Peru: Cusco, Machu Picchu, the Inca Trail + more….

August 3-11, 2019  |  9 days / 8 nights  |  $3,695

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“For me, the trek to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail was a physical challenge that pushed me, an experience that gave insight into one of the more fascinating ancient civilizations, and gave me the time and space in nature to get lost in thought. Away from my devices, among the most amazing views, and with friends – walking through the Sun Gate and seeing the clouds part and Machu Picchu come into view has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. —— Mary, Trip Host for this adventure.

Trip Agenda

Day 1 – August 3
Your Trip Host will meet you at the Cusco Airport and escort you back to the hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing and getting acclimated to the altitude (about 11,152 feet.) This city, once the capital of the Inca Empire, today is a charming town that’s been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Over happy hour (and pisco sours!) you’ll meet the other women on the trip and learn more about the adventure ahead! Happy hour included.

Day 2 – August 4
A local guide will host us on a walking tour that’s part history, part culture, and part FOOD! Between historical stops and sights we’ll enjoy a few local specialties, a cooking demo and favorite street snacks! That evening we’ll enjoy the lovely sunset, and have dinner near the central town square, Plaza de Armas. All meals included. 

Day 3 – August 5
After breakfast we’ll say goodbye to Cusco and drive into the Sacred Valley. Our first stop is the Maras Salt Flats, which are hundreds of individual salt pools on a hillside, dating back to the times of the Incas. Afterwards we’ll make our way to Moray, an archaeological site made up of circular terraces thought to previously been an agricultural experiment to understand how various elevations and micro-climates affect growing conditions. We’ll stop by a local weaving community to learn about the ancient art of weaving that stretches back more than 5,000 years in Peru, and generally led by women in small rural communities. (Yes, you’ll have an opportunity to purchase goods!) We’ll end this day in the small town of Ollantaytambo with dinner, and an early night as we prepare for the next few days! All meals included.

Day 4 to 7 – August 6 to 9
Get your hiking boots laced up, backpack on and fill your belly with a hearty breakfast! Today is the day we start the trek to Machu Picchu on the Inca Trail. In total the hike is 45 km long (about 28 miles) that we’ll cover over 4 days of hiking with the help of local guides. A team of local porters will carry the clothing and supplies you need on the trail, transport all the camping gear, set-up camp, and prepare all meals.

  • August 6: Walking Distance – 8.7 miles, about 9 hours; Elevation – 9,022 feet to 10,925 feet; Camp night #1
  • August 7: Walking Distance – 9.94 miles, about 9 hours; Elevation – 10,925 feet to 13,829 feet to 11,811 feet; Camp night #2
  • August 8: Walking Distance – 6.2 miles, about 6 hours; Elevation – 11,811 feet to 8,692 feet; Camp night #3
  • August 9: Walking Distance – only a few miles; Elevation – 8,692 feet to 7,875 feet; end day in Cusco

We’ll start Day 4 very early to ensure we enter the Sun Gate (the area believed to have been where imperial guards of the Inca Empire likely controlled passage into Machu Picchu) and catch our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. Plan to take a moment to just soak in the view, and the accomplishment of getting to this point. When we make our way down to Machu Picchu we’ll go for a tour of the ruins, lunch and a rest! When we’re ready to start the journey back to Cusco first we’ll go by bus down the windy roads to Aguas Calientes town, then by train to Ollantaytambo, then a driver will take us back to Cusco for hot showers, a soft bed and an open evening to rest and relax! All meals included, except dinner on August 9.

Day 8 – August 10
Today the day is your own to rest, sleep in, relax, go for a full-body massage if you want one, grab any final souvenirs and revel in your accomplishment! We’ll gather in the evening for a final dinner, and celebratory toast! Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 9 – August 11
On this final day everyone will either start the journey home from Cusco or the next leg of their personal vacations. If you’re heading to the Cusco Airport, your Trip Host will arrange transportation. Breakfast included. 

Trip itinerary is subject to change but will always maintain a spirit of adventure and diverse activities.

Questions? Check out the FAQs for this trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is going on the trip?

