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Travel to Peru: 15-day trip guide through the south of the country

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I would have to publish the stories of Russia wave Disneyland Paris getaway guidebut I have decided to publish before the travel guide to Peru what we did in January because several of you asked me for information about it to prepare a future trip. So, here you have the guide, although the day-to-day stories will not come until you finish publishing the story of the trip to Russia We did in August 2011.

I can firmly affirm that Peru It is one of the countries through which I have been able to travel more easily. Not only because of sharing the same language, which always helps, but because it is a country that offers all kinds of alternatives according to the budget of the traveler. From cheap hostels and collective transport for backpackers, to hotels with all kinds of luxuries and comforts, and in between a wide range of prices to choose from. So, removing the plane ticket and Machu Picchu, which is the most expensive in the country, you can adapt your trip to the budget you have.

Peru is a huge country where there is much to see, so it takes time. Unfortunately, we are always a bit limited because we cannot do more than two weeks in a row due to work issues. Luckily, Peru is also a country where many different trips can be made, so we chose a short route centered basically on three points: the Sacred Valley, Lake Titicaca and the Colca Canyon. Sometimes I have already told you that I am tired of going to the race, so in this itinerary I have preferred to include few points and try to explore them as much as possible.

Itinerary 15 day trip through Peru

Day 1: Arrival in Cuzco and acclimatization at altitude
Day 2: Cuzco (Qorikancha, Pukapukara and Sacsayhuamán)
Day 3: Cuzco, visit the ruins of Pisaq
Day 4: Cuzco, visit Moray and Maras salt mines
Day 5: Cuzco, visit the ruins of Ollantaytambo and overnight in Aguas Calientes
Day 6: Machu Picchu, night in Cuzco
Day 7: Bus to Puno and night in Puno
Day 8: Lake Titicaca, Uros and night in Amantaní
Day 9: Chullpas de Sillustani and night in Puno
Day 10: from Puno to the Colca Canyon, night in Yanque
Day 11: Horse riding and hiking in the Colca Canyon, night in Yanque
Day 12: Colca Canyon and the condor cross, night in Arequipa
Day 13: Arequipa and the monastery of Santa Catalina
Day 14: Lima, Barranco neighborhood
Day 15: Lima Center / return home at 8 pm

Visas entrance to Peru

To enter Peru you do not need a visa if you are Spanish. With the passport with 6 months validity is sufficient.

Power and plugs

The current is the same as in Spain and the plugs are two round or flat pins.

Vaccines and medical recommendations for Peru

As we did not visit the Amazon rainforest area, we did not have to get the yellow fever vaccine. Of course, it is advisable to have basic vaccinations up to date such as typhus, hepatitis A + B and tetanus. At international vaccination center They have told us that there have been cases of dengue, so you have to be careful that mosquitoes do not bite you in hot areas. Likewise, and although we went in summer, in the morning we put on a sweater, and when it was cloudy or raining, a good jacket, so in the end we did not use repellent.

We fly directly to Cuzco, which is 3,300 meters high. For adapt to height is advisable not to do anything the first day, drink lots of water and eat lightly. It is better to drink coca tea alone in the morning, as it is very energizing and there may be a risk that it will be difficult to catch the dream.

Sun protection is essential and that it is a factor of more than 50, because the sun burns a lot. I burned my ears, the part of my hair and my hands, because right there I didn't put on cream or were covered with clothes. So a hat is also recommended.

A basic medicine cabinet can save you from a bad time during the trip. It must contain:

• Material for priests (strips, gauze, iodine, alcohol ...)
• Sun protection cream and sunburn cream
• Mosquito repellents (Relec, Goibi, etc.), the bracelets do not work
• Oral serum in sachets
• Micralax (to control constipation in a controlled manner)
• Loperamide (only if you have diarrhea and have to make a long displacement)
• Paracetamol (for fever)
• Ibuprofen (for muscle aches and inflammations)
• Stomach protector
• Almax (to combat strong foods)
• Earplugs in case of sleeping in bedrooms (very beneficial for the mental health of the traveler)

Flights to Peru

Unfortunately, flights to Peru are currently not cheap at all. He had been following prices for months and it was practically impossible to find anything for less than € 750 in low season (in summer they cost € 1,200). Finally, we bought the flight on Iberia.com leaving Barcelona and with a stopover in Madrid for € 754. Only Iberia and LAN have direct flights from Spain and both leave Madrid. We left on January 6 (Friday night) and we had the bad luck that Iberia canceled the Madrid-Barcelona flight twice, first the one that left at 9 pm and then at 10 pm, until finally we were placed in the one that left at 7.30pm, which annoyed us a little the meal of the day of Kings. The flight with Iberia was disappointing, because despite being more than 11 hours, it did not include personalized entertainment. However, we made the return with LAN and the seats were very comfortable and with individual entertainment on board. Too bad that on both flights the ground staff was disastrous. For example, on the way back we asked for a window and a corridor, and they gave us a window in row 4 and a corridor in 31. When they told us there were no more free seats, I thought they were teasing me, since behind us we had more of 50 people queuing. In the end, they put us in the center seats, but together, at least.

