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How best to Machu Picchu?

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I could use some intel/advice on how best to experience Machu Picchu.......I'm early in the planning but trying to figure out if we should......


  • pre-cruise: on our own and fly to Cusco and then fly to Santiago to begin our cruise (and do something else during the overnight in Lima) or
  • during the cruise: take the ship tour


Questions incude


  • how much is the ship tour?
  • Are the ships tours good? or is it cattle herding?  We will be on HAL.
  • How difficult to do it pre cruise "on your own"......and hassles with flying to/fro in Peru and on to Santiago?


Thanks for passing along your experiences......We are looking forward to climbing the Andes and seeing this incredible site!


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I will try to give you as much information as possible.   We did Machu Picchu on our own about 4 years ago.   Your request for independent information is very close to our own experience.

  • We flew to Lima and transferred the same day to an internal flight to Cusco.
  • We had prearranged for a car transfer in Cusco to Ollytatambo. We stayed in the train station hotel that night and had an additional night booked for the night of our trip to Machu Pichhu.   It is a boutique hotel with a very nice restaurant. The price was very reasonable.
  • Before our trip we arranged for tickets on Peru Rail . The train stops at the hotel in the morning. When you arrive in Aquas Calientes  you transfer by bus to the entrance to Machu Picchu. We purchased our tickets at the gate.   We have heard that their procedure has changed, so research is your best friend.
  • Upon return to Ollytatambo, we stayed the night and took a prearranged car back to Cusco the next morning.   We stayed two nights in Cusco and then flew to Lima and picked up our continuing flight to Santiago.  It is easy to explore Cusco on your own, but tours are available.   Also staying in the Sacred Valley for the first two nights is a good way to adjust to the altitude.  We did observe some people not doing so well because of the altitude when we got to Cusco.
  • We anticipate that having spent 5 days on our Machu Picchu trip compared to 3 days for a trip from a cruise ship and spending 25% compared to the shore excursion price, it was indeed worth it.
  • The main thing to remember is to do your research.  I will also add that we stored luggage in Cusco rather than "lug" it with us on the train.
  • Hope this helps.
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Tripmaven.....Thank you and YES, this helps tremendously!


A question:  What if we based in Cusco and did Machu Picchu in one (long) day?  Would we miss out by skipping Ollytatambo?  


Thank you for the detailed rundown....



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Thanks for your question.   I would check the time table for the train.   It is a long trip to Aquas Calientes from Cusco.  You would short your time at Machu Picchu.  It is a possible to do.

Ollytatambo is not a "need to see" stop, but it is full of Inca history.   Once again, when you do your research, your personal preferences will be the deciding factor.

Best of luck.   

P.S.  For us the planning is as much fun as the trip. Again a personal preference

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  • 4 weeks later...

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