Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

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pascal
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Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by pascal »

Hi,

Looking for thoughts on which tour guides/packages to use for a vacation to Peru/Ecuador in December. The plan is to spend less than 10 days and the budget is about 2k to 2.5k pp (including travel from SF/LAX for DW and I). I looked up some websites tripadvisor and such - some folks recommend organizing a trip to Macchu Picchu yourself once you land in Cusco. Looking for suggestions from the wise Bogleheads! :sharebeer
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Nova1967
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by Nova1967 »

Once you arrive in Cusco you can set up tours of the surrounding Cusco areas and you can buy a direct train ticket to Machu Pichu from Cusco. Setting up tours in Cusco will give you more flexibility and should be less expensive
If you only have 10 days I would focus on one country, since you mentioned Machu Pichu I assume Your priority is Peru.
I would set aside at least 4 days in Cusco, it might take a day to get used to the altitude
Other things to see would be
Iquitos. Amazon exploration,you can set up guided tour once you arrive
Lima. Gold museum,cathedrals,Dining
Lake Titicaca
Paracas. Day trip from Lima. Beach town,sea lions
ShenziNation

Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by ShenziNation »

Machu Picchu requires permits. You have to book well in advance. I booked in the 4-day Inca Trail Trek 2012 through http://incatrailreservations.com/
They will feed you well.

Spend at least 2 days in and around Cuzco to acclimatize to altitude. Lots of archaeological features to see.

You'll be tired of seeing elaborately arranged piles of rock at the end of your trip. :twisted:
If you like beers, drink some Cuzqueña. :beer or have Pisco Sours.

It's a shame that the Church of San Sebastian had a lot of artifacts destroyed in a recent fire. :annoyed
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lernd
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by lernd »

If you would like to see Machu Picchu and enjoy hiking, I HIGHLY recommend Mountain Lodges of Peru. It's about 7 days of hikes, but you get to sleep in a lodge each night so it's not like you're completely roughing it. You don't do the Inca trail, instead going an alternate route (the Salkantay Trail). REI runs their trip through MLP but you can book directly with MLP as well. Machu Picchu is incredible. Definitely recommend trying to be there at sunrise. Cuzco is an interesting city (where a lot of the tours leave from), but you only need a few days there - and we used it as an opportunity to acclimate to altitude.
obgraham
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by obgraham »

You can do all of Machu Picchu by yourself: buy the train, find a place to stay at Aquas Calientes, visit the MP. But it is a lot easier to join a group. Plenty of outfits in Cuzco will sell you a package of your desire. You can hike your way there, or take the bus/train/shuttle, whatever suits your ability.

In any case, there is some superb food in Peru, with world class restaurants. I've made 6 trips there, and it just gets better every time.
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Dutch
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by Dutch »

obgraham wrote:You can do all of Machu Picchu by yourself: buy the train, find a place to stay at Aquas Calientes, visit the MP.
I've heard (can't remember where) that as of 2016 you can't do that anymore. Apparently you are required to go through a guided tour operator?

Something to look into.
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Peter Foley
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by Peter Foley »

We hired a local guide with a car in Cuzco. With that flexibility we were able to see multiple key sights near Cuzco in two days. It was not expensive and we got a lot of insight into local culture. Ollantaytambo, Pisac, and Tipon were recommended to us and were all worth it.
dolphintraveler
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by dolphintraveler »

A decade ago we were in Peru in December and Ecuador in January. We had more time than you, and we did no tours. We spent 10 days in the highlands (Lake Titicaca/Cuzco). We found we could take buses and/hike all around Cuzco. It was rainy when we were there, so we were really glad we opted to take the train to Aguas Caliente. We hiked up across from Machu Picchu to see a good view of it. The next morning we rode a bus up, spent a good half day there (mostly raining and foggy, but it did clear a few times which was priceless), then hiked down and rode the train back. It wasn't the classic hike, but we had done tons of day trips around Cuzco, enjoyed the ruins and it worked for us.

Also, perhaps due to the weather, the vizcacha (critters like squirrels/rabbits) were around. And the bugs were easy to photograph too.

If you go to low land Peru there is also the Nazca lines.

For Ecuador, there is the Galapagos, worth a trip in and of itself. We used Happy Gringo for that tour (Standard Gringo class).

Whatever you decide, enjoy it!
obgraham
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by obgraham »

One of the big disappointments these days is that the train to MP no longer leaves from Cuzco. You have to get over to Ollantaytambo by taxi, bus, or whatever. The tours, of course, take care of that for you.

But it's a shame because the train climb out from Cuzco was spectacular as it went back and forth to gain the altitude.

However, it's not all bad: if you stop at Chinchero, at the top of the pass between Cuzco and Urubamba, there are a couple of weaving shops there where the ladies will put on an incredible display of their skill in die-ing and weaving. Sure, you'll get pitched to buy, but it is something to see, and very impressive.

I advise everyone to go there. Soon. The government wants to build an international airport near Chinchero by 2021, and that will destroy the whole experience. Fortunately, it's Peru -- certainly won't be on schedule!
navyasw02
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by navyasw02 »

obgraham wrote:One of the big disappointments these days is that the train to MP no longer leaves from Cuzco. You have to get over to Ollantaytambo by taxi, bus, or whatever. The tours, of course, take care of that for you.

But it's a shame because the train climb out from Cuzco was spectacular as it went back and forth to gain the altitude.

However, it's not all bad: if you stop at Chinchero, at the top of the pass between Cuzco and Urubamba, there are a couple of weaving shops there where the ladies will put on an incredible display of their skill in die-ing and weaving. Sure, you'll get pitched to buy, but it is something to see, and very impressive.

I advise everyone to go there. Soon. The government wants to build an international airport near Chinchero by 2021, and that will destroy the whole experience. Fortunately, it's Peru -- certainly won't be on schedule!
The taxi ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is also very beautiful and somewhat death-defying as well going through some of those hills.
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SkierMom
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Re: Vacation in Peru/Ecuador in December

Post by SkierMom »

I second the recommendation to explore more of the hiking in the Cuzco area through a guided adventure.

Since Cuzco was the administrative and religious capital of the Incas, the city is like a centralized bike hub with trails radiating outward that offer spectacular views and connect little-visited communities and villages, in addition to the main tourist trail into MP. Visiting these Quecha communities by trail is immensely satisfying I went on a 10-day mountain biking trip almost 15 years ago, hitting Ollantaytambo, Urubamba and MP. I ended up tossing my bike into the back of a hay truck with about a dozen chickens going from 15,000 feet to sea level into Puerto Maldanado, where I then took a river canoe into the Amazon.

Even 15 years ago there was a requirement that all tourist folks on the main MP hiking trail have a paid permit as well as paid hired porters. This was a little oft-putting for me as I wanted to carry my own pack, but the local economies are dependent on the tourist income. The porters were mainly 12-14 year old boys in sandals and supposedly permit fees go towards schools and education in the communities.

You certainly can arrange a hike to MP once in Cuzco, but consider something a little more out of the box with an arranged tour ahead of time. For me personally, travel exploration isn't where I skimp and be cheap. I would rather spend my money on experiences than on "things".
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