Internal flights in Peru

Here I suffered a small ordeal, basically for not having informed me well before buying, and there are some airlines that have double fare: one for residents in Peru that is very cheap and another for foreigners that, obviously, is much more expensive. Well there I was with the ignorance that gives happiness when I bought two internal flights on TACA.com. One Lima-Cuzco ($ 98) and another Arequipa-Lima ($ 53) with the rate promo. The problem was that, after paying, I learned that the rate promo It is only for residents in Peru and that we had to pay on the flight from Lima to Cuzco a supplement of $ 195 each (!).

You don't want to know the moment of anger and rage that I lived. I felt totally scammed, because at no time during the purchase or in the rate restrictions, nothing was said, and that I looked at it well before buying. So I started a crusade against TACA. I complained on the phone and it didn't help because they refer you to their website. Then I sent twenty emails in a row with the same complaint and nothing. But then, I wrote a message on his Facebook wall and criticized how disastrous his customer service was, in addition to stating that they cheated the staff, and almost immediately they sent me an email to talk to me. Friends: don't underestimate the power of social networks. I showed them that at no time during the purchase I had been able to read any warning that the rate was only for residents, but they insisted that there was one. In the end, they decided to make an "exception" and make me a upgrade at the rate valid for foreigners without paying anything extra.

Later, in Cuzco, they told me in an agency that TACA already knows that there is this problem with their website and that if you complain strongly they fix it, but the unsuspecting end up paying. In fact, the restriction for residents is only on flights between Lima and Cuzco and on the routes that go to the Amazon. Even so, TACA's internal flight service was amazing: with snack and entertainment on board. Of course, I recommend that you go to the airport in advance (two hours minimum), since for the first time in my life, he flight left with 40 minutes of ADELANTO. Luckily we arrived in time at the airport ...

Peruvian Airlines has very competitive prices and above with a single fare. The latter was confirmed to me by email only a few minutes after I consulted it. Star Peru also has internal flights at a good price, although I'm not sure if they have double fare or not.

Correction: As of April 17, 2012, the TACA website already indicates that on flights to or from Lima or Cuzco or Cuzo / Lima and Puerto Maldonado the promo rate is for residents only. Foreigners have to buy from the ACCES rate.

Currency exchange in Peru

There is no problem finding currency exchange offices in the important cities of Peru. Before changing, I recommend that you ask what the exchange rates are in a couple of agencies to try to get the best price. In January 2012, one euro was changed to 3.25 soles.

Security in Peru

Several people have asked me about this topic. In Cusco there are many pickpockets and you have to be careful with your belongings, just like in Barcelona or Madrid. However, in Lima it is said that it is easier to dock a dead person than a living person and that they can easily take out a weapon. In fact, Marc Serena told me that in Lima I knew many travelers who had suffered robberies. With these premises, we went out to tour the city and, for the first time on a trip, I left the SLR camera at the hotel. Then we saw that in the historic center there is a lot of security and above all they try that tourists do not leave the “protected” areas, because as in the rest of the city there is not so much police, it is not so safe for us, or so they say . We were a short time in Lima and we did not deviate from the yellow tile road, which we thought was safe, but outside of this I would not know how to tell you.

Cusco and the Sacred Valley

From the airport to downtown Cusco

At the exit of the Cusco airport (in Peru there is the zeta, but that is said), you have to be careful because there is an official tourist information office and the rest are travel agencies. Outside there are white official taxis queuing at the exit that take you downtown for 5, 10 or 15 soles, depending on your bargaining ability.

At the exit there are also unofficial, more expensive taxis, whose drivers offer you their services incessantly. We did not see the whites and took an unofficial taxi for 25 soles. We ask that you take us to the Ministry of Culture and wait (about 30 minutes) for us to buy the Machu Picchu tickets, and then leave us at the hotel. I guess we paid too much, although the hotel asked us for 15 soles for picking us up at the airport.

There are also groups that leave you in the center for less than 1 sun per person (0.70 soles), but if you leave with bulky luggage you may not be allowed to climb.

