Tag: peru

How Much Did Our Trip to Peru Cost?

Alright, it’s finally here! A cost breakdown of our entire 10 day trip to Peru. If you haven’t been keeping up or want to “go deep” on what exactly Margie and I did during our trip, you can pick a day below and read the travel log.

Day 1: New York
Day 2: Flight to Peru, Overnight in Lima
Day 3: Lima, Flight to Cusco, Cusco at Night
Day 4: Sites Around Cusco
Day 5: Chinchero Market and Saqsaywaman
Day 6: Traveling to Aguas Caliente
Day 7: Machu Picchu
Day 8: Ollantaytambo
Day 9: Flight back to Lima
Day 10: Lima, Miraflores
Day 11: More of Lima and the Flight Back Home

I found Peru to generally be a pretty affordable country to visit. We split our time between the capital, Lima, and the Sacred Valley. If you stay at only the most touristy places, you might end up paying American-level prices for things. But if you venture off the beaten path just a tiny bit, you can save a lot. We found the Sacred Valley to be cheaper than Lima, although the town of Aguas Caliente puts every other town to shame, as you’ll see.

Throughout this breakdown, I’ll be using US Dollars instead of soles to make this easier on you. I’ll be converting any prices paid in Peruvian soles using today’s currency exchange rate of 3.14 soles to the dollar.

Total Cost: $1,711.66

Flights

 2 Tickets Retail Cost Discount Our Cost
Avianca Business Class, JFK-Lima $2,250.34 60,000 United Miles $83.73
Avianca Economy, Lima-Cusco $368.89  Included in award $0.00
Avianca Economy, Cusco-Lima $368.89 20,000 United Miles $0.00
United BusinessFirst, Lima-Newark $2,250.34 60,000 United Miles $83.73
Total Round Trip $5,238.46 140,000 United Miles $167.46

Andes from Plane (3)Yes, that is the true cost of our two round trip business class tickets to Lima, and round trip from Lima to Cusco. The $167.46 is the cost of the various fees and taxes on our flights. We used 140,000 United miles, which we earned through credit card sign-on bonuses for United Airline cards and Chase Ink and Freedom cards, all of which have the annual fee waived for the first year, so we spent nothing for the miles themselves. The $5,238 retail price of the tickets was shown on United’s website.

Flying business class is so great, for so many reasons. We actually look forward to the flight! No, we don’t dread it. We anticipate it as any other fun part of the trip! You get to go to the airport lounge and get free food. You get to board before everyone else. You get the best meal on the airplane and “nannies” who attend to your every need. And, more often than not on international flights, your chair turns into a bed! This isn’t a frequent flyer blog. I’m just saying, if you want to do this, do your research and it won’t be much effort. Continue reading

I Went On Vacation And You Didn’t!: Peru, Part 4

In Part 3 of our trip to Peru, you read about more intricately carved rocks, the old town of Ollantaytambo, and our exhausting hike up about 3,500 stairs at Mount Machu Picchu. Today we head back to Lima to get our taste of city living.

Day 1: New York
Day 2: Flight to Peru, Overnight in Lima
Day 3: Lima, Flight to Cusco, Cusco at Night
Day 4: Sites Around Cusco
Day 5: Chinchero Market and Saqsaywaman
Day 6: Traveling to Aguas Caliente
Day 7: Machu Picchu
Day 8: Ollantaytambo
Day 9: Flight back to Lima
Day 10: Lima, Miraflores
Day 11: More of Lima and the Flight Back Home

Day 9: Flight back to Lima

We were really sad to leave our little slice of heaven at Samanapaq in Ollantaytambo, but we had a flight to make, so we had to leave.  Once again, I was worried that my desire to keep things as frugal as possible would run head-on into our tight schedule. Our flight was to leave Cusco at 12:30, and once again, we made the journey by collectivo.

I was pretty sure we could pick up a collectivo in the main square, and before we even got there, not a minute outside our hotel, a guy in a van drove by saying, “Cusco? Cusco?” Well, looks like we found our guy! We got on, and as the first people, I knew we’d have to wait. He circled the main square again and again calling out “Cusco!” to anyone he hadn’t called out to before. I had time to take this picture:

Ollantaytambo

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I Went On Vacation And You Didn’t!: Peru, Part 3

In Part 2 of our trip to Peru, you read about very intricately carved rocks, dolls depicting saints with real human hair, and the cheap textiles and vegetables at Chinchero Market. Today we go where everybody goes in Peru: Machu Picchu!

Day 1: New York
Day 2: Flight to Peru, Overnight in Lima
Day 3: Lima, Flight to Cusco, Cusco at Night
Day 4: Sites Around Cusco
Day 5: Chinchero Market and Saqsaywaman
Day 6: Traveling to Aguas Caliente
Day 7: Machu Picchu
Day 8: Ollantaytambo
Day 9: Flight back to Lima
Day 10: Lima, Miraflores
Day 11: More of Lima and the Flight Back Home

Day 6: Traveling to Aguas Caliente

Cusco AirBnB (15)Monday morning, we made our internet famous avocado and tomato salad with breakfast in Cusco, and soon we were on our way. The road from Cusco to Machu Picchu is usually easier than it was for us. Typically, people will take a train all the way from Cusco to Aguas Caliente, the town at the foot of Machu Picchu. During our time, the train was down for repairs. You could still take the train from Ollantaytambo (the halfway point) to Aguas Caliente, but how we got to Ollantaytambo was up to us.

