Peru is hot and trekking, cultural, educational and adventure trips are in. So why wait any longer? Come to Peru and experience an unforgettable stay in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, with an impressive cultural heritage. Dos Manos will take care of the organization of your trip while you enjoy Peru.
The Inca Trail, with Machu Picchu as it´s final destination, is the best known and most popular hike among tourists and backpackers. The total hike is about 45 kms and it takes four days all together, including a one day visit to the ruins.
Since 2004, the number of trek permits is limited to 500 per day (about 200 tourists and 300 trekking staff) so if you want to do this trek it is VITAL to book well in advance. For the high season (May to September) it advisable to book at least 3 months in advance to guarantee a place. Permits are sold on a first come, first served basis, and once all places have been booked, NO trekking operator can offer you a space on the Inca Trail. There is no system with a waiting list. All spaces are personal and non-transferable and even if someone would cancel, no one else could take that space.
Even in the low season you should book as far in advance as possible. Please also note that the Inca Trail is closed in February of each year for maintenance.
No time to do the four days Inca Trail? No spaces left? Tranquilo, there are many other ways to get to Machu Picchu – and maybe they are even more beautiful…
Due to the enormous cultural and natural attractions of the Inca city and its spectacular surroundings, the Peruvian state declared them a Protected Natural Area in 1981. In 1983, UNESCO declared the Sanctuary a World Heritage Site. The site is north west of Cusco, about 112 kilometres by railway, amidst an impressive geography of steep mountain ridges separated by narrow valleys and deep ravines. Machu Picchu is important, because besides its archaeological value, it has a variety of ecosystems within its boundaries.
This is the short version of the Inca Trail, for those who have less time available but still want to do this unique trek. We go by train (beautiful scenery along the way) from Cusco to km 104 where we get off and start our hike. We walk till the ruins of Wiñahuayna. After a visit to the ruins, we go to Inti Punku (Sun Gate) from where we will have a fabulous view over the Lost City of the Incas and – with a bit of luck – you will see one of the most beautiful sunsets of your life! From here we walk down to the village of Aguas Calientes where we will stay for the night. The next day we depart very early (before sunrise and the arrival of most tourists), with the first bus, to visit Machu Picchu (guided tour), at 2,650m above sea level. In the afternoon we take the train back to Cusco.
A remote and ancient footpath in the same region of the Inca trail, but less travelled and with more spectacular views. A magnificent wilderness alternative for those who wish to escape the more congested trekking routes or for those who are looking for an alternative if there are no spaces available on the traditional Inca Trail. We go by bus from Cusco to Mollepata, where we start to hike. The hike leads us to Soraypampa (3,800m) and the pass of Salkantay (4,600m). We pass through an amazing progression of ecological zones, from sparsely vegetated alpine meadows flanking spectacular glaciated peaks, and down through subtropical forest. On the last day we will visit Machu Picchu.
The traditional way to get to Machu Picchu is by train. There are different trains to Machu Picchu: the Back Packer Train, the Vistadome Train and the Hiram Bingham Train, each priced differently. It takes nearly 4 spectacular hours to get to Aguas Calientes, following the course of the Vilcanota River. It is possible to extend your stay and book an overnight in one of the charming hotels in Aguas Calientes, the village close to Machu Picchu.
Peru has so much more then ‘just’ the Inca trail, Machu Picchu, Cusco and a lot of tourists. Even close to Cusco you can find real hidden treasures, where almost no tourist or visitor will come.
More than most other travel agencies, Dos Manos gets off the ‘beaten trek’ with tours to the Inca bridge of Q’eswachaka, Puma Marca and Huchuy Qosqo, the place where Inca Wiracocha lived.
Made only from a tipical Andean grass called Ichu, the bridge spans 33m and is 16m above the Apurimac River. Visit the Inca Bridge of Q’eswachaka and you will understand why the invading Spaniards were impressed by the Inca’s trails and bridges.
