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A week visit to Machu Picchu and Peru with Mom via AA F/J

A week visit to Machu Picchu and Peru with Mom via AA F/J

Old Sep 8, 16, 9:18 pm
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A week visit to Machu Picchu and Peru with Mom via AA F/J

Ugh title edit needed: I realize MP is in Peru. Should be Machu Picchu and Lima. Carry on...

Preamble: Needing to tick off my 6th and final inhabited continent, I went to planning. Peru won out, with no reciprocity fee and great sights. Mom krazykanuck also decided to join. So you may wonder, why not take the UA direct flight to LIM? Great question, but UA didn't release any r/t saver Y or J seats while I was planning this trip, and I was not about to pay 90k UA miles for standard r/t in Y. So as we (I?) say in reward redemptions, "mo segments, mo problems!"

Here's what the trip looked like:

Avianca Y LIM-CUZ
Tambo del Inka, SPG Luxury Collection

Sacred Valley and Aguas Calientes
Machu Picchu

Cuzco, HGI Cuzco, and Avianca J CUZ-LIM
Hilton Miraflores and Lima

So as luck would have it I woke up 1 minute before my alarm. Imagine that. Anyway I was at the airport and through TSA around 5:25 am, so I decided to hit the Centurion Lounge for a bite. Thankfully they brought the hot food out 5 mins ahead of schedule at 5:55. I grabbed a serving of those amazing potatoes and sausage and hiked it back to A.

AA 2244, IAH-DFW

I arrived after boarding had started and boarded va the Priority lane. This plane was odd in that first class started with row 3 and went on from there. The guy in 3A was visibly confused when he boarded late, went to the 3rd row, looked up, walked backwards down the aisle and took his seat.
Also the AA PDB count: 0/1. The FAs who were at least the same age of my grandmother (and I’m being generous here) didn’t bother to make a single move that wasn’t required. No attempt at PDBs despite there being more than enough time. They were too busy chatting in the galley.

Post take off we got our beverage of choice and the AA snack basket. Oh joy, everybody said. I suppose in all fairness its better than my last AA F flight in May where they didn’t bother to load the snack basket, or offer PDBs…

Long awaited Bloody Mary

Overall another completely underwhelming AA F flight.

Beautiful morning at DFW

DFW Centurion Lounge

I had planned to just duck into an Admirals Club given my short 1 hr connection, but my departure gate was D17 (which is immediately down the escalator from the CL) and there was a huge line to get into the D Admirals Club.

Despite the slightly odd layout of having the bathrooms and quiet areas on one side, it’s a nice club. The bartender made me a mean Bloody Mary and I sampled my 2nd breakfast of the day.

Post beverage and food I wondered down just as they announced boarding for first class, so I wondered onboard.

AA 1596, DFW-MIA

Now I’m not sure if I read the seat map right and didn’t dig further, or what, but either way our ride to MIA was a 757 with angled lie flat seats in J. ALL RIGHT!

PDB Count 1/2 . The FA came around with juice or water on a tray and when I said no thanks (perhaps with a scowl) she asked if I’d like something different and I got a Bloody Mary.

Breakfast was the ubiquitous strata. No pics because yours truly dropped his phone and it fell between the left armrest and the seat. It took the FA’s flashlight and pressing a ton of the buttons on the seat to get access to it, but we got it back. If anybody of you were on that flight and saw a guy lying in the aisle, that was me! We also found a couple of chocolates and an earring under there. Paging cleAAning to the 757s…

Service on this flight was fantastic. We had 2 flight attendants that were at least within 20 years of my age, who were great with the meals and proactively bringing drink refills, and helping find lost phones.

OK, phone back and breakfast done. This FA is on my level. I ask for a bloody mary and she brings me one with an extra shot and the can of mix. This is more my speed! I love a vodka float as much as the next guy, but would it have been *that* hard to at least give the drink a good stir before you served it?

Anyway we land in MIA after flying through turbulence related to tropical depression 9 (to become Hurricane Hermine).

I’d planned to lounge hop a bit, but I spent too long on the phone at the Centurion Lounge that I decided to camp out there and not go find the AA Premium Lounge in E. While I wasn’t too hungry I tried the chicken on offer, which was delicious. I spent the rest of the time drinking the Green Flash IPA and making plans for Peru.

