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Visiting Machu Picchu and Peru

(14 Posts)
Saturn74 Mon 20-Aug-07 14:07:07

Have always wanted to go to Machu Picchu, and thinking about planning a trip for my 40th in December 2009.

Any advice/tips/recommendations please?

Would probably spend about 10 days in Peru, and there would be myself, DH and the DCs (who will be 14 and 12 by then).

I would be really disappointed if I travel all that way and it feels just like visiting a National Trust property!

potoroo Mon 20-Aug-07 14:23:37

It is brillant. Not at all National Trust. We went in December/January a few years ago.

A couple of things:

If you want to do the Inca Trek (short or long version) you do need to book in advance because there are now limits on the number of people on the route to stop it being trashed.

The short version of the track is suitable for reasonably fit people (including the DCs). There is one night's accommodation but it is VERY basic. Dormitory style bunks and basic shared shower/toilet facilities only. The track is not compulsary though

Cusco is lovely, but we didn't think much of Lima.

We also took a flight from Cusco to a lodge in the Amazon which was a brillant experience - I think it was about 2 nights.

If you want anymore info I can send you some links to sites that we used.

potoroo Mon 20-Aug-07 14:24:05

brilliant

geekgirl Mon 20-Aug-07 14:25:45

I went to Peru when I was 20 and stayed with relatives in Lima and a town nearby - my cousins and I spent a week travelling in the Andes, which was absolutely fantastic - we weren't anywhere near Machu Picchu so can't really advise on that - but just as a general note, make sure you buy some anti-altitude sickness meds before you go into the mountains, or at least buy a baggie of coca leaves to chew. We all got mild altitude sickness and spent a day in bed feeling terrible with an absolutely splitting headache.

Also, be prepared for extreme poverty in some places. Lima had proper slums, and the mountainous areas are often v. poor and v. remote. You need to be extremely careful with your belongings. At the time I didn't really take a lot of precautions as I was with natives (my cousins etc.), but a good tip I heard was to line your handbag with chicken wire, so that if someone cuts it from underneath your stuff doesn't instantly fall out.

Could you not go for longer, btw? It's such a long flight and then you have the time difference as well...

Saturn74 Mon 20-Aug-07 14:38:56

Thank you for your replies.

potoroo, I'd love the links please.

Great tips, geekgirl, especially about the meds and the chicken wire.

Would love to go for longer, but we're self-employed and need to be back to keep the business on track.

potoroo Mon 20-Aug-07 15:33:57

Humphrey - will send the links when I get home tonight.

Meant to also say to book flights ASAP - we had a lot of trouble finding flights and we booked months in advance.

Isababel Mon 20-Aug-07 15:41:51

I'm just waiting for DS to be a bit older to do thi one, however they have some other adventure excursions for grown up that seemed nicer than this.

HollyGoHeavily Mon 20-Aug-07 16:27:15

Hi

I spent a month in Peru a couple of years ago and really enjoyed myself. My tips:

1) Base yourself in Cusco for the trip to Maccu Piccu and give yourself at least 3 days to acclimatise before attempting any trekking or anything strenuous - the altitude can knock you for six. I had been trekking for 9 months before i arrived and was fairly fit but i found myself gasping at the top of a short flight of stairs. There is loads to do in Cusco so it's not hard to pass the time...

2) I did the 'short' version of the Inca trail where you took the train halfway to Macch Piccu from Cusco but trekked the last 16kms. It was amazing but it is knackering (you need to be of average fitness at least, i would say )and the overnight accomodation is somewhat basic (but that is part of the charm!). It also means that you arrive at Macchu Piccu about an hour before it closes which means the tour groups have gone and you practically get the place to yourself. Macchu Piccu itself gets very busy during the day...

3) Aquas Calientes (the town next to MP) is a bit of a dump - don't plan to spend any extra time there.

4) Go and see some of the rainforest - we flew from Cusco to Puerto Maldonado (slightly hair-raising in a small plane) and then took a 45 minute trip up the amazon to Posadas Amazonas which was amazing. It is an eco-lodge which is run in partnership with the local community. We spent time trekking in the jungle, watching parrots at clay licks and spotting giant river otters. The lodge is very cool - the rooms only have 3 sides to them so that your room is totally open to the rainforest - you lie on your bed and watch the monkeys swinging from the trees

5) There are lots of ruins to go visit other than MP - we particularly liked Ollantaytambo

6) There are loads of good (and quite a few bad) local markets and you will find yourself in at least a couple. Be a bit wary of the local wildlife - a friend i was with patted a dog and managed to get himself bitten - resulting in trips to a local doctor and quite a few rabies injections... (not fun!)

