Author Topic: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?  (Read 10300 times)

mlipps

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Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« on: October 26, 2013, 11:34:46 AM »
Hi Mustachians. Husband & I have been planning for over a year now a trip to Peru in May 2014. We didn't go on a "real" honeymoon after our wedding this May to save vacation time up for a 2 week international trip. We decided on Peru & purchased the flights using 40,000 miles on United, thanks to the signup bonuses on the Chase Sapphire. I thought we were off to a good start to a really frugal and amazing trip. I've been planning $3,000 out of pocket and thought there was no way we would hit that number

We decided while in Peru we want to do the Inca Trail & then go to the Amazon. This is where the budget went off the rails. Two years ago, based on some googling, the Inca Trail cost about $400. Next year, it will be $565/person. This is 4 days, 3 nights, all meals included, but a few extra charges for sleeping bags & porters to carry some personal items. But, it's a once in a lifetime trip, and there have been rumors that Macchu Picchu might not be open to the public forever. Plus, if the trip has gone up that much in 2 years, how much will it cost in 20 or 30, when we might have time & money to go back.

OK, then comes the Amazon. Insanely amazing opportunity, but definitely not something you can do without a guide. 6 days, 5 nights, with Amazon Expeditions, which every book/website recommends as the best of the best (but not luxurious, just good guides and best locations for wildlife) is $985/person. Again, all included, we will have a personal guide and can choose anything we want to do every day at no extra charge, including zip lining, piranha fishing, canoing and scoping wildlife, etc. We will have time to go deep into the jungle & spend 2 nights at their Research Lodge, where scientists come from all over the world to study Amazon flora & fauna.

On top of the steep daily charge, the flight out to Iquitos is about $350/person round trip. LAN & StarPeru are the only airlines that fly there, so I can't find a way to use our reward miles for that one. All told, my estimate is now $4,200 for the trip, not including incidentals like souvenirs, snacks, and laundry! For 2 weeks in a third world country! We are staying 3 nights in a $50 hotel (2 before Inca Trail, 1 after), which we could cut down to $10 or so if we chose a hostel, but really otherwise, I don't see anything nuts in our plans.

So, are we crazy? Should we cut the Amazon & do something cheaper? Or would you go all in for a trip like this? Any ideas for similar experiences for less money? Flights to Peru & to Cusco are booked, but nothing else. If it helps, our "big" vacation in 2015 will be to Jasper/Banff, so that should be less expensive since we will camp, but after that I've promised husband we will go to Germany before we have kids, which definitely won't be cheap. We can afford it, save 40%, no debt, etc., but it is a LOT of money!

CommonCents

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2013, 12:03:21 PM »
I don't really think we can make this decision for you.  Only you know whether it's too much, taking into consideration where you are on your journey to FI, how fast you want to get there, and how much a trip like this fits in with your life goals.

It's done on the cheap(er) with free flights, but still is more than a vacation needs to cost.  It sounds amazing though and I'd truly enjoy it!  Don't forget extra for tips and meals as well.

KingCoin

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2013, 01:37:35 PM »
Peru can be extremely cheap if done right.

I recently did the 10 day Huayhuash Circuit for ~$320 (all inclusive - food, cook, guide, donkeys to carry heavy gear, transport). The views easily put Macchu Picchu to shame, though it's not the standard "bucket list" trip. You can get an idea here:
http://www.mountainphotographer.com/cordillera-huayhuash-circuit/
There are plenty of other shorter trips that go out of Huaraz as well. It's usually cheapest to contract locally and bargain for the best price (play different agencies off each other). If you want to do Macchu Picchu, you might find it significantly cheaper to take an alternate, though just as impressive, route like the Salkantay Trail.

I'd seriously consider scrapping the Amazon. The idea of "The Amazon" that National Geographic has put in your head is quite different than the reality, which is that it's just a fairly dense forest. I had a very meh experience in Manaus and the surroundings, and most seem to report similar feelings. There's a certain majesty to floating down the Amazon river to be sure, but you're looking at a sweaty hike through a forest, thousands of bug bites, and a short session of plucking piranhas out of the river (really not much more fun than catching small sunfish in a local pond). It's worth doing if you're passing through, but I wouldn't spend a ton and go out of your way unless it's something you're truly passionate about doing. Unlike mountain views which are best appreciated in person, I think skittish wildlife is best viewed on the Discovery Channel.

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2013, 02:01:14 PM »
I thought about Saltankay but A. It's harder & we're not in that good of shape haha and B. It takes 5 days so it makes fitting in the trip to the Amazon even harder.

Your trip looks beyond amazing, but I think we want a little more variety than 10 days of camping/hiking. Maybe it would be smarter to do a smaller trek & just pop into Macchu Picchu though...

