Peru travel question

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Aug 9th, 2009, 06:49 PM
  #1
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Peru travel question

Hi everyone,

I plan to be in Cusco on 9/20 and visit the surrounding area for 3 weeks after that.

(1) For people flying from the US to Cusco .... does most everyone stays overnight in Lima and then fly to Cusco the next morning?

(2) After my visit to Macchu Picchu I plan to stay at Ollantaytambo for 1-2 days and then at Pisac for 2-3 days. In between I would like to visit the Salinas salt pan and maybe Moray also. What is the best and easiest way to reach Salinas from Ollantaytambo (or even Pisac) ? Can I hire a taxi from Ollan to take me to Salinas? Should I take a bus to Urumbamba and then walk to Salinas? The walking option might be a choice if the guide books would print walking directions but I haven't seen any. The description in Lonely Planet and other guide books are not very good.

(3) I plan to prebook a place to stay in Cusco, but after that I plan to find a place to stay once I reach the destination. Is that a wise choice, especially since I only know a few words of Spanish? Should I work with a travel agent in the U.S. to prebook all the places to stay?

(4) How easy will it be to get money outside of the big cities like Cusco? For example, once I get to Ollantaytambo or Pisac, is there a reliable and safe ATM there?
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Aug 10th, 2009, 01:21 PM
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1)most stay in Lima for a day
www.hotelsanantonioabad.com
cheap free airport pickup.

2)Taxi best in SV 60 soles($20/day)
go anywhere you like some drivers
speak english.

3)www.asiarooms.com book Cusco hotels
at travel agents prices...

4)Best ATMs at airport but in all tourist areas.

So no worries...have fun,
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Aug 10th, 2009, 08:46 PM
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Actually, I doubt there is any way to say what most people do. The problem is that there are no late flights between Lima and Cusco because of the weather. A lot of US flights come in so late at night that many people just stay at the airport either at the gate, the rather expensive Ramada, or a cheaper hotel near the airport. If you are getting in at 1 am and leaving at 5:30 am the next day it doesn't pay to travel an hour to Miraflores (where San Antonio Abad is NEARLY located), sleep for maybe 2 hours, take another taxi back ($15) to arrive at the airport at 3:30 - 4am. Even if you are going back to the airport later in the day, it really isn't worthwhile. BTW I did exactly that on my first arrival into LIma and do not recommend it to anyone. Either stay for several days, or see Lima before your international flight, which makes more sense since with a few days in Lima you will have built in some leeway for delays.
I would recommend a few days in Ollantaytambo as soon as you arrive. I had three nights and did my MP visit as a day trip. Ollantaytambo is low enough in elevation (9000) that you may feel winded but probably won't be seriously ill, at the same time you are acclimating to the elevation for Cusco and for the ability to climb all of those steps at MP! Plus Ollantaytambo is just much more pleasant than Aguas Calientes. If you decide to spend a night at A/C your hotel in Ollanta will hold your excess luggage.

YOu can hire a taxi back from Ollantaytambo to take you via Chinchero, Moray and the Salineras at Maras. You won't be able to walk to them!

I would book ahead for Ollantaytambo, it is a small town with limited lodgings. Don't use a US travel agent. You can book by email with most places. Since you don't speak much Spanish I would recommend booking lodgings ahead, most small hostals with email have at least one person that can handle English correspondence but if you walk in they may not be present. In Ollanta you could use El Albergue or KB Tambo, both have English speaking staff. In Cusco I liked Hostal El Balcon, but there are lots of choices.

Yes you'll be able to access ATMs in Ollanta and Pisac. I recommend always carrying an extra $100 worth of Soles or even USD. That will get you thru a Day's worth of lodging and taxi fares if you run into ATM problems.

