When trekking with SA Expeditions, you’re guaranteed a standard of comfort, professionalism and cultural awareness that goes above and beyond. Read on to learn about the nuts and bolts of hiking with SA Expeditions.
SA Expeditions was born in the mountains around Cusco, and our Peru trekking tours remain at the core of our DNA. We guide guests on well-known routes like the Inca Trail and the Lares and Salkantay treks, and we also offer utterly unique treks: our community partnership in the Choquechaca valley and the headline-grabbing Great Inca Trail which traverses one of the greatest achievements of pre-industrial man. Now that 2021 hiking permits are available for the Inca Trail, it's a great time to review what sets our treks apart.
We are all passionate hikers, so we know how frustrating it can be to have a sleeping bag that just isn’t warm enough or a tent that just won’t zip shut. But we also know that you don’t want to be forced to bring your own tent or mattress all the way to Peru, which is why guests on all of our treks can expect the following equipment:
Therm-A-Rest inflatable mattresses
3-season, 2-person tents
High-quality sleeping bags designed for Andean temperatures
Dedicated bathroom tents
You can rent walking sticks from us or bring your own – as long as they have rubber tips on the ends (protecting the ancient Inca pathways is paramount).
When you’re trekking 15 miles through the high Andes you sure want a hot, nutritious and tasty meal at the end of the day. Our experienced cooks serve three hearty meals a day, and we also provide all guests with snack packs (crackers, fruit, etc) for the trail and welcome teas (cookies, cheese, popcorn) upon arrival at each campsite. We try to include a variety of food groups (eg. lentils or starch, meat, and vegetables) in our meals, and we will gladly cater for special dietary requirements too. If there’s any particular snack you really crave, feel free to bring some along, but generally we have a surplus of food available on our treks.
When it comes to staff, we don’t mess around. Our guides are all local, English-speaking and totally at home in the mountains. Our cooks really know what they’re doing (no two-minute noodles for you!) and we only work with porters (sometimes called "arrieros" locally) who meet our exacting standards. We pride ourselves on the cheery attitude of our staff.
There's nothing better than sharing an invigorating hike in the Andes with your nearest and dearest. Our private departures, paired with expert knowledge of lesser-traveled routes and off-peak times, foster opportunities to bond with your travel companions in secluded safety.
Some trek operators have their porters eat separately and even eat different, cheaper food. We never do this - we view mealtimes as a chance to come together and learn from one another in spite of the language barriers (sometimes the arrieros only speak Quechua). Depending on how outgoing everyone is, there are some intriguing opportunities for cultural learning given the unique backgrounds of local arrieros, the guides (who were often educated in Cusco or Lima), and our international trekking clients.
Our guides carry first aid kits and oxygen tanks and are trained to handle emergency situations in remote areas. In the case of severe illness or broken bones, you will be carried out to the closest town to be transported to the nearest clinic. Doctors can also walk towards you while you’re being carried out, so you can be treated on the trail even sooner if needed.
Both roads and public transportation in rural Peru leave something to be desired. As such, we ensure you’ll be driven to the trailhead in a modern van or minibus by an experienced and cautious driver.
Warm water is provided in bowls every morning and evening to clean up and refresh. There are usually no showers while on the trail, but portable showers can be arranged on a luxury version of almost any of our treks at additional cost. On the Inca Trail, you will pass government-run campsites that have sinks with cold water only. These campsites are not very well maintained, which is also why we always include a portable restroom exclusively for our guests.
What must I bring?
You should bring a water canteen, flashlight (such as a headlamp), clothes, toiletries, foul weather gear, etc. Refer to our packing list for more info.
What do I need to carry?
You’ll only need to carry a daypack containing a water bottle/bladder (we’ll refill it with clean water throughout the hike), camera, jacket and anything else you don’t want to be without.
Who carries my other stuff?
Your other trekking stuff should be packed in a soft duffel bag/backpack (max 15lbs - we'll provide this for you the night before your trek starts) and will be carried by human porters (Inca Trail), mules (Lares, Salkantay, Choquechaca) or llamas (Great Inca Trail). You'll have access to these duffels in the evenings while at camp, but should not expect to have access to this gear during the days while trekking.
But what about everything else?
Your larger suitcases containing non-trekking gear, such as your Galapagos snorkel kit or insect-proof garb for the jungle, can be securely stored at your Cusco or Sacred Valley hotel (or in Lima/Huaraz if you’re doing the Great Inca Trail) at no extra charge.
Not sure which trek is right for you? Compare the Classic Inca Trail with the Great Inca Trail, or find out more about 4 Spectacular Treks near Machu Picchu.
Want to do something really off the beaten path? Find out more about our involvement with the remote community in Choquechaca or read about our groundbreaking Great Inca Trail expedition.
Keen to trek through the same scenery but sleep and eat in style? Find out more about our Great Inca Trail Day Hikes to Machu Picchu itinerary - featuring the same incan pathways, but no overnight camping!
Got itchy feet? Check out all of our trekking tours on one dedicated page. Or, speak to a Destination Expert about crafting your own unique trekking experience.