El Gringo

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2013, 02:19:14 PM »
Not sure what the cost would be, but consider Lake Titicaca instead of the Amazon.

I agree with KingCoin about the Amazon. I've been to the Amazon basin, although not for tourist reasons, so I don't have that perspective. It's awesome to have been there, it was my first international trip and changed the rest of my life, but it is just kind of a thick forest. Lake Titicaca is a little more touristy, and I've never been there, but it looks awesome.

How much price comparison have you done for the Inca Trail? I just did a four-day trek through the Simien Mountains in Ethiopia that was all inclusive (guide, porter, cook, food, park fees) and I was quoted $180, $315, $500, and $700 per person by different companies. I went with the cheapest, and had a great time.


apennysaved

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2013, 03:47:26 PM »
I agree that you have to determine how this fits into your plans for FI.  I love to travel, so there are many other things I would sacrifice first (at home on everyday stuff) then skip out on something I may regret later.  By the way, I have shelled out for things on trips that later thought weren't worth it, but sometimes that is the only way you know.  Heck, I would probably work a few extra months to really enjoy a trip like this-not very Mustachian of me-but, I think a lot of the Mustachian lifestyle is making sacrifices & choices to have the freedom to enjoy what you love.

cats

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2013, 05:50:30 PM »
I agree that you have to determine how this fits into your plans for FI. 

+1, this is definitely one of those "varies by situation" kind of things.  We went to India for just under 3 weeks earlier this year, and the cost did wind up being about $3k/person (about half of that was airfare), which is decidedly unfrugal.  If we were dead set on FI at the earliest possible date, we probably would have skipped the trip completely.  But...we have a pretty good savings rate (I haven't calculated it exactly for this year, but even with the trip we should be over 70% combined), it really was a "this won't happen again" kind of thing (we are now both pretty much out of unmarried Indian friends to issue us with wedding invites!), and our day-to-day life is pretty low-extravagance (I think we've gone out to dinner in town maybe twice this year, for example).  We have pretty much zero air travel planned for the next two years (one trip to visit my parents, 100% paid for with airline miles), and most of our trips are cheap local camping weekends with friends.  If we wanted to do an international trip every year, $6k probably would be on the steep side, but as more of an every 3 to 5 years kind of things, we feel it's manageable.

Albert

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2013, 06:29:26 PM »
It's difficult to give any meaningful advice here. It depends on how important travel is for you and how expensive this trip is relative to your income. Seems like you don't plan to travel abroad often so perhaps a more expensive plan is ok.

My rule of thumb (and really just mine) is that a yearly vacation budget shouldn't exceed two months of savings. So if, for example, your combined after tax income is $6,000 and in a regular month you save 4,000 (70%) then your vacation budget should be no more than about $8,000.

mushroom

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2013, 07:53:13 PM »
We did a combo of Inca Trail and a few days in Puerto Maldonado, which is way cheaper and easier than getting to Iquitos (which was also something we were considering but it was so freaking expensive!). Puerto Maldonado was not touristy at all and a nice change of pace from Cuzco/Inca Trail, plus we loved the food and prices there. We stayed at Anaconda Lodge, which was amazing since monkeys roam the property and are friendly with guests, plus a hostel in town for a couple nights, where we got a personal guide for just the two of us to Sandoval Lake for an entire day for something like $100 total. It's an oxbow lake full of wildlife, so we got to see giant river otters, piranhas, etc. and hike through the forest.

Mayan

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2013, 11:42:05 PM »
I'd second the suggestion of going through Puerto Maldonado and exploring the rainforest from the Tambopata river.  Puerto is much cheaper to get to than Iquitos.  The town itself doesn't have a whole lot to offer, IMO, but it's a nice launch point for seeing the jungle (and having stayed at several places, Anaconda is the of the nicest options for a pretty reasonable price, though the backpacker hostel in town is fine as well and cheap).  There are a number of lodges up the river, good wildlife viewing opportunities, and the rainforest is much the same as in the northern parts of the country - all you miss out on is seeing the actual Amazon river.

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #10 on: October 27, 2013, 02:32:18 PM »
We had considered Puerto Maldanado. It doesn't sound like there are pink dolphins there though, am I correct? Still, for a few hundred dollars, it might not be worth going all the way to Iquitos just for some dolphins. I'll check out your suggestions, I really appreciate the first hand experience!

As far as whether or not the trip is out of line, we make about $120k/year, are paying for husband's MBA out of pocket, maxing out 401k's, and still saving about $10k in cash/year, unless I also decide to a graduate degree. So I don't feel guilty about spending the money, but at the same time, it's a lot more than I was expecting.

pirate_wench

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #11 on: October 27, 2013, 04:42:19 PM »
Go on your trip and enjoy. Travel is important and something you likely wont regret, especially if you are not in debt, have savings, etc... I've never done all inclusive guided trips, but it is probably worth it with so little time and in that region.  Of course do more homework, but be at peace with your adventure.

