Need your input reg Peru Itinerary. Thanks.

Old Jul 6th, 2018, 02:28 PM
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Need your input reg Peru Itinerary. Thanks.

Hello all,

My wife and I are planning a 10-day trip to Peru in early December. We have 9 nights but we are flying out early on the last day. We are budget friendly travelers but can occasionally willing to splurge. We tend to stretch our days as much as we can to accommodate more stuff. We do that since our jobs do not allow us to take much time off and we got to make max use of what we have. We are mostly interested in visiting archaeological sites, some must-do day hikes, and have a little emphasis on photography opportunities. I have prepared a basic skeleton based on my preliminary research. I wanted to get some input before I proceed with some detailed planning (rushed or slow)?

Day 1 – Arrive in Lima early in the morning (before 9AM). Planning to take a flight to Cusco the same afternoon. Arrive in Cusco by evening. Do some local sightseeing and relax for the evening. Day 1 Qus: Do you recommend flying to Cusco soon after we land in Lima or fly the next day?

Day 2 – Do the sacred valley taxi tour (Pisac, Maras, Urubamba, and Ollantaytambo) and tale one of the last trains to Agua Calientes. Day 2 Qus: Do you recommend staying overnight in Ollantaytambo and taking early morning train to Maachu Pichu?

Day 3 – Maachu Pichu. Sleep in Agua Calientes

Day 4 – Back in Cusco. Local sightseeing. Sleep in Cusco.

OPTION 1: Amazon Forest

Day 5 – Fly into Puerto Maldonado

Day 6 and Day 7 – Amazon Rain Forest (Still undecided as to which one to pick. Any suggestions?)

Day 8 – Fly to Lima. Explore Lima for rest of the trip. May be do Nazca Lines tour on one of the days.

Option 1 Qus: Is it recommended to travel to Amazon in early December?

OPTION 2:

Day 5 – Fly to either Cajamarca or Jaen

Day 6 and Day 7 – Explore Chachapoya region and visit Kuιlap

Day 8 – Fly to Lima. Explore Lima for rest of the trip. May be do Nazca Lines tour on one of the days.

I know this feels very rushed. But I do have 1.5 days in Lima (Day 8, Day 9). If I have to extend any other things then I was planning to cut short my time in Lima by 1 day.

I would appreciate your thoughts and suggestions regarding this itinerary. Also, any other suggestions for sights/activities/day trips/off-the-beaten tracks that might not be mentioned in the guidebooks.

Thank you for your time.
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Old Jul 6th, 2018, 06:24 PM
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I’m no expert – and I trust that Fodorites who are expert will chime in when they can – but it doesn’t sound to me like you are giving yourselves sufficient time to acclimate to the altitude. Maybe you are from somewhere at altitudes similar to Cusco? If not, I think you would do well to rethink your plan.

I didn’t go into the Amazon rainforest, so I can’t comment on Option 1. I did go to Kuelap, and thought it a fascinating contrast to Machu Picchu – but it takes time to get there, and time would seem to be in short supply with this plan. Example: I left Lima for Jaen at 10:55 a.m. and didn’t reach Chachapoyas until after dark; the next day, it took a few hours to reach Kuelap itself.

1.5 days is not much for Lima, although it depends (of course) on what you want to see and experience.
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Old Jul 7th, 2018, 01:18 AM
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I would normally suggest that people spend some time in Lima as it is a great city with a lot to see, do and eat. Given the time you have though, I would fly straight on to Cusco but, rather than stay there, transfer straight to Ollantaytambo where, , being at a lower altitude than Cusco, you will find it much easier to acclimatise.

You should have enough time to explore the town and ruins on your day of arrival. The ruins are best in the late afternoon after the crowds have left anyway.

I would book an early train to Agua Calientes for a visit Machu Picchu (also need to book) and a late train back. Spend another night in Ollantaytambo and then do the taxi tour back to Cusco via Moray, Maras and Chinchero early the next day. Should take 4-6 hours so you can check in and then explore Cusco in the afternoon.

Cusco really needs an extra day just to scrath the surface - your choice!you could easily spend the whole time you have in the area and still be very busy. Sacsayhuaman, hiking in the hills around Cusco, Pisac Etc..

I really don’t think you have enough time to make a visit to teh amazon worthwhile. By the time you get to a lodge it will be time to come back.

Chachapoyas is wonderful but again, it can take an age to get there. I think there are now some flights but not sure if they operate every day. Overland via Trijillo and Chiclayo will like take 24 hours.

Huaraz is a closer option but I am not sure about the weather in Dec.

