How do I contact Kusa Treks with questions?
If you have more questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can e-mail us, Skype us, call us, text us, IM us, heck you can even send us a letter if you really want to. The point is we’re here to help answer any of your questions and make your trip easier to book and more accessible than ever. Please visit our Contact Us page to learn all of the ways we can be reached.
Which trip is right for me? 
This depends on a few things:
 - What you want to see (Machu Picchu, rain forests, archeological sites, the Galapagos etc.)
 - How many days you want to spend with us
 - Your budget
 - Your party composition (older, younger, hiking experience, etc.)

To help with your decision, we've created this Getting Started page and as always, we are here! So please, please contact us with any questions.
What do I need to pack?
This will depend on which trip you decide to go on.

Check out this page for a packing list for a multi-day trek. 
What discounts are available?
Kusa Treks is happy to offer the following discounts: 
 - $25 USD student discount for students! A valid University issued ID with an expiration date in the future is required.
 - $25 USD child discount for any clients 16 years or younger. 

Please let us know at the time of booking that you qualify for either of these discounts. 
When is the best time of year for a trip to Machu Picchu?
First, Machu Picchu is open all year round! However, if possible, we recommend planning a trip for either April/May or August/September. 

The busiest season is June – September, which corresponds with the dry season in Cusco and the summer holidays in North America. You will encounter tourists from all over the globe. The least busy months are November through March, however, be prepared for rain and potential snow/hail, as this is the rainy season for Cusco. 

Check out this page for more information. 
Is there an age limit? 
We have had travelers of all ages on our tours. We do recommend that families traveling with young children (younger than 11) book a private tour so that they can take their time and provide extra attention to the little ones. 

The most common age is between 20 and 50. But again, we get a wide variety of ages on most of our departures and Kusa Treks is more than capable of providing everyone with an unforgettable experience.
What if I'm a solo traveler?
We welcome solo travelers! Our trips attract a great mix of travelers; from those riding solo, to families and groups of friends.

While we welcome everyone who wants to enjoy a life changing trip, we do require a minimum of 2 people to guarantee a unique trip start date. If you are a solo traveler, we will pair you with an existing group of 2+ people who are doing the same trip that you requested.

We will try our best to arrange the trip for the exact date that you request, however, if there are no existing groups going on your preferred date you have two options: 
   1. Shift the start of your trip a few days so that you are able to join an existing group that is leaving close to your preferred start-date.
   2. We can work with one of our partner companies in Peru that does have an existing group doing your requested trek on the exact date.
How far in advance should I book my trip? 
You can book your trip at any time but generally the earlier you book, the better. For those wanting to hike the Inca Trail we recommend that you book as early as your schedule allows (at least 6 months in advance) especially for travelers hoping to visit during the height of the dry season (May – August).

Travelers visiting outside of these busy months can book a bit more last minute, though 1-2 months notice is still recommended. Further, we recommend that you wait to book your international flights until your trip is confirmed.

For trips other than the Classic Inca Trail, we are typically able to accommodate last minute travelers, with one week notice.

NOTE: The Peruvian government limits the amount of travelers that can go on the Inca Trail throughout the year to help persevere the trail and prevent further erosion. Once Kusa Treks receives a request to hike the Inca Trail, we have to apply for a permit, which are typically sold out 4-6 months in advance.
Do I need any vaccines or immunizations? 
We recommend having all of your boosters up to date (MMR, tetanus, etc.). Generally speaking, if your travel plans are limited to Lima, Cusco and Machu Picchu you will not need any vaccinations. If you plan on venturing into the jungle or other high risk areas you may need: yellow fever vaccine, medicine for malaria, typhoid vaccine, etc.

Kusa Treks does not have a licensed physician on staff and therefore cannot provide specific recommendations for your travel, we highly recommend consulting with you primary care provider and referencing the CDC for more information. Click here for updated info.

