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Machu Picchu Summer 2017

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

  1. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    Hey just to close the loop and update everyone we completed our trip over Labor Day weekend (I know over a month ago haha) and here's some of the details. This is definitely not how most people would do Machu Picchu, but we could only squeeze in a quick trip and I think we definitely made the most of it. The only stuff we'd really consider "missed" was Sacsayhuaman and the 7 color mountain (which we'll probably go back to on a stopover in Lima).

    We do a pretty good job of squeezing most unnecessary time out of trips, while also relaxing and catching our breath when we can. I usually catch z's on buses / trains / planes and we'll almost always hit a lounge before/after our flight to charge up, fuel up, take a breath. We certainly didn't see everything in the Sacred Valley, but Machu Picchu was the main point of the trip and frankly the Salineras actually made the trip.

    7:09pm - Land at DFW dinner at Centurion

    5:35am - Land at LIM, hangout in VIP Lounge (really small, but relaxed)
    9:45am - Depart LIM
    11:05am - Land CUZ
    took cab to Plaza de Armas, then took Colectivo to Ollantaytambo (departure a few blocks from Plaza de Armas)
    Lunch in Ollantaytambo Plaza
    4:00pm - Depart Ollantaytambo on Inca Rail
    6:09pm - Arrive Aguas Calientes, check in to Hostel, dinner at Mapacho (definitely recommend)

    4:15am - Get in line for MP bus (tickets bought day before at bus kiosk)
    Arrive at MP, hike Huayna Picchu, explore MP til 2ish
    Lunch at French café in Aguas, we had a 6:30pm train ticket back to Ollanta, but we were able to change it to around 3
    3:00pm~ Train back to Ollanta, got Colectivo back to Cusco
    Checked into hostel dinner at chicken place in Cusco, set up cab for next day

    6:00am - Met cab in front of hostel
    Went to Salineras de Maras (totally recommend!!), tried to go to Moray, but lady at gate wouldn't let us in without one of the "official" multi-day passes
    Saw little square in Maras
    1:30pm~ Back in Cusco, explored plaza, bought some trinkets, took pictures, hung out at cafe
    3:50pm - Depart CUZ (hung in much better international lounge outside security)
    5:15pm - Land LIM
    We had originally booked a hostel in a bad neighborhood, but we were able to reserve at the DoubleTree El Pardo (totally recommend)
    We had dinner and just relaxed at this awesome hotel.

    7:00am - Bus to Ica, cab from Ica to Huacachina
    Sandboarding, dune buggy ride
    Lunch / beers in Huacachina
    4:00pm - Bus from Ica to Lima
    Got room service for dinner and packed up

    6:40am - Depart LIM - END OF TRIP
  2. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Ah. The new post by @currid7 caused a page break and I almost lost track of this one!

    I am not familiar with the hotel you referenced. I can't tell from googling which rewards points you might use ... is it an SPG property? I'm guessing.

    @Suzie stayed at an SPG property in Urubamba, I believe. I stayed an the Palacio del Inca SPG property in the heart of Cusco and was very happy. 10k SPG each night and it was a great redemption.

    We considered going to Lake Titicaca, but it is quite a distance and would have taken a significant time investment. It does look interesting, and we've penciled that in on the "next Peru trip" list, perhaps continuing on to see the Nazca lines.

    Ollantaytambo (Ollantay or Olly) is quite a ways from Cusco, but there are options. We opted to fly into Cusco and hired a driver to take us to Ollantay. The driver was through the hotel we stayed at there. This was a nice pay place ... your points options in Ollantay AND Aguas Calientes will be limited (I don't think there are any). The private driver from Cusco to Olly was $50 and I believe was over an hour drive (actually almost 2 hours, and very scenic). We paid the same driver via hotel to take us back to Cusco at the end of our visit to the valley at the same price. The hotel stored our luggage while at MP.

    The other option is the train. Olly is the end of the drive-able road on the way to MP. After that it is the train only. Many people take the train from Cusco all the way to MP, but I believe it stops in Olly on the way. The train is also relatively expensive (captive market). But you could start in Cusco, take the train to Olly for some kind of a stay, progress to Aguas Calientes and MP, then head back to Olly or straight to Cusco.

    I found private (pre-arranged) drivers relatively inexpensive in Peru and area. But the train is also a way to get around. If the hotel you want provides access to the train, you are in good shape. The rest depends on the number of days you plan on investing at each location. Some people do MP in one day including the train both ways. IMO, that's not enough (particularly if the day you choose is cloudy).

