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peru





TurtleShell
I went to Peru last year. Had a great time (besides the altitude sickness--that was a killer!). Was wondering if anyone else had any experiences in Peru to share? I'd love to hear them! I went to Lima, Cuzco, and Puno. One of the most memorable experiences was when the bus broke down between Cuzco and Puno and 17 of us crammed into a combi to get to Juliaca to pick up another bus. Machu Picchu was of course incredible, but I felt a little ripped off by the $70 3 hour freezing cold train ride to get there and back. Lima was enjoyable but something of a chaotic city... I loved Lake Titicaca. I was there over Easter, so saw a lot of Easter celebrations and parades and things.
sonnytheman
Hey, I actually plan on visiting Peru in about a month. Four of us are going to Puno, and then well split up and I was thinking of going to Cuzco. Id only have 3 days total (leave on a Wednesday from Puno to Cuzco, and then leave Cuzco on the Saturday since I have to be in Cochabamba, Bolivia, by the Sunday night).

Anyway, if I only have 3 days (1 of which is basically the train ride), do you recommend spending a day at Macchu Picchu (say, the Friday), or spending all of Wednesday evening, Thursday and Friday in Cuzco?

Just like to hear your opinion on what you liked most.
TurtleShell
sonnytheman wrote:
Hey, I actually plan on visiting Peru in about a month. Four of us are going to Puno, and then well split up and I was thinking of going to Cuzco. Id only have 3 days total (leave on a Wednesday from Puno to Cuzco, and then leave Cuzco on the Saturday since I have to be in Cochabamba, Bolivia, by the Sunday night).

Anyway, if I only have 3 days (1 of which is basically the train ride), do you recommend spending a day at Macchu Picchu (say, the Friday), or spending all of Wednesday evening, Thursday and Friday in Cuzco?

Just like to hear your opinion on what you liked most.


I think if you're going to Cusco, you should definitely take the time to go to Machu Picchu. It's kind of hyped up, and it's a LONG day (waking up at like 6 am to take an early train there, spending the day at the site, going home on a late train, and believe me, it's a long ride), but it's worth it.

Some of my most vivid memories Peru are centered around that particular aspect of the trip. The train ride was freezing cold, and was going no faster than a slow crawl as it left the city...it took a long time to get out there, like 4 hours...the bus up the side of the mountain once we reached aguas caliente was one of the scariest, most awesome bus rides I've ever had... of course the site was amazing, and there was plenty to see, it was SO big... I'd do it again, definitely.

Also, a little advice. regarding the entrance fee to Machu Picchu, they only accepted peruvian cash, no credit cards, and it's expensive--so bring lots of peruvian currency to the site. I don't remember how much it was, but I'm thinking it was the equivilant of like seventy american dollars--which translates to a TON in Peruvian currency, and I almost didn't have enough to get on the site. They wouldn't accept any American money (although many places in Peru will).

One more thing--the train ride back is amazing and all (seeing all those mud brick homes with no electricity, in the middle of the valley surrounded by mountains, in the dusk, was just kind of awesome and fascinating...coming from nyc it just seemed like another planet to me), but the train literally crawls in the final distance back to Cuzco. It stops and starts, doing this back and forth thing as it heads down the mountain. (you'll be so tired, and the train isn't exactly luxurious--it's kind of an agonizing way to end your day) But you can side step that last bit. The train makes several stops along the way back to Cuzco. In the last stop it makes before reaches Cuzco, there will be buses waiting to pick up passengers from the trains. The buses are dirt cheap, and will make it back to Cuzco much faster than the train can. I recommend you look for the buses, if you can.

