Advice On Family Trip to Peru

May 5th, 2004, 11:23 AM
  #1  
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Advice On Family Trip to Peru

For our next vacation in, (tentatively), late April 2005, I am considering Peru. I have a husband and two children, (14 and 17), who are both used to travel. We only would have a little nine days or so, and we were thinking of visiting Cusco, Macchu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley. I am not sure if this is too much or too little... none of my family has ever traveled to Peru or even to South America for that matter. Is this unwise? Also, if anyone had any recommendations for tours with not-so-high prices but still good quality, then I would be extremely appreciative. Basically, any advice will be appreciated, as this is all a very new concept in travel for us. Thank you.
Susan56 is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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I know people who blitz through Cusco, Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley in three days. If that's all the time they have, well, it's better than nothing. But that region deserves more, and I think nine days is a good length of time for a vacation such as you describe. It will give you time to acclimatize yourself to Cusco's altitude for the first day or so, rather than rushing around and tiring yourself out even more. It will allow you to stay overnight in Aguas Calientes near Machu Picchu rather than coming and going from Cusco all in the same day.

Keep in mind that many of the flights between the U.S. (if that's where you are) and Peru are overnight flights in both directions. (Also check carefully that your flight to Lima arrives in time to be able connect to a domestic flight to Cusco.) So your time in Cusco and the region could actually turn out to be seven days total. But this still gives you an adequate length of time to be able to take in all the sights.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 11:29 AM
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Jeff's post is spot on. The nine days will absolutely involve two days flight time. The layover in Lima can be quite long - six to seven hours before you can board to Cusco.
Once there, Cusco is a blast (great for easily bored teens) and has lots to do both in the city and nearby (don't miss Pisac).
As for tours, I can't say. My wife and I traveled independantly. No matter how it's done, I strongly urge you to go. Peru is dirt cheap and Peruvians very accomodating and polite, if not actually shy.
ncanavan is offline  
May 6th, 2004, 11:52 AM
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Thank you very much for this information. The above message from ncanavan says something about independent travel. Our family has never used a tour group before, and were under the impression that, to go to Peru, it was necessary. However, if there is any way to escape a tour group, but still have tours at certain sites, I would greatly appreciate any information that you have. Thank you so much.
Susan56 is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 06:10 AM
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Susan,

I found everything I needed on the net. Our hotel in Cusco can be found here: http://www.orquidea.net/page5.html. It was a whopping 35$ a night. Clean, safe, friendly, ideally located in the San Blas neighborhood(take the kids to Pi cafe - very cool place, good nosh food, and they have a movie night)
Day trips to the sacred valley (the Sunday market at Pisac is not to be missed)are easily done via the local bus line - cheap, safe, fun.

The best hotel in Aqua Caliente is Gringo Bill's (35$). Reserve on the net, but you have to pay upfront at their office in Cusco (easily located off Plaza de Armas).
The vistadome train to Aqua Caliente (Machu Pichu) can be reserved online, but the ticket needs to be paid for as soon as you get to Cusco.
Cabs in Cusco are flat-rate. It cost about a dollar to go almost anywhere.
As for the flight, I went Lan Peru from JFK. The plane and service were fine, but bring your own food.

There is absolutely no reason why you can't go independently. Peru is already cheap, infrastructure is good,english is commonly understood, The Shining Path is long gone, Americans are well liked, and dollars are greatly appreciated.

Please post any other questions you may have.
-Neil
ncanavan is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 11:11 AM
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ncanavan,

Thank you so much! That information was incredibly helpful. My husband is hesitant about our vacation plans due to concerns having to do with the Shining Path. Did you meet with any uncomfortable situation while you were in Peru? (As in situations that were potentially dangerous and uneasy) Were there any unwelcoming sentiments towards Americans? Thank you.
Susan56 is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 01:15 PM
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There was a political demonstration (quite festive!) in Arequipa while I was there last September, however, the protests concerned Toledo, the current president, who, although the first president of Quechua decent, is apparently an idiot.
Americans are very well received, and if you catch any negative reaction about Bush, just mention Clinton and faces light up.
As I said, Peruvians, especially the Quechua, are quite reserved, but polite and ready to do tourist business. Bargining is the norm.
The only uncomfortable situation we encountered was some resentment from a seller in Gringo Alley (a well known street in Cusco). The sellers there are (or were at the time) from the Amazon, and are courser than those Peruvians who live in the Andes.

In my opinion, for the places you are considering, safety concerns are no different than in any city: don't wear flashy anything, and don't go down dark streets at night.

ncanavan is offline  
May 7th, 2004, 04:30 PM
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The Shining Path and similar groups had a stranglehold on Peru a decade or two ago, but they're just shadows of their former selves these days. The area where their remnants show any minor activity at all is nowhere near Cusco.

