Reality check for 8 day trip to Peru in May

Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:31 PM
  #1  
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Reality check for 8 day trip to Peru in May

I think we are following a rather standard plan for our visit to Peru, but would like to double check with my favorite fellow travelers. We have only from a Friday evening until the following Sunday; no option to extend. It will be late May. We are a couple in our late 50's, good physical shape (but I do get headaches and sleeplessness at high elevation when skiing), seasoned travelers, but first time to Peru. We prefer small towns and nature to large cities. We are interested in history, natural beauty, and local culture. That said, one church per city is enough; probably one ruin per city is enough; one museum per city is enough.

Fri evening - flyATL to LIM overnight LIM
(considering staying in Lima on Saturday half or full day to visit archeological museum as intro)

Sat or Sun - fly LIM to CUZ, prearranged driver to Ollanta, perhaps stop enroute in Pisac, rest of day relaxing in Ollanta, ruins

Mon - Macchu Picchu, return to Ollanta

Tues - hire driver to visit Chinchero, etc. maybe weaver coop or whatever we agree on, return to Ollanta

Wed - driver to Cuzco early, day/night in Cuzco mostly experiencing the city

Thurs - fly to JUL

Fri - day on Lake Titicaca - looking at some options to the further island

Sat - fly to LIM
(could go early and visit museum etc. at end, but that seems backwards)

Sun 1am LIM to ATL; home to rest up for Monday
Kay2 is offline  
Feb 23rd, 2015, 08:52 AM
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I would recommend the Larco Museum in Lima for your Saturday morning rather than the Archaeology museum (they are open 9 am to 10 pm). If you try to find a hotel nearer to the western side of Miraflores you will be closer to this museum as well as the airport. Maybe something around the Melia or the Radisson in San Isidro. You could then take a Saturday afternoon flight to Cusco, these are now more available.

If you are interested in local culture, I would fly to Cusco on the Saturday so that on Sunday, you can visit the Pisac market (alternatively or in addition the Chinchero market). The Pisac tourist market is now largely mass produced items, not much different than what you will find in Aguas Calientes. However on Sundays you have the villagers produce market, and the Mayors come for the Quechua Mass, so I think it's worthwhile. If you want to see the mayors and their delegations, the best timing is really when they arrivc, before the 11 am service. My last visit a few years ago I stayed in Pisac (just outside the town center) at the Royal Inka and enjoyed the walk into town. If you are interested in hiking DOWN from the Pisac ruins, Sunday afternoon is an option (or you could do it Monday morning). Then head over to Ollantaytambo for several nights.

I probably would not fly to Juliaca, if you are setting aside the entire day on Thursday why not take the tourist bus direct to Puno, which makes several stops?

If you fly back on Saturday, is your return flight home late Saturday/early Sunday? You won't have a lot of time to do much that day. I don't know if there are even any morning flights JUL to LIM. If you take the midday flight you might have time to go into Lima for a meal, perhaps visit the historic colonial center, there are some smaller museums that are in old colonial mansions, or the catacombs/San Francisco Museum is interesting. Saturdays should not be quite as bad traffic as during the week.
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Feb 24th, 2015, 05:53 AM
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I think you can stay overnight at Cuzco on Tues after your visit to Chinchero.
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Feb 24th, 2015, 08:02 AM
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Yes, unless you want to minimize time sleeping at the higher altitude, but otherwise that is a good idea.
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Feb 25th, 2015, 06:13 PM
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Thanks.

I was typing about the Lima museum without checking which one I had read was the best for an intro/history before exploring the country.

I will have to see if I can find someone's description of the bus trip CUZ-JUL to persuade my husband to take a full day trip via bus. He is a pilot so he wants to fly everywhere. If only they would let him up front, he would really enjoy vacation tirps more.

I will continue to refine our plans.
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Feb 25th, 2015, 11:47 PM
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Kay2 - my wife and I took the bus from Cusco to Puno a few years ago. Here is a link to our blog with som photos and a description of the trip

http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog...1440/tpod.html

It really is worthwhile as the scenery as you travel across the altiplano is truly spectacular. Plus you get to stop at some places along the way that you wouldn't otherwise get to see. Short of renting a helicopter it really is the best way of getting to Puno
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Feb 26th, 2015, 06:10 PM
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Our return flight home is late Saturday/early Sunday. I don't like the idea of the evening flight JUL-LIM with about 2 hours connection in case of delays or cancelation, though in most places I would think that sufficient time. Si the midday flight will get us to LIM at 3pm with a 10 hour layover in LIM.

