Travel advice and stories from my adventures
starting Llama Expeditions
Contact Us

Posts By: Diane Valenti

Machu Picchu New Rules

Machu Picchu

New rules affecting visitors to Machu Picchu are already afoot. Recently, our guests reported that park rangers would not allow them to bring their camera tripods and monopods into the park. The use of hiking poles, even with rubber tips, was also prohibited.

When I was at Machu Picchu in early May, these rules were not in effect.

In addition, I’ve learned that Machu Picchu will also be debuting a new schedule designed to increase the number of visitors who can access the park. The park will be open from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and again from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. (more…)

Posted in Machu Picchu, Peru | By

Misery on the Inca Trail


Hiking the Inca Trail can be an amazing experience! Or it, can be the stuff of nightmares.

Follow the tips below to ensure you are absolutely miserable on the Inca Trail.

  • Be a porter instead of hiring a porter. Your quads will be screaming as you summit not one but two mountain passes at nearly 14,000 feet each.
  • Hire the cheapest trekking company that will have you. Horror stories abound about guests going to bed starving because their designated company didn’t pack enough food.
  • Forget to bring toilet paper. Enough said.
  • Hike in sneakers or brand new hiking boots you haven’t broken in yet. You’ll wish you could make the hike in flip-flops once the blisters begin.
  • Let a friend talk you into hiking the trail without first researching what you are getting into. You need to train for this hike. If you aren’t in good shape for it, you’ll wish you could kill your friend.
  • Think that because you hiked Kilimanjaro the Inca Trail will be a piece of cake. Kilimanjaro is gradual. The Inca Trail is steep.


Posted in Hiking, Inca Trail, Peru | By

How to Avoid Altitude Sickness on the Inca Trail

inca trail camping

The Inca Trail is a terrible place to get altitude sick. You’ll either feel miserable hiking with a pounding headache or desperate as you search for a secluded, makeshift bathroom to deal with stomach issues brought on by altitude sickness. And, to be frank, there aren’t many secluded spots on the popular Inca Trail.

Here are four tips to help you ensure that you don’t end up in this uncomfortable situation.

  • Spend two to three days in Cusco. You can explore the nearby Inca ruins, visit a weaving community in the neighboring Sacred Valley, wander through the local market, and look for signs of Inca rebellion at the colonial cathedral while you give your body a chance to adjust.
  • Slow down. On the Inca Trail, slow and steady wins the race. It’s normal to feel panicky about your ability to keep up. Instead of giving into the temptation to rush, though, slow to a pace that allows you to keep your breathing under control. Huffing and puffing is a sure sign that you are hiking too fast.


Posted in Hiking, Inca Trail, Peru | By

How to Stop Looking Like a Tourist (and Why You Should Want to)

hiking boots

A couple of weeks ago, I went on an urban hike in my home city of San Francisco with my friend Carlos. Uncharacteristically, Carlos was late. So, I perched myself on the steps of the Ferry Building to do some people watching while I waited.

I immediately spied two tourists waiting for their guide to arrive. They could have been from anywhere. But, I was certain they weren’t from here.

How did I know they were tourists? They wore the typical tourist uniform of hiking pants paired with hiking boots. All over the world, in the most modern of cities, this is what tourists wear and they stick out like sore thumbs.

The problem with sticking out as a tourist is that it makes you an easily visible target for pickpockets, thieves, and less-than-honest taxi drivers. (more…)

Posted in Travel Advice | By

3 Things to Consider When Planning a Trip to Peru (That You Probably Can’t Find on the Internet)

Clouds at Machu Picchu

Planning a trip to Peru? Here are three things you should definitely consider that you probably can’t find on the internet.

1. Altitude. Cusco, the gateway to Machu Picchu, and Puno, home to the Uros floating islands are both very high. Un-medicated, most people suffer symptoms of altitude sickness that range from a splitting headache to an upset stomach.

