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How many days for Cusco and other Sacred Valley locations?

How many days for Cusco and other Sacred Valley locations?

Jan 22nd, 2012, 04:52 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2007
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How many days for Cusco and other Sacred Valley locations?

I am in the middle of planning a June trip to Peru for my husband and I. We are going to fly into Cusco, spend a few days in the jungle around Puerto Maldonado, and then spend around ten days in and around the Sacred Valley. For my current plan I have us staying in Cusco for two full days, Aguas Calientes for two ( for MP), Urubamba or Chinchero for two and Ollantaytambo for four.

Am I allotting enough time for Cusco? I don't want to shortchange it. I was thinking that we'll spend one day in the ruins around it and one day exploring the city. The other Sacred Valley sites are reachable by Olly, AC and Chinchero, right? I don't want to be bored in Olly, though, and I can add a day or two to Cusco if there's more to do in/around there.

Any insight would be appreciated! Thanks.
esp05 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2012, 05:36 PM
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The drive from one ened of the valley to the other (Cusco to Ollantaytambo) is only about an hour. Some sights are closer to one end or the other, but they are pretty even scattered throughout the valley and all easily accessible from any hotels. I wouldn't bother switching from say , Urubamba to Ollantaytambo.

the main reason for starting out by staying in Ollanta or Urubmba is that they are at a lower elevation than Cusco. Also Ollantaytambo is the closest train stop to Aguas calientes.

We started in Ollanta, then Aguas Callientes, then went to Cusco last. We were glad we did it in that order. Even though we had been at high altitude for a full week, Cusco was enough higher to give me a headache and had me huffing and puffing,
lcuy is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2012, 10:51 PM
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There isn't any reason to stay in Urubamba AND Ollantaytambo. I prefer Ollantaytambo as a SV location.

Given the amount of time you have, I might add another day to Cusco and another to Puerto Maldonado. Also, what about Lima?

And yes, save Cusco for the end of the Sacred Valley/Cusco leg, start in Ollantaytambo.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 03:11 AM
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I would add a day to Cusco and lose a day at Aguas Calientes. There is no point in staying in Urumbamba AND Olly as it is only 20 mins by bus between the two and Olly is much prettier. Unless of course you are staying at one of the lux hotels in/near Urumbamba. All of teh major sights in teh SV are easily accessible from Olly (inc. Chinchero). Pisac may be worth an overnight (IMHO it is just as impressive as MP)
crellston is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 01:16 PM
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I hadn't realized locations were so close within the Sacred Valley. I will bypass Urubamba, then, and try to add a day onto Cusco and a stop in Pisac.
esp05 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2012, 06:57 PM
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I haven't been to Peru yet but am visiting in May this year and just finished planning my itinerary after a LOT of research on many forums as well as with 3 friends who have visited in the last few years, so wanted to share what I learnt. We will be there for 12 nights, about the same as you.

a) Lima is apparently quite an interesting city. It gets bad reps from certain individuals and guidebooks but all three of my friends who visited loved it and two of them wished they had spent more than just a day. If you like cities you may want to budget a couple of days else at least a full day.

b) The second "real" advise I got was, as much as people rave about SV and Cusco one week is enough for most people unless you're doing the inca trail and a lot of hikes. Two of my friends spent a 7-8 days in the area and felt like they should have covered another destination (such as Puno/Lake Titicaca or Arequipa/Colca). The third couple were satisfied that they moved on to Puno after six days.

I also got the same impression from one of these recent trip reports where the lady budgeted 9 days for SV but thought it was too much. Of course it varies by person. I myself originally planned 8-9 days in the SV and have now reduced it to six adding another destination.

shoonye is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 04:55 AM
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For best experience to see more and adjust to altitude best
consider the Gringo Trail route to MP,

PM dodgy wildlife not as good expensive flights required.
Personally prefer manuadventures.com inkanatura.com for
jungle over PM/Iquitos forashort visit.

Good luck!
qwovadis is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 09:30 AM
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I agree with a lot of what shoonye has said. Overnights as follows:

I would go Lima (1) Ollantaytambo (3) Aguas Calientes (1) Cusco (2 or 3) PM (3) Lima (2 or 3)

The first day in Ollantaytambo is just for resting, mild walking, and allowing for flight delays on arrival. If you want to see Pisac, it's easier to do as a day trip from Cusco, but if the Sunday falls when you're in Olly, you can do it from there as well.

I could easily spend a week in Lima, but I like cities, museums and food. If you're not a city person I'd still put a full day there at the end. The Plaza de Armas, Rafael Larco and MALI museums, Barranco and Pedro de Osma, and eating ceviche.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 11:42 AM
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I would not spend so much time in Olly as it is very touristy and a lot of traffic. You should stay in Urubamba as it is in the center of SV and do day trips to Pisac, Olly, moray maras, salineras, chinchero. Also, one night in AG and one day in MP is enough. Then spend a day or two in Cusco and do a city tour and also visit tipon and pickallacta or if you would like to experience a ayahuasca or san pedro ceremony.
waylluy is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 01:18 PM
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Ollantaytambo is an authentic town which services tourists passing through on their way to the train. However one of the reasons to stay there is to enjoy it during the morning, afternoon and early evening when it returns to being a village.

Even travel agents are entitled to an opinion, but one of the nice things about Fodors is that here you can read lots of trip reports from actual tourists and their personal impressions.

