Starting to plan our trip, ? about Sacred Valley

Old Jan 22nd, 2007, 08:34 PM
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Starting to plan our trip, ? about Sacred Valley


My husband and I are in the early stages of planning a trip to Peru and we have questions regarding the Sacred Valley.

We are considering staying in the Sacred Valley (Sol y Luna Hotel in Urubamba or Hotel Pakaritampu in Ollantaytambo) instead of staying in Cusco due to the high altitude. I suffer from frequent migraines and we're concerned that the altitude might trigger my migraines.

Is it feasible to stay in the Sacred Valley and start all of our day trips from there? We were thinking of enjoying what the Sacred Valley has to offer in addition to visiting Machu Picchu for the day (or should we stay overnight in Aguas Calientes, maybe at the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel) and hopefully also going to Cusco from Urubamba for the day.

How many days should we stay in the Sacred Valley? Is 5 days too many? Is it really necessary to base our stay in Cusco?

Thank you for any help. We've been reading the various posts but with so much information out there, it gets confusing, especially this early in the planning.

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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 12:48 PM
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pnb -
We are going to Peru in May and we have the same concerns that you do. We do not suffer from migrane but we live at sea level and do not want to take chances by staying in Cusco at onset of our trip. We also will be testing Diamox at home to see how bad are the side effects (if any).
We will be staying in Kuychi Rumi, Urubamba for 4 nights before MP + 1 night after MP. After SV we will the spend 2 nights in Cusco.

I have done extensive research on SV. This is what we definitely will do:

1. Urubamba and surrounding villages (probably horseriding tour by Soy y Luna or other operator arranged by our hotel). 6-7 hrs
2. Ollantaytambo ruins 3 hrs
3. Chinchero 2 hrs
4. Pisac Market & Ruins 6 - 7 hours
5. Ochoy Kosko community 6 - 7 hrs

If we get bored we will raft Urubamba river.

These activities are more than enough to fill 5 days, especially when your Day 1 in SV will contain very little, if any, activity.

We understand there isn't much altitude difference between Cusco and SV. If we do not get altitude problems in SV we will not get them in Cusco either. And vice versa. Cusco is about 3300 meters, SV is about 2850.

Cusco is about 1 hr drive from SV. Any private transport will cost you UP TO $25 one way. Cusco itself can be seen in 1 day. The ruins around Cusco will be just ruins after you have seen MP and Pisac and Ollantaytambo. If you still want to see them, they are even closer than 1 hr drive from SV and can be seen in 1/2 day. We would not even bother staying in Cusco but we want to experience Hotel Monasterio. I missed Casa Santa Domingo in Guatemala. No way I am missing it again!
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 01:37 PM
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I stayed in the Sacred Valley prior to going to MP and then spent several days in Cusco.

Personally I prefer the Sacred Valley to Cusco. Ollantaytambo is nicer than Urubamba in my opinion. The Sol y Luna hotel is more upscale than Pakaritampu. However, Hotel Pakaritampu is very nice. If you stay there try to get a room in the back. There is an Incan water canal in the back of the property and it is restful to listen to the water running in it.
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 03:02 PM
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We stayed at the Pakaritampu. It is separate buildings on extensive grounds. I don't know Sol y Luna, but if it is "more upscale" than Pakaritampu that is hard to imagine. They have orchards etc. on the property and grow fruit and vegetables for rhe restaurant. The room was very spacious and well decorated. There is a computer in the lobby for guest use.

We did stay in Aguas Calientes for a night so that we could spend more time at Machu Picchu. The Machu Picchu Hotel is lovely.
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Old Jan 24th, 2007, 03:32 PM
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Sol y Luna has stables for horse back riding. Pakaritampu doesn't. Also I found Pakaritampu to be a bit noisy. The hard floors cause make it easy to hear footsteps and doors slamming.
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Old Jan 25th, 2007, 10:19 PM
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We stayed in the Sacred Valley at Sol y Luna for five days and did all our day trips from there. It worked out great. Sol y Luna was great and had the most wonderful restaurant. We had a private guide David Choque who came each day and took us to different places in the Sacred Valley. We did stay at the Machu Picchu Peublo Hotel for one night when we went to Machu Picchu.
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Old Feb 7th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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We were in Peru in November and began our trip in the Sacred Valley. Our experience was that this was the best way to acclimate. You do feel the altitude and move a little slower the first few days, but lots of water and rest did the trick. We were fine and even did well at Puno and 13,000 ft. I believe our time in the Sacred Valley was the trick. We met travelers who went directly to Cusco and you do feel the elevation more in Cusco than in the Sacred Valley.

We spent three nights at Sol y Luna and loved it! We also used David Choque as our guide. I recommend that you contact him, as this made our trip very easy. I first learned of David from this Forum.

email: [email protected]

David is a lovely man who picked us up at the airport in Cusco and took us to our hotel, Sol y Luna, where we collapsed. He then picked us up the next two mornings and toured us around the Sacred Valley; Moras and Moray, Ollyantatambo, Chinchero, Pisac, and a weaving community where we had a wonderful experience. It was nice to have private transportation and the freedom to move at our own pace.

After our 3 nights in the Sacred Valley, we took the train to Machu Pichu for 1 night (fabulous) and then took the train to Ollyantambo where David picked us up and transferred us to Cusco. We used his services here as well, and then he took us on to Puno, Lake Titcaca, Colca Canyon and finally to Arequipa. A fabulous 2 weeks for a family of three.

Good Luck!

