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Some observations/tips from a VERY quick trip to Peru and MP

Some observations/tips from a VERY quick trip to Peru and MP

Old Dec 5, 2013, 9:53 am
  #1  
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Some observations/tips from a VERY quick trip to Peru and MP

Backstory: A few months ago when the legacy carriers were battling it out over flights from the US to LIM, I jumped on a fare of $430 from ATL on United. This was partly booked for the mileage, but more so to try and get to Machu Picchu and cross it off my bucket list. This was my first trip to South America, I was going solo, and I was gonna have my feet on the ground in Peru for 3 days total. I realize the odds were not in my favor with regards to weather and all that but I went anyways and hoped for the best. I was set to depart ATL on Sunday, 11/24 and return Thursday, 11/28 on Thanksgiving. What follows is how the trip played out and how I got to cross off an amazing place in only a few short days. Hopefully someone can pick up a tip or two of what to do or not to do.

Sunday 11/24: Routine domestic flights, ATL-IAH, and then IAH-LIM arriving in LIM right around midnight. Passport control was ridiculously long. You'd think with all of the flights arriving from the US around midnight they would have more than a handful of agents working but oh well. After some additional questioning of why I was only in Peru for 3 days I was on my way.

Monday 11/25: After getting through customs, I had about 7 hours to kill overnight until my morning flight to Cusco. I went upstairs to the starbucks to use wifi, walked across the bridge to the Ramada for a few beers, and found my way back through security around 3AM or so. Went to the PeruRail stand and booked my train ticket for later that day and found a spot to nap for a few hours until my Taca flight left for Cusco. Upon arriving in Cusco I made the mistake of booking one of the arranged transportation options to get to Ollyantaytambo, which ended up costing 60 soles for a taxi from the airport to Pavitos and the collectivo on to Olly. I would have come out cheaper just booking my own taxi to Pavitos and then arranging transportation on the collectivo there for 10 soles like everyone else did. Live and learn. The train ride from Olly to Aguas Calientes was uneventful. Rode the Expedition train there. Once I got to AC, I hiked up the hill in search of my hostel, checked in, went to buy my admission ticket to MP for the next morning, and settled in for the night. I walked across the bridge to watch some pickup soccer for a few hours and then retired fairly early.

Tuesday 11/26: Woke up at 4:30 or so and headed down to buy my bus ticket up the mountain to MP. Cost was $18.50 but well worth it compared to hiking up the mountain (for me at least). I was one of the first few through the entrance gate at 6 when the park opened. Spent about 7 hours walking around, hiking over to the Inca Bridge and up to the Sun Gate, before heading back down the mountain to catch my afternoon train back to Poroy Station. I'd suggest walking the grounds as soon as you get there as they got the most crowded quickly. The trails never were super crowded. The weather was great and I was told it was one of the best days they had had in a week or so. Guess I got really lucky. Train ride back to Poroy was uneventful, low key I guess as everyone was exhausted. Took the vistadome train this time, only difference I saw was you get a "meal" which I declined. Got to Poroy and arranged a taxi to my hotel for the night, Casa Andina. I had an early flight back to LIM so I got to the hotel and crashed for the night.

Wednesday 11/27: Woke up early to take advantage of the American breakfast buffet included in my room rate. Taxi took me to the airport. They advised to get there 2 hours before flight and I could certainly understand why if you had checked baggage. The lines to check your bags were crazy long. Luckily I only had a backpack so I bypassed all that and went straight through to try and grab an earlier flight, with no luck. For some reason I got upgraded to Business class on my Taca flight back to LIM, which ended up being nice while we sat at the gate for 2.5-3 hours for a mechanical delay. Finally got to LIM, spent 20 soles to check my bag with the luggage storage window, grabbed my camera and headed out to Miraflores for a few hours. I spent 6 hours or so walking around Miraflores, going down to the beach, gambling in the casino, etc. Found the taxi stand at Larcomar and was quoted 70 soles to go back to the airport during rush hour. I negotiated this down to 40 soles and we were off. Once I got back to the airport, I bought a daypass to the Sumaq lounge to shower/freshen up before a long night/day of travel that I had ahead of me. Hung out in here until my flight to IAH began boarding shortly before midnight.

Thursday 11/28 Thanksgiving: Uneventful redeye LIM-IAH, IAH-DEN, DEN-ATL got me home right around 7PM Thanksgiving night just in time to grab a plate of leftovers and spill the details of my trip to family that was still in town.

Looking back on it: Extremely glad I took the trip. Lots of people thought I was crazy for taking off on such a short trip by myself to another continent at 25, but I figured if not now, when? I hope to go back and spend additional time in Cusco and the Sacred Valley at sometime in the near future. I really enjoyed myself, always felt safe, and saw some beautiful scenery along the way, not to mention adding 10K miles to the FF account along the way.
zitozac is offline  
Old Dec 8, 2013, 3:04 pm
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Join Date: Apr 2013
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Thanks for the brief trip report! I've thought about doing a quick trip like this myself, but the thing that gives me pause is the elevation change. From what I've read, it seems like most people suggest that you need time just to acclimate to the higher altitude. How did the altitude affect you, being that you were there for such a short time? It sounds like you had a great trip, so maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I've been led to believe.
fleedc is offline  
Old Dec 26, 2013, 1:25 am
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Machu Picchu is at a lower altitude than Cuzso and if you go straight there you won't need to acclimate.
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Old Dec 29, 2013, 9:34 pm
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Originally Posted by fleedc
Thanks for the brief trip report! I've thought about doing a quick trip like this myself, but the thing that gives me pause is the elevation change. From what I've read, it seems like most people suggest that you need time just to acclimate to the higher altitude. How did the altitude affect you, being that you were there for such a short time? It sounds like you had a great trip, so maybe it wouldn't be as bad as I've been led to believe.
I was not affected by the altitude one bit. I had been taking tylenol for a day or so prior to arriving in Cusco trying to mitigate any headaches etc. and never felt any effects. I was literally in Cusco for less than an hour by the time I landed, got to the collectivo area, and got on the road to Ollyantatambo. Felt no effects when staying the night in Cusco on my return either.
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Old Jan 30, 2014, 2:08 pm
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Originally Posted by zitozac
I was not affected by the altitude one bit. I had been taking tylenol for a day or so prior to arriving in Cusco trying to mitigate any headaches etc. and never felt any effects. I was literally in Cusco for less than an hour by the time I landed, got to the collectivo area, and got on the road to Ollyantatambo. Felt no effects when staying the night in Cusco on my return either.
Good to hear. I'll be making a quick trip to MP soon and was worried about that. I'll probably end up getting coca leaves in case though.
briansee is offline  
Old Jan 30, 2014, 5:47 pm
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Join Date: Oct 2003
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Altitude sickness

It is not something to be taken lightly as it affects even the most healthy ones.

However, it takes few hours before you feel anything.

So arriving at CUZ airport and then immediately transferring to Sacred Valley (or AC) will not have any altitude sickness.

AC and OLT are at elevations where most people do not feel any sickness.
desi is offline  

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