Alpaca Expeditions Full Review – Inca Trail Hike

Alapaca Expeditions Review

Following all the advice we had been given regarding the Inca Trail, we decided to book way in advance to avoid disappointment. After much debate, the company we have finally settled on for the Inca Trail is called Alpaca Expeditions. They received some very impressive reviews on Trip Advisor and other Inca Trail specific sites, I believe the company is ran by an ex-porter called Raul who obviously understands the area and what makes an excellent trip.

The website for Alpaca Expeditions is easy to use and the customer service we have received so far has been excellent, we have paid our deposit and are due to start the Classic 4D/3N Inca Trail on the 19th November – after which we can provide a much better review of our experience. That said however, so far so good….

Update: 05/08/14

Now sat back in the UK (with time on my hands) I can write up a full review of Alpaca Expeditions and our experience on the Inca Trail, please see below.

Right from the offset we were impressed by the team at Alpaca Expeditions, we arrived in Cusco a couple of days early to settle the outstanding balance and were in touch with the team via email the whole time. Raul (Owner) was very quick and professional and organised a time for us to meet to pay the balance. We found the office with no problems and were also given a very informative brief about the upcoming trek and were given our duffle bags as well as more information about the trek, tips and advice.

With our duffle bags packed we were picked up bright and early from our hostel in a minivan where we met with our guide and were given blankets to keep warm and advised to have a snooze on route to the start point of the trek over 3 hours away. At the jump off point of the trek we met with our porters for the first time and were issued with some hiking poles that we had chosen to hire. Immediately I was impressed by the high level of organisation, the porters had already laid out a table and chairs and were preparing to serve fresh fruit, yoghurt, cereal and fresh breads for breakfast – an excellent start to the day. We were then given some snacks to keep us going in between breakfast and lunch as well as provided with fresh cleaning water and warm towels to wash our hands and faces in.

Throughout the trip this high level of service and great tasting, fresh and healthy food continued. Each time we arrived at a lunch spot the porters had already set up the tent and tables and were ready to serve delicious hot food to keep us full of energy. The porters were incredible – each time, they packed away after us, ran past us on the trail and had begun setting up the next rest stop. Coming from an ex-porter background, Raul made sure that all the porters were well looked after, I believe they were some of the best paid out of all the companies. They definitely had the best and latest equipment which kept them warm, dry and happy. They were nicknamed the ‘Green Machine’ and truly lived up to this. The chef deserves a special mention too – I looked forward to every meal, he even managed to somehow cook us a celebratory quinoa cake on the last evening (also catering to Grace’s dietary needs – wheat intolerance) – Amazing!

Another major reason we were so happy we had booked through Alpaca Expeditions was the small group sizes, our group only consisted of 4 people. This meant we were quicker to rise in the morning resulting in our group being first on the trail every day. It felt like we had the place to ourselves, we rarely saw anyone else apart from the mighty Green Machine which made the experience rather special.

Our guide Sabi was fantastic – he had an amazing knowledge of the trail (ex-porter) and the Incas in general, funny and energetic he helped get us through the long days and over the infamous ‘Dead Woman’s Pass’.

All in all we had an incredible time hiking the Inca Trail, it is one of our top 3 highlights of our entire trip and only made that enjoyable by the incredible service that Alpaca Expeditions had to offer. I can highly recommend them to anyone, yes they might be a bit more expensive – but honestly, this isn’t the time to be making compromises. My only recommendation would be to book early, these guys get very busy!!!

For a more personal review of our time as well as some photos please check out our Inca Trail Blog, for more information about Alpaca as well as the different hikes they offer please visit Alpaca Expeditons. Please feel free to comment if you would like to know anymore information about Alpaca or our time on the trail.

Thanks to all the team at Alpaca,

Mike and Grace

Alpaca Expeditions - Inca Trail

Advertisements

18 responses to “Alpaca Expeditions Full Review – Inca Trail Hike

  1. Hi Grace and Mike,

    Wow! I have read your entire blog and am very impressed! My fiancé and I are leaving in February 2015 for our year long trip around South America and your blog is making us super excited! We plan on doing most of the things you guys did and keeping a blog so we were so pleased to stumble upon your blog. We are also hiring the camper van in Chile and have read so little about the experience so was great to read your experience. Sounds amaze!

