FAQs for Willka T'ika Guests
Find answers to all your questions here!
FAQs are organized by topic
Q: What do I need to know before I arrive?
Once you have made your reservation, you will receive detailed “Pre-Trip Information” which will give you some important advice about booking your travel to and within Peru, getting to Willka T’ika from Lima, directions from Cusco, and what to bring. Here are few of the most common topics.
Registered Guests: Everyone at Willka T’ika must be a registered guest or staff. If you’d like to invite someone from outside they will need to be registered. This allows us to protect the safety of our center and is why most guests don’t lock their doors. If someone from outside wants to enter Willka T’ika, s/he will need to be accompanied by a staff member at all times.
Lost Luggage: Nothing puts a damper on your trip more than lost luggage. It can be incredibly frustrating to hunt down a missing suitcase and often requires spending hours on hold with your airline. This is why we encourage keeping your essentials in your carry-on luggage and making sure to carefully recheck your luggage in Lima before boarding your Cusco flight. Many a savvy traveler has been convinced that her suitcase would automatically be checked through to Cusco only to find out that it was left behind in Lima. Please take care and responsibility for your own luggage. If you lose a bag, we can loan you clothes or give you a toothbrush, but we won’t be able to go to the airport and recover it for you.
Booking Flights: Most international travelers book flights that land in Lima in the late evening / early morning and connect ASAP to a morning flight to Cusco. If you have a long layover, you can book a room at the Lima Airport (Wyndham Costa del Sol). If you want to spend time seeing Lima, we recommend doing so at the end of your trip.
Changing Flights: Any changes to your (return) flight will need to be made on-line or via telephone, which means spending some time on-hold. The Cusco airport does not have a Ticket Sales office so it is very hard to get them to change your ticket. They will simply give you a number to call.
Taxis: We work with a few professional taxi drivers with well maintained and insured vehicles and excellent driving records. We recommend them especially for your arrival transfer which is 75 minutes and can be quite stressful to navigate after a long flight. Once you’re here, you should feel free to take local taxis, mototaxis (tuk tuks), colectivos (public transport) or walk the trails around the Sacred Valley. If you’d like us to book you a taxi, we will only use our trusted drivers who are also happy to take you around the Sacred Valley to visit the key sites. Departing transfers: the night before your scheduled departure, taxi transfers can be arranged and paid for directly with reception.
Car Rental: We do not recommend renting a car for Cusco or the Sacred Valley. Renting a car is complicated in Peru and driving in Cusco can be challenging. There are many safe, reliable, and affordable sources of transportation to take you around the Sacred Valley such as taxis, vans, colectivos, etc. If you speak Spanish, have an international drivers license and good insurance, and plan to drive many hours outside of Cusco, then perhaps a care rental might make sense.
Q: How do I need to dress at Willka T’ika?
The Sacred Valley has the most moderate weather in the Andes which means generally sunny warm days, and cool nights. Unless you’re planning a serious trek, there is no bad time to come to the Sacred Valley. And since weather can change dramatically at high altitude, it is always wise to have a hat, rain/wind jacket and a few layers.
March through May (the Andean fall months) are sunny and the mountains and fields are beautifully green. Soft rains may fall at night in February & March.
June through August (the winter months) are sunny and dry. After sunset, it gets cold enough for a sweater or jacket. Frost occurs only rarely.
September through November (the lovely Andean spring months) see warmer nights. Soft rains at night may begin in November.
December through February, summer vegetables and fruits ripen, and the Willka T’ika garden is in full bloom. Rains, if they come, are over quickly. January marks the beginning of the summer rainy season. Mornings are often clear and dry, and the rains arrive in the afternoon and continue through the night.
Be prepared for relatively high elevations. Approximate elevations above sea-level: Willka T’ika’s 9,420 feet, Cusco’s 11,150 feet, Machu Picchu 7,800 feet
Q: What will I be eating at Willka T’ika?
