Cusco area and Machu Picchu guide

Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 01:20 PM
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Cusco area and Machu Picchu guide

My sister (49) and I (45) will be going to Peru late October. We arrive at Lima late at night so I'm planning for a 3 nights stay. Then we'll be flying to Cusco but staying at Ollantaytambo for the next 3 nights and then 3 nights at Cusco. I was planning on taking a tour to Pisaq or to Moray and the salt mines the next day after arriving in Ollantaytambo thinking it would be an easy day to help us acclimatize to the altitude and the next day go to Machu Picchu. The problems is I haven't been able to find tours leaving from Ollantaytambo. I think we might have to go to MP next day after arriving in Ollantay, Altitude is lower in MP so we should be ok? But if anyone knows of tour companies picking up people from Ollantay I will appreciate the information (not private tours too expensive).

For the visit to MP the official site states that we need a guide. You can't do this in the entrance to the city so how do we arrange for a guide in advance?

About the boleto turístico, I'm not understanding this very well. You can buy a general ticket or a partial ticket. Then each ticket is divided in three circuits so I'm guessing you have to decide which places you are interested in when buying? And more importantly, where do you buy it?

In Cusco so far I have only three places of interest, besides the historical center, the Santo Domingo Convent-Qorikancha, Sacsayhuaman and the Museo Histórico Regional. Any suggestions appreciated.

Thank you.
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Old Jul 23rd, 2017, 08:04 PM
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If you speak Spanish it is very easy to arrange a taxi in the plaza from Ollantaytambo to Cusco which will stop at all the main places Moray, Maras, Chinchero etc. If you don't speak Spanish any Hostal in Ollantaytambo will arrange for you. The cost will be a little more expensive, maybe 150-200 new soles. This would not include a guide, but you don't really need one. Alternatively, www.taxidatum.com will provide a nice car and driver for, I think around $65.

Re Bolleto Touristico, just get the full ticket, the cost saving is not that great and you will need the full one for most of the important sites. You can buy the ticket at any site so just buy it at the first one you visit.

Can't help with MP tickets as I know they have changed the rules lately. Check Tripadvisor for updates.

As far as altitude is concerned, you are doing it exactly the right way and should be fine when you get to Cusco.
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Old Jul 24th, 2017, 02:32 PM
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Thank you for the information on taxidatum and the boleto turístico, crellston. I do speak spanish so I guess I'll have various options.
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Old Jul 25th, 2017, 07:40 AM
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Hi, I am from Peru with 46YO and I have been several times in Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The plan for handling the Altitude sickness is correct, I mean going straigh to Ollantaytambo (2,800 masl/9,000 ft)which is lower than Cusco (3,400 masl / 11,000 ft)., and Aguas Calientes(2,000 masl / 7,000 ft) and Machu Picchu Ruins (2,400 masl/ apprx 8,000 ft). But besides the the route and the altitude of places that you considering, there are other tips to handle the sickness:
- Get well rested to Cusco, so do not use a so early fligh to Cusco.
- Once you get try to sleep at least 2 hrs, your body needs time to acclimatize to the altitude
- Have a light meal during the first 8 hours (it is the average to acclimatize) Soup or salads.
- Remember digestions becomes slow in the altitude.
- After any meal drink Muña Tea (kind of minth)
- Coca Tea, which is offered as free in all hotels, works, buy only previous to any activity. It has caffeine so avoid it during the nights or if you are planing to take a nap in the afternoon.
- Finally if you started to feel the symptoms like headache, nausea or vomiting, ask for oxygen in your hotel, or if you prefer you can buy your personal can of oxygen in any pharmacy in Cusco (10.00 USD).

For your information all shared tours leave from Cusco City.

Regarding guides in Machu Picchu (nick name: MAPI), you can find several of them at the entrance of Machu Picchu, but as you can imagine, they are almost new guides, and not the best ones, but they are cheap. Each guide can guide you for a maximum of 2 hrs.

If you need mnore information, just text here.
Have a good trip and enjoy my country!
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Old Jul 25th, 2017, 03:30 PM
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Muchas gracias por tus recomendaciones Cesar, las tomaré en cuenta.

I was hoping to make arrangements for a guide before getting there, I hope maybe I can get a recommendation from my hotel staff in Ollantaytambo.
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Old Jul 27th, 2017, 08:03 AM
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Your general approach is fine, although if you havent' already paid for internal tickets I might not start with so many days in Lima. This is because sometimes there are flight delays and problems when you get to Cusco and it's good to have cushions before MP and before the flight home. I'd probably split it to one night first and then 2 at the end (or more..I like Lima a LOT).

With the ongoing strikes and new regulations I would keep tabs via Tripadvisor about whether all the new requirements are being implemented. E.g. I read that there may not be enough guides available to implement that requirement. Personally I would prefer no guide, if you have that option, and I'd read one of the excellent guidebooks in advance. After going twice I've found that the English-speaking guides often are difficult to understand and don't convey the same information as some of the more experienced Spanish-language guides (a lot of Peruvians go to MP also).

