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General Pre-Trek Information

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Pre Trek Briefing :: Altitude&Acclimatization :: Trekking Tips :: Trek Difficulty
Insurance :: Responsible tourism :: Gifts :: Sharing Info About Your Home Country
Eating With Your Porters&Muleteers :: Peru travel :: Women travellers
Exercise recommendations :: Feedback

Pre Trek Briefing

We give your briefing prior to departure 1 – 2 days before you leave on your trek. (2 days is better) Depending on your schedule a normally a good time is around 6pm -8 pm. (The briefing should last  an hour to an hour- depending on how many questions you have for the tour guide) At this briefing the guide (or a representative of the agency if your guide is on a trip) will explain the details of the trek and tell you the staff that you will need to take on your trek and you have a chance to ask last minute questions about the trek. The advantage of having the briefing two days before the trek is that it gives you a last minute opportunity to buy snacks or warm clothes (there are plenty of hats, gloves and scarves for sale in Cusco). Once you paid the full balance we organize your pre-trek briefing. We appreciate your advice for your briefing time when you are making the confirmation for the trek.

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We strongly recommend that you have to get acclimatize for 2-3 days in a high places before start any of these hikes. Altitude can affect anyone at moderate to high altitude (generally anything over 3,000 metres). Altitude sickness is caused by a lack of oxygen which can be up to a third less than at sea level. No one understands why some people are affected and others not. Age, level of fitness and strength is no indication of how well you will fare at altitude. Be aware that altitude sickness can be serious, so if your guide advises you to rest or descend, please do as instructed. As most of our Treks are a mixture of ascents and descents, altitude sickness is often short term and suffering from it does not necessarily mean you will be unable to complete the trek. Drugs are available to combat the effects of altitude sickness, for more information please ask your doctor.

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Trekking Tips

Our number one trekking tip is . Go at your own pace. It’s not a competition. 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 early to the camp and sit in your tent!.

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Trek Difficulty in general

On each trek page we have try to grade trek difficulties as best as we can. It is very difficult to describe as it depends on your fitness, experience and a different factors including your health on the day. Trekking in the Andes is never easy!!! The most common feedback I get is «this trek was much harder than I expect; you should rate it much harder.» (About most treks)
Trekking difficulties are not disame to trekking in your home country, or even in another country. Therefore trek in the Andes is challenging. Most of my clients did many of this treks as long as you have average to good fitness and a positive mind. Some training before the trek will make it much easier! See Exercise Recommendations below.
Also, let us know if you have any health conditions -like bad back, sore knees, weak ankles as well as other medical conditions. If you do not tell us we assume you are 100% healthy! We do not take any responsibility for your assumptions about the grading of the treks («but I thought it would be easier than it was…!») or poor/insufficient acclimatization.

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Inca Trail trek Difficulty

The famous or the Classic Inca Trail still is a 43km (26 mile) hike through a high altitude region. The maximum altitude reached is 4200m above sea level. On the second day of the trek you will climb 1200m up, which is not an easy climb. Even though our website rates the Inca trail as «moderate» this is a comparison to other treks in Cusco region and is not because it is easy. The Inca Trail is challenging trek and you should be well prepared (physically and mentally) before to start your trekking.

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As we mention in our booking conditions, we strongly recommend that you should have your own travel insurance before to departing on one of our treks. Please note that the non refundable deposit should be able to be recuperated through a travel insurance claim in the case of accident or illness. We are often asked to provide more information about travel insurance but believe it best if you contact insurance companies in your own country to learn more about travel insurance. In brief, an individual’s medical insurance is very distinct from typical travel/trip insurance. Read here about typical travel insurance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Travel_insurance.
Medical insurance is quite different in that it often does not cover emergency evacuation. We strongly recommend that you check your medical plans for emergency evacuation coverage and strongly recommend that you obtain travel/trip insurance if you want to hedge your risk against trip cancellation, illness, injury, death, etc in order to recoup some of their expenses in such an event.

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Responsible tourism

Visitors to Peru often want to help people, and whilst on treks you may encounter children asking for pens and sweets. When they do this, remember that by handing out sweets, loose change or small gifts, it can corrupt and create begging mentality where none existed before. However, to not leave anything also doesn’t give the best impression of tourists. If you wish to bring gifts please consider that this people in the Andes will learn to have easy life which is not good to them however is better to buy staff that they make. Buying thinks from them you will push to them to develop their skills and by themselves will improve their economic situation.
Other ideas are that you can do a volunteer work in the communities and teach them how they can improve their situation with what they have there.
If you want to contribute very positively, you can bring simple reading books or picture books (in Spanish) and ask that you accompany your guide to the local school to give them to the teacher. Do not give the books to individuals.
If you wish to give a cash gift, please do not give it directly to the teacher. The best way to give a cash gift is via the Alternative Inca Trails for our community projects.
If you strongly wish to give cash when arriving in a community, ask to see the President, Secretary and/or Treasurer of the Community or the Parents Association. Then, ensure that your gift is witnessed by several people and that the donation is written in the ‘Actas’ or record book of the community.
Please note that 5% of our trek price is contributed to community projects. If you want more information, please ask Alain at alternativeincatrails@gmail.com for details.

