1. Posted by John_Maher (First Time Poster 1 posts) 6w Star this if you like it!

We have a small group planning on traveling to Peru. Looking at the packages it doesn't appear that we can do everything that we want. We want to spend about a week in Lima and a week in Cusco. There will be between 2 and 6 of us. I speak very little spanish but will buy one of those pocket translators that does not need wifi. I am trying to keep the cost low to enable more people to go. We wish to:

Spend a day in Lima at the plaza and nearby attractions
Hike to laguna 69. I know a bus goes there and its about 8 hours
another day in Lima to visit the art museum of gold, art museum and park of love
maybe another day in Lima
Spend a day in Cusco at the plaza and nearby attractions
take the 2-3 day hike to machu picchu by the hydro electric dam
check out the saqsaywaman
Go to the rainbow mountains
maybe another day in Cusco

I plan on going in April or May
Does anyone have any recommendations?
Can I find local guides?
Someone told me making hotel reservations cost twice as much. Are reservations necessary?
Does anyone know the 2-3 route to hike to Machu Picchu?
I believe I can get a guide at Machu Picchu. Or should I get one for the 2-3 day hike?

Is this too ambitious? Should we forget about our ideal trip and settler for a package?
I don't mind doing the work to plan it.

2. Posted by MarlouvP (Inactive 3 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Hi John,

I wouldn't bother spending a week in Lima, there's not that much to see and do.
If you want to hike Laguna 69, spend a couple of days in Huaraz instead. Do note that you'll need to acclimatize as Laguna 69 is at 4.600 meters. I recommend spending 1-2 days in the city and maybe do 1-2 other hikes before, like pastoruri. This glacier is higher up, but the walk is short. Laguna 69 is a longer walk and needs to be done at a decent pace if going with a tour. If you have your own transport or go with a guide just for your group you might have a little more time.
So I'd say 2-3 days in Lima and 4-5 days in Huaraz instead.
And one week in Cuzco for sure! Cuzco is amazing :)

I haven't tried to hire local guides, but I'm sure you can find them :). At Machu Picchu you can contract them on the spot, there will be plenty offering their services.
You can definitely try to negotiate hotel rates. It might not always work, but worth a shot (probably won't be half, but something). Tours for sure book them on the spot as they are a lot more expensive online.

If you need more info, I wrote all my tips for Peru down here: - snip - /
Or just shoot me a message :)

Hope this helps!
Marlou

[ Edit: Edited on 25 Oct 2021, 01:59 GMT by MarlouvP Sorry, no promos please. ]

3. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 232 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Do not overlook altitude acclimatisation. If you have seem people suffer altitude sickness you would appreciate how serious it can be. I witnessed a group of 20 year old Peruvians from Lima suffer (3 of them) and it was horrendous. It takes time and some of your plans will require good acclimatisation which takes time (e.g. Cusco, e.g. Laguna 69 which is tough even when acclimatised). I managed Laguna 69 though met a couple in their 30's who were well acclimatised and they didn't even make the 1st half which is the easy bit. Altitude sickness occurs in about 20% of people after rapidly going to 2,500 metres (8,000 ft) and 40% of people going to 3,000 metres (10,000 ft). Don't expect coca or condor urine or Diamox to be much help. Being young fit and or healthy is of no benefit when it comes to coping with altitude sickness - anybody can suffer and it is not known why. Having coped before does not mean you wont suffer next time at altitude.

I didn't find Lima is not very interesting - couple of things to see but for me a stop-off on way south to north. Foodies like the place and Huaca Pucllana worth seeing (a few hours before or after a flight). Read-up about taxi safety in general and specifically on leaving Lima airport.

Cusco is high enough to need to acclimated (some people say don't expect to do anything there for a couple of days and be prepared to move to lower altitudes quickly). I can't advice as I acclimatised properly (in my case via Arequipa).

If you are going in April-May you have time to learn a good amount of Spanish and I would strongly recommend it.

Machu Picchu - hiking there is controlled and needs to be booked often well in advance. Access to the site itself is through pre-booked time windows. You cannot hike to Machu Picchu without a guide - you must pre-book. As for the site itself - my personal opinion is a guide is a waste of time. Not that much is known about the site and locals told me the guides make up most of what they tell you. A bit of research before hand. When I went loads of guides waiting around the entrance. BUT, the visiting system has changed a lot since I went and is much more restrictive. When I went I just booked am or pm entry so I went going in 6:00am and didn't leave till late afternoon. It's a one way round, you follow the route and no going back and guards dotted around to stop you going back. I was warned that take a guide and they'll rush you round real quick as they want to get back to the entrance to get another person/group and another fee. And you can't go round a 2nd time. But I believe it's now changed to 2 hr entry window booking slots (with or without a guide) as the site is suffering from too many visitors.

For pretty well anything in Huaraz you will need to be well altitude acclimated (incl. e.g. Pastoruri, though getting there from road is not a big climb and it's on a concrete path). There are some less active things you can do e.g. Laguna Parón but even there some youngsters failed less than half way up the side to look from above!

On one hike in a National Park I was legally required to take a local guide and there were some people on the mountain suffering Altitude sickness and my guide was getting quite "strong" with then to help motivate them down as he kept telling them "we don't have a helicopter to come and rescue you, you either get down by yourself or you stay up here".

Rainbow Mountain is a hard hike - again at altitude.

Ian

4. Posted by Psamathe (Budding Member 232 posts) 5w Star this if you like it!

Also, do note that if any of your group go back into work soon after return home and their job involves a drugs test (as I believe some professions do routinely e.g. medical?, some airline jobs?) then if you've been chewing coca leaves you may fail a drugs test. A surprising number of jobs do use routine/random drugs test - one job I had did them, when I was a zookeeper.

Ian

5. Posted by pauldm21 (Budding Member 2 posts) 4w Star this if you like it!

Best to sort transport and tours once your out there if you’re looking to keeping costs down. Group tours are great for ease, convenience and meeting people but definitely cheaper doing your own thing.

Contrary to most, I quite like Lima and would recommend spending a bit of time exploring it. It is the sort of place that grows on you though and not for everyone. And as other have said, Cusco is great and worth at least a week. Definitely lookinto sorting MP
in advance. Either from here or start enquiring once in Lima. There are various 3 day treks but the most well known is the Salkantay trek.

Personally I would skip Rainbow mountain, it rarely looks like the pics and is a pretty hard hike for not much reward. Better exploring the sacred valley a bit more.

I can recommend a couple of trustworthy guides and tour companies in Cusco (friends) if you like. There are so many there it really is a lottery.