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Expeditions – Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What do your trip prices include?

A: Included:

• All first class or best available hotel accommodations based on double occupancy.

• Continental breakfasts in all hotels.

• All transfers by private motor coach or train.

• Porters and baggage handling from airports on first and last day of trip itinerary.

• All entrance fees to sites as outlined in programs.

• All activities, archeological tours, teachings, and personal assistance from our qualified multilingual staff.

• All meals while camping.

Not included:

• Airfare, international or domestic.

• Airport departure taxes.

• Lunch and Dinner unless camping or Amazon Expedition.

• Transfers for early arrivals or late departures.

• Tips and gratuities to guides, porters, bus drivers, or hotel staff.

• Additional hotel nights made necessary by airline schedule changes or other factors.

• Traveler’s insurance.

• Cost of medical immunizations, if any.

• Items of a personal nature.

• Hotel nights are non–transferable.

Q: What level of fitness do I need to be in to enjoy my trip?

A: Our expeditions are designed for all levels of fitness. Some trips are more challenging than others (specifically, the mountain trips: Ausungate, Salkantay and Choquequirao). Talk to one of our staff about your current activity level and the type of experience you are looking for. They’ll be happy to help you choose the right trip. Call 888-437-4077 or 435-647-5988

Q: How should I prepare physically for my Peru trip?

A: You will get the most enjoyment out of your expedition if you are reasonably fit – especially for those who will be visiting the mountains (Ausungate, Salkatay and Choquequirao) where altitude can have an effect on some. Any physical activity including walking, for at least 30 minutes, three times a week can be beneficial.

Q: How do you accommodate people of varying abilities?

A: Our trips attract people of varying abilities so there’s typically someone else traveling at your speed. Our guides and leaders will work with individuals requiring special assistance to ensure that their needs are adequately met.

Q: How long will we be active everyday?

A: Activity will vary by trip and by day – talk to one of our staff for more details on the specific expedition you have chosen.

Most sites require the ability to walk to the sites – these walks range from 30 minutes to 3 hours.

Q: How do your leaders/guides support the trips?

A: One leader or guide takes the lead while another brings up the rear. Arrangements are made prior to the days outing to accommodate those with special needs.

Q: Do I have to carry any of my own luggage or gear on mountain (Ausungate, Salkatay and Choquequirao) trips?

A: You will carry a day pack holding your day’s snacks, clothing and personal items for each day’s activities. All luggage including sleeping bags, and personal camping gear – will be carried by horses or porters; soft sided luggage (without wheels) is necessary for the mountain portions of the trips. You can store hard-sided luggage at the hotel while you are on the mountain journeys.

Q: Do I need to bring a tent for the mountain journeys?

A: Tents and all meals will be provided while on the mountain journeys. You need to bring your sleeping bag, air mattress or thermarest, other camping gear, water bottles and clothing. See our suggested packing list for more detailed information.

Q: Who travels with The Four Winds

A: About half the people who travel with us are between the ages of 35 and 55. Older and younger travelers are also well represented. Most are either students or graduates of The Four Winds.

Q: How large will my group be?

A: The average group size is under 30. Although the overall group size for the Via Illuminata is larger than this, you are part of a smaller tribe with your own guides and leaders.

Q: Are children welcome on Peru Expeditions?

A: Kids are welcome to participate. Kids ages 8-16 may choose to join the “Kids of the Future” program which is offerred every other year and occurs simultaneously to our Via Illuminata and has a specific itinerary geared just to their age groups. Kids younger than 8 will need to be accompanied by a sitter or nanny.

The property is geared towards kids featuring a swimming pool, soccer field and horseback riding.

Q: If I’m traveling alone, will you find me a roommate or can I have a private room?

A: Our prices are based on double room occupancy (two people per room). We will assign roommate or will be happy to accommodate any rooming request you may have. If you prefer a single room, we can arrange this if there is one available – but there is a single room supplement. Our staff can provide you with complete information on the costs and procedures for obtaining a single room.

Q: What is the Four Winds cancellation policy and other terms and conditions?

