Well, that is the name the Lonely Planet gives a route that sticks to the UNESCO circut to the East and South. I found it to be a very fitting name. If you are going to follow it then do it on your own and stay away from the countless tour operator (aside from a few day trips) that you can pick up for cheap if you bargain with them and are pressed for time. This place is so geared for tourism that it almost feels fake at times..kinda like Cairo if you never get out of the tour groups and see the city on your own.
Unique Suggestions: Plan your own trips. You can buy just about anything there so no need to pre-purchase anything in the states except for your plane ride to/from home.
Fun Alternatives: Be flexible and talk to the locals. Dual pricing is big here as in most places. My girl friend went out her way to feed the stay dogs in Cuzco that the locals seem to ignore. They were not mean and were more gentle than our own dog at home. A local begger growled at us for not giving the food to him but he had a gut and the dog was skinny enough to where you could see his rib cage.
It's a wonder of the world and a tourist trap all at the same time. Yes it's definitely worth going, but you can do it all in one day. You have to pay about US $80 each day to get in, with no discount for multiple days. The best way is to get the train from Cusco and arrive any time in Aguas Calientes, spend the night, and get one of the first buses up to MP in the morning. They start around 6a. You'll beat the crowds arriving on the trains, see lots of animals out in the early morning, and it's absolutely beautiful in the mist and early morning light. Spend an entire day, hike to Intipunku, and get an evening train back to Cusco.
Unique Suggestions: Bring your own food and water. The MP Lodge operates a snack bar by the entrance and it's very expensive...bottled water about US $4. They even charge to use the bathroom there!
When we visited Sacsayhuaman, as a short day tour from Cuzco while waiting for the « camino Inca » trek, we met a self proclaimed guide. Altough we didn’t really wanted him, we listened to what he had to say. A part of it which impressed me much was when he brought us to a low circle of rocks. He asked for a volunteer to go to the middle. Against my will, I was designed. He asked me to speak. Then, he asked me if “I felt the force of the location”… Hum, I felt nothing and I was not at all impressed by this classic sound effect at the center of the circle : the Greeks built their theatre this way many centuries ago. I mean : this is sound architecture, but not at all a proof of a so called “powerful sacred location”
But, the guide kept on, telling us that Pizzarro defeated a way larger Inca’s army because the Incas believed he was a God. From the start, I wondered about such an explanation. Didn’t make more sense than his previous “sacred force”. Only many years afterward did I discover that this story was made popular by an American historian named William Prescott. Well, this nice man, almost blind, did an incredible work to gather and synthesize an history of Peru after his “history of Mexico”. At the time, it was a real step forward in history, with the study of many archives.
But, today’s historians do not put much stress on this theory. One have to know the important fact that there was a rude war of succession just before Pizzarro met Atahualpa. Many people were unhappy with the rule of the Incas. The Spanish weapons gave them a large advantage in open land combat.
This theory of Conquistadores winning Peru because the Incas saw them as Gods did not originated from Prescott. But the man fostered it and the large popularity of his book made it widely believed. It is still a bit sad that a Peruvian will relay this short sighted explanation.
Be willing to go a little further. Know as much of the worst things, be willing to trust locals, show no fear but always be aware of the possible outcomes. The people are on the whole very nice and will share experience with you, not normally seen, only for your honesty and willingness to show interest.
Unique Suggestions: Show fear.
Fun Alternatives: Go to somewhere else!
all cities in peru have shops for locals and the tourist shops,my friend and i played the gringo tax game,where as in the local markets i would stop and check out the price for an item then she would come up and ask about the same item and we would see how much the price difference was between the gringo and the local,tip is allways go with a local if at all possible to avoid the high price of being a gringo
Unique Suggestions: all the people ai met were very friendly and would go out of there way to make you welcome,and would go shopping with you to avoid you paying the gringo tax
Fun Alternatives: shop in regular stores where the prices are marked
At Cusco, Peru we booked a package trip to the inca trail and machu pichu. The trip was a one day trip to the inca trail by bus going to Pisac, and ollantatambo and then connect by train to aguas caliente for machupichu. The package included a 2 night stay at aguas caliente and when we landed there we found the hotel to be a crappy hostel. We arraived late at night so we could not even change it till next day.
Unique Suggestions: If you get the package, exclude the hotel and then when you get there, find your own. You will have no trouble finding a decent hotels in aguas caliente.
Being always positive and leading a healthy style of life, I could not believe I would have any problems with my breathing or with my stomach when I reach Peru. I have heard that every tourist experienced altitude sickness in Peru during first two days as there is not enough air to breathe high in the mountains. However, The terrible headache and diarrhea that accompanied me during my first week in Peru made me to believe in what I have heard.
Altitude sickness usually disappears as soon as the tourists go through acclimatization and adjust to the height. However, this altitude sickness is a little bit tricky. The altitude in Pery varies due to changes in landscape. ( Lima-about 2000 above the sea level, while Cusco is at 3500 above the sea) The altitude change results in headaches, problems with breathing and diarrhea Whenever a person moves from one city to another, he/she experiences problems with health as the altitude changes. Taken from Canada medicine-Imodium- didn’t help. You have to buy a special medicine in Peru.
