Tag-Archive for ◊ Travel Agency in Cusco ◊

Views 11 Jun How to prepare for your trip to Peru…mentally and physically!

Five Tips to Help You Prepare for your Trip to Peru ! By making a few easy preparations before departing for your journey to Peru, you can be assured a much more comfortable stay! The following tips have been (almost) life-savers for me… Buen Viaje!

  1. Book in advance!
    Of course not everything needs to be planned in advance…but if you want to see one or more of Peru’s most famous and sought-after sites, you NEED to book beforehand! The best example of this is the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, but also a train tour to Machu Picchu should be booked before arrival, at least in high season. You don’t want to come all the way here just to be disappointed….. The Inca Trail needs to be booked with a travel agency in Cusco 4 to 6 months in advance in high season ( 1-3 months in mid and low season). This, because there is a limit of 500 entries per day, and this includes staff! If you want to trek to Machu Picchu but don´t have 4 to 6 months to plan ahead, you can always check out an alternative treks to Machu Picchu such as the Salkantay, Lares Valley or the ever-popular Inca Jungle Trek!
  2. Salkantay Peru

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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
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | One Comment

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 20 Dic Top 10 what to do for Christmas in Cusco!
 |  Category: Must-see Travel Destinations  | 6 Comments

If you are lucky enough to be in Cusco throughout the festive season, you will have a chance to experience a Christmas very different than you are probably used to. Cusco will become the vibrant center point of celebration for Andean communities and tourist alike.

Soak up the spirit of Christmas in Cusco by following these suggestions and you are bound to have a very rewarding and magical Christmas time:

  1. Share chocolate and smiles.
  2. Every year, our partner AMAUTA Spanish School in Cusco organizes a chocolatada on the 22nd of December, to give something back to the less privileged. Join us while visiting an Andean community in the Sacred Valley and give these children a reason to smile by giving out hot chocolate, snacks, toys and clothes.

  3. Buy a saint or Emanualito.
  4. On 24th December craftsmen from all over the country will flock to the Plaza to transform it into the most charming and diverse Christmas markets of Peru: Santurantikuy .
    Purchase some last minute gifts, such as Emanualito a baby Jesus doll, and stroll along the hundreds of colorful stalls with a steaming hot punch.

    catedral

  5. Attend the Mass of the Roosters.
  6. On the evening of the 24th December the Cusco cathedral of Santo Domingo will open its massive doors for a stunning Christmas mass. The Misa de Gallo will finish around 11:30pm to get you home for midnight presents, as is the Peruvian tradition. It may be in an unfamiliar language, but it is the spiritual chance of a lifetime.

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Views 19 Dic Meet Manuelito at the Santurantikuy Christmas market in Cusco.
 |  Category: Events  | 5 Comments

Every year, on the 24th of December the central plaza of Cusco is the decor of the biggest Christmas fair of popular arts: the Santurantikuy market, where hundreds of artisans come from far away to display their beautiful and unique works inspired by the faith in their holy creator.

Santurantikuy literally means “The Selling of Saints” in Quechua, with ‘santu’ meaning ‘saint’ and ‘tikuy’ meaning ‘sale’, hence the often heard phrase of ‘cómprame un santito’ referring to the many saints, angels, wise men, pastors and other religious clay figurines used for altarpieces and nativity scenes. Without a doubt, the main character and emblematic patron of the Andean Christmas fair is ‘el Niño Manuelito’, better known as baby Jesus.

santuranticuy

The figure of Manuelito is often represented as a white boy with eyes out of glass and black hair obtained from the first haircut of a newborn baby. Perhaps because el Niño Manuelito or Tayta-Niño has been responsible for thousands of miracles in the Andean community, there is no lack of sentiments and nostalgia at the Santuranticuy fair.

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Views 13 Dic Spend Christmas or New Year’s Day at Machu Picchu in Peru!
 |  Category: Events  | 8 Comments

Haven’t made any plans yet for Christmas? What about spending it high up in the Andean mountains during one of our unique treks in Peru!

The Inca’s of Peru didn’t believe the world is going to end on the 21st of December, and neither do we. However, this particular date could go into history as your first day of the Inca Trail. After four days of hardship and solidarity with new friends you will arrive at the sungate looking upon Machu Picchu; at the break of dawn on Christmas day.

After this incredible moment and accomplishment we will bring you back to Cusco in time for a traditional Peruvian Christmas dinner. You can be assured to look back upon a truly unique and mystical experience (and you don’t have to worry about your diet after 49 km’s of hiking in the Andes!).

Spend Christmas or New Year’s Day at Machu Picchu in Peru!
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