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If you wish to bring a gift from your home country please bring something useful, simple and not too expensive. Hats and t-shirts are good gifts, fridge magnets are not (many families do not have refrigerators!) Pens and paper in remote communities also break down the work that NGOs do – that they give school supplies in exchange for teacher training.
Remote Peruvian communities still function using «ayni» – the idea of «today for me, tomorrow for you». If you give lots of things (or lots of tourists over a period give a little) then it breaks down the traditional concept of ayni – that is, that exchanges should be reciprocal. Therefore while it is nice to give – also consider the long term implications and what it means for these traditional communities.

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Sharing Info About Your Home Country

Many people collect small photographs or information about their lives in their home country. We encourage this very important cultural sharing, however, really analyze what you show people. In some ways only emphasize difference, rather than help them or give ideas. Pictures of your house (no matter how moderate it is by Western standards) will probably emphasize that you are rich for the standards of Peru.

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Eating With Your Porters and Muleteers

We often get feedback that says something like, «I wish we could have eaten our meals with our porters. I would have liked to get to know them better.» In saying this, examine your cultural expectations and what you really want. Keep in mind that our porters and muleteers are largely indigenous Quechua speaking people that by nature are generally shy and uncomfortable with such interactions. If they sit down and eat with you – they will be eating your style of food, using cutlery, and the dominant language will be English. Even if the language is Spanish, then this is not their language. If you «eat with the porters» you might feel good about yourself, but it’s questionable whether the experience would have been an enjoyable one for them! (We are not saying do not seek out cultural interactions but the question of eating with the porters or staff is one that comes up frequently and so we say – think about what you are looking for!).

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Peru Travel

For advice regarding vaccinations, please contact a suitably qualified doctor as we are unable to advise which vaccinations you should have.
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Women Travellers
Women in Peru are normally treated well as long as you don’t dress or act in an attention that draws attention to yourself. The vast majority of our guides, cooks and muleteers are male – so if you are a group of two women who have signed up on a trek, expect that you will have a male entourage. (We can sometimes organize female guides on request!) All our staff is implicitly trustworthy. A suggestion from other female trekkers – bring a couple pairs of sports bras for the trek! Peruvian people have different concepts of time and space. They enter people’s «personal space» a lot of the time and so if the guide does this and it makes you feel uncomfortable tell them immediately if that is not appropriate in your culture. (Or whatever!) But tell them in preference to commenting on it in your final report.

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Exercise Recommendations

Any exercise recommendations we can provide you general, and not specifically applicable to you, (especially your current physical status, fitness, health conditions, age, and prior experience). If you are going do a rigorous fitness program, then you should do so under the advice of the appropriate medical or fitness professionals. In general terms, you should do whatever exercise you can to improve your current fitness. The trek days (generally on most treks) are long and so if you can take long walks 2-3 times a week this will assist in improving your general fitness. As the Andes region is mountainous, if you can do some of your walks in hilly or steep terrain will also assist the body in preparing for the Andes. Our advice is only general, and says that the fitter you are – the easier the hike would be.

Is there a minimum or maximum age limit for treks?

Alternative Inca Trails doesn’t accept reservations for children under 8 years old and adults over 68 years old. All children under 18 years old must also be accompanied by an adult. We recommend that if you are over 60 years old you should talk to your doctor well in advance about how best to plan for the trek and also to ensure that your travel insurance covers such adventure activities. Clients over 60 years old must arrive in Cusco at least 3 days before to start the trek. For trekkers over 63 years old we also ask you to bring a letter from your doctor confirming that you are fit to participate in the trek. Unfortunately if you do not bring a letter from your doctor we reserve the right to cancel your trek and your trek deposit is non refundable. (please refer to our General booking conditions for more detail).

Medical conditions not recommended for treks

People with heart problems, knee problems, severe asthma or are more than 18 weeks pregnant should not participate on any trek. People with mild asthma, diabetes, pregnant less than 18 weeks will have to bring a medical letter from their doctor stating that they are fit to undertake the trek. They also must be accompanied by a completely healthy trekking companion on the trek at all times who will trek at their sides and be familiar with any medicines required in case of an emergency. Alternative Inca Trails reserve the right to cancel the trek booking of a client if the client has not fully disclosed at the time of making a booking a medical condition that may pose a risk to the health of the client and/or other trekkers. No refunds will be given. (please refer to our General booking conditions for more detail).

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Your guide should give you a feedback form to complete on the final day. We would greatly appreciate if you could take the time to complete this form and give us your impressions of your journey. If we don’t receive this form, we will email you for your comments.
It is most important that we have your feedback on all aspects of the journey to improve our service for the future clients.