Back from Peru with Kon Tiki Tours

Old Jul 25th, 2006, 12:31 PM
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cz
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Back from Peru with Kon Tiki Tours

Almost a month has passed since I posted a question about Kon Tiki Tours and Travel...

We have just returned from our 21 dayPeru adventure with Kon Tiki Tours and Travel. It was fabulous... They took very good care of us. We stayed at wonderful accommodations and had so many memorable experiences.

They have an office in NYC, which is why I finally chose them. They contract out various parts of the trip to local Peruvian providers, and all of them were first rate. We started in Lima at the JW Marriott, went next to Arequipa and Colca Canyon; stayed at a new Inkaterra property in the direction of the Canyon, which afforded fabulous views and very special accommodations.
We then went to Cusco, Sacred Valley, and Macchu Pichu. Stayed at the Inkaterra Pueblo in Aquas Caliente, which was a highlight of the trip. We got to MP by train early in the day, finished the tour by lunchtime, and went back to MP after lunch to spend time on our own. Our guide told us to wait until 2:30 when all the day trippers boarded the train. We did, and it was magical. I think one day there was plenty of time if you get there on the early train. The grounds at the Pueblo were beautiful. I woke at 6AM for a bird walk; later that morning, we had a tour of the Orchid Gardens and Cloud Forest on the premises. We saw over a hundred hummingbirds at the birdfeeders--a most amazing sight. Lunch at the Inkaterra by the railroad station was probably the most delicious meal we had of many.
From MP, we went back to Cusco,(stayed at the Monasterio) then to Lake Titicaca, then back to Lima.
Next was a bus ride to Ica and Nazca. Saw the Lines early, went to the Chauchilla cemetery, and then a bus to Paracas. The next morning, we took the boat out to Ballestras Island and saw amazing bird life and sea mammals. Back to Lima again, and then to Puerto Maldonado and the Wasai Lodge. The Amazon portion of the trip was good. We didn't see as much wildlife as we expected, but then we went to Africa on safari last year, so our expectations were probably too high. We had a wonderful, informative guide, Jorge, who made this part of our trip very special. The one disappointment was the fact that the Maccaws chose not to swarm at the clay because there were vultures in the area. Jorge said that they couldn't discern between hawks and vultures and would not go down to the clay if they did not feel safe. And they did not. After waking up at 4am and taking a 90 minute boat ride, it was disheartening. We did see quite a few maccaws however, and even more back at the Wasai Lodge.
We arrived back in Puerto Maldonado for an afternoon trip to Lake Sandoval. We were lucky to see the giant otters, which was also a treat.

We were glad that we did not fly directly from Lima to Cusco. We went from Lima to Arequipa, which by the way was one of my favorite parts of the trip. Although the altitude was high, our drive to Colca Canyon was more gradual than just getting off the plane. The Condors were plentiful; the guide couldn't believe how many there were.
By the time we did get to Cusco, we were more acclimated to the altitude.
The worst altitude for us was the hike up to the top of Taquille Island in Lake Titicaca. It was doable; it just took us a lot longer. I must state that my husband and I are retired, and not as fit as we once were. However, we met many young couples who were struggling with the altitude. We never got sick, just breathless. I got religious about drinking Coca Tea. A waitress in Arequippa gave me a small bag of Coca leaves to take to Colca Canyon. You are supposed to chew them, and they really helped. If you drink a lot of water, eat lightly, and drink coca tea, it shouldn't be a problem, as least it wasn't for us.

It was a very active adventure. Not a day passed that we were not on a train, plane, bus, boat or van. Some of the travel required early risings, more than once at 4am. We used miles to fly to Lima; we live in Hilton Head, SC. We flew Delta from Savannah to Atlanta to Miami. Aviance from Miami to Bogata to Lima. Quite a day of travel...especially going over there because the wait times in between flights were very long in some cases. We used Lan for the Peru flights. We were very impressed with Lan and with Avianca. They make Delta look pretty bad. Very professional staff, good baggage handling, and never late. Many inter-Peru flights left early if the passengers were all aboard.
We got home late Saturday night, and we are still resting from an amazing experience.

If I can be of help to anyone, let me know.

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Old Jul 25th, 2006, 08:30 PM
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emd
 
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Thank you for taking the time to post this. I am very interested in your report as I am just starting to formulate plans for a trip to Peru w/my son for next July.

Can you say more about Kon Tiki and what they are like? Why did having the NYC office play into your decision- do other tour companies not have a U.S. office? How many people on your tour? HOw did you like interacting w/them? (I ask because I am also considering a private guide). Is the tour you did one of their package tours; were you able to customize what you wanted to do at all? And just any other info that went into your decision to use this company and the experience w/them in aprticular...

I have been reading reports on here and it generally sounds like people see more animals in Iquitos area rather then Puerto Maldonado area.

Sounds like a great trip. We will only have 2 wks so won't get around quite as much as you; maybe just the sacred valley area, MP, and Iquitos area.

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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 05:33 AM
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cz
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Sorry not to get back to you sooner...

I found Kon Tiki after checking many sites on the web. I talked to a few agencies in Peru, (no, they do not all have US offices as far as I could tell)and it might have been a cheaper way to go. But when I talked to the folks at Kon Tiki, I just felt that they were the right ones for us. We were willing to tailor a trip that would be mostly private.
That being said, I felt that their prices were the best for what we wanted.

