My Solo Independent Trip to Peru

Old Jan 29th, 2009, 11:40 AM
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My Solo Independent Trip to Peru

Day 1 Arrival and Transfer to Ollantaytambo.
After arriving near midnight at Lima airport, I decided to wait at the airport for my 5am flight to Cuzco. I was in good company and the Lima Airport is quite comfortable. (In Lima Airport, I recommend having some gelato at Cafe "4D", the best on my trip). Arriving at Cuzco, my heartrate was rapid from altitude at 3400 meters. I had arranged the hotel's transfer service to El Albergue, "the train station hotel" in Ollantaytambo. http://www.elalbergue.com/en/
The hotel has no internet or TV but was very nice, beautiful courtyard and best of all right next to the platform for the train to Machu Picchu. The climate in Ollantaytambe was excellent, similar to Southern California but with frequent overnight precipitation, slightly more humid but not oppressive. The hotel allowed early checkin with no extra fee, and I slept until about 2pm. I took a "mototaxi" from the station up to the Plaza De Armas, and had a meal of quinoa soup, a sandwich of cheese and avocado, and ginger tea at Hearts Cafe. I walked around Inka Town (photgenic) and checked out the craft stalls near the ruins.
Day 2 Ollantaytambo Ruins
The town of Ollantaytambo has its own Inca ruins, very worthwhile, I got a partial tour of the Ollantaytambo ruins (in Spanish) from the Assistant Archaeologist, who thought it was particlarly funny when I said I was single because husbands are too much work. He pointed out that the east sector or "Inkamisana" is a model of the entire Ollantaytambo complex.
Dinner at the El Albergue Hotel was excellent, alpaca steak with sauco (local Peruvian elderberry), potato seasoned with a green herb, sweet potato, and mixed vegetables for 29 Soles (less than $10). Shopping at the entry to the ruins is decent, especially around 5pm or so when the traffic dies, and there is a fair trade store as well.

Day 3, Machu Picchu. For the 5:37 AM train I just had to step out the door of the restaurant onto the train platform. If you are not planning on hiking to Huayna Picchu, this train gets you to MP early enough (and you can take a late train back) that you will see everything. If you want to get one of the hike tickets, you will have to overnight in Aguas Calientes. They were all gone by the time the first people from our train got to the booth. Machu Picchu looks like ithe pictures but with hundreds or thousands of people in plastic rain ponchos, which ruins the effect. There were some cute baby llamas roaming on part of the site, on which I used most of my battery power. I had about 5 hours before it started to rain, which was enough since I didnīt hike to any of the distant viewpoints. The train and bus ride were exciting, and surprisingly jungly. (BTW, a window seat on the Backpacker is just as good as a seat on the Vista Dome). I splurged for the $33 buffet lunch at the Sanctuary Hotel. They had ceviche, trout, salads, soups, fruit, rice pudding, and a coca/lemon grass drink. It was good buffet-quality food, although hardly worth the entry fee. The view is of the chaos at the entrance to the ruins. I thought the covered market near the Aguas Calientes train station was quite good in terms of variety and pricing, certainly better than anything I found in Cuzco or Lima.
Day 4, Chincero to Cuzco. After three nights in Ollanta, five of us from the Albergue shared the hotel transfer service to Cuzco, ($75 US divided 5 ways). This was one of my favorite days, we stopped at several sites in the high altiplano, Moray (an Inca experimental nursery built as concentric terraces around a natural depression), Salinas (pre Inca salt pans) and Chinchero which has an amazing church that is part Spanish and part Inca in decoration. The small museum in Chinchero was also worth 15 minutes. We also did a chicha sampling, (the corn beer which has fermentation started by spit). I liked the strawberry (fresa) version but others liked the natural. There was excellent shopping for textiles at the entrance to all of these out of the way places.

Day 5 Cuzco to Pisac trip.
I decided to take the bus to Pisac for a bit of adventure. I took a taxi to the bus station, and then lined up with the locals and a few other brave tourists. This was Sunday, and although I caught part of the Quecha Mass, I had bad information on the time of the procession so I missed that. The market was excellent and a great photo opportunity.
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Old Jan 29th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Thanks for your report -- i love reading it and reliving my trip to Peru.
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Old Jan 29th, 2009, 01:17 PM
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Part 2.
Pisac continued. I tried to hike up from town to the Pisac ruins, but it was too hot under the blazing sun, so I went back into town and found a taxi to the top (shared with a few other tourists). I think it was $5 US. There is a great view over the town and valley, the walk down includes some steep stone steps that are a bit vertigo-inducing. At the end of the trail just before town, there was a refreshing waterfall and some locals were also enjoying the cool water.

Cuzco Day 6 and 7. Back in Cuzco that night, I tried the Pucara restaurant on Platero (recommended in Fodor's South America Guide from a few years ago). I don't recommend this place, it was bland and not really memorable, and a bit expensive for what I had (criollo soup and a bad version of lomo saltado). My hotel in Cuzco, highly recommended if you can handle stairs and a steep walk at this elevaton, was El Balcon. http://www.balconcusco.com/en/index.php This was the best $25 room I've ever had. The rate was a summer special, cash only, it included breakfast, 24 hour tea, internet, telephone and TV. The rooms are beautifully decorated and the top floor has views over Cuzco rooftops. A tame parrot visits the courtyard in the mornings, and the staff was friendly and helpful (they called a taxi for my departure). The next day I visited Qoricancha and the Cathedral. Enjoyment of Qoricancha is mitigated by the tour group mobs, but the juxtapostion of colonial and Inka was interesting. The Cathedral is over the top baroque (I actually liked the chapel at Chinchero better). Probably my favorite experience in Cuzco was the Center for Traditional Textiles, which has an excellent exhibit and live demonstrations (as well as high quality textiles for sale). For early dinner at one of the broasted chicken places, which was quite busy and looked clean. For half the price as Pucara (12 Soles) I had a huge chichen breast and salad bar, plus and Inka Kola.

