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Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and Puerto Maldonado

Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and Puerto Maldonado

Old Sep 24th, 2009, 07:57 PM
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Sacred Valley, Inca Trail, and Puerto Maldonado

Sacred Valley, Inca Trail/MP, Puerto Maldonaldo

Itinerary:
Day 1 - Cusco, Chincero
Day 2 - Pisaq Ruins/Market, on the way to Ollantaytambo
Day 3 - Ollantaytambo Ruins, Maras/Moray, Salinas
Day 4, 5, 6, 7 - Inca Trail to Machupicchu
Day 8 - Aguas Calientes, Cusco
Day 9 - Cusco day tour
Day 10, 11, 12 - Puerto Maldonado
Day 13 - Cusco, Lima



Hotels:

Rumi Punku (Cusco) – cute courtyard, free internet, tea, spa and gym area for a fee, clean, basic, good neighborhood (San Blas)

Hotel Sauce (Ollantaytambo) – cute place, great location (right next to main square), clean, friendly service.

Wiracoccha Inn (Aguas Calientes) – 5 to 7 minute slightly uphill walk from the bus/train station, clean, basic

Ninos Hotel (Cusco) - hotel was clean and basic, but I really did not like the neighborhood we were in. I felt uncomfortable versus the San Blas neighborhood we had stayed in previously.

Jose Antonio (Cusco) - LAN delayed us one full day in Cusco due to a plane malfunction, but put us up in this very nice hotel.

Ramada Costa del Sol (Lima) - we had a 17 hour layover in Lima due to the plane delay and I decided to pay for a place for us to rest. Nice, modern, clean. Most expensive place we paid for while on our trip, but I thought it was worth it.

Restaurants:
Inka Grill (Cusco Main Square) - Fantastic lomo saltado. I know it's touristy b/c it's located in the main square but the food was fantastic, service was terrific.
Chez Maggy (Cusco) - Service was great, but I'm not a big fan of the peruvian pizzas. Not to take away from Chez Maggy, but I just wasn't a fan of the pizza in Peru in general.
Hearts Cafe (Ollantaytambo Main Square) - great cause, I didn't really like their food, but my husband liked it a lot. I'm not one for veggies and stuff and this cafe has a lot of healthier options. The staff was great. It seemed like a great place just to hang out.
KB Hostal (Ollantaytambo) - we were looking for a place to have a bite prior to the Inca Trail. This place was bumpin' so we tried it out. Amazing pollo saltado.
Chifa Restaurant (Aguas Calientes) - no idea what this place is called, but as you're walking to wiracoccha inn it's across the dam/river. Great chifa food!
MAP Cafe (Cusco) - this was our big splurge for our anniversary dinner. Fantastic gourmet take on the peruvian dishes. This is where I had roasted cuy and it was amazing!
Don Tomas - touristy, didn't really like this place
Los Toldos Chicken (Cusco) - Pollo ala braza. This place was great. Seemed like a lot of locals eat her. The food was terrific.


First of all, thank you to everyone who helped me prepare for our trip. It was definitely memorable and I'm so glad we decided to travel to Peru for our anniversary trip. I visited a lot of the same places that have been listed before so I thought I'd put together just a couple thoughts!

Cusco/Sacred Valley - loved it! The people were fantastic. The ruins/sights to see were fantastic. I found this area cheaper than Lima to buy souvenirs. We worked with Percy Salas who was great. He was very professional, very kind, and very knowledgable about his culture and country. It was great having someone take us around and care for us during our trip. He is expanding his agency and is planning on opening up the Inca Trail for smaller groups as part of his business. I think it's great and I know he'll do well. He says hello to all of you fodorites! We actually were in Cusco/Sacred Valley for such a long time (esp due to the plane delay), we probably could have skimmed off a day of two so that we could have seen Punyo/Lake Titicaca. But definitely make the Sacred Valley part of your stop while in Peru!

4d/3n Inca Trail with PeruTreks - For anyone looking for a tour company to go with, you should really consider Peru Treks. We had a fantastic time with them and honestly this was definitely the highlight of our trip. The company is very organized, we loved our guides (another Percy! and JC), the cook (Armando) was AMAZING, the porters were so friendly and so hardworking. We just had a blast. Our group consisted of 16 people, 2 guides, 20 porters, 1 cook. The trail was very difficult for me. I am definitely not a trekker, but this is something I really wanted to try and do. And I won't lie, there was many a time, esp on day 2 where I was seriously thinking about turning around and walking home. On day 2, the toughest day, we were 2 hours behind the rest of our group and 2 of the porters ran to bring us chicken sandwiches and hot tea! We were so overwhelmed by their kindess. And the next day, we asked to start an hour ahead of the rest of our group and as the porters passed my husband and I, they would jokingly say "Vamos! Vamos!" They would clap for every hiker that made it to camp. It was just a special, special family. And of course, we finally made it to Machupicchu and it was worth all the pain. The trail was definitely something I'll remember for the rest of my life and now I can say that I survived the Inca Trail!

