THE BEST WAY TO MACHU PICCHU, PERU
From LAX, connecting service (change of plane) to Cuzco is offered on LAN Air. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $719, excluding fees and taxes. To cover the roughly 70 miles between Cuzco and the ruins, most travelers take a taxi or bus to Ollantaytambo, then a train to Aguas Calientes, at the foot of Machu Picchu. Train fares are about $50-$70 each way for PeruRail's Vistadome service, depending on time of departure. Most travelers then take the 20-minute bus ride ($8 each way or $15.50 round-trip) up the mountain.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 51 (country code for Peru) and the local number.
WHAT TO SEE
Machu Picchu. The ruins are open daily 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is about $45 per adult foreigner per day. Passes must be purchased in advance from a tour operator or from the Machu Picchu Cultural Centre in Aguas Calientes, (84) 211-196. (There's another office in Cuzco.) No walk-up admission.
The Machu Picchu Museum stands at the base of the footpath to Machu Picchu. Significantly upgraded in 2005, it features well-designed exhibits in English and Spanish, air-conditioning and a botanical garden next door. Adult admission about $7.
WHERE TO STAY
Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel, Avenida Imperio de los Incas, Aguas Calientes; (84) 211-032 or (800) 442-5042; http://www.pueblohotel.info or http://www.inkaterra.com. 85 units and two villas. Twelve acres of grounds and three local bears, which were adopted after injuries. Three pools, two heated. Double rooms from $602, including breakfast and dinner.
Machu Picchu Hostel, 135 Avenida Imperio de los Incas, Aguas Calientes; (888) 790-5264 in U.S., http://www.hostalmachupicchu.com. Some 12 rooms, priced around $40, breakfast included. Many good river views, nice courtyard garden.
Presidente Hotel, 128 Avenida Imperio de los Incas, Aguas Calientes; (888) 790-5264 in U.S. or (84) 211-034; http://www.hostalpresidente.com. A slightly fancier option to the Machu Picchu Hostel next door and operated by the same management. 28 rooms. Doubles from $80. (Eighteen of the rooms have views, and cost more. Pay the extra $10.)
Inkaterra El MaPi Hotel, 109 Avenida Pachacutec, Aguas Calientes; (84) 211-011, http://www.elmapihotel.com. 48 rooms. Sleek look and spacious property in a tight-packed town, but some service issues. Doubles from $250 a night.
Gringo Bill's, 104 Colla Raymi, Aguas Calientes; (84) 211-046, http://www.gringobills.com. 25 rooms, with three more coming soon and restaurant renovation in progress. $75 for most single/doubles, up to $150 for a family room. Free Wi-Fi.
Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, (800) 237-1236 in U.S., http://www.sanctuarylodgehotel.com. Only lodging at the ruins, with 29 rooms and two suites, often reserved months in advance. Run by the upscale Orient-Express group. One private restaurant, one public. Doubles from $925. Price includes all meals, most drinks and Wi-Fi.
WHERE TO EAT
Toto's House, Avenida Imperio de los Incas, Aguas Calientes, (84) 211-020. Best views of the river in town. Enormous dining room. Dinner entrées from about $10.
Pueblo Viejo, 108 Avenida Pachacutec, Aguas Calientes; (84) 211-193. Live music. Grilled items and pizzas a specialty. Dinner entrées from about $8.
Indio Feliz, 4-12 Llope Yupanqui, off Avenida Pachacutec, Aguas Calientes; (84) 211-090; http://www.indiofeliz.com. Dinner entrées from about $11. French-inflected menu with the most ambitious cuisine in town. Decorated with goofy pirates, maidens and maritime doodads.
Pachamama, with patio tables 8 feet from the train tracks in Aguas Calientes, is one of the old-timers. Sandwiches about $5.50-$8. Main dishes about $10-$14.
TO LEARN MORE
http://www.go2peru.com (a private company with a very thorough website).Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times