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Machu Picchu Summer 2017

Discussion in 'Award Booking Help' started by projectx, Dec 14, 2016.

  1. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    My wife and I are considering a trip this summer to Macchu Picchu. I'm just starting to explore this option so please bear with me. The problem I'm having is we probably won't have the points needed until the end of February for the flights. Would this be too late to find saver space for a July or early August trip? Here are the best options I've found:

    CVG/DAY > stopover in Bogota, Colombia for a couple days. Continue on to Cusco, Peru, and probably go straight from there to Aguas Calientes to get to a “lower” elevation. Read many reports of people having trouble acclimating to the altitude in Cusco. Anyone been to Bogota? Thumbs up/down?

    - OR - Fly to Lima, stay for a few, then onto Cuzco/Aguas Calientes via Avios.

    No stopover allowed. Booooo. Unless someone knows a good hack.

    We have zero AA miles. But, I can get the AA personal and AA biz for a total of 100k bonus points. Should be able to do this according to DoC's latest post. MS the remaining 20k needed for AA Saver Business Class. So again, we're looking at end of January or February.

    CVG/DAY to Lima, Peru. Stay for a couple days, then use Avios for RT to Cusco/Aguas Calientes.

    Alaska would provide an option to fly into Cusco with a stopover in Lima, but we don't have a good way to easily accrue enough Alaska miles fast enough from what I can see.

    As a side note, our Spanish is very weak. We would be relying on something like Google Translate quite a bit LOL. Can us gringos get by with this and occasional friendly locals who speak English?

    Any input on flights and/or inexpensive (either $ or points) but nice hotels would be appreciated. Thanks!
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  2. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Not much time at the moment ... more later this evening and I'll PM you a link to my trip report (once I ensure it's actually up!).

    Wife and I did this ... shoot, not long ago. 4/2015.

    We had issues getting 2 award tickets in J on the same set of flights. At the time (we did this 11 months out) AA offered ONE. We took that and I waited for months before finally splurging on a second seat via AAnytime flight for many more points. This was CLE->LIM although I schemed many other options. Getting BACK on United miles was much easier and I had no problem doing 2 seats LIM->CUZ and back as one-ways for cheap Avios.

    My bet is you'll have trouble finding 2 Saver awards on AA. I told my wife that next time we should consider flying separately ... I could go first and get all set up for her.

    We had no problem with language issues ... no Spanish to start but we picked up a few words over time!

    Edit: We also scored LIM->UIO (Quito) on cheap Avios
    Last edited: Dec 14, 2016
  3. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    Don't forget Asiana miles - 17.5k Y, 27.5k J to Peru. The CC is enough for J.

    The AA J rate is incredible. Sadly AA metal availability continues to plummet, as knick says, to the point where I'm not sure it's worth more than Skymiles if you don't live in a hub.
  4. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    You know... just yesterday I swear I saw a fair amount of availability on AA. Now? Nothing. Bizarre.
    Thanks for the tip on Asiana, though I think I'm missing something. The credit card looks to be enough for only a 1-way ticket in J. Though it is a BoA card... multiples?

    @knick1959 thanks for the tips. I'll have to look into your TR later when I have some time. Regardless... from what both of you are saying it sounds like UA is the way to go, should we want to travel this summer.
  5. AlaskanTraveler

    AlaskanTraveler Level 2 Member

    BA is a partner with LAN. Used them many times on my South America trip. Did LIM to CUZ for 4.5k BA miles at the time. Would be 7.5k BA miles now. Sign up for a LAN account. If you see a flight available for Saver Level LAN miles you can book it with BA miles. I wouldn't be too concerned about the elevation derailing your trip. My advice, bring some Ibprofen, and drink the coca tea, chew coca leaves. There is a lot of amazing stuff to see around Cuzco. Worth checking out.
  6. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    It's still 4.5k AFAIK. The "starts at 7.5k" thing only applies to North American flights.
  7. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    Yes, I meant a one way J. You can use one currency in one direction and another currency in the other direction (booked separately / if needed). I think BOA semi-closed the loophole of getting multiple of the same card in one day, though some can still get multiple different cards in one day.

    Is there any flat beds being flown to northern South America?
  8. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

  9. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    We flew Latam biz lie flats JFK/LIM June 2016. We didn't have any trouble booking but we made them 11 months out. Also used Avios for domestic flights.

    Flew directly to Iquitos from there (on one award ticket) and then back to CUS on Avios. Went straight to Ollantaytambo. I have had altitude sickness before and was wiped out for my entire trip, so I opted to take Acetazolamide. Both my husband and I took it with no side affects, but, of course, that is a personal choice. There were some greenish folks around MP.