Mayan

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #12 on: October 27, 2013, 04:52:39 PM »
That's true - if you really want to see the river dolphins you'll need to go through Iquitos.  If you decide to pass on them and do Tambopata instead, one thing worth considering is that there are differences in the quality of wildlife viewing depending on how far upriver you go.  Downriver from the Tambopata National Reserve, there are human settlements along the river which mean wildlife are a bit more wary and scarce.  You still have a good chance at seeing capybara, river otter (if going to one of the oxbow lakes), monkeys, several parrot and other bird species and caiman.  Macaw sightings are best around the claylicks in the reserve, though you'll be there in somewhat of a low season for collpa activity, and large mammals are much more likely to be seen in the reserve, but are elusive and far from guaranteed even there.  That said, the further up the river you go, the more expensive it gets, so it may balance out. 

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #13 on: October 27, 2013, 05:19:33 PM »
That's true - if you really want to see the river dolphins you'll need to go through Iquitos.  If you decide to pass on them and do Tambopata instead, one thing worth considering is that there are differences in the quality of wildlife viewing depending on how far upriver you go.  Downriver from the Tambopata National Reserve, there are human settlements along the river which mean wildlife are a bit more wary and scarce.  You still have a good chance at seeing capybara, river otter (if going to one of the oxbow lakes), monkeys, several parrot and other bird species and caiman.  Macaw sightings are best around the claylicks in the reserve, though you'll be there in somewhat of a low season for collpa activity, and large mammals are much more likely to be seen in the reserve, but are elusive and far from guaranteed even there.  That said, the further up the river you go, the more expensive it gets, so it may balance out.

I think my new tentative plan is Salkantay 5 day trek, which will save about $300 over Inca Trail, then one night at Anaconda lodge, ($350 savings on airline ticket to Puerto Maldonado), then choose a 4 day, 3 night guided Amazon trip upriver from Puerto Maldonado, which should be another $400 or so savings over the Iquitos trip. I think we will still have an incredible trip & cut about $1000 off the cost, which will bring it closer to my original idea. I really appreciate all the advice, you guys have helped so much!

MelodysMustache

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #14 on: October 27, 2013, 05:49:07 PM »
It is a very individual thing, but I would be comfortable with that budget.  I have spent more on other vacations I have taken.  Travel is a priority for me and I skimp on other things so I can have those experiences.

mushroom

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #15 on: October 27, 2013, 06:25:15 PM »
Awesome, sounds like a great plan!

The other thing I would add is if you had any AA miles, LAN is a partner airline and I believe it's just 12,000 miles for round trip flights within Peru if you decided to go to Iquitos after all.

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #16 on: October 27, 2013, 07:33:23 PM »
Awesome, sounds like a great plan!

The other thing I would add is if you had any AA miles, LAN is a partner airline and I believe it's just 12,000 miles for round trip flights within Peru if you decided to go to Iquitos after all.

For some reason, AA tells me no award flights available to PM or Iquitos. But, I figured out we can buy the flight to PM (which is actually also $700...) from Chase Sapphire's portal & use our points there, 25k, to bring the cost down to $380. So that will save a bit more and is not a bad redemption value for the points considering we don't have any other flights planned before the annual fee will hit & we'll cancel the Sapphire.

mushroom

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #17 on: October 27, 2013, 09:56:19 PM »
Awesome, sounds like a great plan!

The other thing I would add is if you had any AA miles, LAN is a partner airline and I believe it's just 12,000 miles for round trip flights within Peru if you decided to go to Iquitos after all.

For some reason, AA tells me no award flights available to PM or Iquitos. But, I figured out we can buy the flight to PM (which is actually also $700...) from Chase Sapphire's portal & use our points there, 25k, to bring the cost down to $380. So that will save a bit more and is not a bad redemption value for the points considering we don't have any other flights planned before the annual fee will hit & we'll cancel the Sapphire.

Mlipps, the AA website sucks at showing a lot of award availability on most of its partner airlines. The easiest way is to just call AA to find out about award availability on LAN. You can also try signing up for British Airways for free just to use their website to find out about LAN availability online. Yeah, very convoluted. You can also look at: http://millionmilesecrets.com/2012/04/09/lan-awards/ for ideas. But really the easiest way is to just call. If you were able to use just 12K miles round trip instead of $300+ that would be a great use of miles!

