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luv2globetrot Jul 18th, 2007 09:01 AM

Even with the wealth of info here, I'm still having trouble putting together my Peru itinerary...HELP?
We are a well-traveled, fit couple in our 40s who enjoy exploring interesting towns, big cities, ruins, photography, magnificent scenery, and day hikes.
In Latin America, we've been to Buenos Aires/Iguazu Falls, Costa Rica and Mexico City (loved them all!)
So, Peru sounds like a great place for us to go next!!

We will do museums, but they're not high on the priority list.
Of course, Machu Picchu is our top priority!
Cusco and the Sacred Valley are where will be focusing most of our time.

We will have 7 nights to spend in Peru.
That does not count the first night when we arrive in Lima around 11pm on September 24, 2007.
We will depart Lima back to the US late, late Tuesday night, October 2. The flight is actually a red-eye leaving just after midnight (which is technically Wed. Oct. 3)

I've been reading here and in my Frommer's book about how best to do this trip, but am still having trouble.
We always travel (and prefer to travel) independently. But it seems that the most common way to get around the Sacred Valley is with a guide.
I'm trying to figure out how best to go on our own.
Is it very easy and safe to take buses from town to town? Or taxis?

I'm leaning towards the idea of spending at least 1 or 2 nights in Cusco and then making our way to MP spending a night or two in towns along the way.
I think Urubamba and Ollantaytambo sound like great spots to stop. But are both worthy of an overnight?

How feasible would it be to do this trip without reservations? I'd make reservations for sure in Cusco, but I'm just not sure how much time we should spend in the other towns so it's hard to decide and make a reservation if you don't really know how long you'll need in each town.

From what I've learned so far, I'm pretty sure we'd want to spend the night in Ollantaytambo (or maybe Agua Calientes), then take the early train to Machu Picchu and spend the day at the ruins. Then maybe take the Vistadome train back to Cusco.
I did look into the Hiram Bingham, and while it does sound nice, it's just a bit too expensive for our taste. Plus, we'd only be interested in taking the train one way. One way trips are possible with the Vistadome or Backpacker trains, right? How far in advance do either of these trains need to be booked?

Also, we're up for doing this itinerary reversed...what I mean is going directly from Cusco to Ollantaytambo by train, then MP, then spending the next few days in some of the others towns in the Sacred valley, then ending with a day or two in Cusco.
Would you recommend one of these over the other?

We've been to elevations of 10,000-14,000 feet a few times and haven't had problems with altitude sickness, so we're hoping that won't be too much of a problem.

We are not interested in staying at the highest-priced hotels. We'd like to keep the budget to around $100-150 US per night.
Hotel recommendations would be greatly appreciated:)

One last thing I'd like advice on...
Is it at all possible for us to fit in one other area of Peru, like either Arequipa/Colca Canyon or maybe Lake Titicaca?
Or is it just crazy to even try to squeeze one of those in?
It seems like if you can fly from Cusco to Arequipa and then Arequipa back to Lima, that it may be feasible to spend 2 nights there. Is that even enough?

We are fast-paced travelers and usually do cram lots of stuff in, so that wouldn't be unusual for us, but I certainly want to make sure I give MP, Cusco and the Sacred Valley ample time for us to really enjoy it and get the most out of it. I just love to be able to see as much of a country as possible since there are so many other places on our travel list...we might not get another chance to come back!

I would love to hear ideas on how best to allot our time in the Scared Valley, which towns are best to overnight in, how many nights in each town, and where would we absolutely need reservations? Any other advice would be so very helpful!!!!!

Happy, safe travels:)

yoyoux Jul 18th, 2007 09:51 AM

Hi globetrotter!

You will love Peru!

Is it very easy and safe to take buses from town to town? Or taxis?
Yes, it is easy. In Cuzco, you can expect to pay $1.5 for a ride. For Bus, try Cruz del Sur, the most reputable company. Good service on board and comfortable seats.

How feasible would it be to do this trip without reservations?
We decided to go with an agent to avoid problems. But, of course it is feasible, just be organized with dates and papers and make them in advance.

Would you recommend one of these over the other?
I would recommend AC rather than Ollantaytambo (since we had limited time too).

Hotel recommendations would be greatly appreciated
For $100-150 US per night, you can find excellent hotels. We loved Casa Andina. In AC, we stayed at Machu Picchu Inn, it was just ok.

Is it at all possible for us to fit in one other area of Peru, like either Arequipa/Colca Canyon or maybe Lake Titicaca?
We also wanted to see as much as possible.
How about this one:
1 Lima – Cuzco tour around the city, you shouldn’t miss the Koricancha
2 Sacred Valley, We loved Ollantaytambo and shopping at Pisaq market
3 Machu Picchu (overnight at AC)
4 Machu Picchu – Cuzco
5 Cuzco – Puno
6 Visit T. Lake and floating islands
7 Puno – Lima
8 Lima – tour around the city, We found Huaca Huayllamrca and the catacombs in San Francisco Church very interesting. Don’t miss Larcomar!

for Restaurant, I recommend Jose Antonio :P !!!