Day 8 & 9, Lima.
My flight the next morning was cancelled, as were the first 4 morning flights. The guidebooks all mention cancellation of afternoon flights into Cusco, but not the corollary that if the afternoon flights don't come in the day before, the morning flights out the next day don't go either.

In Lima, I stayed at La Posada del Parque. The only things I liked about this hoxtel, were the price and the location, about halfway between the Plaza de Armas and Miraflores. The neighborhood is called Santa Beatriz. The hostel is located on a beatiful street of restored homes from the 1920s and 1930s (I think), but the inside is dingy. My room felt like a jail cell with a view of a high wall topped with broken glass. The rate ($27 single) did not include breakfast, which was just as well. The reviews on Tripadvisor are mixed, and I think I agree with the bottom half of them. There was a nice pasteleria down Velarde, and nearby a cevicheria (I think on Rep de Chile just past Ave Arenales) "El Rey del Mar". Day 1 I walked to the Plaza de Armas via a route recommended by the hotel desk, basically through the park and along Jr De La Union, visited some of the sights around the Plaza and Convento de San Francisco and Convento San Domingo. Dinner was at a branch of T'anta near the City Hall, recommended a drink only. Overpriced for what you get (Soles 17 for two green tamales that would cost Soles 5 in a supermarket). The highlight of the day was taking the 7:30 pm Mirabus "colonial center tour" (Spanish narration only, 8 soles). Being on the top level of the bus, and with the colonial buildings illuminated at sight, made it easy to see the beauty of Lima's architecture. I was able to exit near my hotel rather than returning to the Plaza. Mirabus has other tours as well. http://www.mirabusperu.com/

My last day I took at taxi to the National Archaelogy Museum at Plaza Bolivar. Lunch at the museum was only 8 soles, and included deviled egg appetizer, fish, salad with avocado and potatoes, apple juice, and a small dessert. I walked to the Larco Museum (the blue line does disappear at times, so bring a route map or take a taxi). Thankfully I saw this museum second, because it far outshines the National Museum. A must see.

Then I took a taxi (15 soles) along the coast to the Larcomar Mall. What a waste of time! A mall with American stores and restaurants (like Tony Roma's). Miraflores was also not much to my liking, too many highrises and no character. The only redeeming feature in the summer is cooler temperatues, and much smoother traffic flow. I walked up to Park Kennedy and the nearby Artenasia Market (also disappointing) and took a colectivo down Arequipa to my hotel.

I did not feel unsafe in Lima, walking around on my own, although I do live in a similarly large metropolis. It might be a bit overwhelming to some, but I would recommend at least a day in Lima to see the colonial sector.
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Old Jan 29th, 2009, 01:34 PM
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Thank you for the trip report! I'll print it and keep it for my solo trip soon.
I admire your adventurous spirit.
I'll avoid the jail cell but try the gelato!
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 01:23 PM
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And the photos!

http://picasaweb.google.com/kiwifann...eat=directlink
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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Great trip report - thank you!

We are booked at El Balcon in Cuzco - glad to read your take on it. We will have three nights there.
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Old Feb 5th, 2009, 07:29 PM
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Your photos are amazing -- thank you for sharing!
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 04:51 AM
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Enjoyed reading about your trip and viewing your photos ... we're off on our own trip in April.
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 07:16 AM
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thanks for posting it was awesome

except for the part where

you drank the beer

with inca spit in it...
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 07:20 AM
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www.hotelsanantonioabad.com

represents a good Miraflores

choice for me because you get

free LIM pickup($20 value) and

great buffet breakfast...

thanks again for all the detail...
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 09:21 AM
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Good to read the comment about the San Antonio Abad - we'll be staying there for one night before we board our plane back to the US.
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 09:22 AM
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I stayed at San Antonio Abad on the way in (I went to Chile first). It is a good value and I would recommend it as a better budget choice. The breakfast was very good. My room was noisy since they put me right on the street despite my email request weeks prior for a quiet room. It isn't particularly close to the ocean or for that matter anything that I wanted to see, although the supermarket nearby was very nice.

I suspect now that a number of the reviews of Parque de Posada were planted by friends of the owners.
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Old Feb 6th, 2009, 04:22 PM
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Thanks for the posting and the pictures... enjoyd them all.
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 07:28 AM
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Great report and pictures - thanks for posting!

It's interesting to see how much greener everything is than when we were there in October. A lot prettier but I'm glad we didn't have to deal with rain. A trade-off.


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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 09:12 AM
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I think I was lucky, the rain didn't affect my travels to any major extent. I did plan for it by taking the earliest train to Machu Picchu and was pretty much done by the time it started. The upsides were warmer temperatures at Cusco, an abundance of flowers, especially at Pisac Ruins, and the summer fruits and corn. So anytime is a good time to go.
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Old Feb 7th, 2009, 01:40 PM
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Great report and pictures!
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Old Aug 29th, 2010, 09:11 PM
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thanks for the report.... taking notes for my trip.
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Old Sep 7th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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I forgot to flag my second trip to Peru with a Trip Report flag, so here is the link. It covers Lima, the Amazon jungle near Iquitos, and the north coast.

http://www.fodors.com/community/sout...orth-coast.cfm
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Old Sep 22nd, 2010, 08:49 PM
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Hi mlgb- Really enjoyed reading your MP post and your Amazon post. Taking notes for my trip tp MP in May 2011.
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