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Trip Report Peru Sacred Valley Trip - Family of 5

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My family of five (kids: 20, 16, 13) just got back from Peru (June 23 - July 4). We did:

Lima 3 nights
Ollantaytambo 3 nights
Machu Picchu 1 night
Cusco 4 nights

It was a great trip, planned from info on this blog as well as books and other blogs. We did not use any tours as we like to go at our own pace and aren't fond of crowds. We are experienced travelers although this was our first trip to South America. Before I get into the day to day trip report, I thought I'd go over tips/general things I learned.

1. Taxis: This is what people most want to know about traveling in Peru. One of my questions was how easy was it to get one for 5 people. The answer is easy if you don't mind squishing. Since my 13 yr old is skinny and the rest of us average sized we squeezed into cars all over Lima and Cusco. Drivers didn't care and didn't charge us more. Taxi's in Lima cost between 20 - 40 Soles; taxi's in Cusco cost between 10 - 20 Soles. HOWEVER, if you prebook a taxi using taxidatum you will have to book a van which cost more. We did this for our two legs between Ollantaytambo and Cusco. It was nice to have a comfortable van waiting for us each time and because it is a 1.5+ hour winding trip. That cost ~ 110-150 Soles. Also, taxis are everywhere. At the airport and train stations there are always many taxis waiting, also in all Plazas and at tourist sites in Lima. You need only know your numbers to negotiate. Its easy!

2. Write down your hostel/hotel address on slips of paper to give to your taxi drivers. Even the name of the tourist site you want to visit. One of the best tips I had learned before hand.

3. It is cold in Ollanta & Cusco at nights/mornings! We quickly bought some alpaca sweaters and wore them everyday because we weren't warm enough. But as soon as you are in that bright intense high altitude sun you get very hot. So make sure you have a small backpack to carry your sweaters and waters each day!

4. Yes the altitude is a real issue. We stayed in Ollanta before Cusco which I highly recommend. But even so we were always out of breath going uphill in Cusco, were always thirsty, had some headaches, needed to rest every afternoon. And the sun is intense so wear hats!! and use sunscreen whenever visiting ruins.

5. Which leads me to...schedule downtime most afternoons. Its a good general travel tip, but especially with the altitude we all enjoyed time in our hostel most afternoons to rest. We needed it and it kept the family happy!

6. Water was an issue...we had to buy bottles everyday. Individual wet wipes from home were good. ATMs are everywhere, although only in Aquas Calientes did we find one that allowed us to take out more than 400 soles per transaction. Which was unfortunate since there was a 13-15 Soles fee per transaction.

Next up...Lima!

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