    I'll review my own trip report and see if I have anything else to add.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  3. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Some tiny updates to the above.

    The drive from Cusco to Olly was about 1:50 making the $50 cost even more reasonable, IMO.

    In Olly we stayed at the Pakaritampo Hotel for 2 nights and were happy with it at $164/night. 3 minutes walk to the train station; extremely slow internet:

    Train ride from Olly to AC was 90 minutes according to my notes. I didn't record the RT price of the train ... I'm sure I have it at home and will update this post later if I can find it.
  4. Suzie

    Suzie Level 2 Member

    We did the same - flew into Cusco and hired private driver to Urubamba. Highly recommend this SPG property - it was beautiful and we walked to the train to MP in the morning. Note, however, that you will not arrive in time for the sunrise if that is your goal. It was not important to us and we were really pleased with the SPG property. Both that location and the Cusco location are part of the SPG Luxury Collection. Palacio del Inka is a great building and the location in Cusco was right off the main square.

    We really enjoyed the ruins at Olly. Almost more so than MP. Less crowded and great to climb around - you don't need a guide.
  5. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    Also updating, for our stays outside of Lima they were all hostels, using coupons / promos from Booking.com. The colectivo from Cusco to Ollanta worked out to like $3 each or something insane. There were lots of them running and it actually was a pretty nice & comfortable ride.
  6. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    Great info from everyone. I hope to go around Labor Day 2018.

    Someone who went said MP is nice and quiet around sunset. Sounds good to me.
  7. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    I thought I remember seeing you have to be out before 4-5pm, but I could be wrong. Check into it.
  8. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    There is some kind of snotty hotel right next to MP ... I thought this provided better access, but this is from old memory. (Update: the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge - $593/night). I don't recall closing time myself.

    This site:
    Claims the park is open 6 to 6 and while the times vary only slightly with Peru's proximity to the equator, sunrise and sunset occur around these very times.
  9. italdesign

    italdesign Level 2 Member

    How did you guys go between Pisac, Ollantay, Urumbamba, Moray, and other sites in Sacred Valley? Did you take a tour, use public transportation, or...?
  10. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    Here's what I found on TA but not sure how accurate it still is.

    I think part of the issue is the time of the last bus may be before the park closes. Which of course means you'll have to walk back to Aguas...in the dark. We left in the afternoon, since we'd been there for over 5 hours, including a hike up HP, so we were pretty exhausted. So I can't say for sure what happens in the evening in the park.
  11. currid7

    currid7 Level 2 Member

    On the day of our CUZ-LIM flight we hired a cabbie at 6am and he took us to Maras / Moray. It was like 50 bucks or something. He was from Maras so we got some good info and he was a cool guy. He tried really hard to sweet talk the lady at the gate of Moray to let us in but man, she was a bitch. He felt so bad, but we were like "Meh, the salineras are what we really wanted to see anyways." If we weren't flying out that afternoon, he offered to take us to Pisac as well. If you get a cab in Cusco to your hostel or something, just mention you want to go see those places and they'll probably offer the same deal. They'll take a whole day of business and it's really not that expensive. Plus, you can take as long as you want at the places and not worry about missing it / getting to station / etc.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2017
  12. knick1959

    knick1959 Level 2 Member

    Checking my notes ... I've already described how Cusco to Olly is 1:50, so this is a location change, not really a day trip. However, from Cusco we were able to poke into other places in the Sacred Valley pretty easily.

    The Concierge desk at our hotel was a great asset; even if the prices through them were slightly higher than if you "shopped around", I assumed they were arranging for known and dependable vendors. Perhaps I was naive, but it all worked out well for us. Pisac is 50 minutes from Cusco.

    We hired a driver on one day (Sunday for the Market) to take us to Pisac for their ruins AND the market there. The driver suggested a stop at a zoo/animal rescue center which was interesting. The ruins were neat and the market netted some additions to our souvenir collection. That was S/230 or about $76 for the 2 of us. He dropped us off and simply waited for us to finish, then took us to the next place.

    On the next day we hired another driver through the desk. For S/100 ($33) a hotel-sanctioned driver took us to Saqsayhauman, Tambomachay and Pukapukara ... and the hotel added Q'enco, all Incan ruins. He was easily convinced to make a quick stop at the Cristo Blanco statue on the way back to the hotel. I didn't note our start time, but it looks like we had this driver for 5 hours. A much better deal than the day before, but even that seemed cheap for a personal chauffeur for the day. To me.

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