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Four full days in Peru before Galapagos - Itinerary help

Four full days in Peru before Galapagos - Itinerary help

Jan 15th, 2014, 03:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 9
Four full days in Peru before Galapagos - Itinerary help

I know that this isn't enough time to explore Cuzco, Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley, etc, but my husband and I are heading to the Galapagos on May 16 (leaving from Quito), and don't know when we'll be back in this region. So we'd like to at least see the highlights!

So we're arriving in Cuzco the afternoon of Saturday, May 10 and have to fly out the morning of May 15. We'd like to visit Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and explore Cuzco. I'm not sure what the best plan would be. Friends told us they stayed in Cuzco and took the morning train to MaPi one day and returned at night, then visited the Sacred Valley with a guide another day. Another friend says that we really need to spend 2 nights in MaPi to really get the feel. We were planning to stay in Cuzco for the 5 nights, and take day trips, but after reading these forums, it sounds like it might be better to head to the Sacred Valley first to avoid altitude sickness.

Can anyone help with an itinerary? I welcome all opinions!
kyarkin is offline  
Jan 15th, 2014, 11:10 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 7,336
Five days is not a lot of time and you may wish to spend a night in Lima before you flight yo Ecuador to avoid any possible flight problems which can happen flying out of Cusco airport.

I would head straight to Ollantaytambo spend your first night there explore the town and ruins first thing in the morning before the tour buses arrive. You could get the train to Aguas Calientes for an overnight and explore MP first thing in the morning before getting the train back to Cusco. You should be acclimatised by then and could spend the next couple of days exploring all the city has to offer. Apart from the usual museums, buildings etc. That are all covered by the bolleto touristico, if you are up for a bit of a hike I would get the bus to Tambo Machay and take the walk back into Cusco via Sacsayhuaman. The inca sites are excellent as are the views and scenery along the way.

Where else are you planning on going in Ecuador? There is a huge amount yo see in that country. If you prefer a less rushed trip, there are many places you could spend 5 days visiting.
crellston is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 03:44 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 9
We're not planning on anywhere else in Ecuador. After Cuzco we're heading to Quito for one night to then catch a flight to our boat to the Galapagos for 10 days. Although we don't have much time beforehand, we really want to spend a few days seeing Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley as long as we're nearby.
Any recommendations as to guides?
W would consider both private and group (small group) for a 2 day/1 night Machu Picchu trip - one day on the Inca Trail and the next visiting MaPi. Then perhaps have a private guide to show us around the Sacred Valley for the day.
kyarkin is offline  
Jan 16th, 2014, 05:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,694
You will have to find an agency with availability for the "2 day/1 night Inca Trail.". There should be links on the Andeantravelweb website.

Or just do the train to MP, you can walk up to the Sun Gate and/or hike to HuAyna Picchu, or Machu Picchu mountain. Also the trail down from Pisac is nice.

Agree with spending the first nights in the SV, Aguas Calientes, and ending in Cusco. And return to Lima the night prior. Based on my recent experience of being diverted to Cali, also suggest you take a morning flight Lima to Quito. Apparently afternoon flights often don't land as scheduled.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 19th, 2014, 08:25 PM
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 1
If you have 4 days how about this: arrive Cusco in the a.m and have your driver do a pass-by through the main square, the short drive there will give you a nice feel for Cusco, but then head to the warmer and lower altitude of Ollantaytambo. Spend the rest of the day walking around that charming town. Day 2 see the Inca Fortress of Ollanta in the a.m., take a taxi and visit Salt Mines and Moray in the afternoon. Take an evening train to Aguas Calientes. Day 3 visit Machu Picchu. Short tip: skip the insane crowds in the a.m. and go there mid morning and plan on staying until they kick you out around 5pm, its wonderful time. You could stay in Aguas or Ollanta again tonight. Day 4 make your way to Cusco and either fly out that afternoon or spend the night and fly out the next day. hope that helps !
MrMachuPicchu is offline  
Jan 20th, 2014, 11:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 17,694
Insane crowds start to build around mid morning, so I don't really understand Mr.'s comment there.

The other thing I would add is that it's worthwhile to take the train during daylight, at least in one direction, it's quite scenic.

Depending on how you feel on arrival day, you may need to spend at least a few hours resting after arrival. Many hotels are set up to allow early check+in with no charge (although otoh they also expect you to check out early!)

Try to work in Pisac Sunday market and ruins, if possible. You might even consider staying in Pisac Saturday night.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2014, 08:26 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 2,435
mlgb--I don't either. Trains start to come in midmorning. I was able to wander around at my leisure, having gotten to the park first thing to see the sun come up over the Observatory. Good idea to stay until they kick you out, however, as the trains leave mid-afternoon and by late afternoon, there are not that many people there.

Mr. MP does not allow enough time in Cusco, IMO. It's one of the neatest places in the world and deserves at least a full day, if not two. Pisac is a good suggestion.

However, Mr. MP is right about going straight to Ollantay from the airport to acclimate. Tip from a Peruvian friend of mine: eat nothing the day you arrive in the mountains and do as little as possible. Take some coca leaf tea at your hotel and in the evening, a nice bowl of soup.
dwdvagamundo is offline  

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