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Planning for my solo trip to Peru in April 2011 for 50th birthday

Planning for my solo trip to Peru in April 2011 for 50th birthday

Old Sep 19th, 2010, 11:15 AM
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Planning for my solo trip to Peru in April 2011 for 50th birthday

I have just started researching for my 50th birthday trip in April. I will have 11 days. Based on my early research, I have come up with some assumptions/conclusions and rough plans. Please let me know if they are correct. I also have some questions.

Here is my base premise: I would like to stay at value nice places. Because it is my birthday, I am willing to splurge for rooms with character/views etc. I tend to not need the full room service etc. type of place; I am good with nice bed and breakfasts, inns, etc. I enjoy meeting other people. I am hoping $100/day will get me that. Any specific recommendations are appreciated.

I can do the entire trip on my own or do a tour for the whole thing or a mixture of tour and independent travel. Any thoughts on combining these?

Rough outline so far: I am arriving late at night in Lima the night before my birthday. I will probably overnight at the airport and take a flight to Cusco the next morning.
?- what is the best way to book this flight? I read that booking it in the U.S. is more expensive but I want to make sure I have a seat.

I will head to OLY after Cusco immediately to acclimate. What is the best way to get there? I fly routinely from sea level to Park city, Utah at 7000 feet with no problems but better to be safe than sorry. I am not sure I will premedicate. 2 nights in OLY then on to MP. I hope to be settled nicely in OLY by the evening of my birthday to treat myself to a nice dinner out. I will probably stay overnight for MP; is that in AC or is there one special hotel in/near MP?

Then, on to Cusco. Friends have said this is the place to hang out. I may do 3-4 days here then head back to Lima for two days with one overnight. My flight leaves at 1:20 am after the second day. Any recommended day trips from Cusco?

That is about 8 days worth and I have 11. Any suggestions on what else to add in? I am in good shape/healthy/no restrictions, can hike, and I appreciate the full spectrum from stunning natural beauty to bustling interesting cities..... the budget is open. I can afford whatever but want value for my money.

Thanks in advance..... I know I have a lot to learn but hope to get guidance in the process.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 01:21 PM
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Congratulations on your plan. I've done two solo trips to Peru, you can find the report under my name.

The options for booking travel onward to Cusco

1) see if you can add it to your international ticket for a minimal fee.

2) You will have to avoid LAN to get a cheap dometic flight. Try Star Peru, Peruvian Airlines or Taca. You may be able to book Star Peru or PA yourself online with a Verified by Visa CC + Don't use a free email account.

3) Hotel recommendations

Lima (Barranco) Second Home Peru. I would consider adding a third night in Lima if you don't add another destination.

Second Home also has a lodging in Cusco. I used El Balcon Cusco, which I liked fine. There is also Hotel Rumi Punki which gets great reviews.

In Ollantaytambo I liked El Albergue, right on the platform and has an excellent restaurant. Others have recommended Apu Lodge but the location is not convenient.

Ollantaytambo is quieter than Cusco, my preference the former.

There are lots of secondary hikes you can do around the Sacred Valley. A good one is to take a taxi to the top of the Pisac Ruins and walk down. There are also other excursions around Ollantaytambo. Suggest the KB Tambo website for descriptions (you can book their tours even if you don't stay with them).

http://www.kbperu.com/kbtours.html

Some people stay at the Sanctuary Hotel for the location at MP, but there are also good reviews of the Inkaterra MP Pueblo, which has good food and tours of their own grounds. If just staying for one night I might go with the Sanctuary since it gives you a bit more time at MP when it is extra quiet. It is ridiculously expensive but I suppose it makes more sense to splurge there than elsewhere.

If you are interested in the jungle you may want to consider dropping a night in Cusco and going to Manu.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 02:41 PM
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Thanks so much, mlgb.

I just booked the flights in Peru to Cuzco. Fares ranged dramatically. TACA was $143 round trip, Peruvian airlines was $238 RT, and search engines here such as kayak and sidestep gave me $300-552 round trip! Amazing variance.

I am taking the first flight getting in to Cuzco at 7 am. I think I can take a bus from there to OLY. I wonder if there is time for me to get to Machu Pichu that day?!
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 05:03 PM
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Better to take a taxi to Ollantaytambo, the busses are too crowded to do with luggage, and you would need to take two busses (change in Urubamba) You should be able to find a taxi for around $30 US at the airport in Cusco.

