My Travel Recommendations: Cuzco & Lima
Well, the night of my flight to Lima had finally come. My Instagram dreams would come true. I would travel to Machu Picchu in a luxury adventure, all-expenses paid trip by my employer, Lan airlines. My job: make it look fun and take pictures of it.
I traveled there with my favorite photographers, Kevin Burg and Jamie Beck, for the project. Here are my FAQs answered.
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT VISITING PERU:
- TIME ZONE: UTC-5. Sometimes, Peru is the same time as New York City.
- ELECTRICITY: 220V 50Hz. You will require an adapter for the round pin plug.
- TIPPING GUIDELINES: While tipping is ultimately at the discretion of the individual, in Peru it is customary to leave a tip of 10% of the bill in restaurants. You do not need to tip taxi drivers. For tours, a tip of US$10-15 per day is appropriate for a private guide and US$5-10 per day for a private driver.
- WHEN TO GO: I say in October or November - smaller crowd.
The Peruvian winter (May – September) is the dry season and the "best time to travel". The summer (December – March) is the wet season - lots of rain but again, I loved Oct + Nov.
Bring lots of layers. It can be hot as b***s one second, then freezing. Also, bring rain boots, because Instagram.
Things you MUST keep in mind:
- ALTITUDE: Doing the hike by foot sounds fabulous but the altitude here is not kidding around. As in, I jog five miles at least three times a week and I couldn't walk up three steps of stairs in Cusco on my first day there. Research altitude meds before the trip. Those coca leaves just made me nauseous and did not ease my altitude sickness.
- ONE NIGHT IN MACHU PICCHU IS ENOUGH. I I had read so much about Machu Picchu and seen so many pictures that when I saw it, it was like seeing the Eiffel tower for the first time. It was WOW for the first hour, the second hour it's pictures, and then I was ready to go, because it was hot, crowded. It's incredible - you see hummingbirds, scary cliffs and other really cool things. My point here is, unless you are an archaeologist, I don't imagine you need to spend more than three hours in the citadel.
- SPEND TIME IN CUZCO, MIN 2 NIGHTS. This is the real fun part. Cusco was like a magic wonderland for me. They still have a lot of the quechua culture. The flea markets are unreal. The colors, the food, the nightlife. EVERYTHING. I would tell you more but I don't want to spoil the surprise. That is what it was to me and I will never forget this trip because I fell in love with Peru because of Cuzco.
- ALL HOTELS AND MOST HOSTELS ARE GREAT. But, if you have Benjamins to drop and want the best, stay at the Inkaterra hotels. ALL of them are unreal. Better than the five star places there. I like it better than the Sanctuary, they say it's haunted :/ so Inkaterra it is for me.
- INTO FOOD? AYURVEDA? HEALTH? Then spend at least one night in Urubamba, the Sacred Valley. There is a train stop there.
- TRAIN? The Hiram Bingham was a dream. The Vistadome is also a great, more affordable option.
- SPEND ONE OR TWO NIGHTS IN LIMA. The food is great, but if you have to pick, I say skip it and spend more time in Cuzco.
I highly encourage you to visit www.annstreetstudio.com and read their trip POV. Beautiful pictures and cinemagraphs/videos!
The itinerary (pls note flight # may have changed since the airline is now called LATAM Airlines)
Wednesday, November 19
Depart JFK for Lima on LAN Airlines in the evening in Premium Business Class
Flight: LA 531 19NOV JFK-LIM 2245 0650
Thursday, November 20
Arrive in Lima airport at 6:50 am, connect to Cusco flight departing at 9:45 am
Flight: LA2027 20NOV LIM-CUZ 0945 1105
Arrive in Cusco at 9:45 am
Transfer from airport to Inkaterra La Casona Hotel with Grayline
1:00 pm - Lunch: MAP Café at the Precolombian Museum of Art
7:00 p.m. Dinner at Incanto:
Overnight at Inkaterra La Casona, Cusco
Friday, November 21
7:30 a.m. Breakfast at Inkaterra La Casona Hotel
8:00 a.m. Transportation with Grayline from hotel in Cuzco to Poroy Station
9:05 a.m. Depart Poroy Station on Belmond Hiram Bingham Train
12:45 Arrive at train station in Aguas Calientes (the gateway town to Machu Picchu)
Short on foot transfer from train station to INKATERRA MACHU PICCHU PUEBLO HOTEL
1:45 p.m.: Lunch: At the Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Afternoon Activities: (TBD confirmation of tour with Inkaterra Eco-tourism team upon arrival)
Tea plantation tour
Twilight orchids and garden tour before the sun goes down
7:00 p.m.: Dinner at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel Restaurant
Saturday, November 22
5:00 am: Breakfast
5:30 a.m. Depart Hotel for bus station for transportation to the Citadel of Machu Picchu and Half-day itinerary to Machu Picchu with private guide from Gray Line
1:00 p.m. Lunch : Back at Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Walk through the Aguas Calientes outdoor market with their famous textiles, beautiful scarves, ponchos, table clothes and fabrics.
25 minute de-stress massage Spa Treatment (Time TBD per scheduling with spa upon arrival – nice to soothe aching feet after an epic day discovering Machu Picchu)
7:30 p.m. Dinner at Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel overnight
Sunday, November 23
8:30 a.m. Breakfast
Free morning: Available activities: bird-watching, nature tour (TBD upon arrival with Inkaterra eco-guides)
1:00 p.m. Lunch at Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel
3:20 pm: Depart Aguas Calientes on Vistadome 32 Train , Machu Picchu to Poroy (Cusco)
Arrive Cusco at 7:05 p.m.
Transportation from train station to Inkaterra La Casona Hotel
8: 00 pm - Dinner: Inkaterra La Casona Restaurant
Overnight at Inkaterra La Casona
Monday, November 24
7:30 a.m. - Breakfast at Inkaterra La Casona Hotel
8:00 a.m. – Departure with Grayline for visit to the Parque Arqueologico de Ollantaytambo (Ollantaytambo Archeology Park and Museum)
1:00 p.m. Lunch: Limo Restaurant: http://www.cuscorestaurants.com/limo/
2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.: Half-Day tour of Cuzco with GrayLine and visit to the Chocolate Museum, Art Museum and Textile markets
8:00 p.m. Dinner at Cicciolina
9:30 p.m. After Dinner Drinks at Fallen Angel
Overnight at Inkaterra La Casona Hotel in Cuzco
Tuesday, November 25
9:00 a.m. Breakfast at La Casona
Free morning in Cuzco
1:00 pm - Lunch at Pachapapa
Free afternoon to go back and visit any favorite Cusco spots
Option to taste Peruvian Cuy (Guini Pig) https://www.facebook.com/Chactao) and tea time at the Inkaterra La Casona Hotel
4:45 p.m. Transportation from Hotel to Cuzco Airport with Grayline
7:15 p.m. - Depart Cuzco for Lima on LAN Peru
Flight: LA2066 25NOV CUZ-LIM 1915 2040
Arrive at Lima Airport at 8:40 p.m. Invitation to use SUMAQ VIP Lounge.
12:25 a.m. Depart Lima for JFK in LAN Premium Business Class
Flight: LA 530 26NOV LIM-JFK 0025 0815
Wednesday, November 26
8:15 am - Arrive JFK in the early morning