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Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

Damascus, Maryland
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Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

This will likely be my only chance to see MP. I'm willing to spend money ($5K? $10K?), and it's just me. Here's what I'd like:

- not the usual touristy stuff

- prefer no tents/camping

- don't want anything too high risk in terms of getting robbed or anything

- can spend up to 1-2 weeks if that makes a difference

- want to see MP before the trains of people show up

- want ample time in MP - is a day enough?

- would like to see surrounding sights/sites if they are worth it

- willing to do some tough hiking - moderate is fine, some difficult (not death-defying) okay too

- would prefer the bulk of my gear to be carried by a service so I can focus on hiking and photos

- I'm an amateur photographer, so would like lots of opportunities to take pictures

I'm in okay shape (I bike and hike some locally), and I can get in better shape prior to the trip. I'd probably like to acclimate to the altitude by staying in a place or two on the way up if that makes sense?

Anyway, is this possible? If I need to spend more $ to get this, what is the right target? And what would you recommend in terms of outting this together, presumably a service?

Thanks in advance for any help!

Ica, Peru
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1. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

You have two choices: a luxury tour to Machu Picchu with the Hiram Bingham train, and staying in 5 star hotels in Cuzco and one or two nights in the InkaTerra hotel in Aguas Calientes . That should burn through your money pretty quickly.

If you want to do some hiking, but skip the camping, then take the Mountain Lodges of Peru luxury lodge-to-lodge trek. You will be taking the Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu, but along the way instead of staying in camp sites you will stay at very comfortable mountain lodges. But yeah, this isn't a trek for anyone who is out of shape.

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2. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

Can you please be more specific? How fit? Live in Texas, no mountains, can walk five miles a day. How would I prepare myself? If I want to skip the kih=king, probably the train would be the best option?

Chicago, Illinois
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3. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

I think you need to get a couple guidebooks and read up about Peru and Machu Picchu as a start. You're not going to get robbed. You don't have to go camping unless you want to. You don't need to bring any gear. You won't need to spend anything close to $5k. You can hire a tour company to arrange the whole thing if you want to, but there's no need.

Typically to go to MP, most people start by flying to Cusco, Peru. Between Cusco and a town called Ollantaytambo, which is about a 90 minute cab or bus ride away, is the Sacred Valley, where there's a number of other sites to see. The Sacred Valley has all sorts of hotels from large Marriotts to local Peruvian chains to smaller mountain B&Bs.

From either Cusco or Ollantaytambo, you have two ways to get to MP. YOu can hike, which is going to involve camping. Or you can take a train. There's the very luxurious, very expensive Hiram Birgham train from Cusco. Or you can take a regular train, which is still very comfortable. More comfortable than a typical plane. And less than $100 each.

You can do MP as a day trip from Ollantaytambo, but you want to see it when it's more empty, you can't do that. iAt the base of MP is the town of Agua Calientes. If you want to be at MP without a lot of tourists around, you need to stay a night there. From there you take a bus up to MP. If you stay in A/C, you can get an early bus up and late bus back and have the place to yourself in the early morning or late afternoon. There's also a very expensive Sanctuary Lodge right at the entrance to MP. It's not luxurious but is right at the entrance. If you don't mind spending money, you can stay there instead of in Agua Calientes.

You can do this whole trip as cheap as camping or as expensive as 5 star luxury resorts or anything in between.

There's lots of couple hour hikes you can do within Machu Picchu if you want to do some hiking without sleeping outside. You won't need any gear this way. You can them all in sneakers and don't need anything but your camera and a water bottle.

The Sacred Valley has all sorts of opportunities for hiking if you want some less touristy areas.

Machu Picchu is very touristy. A couple thousand people go every day. But don't worry about it. It's still wonderful

Edited: 9:18 pm, October 06, 2013
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Damascus, Maryland
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4. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

Thank you! This is incredibly helpful.

My main reason for asking is this is something I likely won't be trying more than once. So I'd like to avoid picking the wrong tourist company or picking the wrong hotels or sites. My digging so far has only turned up tourist companies, and I have no idea how to distinguish them. I've also read a few times that the only way to see MP is through using one of the licensed tour companies in Peru. Clearly that's wrong, or misleading (e.g. only about hiking up).

Based on your above post, it sounds like I want to see some things around the Sacred Valley, and spend at least one night in one of the two hotels you mention at MP. So a rough itinerary would be:

Day 1 - Fly into Cusco

Day 2-5 - Bus to Ollentaytambo; see Sacred Valley sites

Day 6 - train to MP, stay after tourists leave, stay overnight

Day 7 - get up early and see MP before tourists show up

Day 8-9 - some day-hikes around MP

Day 10 - go home

Is that more-or-less right/good? Is there enough to see in the SV and around MP? Any suggestions/options/modification?

