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Cusco-Machu Picchu Itin (for next week)

Cusco-Machu Picchu Itin (for next week)

Old Dec 2, 14, 1:03 am
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Cusco-Machu Picchu Itin (for next week)

So my last-second Peru trip for next week has this as the likely itin; please advise where it looks normal to me but makes no sense to an intelligent person who knows the area!

Monday- Fly into CUZ at 11am (can't be changed)
Hire driver/guide; Travel to places in Sacred Valley en route to Ollantaytambo, spend night there.

Tuesday- See sites around Ollantaytambo, take 4:30pm train to Aguas Calientes. Spend night there.

Wednesday- Do early hike up Huayna Picchu then see the rest. Take 4:30 train to Cusco. Spend night there.

Thursday- 1pm Fly from Cusco to Lima (can't be changed).

This seems a bit different than most, in that we're spending the first night in Ollantaytambo, not Cusco. There may be good reasons for not doing this; please enlighten me. My thinking is that it would be easier to sleep at Ollantaytambo's lower altitude, and it allows easy access to the afternoon train into Aguas Calientes.

Thanks-

Last edited by Mike Jacoubowsky; Dec 2, 14 at 12:30 pm
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Old Dec 2, 14, 12:15 pm
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Doesn't sound bad. You might want to arrange a ride to save time looking for one in CUZ (unless you want to potentially waste time). BTW, CUS is Columbus Municipal airport and I doubt you want to fly there.

I do think going to lower altitude straight away is a good idea. My partner and I did this a month ago. We don't suffer from AMS but got a slight headche as soon as we deplaned in CUZ (air pressure there is the equivalent of 4,000' higher (so lower air pressure) than an aircraft cabin is pressurized to at cruise altitude ~ 8,000' equivalent).

Not sure what you will see on your way to Ollantaytambo. I would say go see Saschahuaman up the hill from Cusco and then Pisac before going on to Ollantaytambo. Next day see the Ollantaytambo ruins and maybe Moray and Maras if you can fit it in.

Have you got your Huanapicchu tickets already? Only 200 each for the 0800 and 1000 slots. Do the cave/Temple of the Moon on your way back down. Not too long a detour but apparently well worth it.

One question is, where will you leave you big bags?
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Old Dec 2, 14, 12:35 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
Doesn't sound bad. You might want to arrange a ride to save time looking for one in CUZ (unless you want to potentially waste time). BTW, CUS is Columbus Municipal airport and I doubt you want to fly there.

I do think going to lower altitude straight away is a good idea. My partner and I did this a month ago. We don't suffer from AMS but got a slight headche as soon as we deplaned in CUZ (air pressure there is the equivalent of 4,000' higher (so lower air pressure) than an aircraft cabin is pressurized to at cruise altitude ~ 8,000' equivalent).

Not sure what you will see on your way to Ollantaytambo. I would say go see Saschahuaman up the hill from Cusco and then Pisac before going on to Ollantaytambo. Next day see the Ollantaytambo ruins and maybe Moray and Maras if you can fit it in.

Have you got your Huanapicchu tickets already? Only 200 each for the 0800 and 1000 slots. Do the cave/Temple of the Moon on your way back down. Not too long a detour but apparently well worth it.

One question is, where will you leave you big bags?
Actually, CUS is real, need to add the extra mileage for status. Just kidding. However, in context of what I've done in the past, it wouldn't surprise some...

Regarding what's "on the way", pretty much exactly what you described was my thinking. But if think a different routing would make sense, I'm open. No problem making changes right now; still lots of tickets available for the Huayna Picchu climb on any of the possible days. At least there were last night.

And yes, about the bags. Pretty crazy luggage restrictions on the train. An obvious issue if you're not going back to the place you began. Is there a workaround? Does the train offer a baggage service for fee?

Thanks-
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Old Dec 2, 14, 1:48 pm
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If your bags are fairly slim, you can slide them under the seats and possibly between the back-to-back ones. Depends on how sticky the staff are.
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Old Dec 2, 14, 2:27 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
If your bags are fairly slim, you can slide them under the seats and possibly between the back-to-back ones. Depends on how sticky the staff are.
Figured out a better way to do things (I think) that gets around the luggage issue.

No nights in Cusco at all. Instead of heading back to Cusco from MP, we'll go back to Ollantaytambo, spend the night there, and hire a driver to take us to the airport Thursday morning. This way we only have to carry enough stuff for one night in MP, leaving everything else with the hotel in Ollantaytambo.