    I just wanted to find out from you what you guys paid more or less for the Inca Trail trek and the Galapagos boat tour? We are thinking about doing both and just wanted to see if we can fit it into our budget.

    Will keep reading on your US expeditions, looks and sounds amazing! Good luck and happy traveling 🙂

    Rolien (South Africa)

    • Hey hey, so glad you like the blog…oh you will have such a great time – we have loved every minute of it…

      The camper in Chile/Argentina was one of the best things we have done and highly recommend it, Wicked were a great company to use and O will be writing a review about it shortly so keep your eyes peeled…

      Regarding costs, we tended to opt for the more expensive tours to try and guarantee as best we can the quality. For both the Inca Trail and Galapagos this worked out perfectly. They are probably our number 1 and 2 trip highlights am the companies we used were excellent.

      Inca Trail: went through Alpaca Expeditions and cost $595 USD per person. This included transfers, all food, accommodation and half a porter each (recommend it). Slightly more than the other operators but have smaller more personal groups, which also means you move faster and have the trail to yourselves.

      Galapagos Trip: booked a last minute cruise ( 4 days before) through EOS Ecuador (tour agency in Quito ran by a guy called David – very helpful) this saved us about 40%. So the reduced cost for an all inclusive 8 day First Class Cruise aboard the Beluga Boat cost $2290. Again this was more expensive than the rest but actually a bargain for a First Class cruise. Worth every penny…

      I hope this information helps and please feel free to ask any more questions, let me know if you want any contact details for any of the companies etc..

      Take care and enjoy your travels come 2015!!

  2. Hey!

    Thanks so much for the info, very helpful! Not sure we will be able to do Galapogas 😦 The South African rand doesn’t get us as far as the pound now a days! But we will keep our eyes peeled for the review on the camper. Very excited for us to go now!

    Enjoy USA guys and keep warm!

    Rolien

  3. My wife and I leave for Peru Tuesday, 8/12 and are using Alpaca – they link to this post via FB.

    We’re prepared, have the gear, etc. However, I was wondering if there were a few tips you could send our way. More specifically, what did you regret doing, not doing… If you did the trek again, what would you bring? What would you have left at the hostel?

    And, anything else you think a couple would like to know.

    Awesome recap.

    Jim

    • Hey Jim,

      Good to hear your comments, so happy to hear you booked with Alpaca, you won’t regret it!!

      We booked the classic Inca Trail and felt that this was the perfect trek for us. It was challenging but highly rewarding. 2 members of our group had pre-booked the Wayna Pichu extra excursion and said they really enjoyed it. However, to be honest we were glad we didn’t as we were so tired once we had reached MP. That being said, I’m sure it would be great.

      Tips: definitely take headtorches, toilet roll, flip flops (or sandals) for the evenings, cheap poncho (to cover bag and legs if it rains).

      Take enough cash for tips and snacks – the first evening there will be a chance to buy a cold beer and a chocolate beer and trust me you will want it..

      I would try to pack as light as possible in order to not overload the porters, also you want your day pack to be super light. Small amount of water, camera, sunscreen, waterproof, fleece etc. Try to leave the bulky items at home – we only took 2 outfits really, one for the day and dry clothes for the night.

      Hope this helps, if you need anymore info just drop me another comment…

      Have an amazing time guys!!

      Mike and Grace

      • This seems to be exactly what we’re planning on doing, Mike.
        What did you give to the porters to carry? Were there places to hang dry the day’s wet clothes? I know you should have dry clothes for sleeping and day clothes to hike, so that’s a relief to hear.

        Also, on the day of briefing, do you learn how to get down off the mountain? I think there’s a bus or train to take back to civilization, was that part of the trek fee or in addition to?

        One last question – I believe that Alpaca picks you up at the Cusco airport, but does not take you on your departure – is this true?

        Thanks so much for the info.

        Kind worried about the restroom situation on the trek – mid day stops if needed?

        -Jim

  4. Hi Jim,

    Just from memory I believe the porters take your tent, roll mat and sleeping bag, as well as your set of ‘evening clothes’ (flip flops as well), any toiletries and non-essentials for trekking. You will only have access to this bag at the end of each day, so make sure anything you need for the trek (sunscreen, plasters, waterproof etc.) are in your day bag which you will carry.

    We tended to hang the day clothes around the tent and lay them out inside the tent to dry – there are plenty of tent poles to hang stuff on though as well.

