2 week Peru itinerary in November - what to cut - Lake Titicaca or Amazon?
Replies: 8 - Last Post: Nov 11, 2012 1:58 AM Last Post By: IncaKola
Nov 8, 2012 8:36 AM
My girlfriend and I will be traveling to Peru for two weeks this November (14th-27th). We are flying into and out of Lima. We are both adventurous and love the outdoors, so I am trying to plan the trip to include hikes, areas with breathtaking views, and thrilling adventures to be undertaken. I would ideally like this trip to be a balance between cultural experiences (exploring ruins, history, etc. as well as seeing modern city life, culinary experiences and nightlife), and the outdoors (hiking, seeing unique landscapes and vistas, etc), but more biased towards the latter.
With that said, the rough draft itinerary is the following:
14-Nov Fly into Lima at 15:15. Booked a flight to Arequipa departing at 19:00. Stay in Arequipa.
15-Nov Rest, explore Arequipa.
16-Nov Colca Canyon
17-Nov Colca Canyon
18-Nov Colca Canyon/Arequipa?
19-Nov Bus to Puno/Lake Titicaca?
20-Nov Lake Titicaca
21-Nov Bus to Cuzco? Spend day in Cuzco.
24-Nov Currently have Vistadome train ticket to Aguas Calientes, arriving at 9:52. Reading more about AC, I am thinking of asking Peru rail to change this and only keep the return ticket, going to Ollay via collectivo instead and spending the day exploring that town, catching the evening train to Aguas Calientes.
25-Nov Machu Picchu at dawn, climbing Huayna Picchu at 10:00AM. Catching last train back to Poroy (Cuzco) at 17:27, arriving 20:40. Sleep in Cuzco.
26-Nov Cuzco to Lima flight, arriving at 9:30. Spend day exploring Lima, maybe having some beach time, eating well and souvenir shopping.
27-Nov Depart Lima back to LAX at 10:50AM.
What do you guys think of this itinerary? I'm normally used to doing more stops and spending a shorter time in each, just to cover more ground, but I don't want this trip to be too rushed.
I had some specific questions:
- My biggest dilemma is choosing between the Amazon and Lake Titicaca. Highest navigable lake in the world is nice and all, but that's like saying lowest elevation pond in Arkansas or something, isn't exactly a must-see destination purely because of that. Is it scenic there? What is the main draw to this place? I love jungles and would love to see the Amazon, but I did do some cloud forest exploration in Costa Rica, and am worried that the jungle will be rainy in November, plus that we might need too much time to travel out to the remote location. Any thoughts? I've currently budgeted two days for Lake T. and I suppose I wouldn't mind taking a day from Cuzco or Arequipa to accommodate a jungle adventure if it's worth it.
- Is it worth hiring a guide/doing a tour for Colca Canyon? My guidebook said you can just rent a car and drive yourself around and trek yourself. I think I might prefer this, as I generally like to avoid tours, unless they're cheap and good.
- I was considering climbing El Misti with a tour for a 2 days/1night experience, but not sure if it's worth it on this short trip.
- What is there to see in Arequipa itself besides the monastery? Any other highlights around the city except for Colca?
- How many days should I devote to Cuzco proper? It doesn't look like an exceptionally large city in terms of area, and while I wouldn't mind a day or two of city exploration, I really came to Peru for stunning sights and uniquely Peruvian experiences. Are there any must-see locations in the vicinity of Cuzco?
- Should I take a day from Cuzco and devote it to Ollantaytambo or another sacred valley destination?
- My current train ticket is for arriving in Aguas Calientes on Nov. 24th at 9:25 AM. Looking at the Peru rail website, it seems they allow changing tickets if you do it a day in advance. I'm thinking of changing the ticket to go from Ollantaytambo to AC in the evening and spending the day in Ollay. At the same time, I was intrigued by climbing Putucusi mountain - seems like quite the adventure!
Any and all feedback, comments and suggestions are very welcome.
Edited by: trojanee
Nov 8, 2012 8:51 PM
1Wow--Are you sure you are not me? Sounds like my plans for a trip--can't ever make up my mind what to do.
Just returned from Peru .
Go back and read my "revised trip report" from two weeks ago.
Love Colca Canyon--recommend the two day tour--shop around for best price as tourists offices vary a lot. You better wait until you see Colca Canyon before you think of trekking it--it is DEEP...and steep.
arequipa--nice town--check out market to drink "frog in a blender"; local museum has the Ice Princess mummy; We got stuck for a 3 day bus strike and could not leave but found plenty to do around the town.
Puno sucks...but the Tourist bus from Puno to Cusco is very interesting if you like inca ruins.
Cusco--it's not that big and you can see a lot in a day or so. Lot of places to see with a short taxi drive. e.g. Pisec.
Ollantaytambo--nice friendly town with lot of inca ruins close by. If you are adventureas you might want to hike up to the old quarry to see if you can find all 9 caves with Inca skeletons. I only found one.
Agua Calientes--they know they got you! Nothing cheap in this town. Constant movement of tourists going to and from MP.
We did the bus ride from Cusco to Puerto Maldanado and then flew back. Think it was $25 for bus and $75 for plane. Very scenic ride over the andes and then down into the Amazon basin. Movil bus company--leave Cusco at 10 AM and get to PM at 2030. Easy to do quick tours there but we did not bother as we have been to Amazon before..and it was raining pretty damn hard most of the time we were there. The bus ride was great.