Also gives us a chance to make another quick shopping trip on the way to the airport, if there was something we saw at Pisac that we wanted to go back for.

We've already made contact with someone highly recommended on Trip Advisor (and a couple other places), Oscar Guevara, who will pick us up in Cusco and handle the first two days of driving for us.

Thanks for your help!
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Old Dec 2, 14, 5:22 pm
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That would be the better plan. Going back to CUZ takes about 1 1/2 hrs and if you leave Ollantaytambo early enough, you can go via Moray and Maras.

You can take the shuttle bus up to Macchi Picchu starting from 0530 for the 0600 opening (admission lines are long and you do need your passport). That will give you time to see it by sunrise before going to the other end of the site for the climb up to Huanapicchu, and plenty of time to see the Temple of the Moon/great cavern (you go down the other side from the peak).

BTW, choose your Cusco region attraction tickets with care. There is no individual tickets so the best value is to visit as many as your particular pass allows. We used the PEN 150 ticket effectively.
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Old Dec 4, 14, 3:55 pm
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Originally Posted by YVR Cockroach View Post
BTW, choose your Cusco region attraction tickets with care. There is no individual tickets so the best value is to visit as many as your particular pass allows.
Right. Since you won't spend too much time in Cusco city, check first what the ticket includes.
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Old Dec 5, 14, 10:01 am
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[QUOTE

And yes, about the bags. Pretty crazy luggage restrictions on the train. An obvious issue if you're not going back to the place you began. Is there a workaround? Does the train offer a baggage service for fee?

Thanks-[/QUOTE]

We took all of our luggage with us on the train. We did have carry on size and it wasn't a problem, especially going there.
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Old Dec 5, 14, 12:18 pm
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Originally Posted by Mike Jacoubowsky View Post
So my last-second Peru trip for next week has this as the likely itin; please advise where it looks normal to me but makes no sense to an intelligent person who knows the area!

Monday- Fly into CUZ at 11am (can't be changed)
Hire driver/guide; Travel to places in Sacred Valley en route to Ollantaytambo, spend night there.

Tuesday- See sites around Ollantaytambo, take 4:30pm train to Aguas Calientes. Spend night there.

Wednesday- Do early hike up Huayna Picchu then see the rest. Take 4:30 train to Cusco. Spend night there.

Thursday- 1pm Fly from Cusco to Lima (can't be changed).

This seems a bit different than most, in that we're spending the first night in Ollantaytambo, not Cusco. There may be good reasons for not doing this; please enlighten me. My thinking is that it would be easier to sleep at Ollantaytambo's lower altitude, and it allows easy access to the afternoon train into Aguas Calientes.

Thanks-
Hey Mike,

The itin (with changes re last day at Cusco) looks like it will be a nice week away from the bay area. I think spending the first night at Ollanta will be better than at Cusco anyway since the altitude difference is significant, especially from from sea level here.

Only thing to point out is wet weather. I trust you already know this. Forecast looks like rain for an entire next week. Nov / Dec some of the wettest months ...

Have fun. And lots of pisco.

Cheers,
SF
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Old Dec 7, 14, 8:17 pm
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Originally Posted by SometimesFlyer View Post
Hey Mike,

The itin (with changes re last day at Cusco) looks like it will be a nice week away from the bay area. I think spending the first night at Ollanta will be better than at Cusco anyway since the altitude difference is significant, especially from from sea level here.

Only thing to point out is wet weather. I trust you already know this. Forecast looks like rain for an entire next week. Nov / Dec some of the wettest months ...

Have fun. And lots of pisco.

Cheers,
SF
Thanks, yes, this does seem to be the rainy season... in the SF Bay Area or Sacred Valley! Maybe it's following me around.

Getting here (Lima, so far) was not the seamless *A experience one would like to have. The UA to COPA xfer in Mexico City airport is... messy. That's an understatement really.
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Old Dec 10, 14, 7:33 am
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I'll be follow this trip segment as my flight to Lima is on Saturday from LAS. We are staying in Cusco and have are tickets for Monday 12/15 in Picchu. Is there anything to see in Lima for a day?
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Old Dec 10, 14, 3:31 pm
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Originally Posted by hickmantitle View Post
I'll be follow this trip segment as my flight to Lima is on Saturday from LAS. We are staying in Cusco and have are tickets for Monday 12/15 in Picchu. Is there anything to see in Lima for a day?
We really enjoyed seeing the historic centre of the city. We did do a tour of the Church de San Francisco (I think that's what it was called) and we thought that was just okay.

