INFORMATION FOR MAGICAL JOURNEY PARTICIPANTS
Please take time to read the following important information and distribute as you see fit. An update with contact information for hotels and guide will be sent approximately one month prior to departure.
Flight Arrangements and Airport:
Magical Journey will coordinate one group pick up from the Cusco airport with the program leader. We recommend scheduling your inbound flight to Cusco to arrive no later than 10am and your outbound flight from Cusco to be scheduled no earlier than 11am and no later than 1pm. Please provide your us with your flight itinerary, including the name of the carrier, the flight number and the arrival and departure times from Lima and Cusco for this group transfer. For early arrivals you can easily hire a taxi from within the baggage claim area for less.
Important: Please ensure that you reconfirm flights to Lima and between Lima and Cusco 72 hours prior to departure for airlines that require reconfirmation. If return flights need to be reconfirmed from Peru, please advise your guide upon arrival in Peru.
What to do on arrival in Lima:
When you arrive in Lima you will pass through Immigration where you will be given a stamped copy of your arrival slip to be kept with your passport. Please take good care of this seemingly insignificant slip of paper, as it is the key to your leaving the country.
You must collect your luggage and pass through customs, where you will hand in the customs form that you will have been given on the flight in. You will have to push a button that lights up a red or green light. Green -- you pass through, red and you will have your luggage inspected.
If your flight arrives in the early morning (after 3AM), we recommend that you stay at the airport and connect to Cusco on the earliest morning flight available. If you arrive in Lima in the evening, we recommend that you arrange for a hotel for the night in Lima through your travel agent, rather than stay around the airport until your flight to Cusco. If you book a hotel in Lima, you should book a flight to Cusco at about 09:30 or 10:00 the next morning so you can sleep in a little.
As you leave the customs area through the automatic doors, you will find a barrier, beyond which will be waiting people, taxi drivers, tour operators etc. If your travel agent has arranged for a transfer to your hotel, look for a board with your name. If you have not arranged a transfer, then to your right, within the barrier, you will see a desk for "Green Taxis". For about US$12 they will transport you to your hotel in Lima. You can arrange with them for your transfer back to the airport the next day.
We strongly recommend that you do not engage taxis other than those with their agents within the restricted barrier.
Lan Peru operates a 24-hour check-in service in the domestic area. It is a good idea to pack so that you do not need your main baggage for that night in Lima. Even if you are staying in Lima, we find it worthwhile to check the luggage in straight away, so that you do not need to check in the next day. To do this, just wheel your baggage cart straight ahead, ignoring all the proffered help, by walking purposefully straight down the hall, through a gate, and right down at the end of the check-in counters, you will find the domestic counter for Lan Peru. (Do NOT leave your baggage unattended.)
If you have not arranged for Lima services and you are staying at the airport to await your early Cusco flight, then equally check your luggage in.
When you arrive the following day, or if you are staying at the airport, go straight up the escalator on the right-hand end of the Check-in counters to the second floor, where there are restaurants that are open all night. The departure lounge for domestic flights is at the very end of the upstairs complex.
You will pass into the departure area into an area where you will pay your airport tax. Each person must pay approximately US$6 in airport departure tax when checking in for any domestic flight in Peru. You pay the tax and have your boarding pass stamped. They accept $US as well as Peruvian currency at the airport. Bring a few $10 bills (with no rips or tears) to pay domestic airport taxes. You'll be given change in Peruvian soles. Then proceed through security to the domestic departure gates.
You may wish to change $50 or so into Peruvian currency at the Lima airport. There are currency exchange kiosks on the ground floor near the check in counters.
What to do on arrival in Cusco:
A Magical Journey representative will meet your group arrival at the small Cusco airport. Look to the left for the "Magical Journey-Willka T'ika" sign when you exit the airport for your transfer. An agent will transfer you to your Cusco Hotel where your guide or leaders will meet you at approximately 1PM.
For participants arriving separately from the group, or if your flight is delayed, take an official taxi from within the barrier area directly outside the airport doors. Negotiate your price of about $5-$10 maximum for the 15-minute drive to the Cusco hotel.
MONEY: Please note that US currency with rips or tears will not be accepted in Peru. The banks and no one else in the country accepts torn or worn US currency. Bring US currency in $5-100 denominations, as crisp and new as possible without rips or tears. Also, please do not bring many $1 bills to Peru. We suggest that you wait until you arrive in Cusco to exchange large sums of money. In Cusco, your guide will bring you to a reputable exchange agency with a good exchange rate. The exchange rate is approximately 3.1 soles to the dollar. You will get the best exchange rate for cash in US dollars. Don't buy Peruvian money overseas, as the exchange rate is very poor. You can exchange $50 or so at the Lima airport to have some local currency on hand if you wish.
