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Help for a 2 or 3 Day Trip to Machu Picchu

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Oct 26th, 2012, 09:59 AM
  #1
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Help for a 2 or 3 Day Trip to Machu Picchu

My wife and I want to see Machu Picchu in a 2 or 3 day trip. We are not interested in hiking and we live in an area about 100' above sea level. And we are fairly healthy but wife cannot do steep inclines or a lot of stairs. We probably will not spend a great deal of time at M.P. but would not want to miss that great site while in Peru. Now saying all that I would like some adivce. I would prefer 2 nights out only, but because of altitude and logistics that probably won't work, will it?. A friend from Peru suggested we go to Urubamba Valley (is that close to Aguas Caliente?) after we land in Cusco from Lima. He suggested we stay at Tambo Del Inka Hotel for 2 nights and go to M.P. from there. Then on 3rd day go to Cuzco for the night and return to Lima the next day. Comments or advice will be appreciated. Thanks
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Oct 26th, 2012, 12:17 PM
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Hi Larry, I just went to Machu Picchu in September. I flew from Michigan to Lima arriving at night, so I stayed at the Ramada airport hotel (which I would reccomend). The next morning I flew to Cusco (12k altitude or so)but immediately drove to the Sacred Valley (8500 altitude or so) and stayed at the Rio Sagrado, a beautiful hotel right on the river with great mountain views. The next morning, we drove 30 minutes to Ollantaytambo where we caught the Vistadome train for a 90 minute scenic ride to Aguas Calientes. Our train left at 830am (ish). There is not a lot to do in Aguas Calientes, so we bought tickets and took the bus ride to Machu Picchu.....

When you get to M. P., you walk through a turn style, down a path, and then M.P opens up in front of you....just like the pictures you see. There is a lot of hiking you could do, but it's not necessary to see the overall site. If you want to explore the ruins, like for example the temple of the sun, then you'd have to walk up the stairs.....there are places, like the main square, that are grassy and flat....there is no way to completely avoid stairs, but you don't have to climb into the various ruins either. On the tour I did, there were 7 of us, one person had been in a serious car accident and also couldn't do stairs very well. She did what she wanted and at her own pace, but she did great.

Back to the Sacred Valley, I bet your wife would enjoy the market at Pisac. It's flat and there is a ton of shopping she could do - from buying silver to alpaca sweaters and such! You could also go to Ollantaytambo...there are these huge terraces most people climb, but you wouldn't have to understand how the Inca's used this place, to hide Machu Picchu for example...you could get the gist from the bottom while still seeing the sites around - the mountain quarry where they got the boulders for the temple, how they diverted the river to get the boulders down etc. You can also see the water system from the bottom, which was also fascinating.

I loved Cusco and didn't spend enough time there. I stayed at the Monesterio, a fabulous hotel. You could see the Inca Church, the main church in the square, Cusco is a lovely little city.

I am not in great shape, I did not have any issues with the altitude. My sister got sick the first night and then she was fine the rest of the trip...even when we went to Lake Titicaca later in the week which is higher than Cusco. I understand it doesn't matter how great of shape a person is in, everyone reacts differently. I think if you take it slow the 1st day in the Sacred Valley, then go to MP, then back to the Valley, then go to Cusco, you should be fine.

Have a wonderful time. Peru is beautiful and the people are lovely.
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Oct 26th, 2012, 01:31 PM
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You might be interested in this thread. Ignore the insults made in jest.
http://www.fodors.com/community/sout...good-light.cfm

"When you get to M. P., you walk through a turn style, down a path, and then M.P opens up in front of you....just like the pictures you see." Yep!


Note the altitudes given above. MP, at 8000 feet is below Cuzco. Ollantaytambo in the (Sacred) Urubamba Valley is about 9150 feet.

This is taken from the link above.

After arriving Lima at 4-something in the morning, there is a 7:20 am and an 8:35 am flt from Lima to Cuzco on LAN. Fly time is approx 90 minutes which would mean arrival is too late to catch the train that leaves from Poroy, about 20-30 minutes away from Cuzco.