    I highly recommend the Inca ruins in Ollantaytambo.

    We spent 3 nights in Cusco and loved it - great city. They celebrate the founding of Cusco the entire month of June (mixed in with some feast days). The Plaza de Armas is blocked off and there is parade after parade. There was one parade that reminded us of the Mummers Parade in PHL if you are familiar with that.

    We did a stopover in LIM on the return. I wouldn't bother doing it again. The traffic is really bad and takes a good hour or more to get from the airport to the city depending on the time of day. There was a small "peaceful" uprising the day we were there and the Asalto Policia (like a SWAT team) quickly dispelled the crowds - that was actually interesting!

    We also did a couple of days in Arequipa - one of the highlights being the Museo Santuarios Andinos where a 400-500 year old Inca maiden (the Ice Maiden) perfectly preserved mummy is on display. The story is fascinating. However, it is out of the way.

    We got by on very limited Spanish and lots of hand gesturing.

    Leaving from CVG - ah, my old hometown! Will be flying there this Saturday! :) Lookout Skyline!
  10. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    DITTO!!! (trip report I shared with the OP has descriptions of our couple of days there and plenty of pics).

    Also, we should note that Ollantaytambo is already on the train route between Cuzco and MP (well, AC). We based our train trips on Olly. This could make it an easy stop in or out of MP (but you need at least a day there).
    We spent 4 nights and we could have spent many more.

    I JUST added Iquitos to my SA/2 list of places to see. Did you find this worthwhile? As a city to visit? As an access to the Amazon river itself??
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2016
  11. bayguy

    bayguy Level 2 Member

    I also visited Lima/MP/Iquitos this summer along with Bolivia. It was a marvelous trip and I can answer specific questions. We flew SFO-LAX(AA), LAX-LIM(LATAM BIZ), then to CUZ(all economy flight om LATAM). We stayed for 3 days in Ollanta in a small BB and it was beautiful. Our rooms were facing the ruins and it was wonderful looking at them in the morning. We also had a small river opposite to the hotel and the white noise helped our sleep.

    We(2 adults & 2 kids) did not take any medication(Altitude, Malaria, YF etc) and were good. We stayed for 2 days in Cuzco at Hilton and it was good(lot of parades). In Iquitos we stayed at Victoria Regia hotel and it was good.
  12. R.R.

    R.R. Level 2 Member

    I'd love to see this trip report too. Am planning a trip to MP sometime in the indefinite future.
  13. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Not a problem. I've PM'd you a link. I can't afford to simply post it publicly lest google gets a hold of it and my lowly personal PC web server gets bombarded with traffic. I'll share with anyone directly from here, tho, via PM.
  14. R.R.

    R.R. Level 2 Member

    This is an *amazing* trip report. I'm only a few pages in, and already I recommend it to anyone thinking of making this trip.
  15. vinyalwhl

    vinyalwhl Level 7 Panda Tamer

    I recommend acclimating if you are doing any of the high altititude treks. I didnt think Cusco was bad at 10K but everyone is different 15K kicked my butt.
  16. Vinay

    Vinay Level 2 Member

    Planning a trip to MP with 2 young kids (2 & 4) sometime in near future (read 2017/2018). Would love to read your experience. Can you pls share your trip report with me as well?
  17. projectx

    projectx Level 2 Member

    Good stuff here! Sounds like if we decide to take this trip we could spend a full week just in the Cusco-Ollantaytambo-Aguas Calientes region and skip the larger cities like Lima or Botoga all together.

    My only hang up right now is that routing from my area sucks. Airport change in NYC? Yuck.

    Any wildlife tour recommendations?
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  18. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member


    A tangential question (I hate that word, but ever since I heard it for the first time many years ago, it seems to have crept into my normal unsophisticated vocabulary :)).

    I have a whole collection of trip reports all based off of the root URL I have been distributing ... a couple of links that are work or car related, but most are trips with the reports simple at first, but later massively detailed with more pictures than you would ever want to see (offered in a couple of easy-to-browse ways).

    Would it be of value to offer this as a list of requestable links? I think we have a trip report forum here, eh? Too many pics and too much text to HOST here, but my lowly personal site should handle the occasional request.

    I'll look around myself. Input always welcome.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2016
  19. R.R.

