10 days in Peru : 2017 Trip Report

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Feb 18th, 2018, 08:10 AM
  #1
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10 days in Peru : 2017 Trip Report

We returned from a 10 day trip of Peru almost two months ago (in December 2017), and have been so busy that I am posting this trip report after an unusually long gap. Thankfully, I have my trip jottings to help me, as otherwise most details would have been obliterated from the mind. Anyway, getting started to write this is the difficult part. I am sure I will manage to complete it in 3-4 days.

A bit about ourselves. We are a couple from India, hovering around 60 years of age, and fiercely independent travellers. Have travelled quite a bit around the world, but first time to Peru. This was the first time that our 30 year-old son also joined us. Our research was done largely from a Lonely Planet guide book, aided with some queries posted on forums like this one.

The broad itinerary was :
Transit through New York : 1 day
Lima : 1 night
Ollantaytambo : 1 night
Machu Pichu : 1 night
Ollantaytambo : 1 night
Cusco : 3 nights
Arequipa : 2 nights

Here goes the first instalment…

Day 1 : Saturday: Dec 16th:
We had an early morning 4:15am flight out of Mumbai. We flew Business class in Emirates, and their cabins were lovely. Had a complimentary foot massage at the Mumbai airport lounge. Boarded on time, and went off to sleep in excellent flat beds, very private. We reached Dubai at 6am local time. Freshened up at Business class lounge, and had breakfast. Then boarded our flight to NYC at 8:30 am. Lovely seats again on Emirates. Enjoyed the long flight with flat beds. Specially enjoyed their lively lounge area behind the cabins, with excellent service. We had selected our seats with considerable research, and were glad for it. Reached NYC on time at 2 pm.

The Emirates complimentary limousine was waiting for us, to take us to our hotel nearby – JFK Courtyard by Marriott. Our son had already arrived and checked in. We had a nice shower and went to downtown NYC to 1st Ave., to meet someone. Returned back, picked up our bags at hotel, took the airport shuttle, and left back for JFK. Had a forgettable dinner at JFK airport, and boarded LATAM flight at 11 pm to Lima. We had “bid” for an upgrade to Business class, which had not been accepted. So it was cramped Economy seats on this long flight. However, we were very tired, so we slept soundly for 4-5 hours. Before we new it, we were landing at Lima.
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Feb 18th, 2018, 09:19 AM
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Always enjoy your reports indiancouple. Looking forward to more.
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Feb 18th, 2018, 07:12 PM
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Day 2 : Sunday: Dec 17th :
We landed at Lima on time at 6 am. The immigration process was thankfully very quick, with no lines. Quick baggage retrieval as well. We changed a few dollars to soles at bad rates. The taxi from our hotel was waiting outside. We made it to our hotel by 7:20 am – 3B at Barranco. We had selected this B&B on the recommendation of many Fodorites, and we were not disappointed. Although we were there so early, they gave us one room immediately, and by the time we had a nice breakfast, the other room was also handed over. We showered and rested for 90 minutes. Nice B&B – great value for money, and located in the most interesting neighbourhood of Lima. Lots of eateries very near the hotel.

We left at 11 am by taxi to Plaza de Armas. Lovely atmospheric place with great buildings all around. Went into the church. Sat around on benches, and took pictures. There was a ceremonial band playing at the presidential palace. Then we walked on J. de la Union (pedestrian street). Very alive with people posing as statues. Had ice cream, changed currency at much better rates, and got a Claro sim card.

We walked all the way to Plaza San Martin, where we sat around amidst more great buildings. When we tired of watching grand old buildings, we took a taxi to Miraflores Larcomar. As we got down, we were delighted at the super views. We strolled around designer shops in the complex for a while. The place was full of restaurants, and we opted to have lunch at “Tanta” – got a lovely table with killer views. Had excellent ceviche (spicy) with Pisca sour. We left at 3 pm and strolled along the coastline admiring the views, walked through Amor park, and ended up at the paragliding centre. Then took a taxi back to the hotel for an hour’s rest.