In the Inca times an extensive system of trails of more than 23,000 km covered the Empire. Messages sent by relay runners were sent through the immense Empire with impressive speed; it took only five days to deliver a message from Quito to Cusco!
Sadly, most of the trails are gone, and none of the bridges in this system were maintained.
There is only one site in Peru where you can still see a glimpse of the splendour of old days and that’s here: The Inca-Bridge of Q’eswachaka. Using the old Inca-techniques and working only with grass, the bridge is rebuilt every year with about 1000 men participating in the construction. Besides the bridge this tour also visits traditional villages, four beautiful lagoons and a cave with a depth of 2 km!
The Sacred Valley overcrowded with tourists? Not true. There are still a lot of tipical sites which you can enjoy without seeing hardly anyone. For example, Puma Marca, the beautiful Inca ruin, on a three hours hike from the world famous village of Ollantaytambo. Even residents of this village haven’t heard of this place!
Huchuy Qosqo (Small Cusco) is situated above the Urubamba Valley and offers spectacular views over the mountain range Cordillera de Vilcanota.
It is a fascinating site where the Inca chief Viracocha lived. The mummy that was found here is said to be of him. The ruins are part stone and part adobe; some of the houses are ‘post-inca’ , but in inca-style, and there is a Spanish-style reservoir.
This "mini city" was built over the left side of Urubamba river. It is known as the small Cusco due to, according to the researchers, the fact that it reproduces the exact shape of Cusco but in small size.
Another beautiful site is Qaija Kahuana, where the Inca Wiracocha lived and where you can find his tomb. Also a beautiful hike with splendid views over the Sacred Valley, you will feel like a discoverer on your own!
More information? Contact us!
Don’t worry if you can’t get a spot on the Inca Trail. There is a broad range of fascinating hikes available at Dos Manos that will offer you a different, and often less crowded, alternative to the Traditional Inca Trail. We recommend:
This is a spectacular, though relatively difficult, hike that crosses the Canyon of the Apurimac River and ends up at the mysterious ruins of Choquekiraw. Perched high on a ledge above the Apurimac, Choquekiraw appears to have been an Inca City with scattered and fascinating sectors. Choquekiraw is made more special by its location, overlooking one of the deepest canyons in the world. With a bit of luck you’re the only one walking around in this other lost city of the Inca’s.
Situated at the heart of the Vilcanote mountain range, Ausangate is a splendid snow capped mountain. It is surrounded by rich Andean wildlife and a range of stunning bright blue and green lagoons which reflect and enhance the brilliant white snow of this sacred mountain. This is, without a doubt, one of the most visually attractive and difficult hikes in the Cusco region.
This is a very interesting hike that takes you to new and fascinating sights each day, including visits to the important archaeological sites of Nusta Hispana (the hiding place of the last Inca, where he kept on fighting the Spaniards for almost 20 years), Vitcos and Rosapata. This tour offers an excellent combination of culture and nature and is incomparable with any other hike. This tour is a real adventure and is recommended to people who like to get off the beaten track and do something different.
Name: Jesus Manuel Guillen Quispe
Length of time working for Dos Manos: 2 years
“For me it is not really a job, it is my hobby. I love what I do; being a guide means being in the nature and I love that. I also like to have a close contact to a lot of people, you get to know them very well on a tour. But most of all I enjoy to tell the clients about the history of Peru. I ‘translate’ and explain things, and transport them from one stage to another.”
“One time I guided the Inca Trail. There was quite a big group, of maybe 12 people. A woman and a man from the group got to know each other really well on this Inca Trail. They fell in love and at the end of the Trail, when we were standing above Machu Picchu, he asked her to marry him. So we had a big fiesta, we drank a lot of beer and we ended up entering Machu Picchu all drunk! That was a really funny, beautiful and very spontaneous experience!”
“Working as a guide is like a vocation, I want to show our clients a different world, and, obviously, take them to this other world. For me this is full cultural adrenalin!”
