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Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

Houston, Texas
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Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

Many thanks to all posters in the Peru forum about help on developing a great tour to Sacred Valley and Cuzco. Following recommendations here, we worked with Cultural Immersion to develop a private tour. We were very pleased with the service from this group: on time, good guide and information, excellent driving, clean and comfortable car. We pre-booked only one meal and loved that because it gave us flexibility to change the schedule as needed due to more or less time at one place or as we dealt with illness one day. Eduardo Becerra was our main contact at the agency. We had a tiny bump before departure regarding a hotel, which Eduardo fixed immediately. I really appreciated the way Cultural Immersion did business.

We were amazed by the Inca ruins at Ollantaytambo. They are larger than those at Machu Picchu but not nearly as well known. Our tour guide at CI showed us a lot about the town of Ollantaytambo, in addition to the ruins, which was very interesting. If you can, schedule in a half day or a few hours to really look at the old part of this town and the ruins.

We also enjoyed the visit to the working Maras salt ponds and the Moray Inca agricultural experiment area. Just fascinating for both. Driving through the Sacred Valley to Pisac you can see the way the Inca sculpted the mountains to increase arable land for farming. It is everywhere, not just in Ollantaytambo, Pisac, or Machu Picchu. We drove from Ollan. to Pisac and on to Cusco, stopping at the Inca spots close to Cusco. It was a very full day but there is so much to see.

We stayed at the El Albergue Hotel in Ollantaytambo and Maytaq Wasin in Cusco and would happily stay at both again; see separate reviews posted soon. In Ollan. we ate at the restaurant in the El Albergue and in Cusco at Sara's and Baco's; see separate reviews posted soon.

Nassau, New...
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1. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

That's great that you had a good time with CI - did they handle just your Sacred Valley & Cusco arrangements, or all of your Peru trip? Is all the touring you describe (Inca ruins, Ollantaytambo town, Maras, Moray) what you did in one day, or was it more than one day? Thanks for posting :)

Houston, Texas
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2. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

You're welcome. CI handled our whole Peru trip, which was just Cusco and Sacred Valley. We didn't go elsewhere in Peru. We planned the trip to get accustomed to the altitude by staying in SV before spending any time in Cusco, which has the highest elevation. Day 1: Cusco arrival, depart for Ollantaytambo via Chicheros. It was a light day but the altitude was a tough adjustment for us, so CI advised us to keep a minimal schedule and we were glad we did. Day 2: Maras and Moray. If we weren't struggling with the altitude, we could have done Maras and Moray on the way to Ollan, but it is good that we did them on a different day because of the altitude adjustment. Day 3: Machu Picchu. CI set us up with a local guide there. Our choice to go unaccompanied on the train to Aguas Calientes, super easy. Day 4: visit Ollan and then drive through SV to Pisac, then on to Cusco and stopping at the sites north east of the city such as Qenqo and Puka Pukara and Tambomachay. Day 5: Cusco city tour and Saqsaywaman. Day 6: We scheduled ourselves a free day in Cusco and we really didn't need it, We could have just as easily moved on. I hope you enjoy your trip, CI was a great company to work with.

Nassau, New...
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3. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

Hi MargaretEllen - thank you very much for all the details - much appreciated! Hope you don't mind one more question? Was wondering - what month did you go? How was the weather & how did you decide on when to go? Thanks :)

Houston, Texas
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4. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

You are welcome! We just got back! We flew US to Peru on Sept 5 and departed Cusco Sept 12. We live in hot weather (Houston), so the last thing we wanted was a hot weather vacation. It is just the start of spring there and it is still dry season, no rain, so it was perfect for us. The day we went to Machu Picchu, I took a thigh length coat that I wore on the train platform in the cool morning. Once on the train it came off and never went back on; big mistake to take it. At MP I had on a 3/4 sleeve cotton T shirt, dark pants and I was really warm. The sun was bright, the air is thin and there is zero shade unless you stand in the lee of a building. Other days it was warm but not quite so warm. Not only did I not need my coat, I didn't even need a thin cotton sweater. I don't know how typical this is for the second week of September. We found it comfortable most of the time but we did get pretty hot at MP. Our other consideration was we wanted to also visit Galapagos, and this was also a good time to visit there as well. I don't mind if you ask another question, so don't worry!

Nassau, New...
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5. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

Hi MargaretEllen - that's all great information, good to know, thank you :) Cooler temps sound nice to me as well as I'm coming from Nassau, and I think it gets hotter in Houston!

The dates I was considering for Peru are between late May and mid-August, mostly because that will be when we can all get away together.

By choosing the dry season, did that mean that MP was not as green as it might be at other times of the year?

Thanks again :)

Houston, Texas
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6. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

MP was green for us but the whole area there was green, very arboreal, orchids growing, etc. Between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes there is a huge change in the types of plants. You go from dry but not quite arid to near-jungle, it is an overstatement perhaps but not by much.. Nearing AC and thus MP it becomes very, very green, lush, dense. The rest of the Sacred Valley had some patches of green in agricultural areas that were just starting to green up with the spring, but for the most part my impression of the SV was a lot of brown, meaning the spring growth had not progressed much yet. Mid-Aug would be the end of winter and I would not expect the SV to be at all green but the arboreal region around MP probably stays green all year. Late May I would expect things to be still green but turning since it is early fall in SV but in MP, again because it is arboreal, I would think it would still be green. Mine are just guesses; perhaps another writer can give you a better idea of the green-nees at MP those times of year.

Nassau, New...
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7. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

Sounds lovely when you went, at least at MP and that's the part that I want to be green & lush. I suppose to see SV green it would need a trip earlier in the year. Thanks!

Edited: 03 October 2013, 20:10
Houston, Texas
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8. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

You are welcome. Yes for a greener SV probably November - March would be good. I think the greening would be well in progress in November and not dropping off much by March. I don't know the rain level then, so you should check that. Enjoy your trip!

The Meadowlands...
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9. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

Hi,

Thanks for your trip review.

Who organized this trip for you?

You mentioned CI... What is it?

Thanks,

P

Houston, Texas
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44 posts
207 reviews
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10. Re: Trip Report to Sacred Valley and Cusco

You are welcome. We worked with Eduardo at Cultural Immersion, a local tour provider in Peru. We worked through a number of itineraries until we got it just right. His pricing was competitive and he was incredibly responsive. If you search the forums you will find their name Cultural Immersion mentioned a number of times, all with excellent to very good reviews. I would be very comfortable working with them again.