We left the hotel at 5 pm, and walked to the main Plaza at Barranco. Lovely place, full of life. Went to the Bridge of Sighs, strolled through boutique arty shops, with good music playing everywhere. Great place to loiter around for an hour. We had dinner at a super place near the plaza (Angels something ?? was the name), with soup and other veg food. Then walked back to our hotel for an early night. Crashed out by 8:30 pm.
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Feb 18th, 2018, 10:06 PM
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I'm thrilled to see your trip report, indiancouple, as I am working on the final touches to a trip I plan to take that will include all the places you visited -- even including 3B Barranco! Thanks for posting, and with such detail!
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Feb 18th, 2018, 10:44 PM
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Great report IC looking forward to reading more.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 12:38 AM
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Thanks for this usefull and detailed travel report.Looking forward to reading more.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 01:01 AM
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Thanks everyone for the accolades - mlgb, kja, crellston and nicole b. If I remember, it was mlgb who had pushed me into staying at 3B, and I am glad for that.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 01:11 AM
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Day 3 : Monday, Dec 18th :
We got up early and had breakfast at the hotel, which was pretty decent. Had booked a taxi at 7:45 am to go to Lima airport. We checked out of 3B Barranco. It had been a very nice hotel, great value for money, located in the best part of Lima, with very friendly staff. Highly recommended.

We reached the airport well in time, by 8:40 am or so. We had a flight at 10:10 am to Cusco. Although we boarded on time, the aircraft took off at about 11 am, managing to reach Cusco just after noon (only 15 minutes late).

Had booked a Taxidatum taxi to take us straight from Cusco airport to Ollantaytambo, which took 1:45 hours, and reached our hotel El Albergue, located on the train station, by 2:15 pm. The hotel was a delight, operated and owned by an American lady. Very nice campus, with lovely cottages in a very rustic style. Huge rooms with rustic décor, excellent creature comforts, with a large balcony. We were totally taken in by the beauty of the place. Had an exquisite lunch at the hotel restaurant, which served excellent food with a superb wine collection. Then for some brief rest.

We left at about 4pm, taking a tuk-tuk to the Ollantaytambo ruins. Bought the Touristico Boleto for 10 days, hired a guide at the entrance (highly recommended, and cheap), and went in. The ruins are lovely, although it is a steep climb to the top (well worth it). Enjoyed the scenic setting, nestled between the mountains. Then came back, wandered through the artisanal market, and made our way to the main square, which was an absolute delight – so quaint and pretty. We wandered around for some time, clicked pictures, and sat on a first floor bar overlooking the square for some drinks (craft beer for me). Then had dinner at some Mexican place on the square, which was very forgettable. Then a tuk-tuk back to the hotel and crashed into bed. Ollantaytambo is a lovely town (village ?) in the Sacred Valley, and a delightfully cute place to stay.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 06:14 AM
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Day 4 : Tuesday, Dec 19th :
We had to get up early today and finish breakfast, as we had an 8 am train to Machu Picchu. We left most of our luggage behind, and carried only small packs with us, because of the weight restrictions on the train. Had booked a Vistadome train, with huge windows and good seats. The station platform was just outside our hotel, and we boarded the train comfortably. Nice pleasant journey of 1 hr 30 mins, reaching MP village (Aguas Calientes) at 9:30 am. A man from our hotel was there to receive us at the platform. And the hotel was just across the rail tracks – Casa del sol Machupicchu. Expectations were high after the El Albergue experience, but we were slightly disappointed. An OK kind of a hotel, nothing to cherish or write home about. It took a while to get our rooms, as we were there early. We rested briefly, then went for lunch at the nearby restaurant called Mapucho. It turned out to be a good choice. The food and service were both excellent.

We had booked a guide through the hotel for MP viewing, who was waiting for us at the hotel by 12:45 pm. We had afternoon tickets for that day for MP, and off we went. Bought bus tickets, and took off, reaching MP by 1:45 pm. There was a mild drizzle. We walked up and up to the Guard House, by when the rain got heavy and we took shelter in the Guard House. The guide dashed down and got us plastic ponchos to protect against the rain. The sights of MP ruins were very clearly visible – only the top part of Waynapichu mountain was shrouded in clouds.

We had an excellent tour of the MP site, with the Sun Temple, Water Temple, Condor temple, Panchamama temple etc very well explained. We were very glad that we had taken a private guide along. The steps are steep, so it is an exhausting visit, but superb. What can one write about Machu Picchu that has not been written already ? Exited by 5pm, took the bus back, and rested at the hotel. Did shopping at the artesanal market near the train station, and purchased a lot. Then we went out for dinner at a nearby restaurant, which was well rated on Tripadvisor, but turned out to be quite disappointing (Total Café or something). Then off to bed.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 06:34 AM
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Day 5 : Wednesday, Dec 20th :
Today we got up really early, and finished our breakfast, as we had morning viewing tickets for MP for the day. We left by bus to MP and were at the gate of MP by 8:15 am. In we went, without any guide this time. It was cloudy, with mild intermittent drizzle, but the rain stopped by 9:30 am, the sun came out in parts, and the weather became warm and humid. Finally managed a perfect camera shot of the MP site, with full Waynapichhu in view. The classic picture to send back home for friends to ooh and aah over !