Do you know where you'll be staying? I was in this interesting little hotel...the San Augustin Plaza hotel. It had a good location and cool ambience, with weird, gothic shaped windows and doors...every room was different, and they were fairly nice. I recommend it.
TurtleShell
I was sorry not to make it to ariquipa myself, but didn't have enough time. Pretty sure we flew over it though, and I saw a volcano out the window of the airplane...
carlospro7
Arequipa is a beautiful city, although it has been about 10 years since I was last there, that is how I remember it. There is a lot beautiful architecture around, and of course from almost anywhere in the city, you have a view of the volcano el Misti. It's been a long time since I was in Peru. I was born there, but I never got to go to places like the Inca trails or Cuzco or the amazon but when I go back, which is hopefully soon, those places will surely be on mind
TurtleShell
I would have loved to have done the Inca trail too, but they say that you need to make reservations FAR in advance, and this was a pretty last-minute trip. I went with only the vaguest plan in mind.
sonnytheman
hey, thanks for the info, Ive looked it up a bit more and should be going to Cuzco and (most likely) Machu Picchu, barring any major problems. Im thinking of spending a night in Aguas Calientes so that I can spend more time at Machu Picchu; do you know if the entrance fee to the ruins is good for more than one day? Or only for the first day; if its only for one, then maybe Ill only go for one day, since its expensive (ive tried to look around, but I havent found anything mentioning this)

Arequipa looks interesting though, but Im going to have a max of 5 days in Peru, so I doubt Id be able to make it. Ive never seen a volcano in real life though; some other day I guess.

Im going to be staying in hostals (poor student here), if anyone has stayed in any that they recommend (or that I should stay away from), Id appreciate any info.
TurtleShell
I'll double check with the person I traveled with just to see if she has a different opinion, but I'm quite sure that the admission will only see you through the day at Machu Picchu. To get back the next day, I think you have to pay admission again.

We (the person I traveled with and I) found that a day at Machu Picchu was enough, but we're not ones to linger on anything for very long. I've heard of others who wanted more than the day.

If you spend a day in Cuzco, there are ruins just outside Cuzco you can see. After Machu Picchu, they may seem far less impressive, but I had a good time (partially because I saw them first). I don't speak spanish very well at all, so to get to them, we asked one of the people behind the desk at the hotel if they could help us with finding a "tour" or something. They arranged for someone to literally just come pick us up in his car and take us out there (he might have been connected with some kind of tourist agency, but I'm more sure he was just a guy they knew who did this kind of stuff). For a fee, he took us to each site and waited for us by his car while we hiked around and explored. The man also took us to the site of a giant Jesus statue looking down on the city for some great views.

Also, Cuzco itself is entertaining enough for a day. There's a big artisan's market there and some decent restaurants. The whole thing is touristy--kind of like Peruvian disney land--but it's not a bad place to spend your time.
sonnytheman
well, Im heading off to Lake Titicaca on Monday, Puno later on in the week, then Cuzco and Macchu Picchu very quickly the following Wednesday to Sunday. Ill come back and write what I thought of the place, hopefully everything goes well and I get to see what I want to see!
TurtleShell
can't wait to hear about it!
sonnytheman
Well, I got back Monday night to Bolivia, heres what I thought of the places I went to in Peru:

Puno: the city itself isnt really that nice, theres a decent main square and a pedestrian street that has everything a tourist needs (tons of cheap restaurants, internet, bars, etc), but we didnt spend much time in the city as there wasnt much to do. We did, however, take a tour of the islands near Puno in Lago Titikaka.

Uros, the man-made island, is a site to see. It just blows your mind that there are islands that people live on that basically float, and that they maintain by rebuilding the ground (using reeds that they harvest from the lake). The other two islands were really interesting; Amantan (where we got to spend a night with a local family) and Taquile both have really traditional cultures, and its a whole different way of life as compared to anything Ive seen before. The people living on the islands really try to get you to buy stuff, which can get annoying until you realise that they depend on those tourism dollars for basic necessities.

BTW, it was cold and windy (and rainy on Amantan), but the views of the lake were amazing and all of us really enjoyed the time we spent in the area. I preferred the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca since Copacabana is a much nicer town than Puno, and I found that Isla del Sol was more beautiful than the islands off Puno. However, the Puno islands are a lot less touristy, so you really see the local culture, and again the man made islands are amazing.

Um, Ill get to Cusco and Machu Picchu later since Im at work, but those were pretty cool too Very Happy
TurtleShell
I'd LOVE to hear about how it went--staying with the local family. My companion and I wanted to do that while we were there, but among other things, I was just sick (the altitude) for the second half of the trip. It sounded like a bad idea when we got there.
carlospro7
I'm jealous. I wish I could talk about my trip to Peru Sad Unfortunately, it will not be for another couple years. Have fun though! Let us know how it goes
sonnytheman
aarrgghhh....I wrote this HUGE post about staying with the family, then when I clicked submit, nothing happened and I lost the post.....that was a few days ago actually.....Im still angry, it was a good post!

