Go to Another Vacation
Peru - April 2000
Arrive in Peru
Cuzco, City Tour
Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo
Machu Picchu, Cuzco
Getting to Machu Picchu
Huyana Picchu Trail
Inca Bridge Trail
The day started early with a 6 am (luxury) bus trip to the city of Ica. The bus ride took several hours, but we were able to see the coast and the desert along the way. The bus made one stop in Ica at the Las Dunas Hotel (picture of its pond on the left). The company that provides the flights over the Nazca Lines has an office in the lobby of the hotel. They provided the three minute bus trip to the airport from the lobby.
The flight over the Nazca Lines took about a half hour of travel time to the lines, about 10 - 15 minutes over the lines, then the half hour return. After the flight, we had the choice of hanging out at the airport at the bar, visiting the condor, or requesting shuttle service back to the hotel. There is also a gift shop at the airport that takes US dollars. We decided to check out Pepe the condor at the airport before departing to the hotel.
The person at the hotel desk was able to arrange a private city tour (for only $15 US) after an excellent lunch at the hotel's outdoor cafe. The tour included a visit to a winery, a museum, and an oasis resort. We returned to the hotel and walked the grounds, and hiked up a large sand dune. If we had more time, I would have liked to stay over night at this hotel.
We flew out on a plane with tiny tiny seats to Cuzco. We checked into our hotel and then went on a city tour. We saw several churches and the ruins called Korichenka (shown on the left). There were also ancient Incan walls that still line the city that we followed.
We took a 6 a.m. train ride to Machu Picchu from Cuzco. The ride offered fantastic views of Peru countryside in the morning sun. When we arrived in Aguas Calientes, the last stop on the line, we took a bus to Machu Picchu and checked into the Sanctuary Lodge. We had a guided tour of Machu Picchu in the morning, and were left to explore the ruins for the afternoon. We went on a hike to the Inca Bridge, and then came back and hiked a small section of the Inca Trail to the Sun Gate. We explored until dark, and went back to the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge for a light dinner and a relaxing sleep.
The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Hotel sits at the entrance to the ruins. Though several rooms are advertized as having "a view of the ruins" you are not actually able to see the ruins that you think of when you envision Machu Picchu. In the picture on the left, you can see the patio to our room and the ruins that you *do* see from the hotel above.
Despite the fact that we did not see the view we expected, we still give this hotel the five star rating for several other reasons. The staff was wonderful and the room that we had (the best in the hotel) included a living room, a bedroom, a very nice bathroom, and a patio with beautiful flowers. The menu at the restaurant covered a wide range of food and we thought the dinner was pretty good - much better than the buffet style lunch served to the masses earlier in the day. If I recall correctly, the lunch buffet was $17 (US) and our dinner was less.
For those who do not stay at the Sanctuary Lodge, there are several hotels available in Aguas Calientes which is where the train station is located.
When we woke up the next morning, we decided to hike Huyana Picchu. The views from the summit were fantastic! Unfortunately, it was time to make our way back to Lima. We would first have to leave Aguas Calientes by train and then stay over in Cuzco.
We wanted to do one more activity before we left for Lima, so we hired a private driver to take us to the local ruins one more time. After the tour, we had to return to the airport to fly to Lima.
When we landed in Lima, a tour guide met us and gave us a private tour of Lima. We saw catacombs, parks, and a lot of history. He dropped us back off at the airport and we waited for our flight back home.