Cheapest Machu Pichu Tour

The cheapest way to get a guided tour of machu pichu is to get several prices from different tour operators.  I suggest you begin by inquiring at your hostel or hotel as most will try to push you on there tour which is usually more expensive.  Please remember that you can stay in Aguas Calientes overnight but beware of the alien mosquitos and bring plenty of deet.  Accomidation in Aguas Calientes is cheap to more expensive depending on what you find.  Once again check around before you decide which one is right for you.

After getting an idea of the cost at your hostel or hotel I suggest walking around the plaza de armas and inquiring at a few of the tour operators around the square.  I found the cheapest deal just past the McDonalds and it was a great deal.  You just have to check a few different places and then at each one just tell them what you have already been offered it is that simple and most speack english so dont worry.  Cusco is really laid back and dont be afraid to go after a bargain.

Chou

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Menu in Peru

Menu Peru what is the deal?

In the United States we are accustomed to ordering our food off of the menu, be it at a drive thru or a fancy sit down restaurant. In Peru, Menu has an entirely different meaning. You will see the word Menu mostly on billboards sitting out in front of the local restaurants. In Peru, Menu means the specials of the day. Rather than choosing one item you order Menu and get a 2 course meal.

The first Menu serving normally is a soup or sopa which is sometimes referred to as caldo or chupe depending on the ingredients. Popluar choices are caldo de gallina (chicken soup made with a hen), caldo de camote (sweetpotatoe), Chupe de mariscos (seafood like muscles or clam), Chupe de pescado (white fish) or my most favorite Chupe de langostinos (a spicy shrimp soup).

Most often you will have a choice other than soup such as papa huancaina which is one of the most popular around the country. Papa huancaina is made of skinned and sliced boiled potatoes topped with the Peruvian favorite, a spicy sauce, made from aji amarillo or orange peppers and queso de casa which is fresh white cheese and saltine crackers blended together with milk.

The second dish is dependent on what was fresh in the market that day. Items range from cebiche with chicharrone de calamar also known as fried calamari, lomo saltado (a spiced steak and pepper mix served over fried potatoes and rice just to name a few. The second dish will vary widely depending on which area of Peru that you are visiting.

In addition to the two courses you will sometimes be served a refresco which is some sort of drink as well. Refresco can range from a sweetend tea to maracuya passion fruit drink.

To sum up the meaning of Menu in Peru it basically means that you are going to get a full meal and sometimes a beverage as well. There is usually a set price listed on the billboard which will let you know the price for the meal. In Lima and in Cusco I normally pay between 4 and 7 soles for Menu when eating in the markets, but places outside of the markets can be much more costly. In Mancora Menu can be as pricey as s./ 12 soles on the avenida grau.

My all time favorite place to get Menu is the Cristo Rey Cebicheria which is close to where I stay in Rimac not far from the Plaza de Armas where prices are normaly 6 or 7 soles depending on how big a portion you decide on. Remember the Menu and one thing is for certain you will not go hungary while visiting Peru. Bon Appetite!

Restaurant Mechita Mancora Peru Review

Cebiche de Langostinos
Cebiche de Langostinos

Restaurant Mechita
av. grau n. 229 mancora talara

On my recent vacation to Mancora Peru we decided to eat at a little place on the main street running through town call Restaurant Mechita. We found the place while we were looking for a place to get Menu for cheap. We noticed that they had Menu advertised out front on the billboard for s./8 soles so we decided to give it a try. The menu lists various marisco’s seafood and criolla fare and the prices are about half what you will pay at the Espada, which I did not visit after reading several bad reviews.

We ordered chicharrones de calamar which is fried calamari for our girls for s./8 soles. The menu came with a starter of papas huancaina which was decent although it is pretty hard to screw up skined boiled potatoes in huancaina sauce, it was good though as I tried a taste. The chicharrone de calamar was very fresh and cooked to perfection. I was in the mood for some fresh shrimp and decided to try their cebiche de langostinos which is priced at s./15 soles or about $5 usd.