This trip is made up of 12 women: 11 guests and your Trip Host. A major tenet of Living Big is to make international travel more accessible to women who don’t want to go at it alone. To learn more about the philosophy, click here.

Can I join the trip solo? Or can I invite a few of my friends to join me on the trip?

Yes and yes to both questions! Some women join Living Big trips on their own; there to make friends and see the world, and others join Living Big trips because they want to share the experience with their friends, sisters, mothers or daughters and don’t want to do any of the planning!

You’ll find that the trips are structured in a way that you’ll have a good amount of group time, but also a fair amount of independent time to explore on your own, with new friends you met in the group, or with the friends joining you on the trip.

Who is the Trip Host? And what is her role?

On this trip your Trip Host is Mary. To learn more about Mary, click here.

The role of the Trip Host is to be there to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible, even when the inevitable travel bumps come our way – such as an unexpected rainy afternoon, traffic, missing luggage, etc. But more importantly, to be a resource that will give you the space you need to really enjoy the experience. So if throughout the trip there is something your Trip Host can do to support you in this regard – please let her know. For example, if you’re not feeling well, having trouble sleeping, not getting along with someone, not satisfied with something, etc. please please share these concerns. No one needs a ‘Mother’ on this trip – that’s not our intention, but if there are small adjustments that can be made to create more space for you to enjoy the experience —- the Trip Host will see what she can do!

How much does the trip cost? And what is included/excluded in this price?

The total price per person is $3,695. This includes the following:

  • Planning: all trip logistics, including pre-trip negotiations with all hotels and vendors, onsite coordination, useful information leading up to your trip such as advice on what to pack, how much to budget for spending money, a cheat sheet for learning the local language, advice on local currency, etc.
  • Hotels: 5 night hotel accommodation based on a shared room, and 3 nights in a tent based on a shared tent.
  • Meals: see the daily itinerary for meals included each day. NOTE: meals on the trail do not include hosted beer and wine.
  • Transport: all ground transportation, including airport transfers (on the stated first and last days of the trip) and hired ground transportation, are included.
  • Inca Trail permits
  • Activities: all activities, unless specified in the itinerary, are included.
  • Gratuities for local guides and partners.

The following are not included in the trip fee:

  • Round-trip airfare is not included, but gives you flexibility in using airline reward miles or extending your trip as you wish. Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities.
  • A set amount of wine and beer will be purchased with each hosted dinner (excluding meals on the trail) but each guest will be responsible for alcoholic beverages beyond this amount.
  • While not required, each guest is encouraged to consult their existing insurance policy to determine what is covered while on the trip, and if needed, secure an individual insurance policy for the trip.
  • Any additional activities you want to book along the way: spa services, private tours, cooking classes, etc.
  • Incoming/outgoing transfers if your arrival and/or departure falls outside the stated first and last days of the trip.
  • Any additional costs incurred (i.e. hotel, meal, medical, etc.) if you decide to leave the group for any reason.
  • Spending money, additional tips for your Trip Host and excess luggage fees.

What are the health and physical fitness requirements to join on the trip?

Guests should take personal responsibility, and seek the advice of a medical professional to ensure they are physically able and healthy to participate in all group trip activities. It’s very important that you acknowledge and prepare for the physical demands of the trip to ensure not only your safety, but also the safety of the group.

  • This trip takes place at elevations between 8,000 and nearly 14,000 feet. The City of Cusco is at 11,152 feet, and the highest point on the Inca Trail is 13,829 feet. Please discuss these elevations with your doctor to understand how to prepare your body for the conditions, especially when experienced during physical activity such as hiking. See the Trip Itinerary for specifics distances, and elevations, experienced each day of the hike.
  • The trip includes a hike on a 45 km stretch of the Inca Trail. The elevation will change over the course of the hike, including portions that are very steep up, and very steep down.
  • The terrain varies between dirt paths, stone steps, trails covered by a forest canopy and trails in the sun near exposed ledges. The entire trail contains uneven surfaces that depend on good balance (significantly enhanced by hiking poles!)
  • The City of Cusco has many stone steps that can get quite slippery, especially when wet. Take care to wear shoes with proper traction.
  • You’ll be responsible for carrying your own luggage in/out of vehicles and trains, on uneven surfaces, and occasionally in hotels that do not have elevator access.
  • You’ll be riding in a van and/or train for up to 3-4 hours at times (there will be restroom breaks!) and some roads are quite rough resulting in a bumpy ride. Portions of the driving route will be on windy roads.
  • The days are active and full. Some mornings on the trail will require departure times before 4AM.
  • The trip is physically strenuous and best enjoyed by anyone who is physically fit and enjoys very active days, and committed to training to prepare for this trip.

