Peru in 7 (full) days: Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa

Old Jan 3rd, 2015, 07:04 PM
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Peru in 7 (full) days: Cuzco, Puno, Arequipa

Hi everyone,

Wondering if you good folks could offer me some advice: I'll be in Peru for 7 full days in May (excluding flights in and out... seeing as I arrive and depart from Lima at midnight). What are your thoughts on fitting Cuzco (and Machu Picchu) along with Puno and Arequipa into the 7 days? Very happy to give Lima a miss.

My plan is to dedicate 3 days to Cuzco/Machu Picchu (transiting to Cuzco on the same day as I arrive in Lima; and yes, doing the train route... I thought very hard about the Inca Trail, but I guess I'm far more interested in cultural immersion and variety). Probably flying into Cuzco from Lima, then a day's bus trip to Puno from Cuzco, perhaps one day/night in Puno, then bus to Arequipa for two days, then fly into Lima either early in the day (leave luggage at airport and do a bit of Lima-exploring) or late in the day to catch my flight to Toronto.

How does that sound?

Bus company recommendations welcomed!

(Also, on the off-chance that I might do the Inca Trail after all, what company would you guys recommend if opted only for the hike i.e. from Cuzco? My preference is cheap, safe and ethical--comfort is something I generally waive on my travels! I probably should be booking within this week or the next if I want to do the hike.)
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Old Jan 3rd, 2015, 07:35 PM
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Actually no, I think I might spend two days in Puno and one day in Arequipa instead!
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Old Jan 3rd, 2015, 07:46 PM
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Unfortunately whilst researching Puno I have randomly discovered Chan Chan! I'm not sure how to do Puno, Cuzco and Chan Chan in 7 days with Lima as port of entry/exit, although I guess I can easily sacrifice the third day in Cuzco...
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Old Jan 4th, 2015, 01:33 AM
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Have you considered the effects of altitude on your plans?

What you propose is certainly possible but I would suggest that you are trying to pack too much into the time available. You need to allow at least three, preferably four nights to get from Cusco to MP and back. A trip on Titicaca takes two nights in Puno. I suppose you could take an overnight bus from Cusco to Puno ATm save time but you would miss out all the wonderful sights in between better to go on teh Inka Express bus which takes 8 hours inc. stops along the way.

I suppose you could cut Puno to one night and get a late afternoon bus to Arequipa which would save one night.

Chan Chan is wonderful but in an entirely differnt part of the country so I would forget about that as you don't have enough time.
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Old Jan 5th, 2015, 11:15 PM
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Hi Crellston,

Thanks for the feedback! I was thinking something along the lines of 2 days in Trujillo, then fly into Cuzco for another 2-day stay, and then bus into Puno for another 2 days. Arequipa is not really a must for me, it was more to figure out a good (cheap) base for flights/transfers back to Lima. An alternative would be Trujillo, then Puno, from where I'll bus to Cuzco and subsequently fly back into Lima. (On the last day I can actually spend almost a whole day in Cuzco, as my flight departs from Lima airport at midnight, so I'd like to arrive only just in time for the connection!)

If I don't plan on hiking in Cuzco (i.e. will take the bus from CA), is elevation still something to be too concerned about seeing as Machu Picchu is actually relatively lower than Cuzco?
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Old Jan 5th, 2015, 11:16 PM
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I'm open to omitting Trujillo if there are other wonderful places I can transit by bus near Puno/Cuzco, or if Arequipa is a must, though!
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 06:05 AM
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Did you consider spending few days at the Sacred Valley (Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Maras and Moray)?
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 01:40 PM
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Yes, you do need to consider altitude even if you aren't hiking.

We had previously spent plenty of time in locations at 8,000-9,000 ft (in the Himalayas) with no problems, so we are surprised to have problems with altitude sickness in Cusco, even after spending several days in the Sacred Valley.

I think you are trying to cram way too much into your week in Peru. Carefully consider what two places are most important to you, and focus on those as you plan your trip.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 11:25 PM
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Thanks everyone.

Travfirst: Yes, I did consider the rest of the Sacred Valley, but I think I'd like to get out of the mountains to see other parts of Peru as well. If I did come back to SA, it would be very unlikely that I would come back to Peru so I'm keen on as broad an experience as possible.

If I had two extra days in Cuzco (not including a day for Machu Picchu), would it be possible to visit say Ollantaytambo or Pisac as a day trip via train? I'm also thinking of Aguas Calientes as a base.

