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February 2016 - ATX Fun - Austin-San Antonio Fun, Travel & Educational Opportunities

How to Solve the Altitude Sickness Problem at Machu Picchu

Everyone experiences altitude sickness during a trip to the Inca ruins at Machu Picchu in Peru. There is a simple way to greatly minimize this. I did not invent it, but it has served me well during my two visits there.

Your trip will take you through, or past, these locations in this order. Altitudes areĀ  approximate, because some parts of a town are hundreds of feet higher than wherever they set as the official altitude:
– Lima, sea level. Then you fly to…
– Cuzco, approx 11,000 ft. Then you take train or cab to or past…
– Pisac, approx 9800 ft. Continuing on train or cab to or past…
– Ollanta / Ollantaytanbo, approx 9200 ft. No roads past here, train only, to…
– Aguas Calientes / Machu Picchu Village, approx 6700 ft. Take shuttle bus up the mountain to…
– Machu Picchu itself, approx 7900 ft.

Notice that Machu Picchu is much lower than Cuzco. That surprises most people.

I do not think the train goes to Pisac, but you can get there by cab.

Everyone has altitude problems in Cuzco, due to the sudden jump from sea level to 11,000 ft. Most tours stay in Cuzco for a day or two, then take the train to Aguas Calientes. During those 1 or 2 days everyone is feeling bad from the altitude. But it doesn’t have to be that way, using the following plan:

The trick that I’ve used is to go straight from the Cuzco Airport, by taxi, down into the Sacred Valley, and spend the first night or two in Pisac or Ollanta. The taxi ride will cost roughly $50. There probably are little microbuses that do that route also, but I haven’t checked.

The Sacred Valley has a lot of interesting Inca ruins, as well as markets for the locals and the tourists.

After a couple of days in the Sacred Valley and at Machu Picchu your body will be ready for the thin air back up at Cuzco, which is a very interesting city in its own right.

Then you can fly back to Lima, or to some other destination.

Machu Picchu, Peru

I’ve stayed at Wendy’s B&B in Ollanta both times I was there, and also at a small hotel on the main square in Pisac. Wendy’s B&B is located right next to the railroad tracks, and you can board the train there to its final stop at Aguas Calientes. Wendy is a friendly American ex-pat, and she can help you if you need anything. (One evening she, I and a couple of South Americans spent several hours passing around a bottle and discussing life and Middle East politics.)

One last tip: Take a hat and sunscreen to Machu Picchu. My first time there, I forgot and went to the only store up on the mountain (in the hotel), where I paid an inflated price for a small bottle of sunscreen.

I hope this information will be of help in your travel planning.

Chase Freedom Card Rumored to Change to Freedom Unlimited

One of my favorite credit cards is the Chase Freedom card. This quarter it is giving 5% back on purchases at gas stations, and that 5% can be transferred to my Chase Ink Ultimate Rewards points usable for travel and conversion to airline miles. And, the Chase Freedom card has no annual fee!

Now there is a rumor of upcoming changes to the Chase Freedom card.

According to the blog post, it may be possible to keep an existing Chase Freedom card. Will be interesting to see if it’s possible to keep your existing Freedom and also get the new version with its signup bonus.


‘Layover With a Local’ Program by KLM Starts at Amsterdam

Very similar to the new “Icelandair Buddies” program being tested in Reykjavik, KLM is trying out a program where passengers with a layover of 6 or more hours at AMSterdam can be paired up with a local resident and enjoy a free drink in the city.

KLM’s New Stopover Service: ‘Layover with a Local’

Could the Layover With a Local program lead to some romantic meetings and eventually marriages? We will have to wait and see.

Romance in Amsterdam Courtesy of KLM? Photo by Millzero Photography / Flickr

American Express Business Card Signup Bonuses Now Limited to Once

Churners are saddened by the new rule about Amex credit and charge card signup bonuses — only one per product for your lifetime.

One Bonus per Lifetime for Amex Personal and Business Cards

It is reported that a few offer still can be found that do not contain the “lifetime” language, but those are likely to disappear soon.

Running Out of Space on Your Smartphone? Here Are 6 Ways to Get More

The SanDisk Connect Wireless Stick is new to me, and looks to be an excellent solution to the problem.

My particular phone will not accept a memory card, but it yours will be sure to get one…you can find 32 GB microSD cards for less than $12 in the Hot Deals section of

How to Get Hotel Upgrades

It’s a lot easier to get a hotel-room upgrade than an airline-seat upgrade. This blog post tells you how.

Hotel desk clerks have a lot of leeway. If you irritate them, you may get a room with a clear close-up view of the dumpster that is emptied every morning at 5 A.M.

On the other hand, politeness and the methods in the blog post can get you a nice suite on the executive floor.

Sheraton Hotel

You will definitely want to read to the end of the post, which tells what some cash at check-in can do in Las Vegas (and other large cities).

Qantas Bringing Free, Fast Wi-fi to Its Planes in 2017

The internet connection is said to be 10x faster than average on-board wi-fi. It’s possible that such data-hungry applications as streaming TV and music, and even Skype, will be permitted in flight.

And it’s to be FREE (my favorite price!).

The broadband provider is ViaSat, which evidently will use a combination of ground stations and satellites to link up to aircraft.

Qantas (often misspelled as Quantas) has a low-cost affiliate named Jetstar, and it’s likely that Jetstar will get the same high speed internet after Qantas does.

Standing kangaroo

Los Angeles to Stockholm for Only $219 Round-Trip

An unbelievably low price for some dates in March, this deal will disappear quickly.

SAS: Los Angeles To Stockholm, Sweden Nonstop For $98 One-Way Or $222 Round-Trip!

On SAS Airlines, returning sometimes on Norwegian. Did I mention that this is a ROUND-TRIP fare?!

Stockholm Royal Palace. Photo by / Flickr