Peru - January, 2012 - Trip Report
Many thanks to all of you Fodorites who offered me so much wonderful advice during the planning stages of our trip. We greatly appreciate your expert, helpful advice, as always. Muchisimas gracias.
We are 2 couples from NJ; (DFs = dear friends). Last January (2011), we all went to Buenos Aires together, and we had such an enjoyable and memorable time; so we decided to come back for more. My son’s (DS) raving reports and photos of his February 2011 trip to Machu Picchu and surroundings initially inspired us to consider this destination. What a fabulous journey it has been! The people of Peru are beautiful, both inside and outside, the scenery and sights are breathtaking, and the cuisine is outstanding! We all loved Peru!
I planned this trip myself, with all your input. Susana Sanchez, of Peru Tourism, did the bookings for me: hotels, domestic flights, trains, and private guides and drivers. I highly recommend her for her efficiency and reliability. The connections and details of our itinerary flowed seamlessly.
January 8, (the birthday of DF “A”), was our scheduled day of departure from Newark Airport. We all spent some time in the VIP lounge, and then boarded the plane for our 2:20 pm flight to Lima. After sitting on the plane for some time, everyone had to deplane due to mechanical problems (odor of fuel detected throughout aircraft). A few hours later, we boarded another aircraft. We were told that the airport in Lima has a curfew; but that it was being extended to accommodate our flight and “we would just make curfew”! The plane took off, and many hours later, the pilot announced that we were over Ecuador and it was evident that we would not make curfew; so we needed to turn around and be diverted back north to Panama. We eventually landed in Panama at about 1 am, went through customs, were transported to the Sheraton Hotel in Panama City, and checked in by about 3 am. After a few hours of sleep, we were transported back to Panama airport to check in early for our flight to Lima, on Jan. 9. We finally arrived in Lima, safe and sound, in the late afternoon, after an 18 hour delay. We were met by our driver, Luis, and driven to the Sheraton Lima. We quickly checked in, got ready, and went for dinner at Huaca Pucllana in Miraflores section of Lima. We dined al fresco, enjoying a beautiful view of the ruins, lit up at night. The various seafood entrees and Peruvian side dishes we had were fresh and delicious, and DF “A” ‘s first of many, (but delayed), surprise b-day dessert, complete with a make-a-wish candle, was quite memorable!
Although we lost a day, this was the only major snafu of our journey, thankfully. (We would have more time to enjoy Lima at the end). Our special evening served as a lovely intro to our experiences to come in Peru….
On January 10, we got up at 5 am and Luis drove us to the Lima airport at 6 am. We departed for Cusco on Star Peru at 9:05 am and arrived there at 10:15 am. The short flight was smooth, and we admired our first taste of the beautiful Andean scenery. We were met by a driver, and our guide, Wilfredo, and driven to Ollaytantambo (Olly) straight-away, in order to hopefully acclimatize to the altitude. (Cusco is about 11,500 feet, and Olly is 9500 feet or less). We stopped along the way to view various scenes which Wilfredo narrated. We checked into the Hotel Pakaritampu, a picture-perfect setting in the mountains, with resident llamas wandering the beautifully maintained grounds among the beds of colorful, hearty flowers. What a serene spot this was! Because this was “the rainy season”, we were told many times that’s why all the rolling hills, everywhere, were just so green and vibrant! We all really appreciated the splendid beauty of nature! However, boy were we lucky with the weather – hardly any rain at all to speak of during our varied daytime activities. (Yes, we did knowingly take a gamble with the weather in scheduling our trip).
We rode in mototaxis the very short distance to the old town and main plaza, and ate in Hearts Café at its new location. We enjoyed delicious quinoa soup, fresh bread, home-baked desserts with b-day candle (hee hee), and fresh lemonade, etc. Prior to our departure from home, we had read that profits go to support local people and programs, and that donations are also welcomed. So we brought some dental health items with us. We walked around the town for a while and then back to the Pakaritampu.
January 11 was Machu Picchu day – hooray! We had an early breakfast (6 am) at the Pakaritampu, and we stored our main luggage there. We each packed a small overnight tote for our MP trip. At 7 am, we walked one block to PeruRail station. We took the 7:45 am Vistadome train, and we arrived at 9:15 am at Aguas Calientes . (This is the small town situated at the base of MP, and the altitude is about 6700 feet). The train was very clean and comfortable; they served a light boxed breakfast . We really enjoyed the beautiful scenery through the domed windows. (Try to book the seats on the left side of the train, up front, (facing forward), for the best view going to MP, and on the return trip, the seats on the right side, up front, (facing forward). Upon arrival at Aguas Calientes station, we were met and greeted by Melba (a representative), and our small bags were taken to nearby El MaPi Hotel for us. Melba assisted us to a clean and modern bus bound for MP, about a 20 minute switchback ride up a steep mountain.
DF”A” and I were on our way to the ladies’ room at the station, (a reasonably nice, clean one BTW), when all of a sudden, I heard my name being called. I initially thought that it was my DH (dear husband) or DF”K”; but when I turned around, I saw my brother standing there! About a month or so prior to this trip, we found out that my brother and sister-in-law had coincidentally booked a trip to the Galapagos for January. When I said “that’s a fabulous destination, we were there a couple of years ago” (which of course they knew), and then “we’re going to MP in January”, he said “we bought an extension to MP too”. Long story short…. very, very coincidentally, it turned out that we would all be on MP on exactly the same 2 days, and only those 2 days – Jan. 11 and Jan. 12, 2012!! This was the first sighting. Our paths would cross a number of times, of course. What are the chances of that?!
Machu Picchu – highlight of journey – to follow soon. Stay tuned….
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Peru - January, 2012 - Trip Report