If you did want to add a destination then I would go for spending a couple of days in Trujillo and Chiclayo. Some amazing Moche ruins etc entire
Y different from the Inca culture of the SV.

Some photos of most of these places on our blog @

https://accidentalnomads.com/category/peru/

and some info on the weather issues:

https://www.roughguides.com/destinat...ru/when-to-go/
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Old Jul 7th, 2018, 11:00 AM
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December is also not the best month to go to Chachapoyas/Kuelap although you can get lucky with weather in Dec. But I agree you don't really have the time.

How long does your flight into Lima take? If it's a modest 8 to 10 hours then I'd continue on to Cusco and transfer immediately to the Sacred Valley (Ollantaytambo). There is no good reason to sleep in Cusco that first night. If you can't arrive before dark..then spend the night near the airport in LIma . Fly an early flight to Cusco and do your taxi transfer to Ollantaytambo. I don't recommend more than brief stops to look at some views on that first day. Your Ollantaytambo lodging should allow you to check in early..most do. Be sure to confirm that. Have a few down hours resting in Olly. Then take a stroll around the old town. If you aren't feeling any altitude effects other than being out of breath (normal) but no headache or dizziness, you can visit the ruins in town before they close (allow a few hours).

Now that they've split the MP ticket into two halves, I don't know how to advise on the best approach.. early morning or mid day? both? I have only done it as a full day day trip return to Olly. My experience in January was that it rains heavily in the afternoon so I'd be inclined to get a morning ticket.

However, unless you are going back to MP the second day.. I'd not spend that night in MP, just return to Olly.

The next day is the day to do the Sacred Valley tour transfer via the Salineras, Moray and Chinchero. You could end in Cusco . Pisac can be done from Cusco.

Alternatively you can end your tour transfer in Urubamba and catch a public bus to Pisac and spend the night there... I enjoyed staying just outside of town and catching the early arrivals into the Sunday market (which is for produce) and the local Quechua Mass. The Pisac ruins are also worth the long walk down... I took a taxi up and walked down. As far as shopping for crafts I don't think Pisac has it over any of the other local town markets anymore.

There are also regular public buses between Pisac and Cusco.

Cusco wasn't my favorite place to stay but you can tour some of the other ruins between Pisac and Cusco or farther south (Tipon, etc) and more tours leave from Cusco.

I would want to fly back to Lima to allow at least two nights , so a full day. It takes a good 45 minutes to an hour to travel from the airport into town. Lima has an of adobe mud pyramid (Huaca Pucllana) and I'd want to include a visit to at least the Larco Museum and the Plaza de Armas.

I always recommend 3B Barranco for first-time Lima visitors. It's a 10-minute walk to the Balta Metropolitano Station which is the fastest way to get to the downtown part of Lima.

As far as other places to visit...with 9 days I probably wouldn't. Every time you change location you basically use up an entire day. You can likely find enough to do between Cusco SV and Lima

There is Paracas which is interesting.. The Ballestas boat requires an overnight there or an early morning trip. You could take a morning bus down and catch the Peninsula tour , then the next day do the Ballestas, then return to Lima that afternoon. I used Zarcillo which has a desk at the Cruz del Sur staion in Paracas.

https://zarcilloconnections.com/
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Old Jul 19th, 2018, 06:20 AM
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I totally agree with the poster about acclimating to altitude. I heard the warnings and said "Yeah, yeah we got this..." Well, my super fit college kids (21 yrs old athletes) were laid flat after arriving in Cusco. Nausea and dizziness for a day or two which led to a doctor's visit. Fine after 3 days. By the way, one of their favorite visits was Lake Titicaca. Have a safe trip!
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Old Jul 19th, 2018, 08:54 AM
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openstage, I heard from our guide over the Patapampa Pass (16000 vs 11,000+ for Cusco and 12, 500 for L. Titicaca) that yes, young people on the bus trips were more frequently affected. Apparently one of the benefits of age is that your brain shrinks a little so you are less likely to get the headaches and dizziness.

I also noticed at the high lakes in Bolivia (L. Colorada, 14,000) that elevation is the great equalizer among tourists.

PS another side effect of altitude is loss of appetite..use it to your weight loss benefit! Eating only a light meal at night is recommended until you're acclimated. The worst effects tend to be at night so having a full belly and some alcohol in your system isn't the best approach if you're susceptible.

