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burry Mar 6th, 2016 11:52 AM

Help w/ Peru Itinerary esp Machu Picchu
Hi travelers,
I would appreciate any feedback on this plan for Peru that I will be taking with my 20 year old daughter. This started as a volunteer trip or her when her study abroad was cancelled, but I decided to go, too, and we will be doing more sightseeing this time and just some volunteering.

Arrive in Lima (not sure about the time)
Day 1 - Day 7 head off with Peru Hop on their Full South route to do what I believe is called the "Gringo Trail" from Lima to Cusco
This includes Paracas (Ballestras Islands and Paracas Nature Reserve)
Huacachina to see sand dunes (I could live without this but it's part of their route)
Nazca (flight over lines)
Arequipa ( two day tour an stay in Colca Canyon)
Puno - boat trip to Lake Titicaca

Then arrive in Cusco
Here is where it gets tricky. We will be volunteering for five weekdays from 2:30 to 6:30 (or could have the option to do mornings with another group). I figure in our off time we could do a tour of Cusco, a shepard's tour, and visit stuff on our own. I don't know how close we are to other activities in the direction of Sacred Valley like markets, the salt mines. By the way the volunteer work is flexible so we could do three days one week and some the next or not do five days -- totally flexible.

And of course we need to get to Machu Picchu and Sacred Valley.
I imagine staying a day or two in Ollantaytambo.

For MP, I would like to go to Aguas Callientes on one day and get tickets for MP for that day so we can enjoy it in the afternoon when there are fewer people there. We would still want to do the sunrise and hike to the Sun Gate the next morning. This two day plan is instead of doing an Inca trail trek to the day to the Sun gate the day before. We actually aren't big trekkers so I thought just buying a ticket and having the later afternoon and next morning/day might work best for us. Is this too much MP? It is important for me to hike to the Sun Gate. I don't think I can handle the heights on Huayna Picchu. I appreciate your feedback on this. I am basically afraid walking where there is a big drop off on one side. From you tube videos it looks like there is some of that.

After this we would head back to Lima for our flight out.

We are deciding not to add the Amazon on this trip since we are spending more time in Cusco. We also won't spend much time in Lima unless we happen to arrive a day before we want to leave with Peru Hop. They make about three stops in Lima on their way out of town so we'll get to see a little.

Thanks in advance for your help.

dwdvagamundo Mar 8th, 2016 10:04 AM

Unclear about how much time you'll have near Cusco, where you'll be staying, and what time of year you're going. Without knowing these things, it's impossible to guide you more.

Two days or one and a half days are not too much for MP You've got a good plan, but reserve your tickets well in advance as there is a fairly low daily limit of visitors. There is a much lower limit for Huayna Picchu so you're wise to skip that.

Please respond with the info requested and we can assist more.

burry Mar 8th, 2016 02:42 PM

Thanks for the help so far. Here are the details: we will be leaving this May (since no plane tickets yet we could go from late April through May).

I have firmed up our volunteer plans with a group called Sonco Wasi. We will be volunteering Monday through Saturday sometimes with children in Pisac and sometimes with disabled children in Cusco. We will be staying in the volunteer house in Cusco in the magisterio neighborhood.

I am looking for activities/tours in Cusco or the Sacred Valley during our week in Cusco.

After the week of volunteering, my plan is to MP for two days and then head back to Lima.

I might start with a day in Lima also.

Thank you!!

dwdvagamundo Mar 10th, 2016 08:13 AM

I'd recommend getting a good guidebook on Cusco. Peter Frost's "Exploring Cusco" will give you a lot of insight into one of the most fascinating places in the world and explain why it is so. Dated, but Cusco is timeless.

I think you can get a combination ticket that will permit you to access many of the most important sites in and around Cusco--the Korikancha being in my view the most important in Cusco, and the cathedrals surrounding the Plaza de Armas that you can see on your own without a ticket.

Take the opportunity to see Pisac itself--there is a market there at least one day a week that is fascinating and that you could wander around in for hours; then climb up to ruins in the hills above Pisac ("parte alta de Pisac") to see one of the better-preserved Inca ruins.

Do take a tour of the Sacred Valley. If you speak any Spanish, take the tour with a Spanish-speaking guide as it is more fun that way.

There are also a lot of pre-Inca ruins around there that are not on the tour: e.g. Pikillackta, which is Wari culture: you should be able to take a cab there from Cusco and have the place all to yourself.

Finally, I would suggest seeing the Museo of Archaeology, Anthropology and History in Lima, either before or after Cusco. There are a couple of other museums but in my view this has the best collection, and will show you that there were many very advanced civilizations in Peru before the Inca: there are two stele at the entrance that are "mind-blowing" if you study them closely. The Larco, one of them, has a branch in Cusco: Museo de Arte Precolombino with very nice exhibits.

!Buen viaje!

dwdvagamundo Mar 10th, 2016 08:28 AM

P.S. Most important: avoid altitude sickness by eating nothing and doing little your first day in Cusco. You probably won't feel like doing much anyway, but resist the urge to go out and explore. Drink some of the coca mate during the day, and at nite you can get some soup or something similar. But don't eat a huge meal.

I believe (on little evidence except my own experience) that glucosamine will help with this.

crellston Mar 10th, 2016 09:36 AM

You don't need two days in MP. An overnight will suffice. Alternatively, getting the first train up from Ollantaytambo and a late afternoon train back would allow plenty of time to explore.