“I would never ever leave the Peruvian mountains; I like them more then anything else. Even when it’s cold and rainy. If I don’t go on the Inca Trail for a while, I feel a bit sick with withdrawal symptoms. I need the nature, I need to be there and enjoy it. If I look at Machu Picchu, or at the mountains, I think I can see my past in them. I am really very andino and the nature is part of my religion.”
Rinske did the four day Inca Trail; Thomas gallivanted through the Rainforest for three days.
Name: Rinske den Boer
“The Inca Trail is absolutely the best way to get to Machu Picchu. In fact, I even liked it better then Machu Picchu itself! The differences in nature you see are impressive: forests and rocks, mountains and valleys. I saw lots of animals: alpacas, lamas, parrots and donkeys. And you come through little villages: really amazing to see the little houses where people do live in. I think it was the best mix of impressions and experiences in four days I’ve ever had.
I booked the tour back in Holland, directly with Dos Manos because it’s the partner agency of AMAUTA, the Spanish school where I booked my Spanish course and my volunteer work, so I thought they would be reliable. Prices of other agencies were more or less the same as well.
Our guides were very good and they had a lot of respect for the porters who carry the entire luggage – that was sometimes hard to see by the way. They introduced every porter to us and we gave them applause. The guides always waited when someone was tired. I was very impressed by the quality of the service they gave us.”
Name: Thomas Druwé
“The noises you hear at night before falling asleep are surrealistic. We went by boat to a monkey-island and one of the monkeys jumped on my shoulder. Really great! When it was dark we went by boat looking for Caymans, and with the help of a torch we saw a lot of them. The next day we went on a walking tour with our guide, he explained to us about the animals living here such as different kind of birds and tarantulas. We walked to a viewpoint, 35m high, where we had a great view over the jungle; we went by boat into a swamp and saw lots of turtles.
Yes, it was a great experience and we saw a lot of animals. The trip was very well organized and I enjoyed every minute of it; the food was very good and the guide told us a lot about the jungle. Also the lodge was really great: wooden houses without windows but just with mosquito nets. And there is a swimming pool and a bar where you can relax and play games!’
Just outside Cusco, Peru offers a fabulous scenery for all. Daredevil or dummy, our programs are suitable for everyone. Flying high above the Sacred Valley, biking down incredible mountains, or fighting the wild stream of the Urubamba – one of the sources of the Amazon River – we promise fun!
Different tours from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Horse back riding can be combined with a visit to important archaeological sites like Sacsayhuamán or Q`enko and the spiritual and mystical Valle de la Luna.
The Cusco region offers exceptional opportunities for fans of river rafting. The rivers, both the Apurimac and the Urubamba, are spectacular and the scenery is fabulous. Rafting Tours are offered from one day to eight days, both for totally inexperienced and diehards.
With this beautiful sky high glide above the Sacred Valley of the Incas, you will see the valley in a different way. With this tour you will fly near the town of Chincheros, with its beautiful scenery. Our guides have more then 20 years of experience.
This is an excellent tour to do in one day, combining the Andean landscapes, archaeological sites, local culture and traditional villages. All down hill! You’ll pass through the villages of Moray (thought to be an agricultural experiment of the Inca’s) and Maras (a salt mine already existing in Inca-times and still in use). Beautiful scenery!
The Kilimanjaro? You can do better! In south-Peru, close to Arequipa, you’ll find some of the easiest mountains in the world to climb. No technique needed, only a lot of stamina. And with El Misti (5822 meters) or Chachani (6075 meters) on your list, you’ll forever be a hero!
Also called The Archaeological Centre of the Americas, Cusco and surroundings offer a wide range of possibilities for fans of culture and history. Dos Manos offers you the following tours:
Cusco is surrounded by mountains and valleys. The capital of the ancient Inca Empire and the oldest continuously inhabited city on the continent, Cusco is now an important link in the South American travel network. Its legacy as the hub of the Inca Empire is readily apparent: most of the city streets are lined with Inca-built stonewalls and brimming with Quechua speaking descendants of the Incas. The city has magnificent repositories of colonial art such as the Cathedral (begun in 1559). There are also the Coricancha ruins, the Temple of the Sun of the Incas, in the middle of the city center. In our tour you’ll also visit four other nearby ruins: Sacsayhuamán, Q`enko, Puca Pucara and Tambo Machay.
