Cusco Stories and Tips

Extra Information for the hike

Machu Picchu Photo, Cusco, Peru

Machu Picchu merits at least a two-day visit, so if you are hiking the Inka Trail consider staying the night in Aquas Calientes and returning to sightsee in the morning. First, you'll probably be too tired to fully enjoy Machu Picchu, second, you won't have enough time to see everything before the afternoon trains leave, and third, if you return early in the morning, prior to arrival of Cusco tourists, you'll have Machu Picchu all to yourself. Plus, Aquas Calentes is a fun small place to spend one night and hit the hot springs to relax your tired muscles. (See my Aquas Calientes entry under Machu Picchu for details). To return to Cusco, purchase a ticket for the tourist or local trains at their respective ticket offices. The modern (tourist) train station is on the east side of town, across the stream, whereas the local train ticket office is west of the police station in the town center. The local train is slower and much cheaper but is otherwise fine and adds to the experience of being in Peru. Make sure you get on one that goes straight to Cusco. Some go to Ollantaytambo and you have to take a bus to Cusco from there. Currently, local train leave Aquas Calientes at 2 p.m. and tourist trains leave at 4:30 p.m. but schedules are often changed so check ahead in the Cusco tourist office. Finally, to get to the trailheads from Cusco, contact a reputable tour operator for a ride on their bus. They will often pick you up at your hotel. Here is a list of some reputable companies who I know provide good service: UNITED MICE (Plateros 348, tel. 221139); LUZMA TOURS (Santa Teresa, 261327); RIKUNI TOURS (Plateros 341, 241700); an INCA EXPLORERS (Calle Suecia 339, 239669). You can also book a complete tour with them. Camping equipment can be rented in a number of stores in Cusco near Plaza de Armas, as well as from most of the tour agencies located on Plateros and Procuradores streets. The best place to rent is Soqllaq'asa Camping Service, located at Calle Plateros 359, tel. 252560. Gear can also be purchased at Camping Deportes, Av. del Sol 346, shop # 118

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