xyz99

Peru Aug/Sept 2018

45 posts in this topic

We are going for 2 weeks to Peru next year, I'm reading everything I can find about it and can't make up my mind. I think I need help deciding the jungle/Amazon/wildlife portion of the trip. Calling @Atravelynn @Treepol @Alexander33 @graceland and anybody else who has an opinion :)

 

I think we'll have 14 nights in Peru, but haven't booked flights yet, and I'm not sure about the flight schedules yet. From what I noticed, flights into and out of Lima all seem to be at weird hours...

 

We'll spend 3-4 nights in Sacred Valley, 1-2 in Cusco, 2 in Aguas Caliente for Machu Picchu; not sure yet if we'll need a last night in Lima (we'll be flying into Newark), so this leaves us about 5 nights for wildlife, maybe 6 if we reduce the number of nights in other places. Not enough but it will have to do. We're definitely going to Pantanal in 2019, so based on what I read the Tambopata/Manu areas are similar in terms of wildlife...is that true? 

 

If so, maybe the Amazon would be a better choice for this trip? Looking for monkeys, frogs, snakes, birds (big and colorful a plus, LOL), wildlife diversity and maybe the Tahuayo Lodge but no set plans yet. To start with, my first questions are:

1) Is it true that Tambopata/Manu is similar to Pantanal? 

2) If yes, is 5 nights enough for Amazon? Land or boat in Aug/Sept?

3) If not, which one: Tambopata or Manu? As these are in the general area where we'll be. We don't need luxury, but definitely private bathrooms and hot water.

4) Another thought is to try to see spectacle bears - where? how?

5) Logistically, is there a better way to organize the order of destinations of this trip?

6) Any guide recommendation? Do you recommend a single organizer for the entire trip (not a group though), or several, one for each area?

 

I told you need help...hopefully you'll have some good ideas for me. Until then, I'll go back reading your trip reports. Thanks.

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@xyz99 Alas @graceland won't be able to help as she sadly died a while ago, but I'm sure the other members will be able to help you on your way.

 

Matt

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@Game Warden,

Ohhh, so sorry to hear that...I was reading her comments on one of Atravelynn's Peru TR, she mentioned her own 2008 trip. I don't know if she wrote a TR, but I'm still looking. And I'm sure I'll find more of her contributions while reading these forums, and I will be thankful...

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@xyz99    I just had the loveliest trip down memory lane as I went to try and find who I used for my trip to Peru....I had soooo much fun on that trip. A friend and I went and had a place in Lima that we used as a base as we went to the Amazon area out of Iquitos then we did Cusco and MP and Manu for the second half. We had a great little hotel in Cusco that we used as a base as we split the Manu trip and MP trip up. Anyway- I can't speak to how Peru compares to other areas, but I loved both the jungle trips. Each one was different, but fun. One comment- you will not care if you don't have hot water....it is hot and sticky and those cool showers are awesome. For the trip out of Iquitos I used Explorama. We stayed at all of their lodges plus one night at the research station. Very basic and rustic, but a lot of fun. That's where I went piranha fishing (and ate what I caught) and have never laughed so much in my life. Lets just say that the fish got more of the bait than I got of them. The research station was very cool....I remember hanging out in the hammocks in the main room watching and listening to  a thunder and lightening storm that night- pretty surreal. Our guide was fantastic. For Manu I used Manu Expeditions- again, did several different lodge/camp options with them, with one night staying in a village which was the highlight of the trip. I don't know that they still do it, but very very rustic, but way cool. Got my very red eye treated by the local healer who cut a root and squeezed something in and poof, all cleared up. Hey, I was in the middle of the jungle with a bad eye- I figured what the heck :)  Manu was a bit more remote than the other area where you'd see more villagers on the water, etc.  We did the train to Agua Calientes and stayed a couple nights there so we'd have a full day in MP (also went up the first afternoon too). This trip was many years ago and so many great memories just came flooding back :)

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@lmonmm Great to hear about not needing the hot water shower. I think the Amazon/Iquitos area are a better choice for us in Peru, even though more difficult to get to. I think we might combine a river cruise and a jungle lodge, for a total of maybe 6 nights...just need to read more about each of them. We are interested in wildlife and birding, plus beautiful scenery - I need to read more about Explorama lodges.

 

You are a brave woman, to let the the local man squeeze something into your eye, but once again, it shows how little we know about the nature around us and its possibilities. So glad everything worked out well and you had a great trip!

