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Peru, Anyone?

Hello! After postponing our trip to Peru twice before due to the Pandemic, we are finally almost to our departure date! Does anyone have a good personal guide reference for a trip around Lima? A friend went a decade ago and said he used a guide instead of the Hop On-Off bus. Any trustworthy (no rip-offs) guide names will be appreciated. Also, any recommendations for "must see" attractions/places (in and around Lima) will be welcomed too. Outside of Lima we are already planning a boat tour around Balestras and a dune buggy ride & sled around Huacachina.

Depending on our schedule, we may also need a tour guide around Cusco. Not sure how long it will take us to attempt to acclimate the first day, and the second day we will be on a train to Machu Picchu. Any recommendations for a guide for this area will be welcome as well.

One last thing... how has everyone coped with altitude issues? Coca tea? Oxiboost oxygen? Any suggestions for proven methods will be of interest.

Thanks to everyone in advance!

Posted by
5196 posts

When we went it was a National Geographic tour so there was no need for a guide. Fortunately my wife only had a minor issue with the altitude, and only in Cuzco. She drank a little coca tea, but doesn’t think it helped. If you get tested for drugs at your job, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea to use anything made or containing coca leaves.

Posted by
22601 posts

Since we live at 6,000 feet altitude is generally not an issue till we come home. The easiest ways to cope with potential altitude sickness is -- of course -- not to have any underlying medical condition related to your lungs. Second, you need to stay well hydrated because your blood needs to make a lot of new red corpuscles to adjust. Third, avoid alcohol. You normally adjust about a 1000 feet per day.

If you have a problem it probably will be in Cuzco at 11,000+ feet. Machu Picchu is less than 8,000 so probably not too bad. Supplemental oxygen can be useful if having severe symptoms but other suggestion are psychological or folk medicines. And aspirin can be helpful.

Posted by
38 posts

We did several tours with Haku Tours a few years ago. The money earned goes back into Inka communities. The Shanty Town tour was memorable for us. We also did a tour that offered dinner in the Larco Museum, but not sure who that tour was through. We had a wonderful dinner at La Rosa Nautica, right on the water. Nazca Lines are interesting, but that requires several hours travel to the south. I don't remember issues with altitude in Cuzco or Machu Picchu, but I know it can happen. Maybe read on Tripadvisor.

Posted by
1821 posts

We used Inca Tours in the 90s. I have no idea if they are still in business. I do ok in Cusco but hubby had a headache. If you have health issues, talk with your doc for his or her thoughts and possible meds that may help with altitude sickness. Cusco is around 11,000 feet give or take! Machu Pichu is lowere in elevation and warmer than Cusco.

Posted by
198 posts

Hello, Linda,
I went to Peru in 2016. I can't remember what company I initially booked through (looked it up, Trip Masters) but they ended up booking everything with Condor Travel on the ground in Peru. I didn't really require a guide, but was met on my arrival at each location by one of Condors representatives, who had my travel vouchers for the local area, and managed my transportation for each location. For my trip, I flew into Lima, after 2 days went to Paracas (base for Nazca Lines and Ballastras Islands), days later went back to Lima for a flight to Cusco, then on to Machu Picchu. After a couple of days there, it was back to the Sacred Valley, then a flight from Cusco back to Lima for another overnight before flying home. Condor took care of every little detail- including drivers everywhere I needed one (airports to hotels, Cusco to Ollantaytambo for the train to Machu Picchu, Paracas to Lima when the bus wouldn't get me to the airport on time). Local guides met me in each location and ensured my safe check-in at each hotel. It was the most pampered I've ever experienced on a trip, and for all they provided, was extremely inexpensive. I can't say enough good things about them.

As far as the altitude in Cusco, I was not able to drink the coca tea due to drug testing for work. But, my cousin who joined me did drink the tea and had a couple of leaves from the airport, and had absolutely no issue with altitude sickness. I woke up in the middle of the night with a terrible headache, then got some pills at a pharmacy the next day which seemed to relieve it.

