rice, pasta, potatoes and then puddings/fruit.

Evenings are free for you to choose to eat in a local restaurant.

Activity Level

This is a trip that requires high fitness and technical skills.

This trip is aimed at serious and experienced mountain bikers who are used to long, technical descents on a variety of terrains.

You need to be confident on steep descents with some jumps, steep steps and large rocks/boulders.

Assuming you have these skills, you also need to be fit as much of this tour is at high altitude. Most sections are down hill, but you will need to be able to climb on certain stretches – hard work at high altitude.



Practical Information

Introduction to Peru

Peru is the perfect holiday destination for adventure travellers that want an amazing variety of activity, geography and cultural travel experiences.

The breadth of travel experiences in Peru is breathtaking – from trekking in the Andes to Machu Picchu to the tropical jungle of the Amazon, and plenty in between.

The people of Peru make it a special destination too, with its colourful and traditional street life and friendly locals.

Geography of Peru

Peru is made up of 3 distinct geographical areas: the coast, the mountains and the jungle.

The costa or coastal region is a narrow ribbon of desert 2,250 km long, crossed by fertile river valleys flowing from the Andes. It takes up 11% of the country and holds more than 40% of the population.

The cold Humboldt current gives rise to a blanket of mist – the garua – which hangs above coastal cities like the capital Lima from May to November.

Heading east, you’re soon climbing above the garua and into the Andes. The sierra, or mountainous region, covers some 25% of Peru’s territory and contains 50% of the population. The sierra inhabitants are mainly Indigenous or Mestizo, and many still speak Quechua or Aymara.

The sierra contains dozens of 6,000-metre snow peaks and volcanoes, including Huascaran (6,768m) the highest mountain in the tropics. The deep valley basins contain most of the towns and arable land; the terracing and canal systems of the Incas and pre-Incas are often still used today.

The eastern Andes are heavily forested up to 3,350m and sweep down into the Amazon Basin.

Peru’s selva or jungle makes up almost two thirds of the country’s area, but holds only about 6% of the population: the only towns with significant populations are Iquitos and Pucallpa.

 

Weather in Peru

You can also read about the weather of Peru in our blog.

Peru is located in the southern tropics (latitudes 0º to 18º), but climate varies significantly according to season, altitude and region.

 

Lima & the coast

From May to October, Lima is often overcast, but with minimal precipitation. There are sunny spells, and it’s a fresh to pleasant 13-20ºC.

At the same time, inland  areas and the north coast mid to high 20’s ºC.

November to April is generally warm and sunny and Lima enjoys warm temperature of 19-25ºC, with the coast averaging 22-30ºC.

 

The Andes

Climate depends largely on altitude. As a rule of thumb, below 2,000m climate is mild and above 2,000m warm clothing is required for evenings, nights and early mornings.

The Andean sun is very strong.

 

May to Oct (dry season in The Andes)

Cusco (3,300m): Average max/min temps: 22ºC /2ºC. Average 3 or 4 wet days per month.

Arequipa (2,380m): Average max/min temps: 26ºC /9ºC. Sunny more than 340 days/year with minimal precipitation.

On highland treks: Conditions are generally dry. However, at this time of year, expect a range of conditions within a single day: cold/freezing nights at camps above 4,000m, where pre-dawn temperatures can be -5ºC; warm, spring-like mornings and afternoons; and cold evenings.

Note that mountain weather can be fickle and localised, and that precipitation is not unknown in the dry season. Expect temperatures to swing between sun and shade, sheltered and exposed ground and with altitude gain and loss. A quick-setting sun means temperatures drop fast.

In the cloud forest, e.g. around Machu Picchu, daytime conditions are generally warm or hot, and evenings cool.

 

Nov to March/April (wet season in The Andes)

Cusco: Average max/min temps: 23ºC /6ºC. Average 13 wet days per month.

Arequipa: Average max/min temps: 25ºC /14ºC.

On highland treks: Wetter conditions, with cooler days and milder nights than dry season. Jan-Mar usually the wettest months.

 

The Amazon rainforest

Year-round, weather conditions are hot and humid and there is always the risk of rain

There is a ‘dry season’ in Tambopata and Manu between May and October. The average daytime high temperature is between 25°C and 34°C and the average nighttime low is between 16°C and 22°C. Heavy downpours typically occur every few days.

