Hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is a great experience and a must for anyone who is going to travel to Peru. Here is a list of our top 7 things to know when planning this adventure of a lifetime.
Get in shape
Although thousands of people have made the trek up the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, you do still need to be in decent shape. The trail is steep and can be grueling at points. We recommend participating in regular cardio activities for the month leading to your hike. Biking, running, or even taking regular long brisk walks can make a world of difference. Need some encouragement? Try joining a group fitness class at your local gym.
Remember, the Inca Trail is mostly stairs - the stair-master is your friend!
You cannot hike it alone
You must be a part of one of the Machu Picchu tours. This ensures safety and you’ll have expert tour guides leading every step of the way. Another positive is that porters for your OUT Adventures Inca Trail hike will carry your belongings and prepare your camp site, so you spend more time enjoying the scenery.
When to visit
The best time of the year for hiking the inca trail is the dry season between the months of April through October. The trail is closed every February due to flood possibilities and for the vegetation to grow back.
Book well in advance
Your plan for hiking the inca trail should be put into action and booked at least 4-5 months before hand. The number of people allowed on the trail has been reduced making for less space for each tour.
In addition, 2011 is the 100 Year Anniversary of the Re-Discovery of Machu Picchu. Permits are selling out months in advance.
Although we provide clean water daily, we recommend that bring water purification tablets or iodine to help clean the water from the streams. It’s best to wait 60 minutes before drinking.
Prepare to tip your tour guides & group leader
Trip staff play a huge role in making your trip a memorable one. Tipping the tour guides and other helpers is considered customary when you’re finished hiking the inca trail. Bring enough money to tip approximately $2-$3 USD per guide/cook/leader per day.
Tipping also includes a good hand shake and a smile - if you had a great time, let them know!
Don’t leave your belongings lying around
Theft can easily occur, even if the risk has been greatly reduced over the years. Be sure to keep your things close at all times.
No matter where you travel always be aware of your surroundings and play down your level of dress and the amount of jewellery you wear. Keep your phones, cameras and wallets close to your body, inside a closed pocket if possible. Nothing can spoil a great day of sight-seeing more than the loss of belongings and money.
Visit Peru with OUT Adventures:
"Why?" is what we’re often asked when we say that OUT Adventures travels to Morocco. Well, we are always intrigued by interesting and unique cultures and we don’t believe that LGBT Travel needs to necessarily be defined as an uber-gay holiday. Don’t get us wrong, we love to have fun in the sun with a cocktail in hand, surrounded by eye candy, but we believe that destinations such as Morocco offer exciting, eye-opening adventures.
The next question we are asked is usually, “Morocco isn’t very gay-friendly, is it?”. That’s more or less the case, but the country has so much to offer the avid traveller from the food to the history to the sights and of course the shopping! And, you’d never
believe how many people meet our groups and comment on how “normal” we are. Not sure I’d agree that we are normal, in fact I’d suggest that we are pretty extraordinary, but we certainly are an array of ages, professions and come from all walks of life so people in some of these sheltered communities don’t exactly think of “us” when they think “gay”. But that’s what’s so great about gay adventure travel, we have this amazing opportunity to learn and interact with foreign cultures while similarly sharing who we are with these local communities as well. I like to think Morocco is just a little bit gayer thanks to us.
Here are just a few things we did in Morocco…
In Casablanca we visited Hassan II, the third largest mosque in the world. I may have uttered the word “Jesus” when our guide informed us that the building was built in the 80’s, has room for over 100,000 worshippers and has a fully retractable roof. Ooops, sorry!
Then there’s Fes, which is said to have the world’s largest continuous car-free urban area - apparently motorcycles aren’t factored into that equation. Until now, I’ve never found myself dodging left, right, front and back while shopping. On one side of the narrow street you have a live chicken butcher, and on the other a custom ceramics shop. Yes, that was certainly a unique experience and a bit of a culture shock.
Now, a trip to Morocco isn’t complete without a visit to the Sahara. We weren’t up for camping in the desert, so opted for a simple hotel, and by simple I mean literally on the edge of the Sahara with a fantastic pool and their own caravan of camels to lead guests into the dunes. And that’s just what we did. After a toast with Moroccan Rum (sugared mint tea) we hopped on these friendly-ish animals and headed into the desert - what amazing photos and memories!
