Peru - Miles High and a World Away

I spent 2 and a half weeks in the Sacred Valley and Andes with friends.

Peru - Miles High and a World Away

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by drumzspace on February 24, 2005

The main highlight was driving through the Sacred Valley, visiting the market at Pisaq, and seeking the out-of-the-way sights at Ollaytantambo with our guide Americo, his son Gayle, and our friend Christian.

The market at Pisaq is a bit touristy since the major market day is only once a week, but it's worth the trip.${QuickSuggestions} Don't rush through and see only Sacsayhuaman on your way to Macchu Pichu. Places like Pisaq, Ollaytantambo, Chinchero, and Moray all have something to offer the traveler--especially the latter two, since they're lesser-known. No crowds!

Bring some loose change to the market day at Pisaq. Kids will allow you to take pictures of them all dressed up in "local garb" for a few coins--you help them out by giving out some spare change that is essentially useless, and in return, you get some great pictures.${BestWay} While hiring a guide in Cusco is the easiest (and most informative) method of getting around, you can also rent motorcycles, which perhaps allow more freedom, although road safety is a factor.

Exploring Cusco

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by drumzspace on February 24, 2005

Cusco is the touristic hub of Peru. If you are off to see anything related to the Incas, you're going to have to eventually step foot in Cusco.

The good news is that it's not a terrible city. There are some good restaurants once you make a little effort to walk off the beaten tourist path, and some good deals are to be had in the handicraft markets away from the crowds.

The bad news is that there *is* the element of "hustling" there. Once in the Plaza del Armas, you are inundated with people trying to get you into their restaurants, kids selling postcards or trinkets, guides offering services, etc. It's a bit much to handle if you've been travelling all day, but walk a block or two away from the plaza and you're left alone.

The bottom line with Cusco is that you will have to go here, if only to rest up on your way to or from Lima. It is also a decent place to act as a base for day trips to much of the Sacred Valley, although there are better deals for lodging in the smaller towns dotting the valley itself.

Exploring Cusco
Cusco, Peru
Cusco, Peru, 00 51
0051 84 273693

Macchu Picchu

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by drumzspace on February 24, 2005

Everyone knows about it. Everyone has heard about it. Everyone has seen pictures of it. The once-hidden core of the Incan empire is now a hub of commerce and activity, prompting the government to take an active role in regulating the number of visitors to it and the Inca Trail leading to this historic site.

Macchu Picchu is the most popular tourist destination in South America for a reason: the views are spectacular, it's a manageable size, and there are plenty of services for tourists in the nearby staging town, Aguas Calientes.

Cheap lodging, good restaurants, Internet connections, and shops cram the small hamlet perched on the edge of the Urubamba River. When departing the train from Cusco, the traveler is bombarded by locals from the town selling film, panchos, T-shirts... just about everything the typical gringo needs.

Macchu Picchu itself is a 20-minute bus ride from Aguas Calientes, up a narrow and winding road. From there, it's a $20 entrance fee, and you're set to wander in the footsteps of the Incans. Those who have avoided the effects of the altitude can take the 45-minute climb up Huayna Picchu, the giant mountain that looms over the city of Macchu Picchu and graces countless pictures of the site.

The site itself is completely "doable" in one full day without feeling rushed, although if Huayna Picchu is in your plans, perhaps a day and a half is a better plan, because when you return from the mountain, you probably won't feel like doing much else. If you're energetic, not interested in soaking in every last detail of Macchu Picchu, and an early riser, though, one day should suffice for everything.

Machu Picchu Inca Archaeological Site
Above The Urubamba Valley
Cusco Region, Peru

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