Edit: Looks like from the comments the BA website doesn't show LAN availability anymore. So just call AA and ask.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 10:00:14 PM by mushroom »

CJMcF

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #18 on: October 28, 2013, 05:29:47 AM »
If you have the money then do it - my wife did the Inca Trail this year and I really regret not doing it with her - she has memories from it that she will take to her grave - do it

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #19 on: October 28, 2013, 09:52:20 AM »
Awesome, sounds like a great plan!

The other thing I would add is if you had any AA miles, LAN is a partner airline and I believe it's just 12,000 miles for round trip flights within Peru if you decided to go to Iquitos after all.

For some reason, AA tells me no award flights available to PM or Iquitos. But, I figured out we can buy the flight to PM (which is actually also $700...) from Chase Sapphire's portal & use our points there, 25k, to bring the cost down to $380. So that will save a bit more and is not a bad redemption value for the points considering we don't have any other flights planned before the annual fee will hit & we'll cancel the Sapphire.

Mlipps, the AA website sucks at showing a lot of award availability on most of its partner airlines. The easiest way is to just call AA to find out about award availability on LAN. You can also try signing up for British Airways for free just to use their website to find out about LAN availability online. Yeah, very convoluted. You can also look at: http://millionmilesecrets.com/2012/04/09/lan-awards/ for ideas. But really the easiest way is to just call. If you were able to use just 12K miles round trip instead of $300+ that would be a great use of miles!

Edit: Looks like from the comments the BA website doesn't show LAN availability anymore. So just call AA and ask.

Thanks Mushroom, that's SUPER helpful! I will call tonight!

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #20 on: October 28, 2013, 12:19:21 PM »
OK, so I can't transfer the points to AA but I can transfer to British Airways &  I think the flight might only be 9k each based on all my research. So glad I created this thread, 24 hours later & our trip is so much more affordable. Mustachians for the win for sure!

haflander

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #21 on: March 27, 2019, 11:09:29 AM »
hey @mlipps I found this ancient thread but wanted to hear some follow-up about anything and everything you'd care to share.

Anyone else been to Peru in the last five years?

I am going with the GF in late May. We just bought the flight tickets about 10 days ago, all we have booked is the flight to Lima. Learning that we'll also have to buy flight tickets from Lima to Cusco (is this better than a bus?). We have 8 days total, or 6 full days in the country. Unfortunately due to time constraints, no Inca Trail. Right now we're looking up different options. Trying to decide how many days/nights to spend in Lima, Cusco, Iquitos, PM, Titicaca. Obvi Cusco (and surrounding areas) is the biggest priority. Other than that, not sure yet. Lima looks good for some big city and beach/coast stuff and Titicaca or PM sounds good for natural stuff. 2 locations would allow for plenty of time in each, 3 may be a stretch. PM does sound way easier/cheaper to get to than Iquitos for almost the same jungle and wildlife experience.

I'm curious about the shots you need...I know yellow fever and malaria shots are recommended for the Amazon, does that also apply to any other jungle area in Peru, such as PM or Titicaca?

Other questions...how did ya'll deal with altitude sickness issues, if any? Coca leaves? How about issues with drinking water/ local food?

We are Mustachians so budgeting is important, but traveling and badass experiences is way more important to me than pinching pennies. This is my first vacay in 3 years so I'm ok with spending for good value in return. We got the tickets to Lima through Scott's Cheap Flights and were pretty open with dates/locations. That's how we got Lima tickets from Dallas for only 270 each!! 300 because we did the extra insurance...my sis is pregnant and due in mid June, so that's a concern with a late May vacay.

TIA!

JoJo

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2019, 11:18:51 AM »
It's been 14 years since I was there, so take this for what it's worth.  I traveled for 40 days in Peru & Boliva and it cost a total of $1000, and I was able to do Macchu Picchu, Uyuni in Bolivia, flight over Nasca lines, Ballestas Islands, etc.

Due to limitations at Macchu, you absolutely need to book the Inca trail in advance. 

To add to that, I would suggest doing the "Gringo Trail" from Lima to Cusco.
You go by bus and can stop in Pisco (to the Ballestas Islands, the "poor man Galapogos", Nasca (check the flight costs, may no longer be worth stopping here), Arequipa for the Colca Canyon).  From Cusco, you can easily go down to Puno to access lake Titicaca.

Book all of these excursions locally, you will pay WAY more if you book in advance.  Local hostels or tour agencies should be able to help. 

JoshuaSpodek

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2019, 12:15:05 PM »
It's expensive in environmental cost.

According to this site round trip to Lima from JFK releases 3.6 times the IPCC recommendations for a year per person.



In case the graph doesn't show (how do img tags work on this board?), here's an illustration of the trip's carbon emissions relative to IPCC recommendations according to the site: https://imgur.com/a/FUvRlhL.