I don't really know who is collecting all the money from tourists visiting Machu Picchu, but it is quite an amount. The ingoing fee is only 20$, but everything is organizated so that you have to pay everywhere royal prices from Cusco to MP, and back. When I noticed this, I cancelled my plans to visit MP. And I think I had the right, because Peru is not only MP.
Unique Suggestions: Look for all the information about Inca Trail and prepare to walk a lot. If you have plenty of time (or money!!!), there will be no problem.
Fun Alternatives: There are so many other attractive and more archeologically valuable places, Kuelap, el Brujo, Huaca de la Luna, etc... And still more undiscovered. So I'll suggest you try to discover own archeological archeological monuments, and get your name on the newspapers! You can do as Hiram Bingham did, he was asking the locals where could be some archeological monuments. Of course locals knew Machu Picchu, and they were advising him. So he was not really discovering Machu Picchu, but he was "el primer gringo" there.
By the way, many volunteers are needed for conserving old archeological monuments all over Peru. Make contact to archeologic societies!
The beggers are always there, looking so poor and desperate that how could you go by without giving a dime, or two!? But in reality, they may be more wealthy than you!!! Generally, you may see the beggers in the wealthy or tourist places, as in the center of towns, or in San Isidro, Lima.
I am 80 years old and I am very contented of to have fulfilled a dream to go to the Inca Trail, my two children before did with SAS travel but when I consult by a space they do not had, now I have been able to find by recommendation of a friend to company ALL TREK TOUR OPERATOR (www.alltrekcusco.com) I am fascinated by the route and also by to have enjoyed the high meals but in my life and the marvillosos guides, I am recommending to this company is very good.
Though this isn't a "tourist trap", I wanted to strongly suggest that you arrive as early as possible. You will have to wake up around 4:00 a.m. from "Macchu Picchu city" and take a train, but it is worth it for several reasons. If you don't hike in and you wait to long to take the train you will be surrounded by thousands of tourists. You can't even take a picture or enjoy the moment. Go early and you will not regret it. The trekkers have the place all to themselves.
Fun Alternatives: Trek in with a guide (which you must have). Make sure the groups is under 12 and the guide is experienced (most are).
Juli is a small town on Lake Titicaca where I had a memorable and fantastic 2-3 day visit during carnival, but this beautiful sign is a perfect example of ludicrous tourist trapping overstatement. Even the citizens of Juli saw the humor in it. Fortunately, I seriously doubt it has trapped many tourists.
Unique Suggestions: If you do not take this sign seriously, you will be in a better position to appreciate what this town has to offer. During a regular time of year it might be worth a couple hours to see the museum-churches, but during carnival I enjoyed it more than Puno or Juliaca precisely because it was small and not really a tourist attraction. The market place building was also unusual architecturally.
The Huaca del Sol is one of the more frustrating places to visit in Peru. That is because you cannot actually visit it. The Huaca del Sol is a Moche pyramid ruin built around 500 A.D. The slopes of the pyramid are very steep and are at a 77 degree angle in some spots. What we see today is only a portion of its original size. It was probably three times as large during the times of the Moche. Because of its immense size one wishes that we could examine the place more closes or at least see the views from the top patio. Unfortunately Huaca del Sol is not open to the public for reasons I am not sure of but most likely because it yet to be excavated.
Unique Suggestions: Go to the Huaca de la Luna for the views of the Huaca del Sol. That is where I took this picture.
I read a caution about go2peru's practices on trip advisor and phoo phoo'ed it. Today a day before I leave for Peru the prepaid hotel reservations that I have begged them to confirm via email, their Miami USA number does not seem to ever work. Blew up. Go2Peru says the hotel failed to make my reservation, but I suspect they did not contact the hotel, just as they did not contact me.
Unique Suggestions: Booking hotels online in Peru seems rather difficult in general, I had another hotel fall through this week as well.
Fun Alternatives: I have not taken my trip yet, but I will say that Waisi Lodge in Puerto Maldonado handled my reservation online in a very proffessional manner.
If you are looking for wildlife and seeing animal in its natural environment around Iquitos, you will have to travel away from the city along the river, at least 2-3 HOURS. Don't trust those offering you animals seeing walkings if the lodge is less than 2 hours from Iquitos, as civilization made animals disappear in a big area around Iquitos.
Unique Suggestions: I went to Cumaceba Lodge as I was tired and just wanted to relax in a hammock, but if you are looking for some more adventure, don't take this lodge as basecamp, is nice but all animals are in farms.
We did not stay here, but it was pointed out to us as the hotel used for some of the VIPs that came...more
We didnt really think of coming here until we started mapping out a plan of our independant walking...more
Av. Hermanos Ayar Mz 1 L-3, Aguas Calientes, Sacred Valley, Peru
Good for: Business
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