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Machu Picchu - NatGeo vs. OAT

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Feb 4th, 2014, 08:20 PM
  #1
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Machu Picchu - NatGeo vs. OAT

Hi All,

DH and I are considering a Machu Picchu trip in late May/early June. I've seen an OAT 10 day trip for 2k and a NatGeo 8 day trip for 5k. I like the better hotels and staying near Machu Picchu for a night ( despite the $$$) but there is a huge difference between the two. Is there anything between the two that includes one night at the top? Preferably with a small group of people.

Thanks,
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Feb 5th, 2014, 05:34 AM
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Links to the tours would help
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Feb 5th, 2014, 09:34 AM
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Why not go it alone? Choose your own hotels, decide where to go and how long to spend at each place. One of the things that makes these tours expensive is that they send a guide with you everywhere. There are very few places where you really need a guide.
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Feb 5th, 2014, 11:14 AM
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Of course, should have thought of that, here are links:
OAT- 10-16 person group size
http://www.oattravel.com/trips/land-...peru/2014?v=66
NatGeo - 25-30 group size
http://www.nationalgeographicexpedit...hu-tour/detail

Kathie,
We often do go it alone. I read a few posts that said you need tickets purchased in advance and if you have any difficulty with transportation you could possibly miss your train ride. Also, our Spanish isn't great. I wasn't sure if we could arrange some things like the Home Hosted lunch or river ride that OAT offers. We also found that sometimes you get a lot more out of historic places and ruins if you have a guide explaining it. In a lot of ways I think the smaller group and interesting activities with OAT sound better but I really like the better food, hotels, any especially spending a night in Sanctuary Lodge.

Thanks for you input!
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Feb 5th, 2014, 07:05 PM
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Yes, you need tickets in advance. Any local agent can do that for you. We recently booked a private trip with a local agent. I specified hotels, how many days in each place and he will supply tickets, car and driver for the sacred valley. etc. No reason to go with a group unless that is what you want. We opted for two nights at the Sanctuary Lodge.
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Feb 5th, 2014, 07:43 PM
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Would love to hear more. A private trip sounds great. Can you recommend a tour company for this?
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Feb 6th, 2014, 03:52 AM
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l2t

We used David Choque (search here for reviews and I'll link to my blog). He's based in Cusco and can arrange transportation, be your guide if you wish, book hotels, etc.

It's an easy place to do independently.

We stayed at the Sanctuary Lodge for 2 nights as well - it was our splurge and we loved it but I don't think it's an essential for visiting MP particularly if you only stay one night. the reason I say that is if you check in after lunch and check out at breakfast the next day what have you really gained? You don't have after hour access to the site - but you can wander in and out which is an advantage over 2 days.

David's website

http://www.cuscotoptravelperu.com/index.html

Our blog

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/l...lake_titicaca/

http://lizandrichardsa.typepad.com/l...ticaca/page/2/
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Feb 6th, 2014, 05:42 AM
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I looked at the two itineraries and putting cost aside prefer the OAT one as it has more time in the Sacred Valley which we loved. My preference would be to stay in Ollantaytambo instead of Urubamba but that's a minor point.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 09:33 AM
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We booked with www.luxuryperutours.com (they are part of www.totallylatinamerica.com). We chose our hotels, specified how many days at each place, specified when we wanted transfers. We opted for no guides as we do a lot of reading ahead of time and prefer to explore alone. But they can supply as many or as few guides as you'd like. We worked with Paul to get exactly the itinerary we wanted.
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Feb 7th, 2014, 05:15 AM
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If you prefer to plan your own trips and do the research it is just as easy to travel independently in Peru as anywhere else.

The tourism industry is well developed, some English is spoken at most hotels and tourist businesses. You are not trailblazing, the path of least resistance is called The Gringo Trail for a reason.

You can hire a guide for a few days, or for a few hours. Hotels can arrange your transfers and taxis if you are worried about that.

A good itinerary is to start with a few days in the Sacred Valley, then MP and end with Cusco. Ollantaytambo is a good choice, small friendly town and most trains leave from there, not from Cusco. El Albergue is right on the platform.

There is no need to spend $10k on a group tour with that many people.