 

I'm not sure if you heard, they changed the MP entrance rules, now they have timed entries, wither 6 am - 12 or 12 pm - 5:30pm, and you need a guide. The guide is not an issue, we were going to get one anyway, but we would've liked to go in the morning, out for lunch, then get back in. We might need to get both am and pm tickets...we'll see. Do you think about 5 hrs is enough? AM or PM?  Thanks.

 

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Just my opinion, but 5 hours is enough for the main part, but if you want to go up to the sun gate or the bridge, or both, then you'll want more time.  I went two separate times when I was there.  Afternoon the first day for the main portion and then did the hiking part the next morning.

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@xyz99  No, didn't know about the scheduled times....wow....  When we went, we got there early enough to go up for the afternoon....now with these times, not sure if that would work or not. So, we did the first afternoon and just ambled around, no guide. The next day we got the earliest bus up and we also got a guide. I think we spent a good portion of the day there. We were back down early enough to do the hot springs before dinner. I guess I'd shoot for the 6-12 which would give you the max amount of time. We didn't do any hiking, just took our time through everything. It really is a fascinating place and I enjoyed the ability to quietly sit and absorb it all- especially after learning so much from the guide. Now, I'm not a seancy kind of person or anything like that, but I had kind of a freaky experience there. At one point my friend was off with the guide and I was just kind of standing in an area all by myself and all of a sudden I got the sense of kids running and laughing...could actually hear them....seriously, freaked me out. It was a matter of seconds, but I could hear it. The history of this place is pretty overwhelming. I had a little cry shortly thereafter as I was a bit overwhelmed, but it was all good...that moment will stick with me forever.

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That quiet, unrushed experience is what I was looking for. Now, with the new rules, who knows if that will be possible anymore. Apparently there are 3 circuits, cordoned off, and you cannot just walk around, turn around or linger. But, there is still hope...for extra money. One can buy 2 tickets, for 2 entries...you need a guide for the first one, but if you show your prior ticket, you don't need a guide for the 2nd. You just need to make sure you don't accidentally exit...the way the circuits are organized, it seems that's very easy.

 

Oh well, maybe things will change or get better organized by next year when we're going. The new rules were introduced on July 1st. 

 

@Pamshelton3932, I think we might want to hike to the Sun gate...but I'm finding conflicting information about how long it takes to get there. 15-20 minutes on some sites, 3-4 hours on others....did you do the hike? Is it scary? I don't think I can do it if it's a big drop off and I need to use ropes to pull myself up...actually, I know I know I can't :)

 

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Wow- this is news. I had no idea. I'm really glad I went when I did. I'd see people just hanging out reading. I guess that's not possible anymore. I gather there is a reason for this, I have read some stories about stupid tourists. So, another weird tidbit from my trip to MP....I was never afraid of heights until there. MP did me in...the drop offs there are crazy...it is mind blowing beautiful,, but some serious drop offs. Now that I think about it, if things are cordoned off, you may not be able to get to those drop offs..so that's good :)   No matter what...it is an amazing place and like I said, the history is mind blowing.

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Ouch....I'm not doing well with heights, and that's before MP :(

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@xyz99, I did the hike to the sun gate and took it slowly because of the altitude.  It probably took us about an hour each way, and the pace of our little trio was a little faster than I'd have chosen for myself.  Absolutely stunning view and worth the effort expended though.  There is a nice trail and I don't recall ever feeling too close to the edge.  There was nothing more strenuous than walking uphill, so no ropes or anything.  I wish I could remember if there were any railings.  My feeling is that you should try it and turn back if it's out of your comfort zone-which I doubt will happen.  Have fun!

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@Pamshelton3932, great advice, thanks! We'll try, I think I can do that...I think I can....I think I can....

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@xyz99 gosh, your Peru trip is certainly very varied and I am sure you will enjoy every day of this trip.

 

I think you are trying to do a lot in just 2 weeks and I'd suggest that you stay around the Cusco area for both culture and wildlife rather than flying down to Iquitos. The trip to Iquitos will cost you about 2 days in travel time alone as it is a connection thru' Lima and after arriving in Iquitos its a trip up or downriver to whichever lodge you choose. I stayed at Explorama in 2010 and whilst we enjoyed this, we saw much more wildlife in Manu.

 

I would recommend an extra night in Cusco and doing MP from there as we did in 2010, this will save a day. Unless you have a particular interest in the Sacred Valley, I would think that 2-3 nights there were enough. So, potentially you could have 8 nights for wildlife... 