Another 757

I didn’t have a BP for this flight, so I went down 35 mins before departure, got a BP and immediately got on the plane. Turns out we had an equipment swap (or the seat map just lied) and we went from a 1-2-1 to a 2-2-2 in J. No bueno, as I had selected an A seat.

PDB’s were offered and amenity kits were handed out as Y was boarding. I had pre-ordered the beef, which was confirmed when the FAs came around for dinner orders.

This equipment was definitely a step down from the prior flight, as this 757 didn’t have personal at seat entertainment. Not a huge deal for me since I planned to sleep much of the flight, but would be a disappointment if you expected to watch TV/movies.

So let’s get to the food:

Nuts and Malbec to begin

Appetizer; quinoa, beet, goat cheese, and a couple other ingredients, served with a salad

Main: steak, served with potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach

Dessert; AA sundae

The verdict: overall a decent meal. Though I like goat cheese and quinoa, the appetizer was a bit of an odd mish mash of ingredients that didn’t together. The main was fantastic for plane beef. The beef was actually pretty good, and while it looks in the pictures to be on the well done side, it was decently tender and tasty. The potatoes, mushrooms, and spinach were great! No complaints with dessert, as the ice cream was delicious. I had it with berries and hot fudge sauce. The Malbec they were serving with dinner was also perfectly drinkable.

After dessert I read my book for a bit and then went to sleep until we landed in Lima.

While it was a bit of a set back to have the aircraft not match expectations, the service from the Lima based crew was awesome and the food exceeded my hurdle.

A night at LIM

Mom was arriving a couple hours after me, so I hung out at the Starbucks on the 2nd floor until her B6 FLL-LIM flight landed around 10:30 pm. We killed the time until 1:30 am (when security opens for domestic flights) by drinking coffee at Dunkin Donuts and checking in for our onward Avianca flight to CUZ.

At 1:30 we were through security and went to the VIP lounge, which was pretty crappy but it was better than the terminal. We found some comfy chairs, had a couple drinks, and napped until we had to go to the gate for our flight. There was no food besides crackers, and the free drinks were limited to beer, wine, and pisco sours.


This flight went out of the bus gates on the lower level of the terminal. There appeared to be no attempt at organized boarding, they called the flight and the hoard stormed the gate. We boarded from both ends of the plane today, and with seats in row 19 put us the same distance either way. Load was probably ~75% in Y. Cabin looked kind of worn out vs. what you’d expect to see in the US.

I was beyond exhausted so I slept the whole time, but they came around with drinks and snack bars. Beautiful views though flying near the snow capped mountains. Look for photos in the return flight.

At the airport the Priority tags worked and our bags were out first (thanks United status!). The driver I hired through Taxidatum was there and we were off to do a morning tour of the Pizac ruins and market and then drive us to Ubarumba and drop us at the Tambo del Inka.

Tambo del Inka, SPG Luxury Collection
Room booked: standard room
Room received: deluxe room

We arrived at the hotel around noon and our room was already prepared. Very nice check in process as they sat us on the big leather couches, offered coffee or coca tea, while they processed our documents.
The room was beautiful and had all the amenities we could want, including a terrace with a perfect mountain view and a view of the decorative fountain. The walk in cluset was more than large enough for our short stay, while the bathroom was awesome; I loved the shower.

After cleaning up from barely sleeping in the airport and our morning ruin tour, we went to the lobby for a late lunch on the patio.

We had an order of the fried local potato appetizer to share, while for the main Mom had the vegetable focaccia flatbread and I had the alpaca burger. For drinks, Mom had one of the local cocktails and I stuck to a Barbarian 174 IPA, from a Lima brewery.

Complimentary bites served at the bar

Trio of local potatoes

Delicious burger

We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing around the pool, napping, and generally just taking in the relaxing day. In the evening we revisited the lobby bar to redeem my free welcome drinks. The weather cools off significantly at night, so the hotel has propane heaters to keep the patio comfortable. Same as in the afternoon, we had great service from the same server and the drinks were perfect. Mom loved her hot Sangria while I had a pisco based drink served very artfully.

Hot tub, cold tub, and 2nd pool


Subpar photo of the patio

The next morning I made sure to pick up our train tickets from the Perurail office which is on property (located on the walk between the main entrance and the train station). While the hotel has an on property station, very few trains depart from it and the timing didn’t work for me. On this day I think the only train departed for Machu Picchu ~6 am which was just far too early.

The hotel ordered me a taxi to take us to the Ollayantambo ruins, pick us up, and take us to the train station for S/100.

