The Short Inca Trail To Machu Picchu Is Not Short On Adventure

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Inca trail permits for the first months of 2017 sold out quickly in January, and many people were disappointed at not being able to get their hands on a permit. Let’s not panic yet, what some people don’t know is that permits for the short Inca Trail to Machu Picchu are still available. The short Inca Trail is an excellent choice for an alternative way to reach Machu Picchu by hiking. Many people underestimate this hike, thinking it won’t be as fun as the long version but they are wrong; the short Inca Trail is not short of adventure.

The Short Inca Trail is an adventure that anyone in decent physical condition should undertake. The whole tour takes two days and one night, and every minute of it is filled with so much fun. I recommend people to do a full Sacred Valley tour the day before the hike to acclimatize properly and to spend the night in the beautiful town of Ollantaytambo.

The first part of this hike is a pleasant train ride from Ollantaytambo to the 104 km. The slow speed of the train makes it easy for people to enjoy the view of the local farming communities and the ecological diversity along the way.

The scenery will take your breath away as you travel up the Machu Picchu canyon and watch it turn green and lush.  As the valley narrows, you will be aware of the massive Veronica mountain looming over you and serving as a spectacular backdrop for this amazing adventure.

As the train makes its way alongside the Urubamba river, the temperature rises as you leave the high Andean mountains behind and enter the warmer cloud forest of the National Sanctuary of Machu Picchu.

Once you get to our stop at the 104Km, you will cross the bridge over the Urubamba River and arrive at a checkpoint where you will have to check in by showing your passports to the park rangers.

At the Chachabamba archaeological site, your guide will give you an introduction to what to expect for the rest of the day and how to make the most of the experience. I recommend that you put on sun block cream and drink plenty of water or some electrolytes before you start hiking.

The trek begins with a slow ascent towards the Incan site of Winaywayna.  The high temperatures in this part of the cloud forest make the climb a bit difficult, but only for the first two hours. Along the way, there will be a couple of shelters that will shield you from the sun and give you some shade to cool you off. As the trail continues, you will have your first views of both the Machu Picchu mountain and the beautiful Incan site of Winaywaina. During this part of the hike, the trail will become easier and cooler than the previous hours; the dense vegetation giving you cover from the sun. You will see waterfalls, epiphytes, orchids, bromeliads, fungus, mushrooms, moss, lots of birds and butterflies as you complete this part of the hike.

The endless stairs to climb to the top of the Incan site of Winaywana will be a challenging climb but will be immensely rewarding as you will get an opportunity to explore this impressive and well-preserved Incan site, which is by far one of the most beautiful sites of the Inca Trail. At Winaywana, you will also be introduced to the history of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu; there is no better classroom for a history lesson than this fabulous location.

After the well-deserved lunch break, the trail continues toward the sun gate.  This part of the trail is magical; it gives you the impression of being in a fairy tale, the stone paved Incan road leads the way to Machu Picchu, the abundant richness of birds and plants highlight the mysterious nature of the trail, as you join the last stretch of the longer Inca Trail

The arrival to the sun gate is a unique experience, The sun setting on the horizon shines its light over this wonder of the world. From the sun gate, you will have your first view of Machu Picchu. Perhaps this is the best part of this full day adventure. The solitude that one experiences at Machu Picchu are a privilege that thousands of others miss out on, due to the incorrect information they get.  The arrival time to Machu Picchu is around 4 pm, and by then the crowds have left the city, and only a few people remain. You will be free to wander around the narrow streets and plazas of this magical city and experience it in a silence which will help you to truly understand the nature of this sacred Incan site, and appreciate its place in the hearts of the Peruvian people.

I recommend that you take as much time as possible observing Machu Picchu from the house of the guardian and its surrounding before you reluctantly leave for Aguas Calientes. The park rangers start asking people to abandon the city at 4:30 PM and you should be the last one to leave, to savor the tranquility of being alone at this world wonder, a treat only reserved for those who take the short Inca Trail.

