:?: I'm planning on taking Princess on the SA west to east coast trip in Feb 08. I'm considering their pre-cruise excursion to Machu Picchu. Several guidebooks on SA suggest that the best time to visit MP is Jun, Jul, Aug (dry season)-- Feb is in the rainy season -- but no one cruises to SA in our summer. MP, the valley, and Cusco are very important to me and I'd hate to miss the sights because of rain/mist or fog -- I don't mind getting wet. Would this excursion be a mistake? Should I just take the cruise (with the Iguazu Falls side trip) and do MP and Peru on a separate land trip (but I hate to pay for 2 round trip flights to SA)? Any advice appreciated.
We did a land vacation to Machu Picchu in June and July. I highly recommend doing Peru as a land vacation. The elevation in Cusco is quite high. The bus ride is much higher as you go over the mountain on your way to the train station. It is advised that you get accostomed to the altitude before doing any strenuous activity. I think it is smart to spend a couple of days in Cusco prior to exploring Machu Picchu. (Be sure to take the altitude sickness medication as prescribed by your doctor.)
There are really good land packages available that include
Lima, Cusco, & Machu Picchu. Our tour was nine nights and included RT
air from Miami, three star hotels for nine nights, and a couple of tours including the Machu Picchu train day trip. We spent less than $1000 P.P. for this trip.
Cruise ship tours to Machu Picchu are expensive and quite rushed. If it were me, I'd make Peru another trip by land.
Last January we had a week and a half precruise time in Peru.
Peru was really the highlight of the entire 6 week holiday. We enjoyed sunny days throughout our visit, in spite of it being low season. It was hot in Lima, around 28c but cooler in Ariquipa, Cusco and very chilly in Lake Titicaca -- elevation 4 000 m. Ariguipa is a small city worth a couple of days to help get used to the elevation. We took the Andean Explorer between Cusco and Lake Titicaca -- much as I imagined the Orient Express would be -- a full day of elegant dining, fashion shows, cultural performances and great fun. It's just a 350 km journey but took 8 hours. Buses are far cheaper and faster but nothing compares with our elegant journey.
Machu Pichu was a wonder. We left chilly Cusco in early morning where hail was threatened and arrived in Machu Pichu to bright sunshine and 30+c. We huffed and puffed to the top.
We had prearranged tours and guides, but were on our own for several half days in each place we visited. My husband's halting Spanish saw us through. We were impressed with the friendliness of the people. Each driver and guide greeted us with, "Thank you for visiting my country."
We'd brought along elevation sickness prescriptions and drank gallons of coca tea -- offered free in all hotel lobbies. And still we huffed and puffed. We're 65ish and reasonably fit.
From Peru we flew to Chile for a few days touring before boarding the a Celebrity ship.
We had about a week and a half post cruise time in Argentina and did Iguazu Falls from both the Brazil and Argentina sides -- as Bill Clinton said, "Poor Niagara." Again we were more or less on our own with prearranged tours and pickups.
I cannot say enough positive things about our trip to SA. We did as much as we could as on our budget and at our age we know we'll never get back.
I think it is smart to spend a couple of days in Cusco prior to exploring Machu Picchu.
While Cuzco is a wonderful place to explore, staying there a couple of days to acclimate prior to Machu Picchu escapes me. Machu Picchu is at 8-9000 ft altitude, whereas Cuzco is around 11-12000. IOW, Machu Picchu is far easier to manage for altitude than Cuzco.
You're right -- we left Lima for Ariquipa sp? where we began to get used to the altitude. We happened to have a couple of days in and around Cusco before Machu Picchu. But we huffed and puffed until we were back at sea level.
But as I said it was well worth every huff and puff.