From the train or bus station you can go to the center by official taxi between 5 and 10 soles.

Where to sleep in Cuzco

We stayed in the Casa Hospedaje Llaqtayay, a traditional family house with five rooms. The bathrooms are shared, but we prefer to give up our own bathroom in exchange for being in a warm environment and it was a success. Maybe the rooms are a bit shabby and the hot water in the shower was a mystery for us the first two days, but the price is unbeatable: $ 15 for a double room with breakfast and Wifi.

Tourist ticket

It is a nominal entry valid for 10 days that serves to visit Sacsayhuaman, Qenqo, Pucapucara, Tambomachay, Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero and some museums in Cuzco. It can be bought at the ticket offices of the mentioned archeological zones and the big complaint is that no specific tickets are sold for each place. It is or all or nothing. It costs 130 soles.

Excursions in and from Cuzco

In the Parade ground and nearby there are countless travel agencies that offer excursions in the area. Actually, they are intermediaries that sell the services of a couple of agencies and the price may vary if you bargain a bit. Here you have the excursions we did and how we organized them:

Cusco City Tour

Under this name the excursion is sold to visit during an afternoon (from 2 pm to 6.30 pm) the archaeological remains of Qorikancha, Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Qenqo and Sacsayhuaman. It cost us 10 soles per person and included transportation and guide. The entrances, Qorikancha (10 soles) and Pukapukara, Tambomachay, Qenqo and Sacsayhuaman (only with tourist ticket: 130 soles) went separately. Any agency in Cuzco will offer you the excursion, but if you are interested, I leave you the email of Urbano, the guide we had: [email protected]

Low-cost version of the Cusco City Tour

This same excursion can be done on your own. You have to go to the bus stop that goes to Pisaq (Tullumayu Avenue, 207) and ask them to leave you in Tambomachay (for about 1 sun) and from there go walking the 13 kilometers of the road that leads to Cuzco And that goes through all the ruins.

Another option that we discovered just the last day is the Free walking tour Cusco, which is done from Monday to Saturday with volunteer guides and that only costs the will. I leave the Facebook page for more information.

Cusco agencies also sell an inhuman excursion that consists of visiting in a single day the ruins of Pisaq and its market, Calca and Urubamba, the ruins of Ollantaytambo, the ruins of Chinchero and its market for 25 soles including transportation and guide . We consider that, as well as the ruins of Pisaq and those of Ollantaytambo, they deserved a whole day and to get there we use public transport because they are easily accessible.

Pisaq excursion

You can go to Pisaq with the bus line that departs from Tullumayu Avenue, 207 and costs 2.50 soles. It was the option we chose, although it is a bit slow because it stops everywhere. Later, we discovered that for 3.50 soles you could go by shared taxi, a fairly new minivans that are leaving as they are filled and that make the journey directly. For the difference in price and comfort, it is worth it. Shared taxis also leave near Tullumayu street. Once in Cuzco, ask for the exact address because I don't have it.

Once in Pisaq, you can take a taxi to climb to the top of the ruins (13 kilometers from the town). Prices are fixed and only going up to the top costs 25 soles. Then, from there you can visit the ruins and go down to the village on a beautiful road with spectacular views, in a walk of about two or three hours.

In Pisaq you can hire a guide for 25 soles. It is well worth it, although we could not find any.

Excursion to the salt mines of Maras and Moray

We did this excursion with an agency, because it is difficult to access these two points with public transport. The tour is from 9 to 14 hours and cost us 25 soles including the guide and transportation. In addition, we stop at a house in Chinchero to see a demonstration of traditional spinning. This excursion can also be done by mountain bike, but unless you are experts and you are in good shape, I DO NOT recommend it, because the distance to travel and the slope are considerable.

A Moray can only be entered with the tourist ticket and in the salt mines you have to pay 5 entry soles.

Excursion to Ollantaytambo

From here the train leaves for Aguas Calientes (base to get to Machu Picchu) and, therefore, we decided to visit the archeological zone calmly the morning before going to Machu Picchu. Ollantaytambo can be reached with the bus that leaves sporadically from the station of Grau Avenue in Cuzco. It costs 7 soles, but for 3 more soles you can go in a shared taxi that makes the journey in an hour and a half without stops. Collective taxis leave Pavitos Street with Grau Avenue as they fill up and the last service leaves Ollantaytambo at 20 hours.

To enter the fortress of Ollantaytambo you must have the tourist ticket. There we hired a guide to visit the ruins for two hours for 60 soles. The best time to visit the ruins is between 11 and 15 hours, since before and after it is filled with organized groups. We were almost alone.