So, like the day before in Chinchero, we took another collectivo! We packed up our backpacks and headed to the same spot on Pavitos Avenue. The collectivo to Ollantaytambo was picking up in the same spot. Actually, it was the same van route as Chinchero, it just continues on to Urubamba and Ollantaytambo. Once again, it was very affordable considering we drove nearly two hours through the mountains to get to Ollantaytambo.

Taquenas with GuacamoleOur train was to leave at 12:30. They tell you to get there a half hour early. We had an extra 45 minutes on top of that so we got a bite to eat at a cafe near the train station. I can’t remember the name of the place, but it was the best food we had up to that point in the trip: Taquenas with guacamole! Everything was freshly made and super good.

Then it was time to board. We and our Pale Friends slowly gathered around the train doors.

Train to Aguas Caliente (1)

How many backpackers does it take to fill a train?

We road PeruRail. They have one competitor, IncaRail, riding the same track. Doesn’t matter which one you take. It all comes down to price and what time you want to leave. I’m not going to discuss specific costs until the final entry next week, but I will say the train between Ollantaytambo and Aguas Caliente is known as the most expensive train in the world, on a per-mile basis. Considering the train covers only 16 miles, I think, this might be true… Continue reading

I Went On Vacation And You Didn’t!: Peru, Part 2

 In Part 1 of our trip to Peru, you read about our very exciting stay at a Best Western in Queens, and my attempt to watch a Matthew McConaughey movie about crop rotation during our business class flight. Today it’s all about actual Peru!

Day 1: New York
Day 2: Flight to Peru, Overnight in Lima
Day 3: Lima, Flight to Cusco, Cusco at Night
Day 4: Sites Around Cusco
Day 5: Chinchero Market and Saqsaywaman

Day 4: Sites Around Cusco

Cusco AirBnB (13)Started the day with another free Peruvian breakfast featuring that “coffee essence.” Today we were determined to see a bunch of Incan sites. Our very helpful innkeeper suggested an array of tours you can take that will bring you to every big name site for Incan ruins around Cusco in one day. Lots of people do this, and I think he was a little surprised at the extent to which we wanted to “go it alone.”

Seeing everything from Pisac to Moray to Chinchero in one 8 hour shot would be overwhelming. You will spend a lot of your time driving around on a trip like that. We’d rather go at our own pace. There’s nothing worse than being rushed out of a place you want to see more of. I’m sure that would’ve happened numerous times with a tour group. We tend to linger in places.

Tambomachay (5)I noticed a lot of good sites were within walking distance of downtown Cusco. But they were all uphill from downtown, and being that we were at that exhausting 2 mile altitude to begin with,  we hired a taxi to take us to the farthest site. We then walked our way back, hitting every site on the way back. Pretty brilliant, right?

Farthest away from the city was Tambomachay. Like every Incan site, it’s shrouded in mystery, and us modern folks have to kind of guess at what the purpose was.  I heard Tambomachay described as a spa or a resort, which may or may not have had religious qualities. Regardless, there are definitely spring-fed baths built into the hillside.  This was our first glimpse of the Incan aptitude for carving insanely perfectly fitting stones.

Tambomachay (13)

Here’s something you’d miss on a bus tour

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I Went On Vacation And You Didn’t!: Peru, Part 1

Our travel points hobby is legend. We’ve introduced you to how we earn massive amounts of airline miles and hotel points and use those for awesome trips we couldn’t afford otherwise. Then we took you through our, uh, eventful trip to Naples, Florida.  And now that we’re back from our latest trip, it’s time to brag, rub your face in some photos, and tell you just how cheap it was for us to visit Peru!

I decided to write it up in two different ways: One will be the exhaustive travelogue, which starts today. This will probably be in three parts. And after that, for all you financial heads, I’ll do a special money-centric entry about the whole trip with breakdowns of every cost. There was also a special Peru edition of Cost Per Serving last week showing an extremely cheap dish we made! But for now, hopefully the travelogue will be a good read. Or at least I hope you like seeing people’s travel photos… If you’re only interested in the financial part, wait for the other entry. Or, oh here’s a fun thing, why not guess the entire cost of our trip based on the travelogue and see how close you come! The trip was ten days in total.

Why Peru?

Peru has been on Marge’s mind for a while since her mom traveled there as an exchange student years ago. But for me, South America never registered as “a place to visit.” I can’t say why. Maybe watching all those Rick Steves travel shows gives you a Euro-centric view of travel. But then we saw an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown where he went to Peru, and I think that made up both of our minds, because the Peruvian food looked delicious. We’re going to Japan later this year, possibly because of all that exposure through watching NHK World, so maybe we make all of our travel decisions based on tv shows… I guess it doesn’t take much to convince us to visit a place. It wasn’t until much later, after thinking about all of the Peruvian food, that I remembered, oh right, Machu Picchu, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is also in Peru! And we love hiking, so off we went.

Day 1: New York
Day 2: Flight to Peru, Overnight in Lima
Day 3: Lima, Flight to Cusco, Cusco at Night

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