    R.R. Level 2 Member

    Yes, please!
  20. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    My working list has been posted in this new thread:


    Let me know what you think. You'll notice a US National Park theme overall, with an increasing emphasis on more international trips. 2017 should be an interesting year too.
  21. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    Yes! Iquitos for Amazon. If we had had more time I would have liked to do a river cruise on the Amazon. Originally we wanted to go to one of the camps on the river, but lack of AC in June for sleeping and an aversion to flying, biting or stinging bugs kept me away. We stayed at Casa Morey. An old rubber baron's home. HUGE rooms, but sparse. Not fancy, but adequate and the AC worked! Breakfast was pretty good too. We walked around town at night and the location was good for that. They provided transport to and from the airport. Note - English was not well spoken or recognized at the hotel. We got by with the day manager, but could not communicate well with the evening manager.

    As part of a day tour we visited the floating village of Belen. Very interesting. I would suggest it if you are going to Iquitos.
  22. R.R.

    R.R. Level 2 Member

    I'm starting to work on my itinerary, and would love to know the name of your Ollanta B&B :)
  23. R.R.

    R.R. Level 2 Member

    As I continue to work on my itinerary, the one headache is the LAX-LIM RT flight in Biz. I have no LAN kms, and getting the credit card would only get us one-third of the way, at the lowest Biz price level. I'm searching but not seeing partner award availability, anywhere around 331 days out. So I'm not even sure which currency to focus on earning... I'm starting to ponder an award booking service, although it seems silly just for a seemingly simple round-trip flight. Advice?
  24. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    I had no problem getting Santiago to JFK about 1-2 months out, so maybe check back daily? (admittedly a pain but friend did this and gained bigly).

    Also I would call AA to confirm availability, and maybe even international AA desk as I heard that can make a difference sometimes. There have been recent reports of BA.com and AA.com not matching actual availability.

    Lastly, do you have Star Alliance miles? I don't see any direct flights from the west coast, but you might be able to route through EWR or IAH or MEX (etc).
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  25. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    We flew to LIM on AA and home from there on United. We made use of BA miles to hop around, but I couldn't see a way to get to the Galapagos Islands except for LAN using LAN miles (others have mentioned other miles might have got me there, but that's the way I did it). To get the LAN miles, my wife and I each got the credit card (and remember, X miles is 1.5X km ... which works on spend, too, MS or not). Part of the plan was to transfer SPG points, too ...

    Our SPG transfer DID NOT go smoothly. I made a request and waited. And waited. Then I started sending emails, then phone calls. It was 2+ months later and after the first request had been reissued that KM finally showed up. So while this is an option, do it well in advance and expect to have to babysit the request.

    I've been banking more LAN KM for a future hop to Easter Island. Was supposed to be next year, but acquisition of the SW CP has changed our plans. Probably 2019. We each acquired LAN cards again and my spreadsheet showed us supplementing these points with SPG. However, based on my initial experience doing this, I worked hard to quickly MS the km needed for a J flight (I miss my Buxx cards!). Well, at today's award prices. The fees are coming due for these cards this month and they will be canceled. If I need more LAN miles later, we'll consider getting more LAN cards. With SPG as the backup.

    General partner question: If you see an award flight available on LAN miles but it doesn't show via an AA search, is it still possible a call to AA will find it? This is what I've been told is possible. I still haven't tried this, but have enough AA miles at this time that it may soon be helpful.
  26. Belisarius

    Belisarius Level 2 Member

    Just got back from 15 days in Peru. Did a gorgeous, challenging five day 90 kilometer trek over the Salkantay pass in the Andes which topped off at 15,200 feet to get to Macchu Picchu, which lives up to every bit of its hype. Then I climbed Mount Macchu Picchu to cap off the utter destruction of my knees. After, I traveled all around the Sacred Valley (Pisac and Ollytantambo are favorite towns featuring Inca ruins, friendly people and gorgeous scenery) via collectivo (shared van, $2.50 will get you 1.5 hours down the road) with locals and spent a lot of time in Cusco. UNESCO protected city that sits at 11,000 feet and features mountains enveloping incredible Spanish colonial architecture. Really nice place that too many travelers don't explore in depth. There's a great Starwood property there that can be had for reasonable points and it was a nice luxury contrast to roughing it.

    I ate street meat nearly every night and my trip coincided with a number of interesting festivals.

    After that, I flew to Puerto Maldonaldo (opted for it over Iquitos due to ease of access) for a few days in the Amazon where I saw a ton of animals (caimans, monkeys, giant river otters, cool birds, killer mega-insects, capybara, snakes), trekked around in the jungle and took in some great sunsets. Also did the obligatory touristy zip line and a canopy walk at 100 feet on shaky 2x4s supported by questionable wiring.

    Now I'm back - thoroughly bug-bitten - and can't wait to return to Peru. I had very high expectations and they were exceeded. If you're a history/adventure/wildlife enthusiast, there's not a more interesting destination on the planet. Basic Spanish is sufficient to do anything you want there and I found it easy to get off and on of the Gringo Trail. Good food is dirt cheap if you're not intimidated by getting off the grid. I will be going back to trek the Cordillera Blanca near Huaraz and possibly Colca Canyon and Arequipa. Very few countries can match Peru's diversity and "interesting stuff to do" per mile ratio.


