Hiking the Inca Trail
I live and breathe travel in Peru, and I am constantly on the web looking at different travel forums and blogs etc. It helps me to get a good understanding of what travellers to Peru are talking about, and what topics would be good to write about. There is one topic that I see time and time again, and it is people asking about the Inca Trail operators. Who are they? Who are the best? In this article we take a look at the top 5 Inca Trail operators.
About 7 years ago, I remember when I came to Peru for the first time. The Inca Trail was at the top of my list of things to do, and not being one for a great deal of planning, I simply looked up a few names in the Lonely Planet Guide Book and jumped on the Internet. I was lucky and had a great experience, but others I know didn’t Now, knowing a little more about Inca Trail operators and the Peru travel industry, I can confidently say, that not much has really changed in 7 years. The good Inca Trail operators are still good, and the average ones are still average.
Remember that hiking the Inca Trail is actually quite expensive, and any Inca Trail operator that offers the trek at a really low price (less than US$ 500 per person) is probably not very good, or they are not paying local taxes, or they are cutting-back on something somewhere. Always contact a few Inca Trail operators first, get a few quotes and ask exactly what is included before sending any money.
If you are thinking about hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, here are our recommendations for the top 5 Inca Trail operators.
I have personally trekked with SAS a few times now, and I can honestly say that they are one of the better Inca Trail operators out there. Operating since 1990, SAS are named in many leading guide books and have won several awards from DIRCETUR the Peruvian ministry of tourism. Their pre-trek meetings are informative and helpful, their guides are professional and knowledgeable, their porters are exceptional, the food they serve is varied and of a high standard and their equipment is up-to-date. SAS Travel are one of a very few Inca Trail operators that offer daily group departures throughout the year.
2013 price: US$ 620 per person.
Payment methods: Western Union, Visa, MasterCard (5 % charge for credit cards)
Address: Calle Garcilaso 270 (near Plaza San Francisco), Cusco
Telephone: + 51 84 249194 / + 51 84 256324
Established in 2004, LlamaPath have been providing high quality trekking in Peru for just over 8 years. They offer a very high quality service that is comparable to any of their competitors, and in quite a short period of time have grown to be one of the leading Inca Trail operators in Peru. Llama Path offer daily departures in groups (max size 16 people) and also a private service. Their overall price is comparable than other Inca Trail operators, but additional porters, sleeping bags and air-matrices are a little on the pricy side.
2013 price: US$ 599 per person.
Payment methods: Visa (9% charge), Paypal, Western Union
Address: Calle San Juan de Dios 250, Cusco
Telephone: + 51 84 240 822
Peru Treks and Adventure
Having notched up over 27,000 clients that have hiked the Inca Trail, Peru Treks has lots of experience in getting it right. Founded in 2002, and highly recommended by all of the leading travel guides, Peru Treks is one of the best Inca Trail operators about. Openly promoting responsible travel, Peru Treks are heavily involved in community and welfare projects in remote mountain communities close to Cusco.
**2013 prices are a little misleading as they are based on Inca Trail permit prices for 2012. So expect the price to go up!
2013 price: US$ 525 per person**
Payment methods: Visa (no additional credit card fees) Paypal
Address: Avenida Pardo 540, Cusco
Telephone: + 51 84 222 722
Focusing on high quality trekking experiences, Enigma is highly recommended by several leading travel guides, and operates treks on-behalf of the luxury brands Orient Express and Abercrombie & Kent. Prices are a little higher than other Inca Trail operators, but the difference in service and quality of equipment is clear. Discounts are available for early bookings, children under the age of 7 and SAE members. Enigma offer frequent fixed departure dates but not everyday. Contact them for exact information. The price also includes a porter to carry 8KG’s of your personal equipment (something which other companies charge extra).
2013 price: US$ 622 per person
Payment methods: American Express (+ 4%) direct wire transfer, Western Union,
Address: Jirón Clorinda Matto de Turner #100, Urbanización Magisterio, Cusco
Telephone: + 51 84 222 155
Founded in 1990, United Mice is one of the most establishes Inca Trail operators in Peru. Working as a service provider for many leading foreign travel companies like Exodus and Dragoman, United Mice have gained a reputation as a quality supplier. Treks include high quality camping equipment, groups limited to no more than 16 people and most importantly – a toilet tent!
2013 price: US$ 580 per person
Payment methods: Western Union, MoneyGram
Address: Av. Pachacuteq 424 A-5, Cusco
Telephone: + 51 84 222 155
If you have already been to Peru, then we would love to hear from you about your experiences and who you think are the best Inca Trail operators. This article was brought to you by the travel experts at TheOnlyPeruGuide, a free online guide to Peru full of impartial reviews and useful Peru travel information.#
For all other articles like this see our Peru Travel Blog.
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