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6 days too many in Cuzco? Should we add Lake Titicaca too?

6 days too many in Cuzco? Should we add Lake Titicaca too?

Old May 11th, 2011, 11:05 PM
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6 days too many in Cuzco? Should we add Lake Titicaca too?

Holding 4 frequent flyer seats on American Airlines/LAN from NY-Lima-Cuzco on Sept. 30 arriving Oct 1 in Cuzco. Returning Oct. 7. Hotel Midori already booked for Oct. 1-8. (No frequent flyers available for Oct. 8 as yet.) Outbound is the non-stop, redeye, Business Class from NY-Lima, connecting Cuzco next morning. The non-stop Business seems like a nice, comfortable trip. We must confirm these tickets by midnight. But I am wondering...

Is 6 days too many in Cuzco. Main goals are Machu Picchu (by train) and Sacsayhuaman. And Sacred Valley. Any other suggestions?

We are wondering if we shouldn't add Lake Titicaca? Either in the beginning -- fly NY-Lima-Puno. Or in the middle of Cuzco trip? By train (10 hours). We could open up our days from 6 or 7 to 9 if needed. Would flying into Puno first help with adjusting to the altitude?

Do we need 3 days, 2 nights in Lake Titicaca? Is it just Puno and Tacquille? If we had to choose one location only in Lake Titicaca, which one? What about hotels? Do we need visas for Lake Titicaca? Do we cross into Bolivia?

In Cuzco, do we need to overnight in Olly before going to Machu Picchu? Or can we just do an early train from Cuzco to MP? Do we go back another day to visit Olly and the Sacred Valley then? I hear Olly is one hour from Cuzco.

How best to get to Sacsayhuaman? Is that a day trip?

Worried about altitude sickness for my husband. He sometimes need to step out for air, even in U.S. Will the cocoa tea, diamox medicine, or oxygen tanks be enough in case he needs help?

Any other advice about food safety? Weather and clothing in October? Getting to and from locally? (Buses, taxi's, walking, train?) We're average tourists; not big outdoor adventurers; and don't speak Spanish. Do we need a tour guide in central Cuzco? In MP or Sacsayhuaman? And for Lake Titicaca? How best to book a reliable tour or tour guide?

Should we hold on booking the frequent flyer seats and dates now, until we figure out Lake Titicaca? Maybe we'll find new seats later on, since the trip is not until October. Any advice?

Thank you!!
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Old May 11th, 2011, 11:13 PM
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Oh, one more question... Should we consider the Nazca Lines too? If so, how to do that from Cuzco? What's the best route or to make plans? Would we need to overnight or book a hotel somewhere? How much is a typical plane ride to see the Lines? Is it worth it? How long is the tour?

If we visit Nazca, how best to fit that into our Cuzco itinerary? Or Cuzco and Lake Titicaca itinerary?

Thank you.
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Old May 12th, 2011, 12:49 AM
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Wow! So many questions!

Firstly, if you are worried about your husband's reaction to altitude DO NOT fly directly to Puno. At some 4300m above sea leavel it is the highest point of your travels and he will be affected, the only question is how badly.

Much better to fly to Cusco (approx 3300m) and then immeditely transfer to Ollantayambo (c2500m) to begin acclimatisation. for a few days.

6 days is a fair amount of time in the SV a few days more would be better) - Pisac, Moray, Moras & Chinchereo etc. Are all within easy reach and Olly is a fantastic place to base yourselves. You could book the train from Olly to Aquas Calientes, stay over night in the town, visit MP at dawn before returning in the am to Olly or maybe directly back to Cusco.

Cusco needs at least a couple of days if you are unaffected by the altitude, but more if you want to (or have to!) take it at a more leisurely pace. make sur ethat you get the tourist ticket which allows entry to all the SV sites as this will save you a lot of cash compared with buying tickets separately

Strongly recommend that your husband consults a physician re diamox or any other drugs he may need. No doubt with the best of intentions, some here will often recommend it as a matter of course, but that is, IMHO a dangerous thing for a non professional to do (or even a doctor without knowing medical history etc.). Try to get a hotel with oxygen as this REALLY helps if affected. Coca tea worked for me but it does make you pee a lot! keep well hydrated.