Last edited by mlgb; Jul 19th, 2018 at 08:59 AM.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 12:24 PM
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Thank you all. I have cancelled my plan to get to Amazon or Kuelap. We have decided to spend a little more time in SV and then once we fly back to Lima, we are planning a day trip to Huacachina.
We are arriving late afternoon in Lima are are planning to take late evening flight to Cusco. So we can relax for rest of the day and begin our sight seeing the next morning. Will give it a day or two before heading over to MP.

Instead of staying in Cusco, do you guys recommend taking a taxi to Ollantaytambo?

Thanks.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 03:01 PM
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You might want to rethink taking the late evening flight from Lima to Cusco. Flights get canceled or delayed quite frequently. It happened to me and to a friend a week before. We were there in December. Have a Plan B.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 03:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Treesa View Post
You might want to rethink taking the late evening flight from Lima to Cusco. Flights get canceled or delayed quite frequently. It happened to me and to a friend a week before. We were there in December. Have a Plan B.
Thanks. I did think about that. Fortunately my credit card provides trip delay insurance if I have to stay overnight. In case of flight cancellation I will probably just take the next early morning flight out to Cusco.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by uday029 View Post
Instead of staying in Cusco, do you guys recommend taking a taxi to Ollantaytambo?
IMO, neither would be a bad choice. If the timing of your transportation to Machu Picchu allows you to stay in either, then FWIW, I thought there was much more to do in Cusco.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 04:47 PM
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
IMO, neither would be a bad choice. If the timing of your transportation to Machu Picchu allows you to stay in either, then FWIW, I thought there was much more to do in Cusco.
Thanks kja. Considering the time of the year we are visiting, would you still recommend making MP reservations well in advance? I was thinking if I can wait until a week before we leave for Peru to get a better weather prediction for MP. That way we can rearrange SV plans to fit in the best day for MP. What do you think?

Thanks.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 05:06 PM
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I'm no expert, but I believe December is among the times when Machu Picchu is busiest, despite the weather.
https://www.theonlyperuguide.com/per...-machu-picchu/
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 05:08 PM
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Originally Posted by kja View Post
I'm no expert, but I believe December is among the times when Machu Picchu is busiest, despite the weather.
https://www.theonlyperuguide.com/per...-machu-picchu/
Thanks for the link. Our trip is actually in late November (USA Thanks Giving). Would it be busy then as well?
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Old Aug 2nd, 2018, 05:10 PM
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There are many more trains from ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu than there are from Cusco, and they are less expensive.

Since you are budget travelers I would recommend starting your stay in Ollantaytambo. I also would take a morning and not evening flight, and then transfer immediately to the Sacred Valley.

Depending on what day you would arrive, it is also not a bad idea to spend Saturday/Sunday nights in Pisac. See the market is in the morning and stay around til about 10:30-11 am so that you can see the Mayors and villagers arriving for the Sunday Mass in traditional costumes. They also parade through town afterwards. You can take a taxi to the top of the Pisac ruins, and then walk down into town.

Monday you can take the bus/combi to Ollantaytambo in the morning (buses will be less crowded) and see the Ollantaytambo Ruins. Then I would either take an afternoon train to Aguas Calientes, spend the night, or take the first train in the morning. I'm not sure if they actually kick you out of MP after the morning shift, but it often rains in the afternoons that time of year. Then take an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo. The next day you can do a tour/transfer back to Cusco stopping at Moray, the Salineras and Chinchero. Spend the final days in Cusco and do some excursions, such as taking a taxi to Sacsayhuaman and walking back down into Cusco. There are more inexpensive group tours out of Cusco but I don't recommend doing that unless you want to do forced shopping.

BTW there are other things to do around Ollantaytambo if you have time, such as going up
to weaving villages Huilloc and Patacancha. (I recommend Awamaki for this) or doing some other walks around town or to the town market.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 08:44 AM
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Thank you for all the tips, mlgb. However, we already booked evening flight tickets to Cusco before researching much about it. So we have no choice but to fly that night.
Right now we are debating whether to stay in Cusco or drive to Ollantaytambo on the night we arrive in Cusco. Ollantaytambo would be better for altitude adjustment but we might have to risk taking a taxi late in the night.

Originally Posted by mlgb View Post
There are many more trains from ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu than there are from Cusco, and they are less expensive.

Since you are budget travelers I would recommend starting your stay in Ollantaytambo. I also would take a morning and not evening flight, and then transfer immediately to the Sacred Valley.

Depending on what day you would arrive, it is also not a bad idea to spend Saturday/Sunday nights in Pisac. See the market is in the morning and stay around til about 10:30-11 am so that you can see the Mayors and villagers arriving for the Sunday Mass in traditional costumes. They also parade through town afterwards. You can take a taxi to the top of the Pisac ruins, and then walk down into town.