How high will we be hiking? How far will we be hiking? Do I need to worry about being at such a high altitude?

This trip starts and ends in Cusco, which is at 11,152 feet. When we start the Inca Trail, we’ll be hiking for the following distances and elevations:

  • August 6: Walking Distance – 8.7 miles, about 9 hours; Elevation – 9,022 feet to 10,925 feet; Camp night #1
  • August 7: Walking Distance – 9.94 miles, about 9 hours; Elevation – 10,925 feet to 13,829 feet to 11,811 feet; Camp night #2
  • August 8: Walking Distance – 6.2 miles, about 6 hours; Elevation – 11,811 feet to 8,692 feet; Camp night #3
  • August 9: Walking Distance – only a few miles; Elevation – 8,692 feet to 7,875 feet; end day in Cusco

You should consult with your doctor to get advice on being at these elevations (AND hiking at these elevations.) There may be some medications they can prescribe to help you cope with the challenges of being at a high altitude, including altitude sickness. We recommend you find opportunities to train at elevations higher than you live, or usually hike, and as high as possible.

Is there a minimum/maximum age to participate?

Women over the age of 21, that are physically able to participate in the trip itinerary, are welcome to join for this adventure. Please see the detailed itinerary and FAQ on minimum physical fitness requirements to learn more.

What should I do to secure my spot on the trip?

The first step is to request a spot, which you can do online (click here.) Once you request a spot, we’ll reach out to you to schedule a call to review the trip details, get to know you, give you a chance to ask questions about Living Big, etc. If after this conversation you’re on board to join for the adventure, you’ll receive a link to the registration page where you can formally register, submit your first payment and sign the trip waiver. Please note: registration is taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Is airfare included in the trip fee? What do I need to know before I book my flight?

Round-trip airfare is not included in the trip fee, but this gives you flexibility in using airline reward miles, to extend your trip any way you like, and to select the routes and airlines you prefer. Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities.

  • Inbound flights should arrive into Cusco’s International Airport (code: CUZ) on August 3 by 3PM, local time zone
  • Outbound flights should depart from Cusco’s International Airport (code: CUZ) on August 11 at anytime

You will be required to share flight details at least 8-12 weeks before the adventure commences.

Will I be sharing a hotel room or tent? Can I choose my roommate?

Yes, everyone will be sharing a room (and tent on the camping nights) with at least one other person, but you will have your own bed. You can request a roommate preference, and share sleeping preferences, on forms that you’ll be asked to fill out 10-12 weeks before your adventure begins.

There is not an opportunity for women to pay a single supplement in order to secure a private room. Here’s why: single supplements, while convenient for some willing to pay the fee, often prevent many single women from traveling because the cost is just too high, so the decision was made early on to not go down that path as a means to encourage more women to travel. And we find that sharing a room with another woman, and having an opportunity to connect with other women and learn about their lives in this way, contributes to what makes these trips very special.

Can you tell me about the type of accommodations we'll be staying at? And how are the camping conditions?

You betcha! In Cusco we’ll be staying at a four-star hotel. In Ollantaytambo we’ll be staying at a three-star hotel. Both hotels have rooms with private bathrooms and showers.

On the three-nights we’re on the Inca Trail we’ll be camping in 2-person tents. Tents are provided. You’ll need to provide (or request to rent locally) a sleeping pad, sleeping bag and pillow. There are shower facilities at one of the overnights camping sites, but the water is very cold!