For Titicaca, I would recommend the Inka Express bus or similar as it takes slightly less time and afford the opportunity to stop at the sights along the way. We really liked Puno and the lake. A day spent on the lake and a walk around the island was all we did. Our intention was to spend the night on one of the floating island but in the end we decided to return to Puno. An amazing place! We booked atrip a couple of days in advance online and all was ok. There are dozens of tours operators in Puno town all offering the same trips at similar prices. www.andeantravelweb is a good starting point for independent advice on operators.

No you do not need a visa for titicaca. There are lots of trips from Puno into Bolivia but the usual trip satys entirely withing Peru.

Other advice:
Weather - we were there in August and Sept and the weather was great. Lots of sunshine, reasonably hot during the day but cold at night due to the altitude.

Dress in layers. Fleece, rain jacket. good sunglasses are essential as is sunscreen.

Transport will probably be by taxi - bargain hard. Do not let the driver pick up anyone else along the way matter what the reason. Bus local buses are fun but difficult if you don't speak at least a lttle spanish.

Security - you are in a developing country so do take sensible precautions. Do not have valuables on show (leave them at home). Use a money belt. Take care when withdrawing cash at ATM (use machines inside banks if poss). In Cusco take particular care around the plaza De Armas as pickpockets do operate in the area. Book taxis to collect you from Cusco airport with you hotel in advance.

Hope this helps a little . Good luck with your planning it is an amazing part of the world.
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Old May 12th, 2011, 09:32 AM
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I think you'd do better not spending your entire time in Cusco city, but splitting it between the Sacred Valley, Cusco and possibly a night in Aguas Calientes.

Get a good guidebook or www.andeantravelweb.com and you'll get a better idea of the geography.

crellston spent a lot of time there and has some good suggestions.

I'm not sure if you really have enough time to go to Titicaca as well. I had 6 days between Cusco/SV and felt it was about right.

Return to Lima the day before your international flight. There is plenty to see in the city itself, including Rafael Larco Museum, the Plaza de Armas. I'd recommend staying in Barranco if you have a full day and a half, rather than overdeveloped Miraflores. Second Home Peru if you can get it, eat at Canta Rana and visit the Pedro de Osma museum. A much gentler intro to Lima.
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Old May 12th, 2011, 08:34 PM
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Business class on LAN NY->cusco is great. They have flat beds and comfy pillows, down comforters.

Six days is not enough to include Titicaca. Your highlight will be MP. Stay overnight at AC and enjoy. Also, follow crellston's advice and stay in the sacred valley your first couple of days, then do MP and then Cusco. I was in Peru last month. Three days sacred valley, two at Machu Picchu, three in Cusco (and surrounds) with a stop over in Lima on the way out. It was a packed, but perfect week. Don't try to do too much. You'll just be exhausted. Peru is great. Savor it.
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Old May 14th, 2011, 11:04 PM
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ditto what bostonharbor just said regarding itinerary/schedule. I really enjoyed my overnight in MP. AC is a fun little town and you can get a great one hour massage for $15. I made a spa experience out of it. I think 3 days in Cusco is enough and it should be after Olly and MP to give time to acclimate. Some hotels like the Monasterio have special rooms for those who get altitude sickness.
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Old May 15th, 2011, 09:59 AM
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"How best to get to Sacsayhuaman? Is that a day trip?
Its right outside of Cusco. It's even walkable, but definitely u can easily take a cab there.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Thank you everyone for the great advice. Is Ollantaytambo in or the same as "Sacred Valley"?

The more I read, the more I think staying a 3 days, 2 nights in Olly or SV on our first few days there would be the safest to acclimatize. What do you think about this itinerary?

Sat. 10/1
Arrive Cuzco from Lima flight.
Car/Taxi from Cuzco airport to Sacred Valley (or Olly) hotel.
Rest and acclimate. Maybe walk around locally. (Not sure what or where?)

Sun. 10/2
Pisac market and ruins. Can we start midday? How many hours for Pisac?
Should we plan anything else this second day? Or just try to rest and take it easy?
Would we be able to visit Maras (Salt Mines), Moray, and Sacred Valley this day too?
Same hotel in Olly.

