RESPONSIBLE TOURISM. Really Wild Challenges is fully aware of the social and economic issues that are associated with tourism in a developing country such as Peru and we only work with local ground operators who are ethically responsible and who support community tourism projects. You also play an important role in ensuring that the impact associated with an overseas challenge is responsible. You might like to consider some of the following as useful guidelines; • Litter:The Really Wild Challenges policy is to carry out all non-biodegradable rubbish. Biodegradable rubbish should be left in the appropriate containers/bags at the campsites, where available. Please do not leave apple cores and banana skins behind on the ground as, even though they are biodegradable, they spoil the environment for other trekking groups. • Detergents/showering: Please bring eco-friendly travellers shampoo and soap and use them sparingly. • Toilets: Whilst trekking, there may be toilets en-route between overnight stops, so please bring some toilet tissue for disposal in case you are caught short but bear in mind that even tissue paper can take a long time to biodegrade. Please use the toilets at campsites where possible. In hotels and guesthouses, in Cusco and other cities in Peru, there are usually bathrooms with western style showers and toilets although the hot water supply can sometimes be erratic. • Plants/wildlife:Try not to damage plants that you see on the trail and any wild animals you encounter should not be fed or disturbed. • Souvenirs: Try and buy locally made crafts that support local skills and avoid buying items that exploit or threaten endangered wildlife species or ancient artefacts (which probably won’t be anywhere near as ancient as the vendor makes out anyway!). • Bargaining: Haggling is all part of the fun when buying souvenirs in Peru but try not to be over aggressive over sums which are relatively small. It may not be much to you but it is someone else’s living! Besides, a broad grin and a sense of humour when negotiating are far more likely to get you the discount you want! • General tipping: Tipping in hotels, bars and restaurant in Peru is not expected but it is, of course, always appreciated. Peruvians rarely tip and, outside the tourist areas, tipping is rare. Our guides and muleteers do however appreciate a tip if you have enjoyed their service – please see our guidance in this document re tipping. • Beggars: Beggars in Peru are uncommon but if you do encounter them please do not hand out money to them. Giving to a charity focusing on homeless and destitute families is more effective and reduces expectations and reliance.
MONEY MATTERS. Tipping All staff on our Machu Picchu treks are paid a fair wage for their efforts. Nonetheless, they do work very hard to make your trip special and if you feel that they have provided an excellent service then you may wish to consider a tip. To make tipping straightforward and transparent we would recommend that you give your tip contribution to a nominated person in your group who can then hand it over to your head guide. Typically around $50 from each individual in the group would be a good guideline but feel free to give more or less should you feel it is appropriate. As your muleteers will leave the group before you reach Aguas Calientes, you may wish to consider giving them their part of the tip when they leave. You may be asked directly by individual guides or support staff for gifts or tips. We would ask that you politely decline, as this can create tensions amongst the ground support staff and create unrealistic expectations of future trekkers. Cash and Currency The official unit of currency is the Nuevo Sol and is commonly referred to simply as ‘sol-es’. ATMs are widely available in Cusco, including several around the Plaza de Armas near our guesthouse. We would suggest you withdraw some cash on arrival and bear in mind that, once out on the trek, you will not be able to find an ATM until you reach Aguas Calientes, so make sure you have some cash before you depart Cusco. The larger, more upmarket hotels and restaurants in urban areas accept credit cards but smaller shops, kiosks, eateries and markets will expect you to pay in cash. To avoid your bankcard being blocked by your bank’s fraud department, we would strongly recommend that you get in touch with your bank before you depart to inform them of your travel plans. Shopping Peru is a great place to pick up some bargains before heading home, with a thriving artisan crafts scene in Cusco. Items that are of particularly good value include clothing, handicrafts, paintings and leather goods. Be aware that the items for sale in some of the markets may carry well-known branding but may not be the genuine article! The streets north of the Plaza de Armas are good areas to aim for if you want to do some last-minute shopping before returning home. Many of these shops stay open until late in the evening.
STAFF & GUIDES
STAFF AND GUIDES. All our challenges are locally led. This means that there are no western guides or doctors with your group. Instead we have selected top-class local guides who have years of experience in successfully guiding groups through the Andes to Machu Picchu. The guides we use are, not only trained in emergency response and wilderness first aid, they also have an amazingly in-depth understanding of areas we trek through and the history of Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas. We believe that this ethical approach boosts local employment, reduces unnecessary overheads and gives you the opportunity to really get the most out of your trip!
