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Needed - a Machu Picchu primer (help with a trip)

Old Dec 12th, 2007, 05:59 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2005
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Needed - a Machu Picchu primer (help with a trip)

Hello everyone-

I have just returned from a company Xmas luncheon, and have been given an interesting (to say the least!) assignment for the new year.

Our COB and CEO announced that they will be taking us on a 'celebration' trip to Machu Picchu in Feb/Mar 2009, and they have asked myself and another person to research accomodations, logistics, etc.

So, to start with - neither of us know much about it all, except that it is one of the new wonders of the world and that everyone should see it. The CEO mentioned that we will be taking the train up the mountain, he said it was an Orient Express train. And, the only other clue we got was from the COB, he mentioned that we should look into a town that was just south of Lima, sounded like he said 'Paracas' to spend a few days after to ? - can't quite remember what he said was here. Relax, maybe, not sure?? And, as we have offices in Lima, I would imagine he would like us to work a day or two of Lima in there as well.

The last time they did this (I wasn't with the company then) they went on a one week to Santiago Chile, so I would imagine it would be one week again.

Can anyone help me out with some ideas, and also to tell me how the logistics of Machu Picchu work? A few people were a little concerned about the heights we would be at - is this a common problem (most of us are boomers, getting up there in age...). I have stayed at 7800 feet ( Ngorongoro Crater in East Africa), and live at sea level (Vancouver) and did not have any problems or even notice any difference in breathing at all. Will I notice any diffference at 10,000 ft, or even 13,000 feet which are some numbers that the geologists were throwing around at the table?

Thanks for any and all suggestions, insights, etc!
LyndaS is offline  
Old Dec 12th, 2007, 06:33 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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You have a long time to do some research on Machi Picchu since you are not going until 2009.

The town he is talking about is probably Pisca.

The train is the Perurail and it is a blue colored train.

You will perhaps fly to Lima and them from Lima to Cusco and then over to Pisac which is the start of the Sacred Valley.

There are several towns along the way to Machu Picchu, namely Urubamba, Chinchero, Ollantaytambo etc.

There is a lot of information on Machu Picchu.

Just type in Machu Picchu into Google and you will not live long enough to read all that there is about Machu Picchu!!

Percy is offline  
Old Dec 12th, 2007, 07:15 PM
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Its been about 8 years or so. But you want to spend the one day in Cusco acclimizing to the altitude at least. Try sone coco tea- it has coca leaves(dope) in it. IT helps the first few hours off the plane, if you are having breathing problems. Find a hotel near the city square/main plaza. In the evening it is such a wonderful place to walk around. Cuzco is worth a few days anyway. Take the early AM train to Machu Picchu. I would suggest you spend 2 nites at a hotel close by. You arrive the 1st day to see the some of the place and get a feel for it. Arise early the next AM and spend the day tooling around. It is worth it not to rush. Be sure the hotel you stay at is close by and has early am transportation.

Aguas Calientas has a hot springs if you are up for a soak.

I've was there in 1977 the 1st time when alot of it was still overgrown and not much reconstructed. It was called the City of the Virgins back then when they were still guessing its origins/purpose.

luangwablondes is offline  
Old Dec 12th, 2007, 11:07 PM
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check out some of the days from our trip to South America last year:

we did not spend a week in and around Machu Picchu, but it would be easy to. There is both the regular blue train, as well as the Hiram Bingham Orient Express train. They go on the same exact track and see the same exact stuff - one just costs way more than the other, and goes slower to boot.

Besides Machu Picchu itself, I really liked the Ollantaytambo area the best, my wife liked Cusco the best. There is a nice small hotel/resort where we ate lunch in Ollantaytambo that your company could probably commandeer for a day or two, depending on your company's size.

If you have any follow-up questions, let me know.
mistadobalina is offline  
Old Dec 12th, 2007, 11:34 PM
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Our TA helped us plan our trip in such a way that we had zero problems acclimating. We flew to Cuzco from Lima, but we didn't actually spend any time in Cuzco until a week later. Instead, we made a beeline for the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a spot near Urubamba. I don't recall how many hundreds or thousands of feet lower than Cuzco our location was, but my travel buddy and I were relieved that we were able to breathe again. The walk from the airplane to the car wiped us out. Seriously. And we were in our mid-30's. I won't comment on how in or out of shape we were. Okay, we were out of shape.

We spent a few days at our lodge before hitting Machu Picchu. After Machu Picchu, we returned to Cuzco to finish out the trip. But since we had spent the past week gradually working our way back up to Cuzco, we had zero problems when we returned.
TravlinFool is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 01:56 AM
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I would agree with the advice to stay one or two days in Cusco to acclimatise a little to the altitude, though it's worth knowing that there are always some people who simply don't cope well with high altitudes. Also, this isn't necessarily consistent - you can have no problems at a certain altitude on one trip and on the next to the same place be hit quite hard.

If you do have anyone in the group who is asthmatic or suffers from heart problems it MAY be worth exploring the option of having oxygen available for the group at all times.