Mon 10/3
Leave luggage in Olly hotel. Take morning train from Olly to AC (about 2 hours?).
Bus to MP.
Afternoon bus/train back to Olly, pick up luggage and get car (or taxi?) to Cuzco. About 1.5 hour drive?
Hotel in Cuzco (already pre-paid for Oct 1-8). I'm stuck; no cancellation permitted.

Tue 10/4
Central Cuzco -- Cathedral; San Blas; Koricancha; etc.

Wed 10/5
Day tour of Cuzco attractions: Saqsayhuaman; Quenqo; Pukapuka; and Tipon.
Someone said after seeing MP, Saqsay will be a "waste of time."

Thur 10/6
Relax in Cuzco. Pack.

Fri 10/7
8am InkaExpress bus from Cuzco to Puno.
About 8 hours with 3-4 stops, plus lunch. Arrives Puno around 5pm.
Overnight hotel in Puno.

Sat 10/8
Boat tours to Uros and Taquille islands.
Is it rainy season in October in Puno?!

Sun 10/9
Juliaca Airport flight to Lima.
Lima flight back to U.S.


Can you please recommend hotels in Olly and in Puno? Thanks again!!
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Old May 21st, 2011, 09:34 AM
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Olly is in the Sacred Valley. Depending on how much you want to spend, try El Albergue, Apu Lodge, Pakaritampu, KB Tambo. In Olly itself there are ruins and the old Inca Town sector. Both are worth seeing. I took a little nap when I got to my hotel and then went out in the afternoon. You won't want to eat a big meal this first day. Hearts Cafe in Olly is perfect for something light.

The markets are more active in the morning to midday. You can also stop in Chinchero for their Sunday market, probably a better place to buy handcrafted textiles than Pisac. See if you can find out what time the mayor's procession is in Pisac, I couldn't get an accurate response and missed it.

If you are going to do a day trip from Olly I would leave after breakfast, probably stop at Chinchero first if you are big into shopping and then Pisac market, then the Pisac Ruins, and hit Moray and Salineras on the way back. Depending on how you feel, I'd recommend walking down from the Pisac Ruins into town (have a taxi take you to the top).

Try to get the first train from Olly to AC.

If you didn't get a chance to walk down from Pisac you can also do this from Cusco. There are other things to see around Cusco beside ruins, and in fact you may feel "ruined out". There is the MAP museum, which has a well-regarded restaurant, & the Center for Traditional Textiles. (http://www.textilescusco.org/eng/index.html)

Outside of Cusco you can see Awanakancha, visit a weaving coop in Chinchero, or the bread bakers near Tipon.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 10:29 AM
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this is just me but I would eliminate the last night in Olly and switch it instead to a night in Agua Caliente. I found it a pleasant town to explore and be prepared to hit the ground running the next day but going straight to MP when you get up rather than biting into that day with a 2 hour train ride. You might beat the crowds that way as well. Do take the train ride to AC during the day though; it is beautiful.

I stayed at Rupawasi in AC which was fine, about $100/night. Inkaterra is nicer but much more expensive. I agree with mlgb about El Albergue or Pakaritampu.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 10:48 AM
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That certainly is an option. I didn't mind spending the night prior to in Olly (and the dinner at El Albergue's restaurant was worthwhile). I took the first train up and was there at the ruins about 8:30? before the crowds arrived. When I got to the Watchman's Tower the clouds were obscuring the view anyways, so I spent some quality time with the llamas waiting. Someone else from my lodging who went up on the same day used the time to hike up to the Sun Gate. However I went in January so perhaps the weather is clearer in October.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 11:24 AM
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I ended up climbing the mountain Machu Picchu which is higher than Huaynu picchu which most people climb (400 per day for HP, MP about 50 per day). This took me about 4 hours so I needed all the time I could get for my day at MP. Also, being a decadent sort, I loved indulging in the massages in AC at only $15-20/hour. I made the town my spa experience. OP having two nights in Olly, they could have dinner at El Albergue that first night. Either way works well; I just had NO regrets about having the amount of time I had in AC/MP.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 12:23 PM
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I assumed based on the OPs concerns with her husband's health they wouldn't be doing any longer hikes.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 05:21 PM
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Just got back from 3 weeks in Peru. You already got a lot of good advice. We flew business class on LAN from LA and it was very nice. Check your flights regularly though before you leave because LAN often changes times. In fact, our international flight was cancelled and they just moved our flight out 2 days. We did not receive an email or phone call.

