Peru and the Machu Picchu experience

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Peru and the Machu Picchu experience

Peru – Lima

Lima, the capital of Peru, lies on the country’s arid Pacific coast. Though its colonial centre is preserved, it’s a bustling metropolis and one of South America’s largest cities. It’s home to the Museo Larco collection of pre-Columbian art and the Museo de la Nación, tracing the history of Peru’s ancient civilizations. The Plaza de Armas and the 16th-century cathedral are the heart of old Lima Centro. Lima was funded on 18 January 1535. With a population of more than 10 million, Lima is the most populous metropolitan area of Peru and the third-largest city in the Americas (as defined by “city proper”), behind São Paulo, and Mexico City. Lima was founded by Spanish (Source: Wikipedia)

  • We stayed in a beautiful apartment between Miraflores and Baranco, on the cliffs of Lima. These areas have a lot of history, beautiful shops, including the Larcomar Shopping Centre, a wide variety of restaurants and a lot of soul, especially in the arty Barranco district
  • We recommend this area to stay in as a tourist as opposed to Lima Centro
  • A ½ day bus tour is recommended to get a feel for the city and learn more about Lima Centro, its history and important buildings e.g. the Plaza de Armas / Plaza Mayor with the beautiful Cathedral Basilica of St. John the Apostle and Evangelist as well as the Monastery of San Fransisco with catacombs
  • Although it seldom rains in Lima, take note that the fog rolling in from the Pacific Ocean is chilly& damp. Lima is located in the great desert that runs along the Pacific Coast of South America. This arid strip of land stretches from the Sechura Desert in Peru’s far north all the way to the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. You can read more about the unusual climate…keywords: The rain shadow of the Andes, The Garúa and El Niño

Cusco

Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes, was once capital of the Inca Empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture. Plaza de Armas is the central square in the old city, with arcades, carved wooden balconies and Incan wall ruins. The baroque Santo Domingo Convent was built on top of the Incan Temple of the Sun (Qoricancha), and has archaeological remains of Inca stonework. (Source: Wikipedia)

  • Staying in the old town of Cusco means that you have to carry your luggage for a couple of blocks since cars cannot enter these narrow cobble ways
  • It is a beautiful city with lots to see….we highly recommend to do a free walking tour leaving a few times per day from Plaza de Armas
  • Cusco is a very good place to see the old Peruvian women in traditional dress with their beloved lamas or alpacas….the babies are truly beautiful and very cute….be prepared to pay them for taking photos
  • The meal of the day at restaurants, especially in the old town section are really great value for money and quite delicious
  • Remember that the altitude at 3 399m above sea level can be a bummer. Take it slow, breathe deep, stop when you feel breathless or experience head aches and chew coca leaves to handle the altitude a bit better

 

Peru – Ollantaytambo

Ollantaytambo is a village in the Sacred Valley of south Peru, set on the Urubamba River amid snow-capped mountains. It’s known for the Ollantaytambo ruins, a massive Inca fortress with large stone terraces on a hillside. Major sites within the complex include the huge Sun Temple and the Princess Baths fountain. The village’s old town is an Inca-era grid of cobblestoned streets and adobe buildings. The elevation is 2 792m and is 72km Northwest of Cusco.

  • Ollantaytambo is a small town with some good local restaurants and average accommodation
  • It is worthwhile to spend a day exploring the ruins in the area, within walking distance from the town centre
  • We recommend this as a good place to start your train journey for the last leg to get to Machu Picchu

 

Peru – Machu Picchu Pueblo / Aguas Calientas

Aguas Calientes is a town in the Urubamba River Valley, in southeast Peru. It’s known for its thermal baths and as a gateway to the nearby Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. The town centre is full of eateries and shops, anchored by the central Mercado Artesanal, a craft market. Northwest, along the river, are Los Jardines de Mandor gardens with orchids and birds. The nearby Butterfly House is a local conservation project. Population is approx. 1 600 at an elevation of 2 040m.

  • Since there is only a small lodge at the entrance to Machu Picchu Citadel, most tourists are either day trippers or stay in Aguas Calientas for 1 or 2 nights
  • Large variety of restaurants and accommodation, mostly 3-4 star
  • Although the town is a bit of a tourist trap, the central market has a large variety of Peruvian items and souvenirs

A trip to Machu Picchu Inca Citadel….deconstructed

 

This trip included visiting Lima, Cusco and Olantaytambo and route to Machu Picchu Pueblo / Aguas Calientes and the Machu Picchu Citadel.