Also, Cusco is a fascinating place to visit and there's plenty to see and do, not to mention great shopping. I could easily spend 3 or 4 days there myself, but would recommend a couple at least. One for taking it easy on arrival with some gentle shopping and walking and another for a proper tour of the city and nearby sights.

As for Machu Picchu, if there is no limit on budget you could investigate staying in the Sanctuary Lodge on the mountain top itself, right be the entrance. I'm not sure I'd choose this myself, despite the option to get in to the ruins easily early in the day as it's sooo crowded later but then again it makes it very easy to explore the ruins for a bit, retire to hotel for lunch/ dump items/ change batteries and then go back in.

On my first trip we stayed at a hotel on the top but it was a quieter simpler affair and the site was very uncrowded. This was in hte early 80s.

On my trip in 2005 we stayed in the Inkaterra hotel in the little village at the base. I LOVED this place. The rooms were in small, low-rise buildings with just a few rooms in each one and these were scattered through stunningly beautiful gardens. The gardens were strung with sugar water bird feeders which attracted hundreds of humming birds so walking through the gardens you would be able to watch them flitting around. A magical place.

And no big hardship to get up extra early to take first bus up to the ruins and still get in nice and early.

Kavey is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 05:39 AM
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Scroll down and check out my Trip report Peru/Galapagos Islands. Around 9:30AM it's #19 on the posts. Just got back-it was Amazing.

At MP, we also stayed at Inkaterra Pueblo, it was fantastic! (and 1/2 the price of The Sancuary.)

We had our hotels pick up the train tickets and have them at the hotels. We had the hotels recommend excursions from Cusco. (We stayed at Monasterio-nice!) Some hotels have oxygen rooms for those who get altitude sickness. If someone gets sick, when checking in, make sure everyone takes it easy for a couple of hours.

I highly recommend: 1/2 tour of Cusco-includes surrounding ruins. (Around $15 per person)

All day Sacred Valley Tour, which includes markets of Pisac, Lunch at Umbraba, Ollantaytambo (which I also loved) and chincheros. It's around $20 per person, $10 more for the lunch.

At MP, Inkaterra is excellent, plus everyone can get up early in the morning to watch the sun rise at MP.

The Vistadome train is excellent-windows up in the ceiling, gives the impressions as you go through those mountains. There is only 1 train company in Peru, and they offer 3 types of trains. Again, the hotels can do the work for you-(if you did it you'd have to pay cash) and only charge 5% commission (around $6 each-well worth it!)

When you read my trip report, I gave tips for the trip in it.
blamona is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 08:49 AM
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I'm researching our trip to MP next year, and as a librarian I advise you call your public library. You can borrow a Peru guidebook, such as Lonely Planet's (or buy it from your local bookstore), or if you have a corporate library have them do the legwork.

The Jan. 2007 Conde Nast Traveler had a good article with a map,lots of details and practical info., including the name of a specialist TA. See

Good luck!
rickandpat is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 10:33 AM
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Here's a link to our blog - we went in 2006 and had a great time...........

Elizabeth_S is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 01:52 PM
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Why would you hesitate to choose Sanctuary Lodge? The cost? That is very understandable. But is there anything else?
atravelynn is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 02:06 PM
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Because it's right there by the entrance there's quite a lot of noise around it and it's restaurant is extremely popular with coach parties. I don't know if they have another restaurant open only to residents; might be worth looking into and I would hope that the non-resident crowds don't invade the main areas of the hotel but... it just doesn't strike me as a Sanctuary.

When I stayed at whatever it used to be back in early 80s it was a simple hotel and peaceful but that may well be down to the limited numbers of visitors to MP at that time.

Conversely, Inkaterra really did feel like a sanctuary - so comfortable, such lovely rooms, such a peaceful and stunning setting, the hummingbirds sharing it with you... and I didn't find the trip up to the ruins problematic at all, though it's fair to point out that it does take some time...

Kavey is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 02:43 PM
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Re Sanctuary Lodge - we stayed there for 2 nights (bit the bullet) and were very happy with our decision. There is a separate dining room for guests (versus the larger dining room Kavey refers to that is open to all MP visitors) and the food was excellent.

What I loved about it was we wandered in and out of MP several times a day - we were there to see MP not AC - which didn't hold a lot of appeal for us.

There's always a debate between it and the Inkaterra property - Sanctuary Lodge was the right choice for us.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 02:45 PM
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Sorry - hit post too soon. Re acclimatizing in Cusco - actually it was recommended to us that acclimatize in the Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo or Urubamba) as they are lower than Cusco and then work your way back up the altitude.
Elizabeth_S is offline  
Old Dec 13th, 2007, 05:06 PM
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You might want to suggest they postpone the trip about a month until the end of the rainy season.
hills27 is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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WOW -- what company do you work for? That's a wonderful outing!

How many people will be going on the trip? Once you do research to get a sense of where you want to go, level of accommadations, etc. you may want to tap into the resources of a tour operator to help you book the trip.

