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Peru travel advice

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by ss1, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. ss1

    ss1 New Member

    My husband and I are travelling to Peru in a couple weeks; we are taking a GAP tour for 8 days, including a couple free days in Lima and Cuzco, and hiking the Inca trail to Machu Piccu. Anybody have advice, suggestions for us? Especially for things to do and places to eat in Lima and Cuzco? Advice for the trail itself? I'm very excited, but also a little nervous, as I've never done such a hike before!
  2. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    one of my coworkers took a trip to Peru last year - mostly Cuzco and she went to Machu Piccu. I'll see if I can get some info for you, might take a couple days tho.

    Have fun! The trip sounded really exciting.
  3. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Get altitude sickness pills asap. You'll need them.
  4. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Oooh, I'm envious. I did the Inca Trail 2 years ago. My best advice for the trail is to carry as little as possible. Don't hestitate to hire a porter before the hike to carry any extra stuffs you have. You'll enjoy your hike so much better if you only have yourself, a bottle of water and a small camera on you. I saw ladies in their 50s and 60s doing the hike, so don't worry, you'll complete it :)

    My other advice for the trail is to try to use the public restrooms along the trail as little as possible :lol: Cover you nose, watch your step, get in, get out. Bring sanitizer !!!

    Make sure you have long pants on when you tour Macchu Picchu. There are these nastly little black flies that will hover around your legs and leave nasty bites. I made the mistake of arriving to MP from the Inca Trail in short. When I departed MP that day, my entire legs were covered in itchy red welts. Gross.

    Cuzco is great. There seems to always be some sort of parades/festivities going on there. The people are very nice. You can easily do day trip into the towns in the Sacred Valley area from Cuzco.

    Take a visit to the Peru discussion forum at fodors.com. People are very helpful with advices over there. Have a great trip !!!

    ETA: The other important advice is to allow yourself to acclimitize to the high altitude before doing the hike. I got hit really bad with altitude sickness on my second day in Cuzco. Thank goodness it cleared up by the time I started the hike.
  5. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    GAP has porters (subcontracted from United Mice), so it shouldn't be necessary to hire one. OTOH, one of the women in my GAP group was recovering from knee surgery when she went on the Trail :wall:, and she wound up hiring porters to carry her up the Gringo Killer Inca Steps on the first day. :rofl:

    ss1: I will send you a lengthy private message tonight with Vagabond's Peru Travel tips. :)
  6. firefly

    firefly Active Member

    I'm envious! I stayed un Cuzco for 4 weeks almost two years ago. The city is really great! When I was there, the Inka Team was the place to be if you wanted to have a few drinks. It's right by the McDonald's in the city center.

    If you want to by some souvenirs, take a walk on Avenida del Sol. There are plenty of small markets. The biggest is the Mercado de Artesania. If you are in the Center, go down Avenida del Sol for about 15 minutes. You need to pass in front of the Qoricancha. It is in front of a small fontain.

    Depending on how much time you have, you can either go to the Sacred Valley or to Tipon. My favorite of all Inca sites was Moray and Ollantytambo. Each is different and interesting to visit. There's a tourist pass you need to buy to go to those sites.

    In Aguas Calientes, the small town near Macchu Pichu, everything is twice as expensive than in Cuzco. But the town really has a great vibe.

    That's all I can think of right now, but I'll see if I can remember more places to eat or drink :) You'll have the time of your life in Peru. I enjoyed the country and the people so much that I felt like if I was at home!

    For the altitude sickness, be sure not to eat to much the first few days and drink a lot of water. If you can, drink mate de coca too. It helps. It is entirely possible you won't feel anything other than one headache BUT be prepared for the worst.

    If you have any question, feel free to ask!!
  7. CoolGuy

    CoolGuy Well-Known Member

    I did the Inca Trail back in 2008. AMAZING experience. Loved every bit of it.

    Here are some musts:

    1) Flashlight. One for every person in your group. We thought our group of 5 could get by with 2 flashlights...:duh:

    2) Walking stick. You will need one. A nice one. An adjustable one. This will become your third leg. We were able to rent one from the agency we went with.

    3) Extra porters. We thought we would be able to handle carrying most of our stuff (sleeping mats, sleeping bags, clothes, water), but it was brutal doing that. Have a porter carry most of your stuff. It is well worth it.

    Some advice:

    1) Don't wear jeans. Buy two comfortable pairs of hiking pants. While you are hiking, you will not have to worry about being cold. At the top of Dead Woman's Pass (almost 14,000 feet), I was in a white tee shirt and light khaki hiking pants even though it was the middle of winter (July 28).

    2) Sunscreen. Especially if you burn easy. I'm not sure what the weather is like in March, but in July, it was crystal clear (winter is their dry season).

    3) Insect repellent. I treated all of my clothes with Permethrin and used insect repellent on my skin. Did not receive a single insect bite. Whether or not you actually need all of that, I have no idea; I just enjoyed having the peace of mind knowing that if there were a lot of insects on the trail, they would die the moment they came near me.

    4) Comfortable shoes and socks. I got a great pair of hiking tennis shoes that had great traction, great cushioning, and didn't rub uncomfortably against anything. More cushion = better. The Inca Trail is almost nothing but stairs. Stairs made out of rocks. After our hike, the next day, we could not walk down any stairs when we were back in Cusco because our legs were extremely sore (going up stairs wasn't a problem), and we all had blisters on our feet (not too bad, though).

    5) Money. At your third camp site, you will be able to take a warm shower, but it will cost you.

    6) If you can, try to get to the 3rd camp site first, that way you will be the first to use their beautiful, porcelain toilets before anyone else. Towards nightfall, you do not want to be walking throughout the camp because there will be flies everywhere.