The final part of this adventure will be held the next morning when you will return again to take the official tour of Machu Picchu. Usually, the walking tour takes 2 hours and is filled with amazing stories of the Incas and the secrets of this wonder of the world. If You are lucky enough to get a permit to climb the Wayna Picchu Mountain, then your memorable day would be crowned by a spectacular view of the whole site. A true adventure that you will always remember

Miguel Angel Gongora is a native Peruvian professional tour guide from Cusco, he has been leading tours throughout Peru for almost 20 years. He has a vast knowledge of the rich cultural and ecological diversity of his beautiful country. In 2003, Miguel traveled to the US to lecture at Hampshire College of Massachusetts on Cultural Appropriation. Miguel is a strong advocate of ecotourism and science. He values the role that tourists play in the development and protection of sensitive cultures and ecosystems and dedicates his work to raising the awareness of such players with the aim of furthering such a powerful tool. Also, he is the co-founder of Evolution Treks Peru a Cusco-based worker-owned travel company.

Building A Customer Service Chatbot In Just Ten Steps

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Have you been thinking about the possibility of utilizing chatbots in your business?  Perhaps you understand that bots would relieve the workload from contact center agents by helping answer customer questions and solving issues. The idea sounds great to many who do not have the slightest idea where to start.

Below are some ideas meant to help you start planning to build a customer service chatbot.

1.  Identify the role of the chatbot – The first thing to do is set goals, identifying what you want your chatbot to do.  Think about the questions that are answered in your contact center.  Which questions are the top 20 percent answered, and make up 80 percent of the volume of questions?  Do you want your chatbot to very narrowly or broadly interpret questions?  Narrowly deflects fewer questions from the contact center but will be very precise.  Broadly will deflect more questions but may answer incorrectly.

2. Search for and select a channel – Text based bots live on any channel (communication) which can carry dialog. It can be social networks such as Twitter, chat embedded on a website, a traditional mobile carrier channel (SMS,USSD), or a fresh channel.

3. Design the chatbot’s conversational architecture – Keep in mind that user messages are part of a larger conversation that cannot be analyzed in isolation. Bots are about conversation that has the possibility of any number of responses between user and bot.  Figure out how you are going to handle interactions which might lead to follow-up steps which refer to previous communication between bot and user.

4. Create storyboards and dialog flows – This step involves you organizing your content. You must start thinking about how to best word the chatbot’s answers.  Going into detail with the dialog flow is what your developer will need to implement the bot.  It represents each juncture and branch of the conversation.  For frequently occurring dialogue, you will want to designs variations of the same message.  This random prompting is important in order to make the user’s experience feel more human and less robotic.

5. Gather chat data – Think about the variations of questions asked by your customers. Collect these questions from as many different agents/customers as possible.

Customer Service

6. Now for the integration – Data and backend integrations can be as varied as the applications you are looking to automate.

7. Select a development approach and a platform – Key tasks for most chatbots are to figure out the intent of the sentence, and to take date from the sentence. There are basically two approaches to these tasks.  Either based on creating rules from the top down, or by using machine learning algorithms to learn the task from a collection of transcribed communications.

8. Engineer the natural language understanding and implement the natural language understanding – If you are working with a linguistic rules based platform, the rules you craft will represent the characteristics that determine that a certain sentence bellows to one intent or the other intent. If you selected a platform based on machine learning, you will provide your example sentences for each possible intent.  The more examples, the better the algorithm will learn the variations used for each intent and will be able to better distinguish between the intents.  Remember to save some of your example sentences for the next step of testing.

9. Use case detection testing and revision – Your collection of example sentences will now be used for automated testing. You will want human tester diversity for this real user testing.  Test and revise until you are happy with the accuracy level.

10. Deployment and revisions – In this stage you will want to reword your bot’s responses as you listen to questions from your customers asking for clarification. You want to avoid customers having to ask unnecessary questions.  Gather the data, review the data, and apply the data to your chatbot’s design.  Don’t forget to log all of this for future reference.


About Gregg Troyanowski

Gregg Troyanowski is president of Promero, Inc.  Founded in 2001, Promero is a leading customer care -call center software expert.  Promero provides valuable insight to customers when selecting a call center technology platform. Promero supports companies of any size or industry and addresses strategic, operational and technological issues always with the focus of providing a solution that is right for the client’s business.  Promero is an authorized managed service hosting provider and reseller of the world’s best in class solutions including Oracle, Aspect, Interactive Intelligence Vocalcom, Five9, CallMiner Speech Analytics, Salesforce, Pipkins, and Riverstar.  Promero’s client list includes companies on Fortune’s Most Admired Companies list.  If your business is considering an application enhancement, replacement or in need of technical support, please contact Promero for a free, no obligation consultation.