Machu Picchu Sidetrip
Will be aboard the Amsterdam docked at Arica, Chile on 3/20 and Lima, Peru on 3/22. The H/A tour brochure has a Cuzco & Machu Picchu tour listed for $3199 to $4899 per persosn. These are 3 day/2 night tours, getting off in Arica and rejoining the ship in Peru. Has anyone done this? Seems like a very high price. Has anyone done this "on their own" or with a local tour company? If you have-- can you post some details? There must be a cheaper way. Of course I would not necessarily like to miss the ship in Peru as it gets rather expensive playing catch up to additional ports.Thanks :D
We were on the “Inca Discovery” cruise on the Statendam Nov 10 thru Dec 6. We were docked at Lima for 3 days and 2 nights, where some passengers started or ended the cruise. Those people could do the Machu Picchu trip as a pre or post cruise tour. However, since we did the round trip, we did the Machu Picchu trip as a shore excursion.
If you peruse the HAL South America brochure, you will find the Machu Picchu trip is significantly cheaper as a pre or post cruise tour, than it is as a shore excursion. This difference makes no sense, and I could not get a straight answer from HAL as to why this is the case. I think that it is a simple case of what the traffic will bear. However, we did learn that the people who successfully arranged their own Machu Picchu tour did so as a pre or post cruise tour. I believe that the 3 day 2 night shore excursion is too tight a schedule to do it yourself, i.e. the pre/post cruise tour competes with the “do it yourself” tours, but the shore excursion does not.
Yes, we also experienced “sticker shock” at the tour cost. We purchased the “superior” rather than the “standard” tour. We figured that as long as we were blowing that much money, we might as well go all the way!
Enough of the negative – now the positive. To visit Peru without visiting Machu Picchu would be a shame, a decision I believe you will always regret. It has got to be one of the most, if not the most, breath taking, awe inspiring sight in the Americas. Also, the visit to Cuzco and the train ride from Cuzco to Machu Picchu is a very important part of the experience.
I recommend that you buy the “superior” package. We were glad we did. We were in a much smaller group than the regular tour. We stayed at the Monasterio Hotel in Cuzco, an experience in itself. The “Hiram Bingham” train has 4 star food and service, both ways. This train had only three cars: one for the kitchen and staff, one for the passengers, and a bar and lounge car – really nice. We visited the ruins in mid to late afternoon – the big tour groups had already left.
That 3 day 2-night trip is something we will relive many times in our memories and snapshots.
Hope this helps,
The only reason I say this is that I took a tour to the top of the crater in Maui ... Hiyaleeekaa whatever ... :) and was shocked to have developed altitude sickness while at the top. I was with friends who were gonna bike down the crater ... though my plan was to just ride in the van (I have a problem with my leg and wouldn't chance bicycling down. We were up there for several hours watching the sunrise, and the tour leader had to make me sit in the van for a while because I was getting so winded and so sick. He said that if I didn't start feeling better shortly he was gonna drive me down to a rest area at around 7,000 feet where I could wait for the group to catch up.
Fortunately I did begin to feel better and found that if I just sat in the van, I would be okay. But it is worth it to mention this in case the OP has any of these sorts of problems. Also, if the OP is a smoker, they may be extra susceptible to hypoxia, such as I was. I only spent about $60 (back in 2001) for my tour, but would be an absolute bear to spend that kind of money for a side trip and then not enjoy it.
Blue skies ...
Yes the altitude is a concern. As I recall, the HAL literature stressed this point, warning people with a possible problem, not to take the trip.
We visited the crater on Maui (10,000 feet) a couple of years ago, and did not have a problem. (My wife and I are 66.)
The city of Cuzco is at 11,000 feet. Our tour included a visit to the Inca Ruins (Sacsayhuaman) above Cuzco, which are more like 12,000 feet. However, Machu Picchu itself is at 8,000 to 8500 feet.
The tour around Cuzco involved walking on mostly level areas. However, at Machu Picchu there is a lot of difficult walking and climbing on irregular stone steps. Therefore, if you have an altitude problem, it will probably be at the ruins, not in Cuzco.
(The natives told us to chewing coca leaves will help with the altitude. When we checked into our hotel, we were immediately served coca tea, with the waiter telling the tea will help. It was apparent to me that us gringos didn’t care for the tea – it must be an acquired taste.)
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