Anyway, Ill try to rewrite it here (though itll be shorter...):

while it was nice staying with the family, there wasnt much interaction between us and them. There were two of us staying with one family, and my other two friends staying with another. They cooked three delicious meals for us.....but the two of us ate alone in our room for all of them.

When we first got there, they brought us the lunch, and after we were done, the whole family came to our room for a bit (it was a nice room, but hilarious because it was so small. Im only 58, but my head and shoulders were above the top of the door to the room, and my head was slightly under the ceiling....I got an awesome picture with that door). The family consisted of the father, mother and their 13 year old daughter. Anyway, they brought our their artesania, I guess expecting us to buy (we did, but just something small each, that the daughter had made). The father did most of the talking (he said that its better to come without a tour guide, since they all tell lies...I dont think the families get a lot of money from the tour).

Anyway, after a bit, the tour started again and the daughter led us to the main square where we met up with the group. We headed to the temple at the top of the island, but it was so cold and windy that once we got there, we headed back down (it was RIDICULOUSLY windy....my batteries failed on me due to the cold). We got back to the main square around dark, where we waited in a restaurant/tienda for our respective families to pick us up. The daughter came and led us back to the house in pitch black. I had a flashlight and so my friend and I used that, but I was so impressed that the people of the island can walk around without trouble with only a tiny bit of moonlight (and its not like it was flat either). Anyway, for the tour, they put on a dance for all of us, and I wanted to go, but my 3 friends didnt want to bother because of the cold and rain that was coming down. So the four of us huddled in their room with blankets, playing cards for the rest of the night. We found out the next day that only 7 people from the tour went to the dance, out of 20 or so.

The next morning, the mother woke us up at 7:25 and said the boat was leaving at 7:30. She brought us breakfast as we rushed like crazy to pack and eat at the same time. She then led us down to the boats (didnt see the father that day though we saw the daughter on the way down). We ended up being among the first in the boat and had to wait for the rest. It was really interesting to see how the people from the island lived and all, but again, we didnt talk too much with them. Our friends seemed to have better luck; they stayed with a single mother, who told them a lot about her life. Still, definitely worth the money and Im glad I was able to do that.
sonnytheman
ok, now, about Cusco:

I took the tourist bus from Puno to Cusco, more expensive (25$ instead of 9$) but you get to stop off at some cool sites on the way. However, that day happened to be the beginning of the blockades on the road from Puno to Cusco, so we ended up being so delayed that we didnt stop off at any of the sites Sad It was cool to see the protests though (it was the teachers striking, not sure what about though), and then to see all the cops in their riot gear clearing the way. Kinda dangerous though as they fill the road with large rocks to stop traffic. The next morning, while talking to the travel agent in my hostal (travel agents are EVERYWHERE in Cusco!), I heard him ask another hostal guest not to travel at night, because the night before, a bus leaving Cusco flipped because of the rocks and three passengers died....

Anyway, I travelled from Puno to Cusco on Tuesday (which was apparently just a warm-up blockade), and on Wednesday was the all-out blockade. There were pretty much no cars in the entire downtown part of the city due to the protests, and so there wasnt anything to do but walk around the city. Its very charming, though very touristy as well.

The good thing about that is that there are a ton of good restaurants around. Theyre cheap for someone from North America/Europe (in Canadian, it comes out to 5-7$ for a 2 or 3 course meal) but theres a lot cheaper if you look around (like....2$ for the same type of meal....but not as good). Since its so touristy, theres a lot of people in the streets trying to sell you stuff like paintings and finger puppets, and theres a lot of stores that sell artesania (which are pretty nice). I bought the Bolleto Turistico, which allows you to see quite a few museums and ruins, for 35 Soles since Im a student under 25 (its 70 soles otherwise). That night, I used it to see the Danzas Folkloricas, which I enjoyed very much.

Um, Ill get to more in another post, back to work!
TurtleShell
I do remember that there were some good restaurants in Cusco. Actually, my travelling compnanion and I are both vegetarians, so that made it a little more difficult.

If you're a coffee drinker, did you notice the FABULOUS coffee served pretty much everywhere in Peru? I've never, ever had better coffee in my life.