A couple of additional questions:

- Where would you recommend reading up on the SV sight-seeing? Can I do on my own (like Europe), or do I need a tour guide? Are these mostly day-hikes from Ollantaytambo, or do I need a car, or something else?

- Where would you recommend reading up on day-hikes from MP?

- Is there any significant benefit to hiking up to MP instead of the train? I love to hike, but I don't like to camp. Are there amazing things to see on the way up that I can't/won't see otherwise? Is the experience amazing?

I'm really looking for beautiful things to see more than anything else.

Thanks again for all this great advice,

Mark

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Nassau, New...
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5. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

@Mark - since I don't see where you've mentioned it, just wondering if you've also considered staying at the Sanctuary Lodge?

Los Altos Hills, CA
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6. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

If your budget is $5k-10k, definitely definitely definitely stay at the Sanctuary Lodge. It's just a few steps from the park entrance, and you can see the park right as it opens as well as after it 3pm until closing, when most tourists have gone back on the train. If money were truly no object, stay two nights. That way you can do all the hikes within the park (Huayna Picchu, Intipunka, Machu Picchu), and get a massage (really awesome).

Another suggestion would be to stay at Hotel Monesterio or another hotel near Plaza Nazerene in Cusco. Get the oxygen room. That area is imo the best place to stay in Cusco - in a lovely square and close to all the best restaurants. And most importantly, not many stairs after dinner!

Also, rather than take a bus, I would do some research and engage a private knowledgeable guide with a car for the Sacred Valley. You definitely need a car in the Sacred Valley. Also, get a good tour guide for MP. Our experience with our randomly-picked guide was not optimal.

On your question re. hiking, I really regret not doing the 2-day Inca Trail (sold out). I think if it's a once-in-lifetime experience, it would be great to walk in to the site. Supposedly it's not too tough, and doesn't have all the camping that's necessary on the 4-day trail.

My trip report from this Sept is here tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294311-i818-k6877… if you'd like more info.

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7. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

Anything is possible when you have a budget of $5 - 10K!

If you are interested in photography, then you may find it worthwhile staying at the Sanctuary Lodge in Machu Picchu, so you have early and easy access to the citadel of Machu Picchu. Perhaps 1 night is enough, but if you want some spectacular photos, then maybe 3 days is more beneficial to you.

Opt for a 1 day hike to Machu Picchu, or some day hikes around Cusco and in the Sacred Valley. Moray to Ollantaytambo is a nice walk, and very scenic.

Lots to see and do, perhaps you need to invest in some guide books, a day preserving on the internet or even employ a local travel agency to arrange the trip for you.

Enjoy Peru, sounds like you intend to!

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8. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

We did the hike with Mountain Lodges of Peru and felt it was really worthwhile. We truly enjoyed it. We should have stayed 2 nights at Aguas Caliente (the standard is 1) for more time at MP. They organized our time in Lima/Cusco as well, including flights and guides.

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georgia
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9. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

You definitely want a guide for at least part of your visit to Machu Picchu to tell you what you are looking at because there are no signs. We had a private guide who lived in Aguas Calientes and had great knowledge of Machu Picchu and who spoke excellent English. Just a note...there are no toilet facilities once you enter Machu Picchu. The only toilet is near the admission area and you unroll your paper before entering.

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10. Re: Machu Pichu - want it to be special - willing to spend money

This is all such great information! I have been digging around the internet (I don't think I've seen a paper guidebook anywhere since I trekked around Europe after college), but it's hard finding consistent information. That's why this board is so awesome.

So here's where I am:

Day 1-2 - Fly into Cusco, Hotel Monosterio

Day 3-5 - Guide with car to Ollentaytambo; see Sacred Valley sites, stay here?

Day 6-8 - Train form Ollen to MP, stay in Sanctuary Lodge for 2 nights, trek around MP, HP, I, and more

-or-

Day 6-10 - 2-day hike to MP, stay in Sanctuary Lodge for 2 nights, hike around MP, HP, I, and more

Day 9/11 - train back down, go home

Some more questions:

- Do I stay in Cusco when seeing the SV, or do I stay closer? If closer (Ollentaytambo), any recommendations for there? And if closer, do I cab/bus it to there and get the guide there, or something else?

- What specifically in SV do you recommend? How many days?

- What specifically in Cusco do you recommend? How many days?

- If I should engage targeted guides, one recommendation so far is REI (I need to dig into that), another is Orient Express, but I think both are full-service (which might be good if i can customize), are there other recommendations? I prefer taking things at my own pace, but also will be traveling solo, so having a group isn't necessarily a bad thing?

Thanks in advance!

Mark

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