The cebiche de langostinos was absolutely superb! The shrimp were fresh and plentiful as I did not expect to get so many shrimp for that price. The leche de tigre was perfectly spiced with ricotta pepper and red onions combined with key limes. The dish was served with a piece of choclo corn and camote sweet potatoes on the side.

The restaurant has outdoor seating on the front patio and ample room inside. They were showing the world cup game inside which is where we were seated. If you are going to try to get Menu on avenida grau rather than the boardwalk this is a good choice. I give Restaurant Mechita (***) 3 stars for a delicious quick lunch.

Cruz del Sur Sucks

cruz sucks

Cruz del Sur aka Curz del Sur Not Recommended!

I want to start off with saying I am completely disgusted with my entire experience with Cruz del Sur. Unless trouble is what you want on your journey I suggest that you try another bus line. While traveling through Peru with my Peruvian wife and our 3 kids we have taken many bus trips. Normally we try to get the best deal for the best service.

After a fun filled week in Vichayito Beac, Mancora, Peru we had to get home. We were unable to get seats on Civa Exclusiva and decided to try Cruz del Sur for the first and last time.

I have always compared the rates for Cruz del Sur and until now always chosen to take a more affordable bus line. They charge 12 soles that most of the other bus lines, and from the english website you get a feeling that it is a decent company. However, please do not be fooled with their advertising or shiney black buses.

Upon purchasing our tickets we were given a discount of 5 soles per ticket which was kind of strange. We chose 160 degree seating as they assured us that it was the best seating for the price. I am 6 feet tall and 220 lbs. Not chubby but athletic and the lady at the counter smiled and assured me that I would be happy with the accomidations.

The first problem we encountered was that the lady at the counter in Mancora said she did not have change. As we sat and waited for the bus to arrive several other would be passengers paid and we returned to the counter twice and were told that she still did not have change. I got the feeling that she was trying to steal 5 soles. As 2 other Cruz del Sur employees showed up for work I double checked my ticket which said 105 soles and then made certain the lady hear me tell my wife that if she didnt want to give us our change that I would be calling their corporate offices and filing a formal complaint.

Not the way you want to start a journey to say the least. The Cruz del Sur bus arrived 25 minutes late and we were rushed onto the bus. Once on the second floor I was utterly appalled to find that we were going to spend the next 23 hours smashed into tiny seats with little to no leg room. The Civa bus had already gone by 30 minutes before or I would have demanded a refund.

We had to get back to Lima for work and decided I would try to make the best of the ride as I spend 8 weeks living in the back of my compact Jeep Wrangler car camping in the Rocky Mountains and figured I could deal with not having ample room.

The 3rd problem we encountered was when the bus departed from the station and then we knew we were in for a long bumpy and very uncomfortable ride home. The bus looked brand new on the outside but had to be over 10 years old judging from the seat padding and overall condition of the inside. The ride was rough and so bumpy that 2 of our children and my Wife vomited from the constant shaking from side to side. I liked the experience to being lashed to the main sail of a small sail boat during a category 5 hurricane.

We kindly asked the attendant for some rubbing alcohol and motion sickness pills at the first stop to which he laughed and said there was no pharmacy. Then he moved on down the cabin to chat with the gringas onboard. A little while later we were served and the jerk attendant laughed and asked if I wanted all 5 of our meals as our kids were too sick to eat. The food was cold and mine looked like someone had chewed up some chicken and spit it out right on my plate. I did not eat this as I brought plenty of snacks on board.

Following a few old movies in english with spanish subtitles we tried to go to sleep. The seats are not full 160 degree seats and there is no foot room. The seats themselves are also a little smaller than most coach airline seats and very uncomfortable. I was very tired and fell asleap for 51 minutes until I was awakend by the bus swaying from side to side. For the next 4 hours I sat there with my eyes closed and half awake. I got up and went to the bathroom and it smelled like a chicken farm and there was urine all over the place.

We were served a muffin and a small sandwich for breakfast. We neared Lima and were stuck behind an traffic accident for about 45 minutes in the steep hills of Pasamayo where a truck had overturned. We got back on our way and passed the mega plaza in Comas before we hit grid locked traffic on the expressway. For the next 3 hours the driver sat in traffic moving less than 3 km. I undrestand traffic jams as I have encountered gridlock in NYC and LA but have no explanation for why the driver did not exit the expressway and get us moving. Instead he got into the far left hand land and just sat there.