Around 80% of annual average rainfall – approx 2,000 mm in Manu and Tambopata and 1,400 mm in Iquitos – occurs in the wet season Nov-April.

On rare occasions, between May and September, cold fronts from Argentina – ‘friajes’ – can sweep into southwest Amazonia and push temperatures down to 9° C. (Friajes usually last between 1 and 3 days).

Visas for Peru

You will also need a valid passport with at least 6 months remaining validity.

British nationals do not need a visa for Peru. Fill in a 90-day tourist visa on arrival, and keep the tourist card with you to show at check-in at hotels and for when you leave the country.

Inca Trail trekkers will need to carry their passport, with which the Inca Trail permit was bought, throughout the Inca Trail trek.

Non-UK citizens are advised to contact their Embassy for up-to-date visa advice.

Vaccinations for Peru

We strongly suggest that everyone planning to travel to Peru 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. Not effective until ten days after inoculation; not recommended for pregnant women. This is also effective for ten years.

For people travelling to the Amazon/coast below 1,500m north of Lima and regions below 1,500m:

  • Anti-malarial protection (not needed for higher altitude). Peru has chloroquine-resistant strains of malaria and it is important that you follow the prophylactic regime carefully. 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’.

Kit list, mountain biking

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

We provide everything except a bike, personal equipment and clothing. Bikes can be hired, please ask for details.

If you are taking your own bike it should preferably be a mountain bike, quality 24+ gears, front/double-suspension, cross-country bike.

Please contact us if you are unsure whether your bike will be suitable.

During the day hopefully it will be generally sunny enough for shorts and T-shirts though having a fleece and rain gear handy is advisable. It can and will get cold, especially in the evenings so bring a warm fleece jacket, a good waterproof and some warm clothes including thermal underwear, gloves, scarf and woolly hat as well as one set of smarter clothes for cities.

Below is a more detailed guide.

 

Detailed kit list – clothing

  • Cycle gloves and helmet.
  • Medium weight parka or a down jacket.
  • Waterproof jacket and trousers. The jacket needs to be water proof and roomy. Side-zip pants are recommended.
  • 2-3 long-sleeve shirts – no cotton
  • 2-3 short-sleeve cycle shirts – no cotton
  • 2 pair of hiking trousers- cotton or synthetic material (no jeans)
  • 1 fleece or sweat trousers (for cold evenings)
  • 2-3 pairs shorts.
  • 2-3 pairs padded cycling shorts.
  • Long thermals – synthetic or wool – light to medium weight top & bottoms.
  • 2-3 mid-weight (wool or synthetic) socks.
  • 2-3 liner socks if needed
  • Athletic-type socks, several pairs, city use
  • Running/tennis shoes or sandals are very comfortable when you are off the bike.
  • 1 lightweight wool sweater or windproof fleece
  • 1 wool or synthetic warm hat for evenings.
  • Cycling hat.
  • Sunglasses with UV filter.
  • Bandanna – to protect neck from strong sun.

 

Biking

  • Bike bag/box (if bringing own bike).
  • Large holdall/rucksack (80-90 litres) for main luggage.
  • Small daypack (25-20 litres).
  • Water bottles / camel-bak.
  • SPDs pedals / shoes / toe clips.
  • Basic repair kit: pump, spare inner tubes and brake pads (we provide a general toolkit on all trips, but please bring any specialist spare parts for your bike with you i.e spokes etc.)

 

Personal

  • 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.
  • Towel & wash-kit.
  • Wet Wipes/antiseptic hand-wash cream.
  • Sunscreen (factor 30+) and lip salve.
  • Head-lamp (plus spare bulb and batteries).
  • 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!).
  • 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.

 

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.

Quick facts about Peru

 

Official name: Republic of Peru

Country population: 27,083,000

Capital city: Lima (8.1 million)

Largest cities: Lima, Arequipa, Trujillo, Chiclayo

Languages: Spanish (official), Quechua (official), Aymará

Latitude/Longitude: 10º S, 76º W

Official currency: New Sol

Major industries: copper, gold, zinc, textiles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals

Time zone: GMT-5

Altitude

Being at altitude, especially in the tropics, is usually a pleasure as it isn’t so hot, there are few insects and the air is clear.

