Should I fly to Lima or Cusco?
Final destination and meeting place is Cusco. If you have extra cushion time (before and after) and you want to experience Lima (shopping and city life), you may decide to stop in Lima and sight see at the beginning or end of your trip. Currently I noticed that it seems cheapest to book a round trip to Lima and then a roundtrip from Lima-Cusco separately.
Book Roundtrip Austin- Lima Depart Friday Jun 14th Return June 24th
Book Roundtrip Lima-Cusco Depart Saturday 15th Return June 23rd (or 24th)
You may also consider arriving sooner and leaving later.
Note: Transportation and accommodations are more expensive in Lima, while souvenirs and market products are cheaper. I recommend having a travel buddy in Lima. If you are alone and do not speak Spanish, navigating the city without effective communication can be very challenging. Peru is a developing country and the city (like most) brings together the wealthy and the impoverished. This combination leads to crime and tourists are targets.
When should I fly out (departure date) and return?
We are meeting in Cusco on Saturday June 15th at 12pm. I recommend you arrive in Cusco by Thursday night or midday Friday, to allow time for your body to acclimate to the elevation. This will allow time to fully arrive and be ready to go on our first hike on Saturday.
Arrival Date: NO LATER THAN
Friday June 14th (1pm)
This will allow +32 hrs to acclimate to the elevation.
Return Date: NO EARLIER THAN
Sunday June 23rd 2pm
Are there any other options/ways to get to Cusco?
Flights are quick, but if you have time and want to see more of the land, there are buses that travel from Lima to Cusco. There are buses that travel to all corners of Peru. Overnight options, cheap options (usually less comfortable), bed options. In some cases these can be booked online (nicer trips), other can be booked within 24hrs at bus station.
What if I'm traveling alone?
Without a buddy, My suggestion is to fly to Cusco, which is safer and easier to get around. Many people speak English in Cusco. Versus flying to Lima and trying to navigate the busy city without the ability to communicate clearly. Some people love the thrill of this type of challenge, but it can be stressful. If you really wanted to experience Lima, you could find a hotel or even hostel that has an airport pick up option.
Suggested Hostel in Lima: KACLLA, The Healing Dog Hostel - Calle Porta 461, Miraflores District
Suggested Hotel in Lima: Second Home Peru - Domeyer 366, Barranco District
How much spending money do I need? and what is the best way to exchange?
IMO you shouldn't need more than $600 for spending money. You probably won't use that much, unless you plan to buy a lot of souvenirs. There are a lot of great authentic goods for really great prices. If you plan to shop, bring yourself an extra cu$hion of cash, and possibly an extra bag. Money is best exchanged in the little "cambio" shops there in Cusco. If you exchange at the airport the commissions are higher. Most Taxis straight out of airport will accept USD$. The drive from the airport in Cusco will not cost more than $15. However, the drive from the airport in Lima to the common areas would be $20- $25. You can befriend someone at the airport and share a taxi for ultimate savings! Most people are going to the same general area, so taxi has no problem with this.
I suggest bringing cash to exchange vs. using the ATMs, because when you use the ATM you will have fees and higher commission. The difference is small, but it adds up and I'm all about efficiency.
When exchanging money: Request 20s and 50s. They will usually give 100s and many places do not accept 100s.
I don't speak Spanish, how will I communicate when I arrive in Cusco?
Taxi drivers at the airport in Cusco will speak enough english to communicate with you.. Your first words should be "Voy a Plaza de Armas" OR "Voy a (place you are going)". Once that is clearly communicated, You will ask "how much?" ALWAYS ASK FIRST BEFORE GETTING IN THE CAR, so you can be clear what you are agreeing to. "How much?" is "Cuanto?"
"I'm going to Plaza de Armas." - Spanish translation = "Voy a Plaza de Armas"
" How much?" or "How much does it cost?" - Spanish translation = "Cuanto cuesta?"
What is the address for the hotel in Cusco?
Address: Calle Afligidos 120 (Historic Center), Cusco -Peru
What should I do when I arrive on Thursday?
Accommodations are paid for beginning SATURDAY the 15th. We ask you to arrive on Friday for your safety, to allow 24 hrs to acclimate to the elevation. You may choose a hotel or hostel for Friday night or book an extra night at our hotel. I usually stay in a hostel before and after the retreat. We can coordinate our schedules to meet up when you arrive.
Do I need a hiking pack or can I bring a suitcase?
You can bring both, if necessary.
The trip is split into 2 journeys (one to Lake Titicaca & one to Sacred Valley/Machu Picchu) with a stop through Cusco in between. If you don't have a hiking pack, a regular backpack and/or duffel bag will do. We will have a safe place to leave unnecessary items for a couple of days at a time.
For example, you may pack for the first 3 day adventure to Lake Titicaca in the duffel bag and back pack and leave larger bag or suitcase in Cusco. When we return to Cusco, you can repack for the Machu Picchu leg of the journey and leave the rest of your stuff in Cusco.
If you bring a rolling suit case, you will be able to pack more stuff, but you will not be able to bring it on the road (due to space constrains).
Please pack minimally, details about what to pack and weather on Packing List page.
FYI Anything you don't bring is available for rent or purchase in Cusco.
If you don't plan to be in Peru longer than 1.5 wks, you should be able to fit everything you need in carry-on size bags and actually carry it on the plane with you. Just sayin!