I thought it would be interesting to share few things about our trip to Peru. I have been getting a lot of questions. It wasn’t an easy trip to plan, but after couple months of researching and talking to few friends that had been there, I was able to put this amazing trip together.
Lets start with few travel tips: driving to a major airport versus a regional airport can save you time overall and a lot of money. The remote parking is pretty reasonable as long as you drop off all your bags at the check-in first. Leave enough time so as not to not be rushed. The baggage rules are changing a lot these days. Definitely make sure you know how much baggage you can take your whole trip on all the flights (including inter-country) and plan accordingly. We tend to put our heaviest items in our carry-ons. For those with kids, extra clothes is always a must. Make sure the devices are downloaded with everything they need, especially the kindle. Finally, nothing replaces books. TSA precheck is always helpful and a lot of credit cards offer it as part of their benefit.
If you are using miles, book early. 330 days in advance to be exact. Sometimes, you can use miles for each way on different airlines to get the flights and the “price” you want. Always check the flexible dates option. Usually, it helps to start with the aggregator sites like Kayak then go direct to the airline site to book. These days, you have to watch out for the “basic” economy fares because they are very limited, aside from not including carry-on and checked bags, they also don’t let you choose your seat in advance, unless you pay.
A credit card with the Priority Pass membership was very helpful. It is usually a benefit of the luxury travel cards, and well worth it if you travel. You can bring a guest to a designated restaurant and spend up to $56 total excluding tip. At Dulles terminal C, you can eat at Chef Geoff instead of going to a lounge. Although this benefit may end.
We arrived into Lima around 10 PM at night. The airport taxis offered right after customs before you exit the main doors are usually the safest option. Uber also works, but you need to know that you need to meet them in the parking lot outside the arrivals area. Be sure to hit the ATM at the airport with the Visa/Mastercard symbols because not all ATMs in the city have this capability, at least our Chase account didn’t work at some of the ATMs. It did work at the Scotia Bank ATMs.
The best areas to stay in Lima are San Isidro, Miraflores, and Barranco. The first night we stayed at Hyatt Centric San Isidro. It is a fairly new hotel with modern, but cozy, deco. On the roof top is a very nice bar and pool. However, children are not allowed on the rooftop bar area, even at a table. I think this is the regulation in Lima. With Globalist status at the Hyatt, we were treated well with a great breakfast buffet for all of us and a nice welcome gift.
On our first day, we took a Uber down to the Barranco neighborhood to visit a few of the museums, walk around, and grab lunch. The MATE museum by Mario Testino was very interesting. He creates photography of celebrities that catches them in vibrant moments. However, the most interesting part of the exhibit was on the 2nd floor where the traditional Peruvian garb was featured. Oh yeah, I also loved the tribute to Princess Diana. The Museo Pedro del Osma museum was also very beautiful. The architecture and the gardens themselves were a delight to stroll through. We bought a combo ticket which allowed us to go to both museums for a lower price. This museum was a nice introduction to the Inca history as well, it was a great starting point with the kids. The café at the museum was quite charming with great desserts!
After the museums we walked north on the main thorough fare to put our name on the list at an amazing restaurant named Isolina. Jose del Castillo Eating at Isolina our first day really set the bar high for our Peruvian culinary experience. We put our name on the list and walked through the neighborhood some more. There are lot of interesting artists workshops in the neighborhood as well. As we were waiting for our table, we also had our first Pisco sours which were so frothy and flavorful. I would highly recommend all the dishes we ordered.
After a late lunch, we were going to need to skip dinner, but we still left our hotel to begin exploring the dinner/nightlight scene in San Isidro. We grabbed some drinks at Tanta, while the kids still ate again. The dessert selection at Tanta was very sophisticated as well with a French influence.
The next day we took an Uber to the airport to beginning our journey to Cusco. LATAM airlines is part of the OneWorld alliance, but many other airlines such as Avianca also fly to Cusco. Our friend in Lima had referred us to a driver in Cusco who was waiting for us at the airport with a van. It was a great tip to be able to have a reliable driver for all of our Cusco related adventure.
We arrived at the JW Marriott Cusco. The first order of business was to drink the Coca tea to help with the altitude change. This hotel was literally historical, modern, and charming all at the same time. The hotel took 6 years and $75MM dollars to build. It was former monastery that had been through a series of destructions between earthquakes and Spanish conquistadores. The hotel has a beautiful courtyard with firepits and traditional live Peruvian music.
We took it really easy for lunch and dinner in order to adjust to the altitude. No red meat and not a lot of alcohol, but plenty of water. Also, it is good not to have the Coca tea too late in the day. We had another great Peruvian lunch at Inkazuela.http://restaurantinkazuela.com/ We took a little walk to the main plaza and visited the church. We also found our first llamas and alpacas for a photo opp, before heading back to the hotel.