Monday you can take the bus/combi to Ollantaytambo in the morning (buses will be less crowded) and see the Ollantaytambo Ruins. Then I would either take an afternoon train to Aguas Calientes, spend the night, or take the first train in the morning. I'm not sure if they actually kick you out of MP after the morning shift, but it often rains in the afternoons that time of year. Then take an afternoon train back to Ollantaytambo. The next day you can do a tour/transfer back to Cusco stopping at Moray, the Salineras and Chinchero. Spend the final days in Cusco and do some excursions, such as taking a taxi to Sacsayhuaman and walking back down into Cusco. There are more inexpensive group tours out of Cusco but I don't recommend doing that unless you want to do forced shopping.

BTW there are other things to do around Ollantaytambo if you have time, such as going up
to weaving villages Huilloc and Patacancha. (I recommend Awamaki for this) or doing some other walks around town or to the town market.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 09:34 AM
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I visited the Amazon (Tambopata region) from Puerto Maldonado in May. I have mixed feelings on the lodges there. I really disliked Sandoval Lake Lodge for many reasons, but it was a gorgeous lake and I had awesome giant river otter and howler monkey sightings there. It is not for the meek; I've been on safari 4 times in mobile tented camps and this was even a bit outside my comfort zone. I preferred the Heath River Wildlife Center's lodge facilities but didn't have as good wildlife sightings there, yet I was there longer. So I'm mixed on it overall. I can offer more opinions on the food, guiding, etc. if you want to PM me. Your other option out of PM is Manu. As I've not been there, I can't speak to it, but there are some folks on the Safaritalk.net forum that have if you want to do some research there.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 02:44 PM
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The road from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is paved, and not especially dangerous, if that is your concern. Not sure what you are worried about there. Book for a taxidatum airport meet and greet pickup. $37 to Ollantaytambo.

http://taxidatum.com/

Last edited by mlgb; Aug 3rd, 2018 at 02:46 PM.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 02:51 PM
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About the other question..busy over Thanksgiving..yes. Don't assume you will always get on the next flight if there are cancellations or missed connections, other passengers may be ahead of you in priority.

I had a morning flight Lima to Cusco cancelled andI only got on a flight that same day because of the fare I had booked using LAN. Other people I spoke to didn't get out until the next day. i.e., there were no open seats on any of that day's flights if you didn't have a priority status. It doesn't take much for a few cancellations elsewhere in LATAM's system to ripple throughout their fleet..just like in the US.


These days, any flight only one hour late is "on time" in my book!

Last edited by mlgb; Aug 3rd, 2018 at 02:54 PM.
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Old Aug 3rd, 2018, 05:49 PM
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As mlgb has already said, there’s no particular risk to taking a taxi from Cusco to Ollantaytambo at night if you work with a reputable company. I also worked with taxidatum, and was well satisfied. You can book on line in advance, and provide your flight details so your driver can check on the flight's status before showing up at the airport, as delays are, indeed, not uncommon.
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Old Aug 4th, 2018, 05:41 AM
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Taxidatum is great! When they were first starting up I used them during a daytime layover in LIma. After returning home, and seeing his photo on Tripadvisor, I realized that my driver was actually Leonardo, the owner! He lived in the US for a while, hence communication via the website is excellent if there are any issues. They have expanded to Cusco/SV and to providing taxi tours around there and in Lima. I love the price transparency on their website..I imagine it has rippled throughout the taxi tour industry which used to be opaque and sort of psst psst I have a taxi driver for you. Be aware that since they expanded, not all transfers include an English-fluent driver, however they will know enough to get you where you need to go.

Another tip..when flying into Cusco, if you have never flown into a high-altitude airport, don't be surprised when you first step off the plane that your heart is racing as your body reacts to the lack of oxygen. Walk slowly (I have to force myself) and I advise not carrying your own luggage up steps, etc. Be prepared to be humbled as the little old ladies race past you on walkways (I had some kids laughing and mocking me in Ollantaytambo on my first trip..walking up the slight incline from the train station hotel to the Plaza). Even if you had a morning flight, I would not do any activity until later that day...resting after arrival in your lodging. I was all go-go on my first trip to the Andes but now I am a believer in gradually increasing your activity level..really helped me adjust without medication other than an Advil popped at the first sign of headache.

Enjoy your trip..maybe you'll get hooked and come back for some of the other many fascinating regions of Peru. I think I went twice one year!

Last edited by mlgb; Aug 4th, 2018 at 05:52 AM.
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