Anyway, there was a little restaurant chain called Govinda, which is run by the hare krishnas and thus completely vegetarian. Govinda is all over in Peru--there was one in Lima and Cusco and Aguas Caliente, and I think Puno as well. At Govinda we were able to eat entire 5 course meals for ridiculously cheap prices. And the fare was so delicious!

It's funny that you had so many problems on the way to Cusco from Puno--we had our own adventure on the way from Cusco to Puno. The bus was bumpy and the movie they put on was called His Name is Holy Ghost--some old cowboy flick from the 70's...one of those "it was so bad it was hilarious" kind of movies. I was sick by then, so not really feeling the humor. They began having problems with the bus about an hour into the trip, so we stopped several times while the bus driver tried to rectify the situation. Sometimes these pit stops were 20-30 minutes long. The bus finally broke down for good in the middle of nowhere, about 40 minutes from Juliaca. Luckily we were at least in a town, and were able to negotiate some rides in a couple combis. There were about 17 of us in that van, and the door wouldn't stay shut, so the woman closest to the door had to physically hold it closed.
TurtleShell
By the way, the experience with the family does sound cool! I wish I could have done it. I would like to know more about how the tour guides lie--did the father elaborate?

One interesting thing that the guide told us while we were on one of the islands:

We were there during the Easter festivities. We saw some festivals in Cusco and in Puno, and we happened to be on an island during one of their festivals. The tour guide told us that the 'traditional festivals' really only take place these days on the islands that the tourists go to. The islands farther out, where the tourists don't reach, these festivals have stopped all together.
vegas5
I was in peru during but of a month, and to me it is enchanted with the beauty of its landscapes, really pretty went to raise machupichu. And unforgettable to visit the titicaca lake. Greetings Very Happy
TurtleShell
wow, you were there for a month?? how lucky! I only managed to go for about 10 days, and that was stretching it. Where do people get all this vacation time???
patasarriba
If any of you are traveling through Peru and will be spending time in Puno, I'd definitely recommend a trip to Copacabana in Bolivia while you're in the area. It's just a few hours away and the border crossing's a breeze. (If you want to continue on from Copa to La Paz that's another story, the journey isn't exactly arduous but you have to get out of the bus, watch it raft across a river, take a boat yourself, and then get back on -- a bit of a pain in the butt.) In Copa everything is much cheaper than in Peru, including outings and souvenirs. (The Peruvian Sol is worth one third of a dollar, but the Boliviano is worth one eighth of a dollar!) La Isla del Sol (and La Isla de La Luna) can be accessed very easily from Copa. The Isla del Sol has amazing Pre-Colombian ruins and you'll also have the chance to stay with a family there. (If you don't find one while you're hiking, ask for La Casa de Alfonso at the north end of the island. It's up the hill from the hostals, past the burro that always hangs out.)

Anyway, while you're still in Puno, be VERY CAREFUL during festivals, especially the big one they have in early February. (Sorry, I already forgot the name of it, but if you're there you'll know which one I mean.) Peruvian and Bolivian thieves all congregate while foreigners take out their big expensive cameras to photograph the folk dancing. Don't be paranoid, but guard everything very carefully and avoid using a big, attention-getting video camera if you can.

My personal favorite destination in Peru is the northern coast. In Trujillo, Peru's third-biggest city, there are some cool archaeology museums and two amazing Chimu and Moche sites: Chan Chan and Huaca del Sol y de la Luna. Las Huacas especially are extremely underrated in all guidebooks. You can take a night bus to Trujillo from Lima (go with Cruz del Sur or Linea if you can; Ormeo people aren't very nice at all and the buses are always late), or get to Trujillo in a half-hour flight. A bit north of Trujillo is Chiclayo, where they have the Lords of Sipan museum, which is worth the trip to Peru all by itself. When you get even farther north, almost at the Ecuadorian border, there's Mancora, a good spot to chill out and listen to traveling street bands, and Tumbes, a mean, ugly city that happens to be surrounded by some of the most fascinating ecosystems in Peru.

Well, that's my two cents. Hope it's helpful.

Sandra
(still haven't made myself a signature yet)
mikeperhem1
I also hear lots about peru and i want to visit there
codersfriend
I see Machu Picchu in tour videos. I also wish I could go there. The mysterious Nazca lines can also be found there right?
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