I did determine that the bus CUZ-Lake Titicaca is not on winding mountain roads, so I may be able to persuade my husband. (I took some video sitting up front on a bus going up and down to the fjords in Norway that made my husband happy he was not on the trip with me. I have shown him the switchbacks to Machu Picchu to get him ready for that part.)
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Mar 1st, 2015, 06:13 AM
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OK--slight adjustments based on your suggestions and further research.
Stay in Pisac and Aguas Calliente instead of Ollantaytambo. Takes care of my uncertainty of how to book return one-day train Ollanta-AC when I have no idea how long of a day we want at Machu Picchu. But does take us to slightly higher altitude in Pisac earlier in trip and has us change hotels more often.

Still question about Tuesday--now we come into Ollanta from AC and want to do our day touring around the valley--should we book a hotel for Ollanta for Tuesday night, drop our bags there, go out with a driver to Chinchero, weaver coop, Maras, etc. and return to Ollanta for night; then to Cuzco the next morning for day/night in city? Or should we take the train to Ollanta, do the day touring with bags in car and get dropped in Cuzco that night? We can eitehr arrive in Ollanta at 7:45am or 10:10am. I am concerned that arriving at 10:10am will essentially give us a half day, so would we be able to see more and be more enjoyable with night in Ollanta or Cuzco? I guess if we stayed in Ollanta, that could make Wednesday travel time to Cuzco flexible if there were something more we wanted to see in valley vs. Cuzco. I just don't have a good feel for travel times and roads despite looking at the map.

New plan:

Fri eve flight to LIM - night Melia Hotel

Sat morn visit museum - 3pm flight to CUZ, transfer to Pisac, night Hotel Pisac Inca or simiar

Sun morn market and church - afternoon transfer to Ollantaytambo, 3:30 or 4:30pm train to Aguas Calliente, night in AC uncertain hotel/hostel

Mon - Machu Picchu, night AC same hotel

Tues - train to Ollanta either 5:30-7:45 or 8:30-10:10am, visit Chinchero, Maras, ? on to Cuzco, night in CUZ uncertain hotel or return to Ollanta for night

Wed - day and night in CUZ

Thur - bus to Puno, night in uncertain hotel

Fri - something on lake, night in Puno

Sat - 1pm flight JUL to LIM arrives ~ 3pm, visit Colonial center, dep LIM at 1am Sun and arrive home with day to nap and recover.
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Mar 1st, 2015, 07:50 AM
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I would not backtrack to spend Tuesday night in Ollantaytambo. There should be luggage storage at the train station there which is one of the p!aces you can find taxis. No need to hire a taxi until you are ready to head to Chinchero etc.

I would not spend Monday night in Aguas Calientes.I would take one of the evening trains back to Ollantaytambo.

Sunday afternoon take a train that runs during daylight. You will want to leave Pisac after lunch. I am assuming you are not walking the Pisac ruins? Or Olkantaytambo ruins?

Even so allow some time to wander around the old Inka town sector.
mlgb is offline  
Mar 1st, 2015, 07:51 AM
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Inka town center us in Ollantaytambo
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Mar 1st, 2015, 09:32 AM
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We will take Sunday afternoon train to AC during daylight. I've already checked the schedule. Why not spend Monday night in Aguas Calientes so as not to have to commit to a train schedule and keep the same room for two nights? I know the town is a tourist trap and Ollanta is nicer, but that would make our hotels 1 night Pisac, 1 night AC, 1 night Ollanta then 2 nights Cusco. If we keep the (overpriced) AC hotel, we can return from MP at any time, relax. If we go to Ollanta, then I would choose a late train and if we are finished at MP, we hang around AC anyway. It would make Tuesday more relaxed start to wander around Ollanta.

Thanks for the expert advice.
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Mar 1st, 2015, 11:52 AM
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If you have a full day to go Ollanta to Cusco that seems more relaxed to me. You don't need to stress about when to book that tranfer or what time to wake up. And you can decide whether to go inside the Ollanta ruins in the morning when they aren't crowded.

I realize it is a tradeoff re packing and unpacking but if you pack light it is less difficult. You really just need to bring an overnight bag to Aguas Calientes, and could leave the remainder of luggage in the Ollantaytambo hotel before you get on the train Sunday (all hotels are used to storing luggage, as well as early arrivals).
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Mar 1st, 2015, 01:58 PM
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Our luggage will be 1 21-inch rollaboard and 1 back/daypack apiece, so not a problem.

I think we will stay with an early rise/early to bed schedule as best we can on the trip as that is our preference to be up and about when most folks are still in bed.

I do like the idea of being in Ollanta for the morning. I hoped to avoid choosing a train time after day at MP. At least one early evening train is already sold out. Going someplace for the first time is always difficult to puzzle out.
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Mar 1st, 2015, 02:10 PM
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You will probably want to book your trains. Late May is already in the high season, as you can see from finding sold out hotels and trains months ahead.

Sometimes the train companies may let you get on an earlier train if it isn't sold out. I really doubt you will get bored at Machu Picchu, though.