The greatest risk in Cusco is Altitude Sickness, for more information see more here and under the "Altitude Sickness" tab below. Other health issues travelers have experienced include an upset stomach, and in rare cases travelers' diarrhea. All of the food and water Kusa Treks provides will be safe for you to eat (and insanely delicious), but please be careful what you eat around Cusco and only drink bottled or boiled/filtered water.
Where is Cusco and how do I get there? 
The vast majority of trips to Machu Picchu originate in Cusco. Cusco was the capital of the Inca Empire and is now an incredible, vibrant city home to wonderful cuisine and amazing culture. It is located in South-East part of Peru (closer to Brazil than the ocean).

Peru might seem like a far-off, exotic destination, but it is closer than you think! Lima is only a 5-hour flight from Miami, 7.5 hours from NYC and 8.5 hours from Los Angeles! Currently, there are no direct flights from North America, Europe or Asia into Cusco, so to get to there you will have to connect from either Lima, Peru or Bogota, Columbia.

There are three major airlines that fly into Cusco from Lima: LATAM, Peruvian Airlines and Avianca. Upon reaching customs in Peru you will hand over your passport to be stamped, along with the immigration paperwork you received on the airplane. You do need not declare anything unless you are traveling with something "unusual" like livestock or weapons. Explain that you are a tourist visiting for 30-90 days and they will stamp your passport accordingly.

DO NOT lose your little white immigration slip, keep it with your passport, tape it to your chest, or tattoo it to your forehead, just don’t lose it! (Or else you will have to pay a fine when you leave).

Oh and a knowing a little bit of Spanish goes a long way with Peruvian government officials and the locals. Check out this link to learn travel Spanish phrases. 
Do I need a Visa to enter Peru?
Travelers will all need a passport that is valid for at least 6 months after they depart. Currently, citizens from the following countries do not need a visa: The U.S., Canada, Scandinavia, Western Europe, Japan, Latin America, South Africa, South Korea, and the Caribbean (except Cuba).

Our friends from Australia and New Zealand will need a visa. Travelers from other nationalities should check with the Peruvian Embassy for visa information. Entry requirements change with surprising frequency (darn government). It is each traveler’s responsibility to check with the consulate for the most up-to-date visa information.
How safe is Peru?
Peru has a stable government and tourism has boomed in recent years. With the added tourist dollars, the government has made a concerted effort to keep travelers safe. There have been no terrorist attacks in a Peruvian tourist destination for over a decade.

As with any international travel, travelers should take the same precautions that they would use in a major city. Pay attention to the advice of your tour leader and hotel reception and use common-sense, such as not going into unfamiliar areas alone, especially at night. Petty theft is common in busy tourist areas such as airports, markets, and other tourist sites so be aware of your valuables and don’t leave them unattended.

Monetary scams also sprout up occasionally so beware of any offers that sound too good to be true (they usually are). All of our tour leaders are "locals" and are excellent sources of information and advice.

Check out the US State Department travel advisories for the latest information. 
What's the money situation like in Peru? 
The currency in Peru is Nuevo Sol. US Dollars and the Euro are widely exchanged. Travelers checks are less prevalent these days. Also, avoid bringing dollar notes that have tears (no matter how small they are), fold marks, and ink marks; businesses will reject them because the Banks do not accept them.

Exchange rates vary with the market and banks. Certain areas are known for better rates, for example the Avenida el Sol by the Plaza de Armas in Cusco is a great place to go. Do not change money with individuals on the street, they could have counterfeit bills. Check the going rate first as one store might offer a better exchange rate. Taking money out of ATMs in Peru usually results in a $3-5 surcharge in addition to conversion fees.

Credit cards often have a 3% charge added by the Credit Card company, in addition to any commission charged by the store. Ask first! Most major credit cards are accepted, Visa being the most widely used.
What is Cusco's time zone? 
Cusco is on the same time zone as the Eastern U.S. (EST), which is five hours behind GMT. Daylight-savings is not observed, so during the winter months (April-October), Peru is on Central standard time (CST). So no jet lag from the U.S. or Canada!
Are public restaurants widely available? 
InMost businesses in Cusco will not allow you to use their restrooms. Keep this in mind as you are walking around. You must buy something at a restaurant if you want to use their bathroom.

