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I’ve mentioned before that my wife and I are heading to Peru this summer as one of the 6 (SIX!) trips that I’m currently in the process of booking.  This trip will be without the kids as Carolyn and I explore Machu Picchu.  I’ve written before about booking the lie flat seats to Peru, so we have that all taken care of.  I did have to make one change – originally I had booked us a day in Lima beforehand to “acclimate” to the high elevation – but that was before I realized that Lima is at sea level (whoops!).  So now we arrive on a red eye to Lima and fly to Cuzco around 9 a.m.

stone buildings on a hillside with Machu Picchu in the background

Staying at the Tambo del Inka in Urubamba

After lots of (too much!) deliberation, I ended up just booking us 5 nights at the Tambo del Inka in Urubamba.  That will leave us with one night back in Cuzco, which I still need to book.

The Tambo del Inka was the overwhelming choice when I asked for hotel advice a few months ago.  As a Category 4 SPG hotel, it costs 12,000 SPG points / night, with the 5th night free (48,000 points total for 5 nights).  It ended up that the standard room was not available on a few of our nights, so when I called in, they offered a Deluxe Suite for 54,000 points.  I figured an extra 6,000 points for 5 nights of an upgrade was not too bad, so I took it.

Here’s the room we ended up with


Though actually the refundable rate is $338 / night + taxes, or $433 / night out the door.  We paid 54,000 points for 5 nights, or 10,800 points / night.  That’s just over 4 cents per point of value from an SPG point – not too shabby!

One more night in Cuzco (and one in Lima)

I do still need to book one night in Cuzco before our flight back to Lima. I’ve been looking at the JW Marriott in Cuzco.  It’s 40,000 Marriott points, though the current cash price is in the $200s, which would make me want to book it through the Chase UR portal

[Why it pays to check the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal before booking]

On the other hand, I’m not super excited about dropping 20K Ultimate Rewards points for one night at a hotel – we may just use either UR points or Arrival miles to book a cheaper local hotel.

We also have an overnight in Lima and need to book a hotel there.  Currently we get into Lima from Cuzco around 4pm and fly out 9 a.m. the next day.  It looks like the Lima airport is far away from the city center, which doesn’t jive well with our current flight times.  Luckily with AA miles as long as your origin and destination remain the same, you can change your flights for free even without status, so I may end up booking a CUZ-LIM flight earlier in the day

What to do in the Sacred Valley

My thoughts so far would be booking a tour guide when we get to Cuzco that will give us a 1/2 day or so tour in Cuzco and then take us to Urubamba where our hotel is.  From the things I’ve read, something like that will be comparable in price to just a taxi ride from the airport to Urubamba.  If anyone has suggestions for a good tour guide in Cuzco, let me know!

We haven’t booked our tickets to Machu Picchu yet, but I’ve checked the official ticket site and there are still over 2000 tickets left, so I’m not super worried about that.  We’ve decided to just take an early train into Aguas Calientes and spend the day at MP and take a train back the same day rather than overnighting in Aguas Calientes.  I know the Tambo del Inka has its own train station but I’ve also heard good things about getting a train from the city instead.

My thoughts right now are to hire a guide for the 2-3 days that we’ll be in Urubamba that will take us around to the different sites in the Sacred Valley.  So again, if you’ve got suggestions or good experiences with a particular tour guide / group near Urubamba, let me know!

Calling for any and all Peru / Machu Picchu tips in the comments!

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