Hope all of this helps! Have an awesome trip!!

Posted by
42 posts

I put together a trip for two moms and two teens and used Kuoda Travel (you can google them). They were probably the best tour company I have ever used. They did a custom trip based on what our needs were. We did a great cooking class in Cusco, visited a research facility on the Amazon and of course Machu Picchu. They even took us to a remote lake and our driver made lunch for us. Very special. I know you are just looking for a few days, but I am sure they do that too. In Lima we had a great tour of the city. My daughter loved the cat park in the center of the shopping area.

As to altitude sickness, none of us got it, but we did have Coca tea while we were there. One of the best things that the company did to minimize this was how the trip was planned. We needed to stay in Lima for my friends business, so when we flew to Cusco we immediately drove to Sacred Valley and stayed there for two nights. The Sacred Valley is at a lower elevation, from there we went to Machu Picchu and then stayed in Cusco. So our bodies gradually adjusted to the altitude.

I loved Peru! Have fun

Posted by
309 posts

This was our last tour in January 2020. I remember the Shantytown tour the most. It was booked online with a company that has close ties with the area. We were joined by a man who lived there. My notes are at home but it should be easy to find online. The area is not safe on your own. Probably half the people living in Lima live in the hills surrounding the city. The Larco Museum was very interesting. If you are staying right downtown you can walk the main road and see the cathedral, park and find a restaurant overlooking the bay to eat in. We also walked down the high cliffs on stairs to enjoy the water front with surf boards for rent, simple food and fish market. You can hike for miles along the water. They claim you can bike, but the sidewalks were in poor condition. Take a taxi back to the hotel if don’t want to backtrack. We also went to the light and water show. Cheap to get in as it is set up for families living in Lima. A taxi or Uber would need to be arranged dice it is after dark. You don’t need a guide for most of Lima.
Regarding altitude sickness-the 5 of us had no problem at Machu Picchu. We went there first. I had a headache in Cusco for the first few hours. Took a pain pill and nap and was fine. We did drink Cocoa tea, but couldn’t tell if it worked. I live at sea level and was unnecessarily concerned. Didn’t buy any special medication to bring with me. Machu Picchu was a WOW experience.

Posted by
53 posts

Thank you all very much for your responses!

Posted by
6680 posts

We had a wonderful trip to Peru in March 2019. We flew to Cusco and did a tour with

We had a private guide for four days in Cusco, the Sacred Valley (on our way to Machu Picchu). It included a scenic train ride the last leg into the MP area. Machu Picchu is amazing, it is awesome. We had altitude sickness pills from our doctor that helped.
We were in our early 70s and managed all that hilly hiking around MP just fine, but were wiped out at the end of our four day tour.

The tour cost only $799 per person. We stayed in a historic hotel in Cusco and a new hotel near MP. Coca leaves are provided with the tea.

We visited Lima on our way back to the USA on a cruise, we had been to Lima before. Plan on two days in Lima.

My review below mentions a great tour company in Lima.

Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Celebrity Eclipse home

Posted by
1764 posts

I used Haku Tours as well - did a food market/cooking class and a historic Lima tour. Had the same guide for both, though I think that was just coincidence. He spoke excellent English and I got to practice my limited Spanish. Lima is very spread out, it was worth it to me to have a guide get me around - we used taxis for the most part. I was the only tour participant on both tours, but I was there midweek.

I had been in Ecuador for the week prior to Peru so I got somewhat used to elevation. Take it easy, drink lots of water, limit alcohol intake, take ibuprofen for headaches (I had a stunner the first day). Coca tea didn't do much but keep me awake. If you have any concerns, you should speak to a medical professional before you leave, there are some medications that can help.

Enjoy the trip!

Posted by
809 posts

my friend tino leads tours in south america - you can find him on fb: tino guzman khang (lima peru). I didn't experience any altitude issue until I got to Puno, Cuzco was OK for me. Hotel rooms always have the tea bags you can drink, rest and taking things easy would be mostly helpful.