We arrived 4 hours late and encountered another lazy employee at the baggage claim. One of my bags was the last one off the bus and I stood patiently awaiting the bag handler who was too busy staring at the wall to get my bag for me. I asked for it 8 times in spanish before another employee handed it to me. On the way out a Cruz del Sur employee bumped into my oldest step daughter knocking her to the ground and did not appologize or offer her a hand getting to her feet.

I have never before experiences such horror as this bus journey and I will never take Curz del Sur anywhere ever again. I plan to make it a point to inform all tourists visiting Peru about my terrible experience so that they will not make the same choose. Stay away from Cruz del Sur as you will regret it! I give them a rating of 0 Stars.

If you wish to debate my ratings I welcome you to post in comments.

Mancora Peru Where to eat

Mancora is a tourist destination and there are tons of choices when it comes to dining be it a light lunch to a feast for dinner. The Panamerican Highway runs right the main strip of Mancora, where you will find a plethora of tourist shops, banks, atm’s, boticas / pharmacies, and plenty of restaurants to choose from.

Along the Panamerican Highway you will find that most of the restaurants are a little pricey, but Menu can still be found for as little as 5 Soles. For those who are not familiar with the Peruvian version of “Menu” it means that you are given a choice of starters, usually cebiche or papa huancaina or maybe chicarron de pescado, followed by you main dish of choice and a drink, normally a fruit extract or personal gaseosa ie soda like Inca Kola.

Among the Restaurants along the Panamerican Highway that I would recommend are the Mare e Monte Restaurant and Polleria. The chicken is good and the locals love the place. We went on for Father’s Day at dinner time and the place was packed. Prices are decent and the food is good.

I recommend staying away from the Espada Restaurant as well as the one just to the North of it as well as we had a quite nasty lunch at this place. The Espada we did not try due to reading numerous poor reviews prior to our trip. Prices here were also really high.

My best deals on fresh fish and seafood were found on the pedestrian street that leads to the main part of Mancora Beach. I ate at 3 different open air restaurants along this street and enjoyed Menu at all 3. The fish is fresh and the price is great for travelers on a budget. Menu here ranges from $7 to $10. Cerveza and cold beer is S./4 soles for a 660 ml bottle on this street as opposed to right on the beach where S./6 beers are the norm.

Restaurants that I recommend here are the Restaurant Tumi and the Mochileros Larr. The Mochileros larr had great cebiche and super cold beer as well as friendly staff.

Be sure to check out the hand made jewlery shop across from the Restaurant Tumi where you can find custom made jewelry ranging from alpaca with authentic mexican torquoise to sterling silver.

Night time I suggest trying a sit down dinner at one of the eateries to the south end of the Panamerican Highway. The Beef House in Mancora has a nice selection of steaks and american style baked potatoe to boot. There are a few pizza places and other assorted places for dinner too.

Costa Blanca Hotel Mancora Peru (****) 4 Stars

Upon arriving at the Vichayito Costa Blanca Hotel located just south of Mancora, Peru we were greeted and shown around the property. They have 33 rooms including Matrimonial, Doubles and Triples. The rooms are larger than most that I saw while visiting Mancora. The bathrooms were very clean aswell. Ammenites include WIFI, tv with free dvd library, hot water 24 hours a day, and a patio overlooking the beach with table chairs and hammock. Vichayito Beach is fantastic! It is very clean and the water was very calm and serene. The pool is very clean and surrounded by a very nice deck with recliner beach chairs overlooking the ocean. The have a very nice restaurant which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. We were quoted for the triple with 2 adults and our 3 kids at a rate of $60 per night with a 3 night minimum stay which included continental breakfast for all of us.

