Eco lodge in Machu Picchu
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
500 years have passed since the last Incas abandoned the paradise of Machu Picchu and we still haven’t learned to coexist with the planet.
What would they say if they could see what their sacred sanctuary been converted into?
Traveling it’s a great educational life experience but many times we end up damaging the natural resources of the places we visit by polluting and damaging the “Pachamama” for our own personal interests.
The damage we are causing the environment affects us all (discriminating between neither race, religion, or culture) so we all need to learn to respect our mother earth.
Thousands of visitors arrive in Machu Picchu every day, not always aware of the environmental consequences of their visit.
This travelers, arrive either from hiking the famous inca trail (on 1-2-3-7-14 days tours) or trough Aguas Calientes (Also known as Machu Picchu pueblo), a town on the Urubamba river and the closest to the Machu Picchu.
But not all of it is bad news. With the mission of preserving the wildlife and ecosystem of the Machu Picchu Sanctuary the Rupawasi Eco lodge opened in 2002.
Since then, they have taken this philosophy very seriously by encouraging the use of alternative energies, using biodegradable products and recycling, causing minimal impact on the environment.
They are actually serving as the only serious example of sustainable ecotourism for the rest of the town.
Rupawasi´s unique location provides for spectacular views of the mountains of Machu Picchu. Our room allowed us to take full advantage of these surroundings This design marvel fits together magically with the green surrounding of Aguas Calientes to create a peaceful environment, an invitation to relax.
The hotel itself is designed to have a comfortable and cozy ambient, with good music, selected literature, and plenty of information and advice. All this is set in their carefully cultivated orchid and native green gardens.
When staying at Rupawasi Ecolodge, you will be able to enjoy, among other personalized services,gourmet cuisine in their on site restaurant where they also organize cooking classes! They offer structured 2, 3 ,4 day courses and tailor made courses to fit your travel arrangements. We tried a 2 day course and were able to take a cooking book home too!
This was an authentic cultural experience. They offer the opportunity of actually participating in a real kitchen environment, with real cooks and providing food to real customers.
Initially classes are based on a theoretical explanation of the menu, you will learn not only recipes, but the whole procedure, from choosing the right ingredients in the market, to the different ways of portioning, packaging and storing local produce.
At Rupawasi they also strive to preserve and rescue native flora and fauna.
They are the only lodge in the area working in harmony with their natural surroundings. They have carefully cultivated their own gardens to this end which contains species of native trees, plants (over 50 varieties of orchids) and visiting fauna.
Manu travelers only use Aguas Calientes as a stop point between Cusco and Machu Picchu, but this magical town, with it’s thermal baths, hikes and beautiful scenery definitely has much more to offer and the Rupawasi seems to be the perfect place to enjoy that!
INCA TRAIL (The responsible way)
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
While working as a Tour leader in Peru for a few months I visited Machu Pichu over 5 times, one of them after the Inca trail.
As anyone probably imagines, this was an amazing experience but it did shock me at times how travelers are abusing of the resources and how locals are taking advantage of the quick dollars.
I love traveling and I hope I will be able to do it the rest of my life, but if we don't change our behaviour, soon nothing natural will be left and we will be the ones to blame.
On this note, I would like to comment about the Inca trail itself and share with you some important guidelines to take into consideration when booking this amazing experience.
These guidelines have been written by “the inka porter project/ Porteadores Inka Ñan) and you can find more information on their website: http://www.peruweb.org/porters/index.html
So enjoy your visit and remember that you are also part of nature, so behave in a balance and responsible way towards the rest of the natural world!
130,000 people walked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu in 2004 – a 14-fold increase in the last 10 years. This heavy foot traffic on the Inca Trail, and also on other trekking routes, is taking its toll on the environment in the following ways:
*Pollution from detergents used for washing dishes and cooking utensils which contain oils and grease from cooking. These get washed into streams and rivers by rain. The local people downstream use this water untreated so it needs to be clean. The pollutants also harm, or even kill, aquatic plants, animals and fish.
*Rubbish includes food remains, packaging, toilet tissue and cigarette ends. Some rubbish is toxic and some rots but can take a long time. For example, it can take six months for orange peel to rot. As waste decomposes, it releases chemicals and these find their way into streams and rivers causing pollution. Some rubbish, like plastic, does not decompose and is unsightly and can harm domestic or wild animals if they eat it.
*Erosion of the footpaths, campsite areas and Inca remains at Machu Picchu and other sites.
WHAT YOU CAN DO:
When You Book
Ask your tour company what it does to minimise environmental impacts: what do they do with the rubbish? What products do they use for cleaning dishes? Do they tidy the campsites before everybody leaves? What training do they provide for their staff on environmental practices?
What to Take
*Plastic bags for rubbish.
*Refillable water bottles and water purification tablets.
*Biodegradable soap made from natural, local products
On the Trail
*Collect rubbish in plastic bags and bring it back down with you.
*Make sure your tour guide, cook and porters take all the rubbish back down with them for disposal in proper areas.
*Don’t buy disposable water bottles. Use refillable water bottles and water purification tablets.
*Only smoke in designated areas.
*Always use the fixed toilets or portable toilets.
*Don’t put toilet paper down the toilet.
*If you really have to defecate, and there is no nearby toilet, walk as far away from any streams as possible, dig a hole 6-8 inches/ 12-18 cm deep and 4-6 inches/ 10-12cm in diameter. Bury and cover with leaves or grass so that it is as inconspicuous as possible. Bury toilet paper properly or take it with you in plastic bags – do not leave it fluttering around. (By doing it this way, what you leave behind will decompose in the soil, instead of getting washed away by rain into streams.)