Good luck

cantuta Jul 19th, 2007 05:26 AM

Hello Globetrotter,

First, I would like to let you know that there is a restaurant in Cusco's main plaza called Blobetrotter. They sell cool shirts with their name and logo.

Beyond that. I just got back from taking my husband for the first time to Cusco and Machu Pichu. We stayed in Lima for 2 days and started our Cusco trip on a Monday, going back to Lima on Friday. We wish we could have stayed at least one more full day in Cusco.

Although this was my 3rd time going there, I stilled booked everything through a travel agency from Peru. Two reasons: first, you will need a guide in order to get a an idea of what you are looking at, what it meant, what it means now. Second, it would be easier for you to travel without worry. Your days will pass extremely fast. You start at 6am and finish at 7/8pm. Then comes diner, then comes the night life (not only clunds and bars but there are restaurants that offer native dance shows). You will be tired.

OK- recommendations for Cusco/Machu Pichu:
day 1: Cusco City Tour
Day 2: (if Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) Sacred Valley (The market of Pisaq is only open those days). Stay the night.
Day 3: Train to Aguas Calientes - DO NOT GO TO MACHU PICCHU, stay in Aguas Caliente. If you like hiking and do not get vertigo, then you must try Putukusi; bring water, 2.5 hr hike each way. Then go back to your hotel, take a shower, and proceed to the hot springs.
Day 4: Machu Picchu first thing in the morning. If possible, get a guide for yourselves only, but a group tour is good as well. While in Machu Picchu, go to the Inka Bridge, Puerta del Sol, and, if you still have strength left, Huayna Picchu (or do Wayna Pichu before you proceed to the other two). Bring tons of water.
Day 5: Cusco - take time to enjoy the city. There are tours that you can take horse back-riding, or you can take day 5 and 6 to visit Choquequirao, what they are now calling the other Machu Picchu.
But trust me, take a day to rest and enjoy Cusco. Go back to the Monastery and visit the gardens, go to the market, visit the plazas.
Lima: Must go to downtown Lima. The main plaza has the cathedral and the president's palace, then a few blocks away you have Chinatown, Curch of San Francisco, etc. Miraflores is where you may want to stay. Visit Larco Mar, take a drive by the beach, have a pisco sour at la Rosa Nautica- a restaurant built on the ocean; quite amazing.
Restaurants: Pescados Capitales, Jose Antonio, Manos Morenas, Las Brujas, Tantra, any of the restaurants by Gaston Acurio, must try the nikkei food (Japanese / peruvia fusion), chinese food is a must.
I hope this helps. I wish I could give you more information, there is just soooo much to do! Lima is about eating. Cusco and Machu Pichu is about hiking.

luv2globetrot Jul 19th, 2007 05:29 PM

Thanks for the tips!

yoyoux - thanks for all the advice! Which Casa Andina hotel did you stay in? It looks like they have 5 in Cusco alone.
I like the idea of being able to see Lake Titicaca. Did you take a tour to one of the islands? If so, which one and where did you stay?
Thanks again:)

cantuta - Thanks, too for all the great tips!!
On your Day 2 you suggest Sacred Valley and you say spend the night. Which town would you suggest? Ollantaytambo??
Also, I love your suggestion for the hikes around Agua Calientes and MP. I will definitely look into all of those!!

As for Lima, I'm glad to see you both had positive things to say about it. It seems some don't have such glowing reviews. But we found that to be the same with Mexico City and we LOVED it!
Where would you say we should stay in Lima and what's the best way to get around? If we stay in Miraflores, do we take a taxi to the Old Town?

Thanks again!
Looks like I still have plenty to think about!

yoyoux Jul 20th, 2007 08:36 AM

Hi Globetrotter,

We stayed at Casa Andina Cathedral. Good location and service. You can get a discount if you book online.

Titicaca lake is beautiful and interesting! You shouldn’t miss it. Yes we went on a tour which was part of the customized package we purchased. The tour to the lake included a visit to the floating islands where you can see Uros people wearing beautiful typical dresses. You also visit a little school.

For Lima, we recommend el Ducado, 4 blocks from Larcomar. The best way to get around, I would suggest both, early take a guided tour around the City and then explore it on your own. It really worked for us.

bugsbugs1 Jul 20th, 2007 03:21 PM

we stayed at the los ninos hotel in cusco. it wasn't perfect but i really enjoyed my stay there. also we stayed in the city of aguas caliente not manchu pichu. also there is medicine you can take for the altitue change.
also i see that you have been to argentina. did you use a travel agency and if you did which one did you use? thanks so much.

luv2globetrot Jul 21st, 2007 10:21 AM

yoyoux, thanks again for the info.
As I do more research it looks like we may not have enough time to squeeze in Lake Titicaca, but I still have lots to work out so maybe......

We did NOT use a travel agency for Argentina. We did it all on our own and had no troubles. However, we only went to Buenos Aires, a day trip to Uruguay and then a trip to Iguazu falls
If you click on my name you can find my trip report on's about post #45 and it says "Latin America: Buenos Aires/ Iguazu Falls trip report. Good luck and happy travels:)

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