I think I would just rest up the first day in Ollantaytambo. You'll probably be a little tired from the flights and early morning and I still felt the altitude, although not badly. You can see the ruins in Ollantaytambo if you are feeling good, or just walk around the old Inca Town.

That is a good enough fare on TACA and the are pretty reliable.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 05:09 PM
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U can check with Peru Rail for times from Cusco to MP. I believe they go early in the am and it's not likely u could make it. They have trains from Oly that go a bit later, but even if u can get a bus and get there and make a train, I don't think I would do that. OLY is really a nice village and a great place to spend a couple days. As mlgb said, there is much to see in the SV and I think the ruins in Pisac are really worth seeing. U should try and find out what a taxi or even driver costs to get u to OLY -- it shouldn't be much and would be faster and perhaps more comfortable than the bus.
The prices at Sanctuary right at MP are way over the top. Inkaterra in AC while expensive is not nearly as costly as Sanctuary. We tried to get into Inkaterra, but couldn't -- we were there also in April and waited too late to decide to spend the money.

We didn't stay at El Albergue (stayed at Hotel Pakaritampu which is nice) but did have a meal at El Albergue--its served family style and was good. I have read about and saw the lobby of a smallish hotel right in the center of the village that people liked. Can't recall the name, maybe Hotel Sauce. If u do a search for hotels here u should uncover it.

Lima is one of the few big cities I have visited that I really didn't care for. We spent 3 nights there upon arrival in Peru (that was 2 full days) and 1 afternoon and night on the return b4 flying back to the US.

I agree Cusco is a fun little town to spend a couple days in.

have a great birthday and enjoy Peru!
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 05:54 PM
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Thanks! great tips..... if it were any other trip, I would probably rough it because I travel light and do the bus. This being the big birthday trip, however, I'll plan to do a taxi as you guys suggest and live it up! lol...

I'll look into Inkaterra, sounds like that might fit the bill.
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Old Sep 19th, 2010, 10:54 PM
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I just spent my 30th birthday at Machu Picchu. It's a *perfect* trip for a milestone birthday

I booked the entire trip myself from home (U.S.) except for a bus tour of the Sacred Valley that I booked in Cusco. The bus tour was my least favorite part of the trip. Too rushed, and too regimented. So definitely it worked better for me to plan it all on my own.

The taxi I took from Ollantaytambo to Cusco was 80 soles, but I've heard numbers as low as 50 soles. The taxi is certainly preferable to the bus; it's an hour and a half ride with no stops, so I'd imagine the bus takes longer, as well as being dramatically less comfortable.

Gringo Bill's was a decent value in Aguas Calientes. I paid $75 per night; they were conveniently located, the bed was comfortable, the room was clean, and they had hot water! This was an issue in our apartment in Cusco There's an incredibly nice-looking place in AC called Sumaq, but when I checked prices it was more than $450, yikes.

There are a lot of trains out of Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu, including in the evening (but you'd miss all of the scenery given how early it gets dark in Peru). The Peru Rail site has all of the details.

You really should consider getting a diamox prescription for altitude. There is a very large difference between 7,000 ft and 11,500 ft when it comes to the effects of altitude. You need to start taking it 24 hours before your ascent. It was very well worth it. My script only cost $7, so it's readily affordable too.

I really loved Lima. I spent the first and the last day of my trip there and should have added another day. The downtown area has gorgeous architecture and had a very pleasant bustling energy when I visited (on a Saturday afternoon/evening). The cliffs and beaches in Miraflores were a great place to explore while I decompressed from the long flight down to Lima.

Enjoy your trip and have a great birthday!
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 12:16 AM
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I would add at LEAST a day to your time in Olly to explore the Sacred Valley. We spent a whole day on a whistlestop visit and then went back to revisit a lot of the places.
Pisac is worth half a day min. and Chinchero, Moray, Maras etc are all worth seeing. Olly itself needs an entire day to do it justice. A link to our blog with some photos etc. http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog...8980/tpod.html

Best wishes for a great birthday. What a place to spend it!
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 08:00 AM
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thanks! I am roughly planning about two nights in Olly, then one night in AC for MP (is that enough?) and 3-4 nights in Cusco. I am planning two full days and one night in Lima. That leaves 1-2 nights unplanned that I can do elsewhere or add on.

