During my 2 weeks in Peru, Matt and I planned to hike two trails, the Santa Theresa and Ausangate Circuit. Since we both hiked already several multi day trips, we decided to hike without a guide and not in a group. The major reason was just to be more flexible and decide where to hike and camp. Another reason is of course the cost factor as well, since pre booking tours is quite expensive. I also just wanted to carry my stuff and cook by myself 😀
With the experience of planning a 5 month hike, I did my research and figured out that there is not a lot of informations online. There were just a few blogs online, so i decided to add one more, in hope to help you out 🙂
Q: Is it allowed to hike without a guide/tour:
A: Yes it is. Only for the Inca Trail it is necessary to obtain a permit and a tour in advance. Most camping spots are booked for tours and if you hike independently, you might have trouble finding a camping spot.
Q: How do locals react?
A: It depends on the trek you hike. The Salkanatay and Santa Theresa Treks are quite busy (even in the off season). Some locals are more reserved due the higher amount of tours. Others are taking advanced of it and offer camping, showers etc. for a few Pesos.
Q: Where to buy maps?
A: We found maps of the areas in little book stores in Cusco. The maps provide all information about the treks, towns, camping areas etc.
Q: Do I need to speak Spanish?
A: I recommend that your spanish skills are good enough to have a conversation. It will make it way easier to ask for directions, camping etc. When you camp at somebody property, you will be able to learn a lot from them, their life, the area etc.
Q: How much Food do I need to bring with me?
A: I recommend to bring all necessary meals with you. Nevertheless, you will pass always some stores where you can by candy, bars and local fruits.
Q: and Water?
A: At those stores, you can also buy sodas and water. Depending on the season, streams will be full of water and I recommend highly to bring a filter or tabs (due the horses/lamas of the guided tours).
NOTICE: Due the increasing amount of tours and the lack of interest of locals to collect trash, the trails and towns are full of trash, especially plastic water bottles. Please bring you own reusable bottles and filter the spring water.
Saying this, please bring as well a trash bag and carry out all your trash. If you find even some space, feel free to collect as much trash as possible from the trails!
Q: Where to camp?
A: The trails in the Machu Picchu Area pass through many little towns. You can either ask locals, if you can camp on there property (usually for 10-15Pesos). The maps, which you can buy/find in Cusco also shows where to camp.
Q: Where can I find more informations about trails in Peru?
A: I found this Blog of Moon Mountain Man very useful. As well, you will find GPS data on WikiLoc. On the site of guided tours you will find only a brief explanation of the treks.
if you have any more questions, feel free to comment or contact me! Trek pages, you will find all necessary informations about where to start, how to get there, recommended gear, our GPS track and more in GERMAN and ENGLISH.