Hi - we did the Buenos Aires to Santiago cruise on the Royal Princess 2001 - 2002. We added an extension to our trip to Peru and Machu Picchu.
I cannot recommend this trip highly enough. We flew to Cuzco - stayed 2 days - amazing. We took the train to Machu Picchu on the day trip. The Train ride is approximately 3 hours long and a small walk to the bus that transports you to the top. You have the option of joining a guided walk around the site, or go as you wish. Wear good walking shoes, heaps of steps. We started with a guide, but found the going slow, so we jumped ship on the tour and ran around like children. Up and down, all over the place.
After about 2 hours of hiking, we headed back down to the bottom, did some shopping and had some lunch, prior to boarding the train for the ride back to Cuzco.
One big regret. There is a hotel that looks fabulous at the top of Machu Picchu. Due to time constraints, family etc, we could not stay. To see the full moon rise over Machu Picchu would have been a truely emotional experience. If you can stay, and afford it, I would definately recommend it. Another bonus is that the train carries a lot of people. To be on the mountain with just your hotel guests for company would be wild.
We spoke with a few people who were on the 3 day hike via the Going to the sun road. Strenous but worth it. There is also a day hike to the top of another mountain (name ? I will have to look it up) that looks incredible. It takes all day though. Plenty of information available in Cuzco and on the net.
This is one site that all should see.
Take a hat, buy a cheap plastic rain coat in Cuzco, (disposable), and good shoes for negotiating steps. Plenty of film and a attitude of wonder.
You will not be disppointed. I am jealous.
If you need anything specific, please just ask. Hope this helps.
I'm so new at this chat thing it took me awhile to figure out to reply. I tried responding directly to the e-mail I received, but guess it didn't work. In any event--Thanks for the info. It is most helpful.
I do have some questions--specifically, did you or anyone in your group experience any difficulties with altitude sickness? If so, what did you do? Princess has a strong warning about it.
Also, what time of year were you there and how was the weather?
No worries, happy to help, you are more than welcome to chat directly with me on my email. I have been away as well, so sorry for the late reply. On our party we had an 88 year old and he was worried about the altitude sickness. I will email him and find out what medications he took and let you know. I use to smoke, emphasis on the use to and the altitude did not bother me at all. Take it easy on arrival in Cuzco, it is noticeable but not to strenuous. Walk slowly and all should be fine, but I would check with you own gp just in case.
I have been thinking about any way that would've improved our trip. One thought has come to mind but it could prove to be difficult.
As there is only one front seat on the train it is hot property. All seats on the train are assigned and I have no idea as to how you get the best one. 2 front seats with picture windows at the front of the train. It gave a much better view the entire trip. I spent a good part of this trip chatting to the lucky psgrs in these seats as they afforded the best photos, so got to know them really well. Maybe if you have a great Travel Agent she could enquire for you.
I too am interested in the Machu Picchu excursion. Assuming that you took the Princess sponsored trip, how did they handle your dinner each evening. Also, how much luggage did you take, and what did you wear in the evenings.
We left the ship and Princess in Santiago. We took a day tour off the Royal around the city of Santiago and had our own accommodation booked. The bus driver was kind enough to drop us at our hotel. Very accommodating. We stayed 2 days, then flew to Lima, Peru. Overnighted in Lima, then flew to Cuzco. Taxi to Best Western in Cuzco and 2 of the most amazing days of my life. This is truely a interesting part of the world, just keep your wits about you. The shopping is fabulous for native crafts and I came home with blankets, jumpers, bags, fluffly alpacca slippers, all sorts of stuff. It is great.
Eating is a interesting proposition. We are ate at the hotel restaurant the first night, ventured to the markets the second and ate on the run. Its not the Royal, but you will not starve.
Luggage, ah that wonderful thought. Our travel agent organised the trip from Santiago to Peru and back, so we were independant of Princess. We were travelling with wait for it - 6 people, 4 from the US, 2 from Australia - we had been travelling for 5 weeks, thru a US winter, to the Buenos Aires sun, and the freeze at Cape Horn and Ushuaia. We had 12 large bags, (wheelies), 6 large suitpacks, and 6 backpacks. Never mind the 3 Camera bags, and miscellaneous hand luggage that was the bain of my life. No more handluggage. We are pros at this so we never have any problems. Once at all airports, there are porters to help, but we could all manage on our own. Plenty of helpful taxis at Cuzco and they speak English and set the price before the trip.
For the trip to Machu Picchu, take only a backpack because you will need your hands free to help navigate the steps and to hang on. Its steep and you will need your hands to balance.
Evening wear - Cuzco is a bit like the wild west, so it was not formal. Casual clothes and comfortable shoes, its rough going on the streets.
Be prepared for all sorts of weather, layering. We purchased disposable raincoats at Cuzco from the children outside the station. $2. Came in handy and in the bin when used.
Be aware of pickpockets at the train station - I was picked but I did not loose anything. It was funny more than frightening as there are so many tourists around you will feel safe enough - but again, keep your wits about you.
We took your advice. First, we checked the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and then went to our Gps. They recommended dexamethasone. So, we now have prescriptions for it. If you hear from your 88 year old, please let me know if he or she had the same.
Re train ride--sounds like a good idea, but we are at the mercy of the Princess Line. This is one of their shore excurions--booked through them. Not much our agent can do. While we had to sign up for all shore excrusions in advance, we don't get our tickets for them until we board the ship. Maybe once we get on the ship, we can work something out.
Thanks ever so much for your help. We leave the 4th of April and are looking forward to the cruise, except our timing could have been better!