I just returned from five days in Peru. We flew into Cusco, then took a taxi to Urubamba, and small town halfway between Cusco and Machu Picchu. The location is perfect if you want to take the train to Machu Picchu. We stayed at a B&B called Kuychi Rumi, which I would definitely reccomend. For 80 bucks a night, you can't find a better deal. You get your own cabin, and a very nice one at that. We visited Ollantytambo, Pisaq, and Machu Picchu on our trip. All of them are worth it. We had a tour guide arranged through Kuychi Rumi for O-tambo and Machu Picchu, and he was much better than the guides who hang around the sites like vultures waiting for tourist meat. You get the picture. Our guide was David Ramos, who works for Trekking and Adventure. He was a great guide, and charged a fair price for his service. The ruins at Ollantytambo are incredible, and David will take you into houses there that are still used by the Quechua (townspeople from the Inca kingdom) today, an amazing experience. Pisaq has beautiful ruins as well, but you have to taxi or walk to the top. I suggest the taxi up, and walk down because of the dramatic altitude change. And yes, at almost 11,000 feet you will feel it. Take it easy the first few days. Pisaq market is best on Sundays and Thursdays. It's a great place to buy alpaca, ceramics, and any other knicknacks. Urubamba also has a great market on Wednesdays. We were the ONLY toursits there. ANy questions about Peru, please respond.
We also went to Machu Picchu for a day. We took the first train out of Urubamba at 6am, a good idea so you have all day at MP. We hired a guide for 50 bucks, which is not a bad deal because we had him for seven hours. It's usually cloudy there in the morning, but there are not nearly as many tourists (10-2 is the most tourist heavy part of the day). Walk a little ways up the Inca trail for great views of MP and a chance to see more ruins. The trail starts right from the bus station. While in the Sacred Valley, my advice is to use the taxi collectivos. For example, a taxi from Cusco to Urubamba is 70 soles (about $20), but the collectivo is only $1.50 per person! You ride in the same taxi, but they always wait until there are four passengers (they fill up quickly). The only reason they are cheaper is because they take passengers both ways, as opposed to one way with the private taxi. Another piece of info. about the Pisaq market: Always negociate prices, because they always ask a price that is much more than you should pay. Look around, and don't buy the first thing you see. In Cusco I made the mistake of walking around too much, and I got very light headed from the altitude. At almost 11,000 feet it's something to consider. Check out the ruins in Sacsuhuaman while you're there, just a 5 minute taxi from the Plaza de Armas. Cusco is a beautiful city, and very safe. However, it is a tourist town so watch out for pickpocketers.
Be very careful with your stuff in Lima. We didn't have anything stolen, but we heard many stories. Most of the city is too dangerous for tourists. The Plaza de Armas is OK, but my wife's friend was also robbed at gunpoint there a few months ago. My advice is to go to the Miraflores district. It's on a cliff overlooking the ocean, and has many nice restaurants, bars, and shops. You can get excellent ice cream, snacks, fast food (there's a KFC and BK) for good prices. It's very secure there, but be smart about walking too far from there. I was told that the beach is not safe for tourists. Use common sense, and you will be fine. Peru is a great country. The people are very friendly and helpful
Thanks for the info! Took a few notes from it. Im heading over to Peru- Bolivia-Brazil in April/May so am doing lots of research at the mo. Appreciate every word!