Last but certainly not least, Marrakech is the jewel in Morocco’s crown. This splendid city is urban, hip and cool yet retains the history and mystery of this northern African country. Expect the unexpected. We stayed at the magnificent Riad Opale and had the 7 room city-home directly in the Medina to ourselves. True luxury (and well deserved!) after a week of travelling through the countryside. We had delicious meals; shopped til’ we dropped; and partied like it was 1999! Marrakech has wild night life and we were all worse for wear after a night of drinks, dancing and laughs. Needless to say we somehow stumbled across the local gay scene. Gaydar is one gift that should never be taken for granted (and it packs light!). One of the highlights of our stay here was surely the trip to the hamman. We experienced both a local hamman ($6) and a more upscale version for tourists (approx. $30). This is a must for all visitors and includes steam, sauna, massage and scrubbing…need I say more?
In the end, if you desire an experience far beyond a typical getaway I would highly recommend Morocco. On the cusp of Europe and Africa and a major centre of Islamic liberalism, explore this culture steeped in both Islamic and European history. Morocco has so much to offer that you just might be booking a return visit.
Find out more about gay Morocco - experience OUT Adventures Comfort Morocco.
Check out the OUT Adventures Gay Morocco gallery.
For information about our tours visit OUT-Adventures.com.
Gay Beirut will find you before you find it…or so you might think!
What an awesome city! There are plenty of reasons why this city was called the Paris of the Middle East. And there are plenty of reasons why it will undoubtably regain that title. Beirut is an amazing city: beautiful and complicated; old and new; war torn but resilient. I absolutely loved my ten days in Lebanon and I would return in a heart beat. It has everything the gay traveller could possibly want. Here’s my list:
So, about gay beirut finding you before you find it. The reason I say this is that Lebanese men check each other out. It’s a casual stare. A 1-2 look over that can and is mistaken for a “cruise”. My first few days there I thought every man in Beirut wanted me…no such luck!! It was just the Lebanese stare. But hey…it’s still fun! And like I said the men here are beautiful.
Will you find gay men and women in Beirut? Absolutely…lots of them but as I said life can be complicated in Lebanon. Most Lebanese live at home until they are married so this poses a bit of a problem for most gay men and women. I would have to say that it’s probably difficult for most people to live a truly ‘out’ life. But live a great life they do and the best time to visit are the summer months of June through to September. The weather is hot, the beach clubs are hopping and the bars and nightlife are amazing.
OUT Adventures would love to host a select group to Lebanon. This would likely be a 10 day trip that would include the highlights of Lebanon and since we’re in that part of the world - we’ll include 3 nights in Jordan to take in the sites of Petra.
If you’re interested in learning more about OUT in Lebanon & Jordan:
Originally published on GuySpy.com on 12-April-2011.
With just enough time to catch my breath after an urban adventure in San Jose (read part 1 here) I rounded up the boys and we headed to La Fortuna, home of Arenal Volcano. Due to cloudy conditions we weren’t able to see the volcano. What to do, what to do? We decided to get wet! And by wet, I’m referring to a half day of white water rafting with Costa Rica Descents (get your mind out of the gutter boys). With rapids reaching category 4 & 5 (out of 6), the Toro River, which translates to ”Bull River”, definitely lived up to its name.
Of course, I couldn’t go to Costa Rice without soaring through the cloudforest on a zip line. And when it comes to zip-lining, Monteverde is the place to be. Our local partner 100% Aventura gave us bang for our buck with 11 zip lines through the forest, one which is nearly a kilometre long!
And, how could I forget the Tarzan Swing? One minute you are standing on a platform and the next you are literally swinging between the trees in the final step of the adventure. Check out the video below. Now, I won’t lie, I tried to butch it up for this one, to which I now shake my head. Attempting “chest out, shoulders back” while plummeting 30 feet to the ground resulted in my legs flying above my head (wait, they did tell us to cross our legs!) and almost landing on the unassuming straight boy acting as a safety on the bottom. Poor guy. Lucky me.
Now, what better way to end such an amazing adventure than to stay at the gay owned and managed Villa Roca, located halfway between Manuel Antonio National Park and Quepos. With their selection of over 15 rooms and an infinity pool with a stunning view it becomes tempting not to explore the lush landscape and beaches below.