Ollantaytambo is worth staying for a couple of nights, I picturesque village which is better explored when teh tour buses from Cusco have departed by late morning.

Hire a taxi to explore for a day to from Cusco. Moray, Maras and Chinchero are all worth some time.

I actually prefer Pisac to MP. If feeling energetic. Climb up to the top of the ruins and back down. If not get you driver to drop you off at the top car park and walk back down.

One of the nicest walks in the area is on the way back from Pisac to Cusco. Jump of the bus at Tambo Machay and follow the old inca trails back down to Sacasahuaman via Q'enka and then down into Cusco through the San Blas area. Takes around three hours and all downhill. Fabulous views. Some photos Of that walk on our blog @ entry no. 19 some other entries re that area also on that blog.

dwdvagamundo Mar 10th, 2016 12:39 PM

Crellston--I did that walk with a friend and it was delightful.

BTW--judging from your fotos, you were in Pisac during the Fiesta de la Virgen del Carmen. We went to the one in Paucartambo in 2005; it was an extraordinary experience in many ways.

KTtravel Mar 10th, 2016 01:55 PM

Bookmarking for the great ideas here.

burry Mar 10th, 2016 03:24 PM

Great ideas! Thanks to everyone. Our plan has changed some...

Before we do the Peru Hop southern sites, we will spend two days in Lima. I love good tours and have found two days worth.

This brings me to a key question. We can get to Cusco on 6 am Saturday (starting our volunteer work on Monday) or we can get there at 6 am on Monday (resting/starting volunteer work). Even though we will have some exposure to higher altitudes at Arequipa and Puno, I am inclined to spend that weekend taking it easy in Cusco before we begin our week. Thoughts?

Some days our volunteer work will be in Pisac and some days in Cusco from 2:00 - 6:30 each day Monday through Saturday. If we are in Pisac, I figured we could go early and do some of the above suggestions. If we are in Cusco, we can tour there in the mornings.

So it doesn't seem worth it to go to Machu Picchu on two days? Is it that a full day gives you enough time to see everything and stay late if you want to? So that would mean we would probably go to MP on either Sunday or Monday? Although I still may consider the two-day plan. Has anyone tried that?

Is it worth getting a Diamox prescription? I have heard that some don't like the side effects so I would love to know the remedies people have used. I see several nonprescription remedies on with good reviews.

I haven't been able to find the Frost book at my library or even interlibrary loan. The best price I see right now is $73 -- I guess because it is out of print. Any ideas where to pick up a copy reasonably?

Thanks so much. I will go back and write down all the suggstions. They are much appreciated!!


crellston Mar 11th, 2016 05:51 AM

From Ollantaytambo the first train leaves at 05.05 and returns around 18.00. IMO that would provide plenty of time to see the ruins. We did stay overnight so as to see the dawn break but it was too foggy to see much and, despite getting the first bus up, we still didn't make it for dawn!

Diamox prescription - best to ask your doctor just in case you have any contra indications etc. Personally, i would dream of buying any drugs from Amazon or elsewhere on the web. If you are sticking with the plan to go via Arequipa, you will begin acclimatisation there. The highest points will be in Colca and Puno where you will probably feel the effects the most. by the time you get to Cusco you should have adjusted.the problem with Cusco is not just the altitude but also the steep hills which take a bit of getting used to. taking it slow is always a good idea.

dwdvagamundo Mar 11th, 2016 08:26 AM

Concur with Crellston on altitude. Puno is much higher than Cusco so you should be used to the altitude by the time you get to Cusco. When I went to Colca Canyon, the tour van stopped at a pharmacy in route to give everyone a chance to get something for altitude.

I spent overnite at MP and if I were to go again, I'd do that again, except that the ticket is now good for only one day.

Because the site closes at 5:00, consider taking a late train from Olla the day before your trip, getting a place to stay in Aguas Calientes, then getting up early the next day to get there at 6:00 a.m. when the site opens. The sun is VERY STRONG (I got a really bad sunburn that annoyed me for weeks) during the day and you can take a siesta during the hottest and most crowded part of the day, venturing out again once the trains leave to return to Cusco and environs. You will probably have better luck getting reservations for the two evening trains.

Try to get a copy of the book in Cusco; that's where I bought mine. I would not pay $73 for it--it's a fairly thin paperback.

sf7307 Mar 21st, 2016 12:12 PM

We started in Lima, spent a day in Cusco, a day and a half in Pisac-Ollanta, then Cusco for 2 days, then trekked to MP (6 days), and climbed over a 15,000 ft pass. I had no problem at all during the day, but had trouble breathing during the night two nights in a row at 12,500 feet (Puno is at that altitude), and wasn't so happy even back in Cusco when we returned after MP. I did take Diamox on the trek. On the nights I had breathing issues, I had to take oxygen for about 10 minutes and then I was able to sleep the rest of the night. I loved Peru, but I was very happy to return to sea level.

burry Mar 22nd, 2016 02:36 PM

Thanks to all for the help. Do any of you remember where you stayed in Aguas Calientes? Thanks.

sf7307 Mar 23rd, 2016 02:51 PM

We stayed at a very special and upscale hotel called the Inkaterra. Just lovely, but I think very expensive (it was part of our trek package, so the cost wasn't broken out). Very good restaurant there as well.

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