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Trip Report Lima/Cusco Trip Report

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We just returned from an amazing 10-day stay in Peru. Thanks to all of you on this forum for tips and advice. I can honestly say that this trip was the best I have ever taken. The highlight of our trip was the 7-day lodge to lodge hike to MP via the Salkantay trek through Mountain Lodges of Peru. A trip report on that part of our trip will follow. In the meantime, here are some highlights from our stay in Cusco and Lima.

Flights: Delta to/from Atlanta-Lima and LAN to/from Lima-Cusco. Warning with respect to LAN. They cancelled both of our flights a couple of days before departure and re-scheduled us on later flights. Flight cancellations appear to be pretty frequent, so check status often. By the way, LAN allows 48 hour advance check-in. All companies recommend to arrive 2 hours early for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights. We did and had plenty of time. I'm not sure, but I believe that some folks on outbound flights were required to pay separately the $32 departure tax (cash only-soles or dollars); the departure tax was already included in our Delta fares.

Lima Lodging: We only stayed one night in Lima and opted for the Airport Ramada Hotel and are glad we did. We arrived in Lima at 11:30pm and were flying to Cusco the next morning at 10:00am. Admittedly it is overpriced (I think around $225USD). However, you cannot beat the convenience of being across the street (about 100 feet) from the airport. If you are arriving in Lima late at night and/or departing early the next morning, the hotel is well worth the additional money. The hotel is basic, but clean and safe. Buffet breakfast and one pisco sour (or bottle of water) is included in the price.

Cusco Lodging: We stayed three nights (two nights on the front end and one night on the backend) at Inkaterra La Casona. Very pricey, but this was my bucket list trip (50th B-Day). It was perhaps the nicest hotels we have ever stayed at and, in my opinion, is well worth the money. Huge, gorgeous rooms in a 16th century mansion (there are only 11 rooms), excellent service, outstanding breakfast, and about a 3 minute walk from the main square. One night we were upgraded to a presidential suite. The hotel lives up to its high Trip Advisor status. They make you feel as if you are royalty; if you want to splurge, this is it. I believe my wife got us a bit of a discount because we were staying a total of three nights.

Cusco Dining: We ate at LIMO and Greens. Greens was excellent; LIMO was a bit disappointing. I had alpaca at both restaurants; the alpaca at LIMO was a bit dry and bland; much tastier at Greens. Wonderful salad at Greens. Wines, however, were disappointing; perhaps because Greens only serves organic wines. Our guide Percy Salas took us to Don Tomas for lunch on one day. We had quinoa soup that was absolutely amazing. Our first lunch with Percy was in a little place in Pisac. This was perhaps our best meal in the Cusco area---excellent lomos saltado, trout, and quinoa soup. Unfortunately, I did not get the name of the restaurant--it was a hole in the wall outdoor place close to the market. However, the food was great and we were the only tourists there.

Lima Dining - For lunch, we went to Norky's in Mira Flores, which is a relatively large roasted chicken chain. Chicken and, of course, potatoes, was delicious. For our last evening in Peru, we had dinner at Astrid y Gaston, which they are reporting is now the 35th rated restaurant in the world. I'm not sure if it merits that high of a rating, but the food was truly outstanding (and photo-worthy) and, while expensive for Peru, is much cheaper than what one would pay in the US (I think we paid about $150, including a few glasses of wine). I had Peking cuy (guinea pig) that was delicious and innovative; it was served two ways--Peking style and as a dumpling. I then had the suckling pig which, while beautifully presented, was a bit fatty. My wife had perhaps the moistest chicken she had ever eaten. Unfortunately, we had to rush through dinner in order to catch our flight, but it was a worthy splurge. Highly recommended for those of you who are foodies.

Cusco Guide - Thanks to recommendations of others, we hired Percy Salas for a half day tour in Pisac and a full day tour in Cusco. Percy is an outstanding guide and is highly recommended. On the front end, he is very responsive by email, which is comforting when you're setting up a tour from the US, and was always punctual. His English is great and his knowledge of the major sites is outstanding. Most importantly, he is simply a very nice, warm man. The two restaurants Percy chose for lunch were wonderful. He also took us to factories where we could buy real alpaca products as opposed to the "Made in China" stuff in the markets and walked us through the Cusco food market. If you want to hire a guide in Cusco, Percy is the guy.

Lima Guide -Through Mountain Lodges of Peru, we hired Elena Canilla Villacorta as our guide in Lima (elenacanilav@hotmail.com). Elena was also wonderful host. She is extremely warm and effervescent--also speaks great English. We opted out of museums and instead went to markets (food and trinkets). All in all, it felt like we were simply spending the afternoon out with a family friend. We loved out short time with Elena and would highly recommend her.

Next up, the Salkantay trail and Mountain Lodges of Peru!

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