Our tour of Lima was private as was Arequipa and the Sacred Valley. The ride out to Colca Canyon was not private. That guide, not our best, had to do his commentary in English and Spanish. He tended to give lectures instead of pointing out scenery, and we wished we had had a private tour.

Puerto Maldonado was made up of a group of 11 and was a very pleasant experience. I think that Iquitos requires more days than PM.

Highlights of the trip: staying at the Pueblo at the base of MP. It is an experience of its own worth, if you are interested in birds and plants. I had never seen so many hummingbirds in one place.

: Loved Arequipa; a charming little city with the snow-covered volcanoes as a backdrop. The St. Catherine Monastery was beautiful.

: MP, of course. I wondered about spending 2 nights there, but one was fine. We got there on the early train. Had a group tour; finished by lunch. The guide told us to hang around until after 2:30 since the day trippers had to be back on the train by then. It was great to do that; it seemed so much different without the crowds. We stayed until MP closed, around 5, I think, and we felt that we had had enough time there.

: Cusco is a must. So many Inca ruins there. It would have been nice to have had more time than we had. We stayed one night before the Sacred Valley and MP and another after. All our touring for those days was private. It's nice to be able to say whether or not you want to stay or go. The altitude in Cusco is such that it requires some time to adjust. Since we had been to Arequipa first, it did not seem so bad. We stayed at the Monasterio while we were in Cusco. Now, we do not usually spend big bucks on fancy hotels, but this was the one that was offered to us by Kon Tiki. It lists at ridiculous prices, but it really was pretty empty when we were there. I think this is what package travel can do for you--getting good rates at places you would not even consider if you were making your own reservations. It too was a highlight.

Peru is fabulous; the only problem is that they do not have large numbers of choices for air travel. We ended up going back to Lima several times to get connections to Puno and Puerto Maldonado. This was good because we could leave extra luggage at the hotel that we didn't need for PM or MP. But it did seem to take a lot of time to get from one place to another.

The stickler on luggage is that they allow you to check 2- 70lb. bags internationally, but only 2- 25 lb. bags on travel in Peru. Kon Tiki seemed to have worked out this conundum and we were able to stash extra stuff at a hotel we would return to. Traveling light is great, but since you go to so many different altitude levels, it gets cold and or hot (Amazon), and light travel is a challenge. Especially if you go to any markets along the way!

The only reason I posted in the first place, is that while I was planning for this trip, I kept trying to get some info about Kon Tiki, with no success. A few days before we left, I was feeling some trepidation and posted again with no success. Our trip turned out to be spectacular, and much of it had to do with the high quality vehicles, lodging, and guides we had. I just wanted to pass on our experiences in case they can help another future traveler. Peru is great.
Good luck with your planning.
Christine Z
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Old Jul 29th, 2006, 06:25 PM
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Christine.....Thank you so very much for the wonderful and informative trip report. I hope to do a trip very similar to yours in August of 2007 or 2008, and have been conceerned about finding a good travel agency. I will definitely contact Kon Tiki Tours. Thanks for taking the timne to share with us.
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Old Mar 16th, 2007, 11:43 AM
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Hi Christine; I just joined this forum and read your info re-your trip to Peru with Kon Tiki Tours. I recently booked a trip to Peru with this same tour company and was just delighted to hear you had great results with them. I am a professional photographer and booked an independent trip for 21 days for my husband and I with Kon Tiki. Their suggestions met all of my needs for the places to travel to. We are going to Manu Wildlife Center, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and Lake Titicaca. Did you have any problem with the food or language? My husband is a vegetarian and we both do not speak spanish. Any advice will be helpful. Thanks so much, Barbara W
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Old May 6th, 2007, 02:07 PM
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This comment is of most relevance to the recent reply from bwilliams6. My wife and I returned several days ago from a trip to Peru arranged by KonTiki Tours. The trip encompassed Lima, Cusco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley, and included the following hotels: JW Marriott, Monasterio, Sanctuary Lodge, Sol y Luna, Novotel, and Miraflores Park. All details arranged for the trip were carried out to perfection - when a guide or transport person was scheduled to pick us up at X time, he or she appeared exactly at X time. Moreover, those servers were uniformly knowledgeable, responsive, and, forgive me for the cliche, "very nice people." Neither my wife nor I speak Spanish (not a trace), but encountered no problems whatsoever. We loved Peruvian food and cooking (and ate too much), yet encountered no digestive difficulties. We did, however, drink nothing but bottled water, and used that bottled water for all aspects of teeth-cleaning. All the listed hotels provided ample amounts of bottled water without additional cost. We did eat many fruits (peeled) and vegetables (cooked), and they were generally delicious, so I would expect a vegetarian to be satisfied. As I recall, perhaps the top restaurant in Lima (perhaps Peru), which we thoroughly enjoyed, has vegetarian options. That's Astrid y Gaston.
In summary for those considering tour companies to South America, KonTiki (through its agent Christo) did a superb job in arranging our trip, using our specific choices rather tha tour package sequences in putting it together. We could not recommend a company more highly.
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