Train schedule
https://www.perurail.com/en/booking.php

So as was advised above by many MP gurus, take a taxi from the airport, of which there are many, to Ollantaytambo (60 miles).

THAT'S DAY 1 FOR LEAVING HOME AND DAY 2 FOR ARRIVING LIMA AND GETTING TO OLLANTAYTAMBO.
----------

Take a morning train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, the last stop. Get off the train, cross the street with the crowd, and take the shuttle bus (leaves ever 5 minutes or so) to Machu Pichhu (8,000-ish feet)
https://www.perurail.com/en/booking.php

Spend the day and take the shuttle bus back down (leaves every 5 minutes or so) for an evening train back to Cuzco, about 3 hours. The stop to get off is Poroy. Take a taxi to hotel.
THAT'S DAY 3, IN MACHU PICCHU

Fly out early on DAY 4 so that by midday, DAY 4, you are somewhere else.


Here's a link to a map.

http://perudiscover.com/sacred-valley-map/


Urubamba Valley (is that close to Aguas Caliente?) Aguas Calientas is the city where you take the shuttle bus up to MP. It is closer to MP than the Urumbaba Valley.

Have fun!
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Oct 29th, 2012, 07:07 PM
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Thanks , BellaClaire and atravelyn. Great info. Helps tremendously. I'm sure we can overcome the stairs in MP. The altitude remains a question. It's probably been 20 years since I've been in altitude above 500'. The highest elevation In our city is the 14 th floor of tallest building in our city. So that means about a total elevation of maybe 250'. And I have to take pills to go to the top. (ok. The pill part is an exaggeration. The elevation is not).

So it sounds like my plan of action to go to Urumbama as soon as we arrive in Cuzco and spend two nights there and then take train back to Cuzco for one night before flying back to Lima for day 4 should work just fine. Right? Thanks. Actually we will be in Lima for two days before going to Cuzco and two nights after returning.
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Oct 30th, 2012, 11:58 AM
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Hi Larry, sounds good although I would spend as much time as you can exploring the places near Cusco...For me, I'd rather explore the Cusco area vs Lima.....and you will adjust to the alitude!Also, drink the cocoa tea and chew on the leaves! It helps. I also took a baby aspirin every day.
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Oct 30th, 2012, 12:55 PM
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Hey, atravelyn, actually I had read your earlier thread. I found it very amusing. Good job.

Bella, someone else told me to chew on some leaves, but the last time I tried to carry on my own brand the sniffer dogs chased me down the airport hallway. I had to jump on a plane to Illinois just to get away from them. (That last part was for you, atravelyn).

I'm starting to understand the lay of the land around MP. I assume that the Urubama Valley is part of the Sacred Valley and is the same area as Ollyantaytambo? Any idea about that? And I assume I can get the train to AC from somewhere close to it. So if I don't pass out when I get off the plane in Cuzco, I will get a cab to take us to Ollyantambo or whatever its called and next day go to MP and return to Cuzco the next morning. Sounds like a good plan. I'm from the school of been there, done it; Seen it, left it. So we spend about 12 hours and about $1,000 to see MP for about 1 hour. Seems reasonable to me.... (he said as he started choking). Staying to shop in Pisac doesn't sound that bad to me now. Except I can't figure out what we would do with an alpaca sweater down here in South Texas where during the winter we usually average about 80 degrees.
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Oct 30th, 2012, 01:41 PM
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You wear it so people ask you why are you wearing it so you get to tell them about your trip to Peru.
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Oct 30th, 2012, 04:51 PM
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Hi Larry, You got it colduphere! My sister bought 2 or 3 Alpaca sweaters and she lives in Phoenix! They aren't (or don't have to be) heavy! I wore mine last weekend while attending an Octoberfest BBQ in the Shenandoah Valley and it was 60 or 65 degrees!

You are right, all of those places you mention, Urubama Valley is Quecha (inca language) for Sacred Valley! Google Quecha, it's fascinating, it's not being taught in schools anymore as I understand it so it won't exist for much longer. Ollantaytambo, Pisac, Chinchero, Moray, Maras, etc., are all around the valley.

If you take the train to MP from Ollantaytambo, it's only 90 minutes, vs 3 or so hours from Cusco.

