Cusco or Urubamba

Old Aug 27th, 2010, 08:18 PM
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Cusco or Urubamba

We are group of 10 people, and a friend recommended Sungate Tours in Cusco for our 3 nights/4 days trip to Machu Picchu. David from Sungate has been really helpful and prompt with my e-mails. My question is with the altitude, Urubamba is much lower than Cusco, so how far is Urbamba from Cusco, and is it OK as location to stay while visiting Machu Picchu? Do you think the tour of Cusco city still doable? The group is mostly in 50's and 60's in age.

Our trip will be from October 23 to 26, what to expect weather wise?

Is it worthwhile to pay $60 more for Vistadome train.

Thank you for all your responses.
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Old Aug 27th, 2010, 08:36 PM
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I LOVE CUSCO and yes that age froup can certainly tour around the historic (and wonderful) Cuzco You get acclimated to the altitue within a day --drink lots of the cocoa tea they have everywhere--it helps. Wish I was going! We've been 3 or 4 times-wonderful. sorry I don't know about the vistadome train?
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Old Aug 27th, 2010, 10:01 PM
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Yes, actually Urubamba and Ollantaytambo are closer to Machu Picchu than is Cusco. You take a taxi to Ollantaytambo for the train, there are many more departures.

I would spend several nights first in the Sacred Valley and then perhaps the last night in Cusco.

Tour agencies like you to stay in Cusco because it is easier for them.

www.perurail.com
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Old Aug 28th, 2010, 04:40 AM
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If you guys sleep the first couple of nights

at over 11000 ft in Cusco odds are great you

will not sleep well and be sick

from the severe altitude change.

Go first to www.ollantaytambo.org Urubamba MP

FIRST all around 8000 ft sleep there to adjust

www.casa-andina.com SV www.apulodge.com Rio Sagrado

Tambo Del Inka www.libertador.com.pe all nice there

also might take DIAMOacetazilamida) only true preventive

Altitude sickness may develop in travelers who ascend rapidly to altitudes greater than 2500 m, including those in previously excellent health. Being physically fit in no way lessens the risk of altitude sickness. Those who have developed altitude sickness in the past are prone to future episodes. The risk increases with faster ascents and higher altitudes. Symptoms of acute mountain sickness, the most common form of the disorder, may include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, malaise, insomnia, and loss of appetite. Severe cases may be complicated by breathlessness and chest tightness, which are signs of pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs), or by confusion, lethargy, and unsteady gait, which indicate cerebral edema (brain swelling).

Altitude sickness may be prevented by taking acetazolamide 125 or 250 mg twice daily starting 24 hours before ascent and continuing for 48 hours after arrival at altitude.

www.mdtravelhealth.com Peru correct CDC health info
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Old Aug 28th, 2010, 04:43 AM
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Vistadome not worth it for me

take the backpacker cheaper same views

best to go into MP and overnite go up for an

early sunrise MP visit HP climb if you like

Ruth Wright MP Revealed best guidebook

for best experience www.amazon.com
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Old Aug 28th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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I loved Ollyt. for different reasons than Cusco--smaller-more authentic with less people etc. We stayed there one night and were gald we did. Just DON'T not alot time for Cusco-plenty to explore and enjoy. There is much more in Cusco than Olly. I do NOT agree with whomever said you would probably all have altitude sickness etc. We've taken friends and family over of all ages , we genrally stay in Cusco at night, no one has ever been sick--they give you the cocoa tea, you take it easy the first 24 hours and that's that.
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Old Aug 28th, 2010, 09:42 AM
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As you are in the area for a very short time (i.e. 3 days) I would be inclined to stay at a lower altitude. The last thing you want is to is risk being unwell. It WILL take you time to get acclimatised (at least a day). As quovadis rightly points out, if you sleep at altitude >11,000 the odds are you will find sleep difficult, experience headaches etc. whether or not you get actual AMS is anyone's guess as it is not dependent on age fitness etc.

Cusco is around 90mins by taxi from Olly so a day tour is possible but there is so much more to see in the Sacred Valley
There is much you can do to minimise the effects -Diamox, (but you should check with your doctor first, chewing coca leaf really helped me but coca tea had little effect. The best solution is to acclimatise gently but you do not have the luxury of time so the best solution would be to sleep at a lower altitude which means Urumbamba or Ollantaytambo. I spent several weeks in these towns and much preferred Olly. Urumbamba has some nice lux hotels but the town isn't up to much. Olly is much prettier and has some reasonable places to stay.
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Old Aug 29th, 2010, 06:03 AM
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We stayed in Ollantaytambo first, then later Cusco. Cusco is a pretty big city and not the kind of place I could see as a great day trip from out in the country. Possibly the other way around... but Ollantaytambo definitely has a lot to be said for it as a place to spend some time as well. For one, Ollanta is where most trains start for Machu Picchu, they're cheaper from there and and it's far easier to get to the station from there. It's also a very cool Incan town with stone streets, buildings and ruins. I never saw Urubamba though... from reading and from drivers we asked, it seemed more like a place you'd come from, rather than go to, for day trips.