 

Itinerary below one of the many options when planning your trip to Machu Picchu

Description Cost – Approximate

US $

Fly from Sao Paulo to Lima – one way, per person From $300
Alternative fly from Rio de Janeiro to Lima – one way, per person From $400
Alternative from Santiago to Lima – one way, per person From $115
Accommodation in Lima – mid range, per room (2 pax) 2 nights $100
Good dinner & beer or soft drink in Lima, per person $25
Fly from Lima to Cusco-  return, per person From $110
Accommodation in in Cusco – mid range, per room (2 pax) 1 night $80
Average dinner  & beer or soft drink in Cusco e.g. menu of the day option, per person $20
Travel by private vehicle from Cusco to Ollantaytambo – one way (2-3 pax) From $50
Accommodation in Ollantaytambo – mid range, per room (2 pax) 1 night $75
Average dinner & beer or soft drink in Ollantaytambo, eg. Pizza, per person $20
Train from Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu (110 minutes one way

Perurail – Expedition – one way

Perurail – Vistadome – one way

 

$50

$95

Accommodation in Machu Picchu Pueblo / Aguas Calientes – 2 nights $75
Return bus from village to Machu Picchu Citadel (25 minutes one way) $24
Entrance to Machu Picchu Citadel $50
Travel y private vehicle from Ollantaytambo to Cusco (3 pax) 1 night From $50
The above costing excludes taxis from airport to accommodation, other sightseeing activities, city tours

Note that walking tours in Lima & Cusco is free of charge, they do suggest a gratuity to the tour leader

Regarding flights, one can also look at a multi-city booking….thus could be cheaper compared to one way flights

 

It is wonderful to travel but one must note that to travel to Machu Picchu is quite a trek and needs some serious planning.

  • Flight connections: From outside Peru one needs to fly to Lima, the capital of Lima located on the Pacific coast.
  • From Lima fly to Cusco, flight duration approx. 90 minutes, the gateway to the Inca Empire
  • By train or road to Ollantaytambo, also approx. 90 minutes or you can do a more leisurely scenic drive for ½ day through the Sacred Valley area
  • Ollantaytambo to Machu Picchu Peublo / Aguas Calientes approx. 90 minutes on the train …..use Perurail or Incarail. Vistadome not really worth almost double the price of Expedition train. Vistadome is a bit more upmarket but both trains have large windows to see the view
  • We recommend to travel from Lima to Machu Picchu return over at least 5 nights. Although it is possible to do this in a shorter period of time, you will be exhausted and probably miss a lot. If you want to make the effort to visit this area, a more leisurely approach is highly recommended
  • Another alternative is to do hike the Inca trail over 4-5 days. This option is priced from approx. $500 and is for the more suited to the young / fit traveller
  • Other alternative LUXURY way to travel is.…Belmond style. Stay in Belmond Miraflores Park in Lima, Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, Hotel Rio Sagrado in Ollantaytambo Citadel. It is also possible to take the Belmond Hiram Bingham train from Cusco to Machu Picchu. Various packages are available. Contact me for more information. An alternative Belmond experience in Peru is the Andean Explorer overnight train from Cusco to Lake Titicaca

 

WHAT YOU DO NOT NECESSARILY SEE ON INTERNET WHEN PLANNING YOUR TRIP

  • Stations at Cusco & Ollantaytambo has lockers available for additional luggage, free of charge when showing your train ticket
  • Luggage restriction on all day trip trains are restricted to small bags less than 5kg per person
  • You should arrive at the station at least 30 minutes before departure
  • The stations are quite busy, thus allow extra time, especially in high tourist season (from May – September)
  • Highly recommended to buy train tickets as well as entrance to Machu Picchu tickets in advance, especially in high season
  • Note that since 2017, Machu Picchu access has been divided into morning or afternoon sessions and you purchase entrance tickets accordingly
  • It can happen that, due to emergency maintenance, that access to Machu Picchu citadel is restricted which in our case meant that we had to exit at 15:30 instead of 17:30. This can upset your entire plan
  • Early morning access to the Machu Picchu Citadel via bus …..expect long queues. Also , during rainy season it is often raining and low fog till around 10:00
  • Note: Bus tickets to drive for 25 minutes to get to the entrance of Machu Picchu Citadel is not included in your entrance ticket. It is an additional $24 per adult for a return trip. Note that you can not buy these tickets via internet, only there and on the day, they need to see your passport and you can pay with cash or credit card
  • There is a luggage storage facility from where the bus departs to the Citadel for a nominal fee. Note that big bags can not be taken in at the Citadel
  • NOTE: You can wait for up to 90 minutes to get down with the in the afternoon from the Citadel to town. This was in the off season….we assume it can get much worse during the high tourist season
  • ALL FACTS CONCIDERED, MACHU PICCHU CITADEL IS A ONE-OF-A-KIND EXPERIENCE AND WELL WORTH THE EFFORT

Contact me for more information and recommendations in South America carla@carlarossouw.com


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