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Old Mar 4, 13, 6:26 pm   #1
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Washington to Peru and Machu Picchu on COPA and TACA

Last fall when I was working in Senegal there were posts on Flyertalk about a great fare on COPA in Business Class from JFK to Lima, Peru for around $800. I mentioned it to a few friends, not really expecting anyone to bite, and I was prepared to book and do the trip alone when a friend of mine got really excited about joining me. We booked, and soon added a US Airways Shuttle ticket to New York, and we were all set!

The plan was to spend a few days each in Lima, Cuzco, and finally Machu Picchu before heading home.

If you'd like to see my other trip reports:

I. London to Iran and Afghanistan in a mix of C, F, and LCCs
II. Above the Arctic Circle with UA/CO/LH and SK in whY, C, and F
III. Around the World in 40 Days for 40 Years
IV. 8 Places People Who Are Right in the Head Do Not Spend New Years
V. 12 Countries, 10 Airlines, 4 Islands, 27,080 miles, 11 Days
VI. 6 Countries in 6 Days - Caribbean Island Hopping and first AA Experience
VII. Guyana, Suriname, and French Guyana with an unexpected sidetrip to Caracas!
VIII. To Ha´ti - for vacation and a milage run!
IX. Around Senegal and West Africa
X. 4th Annual New Years in Dangerous Places - Libya Edition
Kosovo and FYR Macedonia - Milage Run in United Business + TK/LH

I'm going to break this report into roughly the following pieces:

I. DC to Lima, Peru on US Airways Shuttle and COPA
II. The Westin Lima
III. Touring around Lima
IV. Central Restaurant, Lima
V. Lima to Cuzco on TACA, and the Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco
VI. Touring around Cuzco
VII. Cuzco to Aguas Calientes on the Vistadome train
VIII. Touring around Aguas Calientes, and the SUMAQ hotel
IX. Machu Picchu
X. Aguas Calientes to DC via Cuzco, Lima, and New York

Enjoy!


Last edited by ironmanjt; Mar 25, 13 at 7:08 pm.
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Old Mar 4, 13, 7:25 pm   #2
 
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DC to Lima, Peru on US Airways Shuttle and COPA

The plan was to spend a few days each in Lima, Cuzco, and finally Machu Picchu before heading home. .Time flew by, and soon it was time to leave. .The trip started in DC from the airport I still refuse to call Ronald Reagan National Airport - it shall always be just National Airport to me. .US Airways was asking well over $300 for these flights when we booked, but the same flights purchased at united.com were under $150. .The only complication was that because we had the United codeshare flight numbers US Airways wouldn't offer complimentary upgrades with my platinum status. .However, at 24 hours before the flight when we checked in, it let me choose seats in first. .Who knows if this is supposed to be how it works, but it did....

Check-in was simple with maybe a five minute wait, we dropped of a couple bags with the TSA, and headed to the US Airways Club to get some water before boarding. .It was pretty empty mid-morning, and soon it was time to board.

US Airways Shuttle flight 2164
Washington DC, National (DCA) to New York, Laguardia (LGA)
Depart 9:00, Arrive 10:17, Flight Time 1:17
Airbus A319, Registration N732US, Manufactured 2000, Seats 2D and 2F


The flight was pretty uneventful. .Economy looked to be about 75% full, and every seat in first was taken. .Pre-departure drinks were offered, and in-flight there was one round of drinks along with the typical US Airways snack basket full of munchies. .Nothing special, but completely solid for a 45 minute flight. .Of course, there was time for a morning wake-up...after all, this was the start of a big adventure!



Landing at LaGuardia was a few minutes early, and after less than 15 minutes our bags were delivered and we were off in a taxi to JFK. .For reference, with tip the trip from LaGuardia to JFK was approximately $40...and for those of us not used to it why can't all taxis be as easy to use as New York cabs with their credit card swipe machines in the back seat!

The rest of the post is on my blog at this link!
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Old Mar 4, 13, 8:34 pm   #3
 
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While COPA does not sound impressive, that's a a great price you got for such a long trip.

Anyway, your TR is off to a fine start. Looking forward to your photos and comments on your time in Peru, as my wife and I plan to visit there in the first half of September.
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Old Mar 5, 13, 6:57 pm   #4
 
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The Westin Lima

We arrived at the hotel after an easy 30 minute or so taxi ride, and checkin was quick and efficient. This hotel receives very good reviews online, so we were really looking forward to our three nights here before setting out for Cuzco and Machu Picchu.

Room:

As a Starwood Platinum member I was upgraded to a one bedroom suite without having to ask. .The room was clean with a very large shower room. .The only slightly odd feature is that the door/wall of the shower room that faced the hallway was glass and completely transparent. .Slightly awkward if you don't want to be watched while showering. .It was a nice rainshower, and there were plenty of towels, soaps, etc in the room without having to ask.