There are a few public toilets in local markets, on the streets, however most of these require a small fee (2-3 Soles) and some give you toilet paper but others do not. It is best to bring some toilet paper and Kleenex with you at all times.

Be advised that many toilets in Peru do not have toilet paper, soap, or paper towels available (mostly in local places). Please carry hand sanitizer or wipes with you at all times as well. Your hotel and more touristy places will have these items, as will fancier restaurants.
Do you recommend travel insurance?
Absolutely! There are many companies that provide reasonably priced insurance for trip cancellations, medical expenses, medical evacuation, lost bags, etc. Please be sure to arrange for trip cancellation/medical insurance coverage as Kusa Treks is not responsible for these issues or the costs incurred.

Be aware that many insurance companies only cover trips before you have left and they only cover trips where you are returning to your country of residence within a specified time frame. Check their policy prior to purchase. Once you have this insurance please email us a copy of the policy and coverage.
Can I drink the water in Peru? 
The tap water is not safe to drink in Peru. Bottled water is readily available at tourist sites, hotels, and restaurants. Don’t forget to use bottled water when brushing your teeth as well. Ice is not always made with boiled/bottled water. Order your beverages without ice (“sin hielo”) or ask your tour leader if the ice is safe in a particular restaurant.
Altitude sickness
Altitude affects each traveler differently and until you have visited an area with high altitude, it is impossible to predict how your body will react. Travelers commonly report mild altitude sickness symptoms such as fatigue, headache, or light-headedness during their first day or two at Cusco’s elevation. Many Cusco hotels have oxygen available for travelers feeling the effects of the elevation.

Severe altitude sickness is rare, however if it does happen, the best treatment is to get down to lower elevation as soon as possible. We have never had a traveler that had to be evacuated as a result of Altitude sickness. Cusco’s altitude is (11,089ft / 3,380m), The Big Apple (New York) is at 33ft…odds are you’ll be susceptible to minor altitude sickness. Minor to moderate altitude sickness is very real and can really put a damper on your whole trip. Therefore, please be sure to take it seriously.

For ~95% of our trekkers the following preparation has helped prevent altitude sickness: Arrive to Cusco at least 2-3 full days before your trek, drink plenty of water, take it easy (it’s vacation after all), eat lots of carbohydrates and chug coca tea (it’s a local remedy and it’s amazing, 2-3 cups/day for the first couple of days is plenty). Typically, a severe cases of altitude sickness is the result of a pre-existing condition that is aggravated by the altitude.

If you are concerned, please ask your doctor whether traveling to high altitude is advised, especially if you have a pre-existing heart or lung condition such as high blood pressure, asthma, angina, etc. You might also want to ask your doctor about “Diuretics”, a medicine that many travelers swear by to help them adjust to the altitude.

Fun Fact! Machu Picchu actually has lower elevation (8,000ft / 2,430m), but if you choose to trek there, the mountain passes can get up to 15,000ft / 4,572m.

See this page for more information.

The following section is specific to the Classic Inca Trail Trek

Are porters, men or superheros? And should I hire one? 
Our Porter’s are absolutely super hero's, they are incredible specimens of human strength and agility! Kusa Treks hires local individuals who specialize in hiking the Andes. These wonderful people get paid to carry our tents, cooking materials (propane, tables, chairs, etc.), and your stuff, if you want them to.

Most of our Porter’s have been hiking the Inca Trail since they were children. They love sharing this experience with visitors and are grateful for an opportunity to earn extra money for their families. We pay all of our staff a fair, living wage and provide excellent working conditions. 

As to whether or not you should hire one, like everything else in life, this answer is “it depends”. If you are an “advanced” hiker and have experience carrying all of your camping gear on previous treks, you may not need a Porter. However, the elevation of the trek much more extreme than most people have experienced and having a Porter carry most of your belongings goes a long in way in helping you enjoy your trip.

