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Travel to Peru, Frequently Asked Questions

YOUR TOP 10 PERU TREKKING FAQS

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How has Peru travel changed over the last twenty years?

The number of trekkers has increased exponentially since then. In the early days of Peru trekking, the Inca Trail was the most popular. However, these days there is usually a constant line of trekkers moving along the main (most famous) Inca Trail. As a result, many travellers have begun looking for alternative paths to experience Peru away from the now mainstream Inca Trail and mainstream trekking tourism. As well, the Peruvian government has begun limiting the number of trekkers allowed on the main Inca Trail each day to 500 and those spaces sell out quickly, months in advance.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

What is the best time of year to trek in Peru?

The season for Peru travel is April through November.  “Peak season” in Peru is July and August (because that’s when many families spend school vacations travelling in Peru). It’s also Peru’s winter so it’s the driest time of year to experience Peru. April and May is a great time to experience Peru because that is when Peru is very green after the rainy season. November is when the rain starts, continuing through most of the Peruvian summer, trickling off in March. So it’s not advisable to travel to Peru between November and March, as you’ll experience too much rain for the trip to be enjoyable. But April and May are great times to experience a really beautiful, fresh, green Peru… September and October are also good months to experience Peru outside of the busy season.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

Is Peru cheap? What are standard expenses in Peru?
Many places in Peru have prices comparable to North American prices. In Cuzco, for example, the prices are very equivalent to North American prices. A dinner could easily be $20 – 25USD, without alcohol. This is not necessarily a “high end” restaurant. Rather, it is a good quality restaurant, with good service and good meal standards – similar in quality and service to a good, family owned restaurant in North America. Other places in Peru, the meals may be slightly less expensive, closer to $10-15USD. Of course, anywhere in Peru, as with anywhere, you can always find “cheap” places, but the experience will also be relatively cheap as well. A $5 meal will not have the quality standard you want. So, in Peru, for comparable cleanliness and quality, expect to pay North American prices.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

Peru Trekking is at high altitude. What do I need to do to prepare?

Cuzco is located at 11,200 feet and Lima is at sea level. And most people are living at sea level. So, your body needs time to acclimate. Take your time settling in at the new altitude. Don’t rush things. Drink lots of water. Don’t physically exert yourselves for the first couple days. Avoid alcohol. Don’t eat heavy meals. It’s really important to spend a couple days at altitude before even thinking about starting a trip. So, many travellers arrive into Cuzco at least two or three days before starting any treks. It’s definitely NOT recommended to fly up to that altitude and then start a trip right away.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

Is there more than one “Inca Trail”? What are the differences?

There are many Inca Trails in Peru. Most people know about “The Inca Trail,” the one that ends at the Sun Gate. However, there are many Inca Trails…that is, routes that the ancient Incas used. The Salkantay Trail and Lares Trail are other trails that end in Machu Picchu, just at a different spots than the famous Inca Trail. The Inca Trail has an average of 500 trekkers on the trail per day. The Salkantay Trail has about 100-150 trekkers per day. The Lares Trail has about 150-180 trekkers per day along the most popular sections. However, different companies trek along different portions of the Lares Trail. BikeHike Adventures treks along the more remote section of the Lares Trail, starting where many other tours end. The Lares Trail is really special as trekkers are surrounded by pristine wilderness and pass small villages where there are great opportunities for cultural interaction.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

What kinds of cultural interactions can one expect trekking in Peru?

There is a lot a cultural interaction on the Lares Trail. There isn’t a lot of cultural interaction on the Inca Trail. On the famous Inca Trail, the cultural interaction is limited to interacting with the porters. So, the interaction is more fabricated as they are there on the trail because you are there and you are not interacting with them in their villages. On the Lares Trail, trekkers actually pass through villages and have the chance to interact with locals in their homes.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

What are the trekking conditions in Peru?

You are right on the equator in Peru so it will be warm during the day. But, as soon as the sun goes down, it is cold. And the sun goes down quickly. Expect to be wearing a good jacket, hat, gloves. The terrain itself is nearly the same on all three trails. The trekking conditions on the Lares Trails is sometimes on dirt paths, sometimes through forests, through villages, some sections over rocks by streams, and there are many sections of up and down. The famous Inca Trail has steps because it is so much more touristy.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

How much should we tip guides in Peru? When during the trek should we tip guides?

The standard on trekking trips is that you will be with a guide, or numerous guides, as well as porters and cooks. The porters are carrying your gear. The porters put up your tent and take them down for you. They bring your hot tea in the morning. The cooks are cooking for you all along the way, 4 hot meals a day, to keep you warm. They all do a great deal of work for you. So, it is suggested that you tip them all at the end of your trek. For a 4 day Peru trek, $200USD per traveller is a good start, and that will be distributed to your crew of porters and cooks. It’s best to have a representative of your group collect all of the tips from the travellers and present them at once. Divide the amount up to the portion that goes to the cooks, to the porters etc. Then, have your group representative present each amount to the head porter, and head cook etc.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

Is it possible to use foreign cell phones while traveling in Peru?