Whenever possible, you want to plan your trip to move from lower to higher altitudes so that you can acclimatize as you go. For example, you might start at sea level in Lima, then travel to Cusco before continuing to Puno. (more…)

Posted in Peru, Travel Advice | By

7 Reasons the Galápagos Islands Should Be on Your Bucket List

7 Reasons Galapagos Islands

The first time I went to the Galápagos Islands, I was underwhelmed. It seemed a lot like Hawaii, only further away and a lot more expensive. Maybe it was because I took a cruise and we spent most of our time on the boat. Sure we had twice daily excursions. But, the process of getting ready for and traveling to and from our excursion location seemed to take almost as long as the actual excursions themselves.

Plus, it wasn’t so much fun to follow our guide like a group of eager school children, straining to hear his explanations and worrying about getting in trouble for wandering off.

The second time I went to the Galápagos Islands, I did an island hopping adventure that gave me a chance to really see why the islands are so special. (more…)

Posted in Ecuador, Galapagos Islands | By

5 Things You Should Know Before You Go to the Galápagos Islands

Galapagos Islands

Thinking about visiting the Galápagos Islands. Here are 5 things you should know before you go!

The water temperature can be wetsuit-worthy. I was expecting the water to be balmy. The Galápagos Islands are near the equator right? Well, in South America, the Humboldt Current comes up the coast from Antarctica. That’s right, Antarctica! This means that the further north you go in the southern hemisphere, the warmer the water gets. But, it is still pretty chilly around the Galápagos Islands. (more…)

Posted in Ecuador, Galapagos Islands | By

5 Places to See Llamas in Peru

Awana Kancha Llamas

Llamas, those weird looking Andean camelids with the long neck and buckteeth, are almost synonymous with Peru. If you haven’t spent time in the company of a llama during your trip to Peru, you’ve missed out on a quintessential experience.

Here are 5 places you can go to make sure you get some quality llama time in. (more…)

Posted in Llama, Peru | By

Best and Worst Times to Hike the Inca Trail

inca trail

The Inca Trail has become so popular that you need to reserve your spot at least six months ahead. In fact, I just had someone contact me to hike the Inca Trail in three months. Unfortunately, the dates he wanted had been sold out for months.

To help you with the advance planning necessary, here are the two best times to hike the Inca Trail.

Summer. June, July, and August are the most popular months to hike the Inca Trail. While it gets quite cold at night, the days tend to be warm and sunny, making it a perfect time to hike.

Spring and fall. April and May as well as September and October are good times to hike, too. There is a slightly increased chance of rain, but it is not quite as cold at night.

Winter. December through February is the worst time to hike the Inca Trail. This is the rainy season in Peru during which torrential rainstorms cause dangerous mudslides. In fact, the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance the entire month of February.

I would strongly recommend against hiking the Inca Trail during the rainy season unless you are a glutton for punishment or a frog.


Get Your Inca Trail Survival Guide!

Posted in Hiking, Inca Trail, Peru, Travel Advice | By

Our Peru Adventure: Touring the Ancient Sights in Cusco

Sacsayhuaman Cusco Peru

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Armando picked us up at 9:00 from our hotel. Our first stop was at Sacsayhuaman – an archeological site that means “head of the Puma” – a site where the Incas undoubtedly worshipped the sun. This strategic location, perched high atop the hills overlooking Cusco, was significant from a military and religious standpoint. The high ground certainly had to benefit the Incas during conflicts, even prior to arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors.

Contained within the site was also a large plateau where large ceremonies could take place. In fact, during Incan times, young men of 18 to 20 years old would participate in Olympic style games. (more…)

Posted in Cusco, Guest Post, Peru | By

©2014 Llama Expeditions Inc. - All Rights Reserved. Content and photography on this website is copyrighted by Llama Expeditions and may not be reproduced without permission. WA UBI #602-993-1. CST #2099713. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.
Click here for Privacy Policy.