However, when gaining altitude, air pressure drops and the amount of oxygen reaching the lungs is reduced. Although we build plenty of acclimatisation time into our itineraries, certain ill-effects are possible. Nevertheless, all of these can be minimised or prevented if care is taken.

On reaching heights above 2,500m (approx. 8,200 ft), especially when ascent has been straight from sea level, heart pounding, mild headache and shortness of breath are normal, especially on exertion.

Acute mountain sickness (AMS) is a syndrome known locally as soroche, whose symptoms can include of bad headache, dizziness and nausea).

To avoid AMS, you should:

  • Rest for a few hours on arrival at altitude and take it easy for the first couple of days. Note: you may feel fine on arrival and tempted to exert yourself as normal. Don’t be fooled: you might be benefiting from oxygen brought in your blood from sea level.
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration (altitude is a diuretic). Coca tea (mate de coca) helps alleviate symptoms.
  • Eat light meals, with high carbohydrate and low fat and protein content. Dine early, allowing digestion time pre-sleep.
  • Avoid over-exposure to the strong highland sun (UV rays are very powerful) – especially in the early stages – making sure you wear a broad brimmed sunhat. Apply lip-salve to prevent chapped lips.
  • Avoid or minimise consumption of cigarettes and alcohol. Avoid sleeping pills.
  • If you do get AMS: Rest, take non-aspirin painkillers (for headache) and coca tea. Symptoms should subside after a day or two.
  • Pregnant women, people with a history of heart, lung, kidney or blood disease or blood pressure problems, should consult their doctor before traveling to high altitude.

Peru Festivals

February 

Festival: Carnaval 

Games throwing water, flour as well as dance and music.   

Location: Highlands and some coastal areas.  

 

Festival: Fiesta de La Candelaria 

Culture, music and dancing 

Location: Puno 

 

March  

Festival: Fiesta de La Vendimia      

Wine harvest festival 

Location: Ica  

 

24 June 

Festival: Inti Raymi 

Culture, music and dancing 

Location: Cusco   

 

28/29 July 

Festival: Independencia 

Independence day – celebration of Peruvian culture – various activities 

Location: Country wide 

Flights

Andean Trails can book all your international and domestic flights for this trip and for UK passengers, we have full ATOL bonding and can book flights with most airlines.

International flight prices are variable and usually can only be guaranteed at the time of booking. If you would like to upgrade to business or first class, or even arrive at an earlier date/depart at a later date we can also arrange this for you.

International flights will arrive into Lima. If you arrive in the afternoon, you will most likely need to overnight in Lima before travelling onwards. If you arrive into Lima in the morning, it is possible to make connections to Cusco, Arequipa, Lake Titicaca etc, on the same day. You need to acclimatise in Cusco or a similar altitude (Puno for example) before you start the Inca Trail. Ideally, this will be for three nights, immediately prior to the trek start date.

Please contact us for flight and acclimatisation advice especially if you do make a connection on the same day. It is important to purchase a through ticket and not separate tickets for connections, so that you are covered for any delays. Passengers with separate tickets who are delayed run the risk of having to buy an entirely new ticket to continue their journeys.

Please note all airline schedules are subject to change and are out of our control.

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 Peru

The Lima suburb of Miraflores is a good base for easing yourself into Peruvian culture.

Although a fairly safe district, we strongly recommend taking these precautions in Lima and also throughout the country:

  • 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 Miraflores (Lima), be suspicious of ‘overly-friendly’ locals or ‘tourists’ who might be con-men/women. Also, avoid the beach areas off-season. During the Dec-April beach season, beware bag-snatchers on the beach.
  • We suggest you do not exchange money on the street. Use either a casa de cambio (bureau de change) or bank, ATM machine.
  • More care is needed in downtown Lima. 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 downtown Lima at night.
  • In Lima, as elsewhere in Peru, always take special care in markets and busy streets. Great care is needed in the markets and bus offices of central Lima, the San Camilo market in Arequipa and Cusco’s San Pedro market. Never carry a bag or valuables in these areas, as bag-slashers, watch snatchers and pickpockets operate. 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 Peru