Bring a flat fabric money holder to wear around your waist and under your clothing. It must hold your passport and money and can be bought in travel stores.
You must be prepared that Peru is many years behind when it comes to credit cards, traveler's checks, etc. Credit cards are only accepted in some up market restaurants and shops and there are only a few banks where you can get cash using your credit or ATM card. Cash in US dollars is easily exchanged, provided that the notes are not torn or very worn.
If you are using travelers checks, change them in Cusco at the beginning of the tour. The change bureaus have a 5% surcharge to change travelers checks.
Cash only is accepted at Willka T'ika for sundry expenses, massage and crystal bed sessions, solar baths, bottled water, sodas, beer/wine and additional services. Credit cards and travelers checks are not accepted at Willka T'ika. Providers of extra guest services require immediate payment in cash.
People always say that they wish they had brought more cash in US dollars. If you like to shop, you will be tempted by the wonderful goods for sale and you should plan to bring extra cash for shopping and items of a personal nature.
Please travel light. Please give this some thought. You will have to carry your own baggage at times and heavy luggage is a nuisance for you and others. Please pack with that in mind. Leave unnecessary "stuff" at home so that it does not distract you from the Peru experience. No one cares if you wear the same outfit a few times. There is laundry service at Willka T'ika and a laundry area if you prefer to do some yourself. The laundry service is by hand -- clothes that dry quickly are convenient.
If your luggage has zippers please be sure to bring good locks to secure them once you have cleared USA security areas. Rip-ties are also handy for securing luggage while in transit.
IMPORTANT: For your incoming flights, please label each piece of luggage clearly with your name, "Magical Journey-Willka T'ika" and our telephone number in Peru: +51 84 201508. It's also a good idea to put this address information on a card on the inside of your luggage. Relabel your luggage with your home address for your return flights.
Weather: (for all times of year)
Peru's climate can be divided into two seasons: wet and dry. The weather varies greatly depending on the geographical region. In the Andes, the dry season lasts from April to mid November. However in recent years the weather has fluctuated and a poncho or good rain jacket is advised throughout the year. Nights can be chilly at the high altitude -- bring warm layers.
Dry season or Andean winter:
May, June, July and August are regarded as colder winter months. The days are usually dry and sunny, about 65-70 degrees F. When the sun goes down or is hidden by clouds, it can be cold. Night averages 40-50 degrees F. There is no central heating in the Andes but all of our rooms have heaters. Bring extra layers of clothing at night and something warm to sleep in. September and October is the start of spring with similar weather but warmer nights.
Wet season or Andean summer:
From November through April, a few scattered showers followed by sunshine can be expected each day. Nights are warmer and t-shirts can be worn during the day. Rain is soft and falls mostly at night; there are no monsoons.
What to wear:
Bring only casual clothes. Clothes that dry quickly are handy. Laundry can be done inexpensively. Dress in layers and bring warm clothes for the winter nights. You might wear a fleece jacket in the early morning or night and you should carry an outer rain jacket or poncho in a daypack. Once you walk, you start to peel off layers and during some hot days you may be able to wear shorts and t-shirts. When the sun goes down, you put on layers again. On outings, weather often changes during the day and wearing layers works the best. Rarely, you may need gloves and hats. Wool sweaters, hats and gloves are readily available in the markets.
Set aside a total of about US$44 cash for international and domestic airport taxes - $32 in international departure tax when leaving the Lima airport to return home and $6 for each domestic departure within the country (Lima-Cusco roundtrip). The airport taxes may also be paid for in Peruvian soles. Please note that the departure taxes are subject to change.
Please note to tip separately for meals not included in the itinerary and optional guest services at Willka T'ika Guesthouse.
All meals at Willka T'ika Guesthouse are strictly vegetarian. Buffet breakfasts, lunches and all dinners are included at Willka T'ika. In Cusco a welcome lunch and buffet breakfasts are included. At Machu Picchu a continental breakfast and full dinner is included. Other meals can be bought inexpensively for around $4-$12 depending on where and what you eat. Wine, beer and nonalcoholic beverages are not included in any meals and are available for purchase. Bring some trail snacks and energy bars for personal use. Some ruins and meditation sites are a long distance away from civilization and sometimes meals are taken later than your body may require.