*Wrap tampons and sanitary towels in plastic bags and take them with you. Don’t bury them (they decompose too slowly).
*Urine is sterile so causes less environmental impact but excessive amounts can damage plants. Think before you pee!
*Use biodegradable soap to prevent water pollution.
*Plates without any grease on them don’t need cleaning with detergents; just use water.
*Keep to footpaths and designated areas – don’t encroach on other areas.
*Don’t touch any Inca remains or climb or sit on them. (Oils and sweat on your hands can cause damage.)
*Leave wildlife alone. Take a photographic “souvenir” instead.
*Don’t make loud noises, like shouting and playing loud music.
*Don’t light fires or burn any rubbish.
*Don’t cut down plants and trees.
*Don’t trample on plants and flowers.
*Don’t feed wildlife or leave scraps of food for them. (It encourages them to rely on human contact.)
*South American Explorers has a recycling centre in Cusco where you can recycle plastic bottles, tins, glass, etc.
Bell 4, 188 Choquechaca, Cusco.
Tel: (084) 245484
Questions to ask your agency when booking the Classic Inka Trail from your home country
*Does the company follow the International Porter Protection Group's five guidelines on porter safety? These are:
*Adequate clothing for protection from bad weather and high altitude should be provided
*Porters should have access to shelter (room, tent or lodge, sleeping bags and mats) and cooking equipment
*Porters should have the same access to medical care as tourists
*Adequate procedures should be in place for medical evacuation of porters
*Porters should carry no more than 25kg according to Peruvian law
*What is the company's policy on equipment and health care for porters?
* What does the company do to ensure its staff are properly trained to look after porters' welfare?
*Does the company ask about treatment of porters in its post-trek questionnaire?
*A question to ask tour operators that hire other agencies to run their Inka Trails (NB: this includes most international tour operators).
*What is the company's policy on training and monitoring porter care by its ground operator in Peru?
Hire a porter.
Day two is really hard especially if you are not acclimatised to the altitude. As the guides say, you can either treat day two as an endurance test or enjoy it: it's up to you.
Do not give your pack to a porter who already has a full load. If they carry more than 25kg, not only is it bad for their health, but they and the agency will get a substantial fine. If the agency gets fined, the porter generally does not get paid.
Ask your agency how much the porters are paid
The Porters' Law states 120 to 135 soles for the four days but, in 2005, agencies have collectively negotiated 100 soles. However, it is often the case that porters are paid as little as 60 soles. If your trip costs less than $275, you can be fairly sure that the porters will be not be well cared for.
Let your agent know porters' welfare is of concern to you
Drum the message home: porters need sleeping mats, tents with integral floors, adequate light and enough appropriate food (not just what is left over when tourists have finished).
Spend time with your porter
They can tell you amazing stories. Guides often tell you that porters don't want to talk to the tourists, which may be true if you go barging in when they are eating together or sleeping. But along the trail, offer them coca leaves and learn a few words of Quechua!
Tip your porter.
Most groups collect at dinner on the last night of the trail and then give it to the porters. Remember to take adequate small change in order to tip porters individually. Please let your group know that 30 soles per porter is a minimum and it's best to deal separately with porters that carry individuals' bags. It is best to tip porters directly rather than giving the money to the guide or cook. Some tourists feel that this "ceremony" is degrading for the porters but they feel that it shows appreciation of their work.
Make sure that the guide takes care of sick porters
It is required by law to share the first aid kit with everybody in the group, not just the tourists.
Report all instances of neglect or abuse to the International Porter Protection Group.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Cuzco is beautiful, no question. The winding streets, gorgeous chruches and huge cobblestone squares blend colonial architecture with Inca ruins, and this is a must-visit on anyone´s South American itinerary. We arrived at the bus station at around 4am, and were besieged by people wanting to take us to accomodation, much of which was out of our price range. Luckily, however, one woman had a room for just 10 soles each a night, and was able to take us there straight away, with no charge until the next night. Ace. The room was in a hostel right in the historic centre, and had a kitchen and small garden shared by just two other guests.
After getting some sleep it was off to explore the city, and to be horrified at some of the steep prices charged for tourist visits. Needless to say, it was a massive disappointment to find that the extortionate price of the train ride to the Machu Picchu Inca ruins put it out of our price range, amd with time presing on we didn´t have the time to take the equally expensive Inca Trail.After hours of discussion, we realised that the cost of the trip would pay for around 30 nights´ stay in budget hostels, and reluctantly decided to give it a miss - hoping we´d be able to take the trip another day.
We then decided to drown our sorrows and waste some more money by sampling some local brews, and took advantage of the numerous promotional offers (two for one, free cocktails etc) aimed at luring tourists into clubs and bars, and found Cuzco nightlife to be surprisingly lively even on a Tuesday evening.
Border with Peru - take cash!!
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
After taking it easy in Copacabana for a couple of days, it was time to cross the border into Peru. This should have been a simple procedure but, being the stupid gringoes we are, we managed to make a hash of it. With no cash machines in Copacabana, we assumed there would be some in the Peruvian border town. We were wrong. And we were out of cash. Asking around, we were advised to go back to La Paz - which was a lengthy coach ride away. Further investigations led to taxi drivers offering to take us to Puno, the nearest big Peruvian town - around two hours away. One offered a price of ´40´and assuming this to be 40 Peruvian Soles (you get about seven to the pound) we thought this was pretty cheap. However, this was to be our first introduction to the common Peruvian practice of charging everything in US dollars. We realised this was not such a bargain after all and managed to argue him down to 35 dollars, only for him to knock it back up again to take us straight to the bus station in the town. Sigh. Ah well, with funds dented, we paid for a ticket that would take us on to our next destination.