The room had the standard Westin Heavenly Bed, and I did ask - all suites in the hotel are single king bed only. .There are no suites with doubles at this property. .The bedroom had two walls of floor to ceiling windows, giving a fantastic view over the city. .In the living room, one of the walls was also floor to ceiling glass with a fantastic room. .There was a nice desk and sofa in the living room, and plenty of room to spread out, work, or entertain just a few guests. .Temperature control in the room was excellent. .I like my room very cold when I sleep (somewhere around 16-18C) and the air conditioning in this room had absolutely no trouble handling that.

Sunset view from the room:



The rest of the post is on my blog at this link.
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Old Mar 6, 13, 7:34 pm   #5
 
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Touring around Lima

We had two full days to visit Lima, and decided to roughly split them up and use day one to explore the older part of the city and the historical centre, and use day two to visit a museum as well as walk around the newer and happening Miraflores district. .We started out late morning (after a midnight arrival the night before we were in no rush to get going!) by grabbing a cab to the Centro Historico and the Convento de San Francisco church.





Outside the church:



After touring the inside of the church, we waited to take a guided tour of the monastery. .We only had to wait around 5 minutes for an English tour, which ended up being mostly a private tour since we were with a large group of Koreans who didn't really understand the guide. .The most impressive part of the tour was the old library, filled with handwritten books from a couple hundred years ago. .Unfortunately no pictures were allowed in the monastery, because the library was especially cool.

The rest of the post with lots more pics is on my blog at this link!
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Old Mar 7, 13, 7:07 pm   #6
 
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Central Restaurant, Lima

Warning before you read this post. It contains drastic food porn, and should definitely not be viewed when hungry. ;-)

When browsing on TripAdvisor for places to eat in Lima, we found Central which was the number one rated restaurant in town. We had no trouble reserving a table for 8pm on a Saturday night (that's because, it turned out, nobody really eats that early but since it was one seating per table it didn't matter) and couldn't wait to try their amazing ten course tasting menu of local and regional ingredients which looked amazing and was reasonably priced.

Although you can't really compare the two, the concept reminded me of Noma in Copenhagen, sourcing unusual local ingredients and the freshest of the season to come up with something that was fine dining, but at the same time local and unique. We were seriously excited!

When we arrived at 8pm, they asked if we'd like to sit now or have a drink in the bar, and we took the hint and went to the bar for a pisco first. This turned out to be a good plan, since the restaurant hadn't really kicked into gear yet and it was a bit early to eat. The drinks came, and were definitely the best ones we had on the entire trip!





View the rest of the delicious post of my blog at this link.
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Old Mar 9, 13, 10:20 pm   #7
 
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Jason, I am addicted to your trip reports, but... wow! All I can say is that I am glad that Mr. FB and I just got back from dinner with my brother. If I were hungry (or thirsty) right now, I would be going out for a snack (or drink).

Well done, as always!
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Old Mar 10, 13, 2:21 pm   #8
 
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Great TR. Peru is one of my favorite destinations, and quite easy to get to from the Southeast US.
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Old Mar 10, 13, 2:38 pm   #9
 
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When was this trip?
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Old Mar 10, 13, 5:55 pm   #10
 
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Originally Posted by dieuwer2 View Post
When was this trip?
Late February.
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Old Mar 10, 13, 6:48 pm   #11
 
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Lima to Cuzco on TACA, and the Hotel Monasterio, Cuzco

We'd booked a slightly later flight to Cuzco, thinking it would let us sleep in at least a little bit and a terribly early morning, but the one thing we didn't take into account is that a 9:55 departure meant we'd be leaving for the airport in the middle of rush hour traffic. Fortunately, the trip was still quite quick and maybe 30 minutes at most, and we got to the airport just a bit over an hour before the departure of our flight.

The domestic check-in line for TACA was crazy long, and even the business class/Star Alliance gold line took probably 15 minutes, but check-in was pretty easy. Unfortunately, the flight was going to be rather full meaning the middle seat in between us wouldn't stay open. Security took another 15 minutes or so, and by the time we made it to the gate it was 30 minutes before departure and we expected them to be boarding. Except they weren't. Boarding finally started about 9:50, when we were allow to go out to...the bus. No jetways here. By the time we boarded and closed the door it was nearly 10:30. Not horrible because we had no place to be, but it was handled very casually as if this was completely normal.