I echo ncanavan's advice about crime. Be watchful of your things in any situation where commotion reigns, such as people disemabarking from the Machu Picchu train.

I've been very well received over the years as a U.S. citizen there. You might encounter someone who wants to debate our government's policies with you, but even then, they can make the distinction between the government and you as an individual citizen.

There are plenty of kids who sell gum, candy and postcards on the Plaza de Armas in Cusco. They'll pester you, but I didn't think overly so. When you say no, they ask you where you're from. An answer of "America" will get you this recitation in Spanish of what they know about the U.S.: "El presidente es George W. Bush. Antes, fue Bill Clinton ..." They can usually go back as far Jimmy Carter. One day, I decided to say I was from France. The young girl started in: "El presidente es Jacques Chirac." I bought her postcards.

There are several good pizza places in Cusco, and almost every restaurant in Aguas Calientes has it on the menu ... just in case the kids want familiar food.

I've never seen such a concentration of Internet cafes anywhere as I have in the old city of Cusco. The connection times are uniformly fast and cheap. They're good places to pop in and drop a quick line to the folks back home.

Not sure what ncanavan means by "bring food" if you fly Lan Peru flight. I've flown them from NY to Lima and they served dinner and breakfast.

Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 8th, 2004, 07:28 AM
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Thank you so much for your responses, both of which were incredibly helpful. I've seen in other forums advice for bringing postcards or pencils or other small souvenirs for the children who sell goods on the street. I think that it is good advice to follow. Also, I was wondering if anyone knew of several good museums around the area that my family is planning to visit (Cusco, Machu Pichu, and the Sacred Valley.) If anyone could tell me a little bit about the museums in that area, I would really appreciate it. Thanks again.
Susan56 is offline  
May 8th, 2004, 11:17 AM
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Susan,
I was in Peru some time ago, in fact right around the time Guzman the leader of the Shining Path was captured. I agree with most of what has been said Peru is a wonderful country with much to offer visitors but be careful with daypacks(not a good idea) and use a money belt.

In terms of the museums(there may be more up to date info out there) I remember the wonderful cermaic/archeological Museums in LIma...and there are several wonderful new Museums north of Lima (Sican, Lambayaque)...However, my memory of Cusco was more churches/colonial buildings and the important historic sites outside of town, Pisac and Ollantaymbo etc rather than museums per se.

There are losts of cheap clean places to stay, we used the Hotel Loreto which had inca walls and was just of the main Plaza. It was easy to arrange private tours through the hotel who just recommended a friend with a car which was very affordable (less than $50 per day.

Hope that helps. Cusco is a fun town, it's definately touristy but there's a reason people concregate there it is very attractive. I liked Peru enormously, the food was great and the sites were fascinating, not to mention all the contemporary cultural stuff which is very interesting. I think it's a great destination for an adventurous family trip.
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May 9th, 2004, 06:40 AM
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There are a few outstanding museums in Cusco: the Museo de Arte Religioso (Museum of Religious Art) is housed in the colonial-era archbishop's palace; the Museo Inka (Inca Museum) has a great collection of inca mummies that everyone makes a beeline for; the Qorikancha (Temple of the Sun) was the most important Inca site in Cusco, and there is a museum connected with it. Welltraveledbrit is right in that the city and region are this big indoor/outdoor museum of Inca ruins and churches.
Jeff_Costa_Rica is offline  
May 9th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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The museums in Cusco sound absolutely facinating. But, frankly, our family planned to stay out of Lima if at all possible due to anxiety over the US State Department warnings there. So, I am very glad to hear that Cusco has so much to offer, because that will probably be the hub of our vacation. How long do you know is really necessary to stay in Lima if all our family plans to do is land off the plane there?
Susan56 is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 05:51 AM
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Susan,