    Where to eat at Cusco:

    I really only have one recommendation: Patty's Irish Pub.
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
  8. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Definitely. Get the type that leave your hands free. You'd be glad you have it when using the bathroom at night.

    Surprisingly there was a couple in my group that had on jeans and regular old sneakers and they were fine for the entire hike. I wouldn't recommend it for the normal folks though :lol:.

    There is no way to get money once you start the trail. You should plan out prior to starting the hike how much you'll tip the porters and crew at the end of your trip, and carry that amount + some extra spending money with you.

    Check out also www.Perutreks.com It has very useful information on Cusco and MP in general.
  9. The Accordion

    The Accordion Well-Known Member

    Mr Accordion went in the fall so I am going to hand the computer to him to write in here:

    Howdy, Mr. Accordion here,

    I went to Cusco this fall and had a really great experience. I did not stay for all that long, only a couple of weeks, but I did the hike to Macchu Picchu as well as exploring the rest of the Sacred Valley in and around Cusco.

    First of all, hiking to Macchu Picchu is going to be incredible no matter what trail you take. There are many trails that lead there and I took an alternative route via the Apachuleta Pass around the Apu Salkantay- it was about 85 km long and went as high as 14, 500 feet in altitude. It covered glaciers and rain forest, and I'll definitely never forget it.

    Make sure you stay in Cusco for at least 3 days to acclimatise. Cusco has a lot of tough stone/cobble streets and stairs, and you might do a bit of wheezing like I did. You can buy Diamox, which is the so-called drug of choice for dealing with altitude sickness. However, if you get soroche, or altitude sickness, there really isn't a lot you can do except go to a lower altitude, or tough it out until your trip descends. I had it bad, but slugged it out. In retrospect I should have turned around as I was experiencing warning symptoms of High Altitude Pulmonary Edema, such as blood in my spit (and other symptoms) when I woke up the night I stayed in the high passes at 14000 feet. I spent a very painful and worried night but once I made it to lower ground it cleared immediately. Coca tea did nothing to help, same with chewing a plug of coca leaves, except it numbed my tongue. However, there are many trips to Macchu Picchu that are much lower in altitude. And the ruins themselves are lower altitude than Cusco so you'll be fine.

    You need: sunscreen, bug spray, advil, and get the extra porter if its an option. Also, buy lots of bottled water, specify "agua sin gas" otherwise you'll get mineral water. There is a small grocery in the main square that specialises in hiking trip supplies.

    I found it tough sleeping in Cusco because there are at least 400000 dogs and they all bark all night. Earplugs sort of helped.

    Cusco has a great market. Lots of cheap food that the locals eat. There is an excellent restaurant called Cicciolina's that has a very extensive wine list and super desserts. I tried Guinea pig- kinda like rabbit which I don't really like either. But fresh bread is everywhere in these huge wheel loaves and I loved that, also tons of delicious flaky pastry. If you don't speak spanish, look for a panaceria, or bakery.

    One of my favourite things was just walking around the valley. I often just started walking following a map of all the different archaeological sites, such as walking from Sacsayhuaman which is about 500 metres from Cusco, to Pucapucara which is about 10 km out of town, and then to Tambomachay which is 2 km from Pucapucara. All told it was done in one day, but I did several times because the valley is so beautiful. Some of the areas in between are in farmland, but you can still wander through them and pretty much every piece of stone has been worked to align with a star or mountain- the incas were incredible that way. I am fluent in spanish and learned some quechua (the other language spoken there- but there's plenty of english too)for the trip, and one of the things I would do was buy a small bag full of toys or chocolate at the outdoor bazaars and then give them to the farmers(as in all latin american or south american countries, everybody loves their kids) as a toll for crossing their lands. They would often tell me all kinds of neat things about the area. Also, you can follow tons of llama trailsand see lots of beautiful things, like a mother llama humming to its babies to help them sleep. I couldn't believe it the first time I saw that.

    There is a severe lack of consistent construction code in Cusco, so watch out for shorting electrical outlets, no hot water, etc....hostels are plentiful and cheap- I ended up crashing in a manager's living room due to overflow in the place I stayed.

    I hated the town of Aguas Calientes, it's your stopoff point just before Macchu Picchu. I thought it was a noisy shithole full of idiot tourists. But if your walk into the town lingers into the evening and darkness, its really beautiful because the road is full of fireflies. Like a forest full of twinkling amber xmas lights.

    The ruins of Macchu Picchu are huge, complicated and mind-blowing. Your brain will crap its pants.

    Have fun!

    Signed, Mr Accordion
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2011
  10. ss1

    ss1 New Member

    Thank you all so much for the helpful responses! Yes, GAP has porters who will be carrying most of our stuff, thank goodness! And I was told I can rent walking poles, which I will definitely be doing. And I just got a prescription from my doctor yesterday for Diamox.

    How much do people usually tip the porters?
  11. The Village Idiot

    The Village Idiot Demon Barber

    Please note that it'll cost you...to the tune of about $2-3, including towel rental. If you really really want a shower, be sure to go early b/c they do run out of towels. I opted to skip the shower since the altitude pretty much dries any sweat off your skin immediately anyway. And if you've gone this far w/o a shower...what's another day? I brought baby wipes for the days w/o shower.

    You can also buy altitude pills OTC at drug stores in Lima.

    I forget how much I tipped the porters and guides, but the guides usually provide suggestions.

    Also, rather than a flashlight, I recommend a headlamp. Makes walking/peeing in darkness easier.
  12. Rob

    Rob Beach Bum


    I have no info, but my good friend is doing this in May so if you have any tips when you get back, let us know! Sounds exciting!