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Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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Road Scholar
Program #19937RJ
12 Days | 11 Nights
Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
See our Small Group programs.
EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Discussion Board

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Bev Schrage Jul 02, 2014 at 05:03 PM

Thanks everyone for generously sharing your experience and tips. We are busy training for this great trip.
Betsy Noyce Jul 02, 2014 at 05:29 PM

Betsy didn't mention it, but our guide, Paco, who was PHENOMINAL, had a young daughter, so as a gift, we bought himand her an age appropriate story book in Spanish to read together. There was a very nice, upscale book store in Cusco. Jeff

Madeleine Jul 02, 2014 at 02:16 PM

Helen Berkman and I were on the same trip, and I agree with what she wrote. RS includes tips in the price of the tour, but whether you want to give an additional tip to a guide or others is totally up to you.

Regarding the other question . . . “Is there any need for cash beyond that?” . . . I’ll share what I did based on recommendations in Internet blogs. This approach worked well for me.

I did not arrive early or stay beyond the scheduled Road Scholar tour, so everything was pre-paid. I took two credit cards and an ATM card but didn’t use any of them . . . thank you Road Scholar! I brought $200 in US dollars . . . one $50 bill, some $20s & $10s, several $5s, and about twenty $1 dollar bills.

Since you fly into Lima, and your first-night hotel is directly adjacent to the airport . . . a 2-minute walk . . . you don’t need any currency for a taxi.

You could probably skip converting to Peruvian Sols altogether, but I wanted to interact with the locals (especially those selling goods in the markets, etc.) in their currency. The bloggers indicated this was a sign of respect.

While in the Sacred Valley, some of us asked one of the guides where we could convert dollars to Peruvian Sols. He took us to a tiny ‘money exchange’ storefront in one of the towns. (This in itself was quite interesting to me.) The agent studied the $50 bill I gave her very carefully for any tears, wrinkles, etc. The bloggers made me aware that in Peru, they will *not* accept old, torn, damaged or wrinkled dollar bills at money exchange shops. (I even ironed the $$ I took to Peru to make them look crisper.)

What did I spend the Sols on?
-I’m not a big shopper, but I wanted a few small souvenirs.
-Bathroom entrance fees, e.g., along a few trails and especially at Machu Picchu. You don’t want to be delayed there!
-A beer at the ‘Cross Keys Pub’ in Cusco. See the reference to this pub on page 259 in Mark Adam’s wonderful book, ‘Turn Right at Machu Picchu.’ I read this book before I left home . . . and once again when I returned home. (The Glossary in the back of the book is very helpful for pronunciations and understanding the significance of various sites, and historical terms and references, etc.)
-Water at the airport for my trip home.

Note: Spend any Sols you have left over before you go through the security checkpoint at the Lima airport. Once I went through, the stores I went to wanted US dollars, so I came home with a bit of change. Enjoy your adventure of a lifetime!
Madeleine Jul 02, 2014 at 02:21 PM

FYI: The bathroom fees were normally 1 Sol. So I kept several of these coins (along with tissues / toilet paper) with me at all times.

Helen Berkman Jul 02, 2014 at 12:15 PM

The RS policy is very clear that no tipping is required - it's already covered in your trip costs, and I have been on other RS trips where this is similarly stressed. On our Inca Trail trip there were 16 of us and 28 porters/chefs so no way we could have fairly or evenly tipped 28 porters additionally. That's why the policy is particularly good for a trip like this and one of the things I really like about RS. So I would strongly recommend you heed the RS policy and do not fret about it - they really do mean it. I've met veteran RS trippers on other trips and they all say the same - no extra tipping is needed.
A couple of folks in our group tipped our guides some extra in Cusco on the last day but most did not. A nice gesture but mainly symbolic.

Betsy Noyce Jul 02, 2014 at 07:30 AM

Tipping is such an individual decision. We are so appreciative of Road Scholar's policy.
Our group was tiny-4- and we did tip along the lines of what others have mentioned here. In our case the money was pooled by our guide and then distributed among the porters (9) with the cook and toilet tent person receiving slightly more. We were encouraged not to tip individually.
Whatever you decide will be fine and it can be a last minute decision, of course. We have found it hard not to tip , but we also know that RS takes good care of its staff and that is comforting.
This is just a fabulous trip. You will love it I am sure.

Mike Chesnut Jul 02, 2014 at 04:26 AM

We had one member who wanted to collect a tip .We were not 100 % convinced we should (due to RS policy) We did leave $20 each to 1) guides and 2) to porters) who were wonderful, I believe most ote
Mike Chesnut Jul 02, 2014 at 05:03 AM

i believe most others did leave at least a 10 to 20 dollar tip( 1 dollar was approx 2.60 sol We were not entirely in agreement with tipping because of RS written Policy but we are not cheap so left $20 for each of us (40) to be divide among porters and 2 guides. Not much but we believe every one left something

Bev Schrage Jul 01, 2014 at 06:09 PM

Hi, we are going on the October trip. Can anyone give me an idea on the tipping for the porters. I'd like to get prepared with Peruvian sols; assuming the local currency is better. Is there any need for cash beyond that?