It is also worth visiting the town of Ollantaytambo, which still maintains the same structure and foundations of the Inca era.

Visit Machu Picchu, new wonder of the world

Everything that surrounds the Macchu Picchu It is expensive, but once there, it becomes clear why it has been selected as a new wonder of the world. We opted for the easy way to get there, which is hopelessly the most expensive.

In Ollantaytambo we take a train in the afternoon. From Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes there are two hours of travel and it can be done with Peru Rail or Inca Rail. I did not know about the existence of Inca Rail, so we hired it with Peru Rail. This company currently has two "cheap" categories: Expedition, which now replaces the old Backpackers, and the Dress me. It should be noted that Peru Rail is currently owned by Orient Express and, therefore, the on-board service is very careful.

In the rainy season, the train only runs between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes and the journey to Cuzco is made by line coach. Therefore, depending on the time you arrive in Ollantaytambo, you can return by shared taxi, which will be infinitely cheaper.

How to go to Machu Picchu, low cost version

The cheapest way to go up to Aguas Calientes is to Santa Teresa and from there to Hydroelectric in buses. Cusco agencies also offer the transfer to Hydroelectric for 50 soles. Hydroelectric is the train station that leads to Aguas Calientes, but that train is only for Peruvians, so you have to walk two hours along the tracks until you reach Aguas Calientes.

Accommodation in Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu

In Aguas Calientes we stayed at the Rupa Wasi Lodge, an oasis in the middle of the chaos of Aguas Calientes, although we only had five hours to enjoy it. The double room with breakfast cost us $ 69 and they had the detail of picking us up at the station for free.

How to buy tickets for Machu Picchu

Attention: Tickets for the Machu Picchu cannot be purchased there and the entrance fee is limited to 2,500 people per day. Luckily, tickets can be purchased in advance on the official website.

We could not buy them online because we planned to go to Machu Picchu on January 12 and just on January 8, the rates were changed, so they were not put up for sale on the web until January 7. Therefore, the first thing we did when getting off the plane in Cuzco was to buy the ticket (Culture Avenue). Normally, the first thing to do is buy the ticket, then the train ticket and finally book the hotel.

Access Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes

At five in the morning there was already a considerable queue to access the buses that go up to Machu Picchu. The archaeological center opens at 6 am and the first bus leaves at 5.30 h. The one-way ticket is worth $ 9 and the round trip is $ 17. The bus takes half an hour to arrive. The option low cost It would be walking up on a walk of about two hours. I do not recommend it, unless you are physically prepared, since in the recess of Machu Picchu you also have to walk a lot and it is worth reserving forces.

What to do inside Machu Picchu

Once at the entrance, you must show the passport, since the entry is nominal. Outside the enclosure there is a ticket office where to leave the backpacks for 5 soles, but do not leave them there because once inside the enclosure only worth 3 soles. Outside the enclosure is the only bathroom of Machu Picchu and costs 1 sun. Theoretically, you cannot enter with drinks or meals. They won't tell you anything about the water when they enter, since I saw people with bottles of water in their hands and the guards said nothing. With other types of drinks they are not so permissive. Regarding food, if you carry a snack in the bag you can eat it discreetly without problems. Of course, all the waste you have to store and throw them out once, since inside there are no bins. By the way, in the bar, which is also outside, the water is worth 8 soles and 12 sodas.

Various guides offer their services at the entrance and it is worth hiring one. We were offered guided tours for between 150 and 100 soles. As they are expensive prices, they themselves are already in charge of setting up a small group. We finally made the guided tour of two and a half hours with Fernando, a professional photographer who was traveling alone, and so we paid 100 soles between the three.

Is it worth the climb to Huayna Picchu?

I do not think so. The views are not so spectacular, so my partner says. I stayed halfway and the effort to reach the top is considerable. In addition, it takes about 2 hours to go up and down, and that time can be used to travel without haste the central ruins, which are quite extensive, and time flies.

Inka Trail / Inca Trail

Before going to Peru, we seriously considered doing the Inca trail, but since it was a rainy season and it had such a high price, in the end we dismissed it. Now, after returning, I can say that I did well not to. First, for all the money that is with the agencies and, second, for the mass that is. In addition, to visit the Inca world you have to be in very good physical shape, since all the ruins are built vertically on the mountain, so you have to walk a lot and climb an infinite number of stairs. And if you have to add 4 days of walking to more than 3,000 meters of altitude, prepare some strong legs and lungs.

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