Up next: Sacred Valley and the train to Aguas Calientes

Last edited by krazykanuck; Sep 10, 16 at 6:18 pm
krazykanuck is offline  
Old Sep 9, 16, 8:15 am
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Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
Sleepy lounge
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Old Sep 9, 16, 10:24 am
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Looking forward to this. I am doing MP and the 4 day hike in 2 months, albeit, I am booked in hostels instead of fancy hotels
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Old Sep 9, 16, 7:39 pm
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Pisak and Ollantaytambo Ruins

Jumping back a day, from the airport our car took us first to the Pisak ruins. We arrived following a drive where the driver seemed to take the speed limit signs as challenges to go twice as fast. We were there around 9 am we had nearly the whole place to ourselves.

We made a quick stop at the market in town on our way out where Mom picked up a gift for somebody back home. About an hour drive later, we were at the hotel.

Now with that in there, back to Thursday. Our taxi left us at the Ollantaytambo ruins for an hour and we trekked up to the top and around, the climbing was a good intro to what we would do the next day at Machu Picchu.

Vistadome service, Ollantaytambo Ė Machu Picchu

At ~1.5 hrs this isnít too long of a service. Shortly after departure, a complimentary snack was served along with free coffee/tea/juices. All the staff were friendly. Donít expect any real amenities on there (wifi, entertainment, etc). Beer/wine was available but not sure at what cost.

The sandwich was pretty meh; tasteless bread with two slices of salami and a couple pieces of red pepper

Highlight of the train trip is definitely the views, since the train track runs along the Urubamba River.

Aguas Calientes

For this one night stay, many of the real hotels I found wanted a fair amount for rooms, so I booked a hotel called Gringo Bobís via Airbnb. For a total cost of ~$100 it was sufficient. Beds were a bit firm and the internet pretty slow, but itís a 5 minute walk from the train station and only a couple minutes from most restaurants in the town. Did I mention it was $100? You need to walk essentially everywhere in this town, which isnít too bad because everything is very close. Unfortunately it was raining when we arrived, good thing we had an umbrella and rain coats.

View from the rooftop

Breakfast spread (included in the rate)

For dinner we walked 1 block to Incontri del pueblo Viejo. The restaurant is known for its wood fired pizza and homemade pastas, so we tried both. Mom had a margarita pizza and I had the pappardelle with grilled vegetables. Both our mains were delicious, with mine having one of the best pasta sauces Iíve had in recent memory, creamy, but not very heavy, and a unique spice to it. While it may seem odd to have Italian food in the Sacred Valley, most of the restaurants in Aguas Calientes were pretty generic and the more authentic place I found only served a 3 course fixed menu and we werenít feeling that.

Now of course not all can go well. The service was abysmal. Our waiter didnít check in after he dropped off the food, and then ignored our empty wine and beer glasses for a good 10-15 minutes,. The latter was quickly rectified after I walked to the serverís podium and grabbed the drink menu myself (since waiter didnít leave it on the table). The manager immediately walked over and asked what the matter was. Needless to say he served us the rest of the night. ;p

Friday, Machu Picchu day

We woke up around 6am with the aim to be out of the hotel by 7 to catch the bus. After finding the bus ticket sales kiosk, we didnít have to queue too long to get on a departing bus, only a few minutes. Bus tickets are currently $24 USD r/t for foreigners, and if youíre running low on cash, the kiosk also accepts Amex/MC.

We spent the next few hours wondering all around every part of MP that our base level ticket allowed. I purposefully wore my Fitbit today and easily hit ~15,000 steps and climbed 250 flights of stairs (according to its calculations).

After getting back to town we went for lunch and back to the hotel to use the Wifi.

We took the evening train back to Poroy Station in Cuzco

Vistadome service, Machu Picchu - Cuzco

Very similar to the trek up, except a slightly heartier meal to go with the longer train ride, as well as a bizarre fashion show and performance from a creepy looking clown

Dinner on the train

I had another Taxidatum car waiting for us at the station and took us straight to the hotel. Great service so far from all the drivers.
krazykanuck is offline  
Old Sep 9, 16, 7:42 pm
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Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
Sleepy lounge
Yeah, lots of people chilling for a few hours in between inbound flights and the flights to Cuzco.

