Frequently Asked Questions
What is altitude sickness, and how can it be prevented?
Altitude sickness, or AMS, is the body’s reaction the lack of oxygen at high altitudes. It tends to occur at altitudes above 7,900 ft. (2,400 m.). Although each person’s reactions can be quite different, common symptoms include: dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and insomnia. Altitude sickness can be avoided by following recommended steps, such as: drinking a lot of water to hydrate the body, limiting physical activity for the first few days in Cusco, eating light meals and avoiding alcoholic beverages. If you plan to go on a long trek at high altitude, we recommend reserving one of our acclimatization programs prior to your trek, which will prepare your body and make for a better experience.
At what altitude is Cusco?
Cusco is located at approximately 11,150 ft. (3,400 m.) above sea level. Situated in the heart of Peru’s Andes Mountains, it is one of the seven highest cities in the world. The Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu are located at altitudes of around 7,900 ft. (2,400 m. ) and 9,850 ft. (3,000 m.) above sea level, respectively.
What is the weather like throughout the year in Cusco?
Cusco’s climate is characterized by two marked seasons: the rainy season between December and February, and the dry season during the rest of the year. However, Cusco’s weather varies, and at times it can rain in the drier months. The coldest months fall between June and August, especially at night, but the days are generally warm and very sunny. In rainy season, it usually rains in the afternoon or at night. However, it doesn’t rain every day and it is warmer, which is why it’s possible to enjoy outdoor activities all year long.
How much hiking experience is needed for our acclimatization programs?
Our shorter hikes don’t require previous experience, and are designed for all levels of physical intensity. However, since they take place at higher altitude than most people are accustomed to, a period of prior acclimatization in Cusco is required.
What is the minimum age for our hikes?
This can vary depending on prior experience. We recommend that our travelers be at least 12 years old. However, we have had young hikers between 5 and 10 years old, who were accustomed to hiking and outdoors activities, and they have enjoyed our programs without any problem.
What is the Cusco Tourism Ticket? What is included?
The Cusco Tourism Ticket is required for entering 16 of the main tourism sites of the region. Among those are: Sacsayhuaman, Tipón, Ollantaytambo and Pisaq. The ticket is needed for some of the tours we offer, and is valid for 10 days from date of purchase.
How can I access Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain?
The citadel of Machu Picchu is flanked by two large mountains, and the most popular is Huayna Picchu. To hike it you’ll need to buy entrance tickets at least 3 months in advance, because of high demand and limited spaces. The alternative is Machu Picchu Mountain, which is less crowded and also offers incredible views of this wonder of the world. Entrance tickets for this can be reserved just a few weeks prior to your visit.
What can I visit in the Sacred Valley?
The Sacred Valley is an hour away from Cusco. This long and beautiful valley is flanked by high mountains. At the valley bottom lie small towns and a patchwork of small farms irrigated by the swift Urubamba (or Vilcanota) River. Situated at a lower altitude than Cusco, time spent there helps with acclimatization. This fertile valley is considered to be the historic breadbasket of the Inca Empire, and has a number of important archeological sites, as well as hiking trails that are ideal for acclimatization hikes. The Sacred Valley is the gateway to Machu Picchu, and also features excellent hotels and restaurants.
What happens if I need medical attention?
We count on a medical team that can assist you with medical emergencies at your hotel. We are also connected to the best clinics in Cusco. However, it is important to have travel insurance and health insurance that covers activities above 9,000 ft. (2,750 m.).
What type of currency and forms of payment are used in Peru?
The official currency is the Peruvian Sol. However, most larger establishments (hotels, restaurants, many stores) accept dollars and/or credit and debit cards. You will likely need to exchange some dollars or other foreign currencies to Soles. You can exchange money at local banks or at an established currency exchange house, but preferably not on the street. You can also ask about this at your hotel’s front desk.