Catching the train to
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Oct 31st, 2012, 08:16 AM
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cute reply, colduphere.

I finally pulled up the map that atravelynn gave the link to.Now I have a better idea about where everything is. I think I saw in other threads some comments about the trains, but could you guys or anyone else weigh in on it please. whats the big deal on the Hiram Bingham train. Really a lot more expensive than the others. And if we did take it would you advise going to MP or from?

Part of my problem with planning this trip is that we are arriving in Lima after getting off in Argentina from a cruise. Thus a lot of luggage that I don't want to have to lug around Cuzco and Sacred Valley hotels. I intended to go to Lima and spend 2 nights there and then 2 nights after returning from the MP trip, but keep the room and leave my big suitcases there. Otherwise I would stay at an airport hotel and go to Cuzco the first morning. That would keep me from having to go back and forth into Lima. Could just do that part of trip when we finish with the MP part. I guess I could hold the room at the airport for those 3 unused nights. Might make more sense.

By the way, Bella, while Phoenix is a lot hotter than we are during the summer, we are actualy warmer than they are during the winter. It is very unusual for me to ever put on a jacket during the winter here.
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Oct 31st, 2012, 09:48 AM
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Hi Larry, so we didn't know this tidbit until we got to our hotel in the sacred valley. We were told by our tour company - Condor Tours/Solar Tours, that we couldn't bring our big bag on the train to MP. So we left our big bags at the hotel (for free) and only took the necessities on the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes. Then when we got back to the train station on our return, our driver swung around to the hotel so we could get our bags. Worked out GREAT.

We saw the Hiram Bingham train up close (from our room actually) as it passed by our hotel, The Sumaq. From what I saw, it had tablecloths, flower center pieces, and what appeared to be larger leather seats. The Vistadome was quite comfortable however, they passed down the aisle with free beverages and snack. The train was clean as well. The seats were comfortable...wider than airplane seats (coach or first class)
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Oct 31st, 2012, 12:40 PM
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BellaClaire, why did you change hotels - from the Rio Sagrado to the Sumaq. Aren't they fairly close? Once I am in a hotel I hate to pack up and change. I assume that there is more to do around the Sumaq? Was that in Ollantaytambo? I saw on Tripadvisor you gave the Rio Sagrado a great review, except for the ant or flying bug problem. But you sitll recommended it so it must not have bothered you that much. My problem with it, and with the one my Peru friend recommended the Tambo del Inka Hotel, is that they both seem to be isolated. I enjoy a great restaurant and a good bar, but have no desire to swim or spa, and if we have extra time spend it walking around town. I guess going from there to Pisak (where is that? I havent been able to locate it on a map) or Ollantaytambo is not far and taxis or private cars are readily available?
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Oct 31st, 2012, 04:58 PM
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Hi Larry - The Rio Sagrado is in the Sacred Valley. As soon as we arrived in Cusco, we drove to the Rio Sagrado and stayed there. They have a great restaurant and full bar. But there is not much else to do on property.

The reason I suggest you stay in the Sacred Valley is it's closer to Ollaytantambo (train station to MP & ruins), it's closer to Pisac, Moray, and Maras..all must do's in my mind In addition, if you are worried about altitude, it's much better to make the sacred valley your base - 8500(ish) feet vs Cusco 12000 (ish) feet....

The Sumaq is in Aguas Calientes...base of Machu Picchu..we overnighted in Aguas Calientes as we went to Machu Picchu twice...once when we got there...and then again, the next morning before the day trippers arrived. For me, even if you don't hike around, the place is so magical I couldn't get enough of the scenery. Right outside the entry gate - which you can enter/exit all day long is an outdoor restaurant...The Sanctuary Lodge is right outside the entry gates too..people say it's overpriced, I didn't step in to the place...but I did have a snack and a beer in the outdoor restaurant...and you can get your passport stamped with Machu Picchu too!

All this said, I didn't spend enough time in Cusco. If I had it to do over again, I would spend another day in Cusco, and use Lima as a connecting point.

