The Hiram Bingham to Machu Picchu

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My husband, Joe, and I traveled to Machu Picchu in Peru in January ’07.

Hotel Monasterio restaurant — Cusco.

I didn’t know if we would ever return to Machu Picchu, so I wanted to make the trip very special. I decided to book all Orient-Express Hotels properties for our Machu Picchu trip as well as their elegant train called the Hiram Bingham; we also used their travel agency Peru Experiences for our day tours. I did all my bookings through their website, www.machupicchu.orient-express.com.

I was extremely happy with the service we received. All staff we encountered were very professional and helpful. The only thing I would change would be to stay an extra night each in Lima and Cusco. I would have loved to explore both cities a bit more.

When we flew into Lima, we were picked up by Peru Experiences and transferred to the Miraflores Park Hotel for one night. The rooms were spacious (request one with an ocean view). There were candy and fruit waiting for us. We also found two hats and fanny packs filled with goodies from Peru Experiences.

The bathroom in our room was amazing. It included a shower with a dinner plate-sized showerhead plus a dry sauna! I was sorry we weren’t staying longer to enjoy it. Breakfast was on the 11th floor, again with spectacular views of the ocean. Our room cost $360 per night.

We flew to Cusco and again were met by Peru Experiences. We checked into Hotel Monasterio, which is in a building originally built in the 1590s for Jesuit priests. Orient-Express has beautifully remodeled the hotel with well-appointed rooms. There are original paintings in the lobby and hallways.

Lounge aboard the Hiram Bingham.

I was able to peek into a few rooms. I found that each varied in size and shape, but all maintained an old-world charm to keep within the monastery design. The cost of our room was $385 per night.

We took a city tour with Peru Experiences. Our guide spoke perfect English. After the tour we asked to purchase some local coffee. He took us to a very nice coffee shop and negotiated the price for us. Our guide also stopped at a square where a local festival was being celebrated. Both things were not listed on the city tour but were requests we made while driving. This tour was excellent.

When we arrived back to our hotel, we were surprised to find two Hiram Bingham bags, provided to us because we would be spending a night at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. The rest of our luggage was stored at Hotel Monasterio.

The next morning I was so excited. We were going to be traveling on an Orient-Express train! Orient-Express again did not fail to deliver.

We were picked up at our hotel at about 8:30 for our transfer to the station, where music played and dancers swirled dressed in traditional costumes. We were offered orange juice, champagne or mimosas. We then boarded the train and were shown to our table, covered in white linen and next to a huge picture window.

During the ride we passed villages and Incan ruins which were pointed out by the guide on board. We also were served a 3-course meal.

In the back of the train was a bar with musicians playing. This car also had an open area with a railing. For much of the trip, I sipped mimosas and stood in the open railed area waving at locals and backpackers as we zipped along the track. The cost of each Hiram Bingham ticket was $535.

Our table aboard the Hiram Bingham. Photos: Kras

Once checked in at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, we met our guide for a tour of the ruins and then had tea at the lodge (included in the Hiram Bingham ticket cost).

The lodge is all about location. It is 100 feet away from the entrance to Machu Picchu. The rooms were comfortable and serenely designed. We paid for a room with a mountain view, and I felt it was worth the extra cost. The food was excellent. Our room cost $885 per night.

A word of warning — if you want tickets to get into the ruins early the next day, you need to tell the front desk before 7 p.m. The tickets have to be bought in the town below, Aguas Caliente.

The next day we went in and out of the ruins three times. What a fantastic experience! Machu Picchu was truly magical.

We boarded the Hiram Bingham for our evening trip back to the hotel, where we were greeted with cold towels and a cold drink. We had a wonderful dinner. The next day we went on to the Galápagos Islands, but I will never forget my experience at Machu Picchu.

SARA KRAS

Glendale, CA

Please login or subscribe to ITN to read the entire post.

My husband, Joe, and I traveled to Machu Picchu in Peru in January ’07.

Hotel Monasterio restaurant — Cusco.

I didn’t know if we would ever return to Machu Picchu, so I wanted to make the trip very special. I decided to book all Orient-Express Hotels properties for our Machu Picchu trip as well as their elegant train called the Hiram Bingham; we also used their travel agency Peru Experiences for our day tours. I did all my bookings through their website, www.machupicchu.orient-express.com.

I was extremely happy with the service we received. All staff we encountered were very professional and helpful. The only thing I would change would be to stay an extra night each in Lima and Cusco. I would have loved to explore both cities a bit more.

When we flew into Lima, we were picked up by Peru Experiences and transferred to the Miraflores Park Hotel for one night. The rooms were spacious (request one with an ocean view). There were candy and fruit waiting for us. We also found two hats and fanny packs filled with goodies from Peru Experiences.

The bathroom in our room was amazing. It included a shower with a dinner plate-sized showerhead plus a dry sauna! I was sorry we weren’t staying longer to enjoy it. Breakfast was on the 11th floor, again with spectacular views of the ocean. Our room cost $360 per night.

We flew to Cusco and again were met by Peru Experiences. We checked into Hotel Monasterio, which is in a building originally built in the 1590s for Jesuit priests. Orient-Express has beautifully remodeled the hotel with well-appointed rooms. There are original paintings in the lobby and hallways.

Lounge aboard the Hiram Bingham.

I was able to peek into a few rooms. I found that each varied in size and shape, but all maintained an old-world charm to keep within the monastery design. The cost of our room was $385 per night.

We took a city tour with Peru Experiences. Our guide spoke perfect English. After the tour we asked to purchase some local coffee. He took us to a very nice coffee shop and negotiated the price for us. Our guide also stopped at a square where a local festival was being celebrated. Both things were not listed on the city tour but were requests we made while driving. This tour was excellent.

When we arrived back to our hotel, we were surprised to find two Hiram Bingham bags, provided to us because we would be spending a night at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge. The rest of our luggage was stored at Hotel Monasterio.

The next morning I was so excited. We were going to be traveling on an Orient-Express train! Orient-Express again did not fail to deliver.

We were picked up at our hotel at about 8:30 for our transfer to the station, where music played and dancers swirled dressed in traditional costumes. We were offered orange juice, champagne or mimosas. We then boarded the train and were shown to our table, covered in white linen and next to a huge picture window.

During the ride we passed villages and Incan ruins which were pointed out by the guide on board. We also were served a 3-course meal.

In the back of the train was a bar with musicians playing. This car also had an open area with a railing. For much of the trip, I sipped mimosas and stood in the open railed area waving at locals and backpackers as we zipped along the track. The cost of each Hiram Bingham ticket was $535.

Our table aboard the Hiram Bingham. Photos: Kras

Once checked in at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, we met our guide for a tour of the ruins and then had tea at the lodge (included in the Hiram Bingham ticket cost).

The lodge is all about location. It is 100 feet away from the entrance to Machu Picchu. The rooms were comfortable and serenely designed. We paid for a room with a mountain view, and I felt it was worth the extra cost. The food was excellent. Our room cost $885 per night.

A word of warning — if you want tickets to get into the ruins early the next day, you need to tell the front desk before 7 p.m. The tickets have to be bought in the town below, Aguas Caliente.

The next day we went in and out of the ruins three times. What a fantastic experience! Machu Picchu was truly magical.

We boarded the Hiram Bingham for our evening trip back to the hotel, where we were greeted with cold towels and a cold drink. We had a wonderful dinner. The next day we went on to the Galápagos Islands, but I will never forget my experience at Machu Picchu.

SARA KRAS

Glendale, CA