 

I didn't think that either Tambopata or Manu were similar to the Pantanal. Manu is very wild with much denser forest than I have seen in either the north or south Pantanal. I was very disappointed with Tambopata, although we may have chosen the wrong company for this reserve in Rainforest Expeditions. I don't think that we saw very much in Tambopata compared to the Pantanal and Manu. Its true that you may see peccaries, macaws, some bird species and jaguar if you are lucky in Peru, however we had much better and more varied sightings in the Pantanal.

 

I would definitely choose Manu over Tambopata, however getting to the Manu Biosphere could take longer than your time permits. In order to maximise wildlife viewing time, I would spend time in the Sacred Valley, Cusco and MP and then travel as far as you can from Cusco down the Manu Road to Cock of the Rock Lodge and then see how far you can get downriver from Atalya. Amazonia and Pantiacolla Lodges aren't too far from Atalya. This TR has useful travel times, booking contacts and a good write-up of Manu Birding Lodge for those venturing downriver.  I have heard that Spectacled Bears can be seen around Cock of the Rock Lodge, although there had been no recent sightings when I stayed in either 2010 and 2013. Chaparri in northern Peru is very reliable for these bears as they have some that can't be released back into the wild that are housed on the property. I gather that wild spectacled bears are often seen in the vicinity of Chaparri Reserve. 

 

I'd suggest contacting Metropolitan Touring for a quote for Cusco, Sacred Valley and MP as I found their pricing to be very good and the service was prompt. If you are heading into Manu, Barry Walker at Manu Expeditions has great infrastructure at a very high price. The contacts in the above TR may be a better bet and I think that the folks at both Amazonia and Pantiacolla Lodges can also arrange transport, although I'm not sure what the accommodation is like at these properties.

 

 

 

 

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Not mentioned is Ollyantatambo which would be a great precursor to you Machu Picchu journey.  It is at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu (9500 ft I think) and there are some very interesting ruins there where you could get your feet wet, so to speak.  I loved this little town and you can walk to the train station from anywhere.

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Hi @xyz99, although we didn't take in the wildlife section you are looking to do, we had a great trip to Peru in September last year so however you schedule things I'm sure you will enjoy it.  Our trip was 14 night (in Peru + i night on the flight back to the UK) split into:

Lima - 2 nights
Cusco - 2 nights
Sacred Valley - 2 nights
Aguas Caliente - 1 night (so we had an afternoon & 3/4 of the following day in Machu Picchu)
Cusco - 1 night (so we could get to the station for the train to Puno)

Puno - 2 nights (Lake Titikaka)

Colca Canyon - 1 night (Condors)

Arequipa - 2 nights

Lima - 1 night

 

That scheduling worked out quite nicely, the only change I'd make (in hindsight) would be to have 2 nights at Colca Canyon to relax a little, possibly skipping the last night in Lima although that would mean flying from Arequipa to Lima and on to the UK on the same day so spending a few hours in Lima airport waiting for the connection.  The tour we took was modular and the folk we met who did take the "jungle" option (based near Puerto Maldonado) thoroughly enjoyed it.

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10 hours ago, AfricIan said:

Hi @xyz99, although we didn't take in the wildlife section you are looking to do, we had a great trip to Peru in September last year so however you schedule things I'm sure you will enjoy it.  Our trip was 14 night (in Peru + i night on the flight back to the UK) split into:

Lima - 2 nights
Cusco - 2 nights
Sacred Valley - 2 nights
Aguas Caliente - 1 night (so we had an afternoon & 3/4 of the following day in Machu Picchu)
Cusco - 1 night (so we could get to the station for the train to Puno)

Puno - 2 nights (Lake Titikaka)

Colca Canyon - 1 night (Condors)

Arequipa - 2 nights

Lima - 1 night

 

That scheduling worked out quite nicely, the only change I'd make (in hindsight) would be to have 2 nights at Colca Canyon to relax a little, possibly skipping the last night in Lima although that would mean flying from Arequipa to Lima and on to the UK on the same day so spending a few hours in Lima airport waiting for the connection.  The tour we took was modular and the folk we met who did take the "jungle" option (based near Puerto Maldonado) thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

@AfricIan, you really got to see a lot in 2 weeks, that looks like a great trip, thanks for sharing your itinerary. We considered some other destination besides MP and Sacred Valley, and decided we would like to see wildlife instead. Maybe we'll go back to Peru someday, I would love to see the condors in Colca Canyon...

