Archive for ◊ enero, 2013 ◊

Views 31 Ene Tour en el Lago Titicaca & Puno

Después de haber volado a Cusco desde Lima, yo sabía que me había perdido un poco de la ruta tradicional de los viajeros en el sur de Perú. Un lugar que realmente quería visitar y se me cruzó por la mente hacerlo más de un fin de semana es el lago Titicaca. Por suerte, con la ayuda de la agencia Dos Manos pude resolver esto, ellos lo arreglaron todo mientras yo seguía con mis clases de español en Cusco, las cuales fueron fantásticas.

Este viaje incluye 2 autobuses nocturnos, que a mi parecer fueron bastante cómodos, gracias a los asientos cama que reservaron para mí. Salí a las 10 pm un viernes por la noche, después de haber cenado y tuve un par de bocadillos para el viaje. Un poco soñoliento llegué alrededor de las 5 am a Puno, desde donde todas las excursiones al lago Titicaca operan. Las personas que me recogieron me dieron a elegir elegir entre desayunar en el terminal de autobuses o dirigirnos a una oficina cercana a descansar un poco más.

About Puno & Lake Titicaca Tour
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Views 31 Ene About Puno & Lake Titicaca Tour
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | 4 Comments

Having flown to Cusco from Lima, I knew that I had missed out a bit of the traditional travellers trail in southern Peru. One place I really wanted to visit over a weekend was Lake Titicaca. Luckily, Dos Manos were able to sort this out around my Spanish classes in Cusco, which was fantastic.

This trip involves 2 overnight buses, which although put me off slightly, was actually extremely comfortable, thanks to the cama seats that were booked for me. I set off at 10pm on a Friday evening, having eaten and got a few snacks for the journey. Rather sleepy, I arrived around 5am in Puno, from where all the trips to Lake Titicaca operate. I was met, and given a choice between breakfasting in the bus terminal or heading to a nearby office to rest some more.

About Puno & Lake Titicaca Tour
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Views 10 Ene The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Day 1 + 2
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | 6 Comments

Hiking the Inca Trail had always been a huge ambition of mine.  Directly after arriving at the Amauta Spanish school in Cusco I met a group of students that were booking for later that same week, through their in-house travel Agency Dos Manos Peru! Admittedly I was quite relieved that there was still space; I guess the trail doesn’t get so booked up in the wet season.

The staff of Dos Manos made the whole booking process very easy for us and was very professional in accommodating special requests and dietary needs of one of my fellow hikers. Our guide, Simón, gave us a briefing two days before we left, allowing us time to buy last minute necessities. He described the trail, what our plans were, what would happen each morning before walking and the type of food we could expect. I received a great feeling of confidence and excitement and really lived up to the moment of the first day:

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Day 1
We were picked up very early that fateful Friday from the Amauta Spanish School, and travelled to Ollantaytambo, a town 75km from Cusco for a snack breakfast. This is often a compulsory stop due to the need to pick up porters. Since we were a relatively small group this was a quick affair and we were quickly on the road again, heading for Km 82 where the trek would really start!

After a lengthy entrance process (where our passports were cross-checked with our tickets for name/number discrepancies) and a bridge crossing, we were off! The first morning passed pleasingly and the walk itself was not challenging; quite flat before a slight incline to lunch.

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Views 10 Ene The Classic Inca Trail to Machu Picchu: Day 3 + 4
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After having hiked for two long days (see here my travel story) we were already half way on our trek to Machu Picchu.

Day 3
By the traditional route, day 3 is the longest day and it also has the most optional detours to see different ruins. So instead of staying in Wiñay Wayna, the traditional end-point of the third day, we decided to take some of these detours and enjoyed these greatly preserved ruins at regular intervals during the day, breaking up the 1000m descent into the cloud forest. On the other hand we got into Machu Picchu a bit later on Day 4, since we had further to walk.

Dejà-vu struck first thing in the morning, as we had to climb out of the valley in which we had spent the night. The 400m climb that you could see from day 2’s descent kicked off a long day. The group got to the top without a problem, but from there it was still a long haul to lunch on the top of the third and final pass; you could almost hear a chorus of stomachs rumbling as we came through the mist and arrived at lunch.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Lunch also marked the end of any significant uphill walking on the Inca Trail, which was a nice feeling! With careful baby steps we came down to the campsite for a relatively early finish, and that night, somehow, we played football with Simón, Lino and the porters. This was a really nice way of showing our appreciation for their astonishing support on our journey. After the game we had a small presentation ceremony where we gave each person a token of our thanks.

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Views 09 Ene Sights and ruins along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

The Inca Trail is without a doubt one of the most famed and challenging treks in Peru and known worldwide for its cultural content and natural beauty. Every year thousands of tourists flock to Cusco to embark on a four day trek to Machu Picchu, along a truly exceptional mountain trail, made hundreds of years ago by the Inca civilization. Besides the ancient trail itself surrounded by unique flora and fauna, trekkers will pass a range of magnificent archeological Inca ruins all with their own characteristics: 

Qorihuayrachina
The classic Inca Trail starts at Km88 at the location of the Qoriwayrachina, which was only discovered recently in 2001. The name is Quechua for ‘where the wind was used to refine gold’, and the site beholds many fascinating monuments and altars made out of stone.