If you do decide to just do the single overnight in Lima, stay near the airport. It isn't worth going the hour into town and then the hassle of getting back in time for the domestic flight. There is an (overpriced) airport hotel, or you could try this guesthouse, the price includes pickups.

https://lima1night.com/

For your Lima stay, I recommend Barranco neighborhood, 3B is excellent for first-time visitors and relatively quiet. Great neighborhood and easy to use the Metropolitano Rapid Bus into downtown Lima. If you book direct on their website you should get a better rate and more flexible cancel policy. October can be busy in Lima, so book now.

https://www.3bhostal.com/rooms-and-rates

The Ibis isn't a bad location for Miraflores, and is slightly less expensive with current exchange rates. I tried it out last time . But still think 3B is better..included breakfast, all day tea and coffee and the most helpful staff in Lima. Plus I prefer Barranco.
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Old Jul 27th, 2017, 01:06 PM
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Thanks mlgb, I wanted to have one day in Ollantaytambo before going to MP as a cushion but I just can't find tours leaving from there so we don't waste a whole day. That's the only reason I'm thinking of going to MP the day after arriving.
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Old Jul 27th, 2017, 02:42 PM
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In October I would not worry too much about finding tours. In Ollantaytambo, you just walk to the ruins which are right in town. There are often guides outside the gates of Ollantaytambo. For Machu Picchu, you can book your own trains from Ollantaytambo on www.perurail.com (they designate Ollantaytambo as Sacred Valley).

If you want "tours" from Ollantaytambo I agree to ask your hotel to get you a taxi. It's also possible to use taxidatum.com going back to Cusco to includes stops at Moray, Salineras as part of that day.

I would not try to schedule any SV touring activities on Day 1 in the Sacred Valley. First, there is no way to guarantee your flight is on time (October is the start of rainy season). Also, even though Ollanta is significantly lower than Cusco, you will still likely be affected to a degree (it's still over 9000 feet in elevation). If you have never been that high, it's good to rest up for several hours when you first arrive (the altitude can sneak up on you). If you are feeling fine, you could go to Ollantaytambo ruins by yourselves..just walk there. However there are a flight of steps that are worth ascending for the view over the town. And you WILL feel that. Actually I don't think there is anything wrong with heading to Aguas Calientes the second day after you arrive (I wouldn't buy a train ticket for the first day just because of possibly flight delays) And it's worth doing the journey in daylight. So on Day 2, I would do Ollantaytambo ruins in the morning, then take an afternoon train to MP, to visit on the moring Day 3 (you only get half a day if the new regs go into effect). You can head back to Ollantay for night 3. On Day 4 do your tour transfer Ollantay-Moray-Salineras..and you DON'T need a guide for that, just a taxi. Once in Cusco, book your excursion to Pisac. I recommend taking a group tour..too much time at kickback paying shops and restaurants. Your hotel can arrange a taxi or you can write to some of the private guides that are often mentioned on Fodors.

Another reason not to tour to Moray and Salineras too soon is that they are actually quite high in elevation (over 11,000 feet)on your first day. They don't take especially long to see, save them for the day you head back to Cusco.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 05:50 PM
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That seems like a good idea, the only thing is I wasn't planning on staying at Aguas Calientes. My original plan was day 1 in Ollantaytambo just rest. Day 2 take train to Aguas Calientes in the morning and see MP in the afternoon and take train back. I checked out the taxidatum site and was thinking of doing what you suggested, the Moras, Salineras "tour" on the way to Cusco the next day. Thinking of possible delays I guess it makes more sense to leave MP for third day but that will leave us a whole day in Ollantaytambo with only a visit to the ruins.
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 05:59 PM
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Also, isn't risky not having trains ticket in advance?
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Old Jul 28th, 2017, 06:02 PM
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You plan is still okay I think. Day 1 rest and if you do feel okay, Olly in th PM Day 2 Day trip to MP (if you get lucky maybe a whole day, who knows about the new regs). Only issue is the rainy season. More likely rain in the PM but October is the start and the weather isn't predictable. Day 3 morning for Olly and afternoon the tour transfer to Cusco including Moray and Salineras. Do Pisac from Cusco.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 03:45 PM
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Yeah, I think I'm going to settle on that itinerary. Thanks mlgb and everyone else, you've been very helpful.
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Old Jul 29th, 2017, 06:06 PM
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October is not so busy as August but yes I would buy the train tickets in advance. Check the FAQ on the Perurail website but it looks like you still can change them in person with a small change fee (10%) with 24 hrs notice based on space available. Actually the first time I went the staff at the Aguas Calientes Station let me go back early when it started raining in the afternoon (January) even without 24hrs notice. There are offices at the Lima Airport National Departures and Larcomar in Lima as well as at the stations.

http://www.perurail.com/find-us/
The option to make changes is one reason to buy them yourself and not use an agent. I ran into people who had agents buy them and when they wanted to stay at the site til closing they couldn't.
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