Trip to MP (Machu Picchu), HP(HuaynaPicchu), Lima etc.

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I thought I would share these details(Warning: Long post) — might be useful if you plan to visit MP, HP, Lima etc. (Note: Later I would update this post with additional details on Sacred Valley tour, HP trekking, Inca Empire, Flight/fare details, food, and activities in Lima).

Lessons Learned:

1) Cuzco (or Cusco) is the nearest airport to MP ~500 miles southeast of Lima(the capital of Peru).

2) Cuzco is ~11,000 feet above sea level. This means some may get altitude sickness — this occurs when you can’t get enough Oxygen from the air. I thought I wouldn’t experience altitude sickness based on my experiences in India — Kodai, Ooty, Darjeeling and Simla. I was wrong. Cuzco is 3,000+ feet higher than any place I have ever visited.

3) We stayed in Cuzco(arranged through airbnb.com) near Plaza. If you plan to stay in Cuzco, buy 3 to 4 Oxyshots for a family of 4(~20 solos each, 1USD=3.3Solos) and altitude sickness tablets as soon as you land; drink lot of Coca Tea and chew Coca leaves — available everywhere.

4) My recommendation: Stay in Ollantaytambo instead of Cuzco- an hour away from Cuzco but 1,500+ feet lower than Cuzco; Ollantaytambo is more beautiful than Cuzco. 1500+ feet lower altitude helped us significantly when we toured Ollantaytambo.

5) Jan to April — rainy season. Luckily the weather was great when we visited last week. If you plan on doing Inca trail tour to Machu Picchu (5 days trail), then I believe May is the best.

Planning:

1) Planning is very critical as the number of visitors to MP is restricted to 2,500 per day. And the number of visitors to HP is 400 per day — 200 per group. 2 groups a day. First group from 7–8am and second group from 10am — 11am. No standalone tickets to HP;you need to purchase MP and HP combo ticket. HP entrance is inside MP.

(Link to book tickets:

http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe

Ingles version is available, pick British flag top right corner)

2) We bought MP+HP combo ticket. The difference between MP only versus MP+HP combo ticket is about $15 per ticket. HP trekking was amazing. Will update details later.

3) Only option to reach the base of MP called Aguas Calientes is by train. You take train from either Cuzco or Ollentaytambo (mid point between Cuzco and Aguas Calientes).

4) 3 or 4 different types of trains available from Cuzco — we took Hiram Bingham(HB) train( Watch this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4QqwqI2bGU ) but we enjoyed the experience. Train journey takes about 4 hours from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes.

5) If you don’t take HB train, then you would be responsible to go from the base of MP to MP. Two options: 1) Bus or 2) Trail.

Bus would take 25 minutes, US$24 round trip.

Trail would take an hour.

6) HB train also includes guided tour to MP. In case you take HB train, here is what the itinerary would look like:

8:30am — 9am — Arrive at the train station

9:05am — Departure

12:25pm — Arrival at the base of MP(Brunch is served in the train)

12:30–4pm — Guided tour to MP (HB train ticket includes MP ticket but not HP ticket. We bought MP+HP ticket for next day)

4pm- 4:45pm — Tea

4:45pm — Bus to Aguas Calientes.