Willka T’ika prepares farm-to-table vegetarian meals, sourced from our own organic gardens. With advance notice, we happily cater to vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free diets. There are fresh herbal teas and organic coffee available as well as beer and wine. Breakfast is served buffet style with a range of fresh fruits, breads, jams, cereals, and eggs. Dinner is a set 3 course meal, including a delicious soup, home-grown salad, vegetarian main course, and dessert. If you’re still hungry after all that, please ask for seconds! We do not serve lunch unless it is ordered in advance but there are many tasty dining options closeby. And if you’re celebrating a special occasion, let us know. We love baking cakes for our guests!
Cash: Peruvians won’t accept any bills that are torn or very worn. Please bring only crisp, new bills for shopping or tipping. US dollars are accepted at Willka T’ika but most places and people will prefer Peruvian Soles. Credit cards can be used at Willka T’ika or at tourist stores or hotels. You can withdraw cash at the ATM machine in the airport or upon arrival in Urubamba. Just ask the taxi to stop at the “BCP” bank.
Tips: Willka T’ika’s staff all work very hard to make you feel like you are home. Although you may not see them all, there are 20 people tending the 7 Chakra gardens, organic vegetables, buildings, kitchen, office, and bar. To show them your appreciation, you can leave a gratuity in the box by the bar. It will be shared equally by the staff in the Quechua tradition of “ayni” or reciprocity. Our massage therapists are independent from our staff and can be tipped directly. You can also leave an envelope for them in the office.
Taxes/Surcharges: You may notice a 10% service charge on your bill. According to Peruvian tax law, hotels and dining establishments are entitled to set a surcharge on consumption of up to 13% of the value of the services they provide. Peru also has an 18% Value Added Tax (IGV). Fortunately, tourists are exempt from this tax for their accommodations but only if we show the government a copy of your passport with an entry date within 6 months of your visit. This explains why every hotel in Peru will ask for a copy of your passport. If they didn’t, you would be charged an additional 18%.
Room Pricing: At Willka T’ika, we offer two types of rooms: garden and luxury rooms. All rooms have garden or mountain views but garden rooms are smaller. Because room rates include 1-2 meals, rooms are priced by room occupancy. For example, a single luxury room can be booked for 1 single guest only, and is charged a single occupancy rate even though the room may have 2 queen beds. The same applies to a luxury king room, which could be booked for one or two people. If a luxury king room is booked for 2 adults it would be charged for double occupancy.
Phone Plans: Most cell phone carriers have a roaming plan that you can pre-order for around $10/day. We recommend having a Whatsapp Account since most of Peru lives and breathes via Whatsapp. This will be the best way if not only way to communicate with your guide, taxi driver, restaurant or yoga teacher.
Wifi & Gadgets: We have a separate WiFi area for those who have to work. Willka T’ika was voted “Best Digital Detox Retreat” in 2022 partly because we keep the gadgets confined to one area. Peru uses 220 volts which means you should not bring hair dryers, shavers, or other appliances from the US. Laptops and phones generally have built in converters and can be charged without a problem.
Laundry: We have a laundry service that usually turns around in 24 hours. Unfortunately, we do not have a laundry machine that guests can use. Please put any dirty laundry the designated bag in the room and complete the itemized list. For immediate attention, drop the bag off at the office on your way out.
Lost & Found and Shipping: Peruvian mail is unreliable. We’ve only had one post card make it here in the last year! There are private, expensive shipping services like DHL for emergency items (like lost credit cards and important documents.) To send via DHL you will need to go to Cusco and wait in line at the DHL office, which will take several hours. Regrettably, this also means that if you leave something behind, we will not be able to mail it to you. We recommend mailing your postcards when you get home! Shipping TO Peru is also very complicated and usually involves expensive duty fees and complex customs form. If you want to donate anything to our Children’s Fund, please send it with another guest.
Spa Services: Please ask us for our updated spa menu which explains in detail our medicinal solar baths, therapeutic massage options, crystal bed treatment, and home-made essential oils, massage oils and hydrosol sprays.
Pet friendly: We have two adorable dogs: Kallpa (German Shepherd) and Apu (Golden Labrador). Kallpa (“Strength” in Quechua) may bark at you the first time he sees you. If this is a concern, please let us know. Apu will be your best friend the moment he sees you but please don’t feed him! Our dogs love guests but are naturally territorial. As such, we unfortunately cannot allow other dogs to come inside the center.
