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Machu Pichu

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My husband and I are both in our late sixties and would like to take a trip to Machu Pichu in late May. Is this an appropriate time to visit this area, and how do seniors fare with the high altitude? Can you recommend an itinerary and any special do's and don'ts.
Do you think it is better to travel alone or with a tour? Also can you suggest nice hotels in the various areas and restaurants. Are there any specific things to avoid with regard to either foods or places. Any suggestions on much time should be spent on this trip would also be appreciated. Thanks for any help or suggestions.

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    I think May will be a beautiful time to visit, I think it will probably still be green from the rainy season, but hopefully you won’t get caught in too many showers as that is the beginning of the dry season.

    You should be fine with the high altitude as long as you’re sure to schedule some downtime when you first arrive. If you’re really worried about it, you should spend your first night in the Sacred Valley instead of Cuzco, as the altitude in the Sacred Valley (as well as at Machu Picchu) is lower than in Cuzco.

    Tour vs. Independent is really a personal choice, based on factors such as if you’re used to planning and arranging your own travel, and if you know any Spanish (which is very helpful in Peru, obviously!). One thing to know is that visiting Machu Picchu and the surrounding areas can be a bit of a hassle to do yourself as it requires purchasing tickets ahead of time both for the train to get there and for the main entrance to the site, and if you want to visit the Sacred Valley sites you’ll need a Tourist Ticket. You’ll also need to fly to Cuzco from Lima (where most international flights arrive). I would also not recommend group tours, because I took one in the Sacred Valley a few years ago and it was on a huge bus and everything was repeated in English and Spanish – it wasn’t the best experience despite the beautiful surroundings.

    If you let us know how much time you plan to spend and what you want to see besides just Machu Picchu we might be able to help you out a bit more with itinerary suggestions.

    Re where to stay – within Cuzco you’ll just want to make sure you’re staying hear the main plaza and not in San Blas to avoid having to walk up steep stairs.

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    THANKS SO MUCH FOR YOUR RESPONSE. I AM NOT SURE HOW LONG TO STAY - I GUESS WE WOULD THINK ABOUT 12 OR 13 DAYS OR SLIGHTLY LESS. I WAS WONDERING IF IT WOULD BE BETTER TO VISIT THE LAKE TITICACA AREA OR TRY TO VISIT THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS. I HAVE JUST STARTED READING FODORS PERU SO POSSIBLY I SHOULD CONTACT ONE OF THE TOUR OPERATORS MENTIONED IN THE BOOK. HOW DID YOU PLAN YOUR TRIP? NORMALLY WHEN WE TRAVEL, I LIKE TO DECIDE WHERE WE STAY AND THE PLACES WE WILL VISIT, THEN I CHECK WITH A TRAVEL AGENT AND HAVE THEM HELP COORDINATE FLIGHTS, TICKETS ETC. I DO SPEAK SOME SPANISH; WE HAVE TRAVELLED MORE TO EUROPE, SO I FEEL A LITTLE INADEQUATE IN PLANNING THIS TRIP. SO ANY INSIGHT OR ADVICE IS GREATLY APPRECIATED.

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    I've escorted several groups to MP and last summer I took my 77 yo mother.
    Older folks need to be prepared for uneven and cobbled terrain, even in the cities and towns. We gave Mom a trekking pole at the ruins which she gratefully accepted. We also slowed the pace and rested often.
    The altitude in MP is 8000, so it's lower than Cusco (11,000 ft). Everyone needs to have flexible schedule the first couple of days after arrival in Cusco as you adapt. By the time you get to MP, you should feel fine, except for little breathlessness.
    I always had problems with the altitude and spent the first day in bed. Oxygen and coca tea did nothing. Then I discovered DIAMOX pills for altitude and I love it. I got a prescription and my mother asked her physician & also got a prescription. I used it for the last 3 trips with great success and barely notice any symptoms of altitude. Just short of breath for which there is no treatment.
    I would recommend going with a small tour. There are several transitions to get from Cusco to the ruins and it's not like Europe where you can take a taxi to your destination and you are there. It's complicated and making a mistake is costly. If you miss your train for instance, it's possible you will not see the ruins.
    If you have 12 days, you should go to Lake Titicaca and check out the floating reed islands. We even took Mom to a homestay on Amantani Island, but the path to the home was treacherous and we had quite the adventure. I love the homestay, but would not recommend it for people who can't negotiate ungroomed paths.

    I've also been to Galapagos couple of times and highly recommend land-based tours. They are very comfortable and you get to experience the people and culture as well as marine activities. I personally like sleeping in small hotels and lodges. 12 days is just enough time to visit Machu Picchu & Galapagos, but you would need more time if you want to add Titicaca.
    Enjoy your travels!

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    Ah, if you have the money to combine a Galapagos and Machu Picchu trip, that would be amazing. I went to the Galapagos Islands last year and had a wonderful time. That combination trip would become more complicated to plan yourself, so for that I'd definitively recommend contacting a few companies suggested by Fodors, as well as just doing a online search for companies that specialize in machu picchu and galapagos tours and contacting a few of them as well. That would be a very active trip so you might want to schedule a day or two of downtime.

    Another option would be to combine Machu Picchu with the Amazon. The flight from Cuzco to Puerto Maldonado is only 45 minutes and you could say in a nice lodge. Lake Titicaca is nice, but if I had to choose between that and the Amazon, I'd pick the Amazon - would be a shame to miss it!

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    Thanks JWhitt and SAT traveler. There are many options. Possibly MP and the Amazon would be a little cheaper than MP and the Galapagos. I would be thrilled to see either. Did you need any specific immunizations for either Peru or the Amazon? Also thanks for the tip on the Diamox - I will definitely discuss that with my Doc tor.

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    I went to Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca this past September. We gradually went to higher altitiude. My one sister got ill the 1st night then was fine. We all had minor headaches, yet just took it slow and drank the cocoa leave tea. Here is where we stayed. All NICE properties. Breakfast included at all properties. I have reviews on Trip Advisor.
    1. Lima Airport - Ramada - can't get any better for convenience. Basically, from baggage claim, you cross the street and you are at the Ramada.
    2. Sacred Valley - beautiful hotel called Rio Sagrado. We had massages and just had a nice dinner the 1st night.
    3. Aguas Calientes (base for getting to Machu Picchu) - stayed at The Sumaq - dinner was included. Bus to MP picked us up on the way up the mountain.
    4. Cuzco - Hotel Monesterio - GREAT location. Fabulous luxury boutique hotel. My favorite.
    5. Lake Titicaca - Casa Andina Private Collection. Located right on the lake. So in the morning, we walked out the door, down the dock and got on our boat for our lake tour.
    6. Lima/Miraflores - Casa Andina - my least favorite property. I wouldn't stay there again.

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