TACA Peru flight 809
Lima, Peru (LIM) to Cuzco, Peru (CUZ)
Depart 9:55, Arrive 11:20, Flight Time 1:25
Airbus A319, Registration N520TA, Manufactured 2007, Seat 8K


The flight was almost completely full in economy, meaning the seat in between us was taken, so we shifted to the middle and window seat. .It was maybe an hour in the air, so no big deal. .During the flight, the crew managed to serve a quick snack/sandwich and drinks to a full plane, which was pretty impressive. .The snack didn't look appetizing and we'd just had breakfast so I decided to skip it, but it was still pretty impressive that they offered it. .Overall, there was nothing special about TACA, but at the same time nothing really went wrong. .To top it off, milage posted to United about five days after the flight, so score one for the partnership working as well.

Upon landing we got our checked baggage in 10-15 minutes, and had arranged for the hotel to meet us and transfer us so I can't comment on how easy it would be to get a taxi. .On the way back to the airport, however, we had the hotel call a taxi which was many, many times less expensive at only 20 soles. .It was not quite as comfortable, but still plenty nice, so I think this is definitely the way to go.

When we arrived at the Hotel Monasterio we were asked to take a seat in the lounge / bar area while they got our check-in information. .They brought us a pot of coca tea to help with the altitude, and sat at the table with us while they completed registration.

Room:

The room was spacious and comfortable, and had the added benefit of extra oxygen being pumped into the room to help with the altitude. .The hotel was a converted monastery, so it definitely had that "something old" charm about it. .It's not usually my preferred decorating style, but it was really cool to be staying in a place with so much history. .The beds were extremely comfortable with great bedding, and the only small gripe I had about the rooms is that both rooms we had were slightly on the warm side for sleeping. .We tried to get them cooler, but no matter what they stayed quite warm despite the fact the temperature would drop to about 10C outside at night.

On our second stay, the hotel actually upgraded us to a small two-level suite for the night, with the bedroom and bathroom upstairs, and a large sitting area on the entry level. .It was very nice considering we hadn't requested it, and the bags we stored with the hotel were waiting for us in the room when we checked in. .Big plus!

Service:

As mentioned above, service was amazing. .From our bags waiting for us in the room on the second stay, to friendly staff everywhere (reception, breakfast, bar/lounge, etc) the hotel really went out of its way to go that little extra step from doing what was expected to anticipating what would make your stay easier and more comfortable. .Despite some challenges in communication (English skills of some staff were rather limited) it was still clear they were intent on delivering excellent service and it really showed.

Location:

The location of the hotel was absolutely perfect, located 2-3 blocks off the main plaza. .Just far enough away that the noise of the plaza was nonexistent, but close enough that it was an easy walk. .Location was absolutely perfect!

Breakfast:

What can I say about the breakfast - absolutely awesome. .The only thing that was slightly lacking is that the staff seemed slightly overworked, and getting refills of coffee took a bit of time. .Now, onto all the great stuff! .There were amazing breads of all sorts, pastries, danishes, meats, cheeses, cakes, pies, pretty much you name it and they had it. .Not to mention fresh squeezed orange-carrot juice that was amazing. .Oh, and the first day...we actually had breakfast in the courtyard of the hotel with a musician playing soft music while we ate. .It blended in perfectly with the old monastery atmosphere, and again although it's not really my style I definitely enjoyed breakfast al fresco!

A shot of the courtyard, you can see the tables we ate at:



Read the rest of the post on my blog at this link!
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Old Mar 11, 13, 7:10 am   #12
 
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Great TR. We did a similar trip to Machu Pichu in 2010 from IAH to Lima (on Continental) and then to Cusco by TACA. Returned via Panama city by COPA and then by Continental. IAH-Lima-PTY-IAH by award travel (35,000 miles is a great bargain for this long route).

LAN Peru is expensive from Lima to Cusco, and TACA is a good alternative, but all Peruvian citizens and residents get a big discount on the local travel, which is not available to foreigners.
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Old Mar 11, 13, 11:43 am   #13
 
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Any status updates on the proposed airport near Machu Picchu? I don't get it...the Cusco airport is fine. I don't see anyone bothering with a new airport closer to MP because Cusco is a destination in and of itself.
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Old Mar 11, 13, 12:16 pm   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pricesquire View Post
Any status updates on the proposed airport near Machu Picchu? I don't get it...the Cusco airport is fine. I don't see anyone bothering with a new airport closer to MP because Cusco is a destination in and of itself.
I didn't hear anything, but when you read my next segment on getting from Cuzco to MP it might make a little more sense why they want it....
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Old Mar 11, 13, 12:27 pm   #15
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pricesquire View Post
Any status updates on the proposed airport near Machu Picchu? I don't get it...the Cusco airport is fine. I don't see anyone bothering with a new airport closer to MP because Cusco is a destination in and of itself.
Airport near Machu Picchu? IMHO a bad idea, unless you want to change MP into an archaeological Disneyland.
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