Plan a Trip Around an Experience

Today, we most often travel to see new places and find unique experiences, which requires us to plan a trip around an experience. Whether that is summiting Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, attending a EURO 2020 match, or hiking the Inca Trail in Peru. These key events create fantastic memories for everyone involved but planning a trip around such an event takes a great deal of time and effort. The solutions we’ve developed at GroupHop will make these trips a snap to plan and book.

Given the complexity that is inherent in these trips, we will share the best way to plan and book a trip around an experience. The vast majority of these trips are what we at GroupHop refer to as multi-leg trips. As the key experience often breaks the trip into distinct intervals, or legs, which likely occur in different locations. For this guide we will plan a trip around the experience of hiking the Inca Trail in Peru and we will show you the best process to follow.

Step 1: Book the Experience

Given the major focus of this trip is the experience of hiking the Inca Trail, it is essential that the trek is secured first. This varies with location, but for the Inca trail, it has a daily admittance limit. Additionally, it requires a guide, and is closed throughout February for maintenance. Therefore, step-one is to find appropriate dates, and book your trek with a certified tour company. Top quality tour companies will procure trail permits on your behalf. However, you’ll need to make sure the trail hasn’t reach capacity before you select trek dates with the tour company. Now that you have found suitable dates, where the trail isn’t at capacity, you can find a tour company to provide a guide.

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Machu Picchu at the end of the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail can’t be hiked without a certified guide, but there are a number of excellent tour companies that offer treks, though some are certainly better than others.

At GroupHop, we highly recommend booking your trek with Eco Inka, as our staff has first-hand experience with them as guides on the trail, and their over 20 years of experience has given them insights into the trail’s conditions and nuances that other organizations simply can’t match. Alright, step one is complete, you have found suitable dates for the trek and have hired a certified guide for the trail, now onto step two, actually getting to Peru.

Step 2: Your Trip Prior to the Experience

Now that you have booked the trek and have your trail permits, there are hard dates to build your trip around. Unlike most trips, where you book everything chronologically, we recommend filling out each side of these key event trips. This will make your trip really efficient, while giving you all the time you need to experience everything each location has to offer. For your trip to Peru, we at GroupHop highly recommend adding three additional legs to your trip, of which the first two should occur before your trek, and the third afterward.

GroupHop-Cusco
Cusco’s Historic District

For leg one, spend a few days in Lima, Peru’s capital. It is the most likely spot for your flight into Peru to arrive. The coastal city has some beautiful districts like Miraflores, and Baranco to explore. And our staff recommends doing a bike tour in the morning to get acquainted with the city. Moreover, there are countless museums and cathedrals to see in Lima that compliment the city’s modern culture.

For the second leg, fly out of Lima and arrive in Cusco a couple of days prior to the start of your trek. This will give you time to acclimatize to the altitude. You’ll be thankful you did if you live near sea level. This short leg will also give you the opportunity to see other Inca sites around Cusco’s valley. We’ll provide some additional detail on the top sites in Step:4 below.

Step 3: Your Trip After the Experience

The key experience of your trip has just finished. You completed the Inca Trail, survived dead woman’s pass, and arrived in Machu Picchu. Good tour companies will arrange for you to take the train back to Cusco after you’ve finished exploring Machu Picchu. This will allow you free time to explore the site and the town below. The train will bring you back to the heart of Cusco at San Pedro station, and you’re ready to continue your trip.

The Inca Trail is very difficult, and you’ll likely want a quiet day in Cusco afterward. Take a day to sleep-in. If you took a late train out of Machu Picchu (7pm), you’ll likely arrive in Cusco around 2am. For a recovery day, visit the market in San Pedro. Be sure to keep valuables secure because pick pockets are very common here. Additionally, you can explore the historic central district of Cusco, complete any shopping you’re interested in, and enjoy the amazing cuisine found all over Cusco. After a day of recovery, there are tons of things that can be seen from Cusco on day trips. Rainbow Mountain, Maras and Moray, Pisca, Wiñay Wayna, and Ollantaytambo are just a few of the top Inca sites.

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Rainbow Mountain in the summer

At GroupHop we recommend booking these outings after your trek, as some tour companies will take you to a couple Inca sites before you start the Inca Trail trek.

If you’re interested in seeing Rainbow Mountain, that would be the one exception to this rule. Book this excursion along with your Inca Trail trek well ahead of time. Be aware that the summit is at 5200m so the air is extremely thin and the trek will be a slog even if you’re fit. If you have the option add the red valley onto the trek as it is almost as breathtaking as rainbow mountain.

Step 4: Filling in the details

Flights, accommodation and ground transportation should all be straight forward to select now. You’ve built out your itinerary, and GroupHop can handle the heavy lifting for you. We recommend following this order in selecting travel services: select your flights, then accommodations, and finally ground transport.

Flights to Lima are regular from most major North American cities, so prices are relatively stable. Additionally, there are multiple flights a day out of Lima to Cusco so you should have plenty of options to customize your itinerary. When booking accommodations, make sure to stay in the tourist districts of Miraflores or Baranco when in Lima. And the Historic Centre in Cusco. These areas have a strong and constant police presence and thus are very safe for individuals and families. Now that you have your departing and returning flights set up, and have selected accommodations, ground transport can be selected.

Airport shuttles are abundant, but we recommend booking them ahead of time, and not waiting until you’re in Lima or Cusco to select a provider. Rental cars are really unnecessary in Peru, and finding a secure spot for overnight parking can be extremely difficult. Additionally, the main attractions and sights in both Lima, and Cusco are located around the central districts, so airport shuttles are all you really need to worry about. Select a reputable provider and pay ahead of time to avoid surprises after the ride.

Summary

There you have it, hiking the Inca Trail in Peru with a full itinerary on each side of this once in a lifetime experience. We hope that GroupHop’s guide to planning a trip around an experience will help take the stress and complexity out of planning and booking any multi-leg trip. Multiple destinations, and hard deadlines can make these trips extremely difficult, and time consuming to plan and book. If you’re looking to make planning your next trip, multi-leg or otherwise, as simple as possible, head over to GroupHop and begin planning with all your friends and family.

Love,

GroupHop