Top Tips to Know Before Embarking on an Alpaca Tour
Are you ready for your alpaca tour in Cusco, Peru? Make sure you know these tips before you embark on your journey with the alpacas.
You need to experience the wonder of the legendary Incan Empire on an alpaca tour.
The Incans left behind over roughly a 24,000-mile (39,000-km) road and trail system that spans six countries. But all of those roads emanate from the political and religious center of the empire, the famed city of Cusco.
To make the most of the trip, you need do some serious thinking before you declare “Alpaca my bags” and go on a tour!
Tour an Alpaca Before Your Alpaca Tour
The first tip here is to address the camel in the room and arm you with a few factoids before you show up in Peru.
You will not be riding an alpaca or using an alpaca as a pack animal. Alpaca tours are an efficient way of saying that you will be “hoofing” it through the Peruvian wilderness.
Now that we’ve removed this misconception, here’s why that’s important to know.
Alpacas are basically South American, hump-less camels. However, they are not beasts of burden, meaning an alpaca won’t be carrying your gear on your trip.
A very close cousin to the alpaca, the llama, is a much larger, sturdier creature that has been bred to carry stuff. They don’t have hooves. Instead, they have pads on their feet.
Alpacas are bred for their hair, which is frequently used to create the iconic Peruvian and Andean fibers people often bring back with them.
Prepare for Your Alpaca Tour
Just as the Inca prepared the miles of road, you need to plot your own course to a successful trip.
Below are a few of our top pointers…
Plan Way Ahead International travel never should be rushed. There is much to take care of before you ever step onto a plane.
There’s getting visas, finding a plane ticket, and finding suitable accommodation before and after your trip. There’s booking your alpaca tour itinerary and making sure that you have all the right gear. All this takes time.
Set your departure date as far out as you can. Don’t be surprised if between it all you have to set your trip out six months on your calendar.
Remember, with international appeal comes international demand. You may have to be patient with booking your trip because of how popular these alpaca tours are with a global audience.
With that, there are also local regulations to keep in mind. You will need a permit to go on your tour.
Don’t worry. We’ll take care of that for you.
Timing Your Trip
You are also going to be dealing with some interesting climate in this part of the world. There are good and not-so-good times to make the trip.
We recommend March through May and September through November.
There are fewer crowds during the months of June and July. This is usually summer break for many schools all the way from primary to post-secondary school.
The weather is also usually good for hiking in those months. December, January, and February are in the heart of the rainy season. Landslides are common during this time, and they can bring an immediate end to a hiking trip.
Prepare Physically and Emotionally
To take you off the beaten path you need to be ready for rugged experiences. You will be backpacking in the Peruvian wilderness, exposed to nature constantly.
This means that your body needs to be able to handle an adventure.
If you think that walking around your block once a week constitutes as a fitness plan, you may want to reconsider this and your alpaca tour.
Luckily, the best training for the trip is simple: Just walk!
Get out and walk as much as you can for as long as you can. Walk in your gear to get used to it. Walk in as many different settings as you can to prepare for the myriad of climates and terrain found on your alpaca tour.
The emotional part is a little harder to prepare for. It’s not likely that your cell carrier will have LTE on a Peruvian mountain range.
Prepare to be separated from your digital devices for a while. You are probably going to feel a twinge of anxiety being out in the wilderness with the same people for a couple days if you opt for the overnight alpaca tour.
Take Time to AcclimatizeCusco, Peru sits at a dizzying 11,152 feet above sea level. These mountain peaks are high enough to take your breath away.
The air is thinner at high altitudes. Your body has less oxygen to work with each breath. So, don’t be surprised if you suddenly notice feeling like you can’t catch your breath when you get there.
American coastal cities like San Francisco or Boston sit at 52 feet and 141 feet above sea level, respectively. Even mountainous American metros like Salt Lake City and Denver sit at about 4,226 and 5,280 miles above sea level.
You will likely experience mild symptoms of altitude sickness, which is just a mild reaction to a new environment. The only real way to address it is to take time to let your body adjust. So, take a little time to enjoy the mountainous region’s less outdoorsy attractions.
Plan Out Medications Needs
There are also medications to help you handle the high altitude. We recommend discussing these medications with your physician.
There might be synergy with your health needs and the healthcare structures in Peru. There might not be. We recommend planning ahead and bringing everything you might need.
This includes medication you take regularly and medication that you might need. Those might include basic pain and fever relief medication, antacids, diarrhea medication, or allergy medication.
Call the Pros
Are you ready for a one-of-a-kind adventure?
Providing excellent, responsible trips to one of the greatest sites on the American continent is all we do. We are the best people to talk to about every step of your planning process. Call or email us today!
Miguel is a professional tour guide from Cusco, Peru, with almost 20 years of experience leading tours and a deep knowledge of Peru’s cultural and ecological diversity. He is also an advocate of ecotourism and cultural sensitivity and has lectured on these topics in the US and Europe. He co-founded Evolution Treks Peru, a worker-owned travel company based in Cusco.