Yes, wifi and cell reception is available in many areas of Peru, mainly in the cities. However, while trekking in Peru, there are only a few areas cell reception is available and, of course, there isn’t any wifi along the Inca trails in Peru.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

Is it easy to travel around in Peru?

Many of the top tourist destinations in Peru are vast distances from each other. So, they’re a plane, train or long bus ride away from each other. While it is somewhat easy to book these, the schedules are not as friendly and many things can go wrong with the connections when you are not familiar with the local region. There could also be massive connection layovers trying to connect the dots of travelling around in Peru. So, it’s always helpful to have someone coordinate all the connections for you in such a way that they make the most of your adventure vacation in Peru.

Listen to a more detailed answer HERE.

Cycling Cities in Europe: FIVE lesser-known cycle-friendly European cities

Everyone seems to know how bike-friendly cities such as Copenhagen and Amsterdam are, but what about some of Europe’s other cities? Surely, city cycling is not exclusive to the Danes and the Dutch!

Lyon, France

Paris has long been known as a city filled with bicycles. However, France’s second largest city has an equally impressive cycling scene. Lyon’s extensive bike share program (called Velo’v) facilitates an impressive 16,000 city trips per day and is considered the second largest bike share network in the world (behind the one in Paris).  Lyon’s bike share network began in 2005 and includes 3000 bikes across the city’s vast network.

Dublin, Ireland

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photo: Flickr / William Murphy

In 2009, Dublin became the first English speaking European city to join the bike-share revolution when it launched ‘dublinbike.’ At present, roughly 1500 bikes are located at stations around Dublin.  Bicycles can be returned 24 hours a day, making them the perfect way to get around the city and are a popular choice for getting home from the city’s many pubs. In fact, the bike network has become such a success that as of 2014 Coco-Cola became a primary corporate sponsor of the bikes, renaming the bikes Coco-Cola Zero dublinbikes.

Bucharest, Romania

In Bucharest, cycling is not only a great way to get around but it has become trendy and fashionable. “Skirtbike” is an annual parade when thousands of women cycle through the city to promote “stylish cycling.” Also, popular Bucharest bars such as the popular “Bicicleta” have used bikes as their design muse. And Bucharest’s bike sharing network (called I’Velo) was launched in 2010 and now has over 1000 bicycles scattered throughout the city.

Ljubljana, Slovenia

A youthful city, thousands of Ljubljana students can be seen cycling to university on any given day. Cycling has become so much a part of everyday Ljubljana life that the city also boasts many bicycle traffic lights and special cycle paths. In 2011, Ljubljana’s share bike network, called Bicikelj, was launched and currently provides over 300 bicycles throughout the city. As one of Eastern Europe’s most progressive cities, Ljubljana also hosted the “Cycling in Central and Eastern Europe” conference in 2013.

Zagreb, Croatia

Cycling in Croatia’s capital city is steadily increasing in popularity among locals and tourists alike with bike racks and bike rentals readily available throughout the city. In 2013, Zagreb joined the cycling revolution by offering ‘nextbike’ share bikes throughout the city. ‘nextbike’ is actually an international brand (started in Leipzig, Germany) that now offers share bikes in more than 70 cities and across 3 continents.

The Best Books and Podcasts That Will Inspire You To Visit Ireland

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Ireland has nurtured an astounding number of writing greats for a country so small. What better way to get inspired to visit this spirited country than read a few lines from an Irish scribe.

TOP IRISH FICTION AND POETRY
Dubliners by James Joyce
The Major Works by WB Yeats
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
Gulliver’s Travels  by Jonathan Swift

FUN IRISH NON-FICTION
How the Irish Invented Slang  by Dan Cassidy

PODCASTS FROM/ABOUT IRELAND
The Irish Times  www.irishtimes.com/podcasts
Voices from Ireland www.podcasts.ie/featured-writers
An Irishman Abroad (Culture/Commentary) www.soundcloud.com/an-irishman-abroad

Travel to Cuba Frequently Asked Questions (Your Questions Answered)

So, you want to travel to Cuba…

But lately, as interest in Cuba has increased, so too have the number of questions, especially since Obama’s announcements about the thawing of US-Cuba relations.

So, here are some quick answers to some of the top 10 questions being asked about Cuba. If you’d like a longer answer, you can click on the link and hear the longer audio version of our answers (that we recently recorded for you at our office in Vancouver, Canada). We thought some things are simply better answered with full audio.

