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Report 2093: Peru - Tryst with the Incas

By Letha from USA, Winter 2013

Trip Description: Oscar and Letha spend just over 10 days visiting Peru, the Sacred Valley, the Amazon, and time in Lima at the end of December 2013.

Destinations: Countries - South America

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Beach; Day Tours; Garden Visits; Sightseeing; Walking/Hiking; Independent Travel; 2 People

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Page 1 of 11: Background and Planning

photo by Oscar Saldanha

Atop the Sun Temple in Ollantaytambo--Sacred Valley, Peru

Back in August 2013, hubby (Oscar) who has very little vacation time since he switched jobs this year found out that Apple had a vacation shutdown between Xmas and New Year. That sent the vacation wheels in motion, and after striking a deal with our son and new daughter-in-law that we would do Thanksgiving at home but that they were then on their own for their first married Christmas, I started exploring December vacation options.

Fares are always on the higher side and I did not want to spend too many days traveling. So that ruled out the Far East. We have been to Europe in December and it was not our favorite time to be there -- cold, short days etc. But it was summer in South America and we had always wanted to see Machu Picchu. And this would be our first foray across the Equator in the Americas. Fares were still on the higher side over Christmas but I started the research and planning.

To use a travel agent or not, that was the first question? Initial research of various travel groups and talking to friends who had been to Machu Picchu showed a 75-25 split with most opting to use a travel agent for the planning and bookings. After researching various travel agents, US based and Peru based, I decided to give it a shot on my own. By early September, I had the following booked mainly online and a few phone calls and Skype (three way Skype plus phone between vendor in Peru and credit card company) for payment approvals:

  • Orbitz: Air tickets San Jose, CA to Lima Peru with one stop in LA (Alaska + LAN): $1427.64x2
  • Lan.com: Air tickets Lima—Cusco—Puerto Maldonado-Lima (LAN): $498.50 x2
  • Hotel Taxi from Cusco airport to Ollantaytambo: $50
  • Incarail.com: train tickets Ollantaytambo to Aqua Calientes: $75 x2
  • Perurail.com: train tickets Aqua Calientes to Cusco: $96 x 2
  • www.machupicchu.gob.pe: Machu Picchu tickets $95 x2
  • Bookings.com: Accommodation Ollantaytambo — three nights - Picaflor Tambo $60x3
  • Bookings.com Accommodation Aqua Calientes — one night - Terazzas Del Inca $70x1
  • Bookings.com Accommodation Cusco — three nights Hotel Taypicala $79 x3
  • Hotels.com Accommodation Lima — two nights Tierra Mira Miraflores $85 x2
  • Perunature.com: three days, two nights guided tour in the Amazon jungle--$375 x2 (includes transport from and to Puerto Maldanado airport, lodging, all meals and activities, guides...)

It did take some patience to navigate the various websites and payment requirements with additional credit card security cautions and requirements. Also the train tickets were vouchers that required ticket pickup in Peru with passport and credit card identifications. There were points at which I almost threw my hands up, especially when payments would not go through, but all in all it is straight forward as long as you follow instructions to the ‘T’. Some sites will ask for ‘Visa Verified’ but I found that my regular Bank of America debit card works for that.

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