If you want to stay in a luxury resort, there are some nice ones in Urubamba. Most of those who have actually stayed in Ollantaytambo have enjoyed it.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 06:16 PM
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I picked Olly because I had heard such good things about it. I'd like to have a "home base" for the SV that is big enough to have restaurants and lodging choices but also has an interesting, authentic feel to it.
I am torn about Lima. I'd like to spend maybe a day there, but I just don't know...
esp05 is offline  
Jan 24th, 2012, 07:47 PM
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It's always good to have at least the night before you fly home in Lima, it is risky to fly into Lima the morning of your international flight home. If you have a late night flight back on your last day, you can leave your luggage at your hotel and do a full day touring in Lima.

I think most of the reports I've read here in the last few years have favored Lima. Unless you've led a very sheltered life in the suburbs, I think you'll like it.
mlgb is offline  
Jan 25th, 2012, 12:49 AM
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Ollantaytambo versus Urumbamba always attracts a lot of discussion - We did some vouluntary work in the SV for several weeks. We lived in a bungalow in Urumbamba and commuted daily to Olly to work and take Spanish lessons and so know both towns pretty well.

Both are nice towns and have their own advantages and disadvantages but if selecting a base then Olly wins hands down IMHO. It is a very picturesque place and there are lots of tourists around when teh buses from Cusco arrive, but as mlgb points out, the joy of staying there is when everyone leaves and it goes back to being a village. There are lots of restaurants to choose from and some nice places to stay. nothin beats having an early morning coffee , or late afternoon sundowner on the plaza watching the world go by. You also get to look around the ruins in peace when everyone else is on the bus.

Urumbamba does not get as many tourists as it is not as pictureque as its neighbour. the reason many stay there is for the 5*hotels, some of which are very nice and destinations in their own right. The main plaza has some great fiestas (most Sundays) and there are some fantastic local restaurants in the surrounding streets. We usually did our shopping in the central market which is worth a look if only to see the amazing variety of potatoes of all shapes and colours!

We stayed a few days in Lima but mainly stayed in Barranco and Miraflores as we were getting over jet lag from the flight from New Zealand. I can't say that I was paticularly impressed but, having read the reports here, maybe I didn't give it much of a chance.
crellston is offline  
Jan 26th, 2012, 01:04 PM
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Other considerations ... longer stay at Machu Picchu. There are lots of short day hikes where views are spectacular and not too many tourists. Since you have thatmuch time, maybe add more days to Machu Picchu?

Anotrher consideration maybe a side trop of 2 to 3 days to Puno, Lake Titicaca an dthe surrounding areas before heading home.

There are also lots to see at Lima also, whoch woul dbe your starting or ending point.
Eschew is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2012, 06:03 AM
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Ollanta anyday, it's a quaint little town. And I'd give 3 full days at Cusco, just wandering around place is so much fun. We stayed overnight at AC to go up again to MP the next day, no regrets at all. I think a week should be enough for Cusco and the SV, you might like to think of going to Puno. Didn't much care for Lima, it's your typical big city, but the museums are great.
geetika is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2012, 02:15 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for your input! We are adding 1 1/2 days to Lima and going to Arequipa and trekking the Colca Canyon instead of going the jungle this trip ( jungle tours are so expensive and anyway, we saw some awesome wildlife in the rainforests in Costa Rica). We are basing most of our time in the SV in Olly but we are also spending 2 days in Cusco and one in AC.

I heard that the areas of Miraflores and Barranco are the safest to stay and walk around in, so I guess I will find us accommodation there. I am mostly interested in the museums
( archaeology, history)and the restaurants of Lima. Does anyone have any accommodation recs?
esp05 is offline  
Feb 2nd, 2012, 09:57 PM
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There are so many good museums & restaurants in Lima you will be spoiled for choice.

MALI usually has at least one of their special exhibits featuring archaeology, the explanations are in Spanish and I find them worth taking the time to translate. Of course Rafael Larco which has English translations, and you might like Huaca Pucallana. My most recent visit I went to Museo Amano, prearranged tours only (Spanish language tours M-F at 3pm) but you won't mind just looking at the amazing Chancay textiles even if you can't understand. Telephone 511 441-2909.
mlgb is offline  
Feb 5th, 2012, 08:28 AM
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I will prefer stay as a base in Urubamba because of location. But If i want to relax at the sacred valley i will prefer Ollantaytambo. From there you can do some nice short hikes , biking day trips and visit some genuine communities like willoc & patacancha. Also in Ollantaytambo there are good restaurant for tourist with local flavors.You can find a good coffe , internet and many services.
Ollantaytambo is a very charming town , with inca walls everywhere yo go.

Also Yanahuara is a town very close from Ollantaytambo, and many boutique hotels are located in this area.
pieperu is offline  
Mar 5th, 2012, 10:13 AM
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hi spe05, the safest areas in lima are miraflores, san isidro, (near sea), and by east san borja, surco, la molina. barranco is a pintoresque neighborhood but antique (except the sea side), but it is pretty. very north and south from lima is some unsafe, like all big cities we have poor neighborhoods. imho miraflores is the best place for stay. here in lima we have very good restaurants: pescados capitales (sea food), la mar, wa lok (chinese food), edo sushi bar (japanese), etc. taxi within lima vary from $ 5 to $ 8 (i dont know "gringo" rates, jeje), except from to airport. i hope you have a wonderful trip to my country, bye,
jrzitl is offline  

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