June 17, 2014
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Even though we’d been traveling for for what felt like days by the time we arrived at the airport in Cusco, there was no way I was going to sleep in the car on the way to the Tambo Del Inka hotel in Urubamba. I got my camera out, “just in case” as the car wound its way through the outskirts of Cusco and into the mountains.
Our first impressions of Cusco were not those quaint colonial cobbled streets with whitewashed buildings you see in postcards. This was a much grittier side of the city, one which I doubt many tourists see except from the window of a car, as we did.
Soon we were outside the city and up into the high valley.
Below, driving into the town of Poroy. If you take the train from Cusco to Machu Picchu, you will be bused to this town as the train no longer leaves from the center of Cusco.
Out here in the high plains is where we heard from several people that the new Cusco “International” Airport will be built over the next decade, replacing the one in the city center and allowing for larger airplanes and faster access to Machu Picchu. The massive jump in tourists this will bring is a scary thought.
Near the end of the drive we stopped at this viewpoint for photos. The girl in the post’s top photo was there with her mother and their donkey, and she was just so adorable. It was all I could do not to pinch those cheeks!
Below, who are those two tired looking old people and why does that guy have a donkey’s tail?
June 14, 2014
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Visiting Machu Picchu; this is the whole point of going to Peru for the first time, right? And there are so many decisions to be made before you get there.
You can, of course, have a tour company take care of all the details for you, but if you want to do it yourself, and save some money in the process then there are several steps and decisions to be made.
Do we do a tour? How do we get tickets? How do we get there? Do we spend a night up there? Let’s tackle the questions one at a time. Also, lets assume we are not arriving to Machu Picchu via four day trek on the Inka Trail (because, um..no way) and these questions would have been taken care of for us.
Do we do a tour?
After looking at the options and considering the costs, our decision was no, we did not need to do a tour. By taking care of everything ourselves, we saved 50% over the cost of going through our hotel and probably 30% over going with an outside tour company.
To give you an example, our hotel wanted $475 per person for a day tour to Machu Picchu which included train, bus, entrance ticket, guided tour, and buffet lunch (plus lots of hand holding, I’m sure). They were also willing to sell us the tickets without the tour, but the markup was still about 40% overall. We spent a total of $464 for the day for two of us for all the tickets (train, bus, entrance) and lunch. We also did not hire a guide for the visit to Machu Picchu itself and this was fine for us. The biggest part of the expense were the train tickets, about $155 per person …