We love Peru!
We had chosen this Peru travel agency to plan our trip because of their promptness in answering all of our queries, their thoroughness, and because they were willing to help us make a very expensive vacation more affordable.
And it was a wonderful trip. I almost hesitate to mention the glitches because it is clear, as I will explain later, that this company and its reps take great pride in planning perfect vacations for guests that go off without a hitch. So let me get these issues out of the way before I move on to praise this very good company.
One question arose because of our misunderstanding of terminology that we had not encountered on other similar trips—i.e., that “regular service” on certain outings meant we would be with a group of tourists. I am certain that these group tours were scheduled partially in response to our request to economize wherever possible, though in a couple of instances we might have opted to spend a bit more for personal service, as we plan independent tours so as not to be herded about in groups.
Then there was an issue with the luxurious El Mapi Hotel in Aguas Calientes that was undergoing construction at the time and therefore noisy, dirty, and disorganized—something our travel agency could not have known about unless another traveler informed them, as one would not expect the hotel to pass on this kind of information!
The more serious issues arose with two local representatives, not employees of our travel agency, who showed up 15-20 minutes late to meet us (Puno) and tried to rearrange our schedule to his convenience (Chivay-Colca Canyon). These issues were passed along to our travel agency and they have taken steps to make sure it does not happen again. I am quite certain that a particular guide in Chivay will no longer be used by this company.
Now, let me rave about the private guides! I am not sure how our travel agency was able to consistently come up with such excellent professionials. In the Madre de Dios area of Amazonia, Corto Maltes Lodge is a joy, with individual cabins that are charmingly rustic, roomy, and screened. The gardens and food were fantastic. Our travel agency had communicated our interest in birding, and imagine our delight to find that a free-lance birding guide had been hired just for us. He is the best birding guide we have ever had—with a fabulous eye, encyclopedic knowledge, and a pleasure to be with for four days in the jungle. Our only comment here is that in previous eco lodges we have had the freedom to come and go as we pleased with our guide, while here the activities were quite structured. That being said, the only disappointment in these adventures was a visit to a dirty little so-called farm where the only activity appeared to be raising roosters for cockfights.
In the Sacred Valley and Cusco, we spent three days with the best guide imaginable, a thoughtful and passionate woman who shared mountains of knowledge and insight along with generous servings of philosophy and pride in her Incan ancestry. She became a friend. It was hard to say good-bye!
Other guides bear mention, such our guide in Lima—who is a little goofy and hilarious and absolutely overflowing with a bottomless well of enthusiasm. It was Holy Thursday, and Carlos not only squeezed in everything the regular tour had promised, but helped us all to participate in the festivities and pageantry that were taking place in the colonial center. And his private tour of the Larco Museum was superb (we assume this private service was a gift from our travel agency, to make up for the little misunderstanding regarding the meaning of “regular service”).
On our second day at Machu Picchu we probably could have gotten along without a guide to walk up to the Sun Gate, but were so glad our guide showed up at our hotel because my husband had misplaced our tickets; our guide quickly ran out and had them reprinted, and even found us a couple of replacement bus tickets at a discount.
We generally prefer small villages and rural experiences on our travels, but kick ourselves for not booking extra days in Cusco and Arequipa which are fantastic cities where we would have enjoyed long, unstructured walks.
The bus ride from Cusco to Puno was much more enjoyable than expected, with 6 interesting stops, beautiful scenery, and a surprisingly good day of birding from the window of the bus.
Our experience at the home stay on Amantani Island was good. It did seem as if we were deliberately placed with the best home, and I am not sure if this was due to some intervention from our travel agency or simply deference to our somewhat greater age than other members of the group. Our room was clean, the family was extremely nice, and they spoke fluent Spanish so we were able to communicate. Other travelers did not have as good an experience, however. Our favorite place on Lake Titicaca was the Uros floating islands, which could have been done as a day trip. (I had insisted on the home stay!)
We must also mention our guide for only a half day in Arequipa but a real jewel—enthusiastic, funny, and warm.
If you are going to spend your final night in Peru at the Lima airport, which is an excellent idea, there is no need to pay for assistance either on your arrival the previous night or the following morning as you depart Peru, because the Ramada hotel is just across the street and slightly to the right of the terminal, 3 minutes’ walk away (you can’t miss it), and the next morning the representative will not be allowed to walk into the terminal with you anyway. The Lima airport is extremely easy to navigate.
We also would like to express high praise for our agent in the Lima office, who was quick to respond to our questions and took measures to address every issue.
Finally, I must add that when we communicated some of the above issues to our travel agency, knowing they would want the information in order to improve their service, an agent (presumably in the Lima office) answered immediately and—although we had not expected or asked for a refund—offered a us generous credit. This leaves us with the final impression that, indeed, this company is a serious and highly professional agency that stands by its reputation and strives for a perfect experience for all of its customers. We will not hesitate to use this agency again for future travels in South America.
Amazonia; Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley; 20 condors flying over our heads in Colca Canyon; Arequipa. (See the General Comments above.)
We would skip Lake Titicaca and my husband (not I) would skip Colca Canyon, but we would add an additional day each to Cusco and Arequipa. (See also General Comments above.)
Travel Company's Comments
In our continued endeavor to provide the best possible experience to this type of travelers comments are more than welcomed, and this is why when we were informed about the local guide in Colca not performing at the Tucano standards, the guide was been immediately removed from our staff, this guide does not work for us anymore.
Regarding the complain about the hotel in Machu Picchu, having some building and renovations taking care, next door to the building were our client was sleeping, our company refunedd her the amount paid to us for this hotel.
Our policy is only deliver high standards, and we have offer a return of us$ 419 and a Voucher of US$ 500 for future travelling.
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