We tried walking to the Sun Gate, but gave up half-way, as the climb was too stiff and long for us. However, we did walk upto the Inca Bridge, which was a long but easier walk. Kept loitering about the site and clicking pictures, till we had our heart’s content. Finally exited MP at 11:45 am. It had been a much better day weather-wise for viewing. Took the bus back. Showered at the hotel, and went for lunch at Tree House restaurant. It was nearby, but there were a huge number of steps to climb to reach there (now we understood the origin of the name “Tree House”). Well worth it, as their ambiance, food, and cocktails were all excellent.

Came down after lunch, sat in hotel lobby briefly, and checked out. The hotel had taken the liberty of removing our luggage from the rooms without asking us, and I was shocked. The hotel overall had been quite disappointing and horribly overpriced. We boarded our 3:45 pm Vistadome train back. The staff of the train put up a fashion show on the return journey, which was fun. Most unexpected to witness a fashion show on a moving train ! We reached Ollantaytambo by 5:20 pm, and went straight to our hotel El Albergue. After retrieving our luggage and settling back into our rooms, we went back to the Main square in a tuk-tuk, and walked thru the old town with narrow alleys, canals that still function, and quaint old houses. Then slowly walked back to hotel.

Had booked a table for dinner at our hotel itself, and the food was divine. Service impeccable. Very nice meal. Then off to bed by 9 pm.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 09:11 AM
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Very good, glad you liked "my" 3B!

I have never stayed the overnight in Aguas Calientes. My experience was twice as a day tripper but it was back when you were allowed to spend the full day at the site, so taking the early train up worked out fine.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 09:12 AM
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Nice to hear that having two visits to Machu Picchu worked as it did for you -- I'm planning the same. And thanks for the comments on restaurants!
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Feb 19th, 2018, 06:48 PM
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Given that we were visiting in December, the start of the rainy season, we knew that the weather could be iffy. Hence we had planned two trips to MP. I am so glad that we did, and the viewing the second morning was so much better. It would have been a shame to have gone all the way to Peru and not get a proper view at MP.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 06:55 PM
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Day 6 : Thursday, Dec 21st :
For the first time in this trip, we did not need to set an alarm clock to wake us up. But by force of habit, we were up early. Got ready at a slow pace, and reported for breakfast by 8:15 am. Had a sumptuous breakfast, picked up box lunch which we had ordered, and left in a pre-arranged taxi for a tour of Sacred Valley, enroute to Cusco.

The hotel had arranged for a large van, with comfortable seating, and a driver who spoke English. We left at 9 am, and our first stop was Maras (Salinas), which we reached by 9:45 am. The salt pans were wonderful, although they were not full of salt, as the rainy season had started, and salt panning was at a low key. However, the view of millions of salt pans was enthralling. Did some shopping on the way out.

Next stop was Moray, which was also a sight to behold. We had seen terraced rice fields in China, but never in such circular fashion. Walked halfway down, then back up, had some coffee, and left.

Next stop was Chincheros, and we were there by 12:30 pm. Went to one of the Textile stores, where we started with a demo of how they make alpaca wool and how it is dyed, using natural ingredients. Very interesting to watch. Then we engaged in a 2 hour shopping spree across 5-6 textile shops, and purchased rugs, blankets, sweaters, scarves and what not. Consumed our box lunch sometime in between. At about 2:30 pm, we went to the Archeological site in the same town, and slowly climbed our way up. Nice old monastery/church, and scenic settings.

Started from Chincheros at 3 pm or so, and reached Cusco at 4 pm. We were booked at Casa Cartagena, a superb hotel, just 5 minutes from Plaza de Armas. We had booked two suites, and the rooms were awesome, specially the suite which our son got. Settled in comfortably, had their complimentary cocoa tea, dropped off some clothes at a nearby laundry, and left for Plaza de Armas. What a lovely sight ! Roamed around the plaza, and then walked to a couple of neighbouring smaller plazas; walked in and out of stores, changed currency (better rates than Lima), and just ambled around.

As the lights came on, the plaza was more magical. We went for an early dinner at 7 pm at “Incanto”, a stylish restaurant near the main plaza. Had a great meal, with lovely cocktails. Returned to the hotel, and went to bed.
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Feb 19th, 2018, 09:38 PM
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Still following, and still enjoying and learning!
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Feb 20th, 2018, 07:10 AM
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Day 7 : Friday, Dec 22 :
Another leisurely wake-up, and nice breakfast at hotel. We had booked a free walking tour of Cusco, which started somewhere near the main plaza at 10 am. Turned out to be a nice tour, with about 15-16 tourists, and a guide with good English. He took us first into San Pedro market, where we saw various items being sold, and learned much about Peruvian customs of food and general living. Then a walk through the central area of Cusco, to a petting zoo with llamas and alpacas, the Qorikancha area, various other Inca sites etc. Lasted about 2.5 hours, and got over by 1 pm.

