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Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

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Bay Area, California
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Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.


Going to Peru with the family and visiting my daughter in the Peace Corps in Peru - she is in the north part of the country. After we see her in her site/area during the first part of our trip and visiting the north, we are heading down to Cusco and want to see Machu Picchu - we'd like to take the train to Machu Picchu, but other than that, we don't have an idea of how long to stay, where (in that area) to stay, and what to do and where to go. We'll have about 7-8 days total in that area (when we get to Cusco) before we head home.

thanks much

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1. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

There are various ways to organize this itinerary. Ideally, you want to spend at least 5 days in the area, but there's plenty to fill 7-8 days.

Do a web search for "machu picchu itinerary" and browse through some samples. Conde Nast Traveler has an elegant one: http://cntrvlr.com/UyqEJW; but you can scale down and/or customize according to your budget and interests.

When altitude is a concern, some travelers go directly to the Sacred Valley upon arrival in Cusco. A side advantage is that (compared to Cusco) you'll have more options for train service between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes (MP).

Happy travels,

Anabel - Peru For Less

Bay Area, California
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2. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

Thanks, I will check that out,

How about fitting in lake titicaca as well...I think we'd like to go there, but also not sure how to work that in terms o itinerary.

Thanks again

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3. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

You could definitely fit Lake Titicaca into a 7-8 day itinerary. An overnight stay in Puno is recommended to get the most out of this detour to Lake Titicaca, which is an amazing sight to behold.

Depending on your travel style, you can take a regular bus, "tourist bus", or train from Cusco to Puno and visit the floating islands of Uros, Taquile or Amantani islands. To return to Lima, fly out of Juliaca (45 min ride from Puno).

The train is a service of Peru Rail called Andean Explorer. It's the most expensive option, but worth the splurge if you enjoy train travel. Full meal service, pisco sour-making classes, and live entertainment all provided on board.

The tourist buses are for travelers who want to see the important sites between Cusco and Puno, including Andahuaylillas and the Pukara and Raqchi ruins. Cruz del Sur and Turismo Mer serve this route.

Finally, there are the regular buses. Same route, direct service with no stops. Tour Peru and Tranzela are some recommended companies.

Edited: 11:09 am, April 24, 2013
Folsom, Ca
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4. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

I am a big proponent of seeing MP on 2 days, ideally the afternoon the first day and morning the second. That way if the weather is bad the first day, you still have a second shot at great pictures the second day. Agua Caliente doesn't get a lot of love on these forums, but I liked the vibe there, reminded me of Gatlinburg Tn or Jackson , Wy , total resort town but good energy.

Atlanta, Georgia
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5. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

My wife and I just returned from our trip to Peru yesterday,and you are in for a treat.

We loved our location and stay in the junior suite of Casablanca san blas in Cuscco, and they stored our bags for us at no charge while we visited machu pichu for two days and one night. We did a city tour of Cusco and a sacred valley tour. We took the Andean explorer train to lake titicaca and loved our tour of the pros and lake taquille thru always travel. Taypikala lago hotel was on the lake and a good value. We flew out of Julliaca, bot it was not a place to visit. We viewed it from the train as we passed through.

Hope you have as wonderful a trip as we did.

Yorktown, Virginia
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6. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

We also enjoyed the Andean Explorer train. DH got a bit bored with it, but then he would have gotten bored on the bus, too -- and not nearly as comfortable as on the train!

Definitely agree with you about Juliaca. Looks like something out of "Mad Max". Scary place.

Good thing we can stay overnight in Puno, then just take a taxi to the Juliaca Airport.

Virginia Beach...
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7. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

In 7 days, you can cover Cusco, Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu.

Day 1-2 - Cusco

Day 3 - Private tour through SV - ON in Ollantaytambo

Day 4 - See the Ollantaytambo ruins/train to Aguas Calientes for ON

Day 5 - Grand tour of Machu Picchu - ON in Ac or return to Cusco on evening train

Day 6 - Take tourist bus to Puno- stops along the way. ON

Day 7 - Boat all day on Titicaca Lake (option to continue to Amantani overnight for homestay)

Day 8 - Transfer to Juliaca for flight to Lima - arrives mid-afternoon.

You have the framework for a basic tour that covers the highlights. Add in your free days where you want them. Remember there's no public transportation in the SV. I prefer free days in Cusco because it's easy to get around on foot or with cheap taxis.

There's not much to do in Puno, but if you want to add another day to go to Sillustani towers, it's another option.

I would skip the Pisac market in SV and go the other route through Chinchero. If you can plan that day to fall on a Sunday, the indigenous market is fabulous. You can see the weavers and the market.