Read some of our blogs about food and drink in Peru:

 

Starters

Palta rellena Avocado filled with chicken salad.
Palta reina Avocado filled with mixed salad and mayonnaise.
 Papa a la huancaina  Cold potatoes with a rich egg-and-cheese sauce.
 Rocoto relleno  Stuffed green peppers (often very hot).
 Tamales or humitas  Ground maize steamed in banana leaves, filled with meat or cheese; sometimes they are sweet.
 Sopa criolla  A creamy spiced soup with noodles and a little chopped meat.
Chupe de mariscos A very rich and creamy shellfish soup.
 Causa  A cold dish made from mashed yellow potatoes, avocado & peppers.

      

 

Main dishes (meat)    

Churrasco and Lomo            Fillet or rump steak.

Apanado                                Breaded meat cutlet.

Chorrillana                           Meat smothered in tomato & onion sauce.

Adobo (Cusco speciality)      Chopped, marinated pork in a richly seasoned gravy.

Piqueo                                    A very spicy stew with meat, onions and potatoes.

Sancochado                           Lots of meat, vegetables and garlic.

Lomo saltado                        Chopped meat in a sauce containing onions, tomatoes and potatoes.

Picante de …                        Meat or fish with a hot, spicy sauce.

Parrillada                             Grilled beef, sausage and offal.

Chicharrones                        Chunks of pork, deep-fried with roast potatoes and corn.

Chaufa                                  Chinese-style fried rice.

Cabro or Cabrito                  Goat meat.

Antichuchos                          Beef-heart shish kebab.

Pollo a la brasa con papas           The ubiquitous spit-roast chicken and chips.

Pachamanca                         Typical highlands festival/Sunday treat. Meats and vegetables cooked underground on hot stones.

 

Fish dishes (mainly coast)  

Chorros a la chalaca                    Mussels with tomato and onion sauce (cold starter).

Conchas a la Parmesana             Scallops with melted parmesan (hot starter).

Ceviche de pescado/mariscos      Marinated fish/shellfish.

Tiradito de pescado/mariscos      Marinated fish/shellfish in hot sauce.

Corvina/Lenguado                        Sea bass/Sole.

Chicharron de Pulpo/Calamares          Deep-fried Octopus/Squid.

Jalea                                              Dish of deep fried fish & shellfish.

Sudado de pescado                        Steamed fish.

 

Fish dishes (mainly highlands)

Pejerrey a la plancha             Grilled fresh-water king fish.

Trucha frita                             Fried trout.

Chupe de Camarron                Rich soup of fresh-water shrimp.

 

Desserts     

Mazamorra morada        Pudding made from purple maize and fruit.

Flan                                 Crème caramel.

Picarones                         Delicious rings of fried batter served with syrup.

Keke or torta                    Cake.

 

Drinks  

Pisco                                 Grape brandy. Very popular as Pisco Sour cocktail, with lemon, sugar and egg-white.

Chicha de jora                 Fermented maize beer. Integral to many rural celebrations. In Andean villages, look out for houses with bright plastic ‘flower’ tied to a pole above door: this indicates that the householder sells chicha.

Chicha morada                A soft drink made from purple maize.

Cerveza                             Lager-type beer which is very popular. There are several regional brands such as Cusqueña and Arequipeña.

Vino                                   Many local Peruvian wines are very sweet by gringo standards. Tacama and Ocucaje are the best ‘export-quality’ Peruvian wine brands. Good Chilean wines available locally include Undurraga and Casillero del Diablo. Wine is available in smarter restaurants and is served by the bottle (botella) and sometimes by the glass (copa).

Vino tinto                         Red wine.

Vino blanco                     White wine.

Agua mineral                   Mineral water. You need to specify con gas (carbonated) or sin gas (non-carbonated).

Mate                                 Herbal tea. The best known is mate de coca , which is often served to tourists on arrival in Cusco, Huaraz or Puno to ward off symptoms of altitude sickness. Many other herbal teas such as manzanilla (camomile), hierba luisa (lemon grass), hierba buena (mint) and anis (aniseed) are available. Mate is usually served after lunch.