    As for the travel hacking stuff, I booked United (actually, Copa) SFO-PTY-LIM-CUZ in business class for 35,000 miles. Good redemption made even better by the fact that I got a $200 United voucher for a malfunctioning 1st class seat. Return flight was LIM-DFW-SFO on American Biz class for 65,000 miles. Mediocre redemption but I had AA miles to burn. Made good use of the local Priority Pass Lounge in LIM, including shower. Internally, I flew CUZ-PEM on an Avianca ticket purchased with UR points and then PEM-LIMA on a $75 flight on Star Peru. I recommend checking Star Peru for cheap, internal flights but they do have strict baggage limits.

    For hotels, I did nights at the Palacio Del Inka in Cusco on points (10,000 SPG per). Great location, nice hotel, got a suite upgrade. In the Sacred Valley, I stayed at a pleasant $25 per night hotel in Ollantaytambo with free breakfast and good vibes. Casa Del Abuelo Riverside.

    Spent five nights in tents trekking in the mountains. Put half of the trek cost on the Arrival+. Had to put half on PayPal but it didn't code properly.

    Puerto Maldonado, stayed at a cheap lodge and focused on wildlife. Hello, Arrival+.

    Overall, spent shockingly little out of pocket, had a good mix of luxury and "real" travel and had a blast.
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2017
  27. bayguy

    bayguy Level 2 Member

    Sorry, I was on a 3 week vacation, here's the BB we used: La Casa del Abuelo Riverside, Calle Ocobamba s/n, Ollantaytambo.
  28. Belisarius

    Belisarius Level 2 Member

    I can second bayguy's La Casa Del Abuelo Riverside rec. There's also a La Casa Del Abuelo - which is about 5 minutes walk up the street - so be mindful to avoid booking confusion.
  29. Belisarius

    Belisarius Level 2 Member

    At the risk of sidetracking a great Macchu Picchu thread, I'm fully bitten by the Peru bug and I'm heading back in August to hit Huaraz and the Cordillera Blancas.

    Can anyone recommend good trekking companies for the Santa Cruz trail? Any other day trips worth doing like Laguna 69? I'll also be hitting Lima. Any general tips for the area are greatly appreciated.
  30. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    We were in Lima for 4 days in 2015. We wanted to experience Good Friday and Easter in Peru so that's what we did in Lima. Neat beaches at the bottom of steep cliffs. It was fun, but not our favorite part of the trip. They do have some pre-Inca ancient ruins right in the middle of the city that I found interesting. See Huaca Pucllana. I'll PM you a link.
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  31. R.R.

    R.R. Level 2 Member

    Awesome -- thank you both!
  32. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    We'll be there for Labor Day weekend. Arrive early Thursday AM, in Lima, fly to Cusco, bus to Ollantaytambo, train to AG, spend the night. Friday is at Machu Picchu, back to Cusco for late Friday night. Saturday we're in Cusco, fly to Lima after dinner. Sunday will be Huacahina, fly back home Monday AM. It'll be hectic for sure, but we really only want to see MP / Huacachina. We'll probably end up back in Lima at some point, since we really want to see the rainbow mountains. We did Lima flights on AA, Cusco I used WF points, and hostels booked with hotels.com GC and Amex Offer.

    I know it's tight and extremely packed haha.
  33. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    And you're skipping through 2 great places (Ollantay and Cusco)! Hopefully the clouds will not be an issue for your MP day. Walking around the site is ok even with clouds, but the whole-site pictures can suffer.
  34. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    Yea, just can't miss more work. If (when) we go back to Peru, Cusco will be easy enough. We'll spend around 8 walking hours in Cusco, which for us should be plenty. We'll have about 4 walking hours in Ollantaytambo, which probably isn't enough, but that's just a sacrifice haha.

    I'm assuming it'll be cloudy and that way we'll be surprised, rather than disappointed. hahaha
  35. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    Hello. I'm looking at a points hotel, Sonesta Posadas Del Inca - Sacred Valley - Yucay. Is this a location where I'd want to spend a night or two in, if I have just a week in the MP/Cusco area? Was thinking maybe a relaxing night or two after some strenuous hiking.

    They also have one in Puno (Sonesta Posadas Del Inca - Lake Titicaca - Puno); would appreciate thoughts on that location too (separate trip perhaps).

    [Edit] - I assume everyone flew into Cusco? How did you get to Ollan?
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2017

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