How was the weather in September?

 

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11 hours ago, Pamshelton3932 said:

Not mentioned is Ollyantatambo which would be a great precursor to you Machu Picchu journey.  It is at a higher elevation than Machu Picchu (9500 ft I think) and there are some very interesting ruins there where you could get your feet wet, so to speak.  I loved this little town and you can walk to the train station from anywhere.

 

@Pamshelton3932, I think Ollantaytambo will be our base in Sacred Valley. DO you think we can visit Cusco as a day trip from there? I am a little bit worried about the altitude in Cusco and I think we would prefer to overnight somewhere else...

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The altitude in Cusco is not to be trifled with. We had the luxury of spending a couple days to acclimate, but it is rough. I did a quick google look and MP is the lowest with Cusco being the highest (Ollantaytambo in between). Now, all that being said, I am not an exercising kind of person and a smoker. My biggest struggle in Cusco was keeping my cigarette lit (just not enough oxygen?)   :)  We did find that after a few days (back and forth between various trips) that we could climb the stairs to our hotel (by the end of the trip) without having to stop every 5 stairs. If you take it slow, drink the tea and no booze the first day or so ( another real struggle for me :) ) you do ok. No matter what...try and spend at least a day in Cusco- it's an amazing city/town. I understand your concerns about the altitude. I come from the E. Coast of the US and was about 14 years younger when I went (no idea where you are in this spectrum- I'm 56).....no altitude...and I was worried. But, I survived. Honestly, no matter what you decide, it'll be an incredible experience.

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You could do a day trip to Cusco, but it would be a long day-about two hours drive if memory serves.  I could have given Cusco a miss completely, but we flew in there, so spent one or two nights. It was the least memorable part of the trip for me.  I loved Ollyantatambo but I generally prefer smaller over larger in terms of towns and cities.  Once you iron out how you'll get to Ollyamtatambo, maybe a day trip will fall into place.  

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LOL...see? all a matter of opinion.....I would think the one thing that everyone could agree on is that the people of Peru were amazingly sweet, welcoming and warm. Like I said earlier, whatever you decide, it is a beautiful country, I always felt safe and the history everywhere is pretty incredible. And, the jungle (again, no matter where you decide to go) is amazing. So, you in for a real treat.

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 @imonmm is right.  The people are so friendly and wherever you decide to go you will enjoy it.  

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16 hours ago, Treepol said:

@xyz99 gosh, your Peru trip is certainly very varied and I am sure you will enjoy every day of this trip.

 

I think you are trying to do a lot in just 2 weeks and I'd suggest that you stay around the Cusco area for both culture and wildlife rather than flying down to Iquitos. The trip to Iquitos will cost you about 2 days in travel time alone as it is a connection thru' Lima and after arriving in Iquitos its a trip up or downriver to whichever lodge you choose. I stayed at Explorama in 2010 and whilst we enjoyed this, we saw much more wildlife in Manu.

 

I would recommend an extra night in Cusco and doing MP from there as we did in 2010, this will save a day. Unless you have a particular interest in the Sacred Valley, I would think that 2-3 nights there were enough. So, potentially you could have 8 nights for wildlife... 

 

I didn't think that either Tambopata or Manu were similar to the Pantanal. Manu is very wild with much denser forest than I have seen in either the north or south Pantanal. I was very disappointed with Tambopata, although we may have chosen the wrong company for this reserve in Rainforest Expeditions. I don't think that we saw very much in Tambopata compared to the Pantanal and Manu. Its true that you may see peccaries, macaws, some bird species and jaguar if you are lucky in Peru, however we had much better and more varied sightings in the Pantanal.

 

I would definitely choose Manu over Tambopata, however getting to the Manu Biosphere could take longer than your time permits. In order to maximise wildlife viewing time, I would spend time in the Sacred Valley, Cusco and MP and then travel as far as you can from Cusco down the Manu Road to Cock of the Rock Lodge and then see how far you can get downriver from Atalya. Amazonia and Pantiacolla Lodges aren't too far from Atalya. This TR has useful travel times, booking contacts and a good write-up of Manu Birding Lodge for those venturing downriver.  I have heard that Spectacled Bears can be seen around Cock of the Rock Lodge, although there had been no recent sightings when I stayed in either 2010 and 2013. Chaparri in northern Peru is very reliable for these bears as they have some that can't be released back into the wild that are housed on the property. I gather that wild spectacled bears are often seen in the vicinity of Chaparri Reserve. 