Our stay at the Costa Blanca Hotel ended up being 6 days and 4 nights and we were allowed to check in upon arrival at 11 AM. We headed straight to the beach and then to the pool. It was the middle of June and the water temperatures were perfect. The sun here is very bright as Mancora, Peru is located in the Tropics, so do not forget your sunscreen. There are beach cabanas with chairs for guests. The beach is very clean and there is great snorkeling here just 200 meters to the north. We found around 10 sea horses washed up on the beach along with lots of sea shells.

Other activities include horseback rides right on the beach for 15 soles for 30 minutes per person to fooseball for the kids.

The pool at the Vichayito Costa Blanca Hotel is very warm and very clean. There is plenty of seating around the pool which is located just below the covered open air restaurant which houses a complete bar. Boat drinks such as Pina coladas and frozen daquaris are 15 soles along with spirits, wine and ice cold Pilsen beer in a bottle can be had for 6 soles. The restaurant serves food from 8AM until around 9PM. The menu ranges from large delicious chicken sandwiches for 10 soles to Langosta or Lobster a lo macho for 100 soles. Other items include fresh fish, shrimp, as well as lomo saltado and steaks. The food is first rate and the price is right on. We charged all of our meals to our room and paid the night before we checked out.

The nights are quiet and very peaceful with the rolling sound of the breaking waves heard from the balconies. Transportation to and from Vichayito Beach to Mancora is best done by mototaxi, which can be found in front of the hotel at the moto stand from 7AM-8PM or later. To get to the hotel as you are coming into Mancora heading north you take a left turn before the main bridge on the Panamerican Highway and head down the dirt road 2.5 Km. The do have parking and at night there are 2 security checkpoints to pass through when coming back from Mancora. A wide range of guests from Gringos to vacationing Peruvians, couples and families. We enjoyed our stay very much and plan to return. I rate the Costa Blanca Hotel at Vichayito Beach Mancora Peru 4 Stars for travel on a budget! (****)

Thank you for a wonderful stay and we’ll see you next time!

video credited to http://www.costablancademancora.com

No Reservations Mancora Peru

As usual we are heading out with no reservations tomorrow afternoon. This expedition will take us to the far northern reaches of the Peru coastline. The trip from Lima to Mancora is around 16 hours. Normally when you arrive at your destination you will encounter several want to be travel agents at the bus stations here. My most recent trip to Cuzco we were sick with Acute Mountain Syndrome after a 24 hour bus ride and chose to try these hotels but it was a complete waste of time and resources.

The other thing to consider is that we are heading strictly for the sun and warmth of the tropical climate that Mancora has to offer and we will be spending most days at the beach. The weather in the winter in Mancora, Peru stays about 82 degrees and the water is warm. Another issue with traveling with reservations is that you dont know what your getting when you arrive. Some places are known to post fake pictures of the hotels and give you an improper idea of what quality accomidation you are about to pay for up front usually without the possibility of a refund. Anyone remember the Robin Williams and Jimmy Cliff movie, Club Paradise? Hence the reason to travel with No Reservations.

No Reservations traveling tips:

1)By traveling with no reservations you can explore your destination prior to coughing hundreds of dollars before you know what you are really getting.

2) The best way to find a good deal is to take a print out of possible places to stay and inquire upon arrival.

3) Normally you will get a much much cheaper rate if you wait until you arrive to arrange for a room. Even though it is winter here the weather is still warm and normally there are plenty of nice places available.

4) Don’t be afraid to check around. You can usually ask to see a room before you pay and this is normal in Peru. Afterall you should expect to know what you are paying for.

5) Sometimes you can start to leave a nice place and they will follow you out the door as they drop the rates on you. Dont be afraid to ask for a discount especially if you are traveling in a group or staying for more than 2 nights.

6) If you have trouble finding a place to stay grab a taxi cab and ask them that is a great way to find a place fast. Just remember not to leave your belongings unattended while you inquire inside as Taxi’s are know to take off with your stuff if you should try that.

7) I usually check the internet extensively prior to any voyage. It is a great source of knowledge and you can find reviews on just about any place by using the right terms in your google search. Find the name of a particular hostal or hotel and google it with “review” in your search and see what you find.

Good luck and remember if you want to save money the best way is to go with no reservations.