Once you have confirmed your booking, we will send you detailed information about some options for Machu Picchu. Make sure to plan ahead as entrance tickets and train tickets sell out fast, especially between May and September. Although it is possible to “do it yourself” and save a little money, the vast majority of our guests prefer to have help organizing a day trip to the “Lost City of the Incas.” It can be quite complicated finding train, bus, hike, and entrance tickets and requires advanced planning. Due to the high cost of this excursion and the increasing restrictions, most of our guests depart early in the morning from Willka T’ika and return in time for dinner, allowing them to travel lightly and maximize their time in the citadel.
Q: What kind of retreats do you offer?
Having run yoga and wellness retreats in Peru since 1995, we have learned that different retreat leaders have different needs.
Some leaders like us to take care of all the details for them and sign up for our signature “Magical Journey” programs. They take care of recruiting participants and leave the logistics (tickets, trains, transport, guides, hotels, etc) to us. Over one-third of our groups are return leaders who come back year after year.
Other leaders have their own travel planner and receive “Accommodation only” rates. This means that their retreat does not include the many special programmatic elements that we offer, such as ceremonies with our Q’ero Pakko, coca leaf readings, visit to a mountain school, and personally guided tours to sacred sites and excursions to Cusco, P’isaq, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu.
We also allow individuals and families/friends to visit Willka T’ika. These visitors usually book on-line and may benefit from special deals on our website. Individuals may sometimes be able to join group retreats listed on our site.
Finally, we run our own Essential Wellness Retreat every other month. These 7-day programs are designed to provide a deeply therapeutic experience, using our 7 Chakra Gardens as a template for healing and personal transformation. Rather than visiting all the popular sites, we stay close to our home which means that each day includes yoga or meditation, nature connection or hikes, Andean ceremonies and therapeutic treatments.
Q: Can I do my own retreat without a group?
Of course! Many travelers come here on their own to reconnect with themselves. Some prefer to be active and see the many attractions of the Sacred Valley while others prefer to simply relax in the 7 Chakra Gardens and enjoy our spa services. Here are some ways you might craft your own personal retreat:
- Take a guided tour of the 7 Chakra Gardens (1 hr., No charge)
- Enjoy a yoga class in our Yoga Shala (1 hr., $15-$40)
- Self-guided hike to the Salt Mines of Maras (3 hrs, ~$3)
- Box Lunch to take on hike ($10)
- Flower bath after dinner (1-2 hrs, $50)
- Morning yoga class (1 hr., $15-$40)
- Self-guided hike to the Incan Chullpas (2 hrs., No charge)
- Tour Urubamba’s Seminario Ceramic Studio (1 hr., No charge)
- Take moto taxi back to Willka T’ika (~$1)
Q: Can I do yoga every day?
You’re coming to the right place! Willka T’ika has two beautiful, sun-lit yoga shalas and you are welcome to use them if they are available. Our retreats have priority and most will reserve a yoga room for a few hours each day. But you should not have any problem finding a time and place to practice. Both rooms are fully equipped with mats, blocks, straps, and blankets. Our original Yoga Wasi room can accommodate 40 mats. And our giant Condor Runtu room has hosted yoga teaching trainings for as many as 70 yoga teachers. If you would like a private yoga class, we have several excellent local yoga teachers we can recommend. The cost is $15-$40 depending on how many students are in the class.
Q: What kind of Ceremonies can I join?
See our list of ceremonies and optional activities available to all guests (pending availability)
More energy for activities?
Consider reserving a guide to take you on a spectacular half day hike to nearby caves, waterfalls or lagoons. Book a mountain bike adventure above the Salt Mines or a horse-back riding tour along the Vilcanota River. There is also zip lining, river rafting, paddle boarding, paragliding, and ATV tours to be had. And don’t forget about the Incan ruins of Moray, Ollantaytambo and P’isaq or the weaving demonstrations in Chinchero.
More interested in going inwards?
Take our Chakra Journal into the garden of your choice for a suggested meditation. Curl up in our library with an inspiring book or play one of our instruments in the music room. Try our unique crystal bed therapy and make your own healing teas from our medicinal herb spiral. Book an Andean massage with one of our expert body workers. Allow your time at Willka T’ika to be your gift to yourself.
