Thanks to Boston Harbor for her excellent advice! Here is my trip report.
First off our lives were better because of Maria our tour guide. She can be reached at email@example.com. She charged $100 a day for touring and driver. Well worth the money for a dependable english speaking guide and a safe driver (whom she arranged). She showed up when she said she would and took care of us throughout.
Day 1 - Arrived Cusco @3pm due to rerouting through Santiago, Chile due to tropical depression in Miami. My honey is an expert traveler, we were in NYC so we just drove to JFK and hopped a different flight!
Toured Pisac ruins - Arrived in Ollantaytambo town around 7pm. Stayed at Hotel Pakaritampu. Hotel grounds were beautiful, room was nice, bed was king size (which is our preference). We ate at the hotel both nights of our stay - overpriced under normal conditions, tasted fine. Chicken soup was good for chilly nights.
Reservas Hotel Pakaritampu
Telefonos (51-84) 204020/204104/204106
Emergencias (51-84) 984-965399 – RPM #966466
Day 2 - Started at 9am visited Maras Moray and the salt mines then on to a tour of Ollantaytambo the archeological site. This felt like a long day - we could have just done the salt mines and Ollantaytambo ruins and been happy campers. The scenery along the way is lovely. We would totally recommend the salt mines as not to miss, very cool.
Day 3 - Started at 8am visited ruins in Chinchero, colonial church and Sunday Market day in Chinchero. We could have skipped this day as the stuff at the market was not different than what we saw at Aquas Caliente or Cusco - the Cusco market is HUGE. The market at Aquas Caliente does not have "real life" stuff - the one at Chinchero on Sunday does and the HUGE market in Cusco does as well. If you want to see a real live market put the Cusco market on your list - great photos. The church in Chinchero is quaint - you see something similar on a grander scale at the church in Cusco - human hair on statues etc.
We did see a demonstration on how women take raw fur and make it into colored yarn - I thought it was pretty cool. You have to negotiate everything - our rule was to start out at 30% of ask and hope to end out at 50% of asking price.
From Chinchero directly back to Olly train station by 1pm for train to Machu Picchu. Train travel time @ 90 minutes.
Luggage bigger than day pack portered to Hotel Midori in Cusco by guide.
Part of the fun of the trip to Machu Picchu is getting there, we really enjoyed the train travel portion of the trip - we were lucky enough to get seats 1A and 1B on the way to Machu Picchu - you want to sit on the left side of the train going to Machu Picchu and the right coming back.
We stayed at the Sumaq for 2 nights - lovely service and terrific food - queen size comfy bed. I am a certified foodie and thought the food at the Sumaq was wonderful. Be aware that they use Brazil nuts - my honey is lethally allergic so he chose not to eat dinner at the restaurant. The Sumaq was very gracious to deliver my yum food to the room Definitely try the Alpaca - taste is somewhere between beef and pork - lamb also heavenly!
If you go out you will hear many restaurants with live music - it is great fun to enjoy a bit of the culture while sipping a pisco sour.
Speaking of pisco sour - Sumaq offers a class where they teach you to make a pisco sour and ceviche. We did the class after our return from Macchu Picchu and enjoyed it - low key way to enjoy each others company in a different way.
Calle Costa Rica 185 Urb. La Aurora - Miraflores Lima 18 | Telf: (511) 445 7828 I Cel RPC: (511) 98 911 0728
firstname.lastname@example.org I www.machupicchuhotels-sumaq.com
Day 4.- Machu Picchu
Sumaq had a guy run over to the bus terminal to save our seats - the bus rolled up at 6:30am and we hopped on - awesome. We spent 4.5 hours at the site. 2 hours with a guide that moved liked lightning then another 2.5 hours on our own. It was enough time. We have been to the pyramids and Petra - at some point there is a diminishing return on stairs We relaxed for the rest of the day had our toes rubbed at the spa and enjoyed a little downtime and shopping for "things we don't need but want anyway". We forgot to get our passports stamped with the special Machu Picchu stamp
Day 5 – Slept in! Breakfast at the Sumaq is very good - Pakaritampu is a step down on a relative basis (of course Sumaq is approx. 3X the price).
10:55 Train from Machu Picchu to Olly (90min), Taxi from Olly to Cusco (40min), we paid 110 soles for a private van from Olly to Cusco. - typically 80 soles We paid more because we wanted to try to hit the Pisac ruins when the sun was out BUT the road was closed. We asked the van driver to instead allow us one hour at another site on the way to Cusco but he then tried to raise the price by 40 soles. Which of course is unethical seeing as how our agreement was to have 1 hour at Pisac - so we just had him drop us off in Cusco. We enjoyed our afternoon in Cusco. We tooled around on our own seeing the market, buying alpaca sweaters from a local clothing store - not a street vendor. We had dinner at The Monastery - beautiful surroundings - but food at Sumaq was better Hurrah for Sumaq!
Cusco City tour, Sacsayhuaman, Quenqo, Tambomachay, Korikancha and Cathedral start at 8am
By Day 6 you are kind of tired of seeing Inka ruins - but why stop now - you have to see everything because you probably are not coming back this way again!!
We only stayed one night in Cusco - at the Midori Hotel. Although the room was quaint and clean - the bed was rock hard, it was also a double bed. Breakfast was sparse - but for 80USD I have to admit I was not expecting breakfast.
Ataud street, Number 204.
Cusco - Peru
tel. +51 (84) 248144
fax. +51 (84) 223402
Day 6 .- Depart Cusco at 4:30pm
Bug spray, sunscreen, extra memory cards for your camera and sticker sheets for the kids. I bought a bunch of different stickers and wish I would have brought more - it was so much fun to see their eyes light up when we handed them a sheet of stickers. The little things . . .
Other important stuff -
Passport for machu picchu to buy the entrance fees at the town of Aguas Calientes YOU MUST PAY IN SOLES. 126 SOLES. ($ 46) per person
Integral ticket for city tour and sacred valley... you must pay in soles 130 soles ($ 42) per person, Cathedral ticket 25 soles ($ 10) per person, Ticket for salt mines 5 soles ($ 2) per person, Koricancha ticket 10 soles ($ 4) per person
Buying water from the grocery store was 1/3 the price of vendors.
Bring a decent rain poncho - the $30 variety.
What you can get away with for clothes:
2 pairs of jeans, 3 pairs of long underwear (top and bottom), 6 undies, 3 long sleeve t-shirts, 6 pairs of socks, one pair of waterproof Merrills, one Pearl Izumi waterproof fleece, one cashmere wrap, swimsuit (because if you don't bring you will want it).
We always pack "emergency food" - Luna bars, tuna fish, Carrs crackers & wet wipes- because you don't want hunger to ruin your vacation.
My honey rented a wide angle lens per Boston Harbors advice - excited to see the results when we get home!
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Thanks to Boston Harbor for her excellent advice! Here is my trip report.