  • Due to the limited availability of space on our trips and the time required to process trip reservations within our office, your deposit will not be refundable and is non-transferable.
  • We strongly recommend purchasing travel insurance in order to protect yourself in case extenuating circumstances force you to cancel your trip.
  • All reservations are subject to availability. A deposit is required to confirm your reservation. Final payment is due 60 days prior to the program start date.
  • If you must cancel your program, all payments made to and received by The Four Winds Society, less your deposit, will be refunded if written cancellation is received by our office at least 60 days before the program’s start date. If the written cancellation is received between 59 and 45 days, inclusive, before the start date, the cancellation fee is 30% of the cost (which “Cost” includes land, program, and any other costs paid to or incurred by The Four Winds Society relating to your reserved attendance); if the written cancellation is received between 44 and 30 days, inclusive, the cancellation fee is 50% of the Cost; if the written cancellation is received between 29 and 1 day before the start, or if the student fails to attend without providing notice, the cancellation fee is 100% of the Cost.

    All payments are non transferable.

    If a refund is approved, such refund will be made no sooner than 45 days after receipt of the written cancellation notice.

    Although The Four Winds Society will do everything possible to hold programs, courses, and expeditions as scheduled, cancellations may occur for reasons beyond the control of The Four Winds Society. Such cancellations may be the result of acts of God or force majeure (including, but not limited to, earthquakes, volcanoes, severe storms, floods, etc.), political machinations (including, but not limited to, war, closure of borders, etc.), terrorism or threats of terrorist activities, or acts of other third-parties (including, but not limited to, the cancelling of reservations by conference centers, hotels, etc.). If a program, course, or expedition is cancelled for reasons indicated in this paragraph, or for any other reason beyond the control of The Four Winds Society, then the student will be given a credit to attend a future course, program, or expedition of the same nature as the cancelled event for a period of two years. No refunds will be issued for cancellations beyond the control of The Four Winds Society.

    WHETHER A CANCELLATION IS DUE TO A REQUEST BY THE STUDENT, OR WHETHER THE CANCELLATION IS INITIATED BY THE FOUR WINDS SOCIETY FOR ANY REASON, IN NO EVENT WILL THE FOUR WINDS SOCIETY BE RESPONSIBLE FOR PERSONAL EXPENSES INCURRED IN PREPARATION FOR OR IN RELATION TO THE CANCELLED EVENT. SUCH PERSONAL EXPENSES MAY INCLUDE, BUT ARE NOT LIMITED TO, TRAVEL EXPENSES, CHILD CARE EXPENSES, OR ANY OTHER EXPENSE INCURRED BY THE STUDENT. THE STUDENT ACKNOLWEDGES THAT ANY REFUND IDENTIFIED IN THESE POLICIES IS SOLELY FOR MONIES THAT HAVE BEEN PAID DIRECTLY TO AND RECEIVED BY THE FOUR WINDS SOCIETY AS AN EXPENSE FOR THE SUBJECT EVENT, AND THE STUDENT HOLDS THE FOUR WINDS SOCIETY HARMLESS FOR ANY OTHER MONIES THAT THE STUDENT MAY PAY TO THIRD PARTIES IN PREPARATION FOR OR IN RELATION TO ANY COURSE.

Q: How do I sign up for a Peru expedition? How much of a deposit is required?

A: To sign up, call us at: 888-437-4077 or 435-647-5988 from 9AM – 5PM Mountain Time. You can also reserve your trip online with our secure online reservation form at http://www.thefourwinds.com/peruregister.php. The deposit per person, per trip is $500. Deposits may be made by check or major credit card (American Express, Visa or MasterCard). The balance of your trip cost is due 60 days prior to departure. Balances may be paid by check or major credit card. With your authorization we will automatically bill your credit card when the balance is due.

We also offer payment plans so call as soon as possible to discuss payment options.

Q: How do I reserve my trip online?

A: You can access our secure online reservation form by clicking on the “Reserve Now” available on every trip page.

Q: When will I receive more detailed information about my trip so I can start planning?

A: All our trip information is available online which includes a sample itinerary, detailed information about arrival and departure, pre-and post hotel options, public transportation, clothing and gear, passports and visa information as well as travel insurance information.

Q: What if I need to cancel my trip? What are your policies?

A: Cancellations and Refunds: Due to the limited availability of space on our trips and the time required to process trip reservations within our office, your deposit will not be refundable or transferable. We strongly recommend purchasing travel insur­ance in order to protect yourself in case extenuating circumstances force you to cancel your trip. Your cancellation fee will be determined according to the policy outlines below. Exceptions to our cancellation policy cannot be made for any reason, including weather or personal emergencies. There is no refund for arriving late or leaving early. Private room or room upgrades are considered part of the total trip cost and are subject to cancellation fees. Percentage charges are calculated on total trip cost.

