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Peru, Trekking to MP, Lima - several questions

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We are planning to visit Peru and do the 4 day Inca trail in mid May. The itinerary is pretty generic, 3 nights in Cuzco, the 4 day Inca trail, the one more night either in Cuzco, Aguas Caliente or Ollantaytomba Here are some issues that we are trying to figure out.

1) Lima - how much time should we leave for Lima at the end of our trip. Most of the time we plan to spend in Cuzco, MP, etc...Is one day, or half day actually, before our flight out enough for some basic sightseeing in LIma to get a sense for the city? We are leaning to fly in the morning from Cuzco, leave our luggage at the airport and taxi to the the center, explore and then come back for our evening flight back.

2) On the last day of the Inca Trail trek, the group will be coming back to Cuzco really late at night with the intent of leaving next morning to Lima. Alternatively, we can spend an evening and night at Aguas Caliente or Ollantaytambo instead of spending the extra night at Cuzco (we will be in Cuzco for three nights before the trek anyway). Any suggestions whether we should, and which of the two places is more interesting? Any suggestions for hotels, restaurants and things to do are appreciated too.

3) Trek operators. We are leaning to go with Peru Treks, they get pretty good reviews and their website is great. Any reason we should consider NOT going with them? They are also about $40-$50 cheaper...but not sure if they are cutting corners or just being competitive. Is there really a big difference between operators? What should we be watching out for?

4) Trek Questions - there is a classic Inca trail and then there some other alternative 4 day treks. Have anyone done the alternatives and can suggest why it would be more interesting or why to do it instead of the classic one? Should we buy and bring our own sleeping bags or get the ones the operator offers? Is it really necessary to hire the third porter to carry some misc staff...any opinion? We are pretty fit, but have not really done much hiking before, esp at high altitudes.

5) Day trips from Cuzco - what's the most sensible way to visit Sacred Valley and various points of interest from Cuzco? Do we rent a car, hire a guide w/car, take buses and explore on our own, or book a tour? We are leaning to do our own exploration but not sure if logistics of getting to and from without a rent a car are easy enough.

6) Any places, things to do that you enjoyed which are off the beaten path. What did you think were must see/do and what could be skipped?

These are kind of random things and issues we are dealing with right now...I'm sure we will have more questions later. Thanks for everyone's help.

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