VACCINATIONS AND MEDICAL. ‘Fit for Travel’ is a website that provides information for people travelling abroad (www.fitfortravel. nhs.uk). However, we suggest that all participants seek professional medical advice regarding required vaccinations for Peru from a travel clinic or GP by providing them with full itinerary details (if you plan to travel independently after trekking to Machu Picchu to other parts of Peru don’t forget to tell them that too!). We recommend you visit your GP as soon as possible to discuss your travel plans. Every one of our guides carries a comprehensive first aid kit but please bring a personal first aid kit containing basic items such as plasters, aspirin etc. as it is not possible to provide medical supplies for everyone in the group. If you are taking regular medication, please ensure you carry written details (type/strength/dose) and ensure you carry additional stocks splitting them between your main luggage and hand luggage. If you take any regular medication please bring double your needs in case of loss or theft. In Peru you can buy many medications over the counter without a doctor’s prescription but it can be difficult to find some of the newer drugs, particularly the latest antidepressant drugs, blood pressure medications and contraceptive methods. In general it is not advised to buy medications locally without a doctor’s advice.
HEALTH AND FITNESS. Whilst on the trek we can be so focused on our goal of getting to the end that we sometimes forget the simple ways that we can look after ourselves. Here are a few suggestions to keep you healthy on your challenge; •
Hydration is extremely important- drink plenty of water while trekking. The colour of your urine is a good indication of hydration. It should be light and clear in colour. Keeping energy levels up is also going to help on strenuous trekking days. Heat and tiredness can cause loss of appetite but it is important to eat at all meal times. Even if you are not feeling hungry or are nauseous try and eat something, even if it is just a cereal bar. Sunburn is major issue on the trek during the summer months (May-September). The right protective clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeved tops helps. A buff or similar can be invaluable for protecting your neck. Apply sunscreen every day, even if it looks overcast, to avoid being caught out. Trekking poles are a great way to look after your knees as they absorb a lot of the pressure and provide stability on steep ascents/descents. If you are feeling unwell at any point during your time in Peru, please tell someone straight away even if you think it is something minor. We want to try and make sure that everyone remains fit and healthy whilst trekking and even minor ailments can become major problems if not dealt with quickly.
The food in Peru is varied and delicious but think twice before eating food from street vendors or markets or eating uncooked salads/unpeeled fruits. Ceviche, or raw fish, should only be eaten at the highest quality restaurants. We would also suggest avoiding cooked foods that are no longer hot. Getting in Shape Many trekkers set themselves the goal of improving their fitness before departing to Peru. It almost goes without saying that, the fitter you are, the more you will enjoy the whole experience of trekking to Machu Picchu.The longer trekking days in particular will require a combination of physically fitness, will power and relative strength. It is difficult for us to provide a detailed fitness training program as it very much depends upon you starting point. However, any programme should incorporate the following elements; •
Aerobic training: Jogging, walking, cycling, swimming and gym sessions will help to build up your general level of fitness. Build up your schedule steadily with it peaking towards the time of departure. Make sure you wind down your training a couple of weeks before you travel so that your body has time to rest in preparation for the trek.
Strength training:Weights are a good way to build strength and strong legs will push you up the steeper sections of the trek. If you are a member of a gym, get one of the instructors to devise a programme for you. Flexibility: This can be improved by a program of stretching exercises which will help to avoid niggling injuries. For something different try Pilates or Yoga classes.
Anaerobic training: Everyone has an anaerobic threshold and shortly after reaching what feels
like a point of exhaustion our natural reaction is to stop or decrease the intensity of whatever exercise we are doing. However, raising the threshold with intense interval training can really help increase your strength and stamina and ultimately help you carry on beyond the point of exhaustion on summit day. A gym instructor or personal trainer will be able to devise a programme to help raise your threshold. Getting a few long walks in as part of your training programme is highly recommended. If some steep hills are included, great! On these longer walks, make sure you break in the boots in that you will be wearing and get used to carrying a full day pack.
ALTITUDE & ACCLIMATISATION. The highest altitude you will each on this trek is around 4600 metres above sea level and because of this, it is important that you understand the effect altitude may have on you.The air becomes thinner (i.e. less oxygen) the higher you go which means the body has to work harder to maintain the supply. The body responds in various ways to needing more oxygen: •
You breathe faster and more deeply. Your heart rate speeds up in order to maintain oxygen in your tissue and vital organs.
