Trip Report: Peru, May , 2 weeks

Old Jun 3rd, 2005, 04:54 AM
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Trip Report: Peru, May , 2 weeks

May 2005, 2 weeks in Peru and 8 days in Argentina. This trip report highlights the Peru trip. I apologize in advance for the length, but just couldn’t decide what to eliminate.

We initially decided on a South American trip to experience Machu Picchu, but other archeological and indigenous places along the way proved to be just as memorable. We booked the Peru portion of our trip through a tour agency which allows you to design your own itinerary, direction, and which uses local guides in each area. We’ve always been independent travelers, but decided on a tour agency since we thought getting around Peru might prove difficult. This agency had good prices, was flexible, and provided a nice selection of hotels, each with a full buffet breakfast.

Lima to Puno. We went from sea level to 13,500 feet, taking Diamox for the altitude and had no side effects. In Puno, one of our favorite places, the Uros Islands and people are amazing and not to be missed. Puno itself has an expansive street market, with a section dealing with miniature items in everything you can imagine, i.e. miniature tools, miniature money, miniature suitcases. People believe that if you buy a miniature item, e.g. college diploma, it will become true. Apparently Puno is also a booming industry market for every imitation or knock off item. Our guide said that if an article says, made in “blank”, it’s probably made in Puno.

Puno to Cusco. The 8 hour bus journey with guide, over to the city of Cusco was much better than we anticipated, since it stopped at several sites and villages along the way --Rachi, Andahuaylillas, and Pikillaqta. This bus ride is highly recommended --you see a lot and it’s one way of traveling between locations in Peru without having to fly. Unfortunately, we spent a great deal of time flying.

Cusco. Hotel was centrally located with great morning breakfast buffet complete with eggs made to order. We had a good tour guide who gave us a great tour of the city and nearby ruins including all the usual and amazing Inca sites. In total we spent 4 nights in Cusco, 2 before heading into the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and 2 after our return back from there.

Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu. A couple of days and nights --the Pisac market, the national park hike just outside of Pisac, a roadside picnic with wine, the fortress at Ollantaytambo, and Aguas Calientes. Machu Picchu lived up to our expectations of being a truly spectacular place. It’s the location that makes it so magical. The ruins themselves may have rivals in the Ollantaytambo fortress,or Sacsayhauman fortress, in my opinion. This portion of our trip was facinating.

Return to Cusco by train. A delightful ride and a unique experience especially when the train zigzags forward and reverse at one location. We built in an extra “free” day in Cusco and were able to visit many of the other places on the “tourist card” that weren’t covered by our initial city tour. The paintings in some museums were mostly created during a period where the style was distinctly “Cusco”, in which the Virgin Mary was depicted wearing earrings and Jesus wore a skirt, not a loin cloth. They were unusual interpretations of familiar figures. Another interesting church had underground living quarters with wall murals where a legendary priest lived for years. We appreciated and really took advantage of the extra day to explore Cusco.

The Chez Maggy restaurant really does make the best pizza. We ate at both locations in Cusco and Aguas Calientes. We also had an interesting meal at Fallen Angel restaurant. Nearby were several shops with art works by the local, famous artist Mendevil. These art works, many religious in depiction, were figures with long necks which mimicked the long necks of llamas.

Puerto Maldonado (Tambopata River, Explorers Inn Lodge) If I could do the Peru trip over again, I would just skip this section-- I didn’t enjoy it, although my husband’s reactions weren’t quite as bad. We love hiking, nature, and the peacefulness of a quiet place, but the very hot and muggy weather was oppressive. We hiked, saw some birds, butterflies and other animals (we did see a tayra, which is rare, apparently). Just don’t have much to say about the jungle, only -- been there, done that. Instead, we should have chosen the excursion option to Chan Chan in the north.

We spent a couple days in Peru’s capitol before moving on to Argentina. We had a very good Lima city tour which included the Larco museum, a great art and artifact museum, not to be missed. We walked all around the Miraflores area, including taking the steep cliff steps down to the ocean. Ate at two very good Miraflores restaurants, La Rosa Nautica on the pier, and Las Tejas in town.

We’d be happy to answer any questions about the trip. Argentina section will be posted separately.

kathleen is offline  
Old Jun 3rd, 2005, 09:13 AM
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Thanks for the great report-
wondering how crowded Machu Picchu and other ruins were.

I hate to be tacky but I was wondering how expensive your package was and through which company?
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Old Jun 3rd, 2005, 11:09 AM
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Greenfieldhunter, Glad you enjoyed reading the report. Yes, the ruins were filled with tourists, but we found it easy to break away from others to find quieter, less crowded spots. At Machu Picchu we stayed all day, and towards late afternoon, when the light was great for shooting, the crowds were thin.

The tour agency is Tambo Tours, with offices in Houston and Cusco. We found them to be very flexible especially in designing an individual itinerary. You could select hotels in a couple of price categories, so the total cost would depend on your choices. I would recommend this agency for travelers who want things set up for them, but do not want to be grouped with the same bunch of people for an extended period of time. In every city, we had different people for that segment of the trip. Never a large group, and as few as just us in one location. Plus, dinner was always on your own, so there was a good deal of free, independent time. Kathy
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Old Jul 10th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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Kathy, your report on Peru was excellent. My wife and I are traveling there in October..Machu Pichu, Cuzco, Lima and Lake Titicaca. Thanks for the advice! -Dave-
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 05:04 AM
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Dave, You're welcome. I'm glad to help. I'm certain you'll have a great trip to Peru--there's so much there to see and appreciate. Kathy
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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 09:37 AM
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Hi Kathleen,

I am going to Sandoval and rec'd mixed info on whether Yellow fEVER Vacinne is needed. It turns out coming from the US to Sandoval it is NOT required BUT is recommended. I'd rather not get it if it is only recommended. As it is dry season and the tour operator knows of no one who has gotten Yellow Fever...

Did you and your husband get the vaccine? Any side effects?

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Old Jul 11th, 2005, 04:38 PM
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Yes, my husband and I did get the yellow fever vaccine as well as the malaria pills. We hardly noticed the slight soreness in our arms (from the vaccine) which lasted for only a few days. We got the vaccines at our regional travel health clinic, as a precaution.

Our guide at the Explorers Inn did say that there's been no malaria case in the area for several years. I'm not certain about yellow fever. Hope this helps.

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