Advice on Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

Old Jun 11th, 2012, 02:10 PM
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Advice on Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu

My daughter and I will be flying to Cuzco for a trip to SV and MP in July.. We plan to go directly there to acclimate to the altitude and will visit Cuzco after we see MP. What is the best way to get to the SV from the airport? We were planning on staying in Urumbamba and using it as a base to see the other towns.
Can we buy train tickets to AC the day we want to travel to MP or is it recommended to buy them in advance? Are there limits to the size of our luggage on trains, buses or inter-country flights?
Finally, any thoughts about how to layer clothing or the best types of shoes? How cold do you think it will get at night?
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Old Jun 11th, 2012, 05:19 PM
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Your hotel can arrange airport pickup. Best and quick advise is to buy your train tickets asap along with your Machu Pichu entrance tickets. With such short notice I would try to find a travel agent for help. There are many recommendations on tripadvisor Many people recommend [email protected] or a guide David Ramos (he has a website) Your hotel may also be able to direct you. I was successful in buying train tickets on-line however many people report problems buying MP tickets -- so I have resorted to using an agent. Good luck.
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Old Jun 12th, 2012, 07:21 AM
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Best way to get to Urubamba - Have your hotel arrange a pick-up. Or you can walk out of the station and negotiate with any of the taxi drivers.

Train tickets to AC - Buy them now! If you can't get it to work online (Peru Rail's website), see if your hotel can do it for you. If you haven't bought your MP tickets yet, buy those ASAP too!

Luggage limits - There weren't any on the train from Ollantaytambo to AC. They have basic luggage racks at the end of each train car. Anything bigger than a standard carry-on might have trouble fitting, though. For flights, StarPeru has a carry-on weight limit of about 11 pounds. Everything bigger they check for free. There's no room in the plane to store a standard carry-on. Only bags small enough to go under the seat. No limits on buses. They put your suitcase/carry-on in the luggage compartment.

Clothing - Layering is key. I usually wore a short-sleeve or long-sleeve shirt. Starting out wearing my jacket in the morning, took it off in the afternoon, put it back on once the sun started to go down around 5PM. Always wore pants (easier to hike in and avoid bugs). Wear a hat! The sun is very strong.

Shoes - We were in hiking boots almost all the time. (We did the 4-day Inca Trail and tons of other hiking). I would recommend at the least wearing tennis shoes with good traction. All the sites have stairs and hills and the stones can be very slippery when wet (some areas do get some humidity and condensation).

Temperature at night - Very cold. It got into the 30s and 40s in May in the Sacred Valley. When we went out for dinner we wore long-sleeve shirts, at least one jacket (sometimes doubled our jackets), hat and mittens/gloves.
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Old Jun 12th, 2012, 07:57 AM
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If you find the best times for Peru Rail already sold out, try the other choices InkaRail and Machu Picchu Train. www.inkarail.com.pe and machupicchutrain.com

As far as the MP ticket website, some recent reports that if you cannot get the credit card to go through, you can email their call center and they will extend the time for your payment until after arriving in Peru. If your hotel does not charge too much for the service that is a good another option.

All hotels can arrange a transfer but do not pay a per person rate, it should be per vehicle and anything more than $50 is robbery ($50 is also too much but not everyone feels well on arrival so you may prefer to pay extra to have someone waiting).
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Old Jun 12th, 2012, 07:59 AM
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Also if you have not yet run across www.andeantravelweb.com it answers lits of FAQs about MP and Peru.
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Old Jun 12th, 2012, 11:01 AM
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Thanks all. I am now trying to purchase train tickets. Peru Rail site keeps giving me error messages
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Old Jun 14th, 2012, 04:51 PM
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You didn't say where you are staying in Urubamba, but there is not much to see there. It is a little town on the way through the Sacred Valley and there is no public transport.
There is plenty to see in the Sacred Valley, but it is scattered about and requires hiring guides/drivers or organized tours. I think Ollantaytambo (& definitely Cusco) is a better place to stay if you want to be independent. Urubamba has the central location, but if you are staying in a luxury resort, you will be in a "golden birdcage." If you want to relax and enjoy serene surroundings and take advantage of the amenities, then this may be the right place for you. But if you want to go out and explore Peru, you will have to arrange transportation in order to leave the hotel for anything.
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Old Jun 14th, 2012, 09:44 PM
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I agree with what much jwhitt has said above However, she seems not to know that busses and combis (shared minivans) are inexpensive forms of "public transit". Urubamba is actually the hub in the Sacred Valley for these. You can get from Urubamba to Ollantaytambo, to Pisac and to Cusco by public transit, although taxis are not expensive. Many of us here on Fodors whe prefer not to rely on guided tours have taken the busses and combis between Cusco and Pisac and between Pisac, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo. It does however take more time since they make stops along the way and the combis in particular can be stuffed to the point of bursting.
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Old Jun 14th, 2012, 10:34 PM
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"you are staying in Urubamba, but there is not much to see there" Urumbamba is nowhere near as attractive a town as Ollantaytambo but for a taste of authentic peruvian life it is a great place to visit for maybe half a day. The plaza is the hub of the town with a loads going on when we were there for a few weeks there seemed to be a fiesta of some description going on every other day (one day we even saw a camel being paraded around the square??) There are many good local restaurants in the side streets serving authentic Peruvian food in cluding some really good cevecherias. The market has the most amazing array of vegetables and fruits.

As mlgb points out, the bus station is the hub for travel around the SV and if you don't like the thought of getting on a bus with hoards of people (and some livestock) then taxis are plentiful but do negotiate for a decent fare.

I assume you are staying in one of the lux hotels around Urumbamba which is probably the only reason for staying there which is fine but you do not need to rely on the expensive services of the hotel for getting out and about unless you are more comfortable with this approach. we stayed in a bungalow in urumbamba for seversal weeks but found ourselves commuting most days to Olly for work and pleasure.

as for teh questions of clothing etc. - shutterbug's suggestions are spot on. I would only add that we found thermal underwear a godsend at night when it can get very cold and all but the upmarket places lack heating (plus it takes up mext to no space in your luggage
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