7) If you are at all squemish don't go into one of the local restaurants that serves guinea pig - a bloke on a table near us did and I nearly boaked when this poor little creature arrived whole and bbq'd. yuck

Hope this helps! Have a great trip!!

DrDaddy Mon 20-Aug-07 16:46:20

DW and I spent a month there a few years ago (pre-DC) and it was fabulous. Agree with most of what HollyGoHeavily has said. We flew into Lima and then straight to Cuzco the following day. It's good to spend a few days there acclimatising to the altitude (it's over 3000m), especially if you want to do the Inca trail and there's lots you can see and do as day trips from there.
I'll try to dig out where we stayed there; it was really cool. DW will remember the name.
If you have time, do the full version of the Inca trail (3 nights under canvas, followed by a dawn arrival at Macchu Picchu: absolutely breathtaking, including the gruelling second day trek through Dead Woman's Pass at 4,500m!!) Aguas Calientes at the end of the trail is only a nice place to stay for one night if you haven't showered for 4 days.... You can book this from various places in the town square in Cuzco. We did this with everything when we were there; it's much cheaper than booking from the UK.
Many people overlook Puno, which is on Lake Titicaca and just use it as a stop on their way to Bolivia. We really liked it there, and did a trip to tiny island called Taquile which had no electricity and was run by a sort of communist regime. We stayed the night in some hovel, but the sunrise the next morning is something I'll never forget. You can also visit the Uros people on their reed islands. Very interesting.
Another fantastic place is the Colca Canyon which you can get to from Arequipa in the south. Great for seeing Condors. We did another 4 day trek down into the canyon, cos we were gluttons for punishment.
We loved Peru. Will definitely visit again. I'll try to post back with some more details on places to stay...or get DW to do it.

potoroo Mon 20-Aug-07 20:00:20

Humphrey,

Just reading Holly's notes, and it sounds like we did exactly the same things as she did! So based on her notes:

1) Yep - give yourself a couple of days to acclimatise. This is where we stayed www.hostalmarani.com - they run a sort of charity for local children too. There's lots of tourist info on their website.
2) We did the short version too. We arrived about an hour before the tourist buses did though - managed to see a bit of sunrise but it was cloudy. We booked through these people www.perutreks.com/
3)True - but there are some nice pizza places to get lunch/dinner after M.P.
4)We nearly went to Posada lodge, but went to Sandoval lodge instead - but did the same slightly hair-raising flight. We booked through these people but there is probably lots of other places on the web. Really, this was more of a highlight for me than M.P. - we took canoes through the rainforest to the lodge. It was amazing.
5) I agree.
6) You can get rabies vaccinations, but all that does is give you an extra 24 hours to get to a hospital - you still need the big injections if you get bitten.

Other tips:
Puno is wonderful if you can get there. The reed islands on Lake Titicaca are fascinating. You can get a train there from Cuzco - perurail. If you can afford the first class journey it is worth it to access the open air car. Otherwise the backpacker rate is fairly cheap. The journey is worth it even if you don't stay long in Puno (You'd need 3 days - one day from Cuzco - Puno, one day Puno and one day back again).

HTH - I have a ton of photos which I can post online

Saturn74 Mon 20-Aug-07 20:14:09

Oh wow, lots of replies.
Thank you so much everyone!
I'm going out now, but will read the posts tomorrow and reply.

DrDaddy Tue 21-Aug-07 10:05:55

The place we stayed in Cuzco was called Los Ninos. It's run by a Dutch couple who have set up a charity to look after the local street children, some of whom you see helping out around the place. It's set round a lovely little courtyard. Their website is here
In Arequipa we stayed in a brilliant hostel called La Casa di mi abuela which is one of the most sought after places to stay. Their open air breakfast is something else. The Arequipa skyline is dominated by the volcano el Misti. Of course, you can trek up that as well. But we used it as a place from which to trek to the Colca Canyon as I mentioned before. Arequipa is a flight from Puno though.
Yes, the train journey from Cuzco to Puno is amazing. Well worth it.
We literally did not book anything from the UK apart from our first night stay in Lima. We booked all our accommodation and trips while we were there. We compared with people who had paid up front from the UK and they paid 1000s more for the trip. It depends on whether you need and want the comfort factor though, I guess.

DrDaddy Tue 21-Aug-07 10:14:32

Also, bear in mind if you want to go to the Amazonian jungle parts of Peru, you'll need to take anti-malarial drugs. If you stay in central highland Peru, you don't need to. You probably realise also that the far north of Peru around Iquitos and the Colombian border is pretty much a no-go area due to Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) militarist activity.

Saturn74 Wed 22-Aug-07 14:13:34

Lots of great info - thank you everyone.
Have been browsing through the links, and putting together our dream itinerary.

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