We visit the four most important villages in the Sacred Valley of the Incas. First Pisac, with its traditional colourful market, and beautiful terraces. We have lunch in Urubamba and visit Ollantaytambo, a small town which is a real sample of the level of architecture that the Incas reached. Here we visit the village itself, with the many original Inca Walls, and the ruins. On our way back to Cusco we will pass and visit the typical market, colonial church and archaeological site of Chincheros.
Nicknamed the ‘White City’, Arequipa is surrounded by spectacular mountains, including the volcano El Misti. A feature of the city is its many beautiful buildings made of a light-colour volcanic rock called sillar. The ‘Convento de Santa Catalina’, perhaps the most fascinating colonial religious building in the country, was until recently home to almost 450 nuns. Many of the city’s beautiful colonial houses, such as Casa Ricketts, are now used as art galleries or museums.
Lake Titicaca is undeniably an impressive sight. A National Reserve since 1978, it has over sixty varieties of birds, fourteen species of native fish and eighteen types of amphibians. At 3820m (12,530ft), it is the highest navigable lake in the world. At over 170km (105mi) long, it is also the largest lake in South America.
Here, you can step back in time by visiting the fascinating floating islands of Uros, or the self-providing communities living on the islands of Taquile and Amantani.
It’s always great to get connected with other travellers from all parts of the world. Have you checked out our Dos Manos Travellers Forum yet? There is a real wealth of information here about living or working in Cusco, travelling in Peru and Machu Picchu. Perhaps someone has asked just the same question that you are thinking… or perhaps you can pop a post on the forum and find out what others have to say…
Here at DOS MANOS we believe in responsible tourism and working with our guides, porters and muleteers in a manner so that you get the best service. We are amongst the agencies that pay the best and we provide our guides, porters, and muleteers with their own sleeping tents and mats as well as ensuring that they are given sufficient food (not just what is left over after the tourists are finished). Simply, the cheaper the trek, the less likely it is that the agency really looks after its porters. We pay 20% above the set minimum wage for porters while many agencies pay about 40% less. The Inka porter project says, “If your Inca Trail trip costs less than $300, you can be fairly sure that the porters will be not be well cared for”. (see www.peruweb.org/porters)
We also respect the maximum weight of 25kg that porters carry and we prefer to take one extra porter instead of having them carrying the maximum weight or even more.
We also try to minimise environmental impacts: we carry out our rubbish, use biodegradable products when doing our dishes and tidy our campsites before everyone leaves.
On most of your treks you will either have porters and muleteers as well as cooks and guides. For all, the tip is very important. Even if you are from a non-tipping “nation” you might consider tipping as it makes all the difference to people that don’t receive a lot of money for what they do. You might like to have a look at the Inka Porter Project website www.peruweb.org/porters which provides interesting information about trekking guidelines, treatment of porters and muleteers. For muleteers or porters try to ensure that your pooled tips add up to at least 10 soles a day per muleteer or porter. Give the tip to the porters/muleteers individually, thus avoiding the problem of the guide or cook taking charge of the envelope and taking a cut for themselves. Tips for the guide and cook should be treated separately. For the cook – the same as the porters– or a little bit more if he whipped up some culinary delights! Of course, we are not advocating tipping for bad service – but if you are happy with your tour, please show your appreciation!
In addition to tipping your porter/muleteer consider the following:
Approach your travels with an open mind and you won’t be disappointed. Sometimes plans change and an chance for more in-depth learning or a unique cultural experience presents itself. Adapt yourself to the situation rather than trying to change the situation to you.
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