Some toilets are nicer than others. Portions of the first part of the hike have flushing toilets (they usually cost 1 Sol to use) but on later stretches of the hike it’s all squatty potties. Bring your own toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer. And maybe something to cover your nose while you use the facilities if it’s been a few days since the bathroom has been cleaned.

What kind of ground transportation will we use?

We will be riding in private mini-buses (3-4 hours max) as well as regional trains (1-2 hours) to get from the airport and between cities. We’ll also have one bus ride (about 20 minutes) that’s down a very windy road.

What should I pack?

You’ll receive an official packing list about 10-12 weeks before the trip. This isn’t an exhaustive supply list, but some of the highlights include:

  • Hiking boots that are broken in
  • Clothing and layers for hot weather, wet weather and cold weather
  • Head lamp, external charger for your phone/camera, quick-dry towel, clothespins for drying wet clothes on the tent
  • Toilet paper, baby wipes and hand sanitizer
  • Cash (local currency) for snacks and toilets along the way, and gratuity for your guide, chefs and porters
  • Hat, sunscreen, mosquito repellant and sunglasses
  • Sandals or light-weight tennis shoes you can wear at night (with socks on)
  • Snacks (both protein + sugar) to keep you fueled between meal stops
  • Hydration packs (aka bladders, Camelbak’s, etc.) are great and easy ways to stay hydrated during the day

Do I need to carry my luggage?

You will need to carry your luggage to/from the airport, on/off buses and in/out of hotels. Some hotels may not have an elevator, so be prepared to carry your luggage up/down stairs. During the Inca Trail hike you’ll store your luggage at the hotel.

During the hike you’ll carry a backpack large enough for the supplies, layers, snacks and water you need for the day. You’ll receive a duffle bag for extra clothes, supplies, your sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow, etc. These bags have STRICT weight limits (i.e. it will need to go on a scale before you start the hike!) of around 7 kg (about 15 pounds) and the porters will carry your duffle bag from campsite to campsite.

You’ll have an opportunity to rent locally the camping gear that’s required for the hike (sleeping pad or sleeping bag) or hiking poles (recommended.)

What will the weather be like?

Weather in August is relatively warm, with temperatures averaging between 60-75 degrees fahrenheit. Keep in mind this is at high elevations, so the sun is very intense. The evenings can get down to 30-40 degrees fahrenheit. There might be occasional light rain and winds. You should plan for all weather conditions on this trip.

What if I don't need every hotel/activity/etc. on my trip?

Unfortunately, refunds aren’t possible for unused hotel rooms, meals or activities. The total trip price is a package deal; credits are not given for services not used. Please contact Living Big if you have questions or concerns about any trip activities due to a physical condition. If there is a reasonable alternative, we can explore it.

How do I communicate information like allergies, injuries, etc?

About 10-12 weeks before we begin our adventure, you’ll receive a pre-trip packet of information. This includes forms, questionnaires and waivers that you’ll need to submit no later than 8 weeks before the trip begins. These forms allow you to share these important details. Living Big will provide meals as outlined in the official trip itinerary and will work with you to try and accommodate special dietary requirements; however, Living Big is not required to provide such meals, supplements and/or any special requests beyond what is outlined in official trip itinerary.

Do I need a U.S. Passport or Visa for this trip?

Yes, a U.S. Passport is required to visit Peru. Your U.S. Passport must be valid for at least six months at the time of entry and have one blank page for entry stamps. A Visa is not required. Entry requirements may change. While your Trip Host will attempt to keep you informed of changes, you should take personal responsibility to ensure you can satisfy entry requirements. Click here to learn more about entering Peru with a U.S. Passport. If you plan to visit another country before or after your trip, contact Living Big Travel to discuss any additional entry requirements. Or if your hold a Passport not issued by the United States, please contact the issuing country to understand entry requirements.

Please note: at the time of registration you need to submit a copy of your Passport. Your Passport is required to purchase an Inca Trail permit on your behalf. Your Inca Trail permit is issued in your specific name and includes all your Passport data. Any changes in your Passport (i.e. name changes, new expiration dates, etc.) after it’s used to buy your Inca Trail permit would make your Inca Trail permit invalid. Peruvian law requires that your passport be valid for the time of travel, with 6 months remaining. So for the tentative dates for this trip, your Passport needs to be valid through February 2020.