A word on food safety - I got sick ("stomach infection" per the doctor)and was miserable for some days. We have traveled extensively and I never had problems before. Not sure if it was food (we didn't eat off carts) or exactly what but we while we were drinking bottled water, we were brushing our teeth with tap water. We were later advised not to do that and to keep our mouths shut when showering. Not a bad idea to take an antibiotic with you in case you might need it.

We spent started off with 3 nights in Urubamba, 2 nights in Olly, 1 at MP, then 3 nights in Cuzco. Best to start in the SV which is a lower altitude then go on to Cuzco. One thing you really should consider is going to the Colca Canyon. We had to choose between that and Puno/Lake Titicaca and so glad we made that choice. The canyon is again as deep as the Grand Canyon - just spectacular scenery. Great for hiking, river rafting, etc. and it is the place to go to see the Andean condors. While MP was surely the highlight of the trip, seeing the condors soar over the canyon was a close second. You fly into Arequipa then it is a 3 + hour drive (the hotel rates include transfers) out to the canyon. During that drive you see alpacas, llamas, and vicunas grazing. You go over a pass that is 16,000 feet in elevation (there is a rest stop where coca tea is served). Absolutely incredible. We stayed at Las Casitas del Colca which was fantastic. We heard that the Colca Lodge is also very nice and it is cheaper.

Another tip - before you plan much more, check on train schedules. They book up early and availability may dictate a lot for you. We stayed in Olly overnight and just walked a block to the station. It worked out very well. Hotel was Parakitampu - 2 mins from the station.

Also be sure and bring a hat. That is essential when hiking around the ruins. We hired private guides and got so much more out of it than if we had just used our guide book.
Good luck. You will have a great time.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 05:25 PM
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cavergirl--who did you use for a guide? I've contacted one, but have not heard back yet.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 05:48 PM
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We just hired a local guide at the ruins for everywhere except MP where a guided tour was included with our train ticket. It only cost 40 soles for a tour of Ollantaytambo and when we were done with that, the guide asked if we wanted a tour of the old city which we did and we just added 10 soles to pay for his extra time.

Oh and I have to add that if anyone goes to Ollantaytambo, the best place to stay is Tambo del Inka. It was the best hotel we stayed in all of Peru and way cheaper than other properties. Incredible service!!!
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Old May 21st, 2011, 06:08 PM
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How did you to each ruin? I was thinking the guide would provide transportation.
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Old May 21st, 2011, 06:12 PM
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That should be "how did you get to each ruin"?
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Old May 21st, 2011, 11:13 PM
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I think most people take a taxi, Jackie. The other alternative may be the local bus which is much cheaper but taxis are not expensive either.

Colca canyon sounds amazing cavegirl. I'll have to add that when I go back.

I would only differ on one advice detail; I would say don't pack a hat. You will definitely need one but they sell them for cheap, ten soles or $4 everywhere. I liked having mine as a souvenir; it says Machu Picchu.
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Old May 22nd, 2011, 06:12 AM
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RE food safety/tummy issues, a few things: Bring some hand sanitizer and use it before you eat, since hand washing may involve some dodgy water. Do bring two toothbrushes, since you will forget and stick one under the tap. Use bottled water for brushing your teeth. You might take one tab of PeptoBismol a day as a preventative, my tongue only turned slightly grey. I understand it may interact with some other medications, but I wasn't taking anything like Diamox. Follow the typical 3-d world suggestions on what not to eat unless you know the kitchen is using purified water, ie avoid the lettuces and unpeeled fruit and veg, and ice. The only street food I ate was the boiled giant corn.

Speaking to people during my two trips around Peru the biggest issue seems to be in Aguas Calientes and with the tourist buffets in the Sacred Valley. I did everything from the expensive Sanctuary buffet to 12-14 sole lunch menus in Lima, and didn't have any problems.
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