Inca Trail Hiking with Zephyr Adventures

    News about trekking and hiking in Peru

    There is a tiny village in Peru called Cachiccata that is near and dear to our hearts.

    Our Cachiccata-based cook is recognized by the group as one of the fastest finishers of the Inca Trail Marathon.

    Our Cachiccata-based cook is recognized by the group as one of the fastest finishers of the Inca Trail Marathon.

    It has only a few hundred inhabitants but is the home of all the cooks and porters who assist us on our treks in Peru.  These are some of the hardest-working people we have ever met.

    These are folks who lug mounds of our gear on their backs and zoom by those of us on the steep trails who carry only a light daypack so they can get to camp ahead of us and make it perfect for our arrival.  These are folks who prepare and serve three delicious hot meals a day for us.  These are folks who dig a place for our toilet tent…and then pack out what we dispose!  These are folks who are quick to give us a dazzling smile when we arrive, exhausted, in camp each afternoon even though they have been working much harder than we trekkers have.  In short, these are people who truly make trekking on the Inca Trail such a stupendous experience.

    These people are also, by our standards, dirt poor.  We were distressed to hear from our Peruvian contact last week about what had happened in Cachiccata after the recent heavy rains that have devastated much of the Sacred Valley near Peru.  Here is what he told us:

    This the wonderful young man who brings coffee and tea to our tents each morning
    This the wonderful young man who brings coffee and tea to our tents each morning

    Cachiccata’s main water channel was semi destroyed, so we are seeking a motorized water pump to provide them an alternative water source for the dry season, as almost 250 hectares of land are in risk of droughts and the economy of this comunity is mainly based in agriculture.

    When we learned how much the pump would cost ($1500 US) we thought, “That is not much to keep a village in water!” and quickly decided we could help with this project.   Zephyr will match every dollar donated by our travelers and their friends (up to $750) and purchase that water pump for the village of  Cachiccata!

    Can you help Cachiccata? Please consider donating $50 to $100 and we will match it.  Any additional amounts will go directly to Cachiccata or other nearby deserving communities.  The easiest way to do this is to go to the BOOK A TREK page on Zephyr’s Inca Trail Hiking website and complete the “About You” and “Payment Details” sections of the form.

    A group of cooks and porters from Cachiccata receives an official "thank you" at the end of the trek.

    A group of cooks and porters from Cachiccata receives an official "thank you" at the end of the trek.

    Be sure to put the amount you would like to donate in the “Comments” section.   We will send you a confirmation email so you know we received your donation.

    You can also mail a check to Zephyr Adventures at PO Box 16, Red Lodge, MT  59068 if you prefer.  It is amazing how easy it is for all of us to make a huge difference in people’s lives through such a small act, isn’t it?

    homeincatrailWe at Zephyr Adventures have been planning for months to start a new blog connected to our IncaTrailHiking.com site. Because of heavy rains and flooding earlier this month in the Cusco and Machu Picchu areas, we felt that now is the time.

    Heavy rains caused massive flooding along the Vilcabamba River (also known as the Urubamba River), which runs down the Sacred Valley, past Ollantaytambo and the start of the Inca Trail, and ultimately past Machu Picchu. The event that made front pages of newspapers here in the United States was the stranding of almost 1000 tourists at Aguas Calientes (now called Machu Picchu Pueblo), the small town at the base of the historic ruins.

    That situation was solved several weeks ago when the Peruvian government helicoptered the tourists back to Cusco. However, the stranding occurred because Machu Picchu’s only real transit link, a railroad running to Cusco, was washed out in half a dozen sections. The railroad company, under intense pressure to repair the railroad, is working quickly to do so.

    What does all this mean? First, Machu Picchu is essentially closed because no one can get in or out except by helicopter or on foot via the Inca Trail. (There is a road that runs to the area but it is also impassable.) The railroad is expected to be repaired by the end of March, meaning Machu Picchu should be open on April 1st.

    Second, the Classic Inca Trail, which runs high up in the mountains away from the river, was not affected. However, the Trail is currently closed and won’t reopen until the railroad does, since this is how trekkers return to Cusco once they reach Machu Picchu.

    Third, the Royal Inca Trail, which is the original (and easier) trail along the river, also was flooded in several places and will need to be repaired. Because this trail gets few visitors, the repair will not take high priority. We expect this trail to be repaired sometime in April or May, although it is probably passable now.

    Finally, the real damage to the area occurred outside the tourist areas of Machu Picchu and the railroad. The Sacred Valley is an agricultural area; many fields were flooded and crops destroyed. As our Peruvian friends tell us, the best thing we as potential travelers to Peru can do to help is not to cancel our travel plans. At Zephyr Adventures, we had to cancel our April tour, since we were unable to be certain the railroad would be functioning in time. Our July and October group tours will run. And as an individual traveler, you can still book your own Inca Trail private trip at any time you wish – we just suggest you wait until April 15th, to give the railroad authorities a couple weeks to spare!

    Our thoughts and best wishes are with our Peruvian friends.