Then we hit the hotel pool and hot tub. The hotel had a very interesting tour to the basement where Inca ruins are preserved, that is why it took so long to build! After the tour, the hotel also offered Pisco tasting. Finally, after the Pisco tasting, we head out for dinner to Chica, an Astrid y Gaston restaurant.
The buffet at the hotel included a gluten free station. It was very hard to think of something they didn’t have! The next day, our driver took us on a tour of the region as we headed to our next destination, Inka Del Tambo hotel in Urubamba. The drive from Cusco to Urubamba was very beautiful with many must-see places along the way. There are many cute villages along the way that specialize in Cuy (guinea pigs), blessing new cars with flowers and ornaments, Quinoa fields, large Peruvian bread, and fortune tellers. We stopped at Pizac for our first visit of Inca ruins. Then we headed to Salinas of Maras and how salt is made from the salty water underground in the mountain. Then we headed to Chincherro and finally to Urubamba.
The inka Del Tambo hotel was also fabulous. The property has a great indoor/outdoor pool as well as a therma spa. The drinks at the bar were great variations of Pisco sours. The kids enjoyed the game room complete with pool table, board games, and a PS4. The buffet at this hotel was the best of all, there were several stations of food, plus entrees to order off the menu as part of the buffet. There was also some very traditional Peruvian corn, potatoes, fruits. The hotel is also right next to the river which makes for a nice walk along their jogging trail on the property.
Our next step was to see the ruins of Ollyantambo and then hop on our train to Aguas Callientes at the base of Machu Picchu. The train ride on the A care of the Vistadome of Peru rail was a great experience. The two hour train covers about 27km between the mountain peaks of the region along the Urubambu river. There was even a nice drink and cake service on the train. Be careful with how much baggage you bring on the train as there is not a lot of place to store bags. It is advisable to obtain authorization via email from Peru rail if you are bringing more than a back-pack and a small carry-on per person.
The staff of the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo hotel met us at the train station to carry our bags through the city market, bridge, and stairs of the city. It was about a 5-10 minute walk. The hotel is a very unique property in a rainforest-like setting. The restaurant and café of the property were great options. The hotel also offers a lot of excursions through the day. We made sure that we didn’t miss the Andian bear excursion to see Kina and Pepe. It is amazing how carefully these primarily vegetarian bears eat their food! The hotel is also filled with lovely birds and plants of all kinds.
We met our guide at 6AM in the hotel lobby and boarded our 25 min bus up the mountain to Machu Picchu. We bought our tickets the night before and you need your passport for buying tickets as well as getting into Machu Picchu. It was raining in the morning, so we also bought some ponchos before boarding the bus. This was in addition to our rain jackets. Wear layers because it gets hot.
Luckily, as we began our entry to Machu Picchu, the rain subsided. While the sky was clearing up, we decided to hike with the kids for 40 minutes each way to the Sun Gate. The trail has less people and offered a great overall view of Machu Picchu. After some great pictures, we hiked back to Machu Picchu and our guide walked us through each area and explained all the rich history. Once you are there, it is really easy to understand how it took so long for Harem Bingham to rediscover Machu Picchu in the early 1900s. We also took a shorter 15-20 minute hike to Inca bridge. The bridge has wooden planks that can be removed to keep invandors from crossing. It is clear that the Inca civilization was a very advanced and thoughtful culture.
After Machu Picchu we had another night and day at the Inkaterra where we relaxed and absorbed the ambiance of the roaring rapids between towering peaks. We also collected our Peruvian trinkets in the city market and practiced our haggling and walk-away skills for effective negotiations.
After Machu Picchu, we made our multi-leg journey back to Lima. This time we stayed at the JW Marriott in Miraflores. The hotel was located with a beautiful view of the ocean and close proximity to many stores and restuarants on Larco Avenue. As a titanium elite member, the executive lounge had a lot of great options between breakfast, light lunch, happy hour, and dinner. We had to refrain from eating at the lounge in order to continue to enjoy the great restaurants of Lima.
We went to Astrid y Gaston, what a beautiful restaurant and great food.
Here are the details on my outfit. The dress and the clutch I bought online. The clutch is from http://www.ruelala.com I bought the shoes from https://butrich.com/, a super cute store in Lima. My earrings are from http://www.maravilajewelry.com
We also went to Rafael, in my opinion, it was the best food overall.
Peru is an amazing country , they have it at all, beauty, a deep rich history, adventure, diverse landscapes, wildlife and amazing food. Machu Picchu is the new Seven Wonders of the world. A visit to Machu Picchu is a must. This trip will be in our memories forever.