Regardless of the season and the area of Peru you are visiting, it is advisable to carry warm clothes: loose pants, cotton tops and hiking footwear.

Note that rain gear is absolutely necessary if you visit between November to March. Generally you’ll need a mix of clothes so plan to pack and dress in layers as the temperatures can be quite warm during the day but get cold at night or when it rains.

The other option is to pack light and buy some souvenirs You can easily pick up locally handmade hats, gloves, scarves, and sweaters all made from alpaca wool. Very warm!

Note that the sun is stronger at this altitude and should get a:

  • Good sunblock with high sun protection factor (SPF) and ideally sweat-proof
  • Hat, not only to protect from the sun but also from the cold

Generally Cusco is a very safe city. I was even comfortable walking in most areas of the city at night alone as there are many people out and very little rumblings of crime.

  • Don't let your personal belongings out of your sight.
  • Avoid using unofficial or unmarked taxis during the night.
  • Avoid exchanging currency in the street or carrying large sums of money. Currency exchange agencies are safe.
  • Be aware of is that all retailers will scrutinize any foreign currency you try to use. The American Dollar is widely accepted but only if it is free of rips, tears, holes, and writing. If even the smallest defect is present no one will take the bill.

Altitude sickness

When reading this, remember that Cusco city has an altitude of 3399 metres!

Since few people have been altitude, it is hard to know who may be affected. There are no specific factors such as age, sex, or physical condition that correlate with susceptibility to altitude sickness. Some people get it and some people don't, and some people are more susceptible than others.

Most people can go up to 8,000 feet (2,438 meters) with minimal effect. If you haven't been to high altitude before, it's important to be cautious. If you have been at that altitude before with no problem, you can probably return to that altitude without problems as long as you are properly acclimatized.

In case of altitude sickness,

  • rest well during the first days avoiding physical strain;
  • drink mate with coca leaves or take coca pills.
  • Drink plenty of fluids, particularly in high altitude zones, using only bottled or previously treated water.
  • Purchase your food at restaurants, avoiding street food.

At elevations over 10,000 feet (3,048 meters), 75% of people will have mild symptoms.

The symptoms of Mild AMS are

  • headache,
  • dizziness,
  • fatigue,
  • shortness of breath,
  • loss of appetite,
  • nausea,
  • disturbed sleep,
  • and a general feeling of malaise.

Symptoms tend to be worse at night and when respiratory drive is decreased. Mild AMS does not interfere with normal activity and symptoms generally subside within 2-4 days as the body acclimatizes.

As long as symptoms are mild, and only a nuisance, ascent can continue at a moderate rate. When hiking, it is essential that you communicate any symptoms of illness immediately to others on your trip.

From the airport to city center

There are no public transit options for getting to and from the airport, so you’ll likely need to rely on a taxi. Look for the grey-coloured taxis within the airport property, and drivers wearing dark uniforms with ID cards hanging around their necks — these taxis are safe and easy to find.

You’ll need to agree to the price before you leave, but the cost should be about S/. 20 to S/. 30 PEN (6.70 to 10 USD) from the airport to the city centre.

DO NOT use the services of random taxi drivers at the baggage area and in the parking lot

Public transit:

Cusco’s public transit runs from 6am to 9pm and costs between S/. 0.70 and S/. 2.50 PEN (0.20 to 0.85 USD). If you plan to ride transit, be sure to carry cash and small coins. Large notes or foreign currency won’t be accepted.

Taxi:

The most popular taxi company is Taxi Turismo Cusco. If you’re hailing one off the street, look for the taxis with board signs on the roof, rather than independent, unmarked drivers.

You’ll need to confirm the rate before accepting the ride, but as a rule of thumb, a ride within the city centre is about S/. 4 PEN (1.35 USD). If you’re heading further out of town, a ride to Tambomachay archaeological site will cost about S/. 30 PEN (10 USD) and a ride to Sacsayhuamán will cost about S/. 20 PEN (6.70 USD).

Walking:

While it’s safe to walk around the central area of Cusco, we recommend that you avoid San Pedro Market after about 6pm.

Sightseeing buses:

If you’re suffering from sore feet, you can also see the city from a sightseeing bus. Cusco Panorámico Servicio Especial has departures from morning through to late afternoon, with each tour lasting just over an hour. The cost is S/. 20 PEN (6.70 USD).

Peru's electricity runs on 220 volts and 60 cycles (except for Arequipa where it is 50 cycles) There is no preestablished amount for gratuities, it depends on the customer's level of satisfaction with the service. 10% of the check is usually considered adequate.

    Vinicunca (Rainbow Mountain) is in the Willkanuta Mountain Range, nestled in the greater Andes Mountains, just 3 hours away from Cusco.

    • Starting altitute: 4,326 m / 14,189 ft
    • Max. Altitude: 5,200m / 17,060 ft
    • The best time to hike Ausangate is during the dry months between May and September. The shoulder months of April and October are also pleasant.
    • The Ausangate local community is one of the only few shepherding (raising lamas and alpacas) communities left in the world.

Acclimatization:

Get used to the altitude before trekking. You should spend at least several days (ideally 3 to 4 days) in a higher place such as Cusco, Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca.

Fitness

Your physical condition may change with altitude!

  • You can be very fit but still suffer from the altitude. Also, you may have been at altitude before and not suffered effects but then feel it the next time.
  • All depends how fit you are. If you are of moderate fitness then you should have no problem doing our treks - just take it easy. If you are not particularly fit, then it might help to do some walking up hills prior to leaving home.
  • Go at your own pace. It's not a race. Most of our tours have adequate time for you to take it easy along the trail. We also find it is more enjoyable to stop and rest frequently, admiring the landscapes than to arrive in camp early and sit in your tent!

Clothing

For your confort, shoes should be worn in well (Two weeks frequent wear!) and take “second skin blister protection”. Extra socks! They are light and easy to carry and can warm your toes at night as well as help out in the case of ill-fitting shoes

Walking sticks

This is of personal preference. Some people like a walking stick and others don't. They help with balance going down hill and resting walking up hill. Colourful sticks are easily bought in Ollantaytambo. (Please note, they can not be taken into the citadel of Machu Picchu).

Sweetsand snacks

We recommend you having some boiled sweets to suck on as you climb up steep passes. (eg. Barley sugar). It seems to give you energy and take your mind off it!

Consider chewing coca

Again, personal preference! Mingle with the locals and try an age old Andean tradition that has somewhat been despoiled by its association with cocaine. It can give you that little boost to get over the pass but is an acquired taste.

Sunglasses

We generally recommend that you take them! But especially on trips where there is plenty of snow (Crossing the Cordillera Vilcabamba & Ausangate) it's a necessity given the risks of snow blindness!

Trek Difficulty

It all depends on your fitness, experience and a whole range of factors including your health on the day. Trekking in the Andes is never easy! The most common feedback we get is "this trek was much harder than I expected." (about most treks!)

Ausangate is considered moderate and Choquequirao to Machu Picchu difficult... but actually ALL are challenging! Most people can do many of the treks as long as they have average to good fitness and a good attitude. (but they do find it a challenge!) Some training before the trek WILL make it much easier! We strongly suggest that if you do not consider yourself very fit (be honest!) to talk to us prior to doing a trek! Also, please advise us if you have any medical conditions - ie bad back, sore knees, weak ankles as well as other medical conditions. If you do not tell us we assume you are 100% healthy!