A friend who likes OAT said she enjoyed that particular tour.
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Feb 7th, 2014, 07:05 AM
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We booked through Peru Best Tours, Mike and I worked out our itinerary and I chose all our hotels and travel schedule, I also made our air bookings. While PBT bought our entrance tickets we were on our own except for guides one day in the Sacred Valley and Machu Pichu, also our Lake Titicaca visit. The biggest group, including DH & I, was at MP where we were 15, Lake Titicaca 10 and only 6 in the SV. You could email Mike at [email protected]
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Feb 9th, 2014, 05:51 PM
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Thanks everyone for your input.

Elizabeth, I see what you're saying about the one night stay at Sanctuary Lodge but I thought people stayed there in order to be there before sunrise and the crowds. When does the park open?

Kathie, luxuryperutours had an interesting 7 day luxury tour that included one day at sanctuary lodge. I think they visit the Sacred Valley but don't stay there. Would you change anything on this trip?
http://www.luxuryperutours.com/luxur...cation-7-days/

I am a little unsure of the options available to get to Machu Picchu. I've read about bus ride, the Hiram Bingham train ride, and another train. What are all the options?
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Feb 9th, 2014, 07:39 PM
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The only options to get to Machu Picchu (other than trekking) are trains: the Hiram Brigham, the Vistadome and the backpacker train. All trains arrive at AC, and (unless you want to walk) all people take a bus to MP. Those on the Hiram Brigham take a special bus.

To the 7 day trip you cite, I'd have at least one night in the Sacred Valley and I'd add at least a another night to Cusco.
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Feb 9th, 2014, 07:41 PM
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I guess I should mention that we will spend two nights at the Sanctuary Lodge, three nights in the Sacred Valley and (I think) 4 nights in Cusco. But we are fanatics.
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Feb 10th, 2014, 12:40 PM
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If you are going to spend that kind of money, and don't want to book your own itinerary, I would go with a custom private tour. Someone like PeruBestTours, they can answer all of your questions and tailor it to your wishes.
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Feb 10th, 2014, 12:43 PM
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mlgb, the company I referred her to arranges private tours, just like the company you recommends does. The website shows some sample itineraries with prices.
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Feb 10th, 2014, 01:38 PM
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Personally I do not like using travel agencies, but if I did I would use one based in Peru and which specializes in Peru.

Why did you chose Totally Latin America, just curious?
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Feb 10th, 2014, 01:54 PM
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migb, Totally Latin Tours was a recommendation in an earlier post. We haven't actually chosen anyone yet. We are in very early stages of learning where to go and what we should see. We saw that they had a sample trip with a night in Sanctuary Lodge and a ride on the Hiram Bingham which looked 'over the top' luxurious to us, probably with a price tag to match. My DH also liked the Andean Explorer to Lake Titicaca. I'm thinking that time in the Sacred Valley might be better than Lake Titicaca. Your opinion? Unfortunately, we need to stick to somewhere around a weeks time limit. Maybe an extra day.
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Feb 10th, 2014, 04:16 PM
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I think a week is fair amount of time for the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco, and Lima. Throwing in Lake Titicaca probably not enough time. Also to consider is that the altitude there is another 1,000 feet higher.

The day that you travel from Lima to Cusco I recommend continuing to the Sacred Valley (this includes Ollantaytambo) to start the first few days of the trip. If you are going over the top luxury, try Tambo del Inka in Urubamba. If you want something with more local flavor, try Pakaritampu or El Albergue in Ollantaytambo. Put Cusco at the end of the trip, before flying back to Lima.

Lima has such amazing food and restaurants that it is worth at least a full day (eg a morning flight from Cusco and then a late flight back home from Lima).
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Feb 11th, 2014, 05:09 AM
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Like ElizabethS, we used David Choque for some of our time in SV. We had already arranged our hotels by the time we contacted him. He did get our train tixs to MP. He also checked out a couple of our hotels since he was not familiar with all of them. He called in advance to hear what we liked to do and I think to get somew idea of our fitness level. He was a wonderful person and guide. I understand his son now works with him as a driver.

The trains are as Kathie describes. We did the vistadome and it was fine and in the middle price wise. You get off the train and walk to the bus which takes you up to MP.

I think a week is a good amount of time for Cusco, SV and MP. I did not go to Lake t.
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