Does this help?
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Oct 31st, 2012, 05:05 PM
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So I may be rambling at this point....I guess you need to decide...if you want to be closer to the sight seeing places and be at a lower altitude...or if you want to be make Cusco your base and take longer rides to the sight seeing places, train rides and be at the higher altitude.....Cusco is lovely and you can walk around to your hearts desire...and I did enjoy some great restaurants there. I stayed at a marvelous hotel, the Monesterio.
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Oct 31st, 2012, 05:16 PM
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LarryRGV, you have some good ideas here to work with.

When you got off that plane in Illinois you made the error of not hopping on the Wisconsin Coach bus and heading over the border. You're forgiven.

The coca candies and the tea work too if leaves are inconvenient. I also brought altitude sickness drugs and used one pill.

"The Sanctuary Lodge is right outside the entry gates too..people say it's overpriced"

I think it is about $1000 per day for the cheapest rooms. You're paying for location and for not having to get up at about 4 am to be one of the first in the site. The earliest shuttle bus from Aguas Calientes to MP gets you to the gate just as MP opens so it's possible to accomplish a very early arrival before hardly anyone gets there even without a $1000 room. But you need to set the alarm for zero dark thirty.


"We saw the Hiram Bingham train up close (from our room actually) as it passed by our hotel, The Sumaq. From what I saw, it had tablecloths, flower center pieces, and what appeared to be larger leather seats. The Vistadome was quite comfortable however, they passed down the aisle with free beverages and snack. The train was clean as well. The seats were comfortable...wider than airplane seats (coach or first class)"

The Vistadome train is $15-$18 more than the regular train. I agree it was extremely comfortable and the free snack really hit the spot. The Hiram Bingham is about $230 more than the Vistadome. You'd have to really want a fancy experience or be a luxury train buff to choose it.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 09:30 AM
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Well, I think I am close to finalizing my plans, thanks to atravelynn, BellaClair and others on this thread and others. Here are my (tenative) plans:

Sunday, Dec. 16. Overnight at Ramada at Lima airport

Monday. Early, but not earliest, flight to Cuzco where private guide picks us up and takes us on a tour of Sacred Valley. Late in day he takes us to our hotel still to be decided upon. I like the Rio Sagrado or the Tambo del Inka suggestions but it seems like a hotel closer to the railroad might be better. I think you stayed in one in Ollantayambo one night didn't you, atravelynn? Was that a good hotel and what is the name. Or anyone else please advise on this. I don't see any reason to stay in AC or the Sanctuary at the gate, but would appreciate some input on this.

Tuesday. Taxi takes us to where we board the train to AC. Or if we are close to the station in Ollanyambo we walk there. We leave our luggage in our hotel. Spend the morning in MP and return to the hotel after lunch somewhere. Guide picks us up at our hotel and gives us a little more of a tour around the SV and then takes us in late afternoon to our hotel in Cuzco,the JW Marriott, where we spend 2 nights.

Tuesday and Wednesday exploring Cuzco. Some with guided tours from the hotel and some wandering on our own.

Thursday. Morning flight back to Lima where we spend 3 days at the JW Marriott. Leave just after midnight on Saturday night, Sunday Morning, for our flight home.

I welcome any comments and I especially want input on the hotel in Sacred Valley. By the way I have contacted one of the guides mentioned on the threads, Percy, and he has already replied. I will probably engage him for the two days of touring and transfers from Cuzco and back.

Thanks again for all your input.

Larry
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Nov 1st, 2012, 09:47 AM
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Pakaritampu and El Albergue are two of the better options in Olly.

Monday presumes your flight arrives on time and that the altitude does not affect you.

Tuesday I would dedicate to Machu Picchu. Look at the arrival and departure times for the trains. Bear in mind that archeological sites close between 5 and 6 (and last entry may be earlier). You may be able to see Ollantaytambo ruins, depending on train scheduling but it will be at the expense of MP. Instead I would spend that night in Olly and on Weds am you can pick up any sites between there and Cusco that you missed.