Requests for refunds must be received in writing for them to be considered.

Days Prior to Trip Start Amount of refund
60 days 100% minus deposit*
59-45 days 30% minus deposit*
44-30 days 50% minus deposit*
29-1days and no shows 0%

Responsibilities: Guests are required to provide

  1. A signed “release of liability”
  2. Emergency Traveler’s Information,
  3. Flight Information forms

We are unable to allow guests to participate in any aspect of a trip without a signed release form.

These forms are available online and can also be mailed to you.

To view the cancellation policy and terms and conditions view the “Expeditions Terms and Conditions under the “Expedition” tab.

Q: Does the Four Winds offer travel protection insurance?

A: The Four Winds Society does not offer travel insurance directly, however, we STRONGLY recommend that you purchase travel insurance. One option is Travelex Insurance, which offers Trip Cancellation, Trip Interrup­tion, Trip Delay and Baggage insurance. We suggest you purchase travel insurance within three weeks of your initial trip deposit, for the best coverage. For complete details, please visit: www.travelexinsurance.com or call customer service at 1-800-228-9792 Monday – Friday 8AM – 7PM CST. Please refer to Location 44-0014.

Q: Will I need a passport or visa if I am traveling internationally?

A: A valid passport is required for entry into Peru, and ninety day visa is given to US citizens automatically upon entry. For US Citizens, you can go to the web site at http://www.travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html for renewing your passport. All participants will want to carry a second form of photo ID, such as a driver’s license, and have a photocopy of the personal data page of your passport. Your copy of your passport is the easiest way to prove your identity if you were to lose your passport.

If you are traveling with a passport from a different country other than the USA, please call the Peruvian Consulate nearest to you and find out if there are any visa requirements. In the USA, the number is 1-202-833-9860. You can also check the requirements for each country by logging onto www.peru.embassyhomepage.com. Once you enter Peru, and receive your visa please be careful to SAVE this paper until you exit the country.

Q: How do I get to the start of the trip? How will I get back to the airport at the end of the trip?

A: Detailed information about starting and ending times and locations, airport and hotel van transfer are included in the Peru Travel packet. If you wish to make airline reservations prior to receiving you Peru Travel packet, please contact the office and talk to the staff.

Q: How can I arrange travel before and after my Peru trip?

A: Extra nights are available in Lima, Peru if you decide to arrive one day early or if your flight schedule requires you to stay in Lima one night. We recommend:

Ramada Costa del Sol – located at the International Airport Jorge Chavez Lima, Peru

Reservation Phone #011-51-1-711-2020 or 011-51-1-711-2000

Online reservation: www.ramada.com or www.costadelsolperu.com

Ask for Four Winds Society Special Rates.

Extra nights in Cusco, in our Peru Reservation Form choose upgrades and register for:

Pre-Expeditions 1 & 2 day lodging in Cusco.

Q: If I am traveling alone, can I have a private room?

A: A limited number of single rooms are available for a supplemental fee. Requests for private rooms are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Q: Can children have their own room?

A: Children under 16 must share a room with an adult family member or adult family friend.

Q: Do you have special rates for groups?

A: Yes, discounts are available, please contact the office for details.

Q: What is the altitude in the Sacred Valley and how high up will be hiking?

A: Pisaq – Altitude at hotel: 8,000 feet (2,600 meters)

Ausungate – Altitude at base camp: 13,000 feet (3,700 meters)

Salkantay – Altitude at base camp: 14,950 feet (4,200 meters)

Choquequirao – Altitudes: 8,000 – 12,000 feet (2,600 meters – 3,400 meters)

Lake Titicaca – Altitude: 13,000 feet (3,700 meters)

Q: How do I prepare for high altitudes? How do I prevent altitude sickness?

A: In higher altitudes, the oxygen level of the air is lower, making your body work less efficiently. These are some important facts on Higher Altitude Hiking:

  • People differ in their tolerance for high altitude conditions and how their bodies react to the changes in air pressure and oxygen level.
  • There is no relationship between your overall physical fitness level and your tolerance to high altitudes. Furthermore, an improved fitness level might cause you to push harder and over exert your body which is one of the main causes of acute mountain sickness.

