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Trip Report Cusco and the Sacred Valley

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We just returned from ten incredible days in the Sacred Valley and Cusco (April 9-18). You can visit my travel blog here for details and photos. Will gladly answer any questions.

Thanks to those who helped me out ahead of time: crellston, colduphere, yestravel, and mlgb

http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog/odie1/7/tpod.html

Our schedule:
three nights in Ollantaytambo (town, remote villages, local ruins, school visits)
one night Aguas Calientes (Mandor Gardens and Machu Picchu)
one night Ollantaytambo again (Maras, Moray, Chincheros on our way out)
four nights Cusco (central plaza area, animal sanctuaries)
one night Lima (3 hour walking tour historical area)

Who:
Me (45), DH (51), DD (14), BFF (46) and her significant other (63)

Some thoughts:
Peru was fantastic. The Peruvians are some of the nicest people I have ever encountered. The country is beyond gorgeous. I felt 100% safe at all times.

Three of the five of us got sick from food/water-two badly enough that they took prescribed antibiotics that we brought with us. The two of us that didn't get sick, take daily probiotics on a regular basis and I believe that helped. Everybody but one was very careful about what they ate/drank. No one had problems with the elevation (save for a small headache the first night), only one took Diamox.

Guides greatly enhanced the experiences at all places-we used:
David Ramos for Ollantaytambo visit to remote villages and school (though it wasn't him, he sent Fernando-who was great)
Alpaca Expeditions for Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes (we had Jayme who was awesome)
Peruvian Local Friend for Lima (we had Rodrigo who was also awesome)

I pre arranged all of our transfers with Taxi Datum-Leonardo was amazing to work with, including having to cancel, rebook, reschedule, etc. All drivers were prompt, cars immaculate, though realize some do not speak English, drivers were safe

Even though we actually did not experience that much rain, quality rain gear, was helpful including a pack with a rain hood and gore-tex hiking shoes.

Hotels:
Ollantaytambo-Apu Lodge for three nights (absolutely loved it, except our room had beds that squeaked though our friends did not-2nd floor is a must) AND El Alburgue (very nice but would have been totally bummed with the location for the entire trip. It was perfect for the one night getting off the train exhausted)
Aguas Calientes-El Mapi-loved it
Cusco-JW Marriott-fantastic!
Lima-Courtyard-Very good

Highlight Restaurants:
Ollantaytambo: Apu Veronica, Hearts Cafe and Uchucuta
Aguas Calientes: Tree House
Cusco: Qespi at Marriott, Cicciolina and Inka Grill

We absolutely loved Ollantaytambo, thought Aguas Calientes was tacky, loved Cusco and the historical section of Lima

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