Peru, help cutting costs

Old Apr 17th, 2015, 04:32 PM
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Peru, help cutting costs

Am I doing something wrong? I would like our family of 4 to travel to Peru this August for 2 weeks. After some planning, it looks like it will cost upwards of $15,000!!?? I was hoping to spend $10,000 or less.
$1300 each for the plane tickets to Lima from Seattle, $1000 each for 4-5 guided tour of Cusco/MachuPicchu area, $1000 each for eco lodge 4 days in Amazon Basin. I wanted to cruise the proper Amazon up north but that was $4000 each for 4 nights!
Do I need a guide in Cusco/Machu Picchu? My teens are taking Spanish 2 years, 4 years, but my husband and I don't speak Spanish.
Should I have booked my airfare earlier?
Is every other S. American country cheaper?!
My goal was to get to S. American and my kids to a Spanish speaking country. The rain forest is huge to me but maybe we just need to do a week in the Cusco area.
I haven't taken a tour before during my travels to Japan and Europe, but I thought it may be more interesting for the teenagers and having it be someone else's schedule besides the parent's sounded good.
Any insight, suggestions, reality checks?
tmmh is offline  
Old Apr 17th, 2015, 05:58 PM
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You really don't need a tour to see Cusco/ Machu Picchu. It can easily be done by your self, booking hotels via or similar or direct. We paid around $25 per night for decent en suite double rooms ( of course you can pay 10 x that if you want luxury accommodation.

Cusco is pretty easy to navigate yourself with a bit of research and a decent guide book. Plenty of people here will help,with itinerary suggestions.

Spanish will help but is not essential. Your children's Spanish should be sufficient to get by and lots of people will speak English.

An alternative to the jungle ( which can be expensive) would be to spend a little longer in Cusco and the SV, get the Inka Express Tour bus to Puno ( fantastic scenery along the way) spend a couple of nights in Puno to visit Lake Titicaca ( maybe spend a night on the lake). From there get the bus to the beautiful city of Arequipa spans a day or two there and maybe take a side trip to Colca Canyon.

Here is a link to my blog of our most recent trip which includes more lots of photos and more info on these places

Entries 13 onwards cover Peru

Also some info on the SV and Cusco from a previous trip on
Relevant entries 56-64

If you do want to use a tour operator to organise or get some guides then a good resource is . Also search this forum for Percy Salas who has got received some great reviews from members.

Good luck getting it sorted. I am sure you will be able to get a lot closer to your target cost!
crellston is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2015, 12:00 PM
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August is high season. I don't know if it is possible to save on airfare for that reason. You also have to add in airfare from Lima to Cusco.

I agree that there is no reason to pay that much for a "tour" of Cusco/MP. You can save money on hotels, and there is no need to stay in the most expensive ones. Very good hotels for families can be had for less than $200 per night (not per person) including breakfast. However you really need to get on with the bookings NOW!

If you wanted to go to the Amazon up north, ie Iquitos, you can fly to Iquitos and stay in a lodge. Look into Explorama or perhaps Tahuayo. The lodge stay will include a transfer along the river to the lodge. Tahuayo is not air conditioned.
One of the Explorama Lodges is.

Here's the link for Tahuayo. They are very good with families. Give them a call in Florida and see what they quote for a package including flights. I'll bet it's less than $1500 per person.

The cost of train tickets to MP and admissions will be on the order of $200 pp, and you can book the train yourselves online.
mlgb is offline  
Old Apr 18th, 2015, 12:01 PM
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As to whether you did anything wrong, August is part of it, but using a travel agent and not asking about less expensive options is the other half.

Good luck.
mlgb is offline  
Old Apr 27th, 2015, 06:46 AM
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We are a family of five and made this same trip a couple of years ago. Our airfare was similar to yours which I thought was expensive. We did not use a guide in Cusco/SV and found it to be very inexpensive. I think our hotel in Cusco was around $80 per night and our room in Ollanta was even less (and we had to have two rooms due to the fifth person). Breakfast was included in the price. Both hotels were nice. We found the food to also be very inexpensive-- I don't think we spent more than $100 for dinner while we were there and we went to some very nice restaurants (price includes alcohol).

In terms of transportation, we had a driver and her fare was very reasonable. It was nice that we could go completely at our own pace.

The train and entrance fare to MP is expensive.

Bottom line: for our Cusco/SV portion of the tour we did not spend anywhere near $4000 and we stayed in that area for a week with five people and saw all the sights. I think charging you all $4000 for 4-5 tours is outrageously expensive.