Thanks for the input.
Joyce Minosh Jul 01, 2014 at 08:40 PM

Our guide explained that tips were included. He said if any of the porters or guides went above and beyond it was appropriate to tip them aside from the group, in private.
Joyce Minosh Jul 01, 2014 at 08:41 PM

RS didn't want folks to feel obligated to tip. i used very little money on this trip. By the way...I tipped the bathroom man $20 and gave him a hug. :) if you want any information about our trip in June email it was a fabulous trip but difficult...train well.
Joyce Minosh Jul 01, 2014 at 08:42 PM

PS..I brought 25 1$ bills, they were great for small items.

Betsy Noyce May 22, 2014 at 02:46 PM

We hiked last summer and had a great time. I think it's best not to over-think the hike.

Walk a lot-we did 6 months of 4-12 miles a day whenever we could plus 800 steps a day (50 flights on our stairs at home). I also lost 50 pounds,getting close to a normal weight. Everything will help-steps down are important, too. You're legs will be in shape, but you still will be out of breath.

Note that all medications, especially Diamox have significant side effects-some almost as bad as altitude sickness. We drank coca tea-and I had no altitude problems (Jeff) and only a few which might also be caffeine withdrawal (Betsy). Sensible eating-lots of water and tea and take only themeds you really need-and if you're on other medications-ask your pharmacist for cross-reactions.

It was cold, but I'd suggest light hat and mittens-you'll warm up quickly. Keep in mind that you're limited to 12 pounds including the duffel on the trail (not what RS necessarily tells us). You'll need to carry the excess, including the heavy hat and gloves when you take them off. Overall, the lighter and faster you can travel, the more fun you'll have.

I also made a web belt to carry my DSLR and telephoto lens. Take extra batteries and switch camera cards frequently. Have fun-best trip ever-and if your guide is Paco, tell him we said hi. Jeff (and Betsy)
Mike Chesnut May 22, 2014 at 05:19 PM

I agree with Betsy. You are very limited on weight on the trail. Lighter is better and I found the sleeping bags very warm . If and when the temp drops you may always just pill out your bag and drape over your shoulders. I believe I am hearing some hikers carrying too much weight. No one on our hike carried a cell phone .I do not believe hand warmers will be needed if you gloves are mid weight and warm when wet. We are both pharmacists and we do not recommend Diamox as we have witnessed some have side effects and research shows limited if any benefit. Regarding the change of clothing, yes, RS will give you instructions on clothing. Good advice Betsy regarding light travel with few gadgets to distract from the trail and scenery
Sharon Salyer May 23, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Mike, Thanks for your advice re Diamox. We each have a prescription just in case, but don't think we will need it based on our prior high altitude (10,000 ft) hiking ex[eriences. I was concerned about the side effects of taking a diaretic.

Joyce Minosh May 20, 2014 at 12:49 PM

A friend who went last year, same week commented the following:
It was very cold at night and in the morning; one time they woke up to snow.
She recommended hand warmers or body warmers to put in bed at night.
Hand warmers for inside your mittens in the mornings.
Heavy hats and mittens (we could probably buy these, pre-hike in Cuzco).
Extra battery for your phone...many folks' camera batteries died during the 4 day trail hike.
Take robiotics called "Pearl Biotics" a week before the trip, to avoid diarrhea.
Bring wet wipes.
Hand sanitizers.
This one is interesting....bring a complete change of clothing for our first shower post hike and have it in a plastic zip lock will be nice and fresh.
Sharon Salyer May 20, 2014 at 04:29 PM

Hat and mittens are on my Cuzco shopping list. As for my pre-trip list, I'm gradually checking items off. Today I filled the prescriptions our great family doc wrote us for travelers diarrhea, respiratory infection, and altitude sickness. I hope we don't need any of them. Thursday I'll be going to the Naval Hospital's travel clinic and getting my Hep A immunization because we are "adventurous eaters."
Sharon Salyer May 20, 2014 at 04:39 PM

One more item I purchased yesterday, my favorite Aveda "Foot Repair" for evening foot massages!
Kathleen Hirsch May 20, 2014 at 11:42 PM

Hi Sharon and Joyce: Thank you for some good pointers for meds, zipped clothing in a bag, phone battery, wipes and sanitizers. This is so helpful and I appreciate the first hand information!

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Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

at no additional cost on this date ...
11 nights of accommodations
31 meals: 11 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners
5 Expert-led lectures
7 Field trips
1 Performances
2 Flights during the program


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