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Machu Picchu

What sets our Peru treks apart

Published February 09, 2018 by SA Explorer

Secondary Categories: Peru, The Great Inca Trail

SA Expeditions was born in the mountains around Cusco and our Peru trekking tours remain at the core of our DNA. We guide guests on well-known routes like the Inca Trail and the Lares and Salkantay treks and we also offer two utterly unique treks: our community partnership in the Choquechaca valley and the headline-grabbing Great Inca Trail which traverses one of the greatest achievements of pre-industrial man. Regardless of which trek you choose you’re guaranteed a standard of comfort, professionalism and cultural awareness that goes above and beyond. Read on to find out what sets us apart.

High-quality equipment

We are all passionate hikers, so we know how frustrating it can be to have a sleeping bag that just isn’t warm enough or a tent that just won’t zip shut. But we also know that you don’t want to be forced to bring your own tent or mattress all the way to Peru. Which is why guests on all of our treks can expect the following equipment:

  • Therm-A-Rest inflatable mattresses
  • Good quality, 3season, 2-man tents
  • High-quality sleeping bags designed for Andean temperatures
  • Dedicated bathroom tents

You can rent walking sticks from us or bring your own – as long as they have rubber tips on the ends (protecting the ancient Inca pathways is paramount).

Nutritious and tasty meals

When you’re trekking 15 miles through the high Andes you sure want a hot, nutritious and tasty meal at the end of the day. Our experienced cooks serve three hearty meals a day and we also provide all guests with snack packs (crackers, fruit, etc) for the trail and welcome teas (cookies, cheese, popcorn) upon arrival at each campsite. We try to include a variety of food groups (eg lentils or starch, meat, and vegetables) in our meals and we can cater for special dietary requirements too. If you there’s any particular snack you really crave, feel free to bring some along, but there’s generally a surplus of food available.

Experienced guides, cooks and porters

When it comes to staff we don’t mess around. Our guides are all local, English-speaking and totally at home in the mountains. Our cooks really know what they’re doing (no two-minute noodles for you!) and we only work with porters/arrieros who meet our standards. We pride ourselves on the cheery attitude of our staff.

Our small group sizes

Normally our trekking groups range in size from four to eight guests, although on some treks the absolute maximum is 16 people. Unlike many operators, we’ll run our treks even if only two people have signed up (but depending on which trek you’ve chosen, your departure might be limited to one day every week). Really importantly, we’re also able to arrange private treks – these cost a bit more, but there’s nothing better than sharing the Andes with your nearest and dearest.

Cultural sharing

Some trek operators have their porters eat separately and even eat different (cheaper) food. We never do this as we view mealtimes as a time to come together and learn from one another in spite of the language barriers (sometimes the arrieros only speak Quechua). Depending on how outgoing everyone is there are some really interesting opportunities for cultural learning given the unique backgrounds of local arrieros, the guides (who were often educated in Cusco or Lima) and the clients.

How we deal with emergencies

Our guides carry first aid kits and oxygen tanks and are trained to handle emergency situations in remote areas. In the case of severe illness or broken bones, you will be carried out to the closest town to be transported to the nearest clinic. Doctors can also walk towards you while you’re being carried out, so you can be treated on the trail even sooner if needed.

Safe and comfortable transportation to the trailhead

Both roads and public transportation in rural Peru leave something to be desired. Depending on the size of your group you’ll be driven to the trailhead in a modern van/minibus by an experienced driver.

Our bathroom facilities

Warm water is provided in bowls every morning and evening to clean up and refresh. There are no showers, but portable showers can be arranged on a ‘luxury’ version of the trek at additional cost. On the Inca Trail, you will pass campsites that have sinks with cold water only. Campsites aren’t well maintained, which is also why we always include a portable restroom for our guests.

Frequently asked questions

What must I bring?

You should bring a water canteen, flashlight, clothes, toiletries, foul weather gear etc. Refer to our packing list for more info.

What do I need to carry?

You’ll only carry a daypack containing a water bottle/bladder (we’ll refill it with clean water throughout the hike), camera, jacket and anything else you don’t want to be without.

Who carries my other stuff?

Your other stuff should be packed in a soft duffel bag/backpack (max 15lbs) and will be carried by human porters (Inca Trail), mules (Lares, Salkantay, Choquechaca) or llamas (Great Inca Trail).

But what about everything else?

Your suitcases containing your Galapagos snorkel kit and insect-proof Amazon garb can be left in your Cusco or Sacred Valley hotel (or in Lima/Huaraz if you’re doing the Great Inca Trail) at no extra charge.

Further reading:

Got itchy feet? Check out all of our trekking tours on one dedicated page. Or speak to a Destination Expert about crafting your own unique trekking experience.

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