We typically suggest hiring a Porter. This allows you to walk more freely and really enjoy the scenery and history of the beautiful areas that will surround you (rather than huffing and puffing your way up the mountain).  We do not allow any of our Porters to carry over 20lbs. (9kg). If you choose to use a Porter, you will carry a daypack full of the things you’ll need during the day (water, camera, selfie stick, snacks, small first aid kit, teddy bear, etc.) and the Porter will (literally) run ahead of us with the rest of your belongings (sleeping bag, Therm-a-rest, spare teddy bear, clothes, etc.).
What's the water situation during the trek? 
You will need to bring water containers for the trek. We recommend bringing a 2-3L bladder, similar to a CamelBak along with permanent metal or plastic bottles. As a local company that practices 100% sustainability, we strongly discourage the use of cheap plastic, one-use, water bottles. 

On the trek, every morning, when you wake up to world, bleary eyed and tousle haired, you’ll be greeted by a smiling Porter or Trek guide, which can be terrifying, but you’ll receive a hot beverage and instructions on how to fill your bladders and canteens for the day. You’ll want to fill up one to two liters of water in the morning (whatever you need to last until lunch).

Each day at breakfast, lunch and dinner you will be provided with new boiled water to refresh your bottles or hydrations packs. During the first day we’ll pass several “outposts” (for lack of a better term), where local inhabitants will have all sorts of things for you to buy (including water bottles, Gatorade, candy and even sunscreen!).

We recommend that you bring at least two liters to start on the first day, and then supplement as needed. The water we will provide you is safe for “international stomachs”. However, feel free to bring additional water purification methods (pumps, iodine tablets or filters) to set your mind at ease.
Will I get to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu?
During Peru's winter months (May – September), the sun rises around 7:20AM; so depending on the weather and speed of the group, you should be able to see the sunrise at Machu Picchu!

However, during our summer months (October-April), the sunrise is a lot earlier, around 5:30AM, so you will not be able to see it from the Sun Gate, but you will be able to see it on the trail.
How long will I have at Machu Picchu?
You will arrive to the Sun Gate at approximately 6:30AM. Following this experience you will have another one hour walk to reach the gates of Machu Picchu. 

Your tour guide will then provide a 2 hour guided tour of the city (usually from 8-10AM). After the tour ends, you will have an additional ~2 hours to explore the ruins on your own. Starting on Jan. 1, 2019 new government regulations will limit each visitor to a 4-hour stay.

NOTE: If you have permits to hike Huyana Picchu or El Montana you will have a total of 6 hours inside the park, 2 of which should be counted on for the climb. 
Do I need to tip the crew?
The tips for the guides, cooks and porters are not included in the price you paid for your tour. However, a tip provides our crew with a “thank you” for making your trip special. If your trip wasn’t special, don’t tip! If you had an incredible time and made some great memories (which we’re confident you will), then please show your gratitude by contributing extra money to our crew.

Check out this page for more information.
How much cash should I bring with me on the trek?
We recommend carrying no less than $150-200 USD in cash (most of which should be converted to Peruvian Soles). The cash will allow you to purchase last minute supplies on the first and second days if you’ve forgotten anything. This amount is also more than enough to cover any tips you may wish to give, and will leave you with “emergency cash” that you should always have when traveling abroad.
When will I get back to Cusco? 
As an example: For a 4 Day, 3 Night hike to Machu Picchu that leaves on a Monday, your group will get to the Sun Gate early Thursday morning. After touring Machu Picchu you will catch a bus down to Aguas Calientes. After a tearful goodbye, hikers will take a 2-4 hour train ride through the Sacred Valley and arrive at either the Poroy or Ollantaytambo train station.

From the train station, a warm Kusa Trek van will be waiting, once everyone is on the van it’s another 30 minutes from Poroy or 2 hours from Ollantaytambo back to Cusco. Depending on what time the train leaves Aguas Calientes, the group will return to Cusco between 7:00-10:00PM Thursday night, again, for a trek that started Monday morning.