Do I have to pay for the entire trip up front or can I make payments?

No, you do not need to pay for the entire trip up front. (Although you can, if you prefer.) Check out the Pricing, Payment and Reservation tab for payment details.

What if I need to cancel the trip?

If you decide you need to cancel your trip the following refund schedule applies upon written notice of your cancellation:

  • Cancellations made on or before April 3, 2019:
    • Your trip deposit is nonrefundable. If you paid in full for the trip the deposit is $1,500.
    • You will be reimbursed 50% of what you have paid to date, less the nonrefundable deposit.
    • As an example, if you made a $1,500 deposit, then made two additional payments each for $650 (total paid = $2,800) then the amount you would receive back is $650.
  • Cancellations made on or after April 4, 2019:
    • All payments made to date are nonrefundable.

Travel insurance helps protect against last-minute cancellation, trip interruption, and to cover medical treatment or emergency medical evacuation during your trip. We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance and flight cancellation insurance in advance of your trip. To learn about travel insurance, click here for a quick lesson!

What if the trip doesn't fill up or is cancelled?

The trip requires a minimum number of participants in order to take place at the stated price, since it takes into account group discounts, shared accommodations and other factors that create cost efficiencies. Once an adequate number of participants sign up for the trip, you will be notified. If a trip does not have enough participants, or if someone unexpectedly cancels, you will be refunded your deposit or you will be given the option to pay a trip supplement to continue the trip with fewer participants. Should additional participants sign-up after you have paid the trip supplement, this fee will be refunded. Your air travel itinerary is yours to decide, and we recommend you purchase flight cancellation insurance. Living Big is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by you in preparing for the trip including non-refundable air tickets, gear, medical equipment or travelers insurance.

What if I can't make payments according to the payment schedule?

If unusual circumstances arise and you can’t make payments on time please contact Living Big to discuss. Generally speaking, failure to make payments according to the schedule may result in losing your spot on the trip.

What is Living Big's policy on non-discrimination and violence?

Please take a moment to review the Living Big policy towards anti-discrimination and violence. Click here to review.

If you’re on board with this philosophy, and can join us in creating a safe, comfortable and judgment-free zone, then we’d love to have you join for an adventure!

Trip Pricing

This trip is nearly all-inclusive of meals, all lodging, all ground transportation, and all activities outlined in the itinerary, all the planning and booking (so you don’t have to do ANY work but show up!) and advice on what to pack, tips on international travel and a go-to resource who is here to answer any questions you have leading up to the trip, and on the trip, to help ensure that you have an amazing experience! Trip Fee: $3,695.

Payment Options

There are two options for payment:

  1. Pay the full amount by credit card or by check.
  2. Break your payments into equal monthly installments. Make a deposit of $1,500 to formally register for your spot, and then on the first of each month (following the month you made your deposit payment) your credit card will be automatically charged a set amount, so that the final payment is applied on May 1, 2019. If you decide to make monthly installment payments, you will receive a payment schedule based on when you register.

Requesting a Spot

If you’re interested in requesting a spot on this trip please make note of the following booking process and payment terms:

  • The first step is to request a spot, which you can do online. Once you request your spot, we’ll reach out to you to schedule a call to review the trip details, get to know you, give you a chance to ask questions about Living Big, etc. provided there are spots available on the trip.
  • If after this conversation you’re on board to join for the adventure, you’ll receive a link to the registration page where you can formally register, submit your first payment and sign the trip waiver.
  • Please note: at the time of registration you need to submit a copy of your Passport. Your Passport is required to purchase an Inca Trail permit on your behalf. Your Inca Trail permit is issued in your specific name and includes all your Passport data. Any changes in your Passport (i.e. name changes, new expiration dates, etc.) after it’s used to buy your Inca Trail permit would make your Inca Trail permit invalid. Peruvian law requires that your passport be valid for the time of travel, with 6 months remaining. So for the tentative dates for this trip, your Passport needs to be valid through February 2020.

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