You can change money at the airports, too.
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Aug 10th, 2009, 08:50 PM
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Most important advice at both places, Lima and Cusco, have your hotel arrange pickup or use the official taxis inside the airport. Do not go out beyond the airport secure area to look for a taxi, especially in Lima. It is a mob scene first of all, and as a first time Gringo visitor, you are at risk of being scammed or worse. Hopefully you saw this advice in Lonely Planet but it is worth repeating.
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Aug 16th, 2009, 07:33 AM
  #5
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I like to ask advice about carrying money in Peru. I will have some US dollars on me when I get there, but should I have a mixture of Traveller Checkes, US cash and Soles upon my arrival? Or should I just have some US cash on me and then withdrawal some Soles from the ATM/bank when I get to Peru? Is Traveller Check even necessary? Some guide books recommend it, but I've never use it before in any of my past travels. Can I pay in either US dollars or Soles when in Peru? For example, if I'm taking a taxi or buying snack from a street vendor then I should expect to pay in soles? Thanks.
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Aug 16th, 2009, 08:48 AM
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No travelers checks.

You can use the ATM or moneychangers (Cambios) at the airport to change some US cash to Nuevo Soles. On the street you should expect to pay in soles although some will take US. Also many government agencies such as museums (or Machu Picchu) will only take soles for admissions.

I usually took out $100 at a time for spending money and extra if I had a hotel or MP admissions to pay for.
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Aug 29th, 2009, 07:00 PM
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I need some advice with itiniary. The one that I've been thinking of doing ... well, I'm not so sure about it anymore, LOL. I have three weeks in Peru. I'm doing the Inca Trail in the first week. In hindsight, I wish I had booked the IT later. Anyway, here is the plan I've been thinking:

9/19: fly to Lima and then to Cusco the next morning.
9/20 - 9/23: Cusco.
9/23 - 9/26: Inca Trail.
9/26 - 9/28: stay in AC.
9/28 - 10/1: Ollantaytambo. I plan to hire a car for one of those days to go to Moray and Salinas. I also want to spend one day doing the bike ride offered by KBTambo.
10/2- 10/4: Pisac. I'm prolonging my stay in Pisac so that I can catch its Sunday market, especially early in the morning.
10/4-10/6: Cusco
10/6 - 10/9: Puno/ Lake Titicaca
10/10: fly to lima in the morning or afternoon. Catch 11pm flight home to U.S.

Does the above schedule sound like I'll be wasting a lot of time in the Sacred Valley? Seems like the majority of people only spend 1-2 days total in SV, although the guide books do recommend staying a few days to enjoy the place. I generally prefer to stay a few days at one place anyway since I like to do photography and it'll give me the chance to get to know a place somewhat and revisit sites if I want to. If I cut my stay in the SV by 2 days then I can squeeze in Arequipa and the Colca Canyone also.

I've talked to Percy a little bit. I've given him my tentative schedule, my interest and ask him what we would do together. He gave me an itinary of the SV tour that I think he does for everyone ie tour the SV ruins and market, but since I plan on hanging around the SV in the second week anyway it doesn't seem to make sense to me. So I don't think I'll be using him.
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Aug 29th, 2009, 07:50 PM
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My question is why are you going back to Cusco again, after you see Pisac you can leave. BTW Cusco and Pisac are very close together, may be you can stay in Cusco instead and just take the taxi or bus to Pisac.
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Aug 29th, 2009, 08:01 PM
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I thought I take an extra day in Cusco before leaving for Puno. I'm really only staying in Cusco for a full day on 10/5. I didn't plan my itiniary very carefully beforehand but I will end up with an extra day in Puno if I don't either stay in Cusco for one more day or stay in Pisac. My plane home is on 10/10. The Lake Titicaca tour with a homestay is only two days.
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Aug 30th, 2009, 12:36 PM
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Do not stay in Aguas Caliente even one day. It is a total watse of time. Your trip on the Inca Trail will also proivde a half day to tout MP which form Me wqas suffciient. I also agree that staying in Pisac and Cusco is a duplication since Pisac is so close to Cusco.

Do use Percy you will not regret it.