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Old Feb 9th, 2007, 10:19 PM
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I'm also puzzled by why everyone is telling you to acclimitize in Cusco for 2 to 3 days before going to Machu Picchu, when Cusco is about 1000+ m higher than MP. MP is only about 7000 ft right, whereas Cusco is 11,000+ ft? What is the elevation of Sacred Valley?

Would it make more sense to go to MP first to acclimitize yourself for Cusco??
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Old Feb 10th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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I think so. We reserached this quite a bit b4 planning our trip this April. As i recall Cusco is approximately 11,000 ft altitiude and the SV is approximately 2000 ft lower. We are flying into Cusco and going directly to Pisac and from there going to Ollantaytambo, then MP. We end up up in Cusco to hopefully help with acclimation to the altitiude.
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Old Feb 14th, 2007, 07:42 AM
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Just got back from Peru (Sacred Valley, Aguas Caliente, Machu Picchu, Cusco and Amazon via Puerto Maldonado).

FYI, Cusco is at ~11,100 ft: the Sacred Valley is ~9,300 ft at Urubamba, slightly lower at Ollantaytambo: Machu Picchu ruins are ~7800 ft, higher for the Temple of the Moon if you are so inclined and Aguas Caliente is ~6500 ft.

Though the difference in altitude between Cusco and the SV is only about 1800 ft, it's a very important (comfort-wise) 1800 ft. We landed in Cusco and were whisked away to the SV within about two hours and my husband was already starting to feel a headache coming on. It disappeared by the time we got down to the Sol y Luna in Urubamba.

The advice to acclimatize in Cusco before going to Machu Picchu generally refers to those who are planning to hike the Inca Trail. They need to acclimatize before they start to strenuously physically exerting themselves and they would probably find it more pleasant to acclimatize in the SV, then Cusco, then hike but they often don't have that kind of time (or money)

The Sol y Luna is a marvelous property. The food was wonderful, the rooms are gorgeous, everyone it's own individual structure and there are magnificent gardens.

We went horseback riding on their Paso Fino horses. These are well cared for, superbly trained animals with a true Paso Fino gaited action. This is a welcome change for anyone who can't post a trot or has suffered from trying to sit a canter on a stable hack with miserable gaits. Upon our return our horse were unsaddled, sponged down, rubbed dry, brushed and groomed for about twenty minutes each and then put back in their corral (not your typical rental stable treatment).

Similarly magnificent was the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. It is in a marvelous cloud forest setting. We did the morning bird walk (Cock of the Rock, Torrent Ducks, scads of tanagers and a Highland Mot Mot were the highlights). We also did the later morning Orchid walk. They have numerous humingbird feeders at which we were able to see about ten different varieties.

I will try to do a full trip report later this week but this is all for now.


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Old Feb 14th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts sounds like you had a wonderful trip. I will be anxiously awaiting the full trip report, because I hope to follow the same itinerary in August,2008. It is never too early to start planning, and I think I can learn a lot from your experiences.
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Old Aug 6th, 2007, 09:38 AM
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the info in this post is very helpful. we are planning the same trip. we sights did you all see in Cuzco? and of course what sights did you see in Lima, how long did you stay in Lima and at what hotel did you stay in Lima? appreciate your responses. thanks
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Old Aug 11th, 2007, 07:05 PM
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Our family just returned from this trip and I did lots of research here so I thought I'd share our experiences. We used Condor travel to arrange our trip. They did a fabulous job. We booked our own flights and told them what we wanted to do and they arranged guides, transfers, train, buses, and tours.
What a great feeling arriving in the airports and having someone with a sign with your name on it!
We flew into Lima late Friday and immediately went to the hotel (Casa Andina Centro). Early the next day we went back to the airport for our flight to Cusco. We spent another day and a half in Lima on our return and I wouldn't do that again. We absolutely hated Lima. I'm sorry to say that as we've traveled all over and it was a pretty miserable city. I'm sure that it didn't help that it was freezing!
When we arrived in Cusco, we transfered to Yucay, a small town in the Sacred Valley just outside Urumbamba. The hotel was beautiful, "La Casona de Yucay," but a bit boring for our college age kids. There is absolutely nothing to do there. It is very pretty though and quite relaxing.
The second day we had a lovely tour of the SV from Ollanytaytambo to Pisac.
The following morning we returned to Ollanytaytambo and took the train to Aguas Calientes and immediately went up to Machu Picchu. It was fabulous.
We spent the night at the Apu Majestic in Aguas Calients. We only stayed there because we booked last minute and there wasn't much available. I read horrible reviews of it but it actually wasn't too bad.
We returned to MP for sunrise and stayed until early afternoon. We took the train back to Poroy later that afternoon. Poroy is a few miles outside of Cusco. The train takes an hour to go those extra few miles. The Condor travel staff picked us up and took us to our hotel.
Cusco was great. We really liked the city and took a very nice tour of the Inca ruins. We stayed at the Casa Andina Catedral. My only complaint is city noise but that's the same in any city in the world. We really didn't have any problems with altitude other than we walked a little slower than we might have. Our kids liked Cusco best as there were lots of young people around.
We stayed in Cusco 2 days then back to Lima. As I mentioned before, none of us liked Lima at all. We took a city tour and walked to Larcomar for dinner. The second night we had dinner on Plaza de las Pizzas in Miraflores which is a nice street full of pizza places.
If I had a chance to do it over again I'd have used my extra night in Cusco.
Hope you enjoy your visit!
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Old Oct 6th, 2007, 11:24 AM
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I'm also working on a trip for next summer. I was wondering about the cost of your guide...David Choque. Does he charge by the hour or day or for certain tours? I fnot too expensive, it might be a good idea for me to plan our trip around when he can be available. Thanks for the help.
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