Originally Posted by daKav View Post
Looking forward to this. I am doing MP and the 4 day hike in 2 months, albeit, I am booked in hostels instead of fancy hotels
Well in the post I just put up, we started at the nicest hotel and went to the least nice hotel! The Hilton's are in the middle of the range.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 5:03 am
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The clown is really creapy! More like Beetlejuice
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Old Sep 10, 16, 7:32 am
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Nice report and some great pics of Machu Picchu.

Originally Posted by offerendum View Post
The clown is really creapy! More like Beetlejuice
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Old Sep 10, 16, 8:01 am
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Good trip report it reminds me of the trip I did to Peru a few years back, although I did the classic 4 day Inca Trail hike.

I almost missed the bus at Ollantaytambo because I got lost in the market. It's like a maze that goes on and on and on...

Guess the fashion show is still going on sadly. It's a major annoyance having to sit through that after doing the hike. Everyone on the train was like ... is going on and just wanted to be left alone.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 1:12 pm
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The weather looks nice?

Was it cool?

Were you affected by the altitude?
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Old Sep 10, 16, 4:07 pm
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Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
The weather looks nice?

Was it cool?

Were you affected by the altitude?
The altitude at Machu Pichu is not that bad, about 8,000 feet, Aqua Calientes is at 6,500. Cuzco is much higher at more than 11,000 feet. When I visited last fall we had no problems breathing at Machu Pichu, it was a bit more difficult to breath in Cuzco and on the way to Machu Pichu via the Salkantay trek, which tops out at about 16,000 feet. We took Diamox for a couple of days, no altitude sickness, just a lot of heavy breathing.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 6:12 pm
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Originally Posted by SFO777 View Post
Nice report and some great pics of Machu Picchu.
Thanks SFO.

Originally Posted by iceblueshoes View Post
Guess the fashion show is still going on sadly. It's a major annoyance having to sit through that after doing the hike. Everyone on the train was like ... is going on and just wanted to be left alone.
Yeah. The clown even got a couple of the women on the train out of their chairs to dance to the music

Originally Posted by Bretteee View Post
The weather looks nice?

Was it cool?

Were you affected by the altitude?
In the mountains it was warm during the day and cool at night. We didn't have any altitude issues, but as mentioned below by another poster, definitely some heavy breathing up top Machy Picchu and the ruins near Cuzco.
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Old Sep 10, 16, 6:17 pm
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Hilton Garden Inn Cuzco

Room booked: cheapo standard 2 double beds
Room received: upgraded city view room 2 double beds

This is a nice new property with a fantastic breakfast buffet. Our room was on the main floor, rooms beginning with a 0. Floors 1 Ė 3 are actually lower than the main floor with 3 being the lowest, so the hotel floors essentially go backwards.

Made to order eggs, tamales on offer, tons of fresh bread and pastries, cold cuts/cheese/olives, fresh juices, and lots of staff milling around. Also, noticed in my Hilton account I got 1,000 bonus points for this stay for trying a new Latin American HGI.

Wondering around Cuzco on a Sunday morning

There was a marching parade going on, and this group, they had the music pinned to the backs of the people marching in front of them

This dog wanted to be part of the marching

Kuntar VIP Lounge (CUZ)

Now Iíve visited some ďinterestingĒ lounges via Priority Pass and this one is no exception. Once you go down some hall ways that look like they should be airport personnel only, youíre greeted with this:

Walk in and there was an odd constructioney smell, smelled like some type of adhesive. It was also rather warm as the AC didnít seem to be on. Ok. Enough of that, I picked this one over the landside lounge as it said alcohol wasnít included. But I didnít find any of the hard stuff. Fridge was full of Coke, Fanta, and Inka Cola. I ask the lounge attendant and she gladly gets me a beer. It happens to be in a locked cabinet and room temperature. If youíre wondering, Cusquena is actually drinkable at that temp.

The food options were equally meager. Mostly potato chips and other very light snacks.

Avianca J CUZ-LIM

I did the bid for upgrade a few days before departure and got it for just over the minimum. PDBs of water or OJ were offered, but that was it. The FA was so lazy that there was a lady that boarded late and all of the waters were taken by the first wave of PDBs. He didnít even bother to pour a glass of water and wound up offering her a choice of OJ orÖOJ. The bizarre drink choices continued to the meal. There was no wine available, and the only liquor option was Johnny Walker Black. So the booze was limited to that or beer. Very oddÖ

Nice big comfy seats

View climbing out of the city

Tuna wrap and beer for lunch

I had my final Taxidatum driver waiting for us and it took us about 45 minutes to get from the airport to the Hilton

Hilton Lima Miraflores

For this one I was flipping between the Hilton and the Doubletree. The Hilton was ~$40 more a night, but still a good price during Hiltonís big sale this summer, so I went with that for the lounge access and it looked like a nicer property and I wasnít disappointed. I was upgraded to a room on the 9th floor which is one of the Executive floors (unsure the difference between regular rooms).