I started looking into MP accommodations. Inkaterra looks gorgeous(!) but is $459 per night. here is the link for anyone else looking:
http://www.inkaterra.com/en/machu-picchu
I could book it just in case; one has to cancel by 45 days before. It is pricey for just one person for a two person room.

I am also fine with Hatuchay Tower but that is over $300/night:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev...ed_Valley.html

a more basic option is hostel el santuario..... I like it for its location and views.

I am surprised lodgings are so expensive in Peru though for something nice.

Sanctuary is well over $800 per night (right outside MP itself).
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 08:28 AM
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p.s.- I will take the Diamox. why take a chance, eh?

any thoughts on taking the tour to lake titacaca? Is it worth it and is it best done from AC?

I will research the other sights to see in SV mentioned above as well.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 09:49 AM
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I guess it is understandable MP is expensive; it is a top place to visit. I'll probably book Inkaterra in AC/MP as a splurge and make up for it in Lima. I just booked my final night in Lima at a grand hotel of faded glory for only $28 for the night (Grand Hotel Bolivar Lima). I figured I am flying back first class the next day and can rest on the plane home.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 10:30 AM
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Two nights in Olly one night in AC is about right (IMHO the less time spent in AC the better). Titicaca is best done from Cusco. It is possible by plane train or bus. We opted for the "Inka Express" bus which stops off at various places of interest along the way. The journey is spectacular as you cross the altiplano and well worth the 8 hours it takes. The lake itself is amazing and I quite like Puno itself (although we did manage to arrive in the middle of a fiesta). The floating island are very touristy but still worth seeing. Arequipa is also worth considering if you have the time.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 10:31 AM
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I'll be interested to hear about the Grand Bolivar!

Yes the high end Aguas Calientes/MP places do charge the arm and the leg, soak the tourist! However elsewhere you can find something very nice for around $100 a night. If you can get into Second Home Peru in Barranco it's a steal at under $100 for a single. Like sleeping inside an art museum.

I did not go to Lake Titicaca so can't compare to your other options, but my friends have reviewed it as "corny but fun". You would do it from Cusco.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 11:05 AM
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We spent just the one day in MP. We took the first train from Oly and came back on the last train. We had a guide in the am and spent the afternoon wandering around ourselves. We planned the trip to be there on a Sunday hoping that lots of tourists would be at the market in Pisac. It turned out to be true. The am had some people but was not really crowded. After lunch there were maybe 10 other people wandering around. Time-wise it was fine.

Haven t been to lake Titicaca, so cant comment. We did spend 3 nights in Arequipa - one of those nights was doing the overnight to Colca Canyon which was fabulous. I wouldn't try to do that with just 1-2 days.
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 09:02 PM
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the Inka express sounds great, crellston! I'll look into that.

I had an amazing dream when I was 25 involving MP which is what drew me to this trip. I am only now learning about the amazing other sites that Peru has to offer as I am researching it. I feel I have to completely do the Machu Pichu experience as a result; short of staying at Sanctuary at over $800 for the night! lol.

I'll look into Second home peru, mlgb.... sounds wonderful.

I'm wishing I had time for Arequipa now as well!
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Old Sep 20th, 2010, 09:25 PM
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I'll report back about the Grand Bolivar, mlgb. Reportedly, the Pisco sour was invented there!
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 12:04 PM
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Have a fantastic 50th, ncounty. BTW I would agree with crellston to add a day to Ollantaytambo, if you need to you could drop one from Cusco, if I didn't say that yet. I just found the town to be so charming and interesting, especially during the off hours. Another option is to do your return from Aguas Calientes to end with another night in Olly. Then use the following day to catch anything you missed in Olly, then take a taxi tour via Chinchero, Maras, Moray, Salineras back to Cusco. Also, visiting Pisac is easy from Cusco (it's in a slightly opposite direction from Olly).
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 12:25 PM
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In case you hadn't seen the blog written by eenusa (she posted the link for us), who stayed at the Inkaterra for her b-day.

http://2totravelperu.blogspot.com/20...-bears-at.html
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Old Sep 21st, 2010, 03:39 PM
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wow, that is amazing, mlgb! I am now inspired to do a blog of one of my own trips; Peru looks fantastic. I'll read it and digest the details for further planning. Thanks!
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