Inca Rail is another option if Peru Rail is sold out.
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Mar 18th, 2015, 02:22 PM
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Our plans are progressing, but I am getting to experience what it seems everyone does with booking on Peruvian websites. So frustrating for us independent bookers/travelers. My husband did express some preferences in terms of timing and moving hotels, so the itinerary changed a bit.

We are trying to build in a little flexibility in Pisac since we don't know how much time we want that day to explore ruins, visit market, church, etc. So we decided we could go up to MP in the dark and return during daylight just before sunset to see the scenery.

Nightmare trying to buy Perurail tickets online. Same problems as many others--credit card refused; call from bank; tell them OK; try to book again; credit card refused used too many times; chat online but get cut off. Wait a day. Credit card refused. Chat cutoff. I can tell that online only will book 3 tickets on preferred train, then full, so I don't want to wait. Call bank and get them to pre-authorize so that no problem on their end. Credit card refused. Chat says they can book for me, but not the time I want to return during daylight. Unclear, whether I could book online for that train, but chat/phone sales different channel and sells what shows as her availability. Offers to reserve later train and send me forms to complete with reservation info + credit card authorization. (I've read online that this is the usual alternative.) I guess this is one of the times an in-country travel agent might be a valuable resource.
So, it looks like I have to go back to plan to leave Pisac early enough to make the 3pm train to go up in daylight or go up/back on the train in the dark.

I haven't tried for MP tickets yet. Very few sold for late May according to their website (hope it is more reliable than PeruRail).

I will be looking for someone to take us from Ollanta to Cusco with stops at Chinchero, weaver coop, Maras, Moray. Would you recommend a tour guide for this or just a driver?

The bus Cusco-Puno was easy to book online with follow up email. Also booked a hotel on Lake Titicaca rather than in town
I'm looking at AllWays Travel Remote Taquile day trip.
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Mar 19th, 2015, 09:28 AM
  #16  
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Update--I had sent an email in a contact us box on the PeruRail during my problems with the website.
Now, a day after chat/phone sales sent me a an email reservation for the trains they could book availability on, I receive an email reservation from a different person at PeruRail with the trains I wanted.
So email to the website has better availability than chat/call center and their email.
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Mar 20th, 2015, 08:31 AM
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Continued progress! Email purchases are probably going to be more difficult for MP. A lot of the issues apparently stem from Visa blocking transactions, not necessarily the banks.

I often have an easier time using a Mastercard, but I don't think that is possible on the MP site.

If you do have trouble with the MP site, they have a contact us function as well as Facebook.
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Apr 26th, 2015, 06:11 PM
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Update--
I followed the instructions on this website to book MP tickets and found them to be spot on:
therewardboss.com/2013/10/08/how-to-book-machu-picchu-tickets-online-in-only-a-few-minutes/
The Spanish version worked just fine (I think). I got the reservation, it said the Visa charge was approved, and allowed me to print the tickets on Saturday. By Sunday evening, no charge on my Visa so I will keep an eye on it. Hope it shows up pending on Monday.

I finally got USAA to remove its fraud alert from my credit cards. I would receive multiple calls insisting I contact them immediately else my card(s) be blocked when I purchased something online in a foreign company. Their system freaked out when I charged the Perurail tickets, registration for a conference in Turkey, and registration for a conference in the US in quick succession. Yesterday would have been a repeat with Turkish e-visa and Machu Picchu. I know these protections are necessary with the prevelance of fraud, but they make my online purchases almost impossible.

I contacted taxidatum about a transfer CUZ to Pisac and the response was "no problem - $25 senior citizen rate".

Should we hire a guide rather than just a driver Ollanta-Moray-Maras-Chinchero-Cusco on Tuesday? It would be nice to stop at a weaving co-op too as part of the day.
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Apr 26th, 2015, 06:32 PM
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I don't think the guide would add that much. A driver can drop you at the weaving coop and wait for you. The people at the coop should be able to provide some information. I haven't been to that one, but at others they usually have either displays in English (eg of the different dye plants) or an onsite interpreter.

If you are interested in weaving and have time in Cusco you might also go here, and read through their website before you visit. She has lots of info on Chinchero on the site.

http://www.incas.org/center-for-trad...tiles-of-cusco
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Apr 27th, 2015, 07:22 AM
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Thanks for the link. I enjoy learning about local crafts wherever I travel.

The charge appeared on my account, so we have MP tickets.
Taxidatum is confirmed for CUZ-Pisac.
I was able to get some of the LAN seat assignments, LIM-CUZ only available 48 hours in advance, she said.

I will get back to the driver Ollanta-Cusco with stops, deciding how long to plan for the trip with the stops to decide what time during the day we would want to leave Ollanta. I want to do additional reading on the stops.

Next need to contact company in Puno about day on the lake.
Also need to decide on Cusco hotel. I made a reservation at one, but may look around for one that is all nonsmoking.
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