Whether that cost is insanely expensive or not in your eyes seems a judgment call that depends on your values.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2019, 12:23:08 PM by JoshuaSpodek »

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #24 on: March 27, 2019, 01:22:41 PM »
Oh man. Really unearthed this one haflander. Weird blast from the past as I'm actually divorced now and don't tend to think about this trip too often. Personal things aside, it ended up being a dream.

Salkantay trek was hard and personally I didn't think the scenery along the way was noteworthy enough to have been worth the days spent hiking. Macchu Pichu, of course, was unmissable and completely lived up to the hype in every way. If I went again, I would do a tour to the Sacred Valley inclusive of MP.

My bigger question was our trip to the Amazon. We ended up doing 4 days and 3 nights (if memory serves) at Tambopata Research Center, via Peru Nature, with a stop off at their main lodge the first lodge. Unforgettable, one of the best things I have done in my life, hands down. First of all, their website wildly undersells the level of luxury you get for your money, especially at the main lodge. There was satellite wifi (normally not a pro when I vacation but my dad ended up in the hospital while I was in Peru so this was a god send)...when we arrived from the boat there were employees waiting with warm washcloths and cold infused water...the food was just to die for... and the rooms were so neat. The research center was a bit more subdued but the accomodations were still awesome. More importantly, I saw SO MUCH cool wildlife. Multiple kinds of monkeys, capybara, a tarantula the size of my hand, harpy eagles, hundreds of macaws (including two up close that had been orphaned and lived at the lodge--holy cow SO BIG), and an ACTUAL JAGUAR.

You'll have a phenomenal trip no matter what you do, but if you can work in a visit to one of the lodges run by Peru Nature you will not regret it.

We also stayed at a really sweet little lodge in Puerto Maldonado called Anaconda Lodge. It's run by a Thai woman and her Dutch husband. After 5 days of endless potatoes on our MP trek, there was nothing that had ever tasted better than homemade papaya salad. We spent a perfect lazy day sitting by the pool & getting our laundry done in town before venturing out again with Peru Nature.

Between PM & Iquitos, the biggest difference is what wildlife is most important to you. In PM, you have a better chance of seeing river otters (we did not, sadly). In Iquitos there are the freshwater pink dolphins. However, I remember learning also that Tambopata National Reserve has been protected land for a much longer period of time than any other place in Peru, the animals have virtually no learned fear of animals. Obviously, can't verify that with my own evidence but it was one of the selling points from Peru Nature to go to their lodges.

haflander

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #25 on: March 27, 2019, 02:28:43 PM »
Thanks. JoJo, the Gringo Trail sounds interesting. That way, we could do some cool things on the way between Lima and Cusco. Is it just a bus route that you pay for yourself? Then just get off at the stops you want? Or are you talking about some kinda guided thing with a group? If it takes a couple days to go on the Gringo Trail stopping along the way, I don't think we'd have time for that. Ballestas and the Nazca lines would be cool, but only if there's enough time to squeeze them in. Unfortunately, with only a week, I have to focus on getting the most out of my time there.

mlipps I'm thinking PM may fit bitter due to the ease and speed of traveling there, considering I'll be pressed for time.

If I had 30 days I would do everything, of course.

Still curious about shots and immunizations...?

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #26 on: March 27, 2019, 03:17:49 PM »
Re: shots/immunizations...I can't recall all the details but I went to a travel clinic (I live in Chicago so there's one readily available) and told them I was going to the Amazonian region of Peru & they fixed me up. I do remember that my HDHP still paid for all the vaccines as preventative coverage, which was a pleasant surprise.

mcneally

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #27 on: March 27, 2019, 04:02:12 PM »
I went to Peru in 2015. As an alternative to the Inca Trail, I highly recommend something commonly sold as "Inca Jungle Trek". I don't want to link to a particular company and like another poster said it's best to book when you get there rather than online. Just Google that term. Day 1 they take you to an mountaintop at ~11,000 feet and you bike down ~4,000 feet (on a road, not a mountain bike trail) in a couple hours, then whitewater rafting. Then there's 2 days of hiking with an optional zipline ending with day 4 at Machu Picchu. Should be somewhere in the neighborhood of $200 including the rafting and zipline, which are sold as optional. I loved the tour and it made the whole trip worth it. I don't know what your expectations for lodging are, but this is targeted more for a younger, budget traveler. It's hostel type lodging (there was a 40 YO couple though). 

I did a tour from Puerto Maldonado too. Saw some cool wildlife, but have to say I was underwhelmed. Part of that is that I was there too long- 5 days I think. But in guided tours to go looking for wildlife, the vast majority of the time you aren't actually seeing anything and with the company I was with anyway, the majority of the day nothing was scheduled, it was just free time to lounge around the lodge.   The 20-something European couples I became friends with on the jungle trek trip were all traveling a month+, and none of them were planning on going to the Amazon. I suppose part of that could have been cost though. 