Llactapata
Located at 2840m. above sea level, the next interesting site you can visit is thought to have been used primarily as an agricultural plantation. Llactapata, which is a combination of two Quechua words, ‘llacta’ meaning town and ‘pata’ meaning height.

Inca Trail
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Views 09 Ene Frequently Asked Questions about Machu Picchu
 |  Category: Tips & Testimonials  | 4 Comments

Nowadays, there is so much information available on the web about a tour to Machu Picchu that is it very easy to confuse yourself. Hopefully this article of definitive answers to some commonly asked questions will clear a few things up for those planning to visit the “Lost City of the Incas” in Peru.

  1. Is it necessary to use a travel agency to go to Machu Picchu?
  2. No, this is not a requirement. Technically you could travel to Machu Picchu organising everything yourself. However, the huge advantage of reserving with an agency is that they organise absolutely everything for you, at the same or even cheaper price for the complete excursion.

    Machu Picchu

    It so happens to be that in Cusco you have to buy every single bit of your tour to Machu Picchu from many different websites and offices, that are scattered all over town. Trains, buses, entrance tickets, guides and possibly hotels all require advanced booking one way or another, implying a very time consuming process. To make matters worse, the maddening red tape and communication in Spanish generally turns out to be a nightmare to the foreign visitor. To avoid any inconveniences and bad holiday experiences, it is highly recommendable to leave all the organizing up to an established travel agency in Cusco. You will be able to communicate with the same contact person about your entire travel itinerary, ask any question you like while counting on years of experience backed up with a travel service guarantee.

    In addition agencies may also get discounts for certain items of the trip, such as trains and hotels, due to the volume of passengers they manage. Therefore, if you were to do everything separate from an agency, you may find out it is actually not cheaper at all.

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Views 09 Ene The ins and outs of Aguas Calientes – Machu Picchu Pueblo
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | One Comment

Set around 400m. below the historic site of Machu Picchu, the town of Aguas Calientes is the unavoidable stop-off point for all visitors. Those who do a one day excursion to Machu Picchu from Cusco won’t have much time there, but anyone staying overnight in order to beat the crowds at Machu Picchu before sunrise the next morning, and/or hike up the Huayna Picchu mountain will have some spare time in the town (recently renamed Machu Picchu Pueblo, just to confuse everyone).

We won’t even attempt to beat about the bush; Aguas Calientes is a tourist trap. Most guidebooks slate the place and whilst we won’t go that far, it is a town irrefutably based upon the fact that lots of rich western tourists will pass through.

In the evening, bars play European or American football and blast out loud music. Touts or ‘sharks’ posted outside restaurants will practically beg you to enter, and market stalls typically are more expensive than Cusco and certainly the Sacred Valley. Despite all the above, we believe that there is something about Aguas Calientes that all the guidebooks have missed.

Aguas Calientes

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Views 07 Ene Trains! Trains! Trains to Machu Picchu!
 |  Category: Tips & Testimonials  | 11 Comments

If you don’t fancy hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu for several days and unless you want to take 4 mini-buses with crying babies and local produce, a small train overall taking about 10 hours, you better take the direct train to Aguas Calientes from Cusco. Unfortunately this process has been made overly complicated and quite expensive, due to it being the main route to see Machu Picchu, the jewel of the Inca Empire and the most important Peruvian tourism site in the country.

In order to decipher everything surrounding these direct trains, here is a guide to help you make a more informed decision about your excursion to Machu Picchu:

1. Train Stations
Cusco is not served directly by a train from Aguas Calientes. Due to the altitude difference (Cusco at 3,400masl and Aguas Calientes at 2,000masl) the trains won’t go straight to Cusco; the time it would take to do this would add hours onto any journey.

Therefore, on a train from Aguas Calientes you reach Ollantaytambo, where 90% of trains stop, or Poroy, around 20 minutes away from Cusco city. Of course, a train all the way to Poroy is much more comfortable, with less hassle, but there is only a limited time schedule and they are often more expensive.

Trains take approximately 90 minutes to reach Ollantaytambo from Aguas Calientes, or 3½ hours to Poroy. At both stations, a minibus or taxi will get you back to Cusco.

Aguas Calientes

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Views 04 Ene The great South American adventure is back: The Dakar Rally 2013!
 |  Category: Events  | One Comment

During its fifth edition in South America, the famous Dakar Rally will be hosted by three countries that already have revealed their magnificent natural charms in recent years. From the 5th to the 20th of January engines begin to roar again to traverse more than 8000 kilometers in Peru, Argentina and Chile.

Lima to San Pedro
For the first time in the Dakar’s history, the Peruvian desert enters the scene in the early stages of the rally. With the start podium in Lima, where the Pacific coastal neighborhoods of Chorrillos and Magdalena were chosen as the grounds for the technical and administrative controls, the race kicks off into the coastal desert land towards Pisco, Nazca and the sierra of Arequipa. Even though the starting days are less difficult than the following, allowing tension to gradually work its way up, it’s clear that the 2013 Dakar Rally leaves absolutely no room for improvisation. Crossing the border into the vast Atacama Desert of Chile, the race will see a grueling desert journey to the town of Calama, where the natural beauty of the Death Valley near San Pedro de Atacama will speak to the imagination of the pilots and onlookers alike.

Dakar

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