Before I reveal the best price for a Peru trek, I need to explain a concept I’ve been mulling over recently. When we think of the “best” rate or price for something, are we actually thinking about the lowest price? But maybe those words shouldn’t be interchangable, especially when we’re talking about something we really want to work well.
When people ask me for the best price on a four day trek in Peru, I usually say it’s about $500 per person- I consider this the lowest cost for a decent trip. This would be like a last-minute sale. And at this price you’re paying for the basics, but you can upgrade a bit (like getting a private departure or hiking on your ideal dates).
However, reading through travel blogs and forums, you’ll find loads of people bragging about rock bottom prices for their treks. This week I came across some surprising readers’ comments on the New York Times travel section. In response to an article about the places to see in Peru, someone suggested doing the 5-day Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu because “[it’s the] best $150 you’ll ever spend.”
Sounds like a great price at first, but not once you break it down. A five-day trek at $150 means you’re spending $30 a day. That certainly wouldn’t pay for three decent meals a day, entrance to Machu Picchu, and a living wage for your guide or porters. In fact, that probably wouldn’t pay for a mule and a guide. Not to mention that it definitely wouldn’t cover your transportation back to Cusco or to Machu Picchu at the end of your trek. Wow. Sounds like an awesome trip.
Think about it like this: If someone offered you a Ferrari for $20, you’d probably wonder if the car used to be a meth lab or if it was stolen or if it would just fall apart in 5 minutes. Because when it comes to a car, you’d want it to be reliable, legal and safe, and that comes at a certain cost. So when we think about booking a trip, we should probably apply the same logic. You especially want a trek to be well organized, safe, and fun.
I believe that you can save money in all sorts of ways when you’re traveling. Eating delicious street food or sleeping in a simple hostel are excellent ways to save dollars. But your trek? I have friends who went on cheap treks where they ran out of food or the guides had no emergency medical kit. Now I’m all for looking around for deals and comparing prices, but it’s smart to know what prices are too good to be true.