Traveling to Peru: advice please

Hello All -
We will be taking a family trip to Peru in June, and need some recommendations. We want to spend two night/three days in Cuzco and Machu Picchu. This will be in the middle of a 10 day trip..

Have any of you taken an excursion like this originating in Lima(i.e., one price for airfare/lodging/admission).

Any experiences (good or bad) with a particular tour company? We need a budget-oriented company.

Thanks in advance!

No useful advice about destinations but a suggestion about Machu Picchu- might get altitude sickness. Just learned the hard way skiing in Breckenrigde- anything 8-13 miles about sea level can make one pretty sick. Consider getting a med that you can take in advance if you are going to climb the mountain.

Ugh - I'm sorry you experienced that! I've heard it's miserable.

We are not going to be climbing the mountain - we will take the train from Cuzco. Also, we will take a full day to acclimate in Cuzco, and then head to the site the following day.

Just for reference: what is the proper medication?

Diamox- its a blood pressure med - it makes your blood more acidic and makes you tolerate the altitude better.

I loved my trip to Lima/Cuzco/Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, it was too many years ago to be of much use for your trip.

I think you'll be fine with a full day in Cuzco to acclimate a bit. Drink plenty of water, as dehydration can exacerbate any issue with altitude. Oh, and check expected temperatures in advance. It can be quite hot in the valleys but cool up high (of course!)

Ms_Confidential said:

No useful advice about destinations but a suggestion about Machu Picchu- might get altitude sickness. Just learned the hard way skiing in Breckenrigde- anything 8-13 miles about sea level can make one pretty sick. Consider getting a med that you can take in advance if you are going to climb the mountain.
You won't find anything on earth that is 8 miles above sea level. (That would be over 40,000 feet if my math is correct and the highest point on earth is Mt Everest at 29,000 or so, I believe.) But even one mile high can be tough, so the caution re altitude sickness is right on!


Im sorry, total goof on my part (the altitude sickness fried my brain). I meant 8-13 thousand feet above sea level lol! Denver is mile high so 5000feet. Breckenridge was 10,000. I think Machu Picchu is even higher (13,000) but I don't remember.

Debby, a former poster here at MOL posted this for you on the MOL Facebook page

Debby of MOL - we went on a family trip to Peru organized by a company called Cultural Immersions. If you se this let me know if you want more info. We did not take Diamox and had no issue with altitude sickness. Check - I think Cuzco is higher than Machu Picchu.

Don't let any of your party swim even if it's hot. I know a healthy young man who did that & the rapid temperature change plus the altitude put him into cardiac arrest. The local hospital did not have a working debfibrillator and he died.

Wow - ina, that's a horrible story.

We went to Peru 3 years ago and loved every minute. Two of my kids and I hiked to MP (they were 9 and 11 yo) while my husband and 4 yo took the train. I would definitely recommend more time in Cusco; there is so much to see and do.

We used Inka Time Tours/Grupo Mapi for the hike and MP tour. THey are on Facebook. LMK if you're interested and I can send you our travel blog.

I just completed the 4 day Inca trail and Manchu Picchu trip in November.
Altitude: Everyone in my group took diamox. It was still a struggle for several to manage the altitude - although in the end it was other stomach viruses that got to them. Suggest seeing a travel doc now to prepare based on travel plans. Cusco is highest town, and therefore where they want you to adjust. Ideal is to give it 2 days. However, am certain given you are not intending to exert yourself other than for the Manchu Picchu tour itself, likely easier to manage.
tour info: The best operators for tours are actually in Cusco. The tour operator we used was Alpaca Expeditions. Again, my experience was for the actual Inca trail, and they were marvelous. You will take a van to the town at the base of trail, the train to town Aqua Calientes up the mountain, then Bus to top. Bus back to train, train back the town at the start of the trail (this also has a marvelous ancient site worth touring), and from there again van return to Cusco. If leaving from Cusco to Manchu Picchu and return same day, be prepared to get up extremely early. I might actually recommend you stage yourself in Agua Calientes night before to get on the first bus up to mountain in AM. We also did the train return, and its wonderful as well. Or alternatively, stay in Aqua Calientes after you go to Manchu Picchu, and you can enjoy Manchu Picchu late in the day without crowds. We had some delays both ends with flights in/out of Cusco, so be prepared with some flex on both ends. I can give recommendations for all places - PM me since better to know what you are looking for in terms of experiences and costs and can talk in person - if interested in any specific recommendations. Experience of a lifetime!

I went to peru around 6-7 years ago, also using Cultural Immersion-Eduardo Pimental, the owner, really tailors whatever itinerary you want to suit you without breaking the bank. The drivers, guides, etc were all so friendly, which is definitely a Peruvian personality trait! I saw much of the country besides Cusco and Macchu Picchu so if you have any questions, it's no trouble. PS-I had no problem with altitude but regular acetominaphin is fine-if you are going to explore the Amazon, you should see a travel doc for malaria pills and bring some pepto just in case--bottled water only is pretty essential, including teeth brushing. Hope you love the country as much as I did-

There is a post for you on the MOL fb board.

