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Trip report Peru (New Year’s 2017)

Trip report Peru (New Year’s 2017)

Old May 8, 18, 10:34 pm
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Trip report Peru (New Year’s 2017)

We arrived in Lima on December the 28th; had a wonderful meal at Astrid & Gaston (yes, it deserves all the hype) and stayed at the Hilton Lima Miraflores. It’s a very nice hotel, with one of the best breakfasts we have had (great variety w/ lots of exotic [local] ingredients). Since we had heard that there wasn’t much to see/do in Lima (other than the gastronomy), we had decided not to spend much time there and headed to Cusco the following day.

In Cusco we stayed at the JW El Covento. It was a beautiful hotel – a restored 16th century convent right in the heart of Cusco. We were fortunate to have gotten upgraded to their coveted Inca wall suite (room 82), which basically has an original Inca Wall running through it (plus another one that you get to see through the windows); so our stay there was even better than expected. Since the hotel is so centrally located (about a block away from the Plaza de Armas), we were able to explore most of the city on foot from there. Side note, altitude sickness is no joke there – coca leaves teas definitely help and the hotel had tons of it.

After Cusco we started heading towards Ollantaytambo, via the sacred valley. We stopped at Chincheros, Moray Ruins, and the Maras salt mines on our way there. They were all very different and interesting in their own way. We booked our car in advance (using Taxidatum), which picked us up from the hotel, took us to all those places, and dropped us off in Ollantaytambo, all for $65. We loved it and couldn’t recommend it any more! We did it all at our own pace and the driver was amazing – he took us into all the sites himself and even gave us a little guided tour of each.

While in Ollantaytambo we stayed at El Albergue. This historic hotel is right at the train station, which worked great for us because we were taking the train to Machu Picchu early in the morning. We chose to do the 2 day Inca Trail to MP (using Sam Travel Peru), so our guide picked us up from the hotel around 6am to board the train. The train ride was pretty comfortable, with big windows that allowed us to take in the great scenery that was all around. Since we were hiking part of the Inca Trail, we got off at the first stop (Km 104) and didn’t actually ride all the way to Aguas Calientes. Once we got off the train, they checked our permits and we started our full day hike to the ruins. The hike was unbelievable! Brutal, but worth every ache… You pass a couple of archeological sites and get impressive panoramic views of the area. We made it to Machu Picchu by late afternoon; spent a little time there (mostly taking pictures), and then took the bus down to Aguas Calientes. We stayed at the Jaya Hotel that evening – it was just what we needed. Clean and comfortable, and they even facilitated for a couple of masseuses to come over and give us massages in our room. It was heaven, after having had spent all day walking.

The following morning we got up at 4am, waited in the queue, and took the first bus back up. Our guide gave us the official tour of the site (a MUST if you go) and we then had the entire morning to explore it on our own. We had planned on hiking up to Huayna Picchu, but ended up skipping it, and did the short Inca Bridge Trail instead. Once we felt like we had taken it all in, we took the bus down to Aguas Calientes, where we checked out the little town and then took the Train back to Ollantaytambo. We had ‘upgraded’ to the Vistadome for our ride back, but found that it was not worth it or necessary. It is basically exactly the same as the regular section, but they give you a small meal and the crew puts on a little show.

Back in Ollantaytambo we stayed at the Hotel Sol (not even a block away from the Ollantaytambo ruins). It was a nice little hotel and our room had a pretty balcony that overlooked the river and the ruins. We spent most of the following morning visiting the Ollantaytambo ruins. Afterwards, our car (again Taxidatum) picked us up as scheduled and we headed to Pisac. Once we got to Pisac, the driver took us all the way up the mountain and we hiked down through all the different ruins back to the little town. We enjoyed this trail very much. We hardly saw anyone else and the ruins were very impressive. Once we made it to the Pisac Market, our driver picked us up and took us back to Cusco.

This time in Cusco we stayed at the Palacio del Inka Hotel, which is steps from the Temple of the Sun. It was another beautiful hotel, which was built atop an Incan palace, with a great breakfast. The next morning we used Taxidatum again to take us to the Laguna Humantay, an amazing glacier lake at the foot of Humantay Mountain (5835m). It was > 3hr drive to get there (pretty rough towards the end) and the hike up was definitely grueling (sooo steep with a continuous incline). It was very muddy the day we went, so just trying to get some traction and not slide back down was difficult. It was cloudy and rainy the entire way up. Once we made it up the mountain and to the lake it stopped raining, the clouds cleared, and the sun even came out for a little while. It was perfect timing. We got to see the really bright turquoise colored water as it reflected the glacier in background. Very picturesque! After spending a little while at the lake we headed back down the mountain and started our long drive back to our hotel in Cusco.

The following day, was our last day in the area. We spent it checking out the main sites in the city. Went up to Saqsaywaman, took a guided tour of Koricancha (the Golden Temple of the Sun) and the convent of Santo Domingo, went into the Archbishop Palace and all of the main churches (saw the version of the Last Supper with a Cuy), passed by the 12 angled stone, and just walked around the city. We liked Cusco very much – and really enjoyed having a day with no driving/traveling.

Overall, we had a great time in Peru; amazing food, friendly people, beautiful places… We would definitely consider going back and doing the full Inca trail in the future.
honores41 is offline  
Old May 9, 18, 2:45 pm
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Sounds like a great trip! I'm considering a visit to the Maras salt mines during my May trip. The place sounds amazing but I'm hesitant because it sounds like an awful lot of driving.
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Old May 9, 18, 3:39 pm
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honores41, I too am glad you enjoyed your trip to the country where I grew up and visit frequently. Two comments. First, contrary to what you had heard there is much to see in Lima. And second, El Albergue hotel is owned by a good friend of mine!
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Old May 10, 18, 12:25 pm
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Originally Posted by FrogProf View Post
Sounds like a great trip! I'm considering a visit to the Maras salt mines during my May trip. The place sounds amazing but I'm hesitant because it sounds like an awful lot of driving.
Oh you shouldn't be! Its actually not very far (maybe an hour and a half one way) and the drive is beautiful. You should definitely go.
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Old May 10, 18, 4:52 pm
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Originally Posted by catcher1 View Post
honores41, I too am glad you enjoyed your trip to the country where I grew up and visit frequently. Two comments. First, contrary to what you had heard there is much to see in Lima. And second, El Albergue hotel is owned by a good friend of mine!
Depends on what type of things you like to see/do and how much time you have. I would do a minimum of 5 nights in Cusco/Sacred Valley. If time in Lima eats into that I would skip Lima. I've gone to Machu Picchu three times in the last 5 or 6 years and I'm always blown away by how beautiful Cusco and the Sacred Valley are. Lima has great food and fun nightlife, but I wouldn't sacrifice days in Cusco. Also, I'd prioritize trips to Paracas or Huacachina over spending extra time in Lima. Just my personal opinion as most of the authentic Peruvian food you'd get in Lima you can find in Cusco. I would still highly recommend doing a one day tour of Lima and seeing its sights.
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