Nov 8, 2012 9:35 PM
2Yea, I'm always indecisive when planning, but I find that when you're on vacation, in the end you usually end up having fun and appreciating wherever you go because you find cool aspects of every location.
Thank you very much for the useful feedback. Your trip report was very amusing and informative as well. What's the "frog in a blender" drink?
It seems like you had no problem not pre-booking tours in advance? I've read that you can typically get better prices by shopping around on location in Peru rather than booking online before your trip.
Did you visit any of the islands on Lake Titicaca? It sounds like you weren't too impressed.
Also, did you plan to do the PM bus + flight in advance, or did you book both while you were in Cusco?
Nov 9, 2012 1:14 AM
3On the 17th November you could take a night bus from Arequipa to Cusco instead of going to Puno the next day.
I'm everything but fond about Puno and as I have read I'm not the only one. It is literally a cold city.
You could spend the time you would have spent in Puno in the Amazon jungle.
I wouldn't wait to change the train tickets and if possible it won't be free.
I also hope you reserved the Huayna Picchu tickets in advance or will do ASAP as these usually sell out. Right now there are still 142 tickets available for the 24th.
Things to see in AQP: the museum with the mummy Juanita, the tambos, some cultural centres, some towns nearby like Paucarpata or Sabandia with a 17th century mill, the founder of Arequipa's mansion, colonial buildings, the San Camilo market, ...
I have spent months and months over the past two decades in Cusco and wasn't bored a single second, there are loads of things to see and do.
You can visit many places from Cusco, you don't have to stay in another place. If you want to explore the Sacred Valley then go to towns not listed in all guidebooks. In September I spent a day in two towns between Urubamba and Calca and the sole foreigner I saw was my son.
Ollantaytambo & Pisac are all about tourism, recently I was in Pisac for half an hour to pick up a friend and could see how touristy Pisac has become. The center of the village is nothing more and nothing less than an accumulation of cafes, restaurants and jewelers.
You could hike from Ollantaytambo (nobody calls it Ollay there) to Patacancha, a small hamlet in the hills above the Sacred Valley.
I guess the hike would take at least three hours.
Nov 9, 2012 8:22 AM
4Frog in a blender--they take a small live green frog and throw it in a blender with some old leaves or grass clippings with a little honey...and push the button. Only found it in arequipa anbd foolishly did not buy a drink.
Got bus tickets and plane tickets for PM while we were in Cusco--Take taxi to bus terminal and have taxi drop you off at star office on way back to plaza.
INKA--those towns around Urabamba had loads of backpackers in October. Not sure what was going on but there appeared to be some type of convention going on at several sites.
Nov 9, 2012 10:03 AM
5Xinloi, do you mean Patacancha or Huayllabamba & Urquillos?
Went to Patacancha a couples of years ago for a 'chocolatada' between Xmas & NY and were the only foreigners there and the unpaved uphill road to the hamlet.
In Huayllabamba & Urquillos haven't seen westerners either but of course it's on every map so I guess I'm not the only one visiting those places.
Nov 9, 2012 12:48 PM
6IncaKola, thanks for the advice. Is it just Puno that you dislike, or the Lake Titicaca surrounds in general? I've read mixed reviews as well - some people loved the islands or visiting Juliaca, others felt it was too touristy and not that scenic. If we decided to skip Titicaca and it was too rainy for the Amazon, what other locations would you recommend going to in the interest of bigger diversity of landscapes and scenery?
We did already purchase the Huayna Picchu tickets, as well as the AC hotel, so we're covered there. What other towns in the Sacred Valley would you recommend? Are there other, slightly off the beaten track hikes there that can be taken in that area? I figured Ollay was a gringo term that I've seen used here on the forums, but it's so much faster to type :)
As far as Arequipa is concerned, is it worth driving to the coast from there to get a taste of Peruvian seaside? I also saw some pictures from Sondor that were absolutely breathtaking, but it seems rather out of the way from Arequipa.
Xinloi, can't tell if you're serious about the Frog Jamba juice, but if that's real, I'm trying it. I've armed myself to the teeth with antibiotics and anti-diarrhea medication.Hopefully it's not a poison frog.
Nov 10, 2012 7:01 AM
Nov 11, 2012 1:58 AM
8Puno is so so but the Uros islands is like an even worse Disneyland.
Can't understand someone who likes Juliaca (one hour before Puno coming form Arequipa or Cusco), it's a big industrial city, the Peruvian capital city of counterfeit business and crime ridden.
Cusco really deserves some time, here are some trips you could make from Cusco but if it would be raining all the time I would advise you to go to the coast, Lunahuaná for example where many limeños go for a weekend for adventures sports (rafting, mountain biking, hiking, wall climbing, ...), taste the local wines & pisco's and sample crayfish. Ica/Huacachina deserves a day and you could visit the Ballestas Islands with sea lions, penguins and many marine birds.
In the Sacred Valley I would recommend you some towns not listed in guidebooks, have a look at googlemaps.
The seaside from Arequipa isn't so famous among Peruvians except Arequipeños. A nice side trip from Arequipa is Corire to see the petroglyphs and taste crayfish and local made pisco (Gaston Acurio's home pisco is made in Corire).
Two books I would recommend you to buy when arriving in Lima are Rafo Leon's guidebooks about Arequipa & Cusco, available both in Spanish & English. Rafo Leon is a Peruvian and has been visiting his country for decades. I have five guidebooks written by Rafo Leon and like them all very much.
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