Inca Trail Notes: Wear good shoes (at least light hikers). You'll definitely need good ankle support. Nights 2 and 3 were definitely colder due to the higher altitude, so pack accordingly! I wish we had brought more stuff that we could have given to our guides and porters. We felt so loved by them that we wanted to give something back. We had brought enough money for water, tips, etc, but we wanted to give more and ended up digging through our packs on the last night for things we wouldn't need for the rest of our trip. Buy water along the trail, try not to use those purification tablets. Our guide warned us of a couple who used the tablets and got so sick they never made it to MP. Also bring lots of baby wipes, even though we got to camp at WinayWinay on the third night, the showers were far from our camp and it just wasn't worth the energy. I don't think anyone in our group opted to make the hike to the showers. Use lots of mosquito repellant on nights 2, 3, MP, and Aguas Calientes for sure. I covered up and used lots of repllant and only got a couple of bites on my hands and neck. Go at your own pace and be sure to look up and enjoy the amazing view.

3d/2n Lake Sandoval Lodge in Puerto Maldonado - Lots of changes are going on in this area of Peru. They've almost completed the road that joins Peru and Brazil that runs through Puerto Maldonado, I believe the only piece missing is the bridge that needs to be finished in PM. A lot of people are worried about what it will do to the area. The lodge we stayed at was great, probably as comfortable as you can get in the jungle. Our guide was great, the food was pretty good (not as amazing as our inca trail food). We heard from another tourist staying with us that a south african company has purchased the lake sandoval lodge and will be demolishing it in the future. In its place they will be putting up a lodge which costs $1000 per night. Crazy. We're both glad we saw the reserve and saw the beauty and tranquility of the rainforest, but just know it is very hot and very humid and can be very uncomfortable at times.

My only regret of the entire trip is I wish we had managed to squeeze in Arequipa/Colca Canyon, Puno/Lake Titicaca, and the Nasca Lines.
aristokat is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2009, 11:37 PM
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Great report! It brings my time there back to me and makes me wish I was still there! We didn't go to Colca or Nazca and do regret that but did make it to Arequipa at fiesta time which was amazing and Titcaca wa also a favourite. So many places, so little time...
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 04:49 AM
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Thanks so much for the report! We're considering a similar itinerary for next May, including using Peru Treks 4d/3n. I see you spent a night in Aqua Calientes, which I also wondered about - I think I'll be so whipped from the trek that a tour the next day would be better. Did you have Percy do any of the planning/hotel booking/etc., or was he more for transportation and guiding?
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Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:10 PM
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Yes, I highly, highly recommend PeruTreks. We did spend a night in AC with the intention of trying to go to Huayna Picchu the following morning. But we were SO incredibly exhausted, we never made it back up to MP. That and then paying the cost of the bus and the entrance fee again, we just decided against it. Which I hear happens a lot. We probably should have headed back to Cusco that evening after visiting MP, but it just became our day to relax.

I also forgot to note that the ticket office for HP have moved. I never saw them personally but I heard from other trekkers they moved. Also, it's usually very difficult to get tickets to HP if you've done the Inca Trail, but 4 people in our group were able to get tickets. We were at MP on Sept 12.

And we mainly used Percy for transportation and guiding since I like to plan and do bookings, but Percy does do planning and booking if you let him know what kind of accomodations you'd like. One thing to consider that I didn't know until we met him, Percy can do domestic bookings within Peru for you at a cheaper rate than what you'd be able to get online at LAN unless you know how to navigate the spanish LAN website. But if you do this, he'd need the money in advance so I think you'd probably have to wire it to his account.

Since we did all the bookings/planning, we didn't pay Percy until we got to Peru for our day tours.
aristokat is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2009, 01:56 PM
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Could you please give me Percy's contact email. I'd like a guide for a day in Cusco and another in the Sacred Valley. What did you think of Maras and Moray? Our time is limited. Is it worth spending a whole day doing this?
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Old Oct 8th, 2009, 08:20 PM
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What airlines did you fly to Puerto Maldonado on? What's the approximate cost? All I can find for next March is about $425.00 - Cusco to Puerto Maldonado then Puerto Maldonado to Lima. Thanks Barb
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Old Oct 9th, 2009, 01:16 PM
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Shelly - sorry about the late reply. Percy's email is [email protected]. I think 2 days in Sacred Valley would be best so you could do Ollantaytambo, Pisaq in one day. Then Maras, Moray, and Salinas in another. Maras, Moray, and Salinas are just out of the way so it's hard to cram it in with Ollanta and Pisaq.

BabsB - We used LAN airlines, which was actually useful (even though they are the most expensive). But I think StarPeru or Taca fly to PM...one of them do, can't remember which one. LAN has more flights though I think. Do you need to fly to other places within Peru or South America? You should check out LAN's Pass and see if it's cheaper. Or get a travel agency within Peru to buy your tickets as long as they are not for residents only, sometimes those tickets are cheaper if bought within Peru.
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