    Yes, at the briefing the team at Alpaca Expeditions will explain the return leg of your journey to you. You will take a bus from MP down the hill towards the town of Aguas Calientes – from here you will board a train back towards Cusco. Both the bus and train ticket will be included in the price and tickets etc. will be given once you arrive at MP on the final day.

    Regarding pick ups and drop off at the airport I am not sure – we were staying in Cusco before and after and travelling by bus around the southern Peru area. Sorry I can’t help with that one.

    There are a few toilets along the trail as well as public toilets at each nights camping spot. These can become quite dirty, however Alpaca actually offer an individual ‘toilet’ which is great for number ones, something no other company provided. To be honest, unless you are poorly you should be fine!

    Regarding tips…I wish I could help you out more with this, but sadly the amount we gave or even the recommended amount evades my memory, sorry. Of course it is all dependent on your experience and level of enjoyment so it can vary greatly, however if you ask a member of staff at the briefing they would be happy to suggest an ‘amount’. These may even be included on the information they give you at the meeting.

    Hope this info helps, anymore questions just fire them across!!

    Feel free to browse the rest of our blog for advice on Cusco and Peru!!

    Mike

  5. Hi Michael, this is great info. My husband and I have just decided to go to Peru and all of a sudden we are looking at doing the hike. I am 36 and in good shape but am very nervous about whether I can manage. Wanted your thoughts on difficulty. Also, alpaca is one of the only ones left that have space and honestly wasnt sure if they were good. They aren’t one of the “Normal” ones that pop up like SAS, etc. this review does make me feel better about that. And I know their tripadvisor reviews are great! Wondering why they don’t pop up as one of the top ones. Finally, we are going at the end of November also. Did you get a lot of rain?

    • Hi Raju,

      Glad you liked the blog. If you class yourself in good shape then you will be fine, it isn’t as hard as some people make out and there will always be someone on the trail more unfit than yourself. There is never any rush and you can take it as slow as you want as well. The guides really help ‘push’ you through and I have no doubt you will be fine. Just make sure you have a day or two in Cusco before to help acclimatise.

      Don’t worry that they are the only ones left to have space, they may have had a cancellation – this is a good thing honestly. Alpaca were amazing and I would book again with them no problem. The reason they may not appear in the top of your search results etc. is that they are the new kids on the block – they haven’t been running as long so are still fighting there way up the search results.

      I completed the trek in Mid November – there was a small amount of rain but it was largely dry during the day and rainy overnight. That being said, the weather is so temperamental so definitely prepare for rain. Make sure you take a cheap plastic poncho to cover both yourself and your day bag (this can be bought in Cusco). Even during the hours it rained, spirits remained high and we all had a fantastic time.

      Have you made your booking yet?

      Kind regards,

      Mike

      • Thanks so much for the info Mike. No, haven’t booked yet but know we have to book today if we want to do it. Just got the info yesterday. Trying to do all the research and wrap my brain around it! So, I did say I think I’m in good shape (go to gym 3 times a week)–but def not a hiker..the most (and maybe only) I have done is Camelback in Scottsdale 🙂 My husband (who is also not a hiker) is ready to book, so he’s just waiting on me. I really want to, but like I said, def a little scared of all of it (mostly the rain and altitude issues)! All of these comments help though so really appreciate it!

      • Hi Raju, no worries – glad the info was of help to you. You will be fine honestly. To put things in perspective, the oldest person to ever hike the trail was 80 odd!!

        As for the rain, just make sure you are prepared but honestly – it didn’t dampen our spirits one bit. Altitude can be a serious concern, but make sure you have a day or two in cusco before, keep hydrated and don’t push yourself too hard and you will be fine.

        Hope you have gone through and booked with Alpaca Expeditions? You won’t regret it…

        One last thing, can you do me a favour and drop my name by the team at Alpaca and say hi for me.

        Thanks,

        Have an amazing time guys,

        Mike

      • We have booked! Thx for the reassurances! It definitely helps. I will pass your name along for sure! I hope you don’t mind as I’m sure as we start preparing I may have some more questions!

  6. Pingback: Alpaca Expeditions Discount Code | The Amazing Americas·

  7. Pingback: Inca Trail Expedition 4D/3N, trek machu picchu, Inca trail Machu picchu Expeditions Machu picchu·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s