Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Idiot's Guide To Machu Pichu


     Welcome to Peru! A beautiful country in South America and the home base & mainstay of my South American Summer Holiday in August 2013. Whether you are coming for a legendary trip to the world famous Machu Pichu, or you are just here for a few precious days, we'll get to Machu in a moment but first here's my general travel tips on how to make the most of this beautiful country:
  • DO NOT DISREGARD LIMA! If you are flying to Peru from USA or Europe, it is pretty damn likely you will be landing in Lima. On my travels down too many people told me how boring Lima was for them, it definitely was not for me, a few great things about Lima in no particular order:

    Not quite Machu Pichu, but it's a start!
  • Pucllana Temple (Huaca Pucllana) a nice warm up set for Machu Pichu, check out the ancient ruins, be sure to go with a guided tour, it's only about $12 and you will learn a lot about the ancient civilizations culture. Walking distance from...
  • Mira Flores: Do everything you can to stay in Mira Flores, we stayed at the Psycho Llama Hostel, definitely on par with the best hostels I've stayed in, it has a beautiful roof top deck with a bar that may or may not be staffed, but you can drink at it either way! We had a great time playing guitar and having some drinks on the roof before embarking to:
  • Calle De Pizza: AKA Pizza St. The translation is somewhat literal as the block is lined with Italian/Pizza Restaurants, but don't worry there is great Peruvian food too, and the night really comes alive for those who want to party.
  • The beaches! Take a walk down to the coast off Miraflores, this itself is free and awesome, but if you want to spend a few bucks you can also surf and paraglide here (surfing was around $12 gliding $60). The water was way too cold when I was down there, and unfortunately the winds were bad for paragliding, so I have to put that off for another country. But the beaches were definitely gorgeous, clean, and a great sight for the trip.

  • The Blue Market: unique shops and souvenirs.
  • Taxi from the airport to Mira Flores as of August 2013 should only be about $25 to $40, if you are paying more, you got jacked.
  • More Lima tips: BRING TOILET PAPER. Even some of the upscale restaurants won't have it! The most upscale will, but we will get to that later... It's also not flushed in the bowl down there, you throw it in the trash next to the toilet. Spanish is not useful, it is almost essential as most people there will not speak much English. If you are a gambler there are plenty of Casinos all around the city. If you want to work out, Gold's Gym in Miraflores is my top choice, only $10/day. And as always in any foreign country, be careful, and be safe. Now onto...


    Ok I am going to make this as quick & simple as possible: you have 2 choices, self tour, or guided tour.
Self Tour: Book your Machu Ticket online (they say they sell out but I went in peak season, this is probably a lie). Fly to Cusco, take a taxi to the Machu Pichu Train, take the Train to Agua Calientes, and go to Machu Pichuu the next day or same day. When you are reading about Machu Pichu in America or Europe, it seems so damn complicated to figure out how to go about getting there, once you get to Cuzco, it is damn nearly impossible to not find a way to get there! It is pretty much like landing in an NYC airport and making your way to Manhattan. This self tour will not take you on the famous trails there, if you want to do those yourself, good luck is all I can say.
Guided Tour: My choice. I went with Loki Hostel and Loki Tours and could not give a higher recommendation! The hostel, the staff, and the tour were superb, but we will get to that later. For the guided tour remember we are budget travelers, so I had two choices, the Inca Trail or the Jungle Trek. The Inca Trail will take you thru other famous ruins, but based on price and adventure I went with the Jungle Trek for about $300 USD. We hiked thru the jungle along an old railway by the side a river. We biked over 35k downhill thru the Andy's from snow to heat. We ziplined, white water rafted, spent the night in 3rd world villages, drove off road down some dodgy trails, met some great people, and in the end of course made it to the beautiful Agua Calientes town, and the world famous Machu Pichu.

You are not going to get to do this on a self tour!
Now going further into this, some Machu Pichu/Cusco/Agua Calientes advice:

  • Bring toilet paper, again, I cannot emphasize this enough! Even at Machu Pichu it was scarce, my friend actually wiped his ass with his underwear, which he threw into the toilet receptacle.
  • Cusco is awesome! Try to have at least a whole day here! head down to the main plaza, tour the church, do some shopping, get a massage, take some photos, and come late night, it may seem dead at a glance, but there is definitely a thriving underground party scene. For a more relaxed night, plenty of great restaurants.

  • Altitude sickness is no joke. It is recommended to stay in one place and relax your first day... Me and my buddy didn't follow this advice. We stayed out drinking till about 5am. Altitude sickness is not biased, it's random, some people may not experience, some may get it hard. My buddy definitely was blowing chunks most of the next day. I was pretty sick too, but it was more likely from boozing and no sleep for me.
  • Taxi's are dirt cheap. Verify the price before getting in, but I wondered with the prices of gas how the hell they made a profit, especially on airport trips.
  • Loki Hostel: this itself was a highlight of the trip, there are a few in South America and the Cusco Hostel was a hell of a time. The staff has an event every night, the food is good, and the bar is always open. If you are not into the party scene though make sure you request a room a good distance from the bar as it is not quiet if you are close. They also will key you in on what bars are good that night You will learn "The 5 Lies of Loki", and be chanting "LOKI LOKI LOKI" when you leave. For the non-drinkers they also have free tea all day from the Coca plant, I would check your job's drug test policy before downing too much of these!

    Just another day at Loki!
  • If you are doing a tour to Machu Pichu, you will likely stop off in Agua Calientes, but on the way make sure you bring whatever you may need as resources in the 3rd world villages will be scarce.
  • Once you make it to Agua Calientes it is a beautiful and scenic city, you could easily use a memory card of photos here! But make sure you save some for Machu!
  • Onward to Machu, words, stories, or pictures will not be able to explain... all I can say, is that if you are thinking about going, go.



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1 comment:

  1. Hey Joe

    Just stumbled across your page when I was researching my South America trip. Planning on doing this next year. Looks amaze.
    Have already terrorised Europe and the US will check out your other blog posts :)
    Do you have a FB page for this blog?