TOP 10 CUBA QUESTIONS

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1) Can Americans use credit cards and ATMs in Cuba?

That one’s easy. NO.
American banks have not authorized their cards to be used in Cuba. So, American travellers are not be able to use their credit cards to pay for anything nor are they able to access ATMs with their debit cards.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here.

2) What currency is used in Cuba?

The standard trading currency for foreigners is CUC (Cuba Convertible Currency). Foreign currencies can be converted to CUC within Cuba. US dollars can also be converted to CUC in Cuba but with a 10% surcharge.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

3) Can travellers access internet in Cuba? Can people use international cell phones in Cuba? What are the connectivity options?

Generally speaking, no. It is very difficult to find reliable internet connections in Cuba. Most internet connections, when you do find them, are painfully slow. Hotels outside of the resorts rarely have internet connections. Also, international phones other than US phones may work, but coverage is not reliable. Texting usually works on most phones in Cuba better than phone calls. Phone connections on international phones are unreliable. American cell phones do not work at all in Cuba. Some people buy Cuba sim cards for unlocked phones to use while in Cuba.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

4) How can one book flights to Cuba?

There are various flight path options to Cuba. However, usually an agency is required for flight booking as the major booking engines such as Kayak and Expedia are US owned and will not allow you to search/book Cuba flights. Most travellers fly to Cuba from Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

5) Is a travel visa required for travel to Cuba?

Yes, a travel visa (also known as a “tourist card”) is required for travel to Cuba and can be easily obtained, usually at the airport or through the airline at time of travel.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

6) Does everyone require medical insurance for travel to Cuba?

Yes. Every traveller to Cuba requires medical insurance. This is government regulated and you may be required to show proof upon entrance to Cuba. Americans will not be covered by their regular travel medical insurance plans in Cuba and will require purchasing separate Cuba travel medical insurance.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here. 

7)  What hotel standards can one expect in Cuba?

The hotel standards in Cuba will vary from what you may have experienced in other countries. While standards are reasonable, many factors have affected Cuba’s ability to maintain the same international standards one might experience elsewhere in the Caribbean. To best understand this answer, listen to our full answer here.

Also, you can listen to one traveller’s comparison of the cultural experience and standards staying a week at a beach resort in Cuba with the overall experience while on a bike tour through Central Cuba here.

8)What can one expect in terms of restaurants style, standards and cuisine?

Outside of Cuba’s all-inclusive resorts and outside of Havana, the availability of international ingredients is limited. Gluten-free and vegetarian options are rarely available in Cuba outside of Havana or the resorts.

In the cities around Cuba, paladors are excellent, authentic dining options and some of the paladors in Havana offer excellent cuisine and an experiences that meet top international standards. Outside of Havana, however, restaurants and menus are more basic.

Listen to our longer answer for that question here

9) Is Cuba cheap? What costs can one expect in Cuba?

Cuba is NOT a cheap country. To better understand why Cuba is not a cheap country despite being a relatively poor country, listen to our longer answer here. 

10) Is tipping required in Cuba and, if so, how much?

Tipping is expected in Cuba. For a detailed breakdown of tipping costs in Cuba, listen to our full answer to that question here. 

And here is a link to listen to the full audio recording in Soundcloud, answering all of these questions and more… 

How to decide if group adventure travel is for you

So you’re planning an adventure trip this year, and you’re not sure whether to join a group adventure tour or go it alone…

The truth is that group travel has both its advantages and its limitations. But, while it’s not for everyone, it can be an attractive solution to a number of problems and can really help you experience a place more fully.

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So, here are some simple questions to ask yourself to help you decide if group travel is the best option for you:


Do you enjoy sharing travel experiences with others?

Do you enjoy making new friends while traveling?

Do you enjoy traveling to new places but have trouble finding others as eager and as adventurous to join you? 

Do you enjoy planning ahead and having details arranged ahead of time in your normal day-to-day life?

Do you enjoy your days when they are more structured rather than free flowing?

Do you enjoy completely stress-free vacations rather than ones that require on-the-go problem solving?

Do you find getting to know the rules and regulations in a new country frustrating? 

Do you get frustrated figuring out a country’s required visa paperwork and entry requirements?



If you answered yes to at least 3 or 4 of the above questions
, chances are group travel is worth considering for your next vacation. Group tours help you maximize your vacation enjoyment by helping you every step of the way, from the trip planning phase all the way through to your arrival back home. That can offer great peace of mind when you are considering travel to destinations where visa, insurance and other matters can be confusing. And the best part is that while on the trip, group travel allows you to experience all that a new destination has to offer while sharing the experience with new friends and knowledgeable, experienced guides.

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