Kathie: Will consider this! I do agree, maybe four is far too many for a week (but again, Arequipa is more out of convenience for transfer to Lima). I'm still keen on Trujillo (unless someone tells me outright that it's not as amazing as it sounds), so perhaps I can spend two days there, fly into Puno for a short stay, then a casual half- or full-day bus to Cuzco to spend the rest of my three days.
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Old Jan 6th, 2015, 11:31 PM
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Also, I guess my only reservation with the whole pre-acclimitisation idea is that Cuzco is at a far higher altitude than MP; if I were to get altitude sickness, it would happen in Cuzco, and improve in MP. It would make sense to pre-acclimitize at an altitude lower than Cuzco before arriving there, but most people have little option but to fly directly into the city.
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Old Jan 7th, 2015, 01:18 AM
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Very few people will actually get altitude sickness but most will be affected to some degree. The on ly question is how much? Believe me nausea, headaches and breathlessness can really screw up the first few days at altitude. Age, sex and fitness have absolutely no bearing on who might be affected. The only way you will know is to be there.

For most people the best solution is to fly into Cusco and get a colectivo or taxi direct to the sacred valley. Either Ollantaytambo or Urumbamba - having stayed or considerable time in both, I would prefer the former for a short stay. It is also easier to get the train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes for MP.

Ollanta is worth two or three days to explore there and place like Moray and Maras as mentined by travfirst above. PISAC is better visited fro Cusco as you coul include Tambo Machay etc on the way back.

Cusco could be left until the end before flying back to Lima by which time you will be acclimatised. Something like this;


3 nights Ollantaytambo
1 night Aguas Caliente
2/3 nights Cusco

Do not underestimate the amount there is to see and do in Cusco and the sacred valley. I know it is a cliché, buts sometimes less really is more and I do think you will get much more out of your time in Peru.
If you are catching an international flight from Lima, I would suggest that you spend the night there before as delays do happen (and Liima is an amazing city that should not be missed anyway!)

Here is a link to our blog of our lst trip to South America which covers some of the places discussed.
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog...ai/6/tpod.html

Also a link to an entry on a previous trip which cover a very long, very fast trip around the sacred valley ( not recommended !)
http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog...8980/tpod.html
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Old Jan 25th, 2015, 12:32 AM
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Alright thanks for all the advice! I have decided to scrap Puno for another time. Is Arequipa still worth a visit in combination with Cusco? My anxiety is around being templed out. My travels in the last year have been very temple-heavy and I find that after more than a couple, the nuance starts to lose its luster, although I still find myself pleasantly surprised by smaller temples no one else wants to visit (and these tend to stick in mind the most).

How about this:

1 half-day in Lima (I think this is necessary given that I arrive at midnight! i remember a post on this forum mentioning a good BnB near the airport--any one recall its name?)

3 full days in Cusco and Sacred Valley

2 days Arequipa including time travelling there

Overnight in Huacachina before a late bus to Lima? Again, my flight is just after midnight!
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Old Jan 25th, 2015, 10:41 AM
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I enjoyed the town of Arequipa, but what was most interesting was the overnight to Colca Canyon from Arequipa. That said, I pretty much endorse the plan Crellston says. I don't think I would stay overnight in Aguas Caliente. We did a day trip to MP and for us it was fine. Left from Ollant and returned there. Arrived early am and left late afternoon for MP. You could return directly to Cusco.
On your plan:
I think you shoulld be able to get an am flight from Lima to Cusco.
is one of the "3 full days in Cusco and Sacred Valley" include a day at MP?
I'm not a huge temple person and never got templed out in Peru. You do see ruins, but the stonework is fascinating & the ruins very interesting.
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Old Jan 25th, 2015, 02:48 PM
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Hi yestravel

Yes there is an early morning flight but I'm not sure what therr is to do in between arriving and boarding that flight! Would it be safe to sleep in the airport?

O
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Old Jan 25th, 2015, 07:03 PM
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We spent 2 days in Lima (didnt love it) and did not sleep in the airport. But I understand that lots of people do it. There is a hotel very close to the airport
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Old Jan 30th, 2015, 01:12 PM
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I would skip Huacachina and fly back to Lima. There are some world class museums there that will be of interest once you've seen Cusco and will whet your appetite to return and see the North Coast. There is a baggage drop at the airport. Take a cab to the National Archaeological and Anthropological Museum in Pueblo Libre. From there, the Larco Herrera Museum is very close--as I recall there is a trail of footsteps painted in the sidewalk you can follow.
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