Not knowing where you're coming from, I can't speak about your layover. Coming from JFK, we landed in Lima at 6:30am. Our connecting flight wasn't until 1:30pm. After researching the possibilities in a series of posts to this website (I don't recall the thread title)we opted to spend the morning with a relaxing, rather opulent breakfast buffet at the Mariott in Mira Flores.
Mira Flores is an affluent neighborhood on the coast, 30-45 minutes from the airport. The Mariott is a five star property with a dining room that looks out on the ocean - very tranquil. While dining and the bellmen will gladly store your bags.
By Peruvian standards this excursion was not cheap. The one-way cab to Miraflores is 12-20$, depending on your bargining skills, and the buffet is 15$ per person. However, after an all-night flight the excursion was greatly revitalizing.
Your other option is to take a room near the airport. However, the area is not the best introduction to Peru.
A third option is to store your bags at the airport and spend the morning in historic downtown Lima, but I have no details on this.
Concerning your arrival - regardless of what anyone (US airline official)may tell you, it is required that you pick up your bags and clear them with customs in Lima, even though you are checked through to your final destination.
And to clarify an earlier comment: meals are, of course, served on Lan Peru, however, most anything one could bring with you would be more satisfying.
And yes, the Inca museum is way-cool with mummies.
ncanavan is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 09:26 AM
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We had great experience with South American Expeditions (letsgoperu.com). You can customized your trip. We used them for some days and some not. For example, one day they gave us a tour of Machu Picchu, and the next day we went back on our own. Talk with Michael; he arranged ours.

You're going to LOVE Peru!
kywood1955 is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 10:42 AM
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I am going to go straight to letsgoperu.com after writing this response! The only thing is, again, State warnings have caused worry about our trip in April. Of course, it is too early to be relying on warnings from January, but I think we might schedule a tour group for the entire trip. Did anyone traveling in a group of two or three experience uncomfortable situations, (I've read too much about violent mugging and kidnapping)?
Susan56 is offline  
May 10th, 2004, 11:58 AM
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Well Susan56 your husband certainly sounds like a very nice and responsible man. I'll bet he's a terrific father. After all, Peru, although beautiful, can be a dangerous place. I think that travelling with children there, at this time, even teenagers, may be inadvisable. There is alot of crime, both major and minor (pickpockets etc.)in the cities. Perhaps you should consider visiting someplace else for now, like Norway.
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May 11th, 2004, 08:51 AM
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It's a tough call, Susan. I have traveled alone in Peru and have never had any problems. But ever since I was violently mugged last year in a different country in South America, I don't take those concerns lightly anymore.

People can (and will) say to you, "Oh, crime can happen anywhere. It can happen in your hometown." Yes, that's true, but you know your way around the place where you live. You know which areas are safe and which areas to avoid. And, sure, crime can happen in Norway, the destination that escort59 suggested in his post. But a place like that doesn't generally require the vigilance on the part of a traveler that Peru would.

It's true that the U.S. State Department website does sound alarmist, and probably errs on the cautious side in its warnings and advisories. And yet those incidents it mentions have happened. There are reasons they include them. Will they happen to you? Odds are not, but still one can never know.

You have almost a year. You're still looking at April 2005, right? You don't have to decide yet, and still have time to look into a tour group. April is not high season for Peru. It's not like June-August where you'd need to book months and months in advance.

Despite its problems, Peru is one of the most amazing countries I've ever visited. I hope you can go but only if you feel entirely comfortable with the decision.
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May 11th, 2004, 09:46 AM
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We went to Peru last summer for 3 weeks and had a great time! At the time our children were 12,10 and 8. We knew people in Lima, so they showed us around. We didn't care for Lima much, but the shopping was great! Stay in Miraflores. It's kind of expensive for Peru (>$100/night), but close to shopping and relatively safe. Our hosts warned us several times to keep holding our children's hands. Our little blond heads really stood out in the crowd and everyone had to watch us, but we never felt like anyone was dangerous. We were there on independence day, so it was VERY crowded downtown. Don't bother to change any money, dollars are accepted everywhere - even on the side of the road.

We only had 4 days in Cusco, Sacred Valley and Macchu Picchu which wasn't really enough time. Be sure to visit the weavers in Chinchero.

Then we spent 10 days in the Amazon. It was amazing, but probably not feasible on you trip of 9 days. Maybe next time.

All of our trip (except the time we spent in Lima) was arranged by Amazonia Expeditions (perujungle.com). I would highly recommend them, EVERYTHING went smoothly.
westxsk is offline  
May 11th, 2004, 05:01 PM
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Westxsk -- we are going to Peru in November and staying at the Amazonia Expeditions lodge on the Tahuayo River, and would love to hear some more details about your stay with them last year. Could you give me some info about the lodge and the activities there?
IngridG is offline  
May 12th, 2004, 12:47 PM
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to jeff-costa-rica, in which South American country were you mugged? I've heard absolute horror stories about unstable nation such as Columbia and Argentina, but never in Peru. However, as you said, we are aiming for a trip in April, and we still have roughly a year. With the upcoming election and with other changes in the world, it cannot be certain what the situation in Peru will be like next year. Hatred for Americans may either greaten or lessen, depending on events. Also, the situation in Peru may stable. My point is, I think it is best to continue planning a vacation despite these warnings and, if things haven't improved much when January rolls around, my family can always reconsider. Thank you.
Susan56 is offline  

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