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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

Quintessential Peru: 10 Iconic Experiences

Best Time to Visit Machu Picchu

Whenever I plan a trip to a new destination, I like to include the can’t-be-missed experiences that characterize that area. If you are planning a trip to Peru, these are the top 10 experiences you should make sure to include.

Ancient ruins. Machu Picchu, Peru’s most famous ancient ruins, draws droves of tourists from the world over. The country is rife with ancient ruins, though, some dating back to centuries before Christ.

Worth seeing and on the beaten path are the four archeological sites on the outskirts of Cusco, Pachacamac a little over an hour’s drive from Lima, and the ruins at Ollantaytambo and Pisac.

If you are willing to hike, you can visit the remote ruins of Huchuy Cusco. This Inca town, whose name means “Little Cusco,” is believed to have been constructed by an early Inca emperor to mark the conquest of a nearby rival tribe. Today, it’s best known for its impressive number of stone buildings and commanding views of the Sacred Valley. (more…)

Posted in Peru, Travel Advice | By

Are You Missing Out?

Amantani home stay

“Now that I’ve gotten to a certain age, I really like my creature comforts,” a friend recently admitted in response to hearing about some of my adventures creating itineraries for Llama Expeditions.

I completely understood. Long before I reached that certain age, I too had grown to like my creature comforts. My vacations generally consisted of staying in tastefully decorated B&Bs and doing nothing that would make me break sweat except maybe lying on the beach.

For some reason, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t handle anything more adventurous. And, I just couldn’t get my head wrapped around the idea of being voluntarily uncomfortable.

Then, a divorce turned my world upside down. My entire life felt uncomfortable. In fact, I had the disorientating sensation of having woken up in someone else’s life. The process of adjusting to this new normal had me re-thinking all of my assumptions about who I was and how I fit in. (more…)

Posted in Travel Advice | 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

Our Peru Adventure: Our Last Day in Lima

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Inca mummy

Following our wonderful buffet breakfast on the top floor of the Miraflores hotel, we checked our bags with the concierge and met up with Gustavo and our driver at 9:00 to head to the Museo Raphael Larco Herrera. Larco Herrera’s son was a renowned archeologist, who wrote several books on Inca history and culture.

The museum houses a spectacular private collection of rare objects with wonderful pottery pieces, jewelry, mummies, tapestries, and more. Gustavo made sure to point out some of the most interesting pieces in the museum and explained their historical significance. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Lima, Peru, Travel Stories | By

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