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Do My Plans Make Sense?

Casselberry, Florida
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Do My Plans Make Sense?
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Background: We are in our very early 60's. I am asthmatic and can walk for miles but need to stop to rest now and then when going up steeper hills. (I've been to the Grand Canyon, and although I could tell the air was thinner, I wasn't bothered by the altitude there.) My husband rides his bicycle 25 miles every day and has no medical issues.

Additionally, I have a vestibular condition which causes equilibrium issues. I often use a walking stick or a cane to help my balance. I have a rubber tip for it. I've read that these aren't allowed, and I've read that they are for those who need them for medical reasons, as long as they have a rubber tip. I'm hoping someone can verify the accuracy of this for me.

The plans:

We will fly from the US to Lima arriving late afternoon on Saturday, and stay at an airport hotel for the night.

Sunday morning we will take an early flight and arrive at Cusco around 6:30. We will take a taxi to the San Pedro train station and take the 8:25 PeruRail train to Aguas Calientes. Spend a night there--leaning towards Inti Punku Machupicchu Hotel & Suites. The plan is to take it easy and acclimate that day. We'll go out and do some exploring, but it will be at a relaxed pace.

Monday mid to late afternoon we will take the bus to the Citadel and spend the night at the Belmond. We will enter the Citadel around 7:00 am Tuesday, and spend the morning, spending Tuesday night at the Belmond.

Wednesday we will revisit Machu Picchu and take a different route. I am wondering which would be the two best routes to take--preferably with the smoothest terrain and less steep hills. We would also like a recommendation for a guide. One reason we want to go two days is to hedge our bets on weather, as we know that we will never get back there.

We will take the Perurail train Wednesday afternoon back to Cusco and will spend two nights there at the Hilton Garden Inn (we are HH Diamond).

We will take a late afternoon flight to Lima and spend a nights there before our onward travel to Santiago.

Do these plans sound doable, and is there anything you would change? Any comments are welcome.

Is there left luggage at the Lima airport? We will need some different types of clothing for the remainder of our trip (which includes some more formal restaurants) and are hoping we can just leave it in left luggage until we return.

14 replies to this topic
Sheffield, United...
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1. Re: Do My Plans Make Sense?
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Hi,

When do you plan to visit?

Your plan makes sense, but it seems a shame to only see Machu Picchu and a couple of days in Cuzco. Do you have more time to spare to see anywhere else?

Have fun!

Casselberry, Florida
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We plan on flying to Lima on August 27th. Unfortunately we really don't have any extra time as my husband has a friend in Santiago and he wants to maximize our time there to be able to visit with his friend. Like everything else in life, it's a balancing act. :)

Sheffield, United...
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I understand :-) I think your plan to take the train to MP and stay close by the ruins, taking your time over a couple of days, is sensible.

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Pittsburgh
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Just a couple of details: if you plan to stay in "an airport hotel" in Lima, make your reservation early -- there aren't a lot of good ones. There are many other lodgings in the vicinity, but they may not appeal to those who otherwise stay at Hilton Garden Inns; and while some of them may be all right, the airport vicinity isn't (The airport itself is perfectly safe.).

As for your first Sunday morning -- if your Cusco flight lands promptly at 6:30, you'll likely make it to your train. But be aware that due only to the sometimes unpredictable weather in the high Andes, it's not unusual for flights to be delayed. And if your Cusco flight turns out to be one of them, you may miss that train.

Also, I don't think any point in Arizona is above 4000 feet, so your experience at the Grand Canyon may not have provided a good evaluation of your susceptibility to altitude problems at Cusco (11,000 feet), or even, perhaps, at Aguascalientes (7800 feet).

Edited: 09 January 2022, 00:14
Casselberry, Florida
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We are looking at the Wyndham or the Holiday Inn (after reading reviews, it looks like the Holiday Inn is the better option) and will be booking everything over the next week or so. They offer a shuttle, which works for us. We want safe, clean, convenient, and relatively modern with a full service restaurant or room service. It's a single night as a place to sleep and shower before moving on.

So should we consider taking the earlier flight? There is one at 4:00 am that arrives at 5:23. That would give us three hours. It seems that from the airport to the train station is a 30 minute drive at most. We will only have carry on and are flying premium economy (so in the front of the plane, so we should be able to be in a taxi within 10 minutes of wheels down. The other option would be to take the IncaRail bimodel that leaves San Pedro at 13:30 and arrives AC at 18:09. That leaves us a lot of time to wait around in Cusco but not enough time to really do anything except maybe have a meal, particularly on a Sunday.

According to the US NPS, the South Rim of the Grand Canyon is 7000 feet in elevation. Three years ago a friend and I had a blast on a day trip on the train from Williams, AZ to the Grand Canyon's South Rim at the El Tovar Lodge where we spent the day hiking around the South Rim. :)

Casselberry, Florida
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It looks like we could also catch the 8:25 am train from Poroy station by taking a taxi directly from the airport to Poroy. It's about 45 minutes. So if we land at 5:23, we should be in a cab by 5:40 at the latest, which puts us at the station at 6:25. That buys us almost 90 minutes of delays. We will have travel insurance that will cover missed connections in case we need to buy new tickets.

