Need Lodging Advice and Possibly Itinerary Tweaks for Peru
April 30, 2014 3:33 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I are planning a two-week trip to Peru in November, and though the big pieces of the trip are in place, we need some advice on how to slot things in. Also, lodging help.

Here is what the trip looks like so far:
Day 1: Leave Denver, fly to Lima
Day 2: Arrive in Lima stupid early in the morning, 1am or so. Depart for Iquitos at 3p.
Day 2-6 Tour the amazon on a kickass boat.
Day 6: Fly to Lima, stay in Lima overnight
Day 7: Fly to Cusco
Days 7-11 in Cusco area
Day 12 Fly to Lima
Day 13 Fly to Denver (leaving stupid early in the morning, 1am)

So, we have 2 nights overnight in Lima, where should we stay? We don't need anything crazy nice, especially since we're not staying long, but we're probably over sharing bunkbeds with drunk college kids who are having sex.

We want to see Machu Picchu while in Cusco, and we would like to stay in Aguas Calientes overnight so we can see MP early in the morning. Should we go straight from the flight from Lima to Aguas Calientes via Ollantaytambo, or spend a day in Cusco and catch the early train directly from Cusco? And we need a place to stay in Cusco and/or Ollantaytambo -- should we do both? Just Cusco? B&Bs or their equivalent would work well; again, we don't need super-fancy and don't want party hostels.

Any other suggestions for travel in the area would be great.
posted by craven_morhead to Travel & Transportation around Peru (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Most folks will advise you to acclimate a bit before doing anything ambitious in the Andes. Ollantaytambo and MP are not as high as Cusco, but not as comfortable either. Aguas Callientes is just a tourist town close to MP, and prices for a night's stay will reflect that.
Cusco is a good base of action for the sacred valley and MP, but is at altitude, so dont plan much the first day until you've had some coca tea and a good night's sleep.
Try Agoda for a place to stay, they've got pretty reliable ratings.
posted by OHenryPacey at 4:02 PM on April 30, 2014

What do you want to do in your 5 days in the Cusco area? I would definitely recommend spending time in the Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo is a great place to make a homebase. Cusco is a really interesting place but with more hustle bustle, spending time in Ollantaytambo or elsewhere in the valley (like Pisac or Urubamba) will give you a more relaxed, rural feel. I'm not sure what OHenryPacey meant that Ollantaytambo and MP are not at comfortable as Cusco. There is ample tourist infrastructure everywhere you go in this region with all manner of accommodations and restaurants, transport, internet, etc. I personally find it much MORE comfortable in Ollanta than Cusco because of the slower pace of life and proximity of beautiful mountains and easy hikes. Aguas Calientes is not a nice place to spend time, but staying overnight is a good tactic for Machu Picchu.

But going back to your actual questions...
I would go straight to Ollanta from your Lima flight. It's about 1,000 feet lower and easier to acclimate. You will also save considerable dollars by taking the train to MP from Ollanta instead of Cusco. I would also probably allow a day or two to acclimate before heading to MP, tho it is even slightly lower than Ollanta. Go back to Cusco for final days after you have adjusted and are in good shape from traipsing around.
How to get to Ollanta: You can get overpriced direct taxis at the airport, this is the most convenient. The real price should probably be like 70-90 soles but maybe higher, and feel free to bargain. Or, you can get a taxi to spot in Cusco called "Pavitos" (maybe 5 soles) and join a colectivo car or van to Ollantaytambo for the going rate (it will stop along the way). Used to be 10 soles. Which option you take just depends on your desire for adventure/tolerance for minor chaos.

Places to stay:
My favorite hostel in Ollanta is El Tambo. It is definitely basic but clean and well run by a lovely family with deep roots in the area. Beautiful patio with a jungle of plants and flowers all inside a historic home. They could also arrange transport from Cusco if you reserve in advance (as could any place you choose to stay). On the higher end you have the classic El Albergue down at the train station (not that central but BEAUTIFUL). Casa de Wow is nice place with a bit of a hippy-leaning (but not party kids in my experience). Lots and lots of hostels and hotels in town, feel free to MeMail for more.

Lodging in Cusco is infinite. My favorite place is extremely basic but, again, clean and not a party spot, called La Estrellita.
It is DIRT CHEAP but you can get a private room and breakfast is included with one egg made to order by one of the extremely nice older Peruvian men who run the place. It is very secure, very clean (but worn/plain) and never a rip off. Popular with Europeans and long haul motorcyclists and bicyclists who are usually interesting people. If you're looking for nicer but not FANCY digs, I highly recommend Ninos Hotels (beautiful place) and El Balcon is nice (good views looking out over the rooftops and surrounding hills).

I lived in this area and have answered other AskMeFi questions with suggestions for Sacred Valley sites and hikes if you search around, but also feel free to MeMail me. Also that boat looks FREAKING SWEET.
posted by dahliachewswell at 7:32 PM on April 30, 2014

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