If you take a day off of Lima and add it to Cusco/SV it will make things easier especially if all does not go smoothly on Day 1.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 10:59 AM
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Good advice mlgb and others. I finally went online and looked up the hotel my Peruvian buddy had told me about - Tambo del Inka Hotel. It looks fabulous and not priced unreasonably. And the deciding factor was that the train stops right there. Or within a 5 minute walk anway. So Monday we are going to have the private guide meet us at airport in Cuzco, and assuming I don't pass out from the altitude, take us to the Sacred Valley for a full afternoon tour and then drop us off at the hotel, where we will spend two nights instead of only one. On Tuesday we will take train to AC and then bus up to MP. Spend Tuesday night at same hotel and then take private car or taxi on Wednesday to Cuzco for the night at the Marriott.Tour Cuzco Wendnesday afternoon and Thursday morning and catch an afternoon flight to Lima later Thursday.
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Nov 1st, 2012, 04:37 PM
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Sounds great Larry! Glad you added the day in the Sacred Valley and totally agree with dedicating Tuesday to Machu Picchu! Have a great trip. By the way...where are you going on your cruise starting (or ending) in Argentina?...are you going around the pole?
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Nov 1st, 2012, 07:00 PM
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Pakaritampu is where I stayed in Ollantaytambo. Very lovely. Can walk about 10 minutes to the train or take a mototaxi. Looks like you have hotel leads as well.

Sunday, Dec. 16. Overnight at Ramada at Lima airport

Monday.
Early, but not earliest, flight to Cuzco where private guide picks us up and takes us on a tour of Sacred Valley. Late in day he takes us to our hotel.

Tuesday.
Taxi takes us to where we board the train to AC. Or if we are close to the station in Ollanyambo we walk there. We leave our luggage in our hotel.

Take the 8:29 VistaDome train to MP that arrives at 9:52.

Spend the morning in MP and take the 15:48 train back to OT, arriving 17:29.

Wed
I agree with a second MP visit. Who knows what the weather is on Day 1?

There is a 6:10, 7:05, 8:00, and 8:29 train that arrives about 90 minutes later.

I’d take the 6:10, arriving MP at 7:40 and you can, then head back down on the 10:55 Vistadome, arriving 12:32, have lunch in OT. Or take the 8:00, arriving 9:25, another lunch in MP and head back down 13:37, arriving 15:04

and…

Guide picks us up at our hotel and gives us tour of OT ruins and then takes us in late afternoon or early evening to our hotel in Cuzco,the JW Marriott, where we spend just 1 night.


Thursday
in Cuzco

Friday Morning flight back to Lima where we spend 2 days at the JW Marriott. Leave just after midnight on Saturday night, Sunday Morning, for our flight home.
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Nov 2nd, 2012, 05:52 AM
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Yes, BellaClaire, we do go around the pole. We are flying into Santiago arriving on monrning of Thursday, Nov. 29. See the City and visit a couple of wineries nearby (not Mendoza area). My favorite wine is the top of the line wine from Concha Y Toro, called Don Melchor. They appear to be just an hour or so out of Santiago.

We board the boat on Dec 3. The trip actually ends in Rio, but with so much time at sea, and not too many ports,I'm sure I will be tired of the ship by then, so we are ending it in B.A. and fly to Lima from there.

Other than seeing Montevideo, most of the ports don't interest me that much. I do want to see some penguins so we will book a tour for that. Being from Texas, I have already gotten my penguin hunting license and plan on a penguin barbeque on a glacier.

Your time schedule for the train, atravelynn, is what I have planned. Should I buy the train tickets online in advance? Probably should I would guess. And if the weather is bad on Tuesday, we would do that early trip you suggest on Wednesday before going to Cuzco late in the day.

Funny thing about my choice of Tambo del Inka Hotel over the Rio Sagrado, BellaClaire, I made reservation there after looking at the PeruRail site and saw that there is a new station right at the hotel. Wow, how convenient is that? Problem is that I didn't check the schedule. Either the train doesn't go there on Tuesday, or they are already sold out. So I still have to take a cab to get to the Olly station. Shouldn't be a big deal though. and this hotel really looks fantastic.

Hope I didn't irritate any of you nature lovers with my penguin comments. I just have to show my Texas gun toting spirit (just in case any of my Texas NRA buddies think I am a pansy cause I have never shot a gun in my life). And that is not meant as a political statement, Mr. Fodor.
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