We stayed in the Miraflores district and wandered down the street to a beautiful park that had some kind of art display. Oh, and we also ate churros dipped in chocolate and Manolo's. That was worth the trip in and of itself.
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Old Dec 10, 14, 5:51 pm
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Originally Posted by hickmantitle View Post
I'll be follow this trip segment as my flight to Lima is on Saturday from LAS. We are staying in Cusco and have are tickets for Monday 12/15 in Picchu. Is there anything to see in Lima for a day?
Historic centre, Parue de Leyendas (to tour all 3 of Peru's zones in a few hours), the Parque de Reservas (Magic Circuit Fountains park), world class museums, art galleries, sporting events, concerts. Hey, go to church, it's Sunday
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Old Dec 10, 14, 8:09 pm
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Updating from Peru... (Machu Picchu)

OK, for those heading to Machu Picchu-

First, not so sure it's a big thing to do the earliest-possible itin there. We did the on-the-bus-before-6am thing, and kinda scratching my head wondering why? This time of year it's pretty foggy/cloud-shrouded early in the day, so the idea of a beautiful sunrise is likely irrelevant. And it's not so hot that the later climb up Huanapicchu (which, by the way, is spelled a few different ways) is going to be an issue. Plus, the crowds thin out dramatically in the afternoon, with many leaving on the 2pm train.

Second, beware TripAdivsor reviews of the hike up Huanapicchu and the unrelated hike to the Inca Bridge.

Huanapicchu packs one heck of a punch. Someone not used to hiking in rocky terrain is going to be suffering, even if you're in pretty good shape. It's only .7 miles up, according to Strava, but it's a pretty mean .7 miles. By the way, no water, no toilet facilities.

The trail to the Inca Bridge is much easier, except that, if you've already done Huanapicchu, you're not going to enjoy all the steps at the beginning, nor the condition of the first half of the trail in general. It's not "easy" nor "level" as some reviews have said. And, like Huanapicchu, no water, no facilities.

Having said that, both are pretty incredible.

Food. Yikes. Bring your own if at all possible. The buffet lunch costs US $40. I thought the sign said 40 Soles. Nope, it was dollars. And for that you don't even get a bottled/canned drink (they claim the buffet's water is filtered/purified; I'll know in 2-3 days if that's true). The "fast food" stand outside charges 8 soles for a small bottled water, a hot dog is 15 soles (figure about 3 soles/dollar), etc.

Food and facilities are outside the entrance. This has been pointed out before, but nobody mentions that you should plan your visit accordingly, because you could end up having to do a lot of backtracking, and the place is huge, so you really want to make all of it count.

What about the town, Aguas Calientes? As far as tourist traps go, I actually thought it was a pretty nice place. Food wasn't as outrageous as some have said, people in the service industries are very friendly, and I was very impressed by the hotel we stayed (Tierra Viva). It is a bit odd having a town in the middle of nowhere that's served only by rail, but somehow it seems to work.

Any questions, ask away while it's all still fresh in my mind, and before the mixed shots of advil with Pisco Sour take over. OK, just kidding on the last part; I don't drink much at all, nothing on this trip, but would be nice to dull the ache in my calves just a bit.

Oh, right, just mentioned the train in passing. I'm a train fan. Big time. Wish I had more time so I could take the train places instead of fly. But the normal trains to Aguas Calientes are to be endured, not enjoyed. Mostly because the 2 sitting across from 2, with a narrow table in between, is pretty uncomfortable for those who have legs. Where do you put them if the person across from you would rather they weren't in their lap? And, at least for Inca Rail, the seating is done without respect to putting people together. You'll be close, and you might be together, or you could be in adjacent rows. Seats are assigned in order of purchase, and if your pair of seats is the 5th & 6th purchased you'll be together, but if they're the... don't remember what they were on the way out, consecutive numbers, but not together.

Fortunately, from Olly it's only 90 minutes. If you take Peru Rail, the car configurations I saw (2 across from 2 with a table in the middle) were the same, but I don't know if they try to keep people together. But I see why people suggest the shorter trip from Olly instead of the much-longer trip from Cusco (actually Poroy, which is up the hill outside of town).

Last edited by Mike Jacoubowsky; Dec 10, 14 at 8:16 pm
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