Went for an Indian lunch at Café Carvalho, which was pretty good. Gorged on Indian food after a week. Then for some rest at the hotel. Picked back our clothes from the nearby laundry.

We left at 5 pm for the San Blas plaza, which was just two blocks away from hotel (our hotel was halfway between Main plaza and San Blas plaza). Lovely atmospheric neighbourhood, with different kinds of shops, and artist galleries. Enjoyed going through all of them for a few hours.

We had dinner near the main plaza at an excellent restaurant called “Moreno”. Excellent cocktails and meals, very well presented. One of the best meals of this trip. Then back to our hotel for an early crash out.
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Feb 20th, 2018, 07:17 AM
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Day 8 : Saturday, Dec 23rd :
Once again, a leisurely start to our day, followed by a hearty breakfast at the hotel. This morning, we went to the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, which was half a block from our hotel. Turned out to be an excellent museum, very well curated, and a must-see in Cusco. Shows all the artefacts from 1250 BC till the 15th century for that region. Really enjoyed it.

We did some more shopping of Baby Alpaca items in nearby stores. Then walked to the Main plaza, where all the street markets for Christmas had started, with huge throngs of village people roaming around doing their shopping. Very interesting to walk all over the place. DW loved it. After some time I sat on a balcony café overlooking the square with a cup of coffee, while DW continued with her shop survey.

We all went for lunch at a highly rated place called “Organica”, and it turned out to be one of the best meals of this trip. Extremely well prepared food and drinks.

We had a long rest at the hotel. It was nice to just sit around with our complete family and do nothing. We had no desire to visit more ruins in the vicinity of Cusco, as we were tired of that and “ruined out” by now. I opted for a massage near our hotel, which turned out to be of very average quality.

In the evening, we walked back to San Blas, and walked further up to Limbus Restobar, which has fab views of the city. Quite a climb to get there, but the views were excellent. Had a round of drinks and snacks. Then went to nearby “Green Point” for dinner, which was quite forgettable. Then back to the hotel and off to bed.
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Feb 20th, 2018, 05:32 PM
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kja
 
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Thanks for mentioning that free tour of Cusco! I don’t usually like to join tours, but that one sounds worthy of consideration. And I’ve added Moreno and Organica to my list of restaurants to consider.

I’d already planned to visit the Museum of pre-Columbian Art – gald to know you thought it excellent! Do you remember how long you spent there?
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Feb 20th, 2018, 11:10 PM
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kja, I don't quite remember how long we spent at the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art ; my guess would be about 90 minutes or so. It was the only museum we visited in Cusco.

Thus far, even I have steered clear of tours. My son persuaded us to try these free walking tours, and I found them to be fun. Did it in Cusco, and again in Arequipa.
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Feb 21st, 2018, 02:55 AM
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Day 9 : Sunday, Dec 24th :
We had to get up very early, and leave the hotel by 5:45 am. We caught a 7:10 am flight to Arequipa, reaching at 8 am. The taxi from the hotel was waiting for us, and we reached our Katari Hotel on main plaza by 9 am. We had breakfast on their rooftop terrace, which had great views of the plaza. By the time we were done, our rooms were ready. I had booked a Presidential suite for ourselves, and a junior suite for our son. The rooms were excellent, with great plaza views.

Once again, we had enrolled on a free walking tour of Arequipa. We joined the walking group at 10 am in the downtown area. The tour did take us to some interesting places. More focus was on the history of Arequipa. It was a fun tour nevertheless.

The tour got over at 1 pm, and we had lunch at Zig Zag restaurant, which was quite decent. Then we went to nearby Santa Catalina monastery and took a guided tour, which was fabulous (never visit this place without a guide). We had no expectations, and we loved the place. The interiors were so bright and colourful, and the story of the nuns and how they had evolved over time was spell-binding. A must see in Arequipa. By the time we were done, their café had closed down, which was a pity, because it had looked like a lovely place to sit down over coffee.

Then we went to our hotel for some rest, stopping at shops for some last-bit shopping. In the evening we just strolled around Plaza de Armas, where Christmas lighting and festivities were on, and crowds were milling about. Went inside the main cathedral on the plaza also. Then walked around a few blocks in that area, and settled down at some fusion restaurant for dinner. Turned out to be an average place. Then back to the hotel, where the sounds from the plaza invaded our room till late at night.
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