Our room

Executive Lounge (11th floor)

I took breakfast in the lounge each day and it was pretty good. 3-4 hot items each day (eggs, bacon, potatoes, etc). The open bar from 6-9 was also pretty solid. 1 beer option, but a good liquor selection. They had Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, Chivas Regal, and a couple other options.
Our first day in Lima we mostly spent the time walking around and taking in the area. For a drink we walked down into the Barranco District, the next area south of Miraflores, and went to the Barranco Beer Company.

Good beer, the IPA wasnít as hoppy as many American craft beers

We got an Uber back to the hotel which cost only S/9

We took our dinner in the lounge that night which was even better than breakfast. Dinner tonight was beef which was super tender, pasta, bruschetta, and a couple other options.

Our second day was equally laid back with no plans besides my Mom picking up some souvenirs and going out for an awesome lunch at La Mar. La Mar is only open from noon to 5 pm.

Plantain chips, corn, and various sauces which are provided gratis

The crab empanadas we had as an appetizer were absolutely fantastic.

The main event: the mixed ceviche

Awesome meal. This place filled to the brim starting at 1 pm with area professionals coming out for lunch. I recommend getting here before 1, or late in the afternoon for a late lunch.

On our walk back to the hotel, stopped for dessert and a coffee at Cafť Haiti, which is right by the main park in Miraflores.

Traffic back to the airport was pretty heavy, as it took us an hour. The fare was surprisingly low though. The hotel bellhop called us a radio taxi, which he said would be a max of S/50 as they have lowered their rates to compete with Uber. Our fare wound by being only S/33, or about $11.


Priority check in was a breeze. AA provides access to the Sumaq lounge, which is also accessible with Priority Pass. I wasnít very hungry so I stuck to a Jack and coke and didnít explore the lounge food. Whatís nice is the lounge looks to have an outdoor patio area.

Storage area on the left side of the seat

Lots of legroom

Tray table to set the IFE tablet on


Mixed nuts and Woodford Reserve on the rocks

Dinner; I went with the steak. Whole meal was on 1 tray other than the dessert (which I skipped anyway). The other options looked like they were poor, pasta, bahia shrimp, and coq a vin. I pre-ordered the coq a vin but asked the purser for the steak instead and it was no problem. The coq a vin looked really unappetizing. This steak wasnít as good as the one on the flight down as it was a bit tougher, but the sauce was nice.

I ate the meal while watching a movie on the tablet they FAs passed out and then went to sleep and slept almost straight through to descent into Miami.
After landing and quickly getting through customs and immigration, I went to the Centurion Lounge to try to grab a shower. Unfortunately I was told there were 5 people in line and the shower would not be available until 7:30 am, so I went to the D30 Admirals Club. Managed to get my shower only ~20 minutes before boarding started.


For this flight it was a small F cabin of only 8 seats with service from a great FA who offered open bar PDBs.

I had pre-ordered the bruschetta omelette which was confirmed. The fruit, sausage, and potatoes were pretty good, but the eggs were definitely barely on the edible side of the equation. I really wanted a UA cinnamon roll instead of this bread though

I passed the flight by watching the mindless comedy ďWeíre the MillersĒ and before we knew it, we were landing in Houston around 8:30 and I was back in my car and on a conference call by 9am

Thanks for following along everybody. Now Iím relatively stuck at home until my EK F trip to Italy in November, other than a couple of short domestic work trips.

Last edited by krazykanuck; Sep 10, 16 at 7:04 pm
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Old Sep 11, 16, 2:32 am
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Great report. Thanks for taking the time to write it. Looking forward to seeing you again at the Horse & Bourbon DO next month.

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Old Sep 11, 16, 3:43 pm
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Great report, and photos from your trip. I've had a lot of friends go recently to Machu Picchu and I'd love to go myself sometime.

Thank you for sharing!
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Old Sep 11, 16, 4:33 pm
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Originally Posted by krazykanuck View Post
This dog wanted to be part of the marching

Military dog
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