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8. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

This is what I posted after our trip to Peru last month:

Before our trip, I had a lot of questions about logistics, how much we could do in a week, etc. In an effort to help others, here’s what we did:

Day 1: Arrived Lima late at night and spent the night at a hostal near the airport – we paid a little extra to have transportation from the airport to the hostal and back to the airport the next morning.

Day 2: Taca 9:35 a.m flight to Juliaca, shuttle to Puno/Lake Titicaca (15 soles/person), boat trip to Uros Island (booked through All Ways Travel) or ask your hotel for group boat trip information. The only disadvantage to just spending an afternoon at Lake Titicaca was that we were only able to see a small portion of the lake.

Day 3: Puno to Cusco. There are many ways to get from Lake Titicaca to Cusco (fly from Juliaca, train from Puno, regular bus, or InkaExpress bus). We chose InkaExpress because you visit four sights along the way and stop for a nice lunch. There is a guide on the bus who speaks both English & Spanish.

Day 4: Cusco & Ollantaytambo: Visited a couple of sights in Cusco, then took collectivo (10 soles/person and 1 hour 45 minutes) to Ollantaytambo. Your Cusco hotel/hostal should be able to direct you to where you get the collectivo; the drive can be a little fast & crazy but not too bad. Visited ruins in Ollantaytambo in the afternoon.

Day 5: Machu Picchu: PeruRail; reserve & pay for your tickets on-line – you get a receipt and then turn it in for actual tickets at Lima airport, in Cusco, and other locations. Since you can’t buy Machu Picchu tickets on-line at this time, we used Agnes Moes at Responsible Travel in Cusco (cuzco@responsibletravelperu.com); they charge a fee of 30 soles/ticket and delivered the tickets to our hotel

We took the 8 a.m. Vistadome train to Aguas Caliente; I would recommend the Vistadome going there while it’s light outside; you get a better view of the Andes. You can either hike up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Caliente (can take as long as 2.5 hours) or take shuttle bus (20-30 minutes; costs about 25 soles/person each way). To get to the shuttle bus, walk over the bridge outside the train station and go to the left. Buy your ticket before you get on the shuttle bus. Our return train ticket to Ollantaytambo was for 6:45 p.m. We were actually ready to return earlier, but you can only exchange train tickets up to 24 hours before departure. We did not hire a guide at Machu Picchu. Instead we bought a guide book with pictures to help us identify the various highlights and started out by going to the area to the left that gives you an overview. Using the photos and information from a regular guide book gave us a lot of information about what we were seeing.

Day 6: Ollantaytambo to Cusco via Pisac: We hired a driver to pick us up in Ollantaytambo and take us to the Pisac market and then the Pisac ruins. Because we had luggage (not backpacks), we needed a safe place to put our luggage while visiting these places. Agnes Moes at Responsible Travel in Cusco arranged for a very safe driver who spoke some English.

Day 7: Cusco to Lima: We hired the taxi driver who took us to the collectivo on Day 4 to drive us to Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Puka Pukara, and Tambomachay. You can hike to these areas from Cusco, but we didn’t have the luxury of time to do that. The driver was Victor Flores (victortour2012@gmail.com or office 084-235162 or cell 957-704434). He spoke a little English, drove safely, and had a nice clean car; he also taught us some words in Quechua. After seeing these ruins, he dropped us off in Cusco so we could do some more sightseeing. Then he picked us up at our hotel and drove us to the Cusco airport (Lan 4:50 p.m. flight to Lima). We used Taxi Green for our transportation from & to Lima’s airport; the drivers were good and charged about half of what the hotel would have charged (60 soles each way to MiraFlores area).

Day 8: Lima to US: We took a morning tour of Lima with Lima Tours (Iris Alva iaa@limatours.com.pe). We didn’t want a private tour and told Iris that we would like to be part of a small tour group. We were in a van with a total of eight people, which was just right. The tour covered a lot of ground in about 3 hours, and our guide, Juan Carlos, was very good. After wards, we saw Huaca Pucllana and the Magic Water Fountains at Parque de la Reserva on our own. The water fountains were amazing and are best viewed at night but were still great during the afternoon (we had to be on our way to the airport that evening). We took taxis to each sight; only one of the taxi drivers charged more than he should have – and took us to the wrong park (traffic was heavy, and it felt like he just wanted to get rid of us).

You will note that we went to Lake Titicaca before Machu Picchu. Logistically it worked better to it that way.

In general, you should expect to bargain over taxi prices and at the Pisac market.

I can suggest hotels and restaurants, too, if you're interested.

Merritt Island...
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9. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

I'm beginning to plan our trip to Machu Picchu later this year and found your posting very helpful. I would be interested in your suggestions for hotels and restaurants.

Thank you,

Luz Marina

10. Re: Machu Picchu and Cusco stay input on planning itinerary.

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