Pittsburgh
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As to whether you should take the 4:00 am flight to Cusco -- I think if I were in your position I would. In Peru, delays, when they occur, can be for several hours, but if you can manage a 4:00 am flight (it seems ungodly early to me!), it would at least protect you against a short delay.

I admit that chances favor your original plans going smoothly. I bring up these matters only because among my several trips to Peru, I've experienced two flight delays of several hours each, plus one cancellation of a day's only flight. But as I mentioned, this is not anyone's fault; it's what comes of running airline routes safely over some of the world's highest mountains.

I wasn't aware that the south rim of the Grand Canyon was as high as 7000 feet. (Perhaps I should have known; I've been there a couple of times.) Still, that's a little low for testing your adaptability to high altitudes. I'm not a medical expert, but I've read that except for the most extremely susceptible people, 7500 feet may be the minimum at which serious symptoms are felt. I should point out that I've had little problem with altitude sickness myself, so personally I'm not a great judge of these things.

The possibility of altitude sickness may also be a good reason for taking the early-morning train that you're considering. As for that 13:30 train from the San Pedro station, even if it did mean a few hours layover in Cusco, Cusco is a beautiful colonial town and a great place in which to lay over. But if you or your husband were to feel altitude problems in Cusco, it would be good to get out of the city as soon as possible (hence that earlier train), towards the lower altitude of Aguascalientes. (As you mentioned in one of your comments, it's a "balancing act.") In any case, time spent in Aguascalientes and Machu Picchu should acclimatize you sufficiently for your later two nights in Cusco.

Edited: 09 January 2022, 07:32
London, United...
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for Salta, Bolivia
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A few random observations.

1. I do understand your logic of spending two days at Machu Picchu though for many that would be overkill. In August the likelihood of experiencing bad weather is very low. You may get clouds and mist early mornings but if you spend the day there it is unlikely that you would be clouded out the whole time.

2. There are occasionally flight delays in Cusco mainly due to high winds. This is less likely with LATAM flights as they have a modern fleet with all the instrumentation necessary to handle the weather unlike their competition which tend towards older fleets.

3. IMHO 2 days in MP is overkill for most people unless climbing one of the mountains. You can see most of what there is to see in a single day. That said, if you are going to spend two days, the Belmond is THE place to spend one of them!

4.I wouldn’t be too focused on get the train from Cusco. An arguably better way of approaching this would be to fly into Cusco as planned and arrange a taxi transfer to Ollantaytambo from where moist of the trains leave anyway. At 2800 m it is a great place in which to acclimatise and has some magnificent ruins of its own. Some photos and details of our time there on our blog https://accidentalnomads.com/2016/08/20/ollantaytambo/ (we arrived intending to stay a couple of days and ended up spending two months there!

5. You could spend your day and night of arrival in Ollantaytambo acclimatising and exploring the village. it really is a magical place! Any surplus luggage you don’t need could be left at your hotel in Olly.

6. On thought is to get an early morning train to AC , head to the Belmond , dump your bags and spend the day at the citadel. Overnight and get teh train back to Ollantaytambo.

7. On arrival in Ollantaytambo station you could arrange for a taxi to collect you and take you on a taxi tour back to Cusco. we have used http://www.taxidatum.com several times and they are excellent. The tour will take 4-6 hours compared with the straight taxi ride of 1.5-2 hours and there are some iconic sites along the way that it would be a real shame to miss.some photos and details of one of those trips we took @ https://accidentalnomads.com/2016/08/19/one-day-in-the-sacred-valley/

8. It would be a real shame to miss out on all that Cusco has to offer so do try and squeeze a night in there if at all possible .

9. You will have no problems with rubber tipped poles in MP and English speaking guides are easy to find at teh citadel entrance. The Belmond will probably source one for you (at a price!)

10. Altitude issues. Your time in Arizona will have very little bearing on how you may be affected. Ollantaytambo @ 2800 m is a pretty good altitude at which to start accliantising. MP and AC are Lowe so you should be fine there. Buy the time you get to Cusco your body should be acclimated to that altitude though, like many, you will likely find it a struggle walking uphill. Given your asthma , I would stinky recommend a word with your GP beforehand as he may suggest something like Acectazolamide (Diamox) which can help alleviate any symptoms . For more on coping with altitude see https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/altitude-sickness/ the CDC will have something similar.

Enjoy Peru, it is an incredible corner of the world!

Casselberry, Florida
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Lorenzo_mtc, thank you for your response. I agree that 4:00 am is ungodly early, but we'll be up at the same time the day before with a long day of travel, so I can't imagine we won't be sound asleep later than 8:00 pm, making it not too terrible.

My idea was exactly as you mentioned, to acclimatize over time at the lower altitudes before heading to Cusco. We will be getting altitude sickness pills from our travel medicine doctor before we leave, which will hopefully alleviate any issues, but with my vestibular issues I am trying to pre-empt all possibilities.

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