As for the altitude issue, that depends on where you'll be going. Generally, problems with altitude can start for some people at 8,000 ft and above (MP = 7,800). For most people Machu Picchu shouldn't be a problem. However, Cuzco is at higher altitude, and everybody likely will be breathing a bit harder and moving alot slower.

What's difficult to know in advance is how or whether an individual will be impacted by higher altitudes . . . age is not a factor, nor is one's level of fitness.

I'm a boomer with asthma and didn't have any problem while at MP or Cuzco (June-2007); however once we got up to Puno (Lake Titicaca) then I really was aware of thinner air and needed oxygen after my first night there. The front desk of many hotels keep oxygen handy and after sitting/breathing for about 15 minutes, I was fine. Of course as others have mentioned, one of the local remedies is drinking coca tea -- and altho this is the same plant from where cocaine is derived, rest assured there isn't that same drug related "high" associated with drinking the tea. I think you'd have to consume voluminous quantities or chew a bushel of leaves to even approach that medicinal level.
Tess_Durberville is offline  
Old Dec 14th, 2007, 12:26 PM
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Elizabeth, so glad to know there is a separate resident-only dining room... I'd assumed there must be given the chaos of coach parties (us included) in the one we saw.

I can certainly remember the joy of being able to return to the hotel and then quickly back to the ruins during the day so can appreciate this reason for choosing Sanctuary Lodge.
Kavey is offline  
Old Dec 15th, 2007, 03:42 PM
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Hi Lynda
I won't comment much on Machu Picchu pretty much covered by others. I was there in 97 stayed in the hoteel next to the ruins. The great thing then is the buses to the ruins arrived at 10 o'clock and departed at 3 before and after that you had Machu Picchu near enough all to yourself! Things in general and the prices at the lodge have changed alote since then. Noise wasn't an issue since you are in and around MP not in sitting in your hotel.

Nobody has mentioned Paracas yet suprisingly.
We did this as a long day trip and keep in mind we had to get up the next day at 3 in the morning to fly to the Amazon!
Left Lima at 6 in the morning and drove to a place called Ica walked through a hotel into a boat that took us to the Balestros Islands known in the guide book as the poor mans Galapagos. Loads of seals, sea lions and birds with one Von Humboldt penguin. These were to move or die in the next few months due to El Nino (this was October/November 97).

Back passed the famous candelabra and loads of Flamingoes way in the distance. Had lunch and a swim at the hotel and then from the airstrip nearby took a trip to fly over the Nasca Lines, fantastic. Got back at 9.30 in the evening.The hotel is next to the Pacific and one of the highest sand dunes in the world I could have spent a couple of days there. You don't have to do what we did all in one day!

net_warrior is offline  
Old Dec 15th, 2007, 03:43 PM
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The other option for something a bit different (I'm sure there are others) is to fly to Iquitos from Lima and stay a night or two in an Amazon Jungle lodge. It's not Africa but plenty of birdlife and some stunning butterflies. You can also go tarantula spotting at night. Watch the sunset over the amazon from a dugout canoe amazing and if your lucky spot some river dolphins.

Well thats enough waffling by me I hope this helps.
net_warrior is offline  
Old Dec 16th, 2007, 10:22 AM
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Thanks everyone for so much GREAT info!! I have been so swamped with work (see there is a downside to this...) that I have just glanced at this morning, but I am printing it out & will read it over supper tonight, and get back to everyone tomorrow! Just wanted to says thanks so much to everyone though for now.
LyndaS is offline  
Old Dec 20th, 2007, 07:46 AM
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Well, the official email has been received - and I was sure out on the date! We are going March 2008 - not 2009! And, the COB's personal assistant is doing all of the bookings, etc so it's looks as though I have been fired as the researcher!

Here is the itinerary as it stands now-

Day 1 - arrive Lima
Day 2 - Lima to Cuzco
Day 3 - Cuzco
Day 4 - Hiram Bingham luxury train to MP, overnight at the Sanctuary Hotel
Day 5 - return to Cuzo late PM
Day 6 - Cuzco to Lima

From here my husband & I are going to stay 2 more nights in Lima, either to explore Lima more, or net-warrior's post on Paracas looks very interesting. Can anyone elaborate more on Paracas, or, as I hear this was the epicenter of the earthquake a few months ago, should we maybe just stick to Lima?

Any good recommendations for 'don't miss' in Lima?

That wasa an excellent sight by the way, rickandpat, I will be reading all of that info, and will be picking up a book on Peru tonight on the way home.

I have printed the two trip reports and will read the blog mentioned in this post - I have my reading cut out for me!

And I have passed on the info to everyone about the coca leaves - we may need this, as some are concerned the itinerary is backwards, and we should work our way up to Cuzco to acclimatize, instead of down to MP.

And Kavey, thanks for your thoughts on the hotel, I am looking forward to all of the plus' you mentioned of staying there!
LyndaS is offline  

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