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #28 on: March 27, 2019, 04:07:28 PM »
McNeally, curious who you traveled with to the jungle. Our days were quite structured and busy. Hiking through the woods, an interview with a Nat Geo team making a movie about a spider living in the area, a visit to the Macaw clay lick, an after dark boat ride to see the caimans, a canopy tower climb...I don't remember spending much time at all doing nothing! I do think that by and large, Peru isn't known for it's Amazonian wildlife compared to other things to see there, so a lot of people skip it on their trip. I see this as a benefit, as the area being overrun by tourists would quickly spoil it.

mcneally

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #29 on: March 27, 2019, 04:28:35 PM »
I found my old Google doc. My PM tour was with Wasai Lodge. I did a "6 day" tour, but day 1 is just staying at the hotel in PM before taking the boat to the lodge on day 2, then back to PM by late afternoon on day 5, and waking up at their hotel in PM before leaving on day 6. So really a 4 day tour.

dodojojo

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2019, 10:10:44 AM »
Following as I will be hiking the Inca Trail early July.  I haven't asked for time off from work yet.  A little nervous as there are deadlines during that time but I've been booked since Thanksgiving.  Gotta go for it.

GreenToTheCore

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #31 on: March 28, 2019, 02:17:35 PM »
More Info:
The Salkantay Trek is a different route than the Inca Trail, it bypasses all of the extra archaeological sites.  Personally, I thought the sites along the way were better than Machu Picchu itself.

We took the bus from Lima to Cusco. If you have the time, it was pretty great: top-notch service, huge reclining seats with individual movie entertainment and meals! We "splurged" for the VIP tickets (~extra $10USD, correct: ten) and that got us into a nice waiting area at the bus depot and the upper level of the bus.
I appreciated how it was more interaction with normal people (walking around Lima to get to the bus depot, speaking Spanish with the counter folks, etc.), not just tourists jetting around to see the highlights.

However it is definitely an adventure. The views out the window were gorgeous but it's not like they have roadside railings. And mudlides are a thing. The only downside was that since we were on the top level of the bus (double decker) I got a little motion sickness once we were swaying through switchbacks. Also, you can't donate blood for a few years since you cross through the malaria zone.

JoJo

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #32 on: March 28, 2019, 06:05:08 PM »
The so called "Gringo Trail" is an informal name for a trip done by many foreingers... you keep running into the same people.  I did it on my own (bus to bus of each city), and then locally arranged the following:
* boat to ballestas islands in Pisco
* nasca flight in nasca
* 1 night colca trip in Arequipa
* 1 night titicaca trip from Puno.


haflander

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #33 on: March 29, 2019, 08:25:12 AM »
Thanks JoJo. That sounds cool and I would be really interested if I had more time, but I don't think it'll work. Next time ;) I've already said that a couple times in jest, but maybe I really will get to go again later, who knows. GF went as a kid, so that made us both feel more comfortable about going there again. We also have her parents as a good resource.

Green, that's an interesting option. I'd like to be able to relax and see the countryside. How much did the bus trip cost? I'm guessing it's pretty easy to arrange that at the bus station right when you arrive. GF said the plane flight was only about $50. So if the bus ride is a similar price or more expensive, then saving more time will prolly be the deciding factor.

Speaking of bus travel, what are the options for traveling in the surrounding areas around Cusco and the Sacred Valley? Similarly easy bus routes? Trains?

jlcnuke

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #34 on: March 29, 2019, 11:59:09 AM »
Will you value the experience enough to make it worth the time working to pay for it? If yes, then it's worth it to you and you should go on it.

GreenToTheCore

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #35 on: April 01, 2019, 12:29:26 PM »
Green, that's an interesting option. I'd like to be able to relax and see the countryside. How much did the bus trip cost? I'm guessing it's pretty easy to arrange that at the bus station right when you arrive. GF said the plane flight was only about $50. So if the bus ride is a similar price or more expensive, then saving more time will prolly be the deciding factor.

Couldn't find our old bus ticket (it was back in 2012), but I know we used this bus company: https://www.cruzdelsur.com.pe/
For a random date in April, looks like a Regular and a VIP ticket are the same price, ~$55.

I bet there is a less expensive way to do it. The locals all use the bus system so there's definitely a way to do hop-on/hop-off travel.

FireAnt

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2019, 03:17:33 PM »
hey @mlipps I found this ancient thread but wanted to hear some follow-up about anything and everything you'd care to share.

Anyone else been to Peru in the last five years?