Agree that the Vistadome train doesn't add much to the experience and IMO, even lacks a bit of comfort that the backpackers has.

I don't agree that one day is necessarily enough to shake off the effects of altitude. It may be - it totally depends on the individual, as well as where you just came from. I didn't feel it in Arequipa, Ollanta or MP, then when in Cusco, it was very noticeable by all of us. And we'd spent over a week and a half by that time over 2300meters/7800ft.
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Old Aug 29th, 2010, 08:59 AM
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Thank you for your kind replies. We are now talking with the agency and see if we can stay in either Urubamba or Ollytambo.

And an additional question did anyone stay at Hotel Runcu in Miraflores district in Lima? How quiet is it?
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Old Aug 29th, 2010, 12:30 PM
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Cusco is great city, many things to do there, if you stay 2 days to deal with altitude you will be fine. If you just want to visit Machu Picchu in this tour to Cusco, go to Urubamba or Ollantaytambo ( best option for me) and then take train to AC.
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Old Aug 29th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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I don't think anyone is saying not to SEE Cusco, just to avoid sleeping there for your first few nights. You have such a short trip that I'm not sure I would sleep there at all, except for the night before your return flight to Lima, so that you can spend the last half day or the morning before the flight taking a quick look at Cusco.
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Old Aug 30th, 2010, 01:51 PM
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Thank you all, principally to migb. Your are right, we are just afraid of what such high altitude might do to some of us. We will be staying in Urubamba, and hope I will report back after our trip.
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Old Aug 30th, 2010, 04:19 PM
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I was wondering if your tour group has an option to stay a few more days in the Cusco area? I noticed you had free nights in Lima. YOu might like to explore the SV and Cusco a bit more.

It would not be hard to arrange a tour in Lima if you were afraid to miss that offered by the group.
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Old Sep 6th, 2010, 03:08 PM
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We just returned from a 10 day trip to Peru in August with a tour company- Gate One which we highly recommend unless you need luxurious hotels. The tour director and almost all the guides (one exception) were superb- everyone was raving about them. I highly recommend altitude sickness medication if OK with your doctor. There were 50 people on the tour (split into two groups)- and at least ten of them (that we know of) got altitude sickness which lasted a day and caused several of them to miss some great day trips. The trip was well planned- we flew to Cusco airport but spent the next two nights in the Sacred Valley which is lower, then went to Cusco for two nights. We went to Macchu Picchu from the Sacred Valley.The last stop was Puno- Lake Titikaka which is very high- I think 14,000 feet. Some of the group went on the backpacker train and others went on the Vistadome(including us). The consensus was the Vistadome was worth it- a nicer train with an excellent snack on the way back and -don't laugh- but a fashion show by the crew to pass the time on the way back- it was fun. The people who took the backpacker had more time in the town near Machu Picchu- Aques Callientes (sp?) then they needed because the backpacker goes earlier and returns later. Now if you want several extra hours to wander around Macchu Picchu you might want the backpacker but the climbs were not always easy and it was hot. As far as we know only two people got stomach problems from the food or water- a doctor in the group confirmed symptoms when the illness was stomach or altitude sickness. We also loved Cuzco- Lonlely Planet has an excellent walking tour and don't miss a tour of the cathedral with a guide. The way the paintings incorporate native beliefs into Catholicism is fascinating. Check out the main course at the Last Supper Painting.
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Old Sep 10th, 2010, 04:42 AM
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I took the Vistadome train, and IMO it is not worth the difference in price. The windows are slightly larger and the seats are slightly more luxurious. But the emphasis is on slightly.
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Old Sep 11th, 2010, 04:26 PM
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Its mate' de coca, please.
I spent 3 weeks in Cuzco during July. World Heritage site and in itself an enormous Inca site. Don't worry about how well you will sleep there. Just go. From a tourist's POW, it's bliss.
The tourist agents in Cuzco are ferocious, many not to be trusted. Do not book anything in advance but Inca Trail and the train to MP if that's how you're doing it.


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Old Sep 13th, 2010, 08:52 PM
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I *highly* recommend taking diamox; I've felt far worse at 8,000 ft unmedicated than I did even at 12,500 ft in Chinchero with the medicine. With diamox, I didn't even notice a difference between the Sacred Valley and Cusco in terms of breathability, energy level, etc. No problems sleeping or anything. I was very concerned ahead of time, so this was a wonderful surprise.

We took the Vistadome train to MP and the Backpacker on the way back. The Vistadome was more comfortable and the windows in the ceiling were great for looking at the towering mountains. The Backpacker worked well for the return since it's the same scenery in reverse.

Weatherwise, be prepared for both rain and sun (likely on the same day), and dress in several layers. It gets quite cold at night.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 09:28 AM
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great tips here, I am taking notes for a trip in april
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Old Oct 2nd, 2010, 10:24 AM
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I would say better stay lower, Urubamba or other place in the sacred valley, you will avoid any altitude problem (only the first 2 days) my favorite place is Ollantaytmbo town 2 hours from Cusco city.
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