Since the day we met, we have been dreaming about going to Peru so you can imagine how excited we were when we finally got the perfect opportunity to take this dream vacation.
Two words that come to my mind when I describe this trip are luxurious and adventurous. In this first post of the Peru series, we will cover our detailed itinerary that we painstakingly put together after hours of research. We will also include additional locations that we would’ve liked to visit and activities that we would’ve done if there were more hours in the day.
Other posts in this series:
- An unforgettable Peru and Machu Picchu Itinerary
- This – Arriving in Cusco and heading to Sacred Valley
- Exploring treasures of Peru’s sacred valley
- Spending a night in a glass pod at 1300 feet: Skylodge, Peru
- Upcoming – Exploring Cusco city and an unconventional visit to Saksyahuman and other ruins
- Upcoming – Hiking the rainbow mountain
- Upcoming – Hiking the Inca Trail
- Upcoming – Other locations to visit in Peru
- Upcoming – How we visited Peru and Dominican Republic using miles and points
- Upcoming – When to visit Peru and Machu Picchu
- Upcoming – Ins and Outs of preparing and hiking for the Inca Trail
- Upcoming – How to prepare for high elevation and avoid altitude sickness
Day 1 and 2: Arrive in Cusco and head straight to Sacred Valley
Cusco is the gateway city for visiting Machu Picchu and other sought-after locations in Sacred Valley. This historic city took our breath away – literally. Cusco is located at a respectable elevation of 11,152 feet which is something to not take lightly (especially if you are coming from sea level). Therefore, we suggest that you head straight to Urubamba or Pisac in sacred valley which is at a lower elevation of 9,514ft. More on avoiding altitude sickness in our upcoming post.
We recommend making Urubamba your base for the next few days. The drive from Cusco to Urubamba takes about 2 hours. You can hire a taxi at the airport or arrange for transportation with one of the many drivers or transport operators. We arranged all our transportation with Felipe (whatsapp +51 958 705156, email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) over email and paid for each ride at the end of the day in cash. Felipe was very responsive and we had a great time with our driver Juan Carlos who was always willing to go the extra mile to accommodate us.
A great way to break up this drive is to stop in the town of Chinchero. We first stopped at a weaving cooperative where locals show you how they use natural dyes and weave the famous alpaca clothing and blankets. It’s a fun way to learn the process of weaving while sipping on coca tea. At the end of the demonstration you can shop for hats, gloves, sweaters, etc. This place is very touristy and we didn’t really buy much because the products were mass produced and mostly machine made, same items that you will find at every gringo trap.
We then headed to the main attraction in the town – Chinchero ruins. A short walk up a hill lined by more touristy stalls gets you to the beautiful ruins.
Entry to the ruins:
We bought the full general ticket “Boleto General” which covers 16 archaeological and cultural sites in both Cusco and the Sacred Valley. It costs S/ 130 and is valid for 10 days. Alternately, you can buy partial boletos (Circuits). Each circuit costs S/ 70. See sites covered under each circuit here and translate page to English. You can buy the tickets at the first site that you visit which is covered by the ticket or in Cusco. As you enter the Chinchero ruins, you can spend hours staring at the green terraces and rolling hills.
We planned this stop on Sunday because one of the biggest local markets assembles right at the bottom of the ruins. You can shop the local tchotchkes and alpaca products at the famous market and enjoy some of the local delicacies. After researching Alpaca products in more detail, we concluded that most items in the Chinchero market were not 100% Alpaca and were mostly machine made/mass produced items. Still not bad for gloves, hats, or cheap blankets. Like any touristy market, shop around and negotiate before purchasing.
You could also save this stop for a later date or on your way back to Cusco if your priorities lean towards catching some Zzzz’s after the long flight.
Where to stay
After the stop, we continued the drive for another hour and arrived at our home for the next few days – Tambo Del Inka in Urubamba. This fantastic Luxury Collection hotel is somehow rustic and modern at the same time. It is also a steal for 12k points per night and is probably the best SPG hotel that we have ever enjoyed. Take this day (and next the next day, if your schedule allows) to enjoy this beautiful property. Swim in the indoor / outdoor pool, walk along the Urubamba river and soak in the hot tub and sauna, and if you are anything like us start tweaking the itinerary to stay at this hotel for more nights 😊.
Other hotel options:
Luxury options: If you don’t have enough SPG points or are looking for other luxury options, consider staying at Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba OR Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado
Mid-range or Budget options: Inti Nan Hotel, Hotel Hacienda del Valle, Hotel Agustos Urubamba, Villa Urubamba Sacred Valley
Where to eat
We had dinner at the Hawa restaurant located inside Tambo Del Inka and it was delightful. Soaring, vaulted ceilings, 100 ft. windows, a 50 ton chimney made of enormous stones – what a setting! It’s on the pricey side, but worth every penny since a meal of this caliber would cost at least 3X in NYC! During high season, it would be better to reserve a table next to the enormous fireplace as it gets crowded during the dinner rush. The breakfast (included as a SPG Platinum perk) at the same Hawa restaurant dining room is a fantastic spread of local and European cuisine, fresh fruits, gluten free options, and all the expected breakfast trimmings.
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