I am going with the GF in late May. We just bought the flight tickets about 10 days ago, all we have booked is the flight to Lima. Learning that we'll also have to buy flight tickets from Lima to Cusco (is this better than a bus?). We have 8 days total, or 6 full days in the country. Unfortunately due to time constraints, no Inca Trail. Right now we're looking up different options. Trying to decide how many days/nights to spend in Lima, Cusco, Iquitos, PM, Titicaca. Obvi Cusco (and surrounding areas) is the biggest priority. Other than that, not sure yet. Lima looks good for some big city and beach/coast stuff and Titicaca or PM sounds good for natural stuff. 2 locations would allow for plenty of time in each, 3 may be a stretch. PM does sound way easier/cheaper to get to than Iquitos for almost the same jungle and wildlife experience.

I'm curious about the shots you need...I know yellow fever and malaria shots are recommended for the Amazon, does that also apply to any other jungle area in Peru, such as PM or Titicaca?

Other questions...how did ya'll deal with altitude sickness issues, if any? Coca leaves? How about issues with drinking water/ local food?

We are Mustachians so budgeting is important, but traveling and badass experiences is way more important to me than pinching pennies. This is my first vacay in 3 years so I'm ok with spending for good value in return. We got the tickets to Lima through Scott's Cheap Flights and were pretty open with dates/locations. That's how we got Lima tickets from Dallas for only 270 each!! 300 because we did the extra insurance...my sis is pregnant and due in mid June, so that's a concern with a late May vacay.

TIA!

I have nothing to contribute to the Peru trip-- but I'm just stopping in to say 1. I saw that deal on Scotts Cheap Flights and it was so tempting! and 2. I just got tickets to Hawaii for $360 from Detroit.... I LOVE SCF :) It fills my wanderlusts soul.

haflander

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2019, 11:52:37 AM »
Update...after looking more into dates and locations, I think we're going to skip the jungle. She went to Iquitos as a kid and I've had a good jungle experience before. I want to do it, but not at the expense of time in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. We have an early morning flight out of Lima, so that necessitates staying there the last night...and may as well be there the day (and night?) preceding that as well. For eight total days/six days in country, we're thinking about two Cusco days, two Machu Picchu/Sacred Valley days, and two Lima days...two nights at each, three hotels total. I would rather do a cool jungle experience instead of the big city Lima, but the timing just doesn't really work and I want to do other things more.

When we're talking about exact attractions and ruins and tours, the GF doesn't feel comfortable scheduling things after arriving. Everywhere I've seen says you can do schedule things the day before, maybe even the same day. "For something as important as Machu Picchu, I want to schedule it in advance." I'm working on this. My plan is to book hotels and airbnbs and then discuss these with them through email. Maybe hearing it from a local will convince her.

Other than that, just looking at hotels and airbnbs right now in Cusco, Aguas Calientes, Ollantaytambo, and Lima. Any suggestions? We booked the flight through Expedia and they have pretty good deals for members for nice hotels and bnbs. I have two different airbnb discounts right now, so it would be nice to use those. For this trip, I'd prefer to do more legit bnbs instead of a place where we're all alone. Would like to have on-site people to talk to for recommendations, maybe help with tours, etc. In Lima, I'd be ok with the normal airbnb experience of a regular apartment/house because I'm assuming it's easier to get around the city with taxis and that will be more free time to do what we want instead of having specific attractions we want to go to.

mlipps

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2019, 07:42:31 PM »
I think for such a short trip you're probably making the right choice to skip the jungle, even though it was really a highlight for me.

In Cusco, we stayed at the Ninos hotel and it was delightful. They were so welcoming and kind and we had delicious breakfast in the courtyard every day. Highly recommended!

cerat0n1a

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #39 on: April 06, 2019, 08:01:26 AM »
hey @mlipps I found this ancient thread but wanted to hear some follow-up about anything and everything you'd care to share.

Anyone else been to Peru in the last five years?

I am going with the GF in late May. We just bought the flight tickets about 10 days ago, all we have booked is the flight to Lima. Learning that we'll also have to buy flight tickets from Lima to Cusco (is this better than a bus?). We have 8 days total, or 6 full days in the country. Unfortunately due to time constraints, no Inca Trail. Right now we're looking up different options. Trying to decide how many days/nights to spend in Lima, Cusco, Iquitos, PM, Titicaca. Obvi Cusco (and surrounding areas) is the biggest priority. Other than that, not sure yet. Lima looks good for some big city and beach/coast stuff and Titicaca or PM sounds good for natural stuff. 2 locations would allow for plenty of time in each, 3 may be a stretch. PM does sound way easier/cheaper to get to than Iquitos for almost the same jungle and wildlife experience.