Thank you everyone.
I don't think I belong to the MOL page on fb.

Im really disappointed with prices off domestic flights in Peru. Lima to Cuzco is as much as Florida to Lima.

I think this was already covered... but Cuzco is higher than Macchu Picchu. Cuzco can be tough, especially if you fly in from Lima (sea level to pretty darn high). It kicked my ass for sure, but my wife was fine with it.

While in Cuzco be sure to visit Paddy's... the kids will enjoy it too:

http://www.paddysirishbarcusco.com/

See the Sacred Valley. The Urubamba River runs through it. Visit Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Dine on Guinea pig and wash it down with a Pisco sour. Cocoa tea helps with altitude sickness and most hotels serve it. Also some hotel rooms provide additional oxygen in Cuzco and other higher elevations. Macchu Picchu can be crowded. We stayed in Aguas Caliente one night and got up early at watched the sunrise over MP.....Awesome and no crowds.

coca leaf tea,tho hot cocoa may be nice too!!

cbroderick said:

Wow - ina, that's a horrible story.

We went to Peru 3 years ago and loved every minute. Two of my kids and I hiked to MP (they were 9 and 11 yo) while my husband and 4 yo took the train. I would definitely recommend more time in Cusco; there is so much to see and do.

We used Inka Time Tours/Grupo Mapi for the hike and MP tour. THey are on Facebook. LMK if you're interested and I can send you our travel blog.


Do you mean I need more than 3 days?


Has anyone done the boatride to the floating reed island? Is it very choppy?

I don't think you need to medicate yourself unless you are planning on doing strenuous activity. The best way to acclimate to high altitudes is to hang out in high altitudes and let your body adapt. Cuzco is a great place to hang out.

cbroderick said:

Wow - ina, that's a horrible story.

We went to Peru 3 years ago and loved every minute. Two of my kids and I hiked to MP (they were 9 and 11 yo) while my husband and 4 yo took the train. I would definitely recommend more time in Cusco; there is so much to see and do.

We used Inka Time Tours/Grupo Mapi for the hike and MP tour. THey are on Facebook. LMK if you're interested and I can send you our travel blog.


Thank you so much for this recommendation I think we're going to go with Inka Time, for 4days/3 nights. Much more affordable than Cultural Immersions, and it seems like a nice itinerary.

We will spend the balance of the time in Lima, my husband's birthplace. He hasn't been back in 20 years.

I would LOVE to read your travel blog. I will PM you.

Have to disagree with Roland based on personal experience- I woke up after spending the first night in high altitude and felt horrible: dizzy, migraine, vomiting and nausea. Did not engage in any strenuous activity- could not ski till day 3. Spent the first 2 days on oxygen. The diamox taken a few days before could have saved me all that misery. It's common, and totally random (not based on age or fitness level)- kinda like sea sickness. All 3 kids and hubby were fine but I wanted to crawl under a rock and die.

So you can pre-treat? Good to know.

Yes you get a script and take a few days before arrival- I think one pill in the am and one in the pm. It increases the acidity in the blood and ostensibly sets you up to tolerate the altitude change better. The doc I saw at the med emerge when I was there gave it to me but said it works much better when taken in advance. I also had a friend who traveled to Peru and said she was the only one in her group who had the med and was much much more comfortable. I am sure my reaction was extreme (other people just report feeling off, tired, a little dizzy, racing heart), but they told me at Breckenridge that above 10,000 feet about 45% experience some form of altitude sickness.

We went back to Cuzco two years ago--some 20 years after our first time. We stayed at Torre Dorada Residencial at a very reasonable price. They arranged our trip to MP and Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. Our arrangements were made via email and then confirmed once we arrived. This hotel is small and in a residential area that isn't near the Cuzco center, but they have drivers/nice car available and on call to take you to town (perhaps 7 minute drive) and the MP train and pick you up whenever you are ready. This is a very service oriented hotel. The hotel is rated 5 stars on Trip Advisor.

We did not stay at Aguas Caliente, but I wish we had. During the day MP is now very crowded and being able to visit the site in the a.m. or evening without the crowds could make this awesome place even more memorable.

Staying at the very reasonably priced Torre Dorada Residencial might make a night at Aguas Caliente come within your budget.

It's all booked!

We will fly to Lima on JetBlue, and stay in Miraflores for four nights. Then fly to Cusco, but stay in Urubamba (which is significantly lower - minimizing the chances of altitude sickness. We will tour the Sacred Valley one day in a private tour, and go to MP the following day. On the last day we'll just have few hours in town in Cusco before flying back to the States.

Thank you for all the helpful advice.



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