Q: Can I do a trek while I’m in the Sacred Valley?
Yes, there is amazing trekking in this part of the Andes. If you can add another 4-6 days to your itinerary, we can recommend outfitters to take you on the Inca Trail, Lares Trek, Salkantay Trek and the Ausangate circuit. Each has varying levels of difficulty and expense. Once you have confirmed your booking with us, we will be happy to connect you with our preferred and highly experienced trekking operator. We recommend spending at least 3 days at Willka T’ika (and Cusco) first to acclimate.
Inca Trail: 3-4 days. This classic trek is expensive and very popular. Must be booked far in advance. Easily accessed from Willka T’ika en route to Machu Picchu.
Lares Trek: 2-3 days. Less crowded, more affordable and as beautiful as any Andean trek can be. Combine with a visit to Lares hot springs. Easily accessible from Willka T’ika.
Salkantay Trek: 4-5 days. A longer way to hike to Machu Picchu. Can be done to include part of the Inca Trail. Luxury lodges are also available. The pass is 4600 m (15,000 ft)
Ausangate Trek: 4-5 days. The mother of all treks. Circumnavigate this holy “Apu” or mountain deity, with passes over 5200 m (17,000 ft).
Rainbow mountain: 1 day. Close to Ausangate and just as high, this popular day trek involves 7-8 hours of driving and should only be done after proper acclimatization. We don’t recommend trying to “squeeze” this hike in as there are other equally stunning day hikes that can be done with half the driving time and a much more comfortable altitude.
Q: What else should I see in Peru?
Peru is a very diverse and expansive country with endless opportunities to experience natural beauty, ancient cultures, and culinary delights. For those who have 2 weeks or more here are a few of our favorite excursions:
Lake Titicaca: 2-3 days. The highest navigable lake in world is only a short flight away. Here you can visit pristine islands and indigenous communities by boat. Combine with a drive to the Colca Canyon and visit to Arequipa.
Arequipa & Colca Canyon: 2-3 days. This gorgeous colonial town overlooks volcanoes, Spanish convents, and some of Peru’s best dining. After a night in this vibrant town, you can drive to the majestic Colca Canyon and see the condors, a breathtaking experience.
Visit the Rainforest: There are several ways to see the jungle in Peru and most can be done in 2-3 days. If you want to experience the actual Amazon river, fly to Iquitos (which can be done from Lima). If you prefer something a bit closer, visit a jungle lodge by Puerto Maldonado (which can be done from Cusco). If you want a pristine paradise for bird watching, consider a longer trip to Manú National Park.
Lima and the Nazca Lines: 1-2 days. Lima is a gigantic metropolis but for those who love the beach and especially seafood (ceviche!), it is very easy to add a day here at the end of your trip. If you have more than 1 day, we recommend a day trip to see the mysterious Nazca Lines in Ica.
Q: Do you have private programs for my family or small group of friends?
Willka T”ika offers exclusive private cultural tours and wellness programs for small family gatherings, or groups of single women and men traveling together. Please see our sample FIT (For Independent Traveler) fully-inclusive daily itinerary and cost here.
You can also speak to our USA Reservations Office and let them know what you are specifically looking for. They will be delighted to design a special program focusing on your needs and interests – taking care of everything for you!
Our meticulously planned programs are based at Willka T’ika and visit Cusco, P’isaq and other Sacred Valley sites, and Machu Picchu. Tour programs include safe reliable group transport, an excellent professional guide who accompanies the group on all outings, delicious organic vegetarian meals at Willka T’ika, one or two nights in Cusco and a full day or overnight at Machu Picchu.
Enjoy traditional Andean Ceremonies, a coca- leaf reading, as well as special time in Willka T’ika’s Chakra Gardens. Other options include hiking and guided walking tours of the traditional local markets filled with native Andean foods and a visit to one of the Quechua mountain community schools, where an “ayni” reciprocal exchange project is available.
Andean Spa services and full use of yoga facilities are available with private lessons from an excellent local yoga teacher. Nearby optional activities include horse riding and zip line or mountain biking adventures. Previous private groups attest to the fact that time at Willka T’ika combined with tours to ancient sites offers the most fulfilling, cost-effective Peru experience.