Acclimatizing to High Altitudes

  • Acclimatizing to higher altitudes differs for every person. If you have no experience with high altitudes then take extra precautions. Here are the basic rules on Acclimatizing to Higher Altitudes:
  • Start at lower altitudes and walk steadily and slowly to higher altitudes. The acclimatization process takes at least a few days.
  • In general, overexertion is the main cause of high altitude problems and it is a big factor in the occurrence of Acute Mountain Sickness.
  • Overexertion can also cause dehydration which is another ticket to trouble.
  • Try to maintain your walking rhythm at all times. An increased speed means less effective use of energy. Keep your stride very slow and deliberate. Decrease the size of your steps and try to minimize your efforts while maintaining a steady progress. Keep to a slow and steady rhythm and adjust both Hiking Speed and Hiking Rhythm the moment you notice yourself panting or having a highly increased heart rate.In general, a good steady rhythm can help you keep your hiking at the same level and helps you avoid overexertion.

Q: What rites are given on the trips?

A: The 9 rites of initiation will be on the Via and on all mountain expeditions

Q: What will the weather be like?

A: It’s winter in Peru. Typically, the days will warm 60-70° and the evenings cool to cold 40’s.

Q: I have dietary issues – how do I handle this? Does the hotel accommodate travelers with special diets?

A: Special Diets: Please bring any extra food you might need to accommodate any special dietary requirements you may have such as gluten or lactose intolerance, etc.

Vegetarians: If you are a vegetarian, you will have plenty of foods to choose from. The food is very pure and natural.

Menus: Breakfasts are usually buffet style so you can choose what you like. Lunches and dinners are NOT included in the trip costs except in the jungle and the camping portions of the trips. However, at many of the sites a light lunch will be provided. There are hotel restaurant is excellent and there are smaller restaurants nearby to explore. We suggest you bring protein bars, trail mixes, and any other of your favorite snacks.

Safety: Eat only cooked foods, since lettuce and other foods might be washed in non-bottled water. Eat only fruits with peels for the same reason. If you want to experiment further with salads and fresh fruits, eat small portions the first day and see how your tummy does. Many breakfasts include granola, cereals, yogurt, banan­as, oranges, scrambled eggs or omelets, and breads. All of these foods are totally safe. Many lunches might have hot vegetable soups, breads, potatoes, and simple avocado sandwiches. Many dinners will include trout, hot cooked main dishes, soups, so there is an abundance of foods that are easy on your stomach. Avoid food from sidewalk vendors. Our deluxe hotels have excellent hygiene and food preparations and salads are safe to eat there.

Q: What is the currency? Do they take US Dollars?

A: Most places do accept USD. However, we recommend exchanging $200 – $400 dollars at the airport, as well as get a roll or two of small coins (soles). Also bring one and five dollar bills to tip the hotel staff and taxis. You will want to call your bank ahead of the trip to make sure that you have access to ATM’s in a foreign country and which ATM’s will work for your cards. Traveler’s checks are only accepted in some places. When you bring dollars into the country of Peru, they must be new dollars with no tears or rips. Damaged dollars are not accepted in Peru.

Q: Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?

A: For all trips except the Via Illuminata, Amazon and Lake Titicaca (blankets are available for Lake Titicaca but you may wish to bring a sleeping bag)– you should plan on bringing a sleeping bag.

  • For all mountain trips where camping is involved, we recommend bringing a good four season bag that will work well in freezing temperatures (0°) and a lightweight inflatable camping mat.
  • A complete packing list is available on the website

Q. What are average temperatures every day?

A. Layering will be your best bet. As the heat rises during the day, you can shed layers and as it begins to cool in the late afternoon and into the evening you can put them back on.

  • Cusco is at 11,400 elevation – Termperatures range from 60’s during to the day to low 50’s at night
  • Sacred Valley is at 8,500 elevation- Temperatures are in the high 60’s to 70° during the day to 40’s to high 50’s at night
  • Camping for Salkantay, Ausungate and Choquequirao – 50’s – 60’s during the day 20° or below at night
  • Jungle – is at sea level, low 90’s during the day, low 60’s at night, although if a cold front moves in temperatures may drop to the low 50’s.