Difficult as it was, we managed to pull ourselves away from the boys, the pool and Latin Lovers (the favourite cocktail at the Villa) to visit the gay beach, La Playita. Thongs - and I mean flip flops are not recommended to those venturing to this relatively secluded beach. Function beats fashion here boys - pull out the Tivas because you’ll be climbing over rocks and timing your visit with low tide. Fortunately the snow birds will happily warn newcomers when they should venture back to safety to avoid high tide. We made back to the Villa Roca infinity pool just in time for the sunset cocktail hour (phew).
As is always the case with travel, it finally came time to say goodbye to this wonderful country. With it’s balance of hardcore adventure, exotic nature and wildlife, sexy men and great food I won’t forget this tropical paradise anytime soon - in fact I’m already planning to head back later this year. No matter what you’re into, Costa Rica has all the elements for a stellar vacation. Pura Vida baby!
Originally published on GuySpy.com on 15-March-2011.
Pure Life, Plenty of Life, This is living, Going Great, Real living or Cool. These are all Costa Rican translations for Pura Vida. On a two week adventure (with 9 other gay men) to this lush eco-paradise I unlocked the true meaning myself. From surfing, zip lining and rafting to sunset cocktails with men from around the globe, Costa Rica didn’t disappoint.
I arrived in San Jose just a month ago, and contrary to many guidebooks, this is a great stop for gay travellers and acts as a hub for this fascinating country. Now, I must admit that I wasn’t at all prepared to have such a great time in San Jose. On the first night I met up with my crew and we went for dinner with a local Costa Rican couple who I had been put in touch with through a close friend – I believe the best way to experience a new country is through the locals, and boy was I right! Upon arrival at the stylish yet casual Cafe Mundo we were pleasantly surprised to be met by not one, but eight stunningly handsome locals! This is where I say they were boring, right? Wrong! Our new friends proved to be fantastic hosts, recommending their favourite restaurants, shopping areas and clubs. From dinner they whisked us away to Club Oh! where I was blown away, not only by the sheer size of the club, but also the elaborate drag show that would surely raise the brow of Gaga herself. Such a great time!
If you are looking for something to do during the day, the Museum of Contemporary Art & Design is located in the former National Liquor Factory in a very central location. After you’ve had your fill of art, head across the street to AVENIDA Uno Cafe where you can pick up a few souvenirs or enjoy a game of chinese pick up sticks while you sip on a Mocha.
Now, believe it or not, the best meal I had in San Jose was at La Esquina de Buenos Aires, an intimate little Argentinean restaurant where I was surrounded by fantastic art, handsome waiters and the hippest crowd in town - oh, and the food was fab (try the homemade pasta or the steak).
Moral of the story - trust your fellow gays, and not the guidebooks! San Jose shouldn’t be missed. I barely had time to catch my breath and a wink or two of sleep and I was off to La Fortuna, Monteverde and Manuel Antonio for jungles, beaches and river rafting. Watch out for part 2 of my adventure coming soon…
Jeremy’s OUT in Brazil & Argentina Video Photo Album
What could be better for my first foray into gay adventure travel than exploring the seductive landscapes and romantic cities of Argentina and Brazil? Nothing short of going back again next year!
To be honest, I really didn’t know what to expect on this trip. I had never travelled with a group (let alone a group of gay men!) so I was admittedly anxious as I began my journey south. Travel is about personal growth too though, so no sooner had I waved goodbye to my inner control freak than I happily found myself sharing drinks on the sidewalk cafés of Buenos Aires with stylish porteños and lounging on the beach amongst the tanned cariocas of Rio de Janeiro.
Now, don’t be fooled by the “comfort” status of this trip. Exploring this rim of South America is not only about sipping Malbec wine and feasting on blue cheese tenderloin. Waking up early to grab a bite at OuiOui for breakfast, visiting the Evita Museum for noon, a quick peak at the Casa Rosada, my first tango lesson, then surviving visual tease that is Inside Resto Bar, drinks at Sitches and dancing till the early morning at Amerika sure does take its toll on a guy. And that’s only Buenos Aires. Evidently it was time to relax. There was so much more to explore and the beautiful city dwellers of Argentina and Brazil would have to wait – at least for a couple days!
