Cusco and Peru

Old Jun 12th, 2008, 05:18 PM
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Cusco and Peru

We are thinking of staying at one of the Casa Andina Hotels in Cusco. http://www.casa-andina.com/peru_hote...hotels-2-3.htm Does anyone have experiences, good or bad, they share with us. We are looking at the four lower cost ones and not Private Collection.

Also, can anyone tell me if there is an advance permit needed for Machu Picchu? I know there is a permit needed for Inca Trail, but didn't know about MP. How about other sites in Sacred Valley-Cusco area?

Finally, can anyone tell about the Lake Titicaca area and what you can see and do there? Is is a long drive from Cusco, or possible without a car? How is driving in Peru? Thanks.

willtraveldude is offline  
Old Jun 13th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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Sorry, I can't help you with the hotel. I remember seeing a couple of the Casa Andina places in my wandering around Cusco and thought they looked very nice, but I didn't stay there.

There is currently no limit on the number of people who can enter MP, according to what I was told. Someone told us it's a good idea to try to buy the entrance tickets the night before if you're in Aguas Calientes just to avoid long lines in the morning, but I walked the Inka Trail so I have no personal experience on that.

We did visit Puno and Lake Titicaca, we took a bus there and back. On the way there, we took a Tour Peru overnight bus, very modern, very comfortable (seats really reclined), heated. Arrives at 4 am, but there were lots of people waiting from hotels and other places to pick people up, so this arrival time doesn't seemt o be a problem. On the way back to Cusco, we took the Inka Express bus. I added my two cents on that option on a post earlier this week. One or two of the stops are interesting, IMO, but I'm not sure it's worth a whole day (leave Puno 8:30, arrive Cusco 5:30 p.m.)

Visiting Lake Titicaca -- I had read various reports here before we went, and I went ahead and booked the two day trip on All Ways Travel, http://www.titicacaperu.com/ visiting Uros (floating islands) and Amantani and Taquile (with an overnight stay in Amantani). All Ways is a good group, raising money for children's literacy projects, and the islanders on Amantani seem really enthusiastic about this "cultural tourism" -- basically you stay a night in a villager's home, eat their food, etc.

My opinion, and it's only my opinion, is a little different than what I've seen here. Basically, both my 23 year old son and I found the whole thing a bit bizarre and occasionally even felt uncomfortable. Uros -- totally touristy, people singing twinkle twinkle little star on a raft ride across the river, the main point here is to get tourists to buy a few inauthentic trinkets. Now don't get me wrong, the whole floating islands thing is really interesting, but the state of tourism on those islands just makes it pretty crass.

The trip beyond to Amantani and Taquile: Apparently Taquile has been doing overnights longer than Amantani, and Amantani is billed as a more authentic experience. It's a beautiful island, the people were very nice, but for some reason I just felt weird off and on the whole time. Paying a family a few soles to sleep in their clay hut and eat potatoes in their cold bare kitchen, it just seemed more like exploitation or voyeurism than anything else. After dinner, the women in each household dressed up the tourists in typical island dress (the women's clothing was beautiful, but it still felt totally weird) and paraded us down to a school hall for a party, with music played by local kids. We didn't want to do it but didn't want to insult anyone.

I don't mean to be a naysayer, the islands are beautiful, we did get a glimpse of a way of life that bears no resemblance to our own, but the whole thing just felt wrong. The group on our boat was about 14 in number, and we were the only ones who had this reaction, so I only offer this as an individual opinion, not a condemnation of something that obviously a lot of people enjoy. I would love to talk to a cultural anthropologist about this kind of tourism and the impact it has on the "traditional" way of life, but if what I saw on the Uros Islands is what's going to come to these more remote islands, the traditional lifestyle's days are numbered. I'd love to hear others' reactions to this experience.
lreynold1 is offline  
Old Jun 15th, 2008, 11:32 AM
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I can recommend casa andina as it is a very good hotel with good services. The rates are cheaper if you book online. I can also recommend rumi punku.
your guide needs a permit for the inca trail. you need to purchase an entry ticket to mp and a bus ticket from aguas caliente to mp. you also need to purchase the train ticket back and forth from aguas caliente. Also, for the sacred valley ruins and other cusco ruins you will need to purchase the boleto turistico (tourist ticket for entry to ruins)
As for puno lake titicaca I recommend you just visit the uros islands and taquile. I wouldn't spend a night with any family unless you are looking for a more cultural experience. Which is not really necessary in my opinion.
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Old Jun 15th, 2008, 11:47 AM
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lreynold1 - I had a very different experience on our overnight homestay. I agree about the Uros being overly touristy - although we still enjoyed them. The homestay was great for us (26-year-old daughter and I).

willtraveldude - we took the Inka Express bus to Lake Titicaca and thought it was very worthwhile. $40 one way. We then flew from Juliaca back to Lima for our flight home. You don't need an advance permit for Machu Picchu. When you get off the train at Agua Caliente, cross the pedestrian bridge, immediately turn left and you'll come to the bus stop. Buy your bus ticket and then go continue down the street a little ways and turn right and you'll come to the square where you can buy the MP ticket. They don't take dollars - be sure to have soles.

Type Karen and Julie in the search box and my trip report (with lots and lots of details) will come up.

Karen
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Old Jun 16th, 2008, 09:18 AM
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We had friends who recently stayed at the Casa Andina San Blas and said it was wonderful. In May we stayed at the Casa Andina on San Augustin (on an OAT tour). The hotel was clean, the staff very nice, and the breakfast very good, but we just didn't like the rooms. We were there twice. Our first room had a window that went into the hallway and the second faced a noisy street.

We also stayed at a CA in Miraflores in Lima and it was very nice. I think the chain is good, but it's hard to retrofit an old building into modern hotel rooms.

BTW, take your own hair dryer.
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Old Jun 21st, 2008, 06:34 PM
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We are just back from Peru and had an excellent experience at the Casa Andina Private Collection in Miraflores. I was very impressed with the service and would imagine the other non private collections have good service as well. The Casa Andina in Cusco which is right next to the Cathedral would be a nice location and it is next door to a great restaurant Encanto I believe it is called. Mainly Italian, but a large menu overall. If you have a chance to visit Chinchero on a Sunday I would recommend that. they still barter in the market place and there is a beautiful church up the hill to visit with a great view. We bought the Boleto Touristico at the Chinchero Market location and used it for several other site visits in Cusco and Sacred Valley (Sacsaywoman, Tambochay, Chinchero, Moray). We also had a great meal at the Inka Grill right in the Plaza de Armas. Peru is wonderful...enjoy it!
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