Your body excretes more bicarbonate in the urine and creates more red blood cells. Frequent urination may be a sign that your body is acclimatising well but, making significantly more red blood cells takes a week or two and won’t make any real difference on trips such as this one.
In order to prepare your body for the affects of altitude, you will need to take some time to acclimatise. The acclimatisation process can be helped by the following: •
Walk slowly! There is plenty of time within each day’s schedule so there is no rush. The mountain guides will deliberately set a slow pace.
Sleep is important so the body has time to adjust. Avoid coffee and alcohol and have enough layers to be warm at night. Make sure you have a comfortable sleeping mat such as a Thermarest and also a pillow.
Drink plenty of water.Adequate hydration is essential to allow the body to regulate its chemical balance.
Eat small amounts of food often, even if you don’t feel hungry
You may wish to consider the option of taking Diamox (Acetazolamide) which can work (but not always) as an effective drug to speed up acclimatisation. However, before using Diamox you must consult a doctor and fully understand the pros and cons. Its main disadvantage is that it is a diuretic which could potentially interrupt your sleep and will also require you to take on more water to counteract this.
NOTES ON ALTITUDE SICKNESS. The most common altitude-related problem is called ‘Acute Mountain Sickness’ or ‘AMS’. ‘Acute’, in this context, simply means that the onset is sudden. Symptoms for mild AMS, or even moderate AMS, may disappear if the sufferer rests or ascends no further. For severe AMS the victim must descend. Understanding and recognising whether AMS is mild, moderate or severe is important. Being open about how you feel is equally important, as complications often arise as a result of a person hiding their symptoms as they feel they are letting the group down or don’t want to be seen as ‘weak’. The most common symptom of mild AMS is a headache (which should respond to over-the-counter painkillers) with at least one other symptom e.g. feeling nauseous, lack of appetite, insomnia, lacking energy. Mild AMS is bearable and affects most people who trek to Machu Picchu. Moderate AMS differs from mild AMS as there is likely to be vomiting, the headache does not respond to pain relief and there may be a shortness of breath even after rest. Moderate AMS can be unpleasant and needs monitoring. Some sufferers may have to stop at this point. Severe AMS differs again. Sufferers will experience the loss of muscular co-ordination and balance and possibly an altered mental state (confusion/aggression/withdrawal). It may be a sign of, or lead to, rare but major complications in the form of an oedema (pulmonary or cerebral). Severe AMS is treated by immediate descent and suitable drugs. If a trekker shows worrying signs of AMS our guide will closely monitor that person and, if the symptoms worsen, they will be taken to a lower altitude immediately. In extreme cases we will evacuate the trekker to Cusco. It should be noted that anything more than mild AMS is very rare on the Salkantay trek.
KIT. Our recommended kit list has been designed in collaboration with our team on the ground in Peru. However, please take into account your personal preferences and common sense (If, on your return from Peru you have any suggestions for additions to this list then we would love to hear from you!). The Really Wild Challenges philosophy regarding packing is simple; travel light! Bring as little as possible, but everything you need. If you need to wear jewellery keep it simple and inexpensive. The general rule is that, if you donâ€™t need it, donâ€™t bring it! Be sure to bring clothes that wash and dry easily (for example, jeans take forever to dry and should not be worn). Try to test out your kit before you leave, particularly your hiking boots, daypack, and sleeping bag/mat (if applicable). This will reveal any manufacturing faults and ensure they are suitable and comfortable enough for your challenge.
KIT LIST. In the list below, we have outlined those items that are essential and those that are optional. Please note that both sleeping bags (approx $15) and trekking poles (approx $15 per pair) are available to hire from our team in Peru. If you would prefer to hire kit before departing the UK, please contact Trek Hire on 01483 209559 or visit www.trekhireuk.com. Alternatively, if you would like to purchase kit, we work closely with Cotswold Outdoors and can offer all of our participants a 15% discount off the full retail value of current stock items. You can use this discount in-store or online at www.cotswoldoutdoor.com by quoting the Really Wild Challenges Participants Affiliation Code; AF-RWILDC-D6.