David J
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Aug 31st, 2009, 12:29 PM
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I think one night in Aguas Calientes would be enough. I did see the Inka Trail hikers coming thru in the morning, about the same time I arrived taking the early train. I doubt many of them felt like climbing Huayna Picchu. So you have a full day on the 26th? to see MP if you are able to book a late train back that day to Ollantaytambo. In that case you could even transfer to Pisac that night, then you will be there on the 27th for your Sunday in Pisac. Or if you can't find lodging in Pisac, there should be some nearby in the such as Urubambo or in Cusco. So you could see Pisac on the 27th and even on that day hire a taxi from Pisac to go to Chinchero's market if you get an early start. Then you can move everything up and have more time to go somewhere else without duplicating a Cusco stay.
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Sep 14th, 2009, 07:23 PM
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Is there really a luggage weight limit when flying Lan Peru (or on any internal flight)? When I booked a Lima-Cusco flight online last week, there was a piece of information on the reservation that said "Baggage Maximum 2 pieces weighing 23K kgs. in total".

What happen if your luggages exceed that weight? Hopefully they will just charge you extra?

Thanks.
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Sep 14th, 2009, 07:35 PM
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Another question ... how easy would it be to change the date of a train ticket from AC to Ollantay once I'm in AC? It will probably cost me some, but it shouldn't be as much as buying a new full ticket for $31?

About what time does it start to get dark in Cusco in September? Thanks.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 03:06 AM
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Yes, there is a luggage weight limit as you noted - 2 pieces pp not to exceed 23 kg (as of April 1, 2009) -- if you exceed, they calculate the overage and charge you for the luggage ... the fees are not as bad as they are in the US, but it seems to take them forever to come up with the right amount. It helps if you know what the excess fee charges are to make sure they aren't miscalculating ... info is on the LAN website.

Changing train tickets in AC is not difficult, provided there is room on the earlier/later train that you're wanting to get on. Often, the trains are booked solid during the high season (they certainly were in April which is a shoulder season, but we were there around Easter). You'll probably have better luck with mid-day trains. The lines can be long and slow moving. There is a fee - I think it's 10%, but I'm not sure -- we weren't charged the fee when we had to change tickets to an earlier day due to strike that was going to impact the rails and roads.
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Sep 15th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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It gets dark in Cusco at 6:00 pm. Since they are near the equator it only varies about 10 minutes either way.

I was overweight on my luggage when I was leaving Cusco, but it was a close thing so I was able to pull out a couple of magazines to make the weight. She did ask me if I was catching an international flight that night. Being honest I said no which is when I became overweight. I had no problems checking the exact same suit case 2 hours later in Lima to Chiclayo.
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Sep 17th, 2009, 07:45 AM
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I spent 2 months in Peru this past June and July, and ATMs are usually your best bet for getting a decent exchange rate and being sure that the bills are not counterfeit (this can be a problem in Peru). In Lima and Cusco you will not have a problem finding/using ATMs, but traveling in the Sacred Valley ATMs are fewer, usually the 'Globalnet' ones that charge high fees, and frequently are out of service.

Make sure you hit the Pisac market - Sundays are best because the mayors of all the nearby villages parade through town in their native dress - but I recommend getting all your cash in Cusco to be safe. It would be unfortunate to get all the way there only to realize all *3* ATMs in the town are not working...
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Sep 17th, 2009, 03:47 PM
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Thanks for everyone's replies so far. I'm flying out this Saturday 9/19. Yikes.

Will it be cheaper to book internal flights with Lan Peru once I'm there instead of doing it now at their web site? In major cities like Puno and Arequipa, I'd imagine that the Lan Peru office is probably prominant somewhere around the Plaza?
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Sep 17th, 2009, 07:51 PM
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Another question I just thought of. Let say I'm in Puno from from 10/3 to 10/6. If I plan to do the 2D/1N ( 10/4 - 10/5)homestay on Lake Titicaca then can I book the Puno hotel for only the nights of 10/3 and 10/5 and ask the hotel to hold my belongings during the days that I'm visiting the lake? Or do I need to book the Puno hotel for that entire 10/3-10/6? Thanks.
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