Jugos                                Fruit juices.

Money matters

Currency & Money Exchange

Peru’s monetary unit is the “Nuevo Sol” (S/.)

Most of your transactions will be in Soles, but US dollars are often accepted, too, if they are small denomination, unmarked and undamaged bills. Try to take 5s, 10s and 20s.

ATM debit/credit cards are now widely used in major restaurants, hotels and shops (with fees), and there are ATM (‘hole-in-the-wall’) machines widely available in towns and cities.

When changing money, don’t change with street changers (cambistas). Use a bank or casa de cambio (bureau de change). Ask for ‘billetes chicos’ (small notes, i.e. 10 or 20 sol notes) as obtaining change outside towns and cities can be difficult. Count your soles carefully before handing over your US dollars, and look out for forged notes.

Exchange rate: USD 1 = 3.2 Peruvian Soles (approx.), June 2018.

 

Eating and drinking

Peru has a great culinary tradition.

There are more and more top-end restaurants opening in Lima and Cusco, where you can easily spend more than USD 100pp on food and wine.

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

Don’t forget to read out tipping guide to Peru.

 

Local café/restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 2

Menu del dia: USD 3-5

Coffee: USD 1

 

Tourist style restaurant

Beer/soft drink: USD 2-3

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.

For background, Peru has a minimum salary of 550 Nuevo Soles (US$170) monthly for a 6 day 48 hour week. However in many of the lower paid jobs (eg waiters, porters etc) this is not always enforced.

This is a rough guideline, based on an approx. rate of USD 1 = Peruvian Soles 3.

  • Airport porters: Minimum 2-5 Soles per bag – compulsory.
  • Hotel staff: 2-3 Soles per bag / per breakfast.
  • Transfer drivers: Generally not expected.
  • Drivers: 10-60 Soles per day total from the group.
  • Specialist guides (incl. Inca Trail guides): US$20-60 per day total from the group.
  • Assistant guides: US$10-30 per day total from the group
  • Group Inca trail support staff: 100-300 Soles per client, pooled and divided
  • Other treks support staff: 25-50 Soles per client per day, pooled and divided
  • Tour leaders: US$10-60 per day total from the group.
  • Restaurants: 5-15% for adequate to excellent food and service

 

Inca Trail (if applicable)

If you are hiking the Inca Trail, you will be supported by a full crew of cooks, porters, waiters etc, and it is a little more complicated to organise in terms of tipping.

We recommend that each client contributes 100-300soles (30-90US) into a pot and following the advice of the guide divide it out between the crew of cooks, waiters and porters.

For tipping the actual Inca Trail guides and assistants we recommend following the advice for specialist guides above.

Plugs and voltages

Electricity

220 volts (110v in some hotels), 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.

A surge protector is recommended.

 

Plugs

Peru has sockets that, in general, take the two pin, round-prong Type C plugs. Some will also take flat-pronged, Type A plugs.

Type C plug

Type C plug

Type A plug

Type A plug

 

 

 

 

 

 

Communication

Dialling codes

The international code for Peru is +51.

Regions have dialling codes, with a 0 prefix.

 

Landlines

Peru’s landlines have 6-7 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 regional 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. for Lima (code: 01), dial +51 1 1234567.

 

Mobiles

Mobile phones start with a number 9, and are 9 digits in length.

If you are dialling a Peruvian landline/mobile to a Peru mobile, simply dial the full 9-digit number from anywhere in Peru.

If using your own mobile phone to call a Peruvian mobile, dial the country code, then the 9-digit mobile number: e.g. +51 999 999 999.

Almost all unlocked phones will work in Peru with a local SIM, however – 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.

There are plenty of locoturios – internet cafes – offering cheap and good internet in most towns and cities.

 

Post

Head to the privatised postal service, Serpost.

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.

And lastly...

Many of our tours travel through remote areas.

We believe our clients should be aware that the remoteness of some of our tours so very special could also cause certain problems.

Thus, whilst we endeavour to minimise the chances of anything unexpected happening, it has to be noted that no itinerary can or should be rigidly adhered to.

This is the very nature of adventure travel and we expect our clients to be prepared for delays and slight alterations in our programmed events.

 

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