We also did the eco lodge near Puerto Maldonado (we stayed at Inkaterra's one). It was a bit expensive and I am not sure if I would do it again. However if we were to go there again, I would definitely only stay for 3 nights, not 4 as we did. We were bored by the 4th day. I don't remember it costing us $1000 per night and again we had two bungalows.

You don't list internal flights which will add to your price.

I did plan our entire trip myself and only used a travel agent in Cusco to secure our train tickets and passes to MP as I was unable to book these on line (we did hire a guide at MP for $50 I think and he was great and provided a lot of insight into the history of the ruins. There are a lot of guides available at MP so you don't need to bring your own unless you want someone with a particular expertise). The agent did not add anything to the price that I would have paid if I had been able to book the it online. I found it to be an easy trip to plan.

I would think that you could get very close to your goal of spending $10,000 vs 15,000.
jeanned is offline  
Old Apr 28th, 2015, 12:38 PM
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Concur with those above who think you can do this for much less, especially the Cusco/MP part. Use tripadvisor to find hotels. Found this one, where I stayed some years ago.

$98 for a family of four including breakfast! (Hostal Amaru, if the link doesn't work)

There are many travel agencies around the Plaza de Armas in Cusco and you can just walk up and book a one-day Sacred Valley Tour in Spanish or English. In Spanish is more fun if you know any Spanish.

Likewise, you can take the train to MP and tour it yourself. There is a little book called "Exploring Cusco" It also covers MP and is IMO essential for a "do it yourself" tour. Used to have to buy this in Cusco but now I see you can get it on-line.

I stayed with Explorama out of Iquitos on the Amazon, and while it was not inexpensive, it was not terribly expensive either. Stay in one of the lodges where there are no windows--only mosquito netting around the beds--and you'll KNOW that you are in the rain forest.

Peru used to be one of the least expensive countries in South America (when I stayed at the Amaru, it was around $20/nite for one and we found a hotel in Huaraz that was $7.00/nite including hot breakfast!). I think it's probably still less expensive than Brasil, but with the Argentine Peso being as low as it is, Peru may be in the middle tier of countries. It still is IMO a world class place to see and bargain.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Old May 1st, 2015, 01:04 AM
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Concur with all the above, just a quick note (again the experts have spoken on here: mlgb and crellston and I tip my hat to them). You're behind the eight ball on time, and I'd never make the assumption you always need a guide. I rarely use one unless I'm going to do something genuinely epic, and enjoying Cusco doesn't fall into that category.

Lonely Planet is my bible, and while it's primarily for backpackers, it has also included more upscale options for folks with kids, and those who don't want to suffer party hostels. Like me. What I do love about LP is that budget is king, and it has helped me save thousands over the years by helping me make smart decisions rather that automatically assuming a) I need a rental car or b) I need a tour, that kind of thing.

I've lived in Washington State on the other side of the Cascade Curtain, and am aware that lots of folks up there head ot Arizona for relief from the weather. A part of me wants to suggest eschewing a/c for a while. That is indeed part of being somewhere else- in another climate, another world. You needn't go without the whole trip, but it is intriguing to entertain the notion of a few days in the deep jungle experiencing what people really live with: the real humidity, the real cool of the deep forest. Something wonderful about that. The kids? They'll survive. And they'll have great stories to tell later.

I've used some of the folks suggested above, they're all great.

One insider trip that I have used to deeply discount my flights: I am an American Airlines member. I use my points (which I can purchase) to buy LAN flights. While not cheap, the end price ends up being less expensive than purchasing LAN flights directly. I have a bank of AA miles on call for all my South American travel for this reason. Something to consider. It saved me thousands in airfare across four trips to South America. Just an idea.

One last thing: take half the clothing and twice the money. You'll never regret not having to lug around stuff you never wore, and not having to constantly find ATMs where they are scarce. Take a slew of tiny TSA friendly locks and lock up everything. They are a visual deterrent, and most people won't bother messing with a padlocked backpack. Do not leave good things lying around. They will go walkies. BTW, you can find those little cheap locks at TJ Maxx, REI and a great many other places. Once I started using them consistently, I had no issues with stuff heading out the door.

Hope this is useful.

PS. Leave your devices at home. Peru will knock your socks off.
jhubbel is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 09:27 AM
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Thanks so much!! I can use a lot of this info. We have bought flights now and I'm slowly getting the price down to my budget. Great help and very inspiring.
tmmh is offline  
Old Jun 2nd, 2015, 11:13 PM
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Saw this pop back up again.
Was just in Peru for a day and stumbled upon for restaurant discounts. This one seemed fairly easy for overseas users. You can use 999999 etc if they ask forca mobile number.
mlgb is offline  
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