ESSENTIAL ITEMS. Passport Sleeping bag Thermal Hat Wide brimmed hat Sunglasses (must cover eyes completely) Scarf 2x 2 litre water bottles (for example Nalgene bottles, as they can resist large variations in temperature) Waterproof Jacket (breathable with hood) 2x Fleeces (one heavy weight and 1 light weight) 2x Shirts (NOT COTTON – synthetic materials and specialized hiking tops are best) Waterproof outer glove / mitten Thermal Gloves (a thin inner glove that can fit inside the waterproof outer glove) Thermal underwear Lightweight trousers (NOT JEANS – the trekking trousers which convert to shorts offer the most flexibility) Waterproof trousers Socks (proper hiking sock are best) Waterproof, breathable hiking boots (well worn in) Spare shoes for when in camp – trainers are fine Headlamp & spare batteries Sun cream (factor 25, preferably 40) Small towel Medication Kit bag – preferable a hold-all or similar. Please note that hard sided cases are not suitable for your trip. It is highly recommended that you put all items in a large plastic liner or even separated into a few plastic bags to keep everything 100% dry. Day rucksack (around 30 litres for essentials such as waterproofs & water) OTHER THINGS TO REMEMBER… Insurance details Really Wild Challenges emergency contact number
SUPPLEMENTARY KIT LIST. (NON ESSENTIAL ITEMS) These listed items are simply things that could make your hike more comfortable or items that are not seen as essential. Air mat/Thermarest – for a more comfortable sleep 2x Walking Poles (helps reduce stress on knees) Gaiters (to keep out small stones and water) Rucksack water carrier such as a Platypus or CamelBak. The tube leading to your mouth should be insulated otherwise it will freeze on way to the summit Energy bars- you should keep eating all day long and energy bars are a valuable addition to the three nutritious meals that we will provide you with on the mountain Antibacterial wet wipes Personal first aid kit- we provide a first aid kit but you may like to bring your own, especially if you are allergic to certain drugs, or want added items. Knee supports, sanitary towels, sun block (listed in essential items), blister treatment, oral rehydration sachets and talcum powder are all potential items you might like to bring with you. Plastic bags – to separate dirty laundry and as a failsafe if you do not have a rucksack cover. Plastic Poncho- these can be purchased in Cusco for around £1 and even our guides, who have good quality waterproofs as well, take these on the trek as they have a range of uses. Playing cards Pencil & paper for your trip log! Earplugs Pocket knife Spare contact lenses and/or glasses and/or dentures.
AIRLINE BAGGAGE WEIGHT GUIDELINES. When leaving the UK we strongly recommend that you wear your hiking gear, including your boots and take as much as possible in your hand luggage, especially a full day’s spare clothing. This is to ensure that, in the unlikely situation your bags do not arrive at your final destination, you are still able to make a start on the challenge whilst we relocate any missing baggage. Airline luggage allowances vary and you should check on the airline’s website for details of your allowance.Your hand luggage should not exceed 6-10kg with maximum dimensions of 56x45x25cms (correct at time of press – please confirm with your airline). Please make sure you pack your rucksack/kit bag yourself and do not, under any circumstances, take any items through customs that are not yours or that you have been asked to deliver for someone else. Keep all cash, flight tickets, passports and house keys in your hand luggage. For the most up to date air travel hand luggage rules please refer to UK government’s website; http://www.direct.gov.uk.
VISA INFORMATION. Please note that, whilst we endeavour to ensure that the information below is accurate, the Embassy sometimes changes its visa guidance at short notice. We therefore recommend that, in addition to reading our guidance below, participants visit the Peru Embassy’s website. A visa is not required for travel to Peru however there are requirements for entry to this country that you need to be aware of. Please read the information listed below for guidance. You can stay in Peru visa exempt for up to 183 days. In order to do so the traveller must: Hold a passport valid at least six months on entry with one blank visa page Hold proof of sufficient funds Hold proof of onward/return flights Hold all documents required for the next destination Confirm with their airline that boarding will be permitted without a visa
Please note that your flights may travel via the Unites States of America. If that is the case, participants will be required to obtain an ESTA visa. This can be arranged on the website at https://esta.cbp.dhs. gov/esta/esta.html. There is a charge for this- please see the website. This is the official US government website and the only site we recommend for obtaining an ESTA. Failure to arrange an ESTA at least 72 hours prior to travel may result in you being denied boarding by the airline.
• • • • •