 

I'd suggest contacting Metropolitan Touring for a quote for Cusco, Sacred Valley and MP as I found their pricing to be very good and the service was prompt. If you are heading into Manu, Barry Walker at Manu Expeditions has great infrastructure at a very high price. The contacts in the above TR may be a better bet and I think that the folks at both Amazonia and Pantiacolla Lodges can also arrange transport, although I'm not sure what the accommodation is like at these properties.

 

@Treepol, I really appreciate the insight...and Manu sounds wonderful. I thought we would have better chance to see primates in the Amazon, but it seems Manu is a good habitat too. I am very happy to hear it's not that similar to Pantanal, I think we can have 6 nights for it. Everybody says Manu over Tambopata if time allows it, and I think we would be fine - depending on flights and logistics we might even be able to stretch it to 7...

 

Do you know anything about Manu Wildlife Center? I am having a hard time finding a map that shows where all the lodges are, so not sure where this is in relation to Amazonia and Pantiacolla. That TR link is wonderful...I need to figure out where this Manu Birding Lodge is in relation to the other 3 I mentioned above. I think we would like 2 nights at the Cock of the Rock lodge and 4 nights to another one, still TBD. We don't like to move too much, so some of the tours I see online where you change accommodations every nights are not for us. 

 

Re: Machu Picchu: I was thinking of staying 1 or 2 nights in Aguas Caliente, and do MP from there.

 

This is not my first attempt to plan a Peru trip, the last one was in 2010, and I found some of your answers to my then questions. You mentioned InkaNatura and how they messed up your transfers...maybe they are better now, maybe not, I'll have to read more. Manu Expeditions is also an option, so I'll contact them, contact the lodges independently, and see what sounds good. Lots of things to ponder...thanks a lot.

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Posted (edited)

54 minutes ago, lmonmm said:

The altitude in Cusco is not to be trifled with. We had the luxury of spending a couple days to acclimate, but it is rough. I did a quick google look and MP is the lowest with Cusco being the highest (Ollantaytambo in between). Now, all that being said, I am not an exercising kind of person and a smoker. My biggest struggle in Cusco was keeping my cigarette lit (just not enough oxygen?)   :)  We did find that after a few days (back and forth between various trips) that we could climb the stairs to our hotel (by the end of the trip) without having to stop every 5 stairs. If you take it slow, drink the tea and no booze the first day or so ( another real struggle for me :) ) you do ok. No matter what...try and spend at least a day in Cusco- it's an amazing city/town. I understand your concerns about the altitude. I come from the E. Coast of the US and was about 14 years younger when I went (no idea where you are in this spectrum- I'm 56).....no altitude...and I was worried. But, I survived. Honestly, no matter what you decide, it'll be an incredible experience.

 

@lmonmm Hmmm, I'll need to think about this. My husband had altitude problems at Bryce Canyon, which is only about 9000 ft. Cusco is over 11,000...We're only a few years younger, but like you, no big exercisers. Actually, maybe I should say "no exercisers". Period. 

 

Did you hire a guide? Rented a car? We prefer independent travel, so an organized group is not for us. Thanks.

Edited by xyz99

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Posted (edited)

51 minutes ago, Pamshelton3932 said:

You could do a day trip to Cusco, but it would be a long day-about two hours drive if memory serves.  I could have given Cusco a miss completely, but we flew in there, so spent one or two nights. It was the least memorable part of the trip for me.  I loved Ollyantatambo but I generally prefer smaller over larger in terms of towns and cities.  Once you iron out how you'll get to Ollyamtatambo, maybe a day trip will fall into place.  

 

@Pamshelton3932 Ouch, 2 hrs drive each way would eat a lot of time, not sure it's a good idea. We too prefer smaller towns over big ones, so we'll see. As I said earlier, altitude is the biggest concern...

Edited by xyz99

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No, no guides except during the jungle trips. Well, at MP of course. Going with the lower altitude may be the best bet. Cusco is cool, but not at the expense of feeling like crap. MP is the real draw and that definitely shouldn't be missed. The way our itinerary worked, Cusco was the place to settle between our two trips- MP and Manu so it worked for us. The friend I was traveling with happened to be from Puerto Rico so her Spanish (although a little different) came in handy.

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