For further information to reserve a private retreat journey for a small group of guests, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Over the years, we’ve received an increasing number of inquiries asking about Wachuma (San Pedro) and Ayahuasca ceremonies. In the Sacred Valley, there are many people offering plant medicine and we feel strongly that it’s important to do your own research and use your own intuition before choosing a particular practitioner. As such, we don’t make these types of recommendations over e-mail. However, once we meet in person and understand your needs a bit better, we are happy to point you in the right direction. In the meantime, we recommend reviewing our Plant Medicine Handbook.
For reasons which we have written about on Willka T’ika’s blog, we do not offer ayahuasca ceremonies at Willka T’ika. That said, many people pursuing plant medicine elsewhere have found our gardens to be the perfect sanctuary to prepare for their ceremonies beforehand as well as to integrate the experience afterwards.
Q: Can I participate in a San Pedro Ceremony?
A: We currently only offer San Pedro (Wachuma) Ceremonies on our 7 day Essential Wellness Retreat, as part of the “3rd Eye” ceremony on Day 6. This gives us 5 full days to help you prepare for this powerful ceremony. If you are interested in joining one of our Essential Wellness Retreats, they are hosted every two months and you can find more details here. Regrettably, it is not possible to join the ceremony without first doing the full program and preparation.
Q: I’ve booked a few nights at Willka T’ika and would love to do a ceremony in your gardens.
For the safety of all our guests as well as to protect the sacred energy of Willka T’ika, only plant medicine ceremonies led by our staff and partners are allowed at Willka Tika. If you would like to lead your own ceremony, we kindly ask that you find another location for your ceremony. This applies to any entheogens including Ayahuasca, San Pedro, Psilocybin, Kambo, DMT, etc. We are happy to allow leaders to lead non-psychoactive plant ceremonies at Willka T’ika (such as Cacao). We also work very closely with the sacred coca leaf and offer traditional K’intu blessings and despachos with our Q’ero shaman (or Pakko).
Q: Great. So can I lead my own Cacao ceremony?
Probably. We’ll still need to chat about how you want to prepare the cacao, where you plan to serve it, and what the ceremony will entail. On our Essential Wellness Programs, we offer a Cacao ceremony on Day 4 of our 7 Day Retreat as a wonderful heart-opening experience that helps prepare our guests for the San Pedro ceremony on Day 6.
Q: I know an amazing Shaman. Can she come to Willka T’ika and lead my group’s ceremony?
We’d love to meet your shaman and perhaps work with her someday. However, building a professional relationship takes years. We can only allow shamans to lead a ceremony at Willka Tika if we’ve worked with them extensively.
Q: I’ve been called to Peru to study plants and to learn from their wisdom. How can I follow that calling?
We have tremendous respect for the teachings of master plants and encourage you to approach your studies with discipline and humility. As we mentioned in our blog, there is a lot of ground work to be done when setting on this path and we believe that to do this work properly, one must be fully committed. Since 1995, Willka T’ika has been a wellness center focusing on Andean cosmology, not plant medicine. Our calling has been about cultivating mindfulness, honoring Pachamama and sharing the ancient wisdom of the Quechua people in the Sacred Valley. As most master plants come from other regions of Peru, we encourage our guests to go to the original source of these plants and connect with them there. We believe that working with plants is indeed a calling and only those who are fully committed to it, should be leading ceremonies.
Can I work at Willka T’ika?
For the last 25 years, Willka T’ika has employed 20 local Quechua neighbors to take care of all our hospitality needs: preparing organic vegetarian meals, tending to our 7 Chakra Gardens, cleaning and maintaining our 35 guest rooms, and handling all local reservations and administration. Our Quechua staff are our family and we have always tried to hire within their families whenever possible. As such, it is quite rare for us to hire anyone outside the local community of Urubamba. That said, we are always looking for good yoga teachers and we have a very rigorous internship program that attracts talented students from some of the world’s best schools. For more information, please take a look at our blog.
Join our monthly newsletter and stay up-to-date with the latest wellness retreats, hotel specials, and happenings at Willka T’ika and the Sacred Valley.