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Trip Report Southern Peru Trip Report

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We just completed an 11 day tour of Peru, covering Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Lake Titicaca/Puna, Cusco, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. The trip was booked through Peru for Less (agent Spencer Reely) on a budget of $2,000/person (excluding International flights) .

Bottom Line, we loved the trip. We thought the choice of hotels was excellent, and the itinerary was very well planned, and well paced. Customer service before, during and after the tour was top notch, and all in all It felt to us like a more expensive tour than it was. I'd happily recommend Peru for Less as great value for your $$$ to anyone looking for a quality itinerary and excellent customer service at a reasonable price.

All of the hotels were in excellent locations, all had excellent customer service, and given that we were traveling on a budget, exceeded our expectations in nearly every case. The internal flights were surprisingly good, and the pick up and organization of the local travel companies again exceeded our expectations.

Hotels worth a special mention were the Casa Andena Hotel in Arequipa for its great room and friendly service, and the El Albergue in the Sacred Valley for its wonderful restaurant, beautiful views, and great location inside the station that makes for very easy access to the Mach Picchu train in the morning.

Restaurants worth a special mention were the superb, and very reasonably priced Baco in Cusco, and the excellent Zig Zag in Arequipa. I wish i could transport both of them to NYC and make a small fortune!

It's hard to single out any particular part of the trip as the best, but Colca Canyon is worth a mention. It is surprisingly colorful and beautiful in mid May, covered in wild flowers and blooming cactus. The transfer bus rides between Colca, Puna and Cusco were also surprisingly good. We had expected to be locked up in a bus for 8 or 9 hours for two trips (a necessary evil), but instead found ourselves on guided tours in very nice coaches, with multiple guided stops, and with pretty decent meals thrown in as well.

One heads up for first timers to Peru. Official customs restrictions are pretty draconian for personal electronics, only allowing you to take 2 memory cards, 1 camera, 1 phone, and $1,000 of electrical equipment per person into the country. We only discovered this on the plane (bad research on our part), and carrying about $8,000 of camera equipment, 15 memory cards, multiple smart phones, tablets, readers, computers, etc, etc., were quite concerned. As it turned out, a quick chat with the very helpful customs people at Lima, and we were allowed to bring everything in with no duty and no charges. I have no idea if customs routinely turn a blind eye like this. It wouldn't surprise me if they did, but if I'd known in advance, I probably would have slimmed my electronics and memory cards down a little, to minimize potential duty and potential hassle. Others with more experience in Peru might have a better handle on the immigration norms, and can probably clarify how best to navigate this, but its probably worth keeping in mind, and doing a little research if you travel with a lot of phones, cameras and electronics as I do.

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