***Bottled water is available everywhere for purchase. New regulations have been imposed and are strictly being enforced starting February 2009 whereby you can no longer bring in any form of plastic disposable water bottle to the ruins. Please make sure you prepare for this prior to your travels. It is important obviously being at such high altitude to keep one self hydrated - so there are many manufacturers now offering alternative solutions to buy the aluminum reusable canteens - sigg brand or others. You can travel with them - just make sure they're empty before heading through security and then you can fill them up as you go along your travels. When at Willka T'ika it's easiest to buy a big bottle of water and have it in your room to fill up your aluminum bottle for your daily outings.
Cusco and the Sacred Valley are renowned for their wonderful markets. Beautiful hand-woven cloths, wall hangings, jackets and ponchos are very good value, as are hand knitted alpaca sweaters and silver jewelry. Woolen gloves and hats are colorful and very inexpensive. Andean musicians sell CDs in support of their music.
If you like to shop, remember to bring EXTRA dollars and an extra folding duffel bag to carry the goods home! Many people end up wishing they had brought more cash for the many beautiful items available in Peru. Bring extra cash if you like to shop.
Health and Insurance:
Important: If you have not yet done so, please inform us in writing of any illness you may have or prescription medication you may be taking. This information will be kept confidential.
In the unlikely event of problems requiring hospitalization, we strongly recommend that you take out travel insurance. This should cover the cost of emergency medical services, evacuation and repatriation to your home country. Magical Journey is not responsible for expenses incurred as a result of health problems or resulting from mishaps on the journey. Adequate travel insurance has proven to be extremely valuable for some participants when circumstances have warranted it.
There is a surge of people moving to Urubamba in the Sacred Valley, housing is hard to find and with it, new needs have arisen. In the past year, health care in the private sector has improved greatly and services are able to deal with all emergencies to all hotels. Foreign doctors also have moved in and doctors with excellent training from Lima are now in Cusco and Urubamba. Things have improved greatly.
Please use this journey as an excuse to get into good physical condition. You will be at high altitudes for most of the journey and there will be times when we have to hike up paths and steps of ruins. Fitness will help you acclimate quickly and enhance your journey.
Bottled water is available for purchase everywhere in Peru. Diarrhea is always a threat when traveling in foreign countries, especially in countries like Peru or Bolivia. All participants should ask their physicians for a suitable antibiotic such as Cipro to bring with them. These are better than anti-diarrhea preparations like Lomotil, which stop diarrhea but don't kill the bacteria. One should also bring medication for stomach cramps. If you are concerned about high altitude, consult your health care provider.
If you feel you may react to the high altitude of 12-14000ft or have any known medical condition, please speak to your physician prior to the journey. Not all people need or respond well to the popular prescription sulfa-based drug Diamox. Diamox was designed for high-mountain trekking, which you will not be doing. If you have any problems on the first day, please speak to your guide. For emergency situations, hotels carry oxygen tanks.
To avoid altitude sickness, rest for a few hours, lying down, when you arrive in Cusco. Drink a lot of water and try some coca tea, available in all hotels (coca tea can be a minor stimulant at night).
There is a safe over-the-counter soroche altitude-sickness medication available in all boticas (pharmacies) in Bolivia and Peru to alleviate headaches and nausea (do not take if allergic to aspirin). It is a combination of Tylenol, aspirin and a little caffeine. If you have any problems on the first day, please speak to your guide who can easily obtain this medicine for you. It is important to rest when you first arrive and drink a lot of water to acclimate on the first day. Boticas also sell coramina lozenges to help with altitude adjustment and ginger may be helpful for nausea.
Homeopathic remedies for altitude work well for many people and we recommend their use: the medicine for high altitude is a combination of Carbo Veg. 30, Arsenicum Alb. 30, Coca 30, Oxygen 30.
Immunizations: Please consult your health-care provider for recommended immunizations. You must make your own decisions regarding immunizations. Your health care provider may recommend coverage for Hepatitis A and up to date tetanus coverage. Malaria prophylaxis is not considered necessary in the Andes.
Please remember that you are responsible for all decisions regarding your personal health.
The Willka T'ika Children's Fund has been established to help support remote mountain schools and communities and Quechua children and families living well below the poverty level. There are no social services or government programs to help these families and children. The most-welcome contributions to this fund, besides cash donations are:
Cash donations go toward goes hot meals, nutritious food, vital school supplies requested by the teachers and toward life-saving medical emergencies. Our staff will gladly furnish you with a contribution receipt. Proceeds from sales of special goods sold at Willka T'ika support the fund. Please visit our website at www.magicaljourney.org for more information and photographs regarding the Willka T'ika Children's Fund.