I'm curious about the shots you need...I know yellow fever and malaria shots are recommended for the Amazon, does that also apply to any other jungle area in Peru, such as PM or Titicaca?

Other questions...how did ya'll deal with altitude sickness issues, if any? Coca leaves? How about issues with drinking water/ local food?

We spent a (fairly unmustachian) month in Peru in 2017.

The Amazon was definitely a highlight for us (one family member said it was the best part of the whole month.) but I would go elsewhere if you only have a few days. Best part for me was the 5 day long trek we did (up over 5000 metres in the Andes - awesome), youngest son loved the flight over the Nazca lines, my wife enjoyed the home stay with an Aymara family at Titicaca and of course Macchu Pichu was stunning. Food was amazing everywhere.

I would plan to minimise time in Lima. There's a few interesting things there, but not worth one of your 6 full days, maybe a couple of hours to see the colonial era buildings in the centre. If you're going in peak season, I would probably book ahead for Macchu Picchu train at least as it's the only way to get to Aguas Calientes. Aguas Calientes is just hotels and shops next to the train station, so no need to have more than an overnight stay and an early start to get up to Macchu Pichu. I would spend more time in Cuzco or Sacred Valley (Ollanta or one of the other villages). Both are much, much nicer places to hang out with nothing planned than Lima. Everything is easily bookable when you are there and much cheaper than if you do it online, but you may save time by booking ahead. You will not be alone anywhere - other than Lima, the places you are visiting live off tourism. If you do stay in Lima, stay in the Miraflores area - it's a safe, middle-class enclave with many tourist hotels and you can wander round in the evening - not the case in much of the city, which is obviously significantly bigger than anywhere in North America.

In terms of "shots", Titicaca is far too high up for any problems with mosquitos - although altitude is a killer on such a tight schedule. Puerto Maldonado you would definitely need them.

Another vote for Cruz Del Sur buses - the seats are more like having a personal bed on some of the longer journeys and although it's like a tour bus in that you jump off every hour or two to look at some amazing vista or archaeological remain or whatever, there were typically only 10-20 people on the bus and it was much more enjoyable and interesting than flying.

Do bear in mind that Peru is a third world country and things don't always go to plan. When we were there, an earthquake took out the main road between Lima & Arequipa, killed some people and caused a lot of damage to buildings. We saw tear gas being fired at striking teachers (bunch of respectable middle-aged women for the most part) - those same teachers blocked the road to Macchu Pichu with rocks, broken bottles and cacti.

One place you did not mention was Colca Canyon, accessible from Puno or Arequipa. It makes the Grand Canyon look tiny and you can go to a spot where dozens of Andean condors (3 metre/10 foot wingspan) will fly *very* close to you.
« Last Edit: April 06, 2019, 08:05:58 AM by cerat0n1a »

haflander

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #40 on: May 15, 2019, 08:53:36 AM »
One week away! I've confirmed the hotel and airbnbs we will be using. After some further research and talking to the PharmDs that I work with, I won't be getting any shots. We already bought plenty of bug spray. Random internet tip I found: rub shampoo on exposed skin to protect from bug bites. Who knew? New ?s...

1. Specific tours: We're spending two days each in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Lima. Any recommendations for specific ruins or other attractions? Care to give names/sites of the tour agency? PM me if you'd rather not say it here.
2. MP: We've been quoted $320 dollars per person for MP including train and bus tickets, entrance, and guide by our Ollantaytambo hotel. This sounded like a lot to me, until I did research and it started to seem more reasonable, espy considering we won't have to arrange any of the travel ourselves or wait in long lines. How much did you pay for MP? Again, any specific tour agency or site you'd recommend?
3. Money. The fees are 3% for everything with my card, even at the international ATMs and banks that my American bank partners with. Today, one of my goals is to arrange a foreign currency order with the bank. I'm struggling to find the right # to request. Take too little, and I'm constantly hit with the 3% fee or more for every swipe. Take too much, and I'll be worried about carrying it around with me, losing it, or it getting stolen. We'll be in Peru for 6 days. At first I was thinking $1k USD was a good #. However, for example paying 640 +130 for the reserved-but-pay-when-you're-here hotel approaches 800 right there. I plan on going to my physical bank to ask about any other possible solution. How much foreign currency would you guys want in this situation? Are there any other payment methods I could use that I haven't thought of?

Thanks.

letsdoit

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Re: Is my vacation to Peru insanely expensive?
« Reply #41 on: May 15, 2019, 09:07:31 AM »
we've done the inca trail and we've done a real jungle trip
just do it.  you'll be so stoked.
the inca trail is expensive, so what?
the jungle is impossible to do without it being expensive (when we did it (in central america) the corruption was so bad we were on starvation rations, for as much as we paid)
but F it .   it was worth it