As glamorous as city life can be, the highlights of my travels are always in the nature and culture far removed from urban sprawl. Iguazu Falls, falling on the borderline between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, is a stretch of over 275 separate waterfalls that undoubtedly puts our poor Niagara to shame. The governments of Argentina and Brazil have established eco-parks along both sides of the falls allowing visitors to mingle with the diverse flora and fauna, visit the peak of the Devils Throat (its largest cataract) and most excitingly take a raft under several of the smaller falls. Experiencing the falls from under and inside the falling water is such a surreal and humbling moment – everyone should be so lucky!
Visiting the old Portuguese colonial town of Paraty in Brazil was also an exciting chance to relax and be saturated in the beauty of the Brazilian coastline. Here cobbled streets connect whitewashed corridors peppered with small shops and restaurants while street entertainers tease the young children of vacationing Brazilian families. Always within eyesight was the coastline, and along it the many traditional wooden yachts - one of which (the Banzay) took us along the coast where we island hopped to several isolated beaches and swam with tropical fish. Amazing, right? Then again, the on-boat caipirinhas and fresh fish lunch included didn’t hurt either. Understandably, falling to sleep that night at the four-star Pousada Porto Imperial took little effort. Especially knowing a tantalizing buffet breakfast was awaiting me the next morning.
Can you tell I loved eating in South America?
Moving onwards was a bittersweet experience as the final leg of our tour was upon us, but bright eyed and bushy tailed we edged across the coastline towards the “Marvelous City” of Rio de Janeiro. The contrast between the outskirts of the city and the bright beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana were a shocking reminder of the realities of a country in development. At the same time, there was a definite beauty to be found watching the hillside favelas glow at night from the hotel rooftop. I will surely be joining a favela tour on my next visit. The city has so much to offer from climbing winding roads to Christ the Redeemer, visiting the Sugar Loaf by cable car, drinking caipirinhas on the beach, haggling at antique markets, or chilling to bossa nova in street side cafés. Having spent only one night in Rio has left me with an even greater desire to return. And most upsetting, as my taxi left our hotel, gay pride celebrations had begun on the Copacabana strip as my new friends and travel companions waved goodbye (with beers in hand, ready to join the crowds no less).
Alas, the beauties of Rio will have to wait until next time!
Plan your Gay Brazil & Argentina adventure today!
When you think Nepal, what comes to mind? Mount Everest perhaps? Kathmandu, or even the Himalayan Mountains. But have you ever thought of Nepal as the next gay travel destination? Probably not, but I can say that I definitely have. Over the past few years, Nepal has gained much media attention for their progress not only legalizing homosexuality (2007) but also with promise to be the first Asian nation to legalize same-sex marriage. On top of this, an openly gay activist and member of parliament announced plans to promote Nepal as a gay-friendly destination globally.
As an avid adventurer, Nepal has always had an appeal to me personally, but never as a gay destination. After experiencing this wonderful country in October, with a group of 12 gay men, I would have to say that in a very reserved manner, Nepal delivered. Most people in both rural and urban areas were very welcoming.
We visited the bustling city of Kathmandu where we stayed at the famous Kathmandu Guesthouse and had a fantastic dinner at gay-owned Mitra Cafe. We also visited Fire Club which is apparently the gay hangout on Friday nights. It was a far stretch from a typical western gay bar, but there were a few “family” members to chat it up with. All in all, a great time.
Then we made it to the village of Nagarkot where we stayed at the fabulous Hotel Country Villa which is nestled on the top of a hill overlooking both the Kathmandu Valley and the Annapurna Mountain range. On a clear day you can even see Everest. Then on to the adventure! We spent two amazing days rafting the Trisuli River followed by a short visit to Pokhara to supply-up for our five day trek through the Siklis Valley. What an experience! The bonds formed among group members will be life lasting, the views were spectacular and the sense of accomplishment was huge. The peak of the experience for most of the travelers was definitely waking up above the clouds during this trek, with an unobstructed view of the Annapurnas. Truly amazing, so much that it gives me chills to this day.
Plan your Gay Nepal Adventure now!
For pictures, check out our Nepal Gallery online.