- Second-hand or thrift store clothing for ages 3-12 (both sexes). The color red blends in well with traditional clothing, but all clothes are gratefully accepted.
- Spanish language children's books (not text books) with topics appropriate for rural children.
- Small hardy toys for all ages. Used for special children's day festivities.
- Scissors, flashlights, notebooks, yarn.
- Baseball caps and soccer balls.
- For adults, small t-shirts. Andean adults tend to have small frames and extra large clothing is too big.
Magical Journey to Peru Suggested General Packing List:
- Flashlight. Especially needed for the nights in the gardens at Willka T'ika and jungle.
- Good walking shoes or lightweight hiking boots.
- A pair of slip-on shoes for the yoga and meditation rooms at Willka T'ika.
- Shade hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm are essential.
- A good insect repellent for Machu Picchu.
- Earplugs often very useful in Cusco and Aguas Calientes.
- Cameras (please insure); memory cards and/or film (twice as expensive in Peru than in US); Bring extra batteries.
- Peru's electricity is 220V, 60 Hz. You'll need a converter or transformer to 110V-12V, 60 cycles AC for any equipment plugging into a wall socket. A transformer recommended for digital equipment.
- Anti-bacterial wipes or hand sanitizer. Hygiene standards in the market places vary greatly. Human contact rather than food can be the main culprit for travel related illness. Wash or sanitize your hands frequently.
- Travel Documents: Passport valid for at least 6 months from arrival date in Peru. No visas are required for South African, Canadian or USA citizens. Important: Please bring two copies of the page on your passport with your photograph and number on it. Leave one copy hidden in your luggage and have one to carry with you. It is very important to keep a copy separate from your passport. It is safer to leave your documents and extra money at Willka T'ika or in your hotel room hidden in your suitcase or in the hotel safe when walking around.
- Do not bring any jewelry or valuables. Wear a cheap watch.
- Money holder belt. (see section on money). Wear it when in the streets. Be mindful of your surroundings.
- Bring a small backpack for day use to carry water bottle, camera, trail snacks and sunscreen.
- Always carry a good quality rain jacket or waterproof poncho.
- Layer your clothes and bring warm layers. T-shirt, long sleeve warm shirt, jacket and/or rain gear. Warm pajamas for the Andean nights. We recommend long pants at Machu Picchu (biting insects). Shorts ok for Willka T'ika.
Magical Journey Peru Contact Information:
Willka T'ika Guesthouse (pronounced WIL-kah TEE-kah) is located between Machu Picchu and Cusco in the Sacred Valley, at Paradero (bus stop) Rumichaka. Willka T'ika is 2km from the town of Urubamba, en route to Ollantaytampu. If headed from Urubamba to Ollantaytampu, it is on the left hand side. It is an hour and fifteen minutes drive from Cusco to Willka T'ika.
The main contact phone number throughout the journey is Willka T'ika Guesthouse: +51 84 201508. Staff members speak Spanish and understand some English. Willka T'ika Fax: +51 84 201181.
E-mail: Emergency-only contact:
at Willka T'ika Guesthouse and
in the US.
If your flights are delayed, please call your assigned hotel in Cusco and leave a message for your Magical Journey guide. Or if available call your guide's cell phone number. (These numbers will be sent separately approximately one month prior to start of program with your hotel contact information). Leave a message with your new flight arrival info. If you arrive and the transfer agent is not at the Cusco airport, take a taxi from within the gated area directly outside the airport exit to your Cusco hotel. Five dollars/person is a generous fare.
The Peru COUNTRY CODE is +51. The area code for Cusco is 84. Willka T'ika and Aguas Calientes/Machu Picchu are within the Cusco area code. The area code for Lima is 01. When dialing from within Peru to a different city code, add a "0" before the city code. For example, when dialing Willka T'ika from Lima, you would dial 084 201508. When dialing from abroad, drop the "0" from the city code and add your international access code before the country code.
Time Zones: Peru is 5 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. Peru does not observe Daylight Saving Time and so may be on the same time zone as Mountain or Eastern USA time, depending on the time of year.
At Willka T'ika, there are no telephones in guest rooms. There is only one telephone line for emergency telephone use only. Please tell your family/friends to be mindful of the time when calling. If they need to reach you, the best time is during dinner at around 7pm.
General phone calls can be made out of the country in an international booth or internet cafes. Emergency calls may be made from Willka T'ika only with international calling cards, which can be purchased in Cusco. There are convenient internet cafés in Cusco, Aguas Calientes and in Urubamba near Willka T'ika.