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jaw501 May 31st, 2004 10:22 AM

Machu Picchu - in 2005
I'm starting about a year in advance to try to put together a special anniversary trip to Machu Picchu (and other parts of peru) for my husband as a surprise. I have been saving for years and years and I want it to be first class. Right now, I need to know names of tour operators who would be in the high end category. Preferably a company that will help you design your own itinerary or a company with only small groups of travellers, lots of time at Machu Picchu, the option of lots of walking, including all or part of the Inca Trail. We are hikers, late-40s, used to travelling, but don't want to be in a giant group or hemmed in by strict itineraries. What I THINK I mean by first class is upgraded accommodation (ie Sanctuary Lodge type) and east of travel. But I don't want to be in some kind of coccoon. It's just that we usually stay in pensions and hostels. This time, I want us to be way upgraded.
Anybody out there give me broad direction or opinions of how to proceed? I am in the Toronto area of Canada.

I appreciate it very much.

SharonNRayMc Jun 1st, 2004 09:44 AM

Contact Ric Finch about his 2005 Peru tour: [email protected]. Tell him Sharon and Ray from Oklahoma sent you to him. We have done two tours with Ric (Peru and Guatemala) and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. (And, we're thinking about his Bolivia 2005 trip.) His trip planning is phenomenal. Be warned that not every place you stay on one of his trips will be first class accommodations. This is because he typically gets off the beaten path and choices are limited. I'm sure if you made your wishes known for a very nice room, he could have your accommodations upgraded to a suite or a triple where available at the places he stays along the way. (We needed a triple when traveling with our son and had amazing rooms, penthouse suites, etc.) His tours are limited to 16 people and have lots of independent time built into them. His tours fill up quickly.

You can check out his trip itinerary for his recent Peru trips and see if that is to your liking. (Links to some of the hotels are provided in his itinerary.) If you'd rather not do the tour thing, I think Ric would probably help locate guides and make arrangements (for a reasonable enough fee.) Ric is very honest, knowledgeable and experienced. He is well traveled to Latin America. Let me know what you think.

Another tour company with good reputation is Wilderness Travel. This company does tours only and the group sizes tend to be large... 25+.

I think your best bet is Ric Finch. One thing with Ric, is that he does not take credit cards, so you'd need to send him a US dollar check. That's easy enough to have a draft issued at a bank and then mailed to the US.

In Peru, there is an outfit called Explorandes which is fabulous. Ric uses them for guides and services for his trips. The group is very professional and is sensitive to treating porters respectfully.

- Sharon

davarian Jun 1st, 2004 11:03 AM

Hi Eileen,

A good place to start getting info is at

They have listings for a wide range of hotels throughout peru, especially cusco and the sacred valley.

As well they can customize just about any trip within peru so that you can pick and choose what accommodations you may want at different places and where you might want to have private services to the local attractions (machu picchu, sacred valley, jungle). That way you can choose when you want to be with a larger group of people visiting different places and when you want special time with just your husband (like an early morning sunrise visit to machu picchu or private trek to the Sungate).

As you narrow down what you decide to do, let me know and I would be glad to give you more definitive info about your plan.

Happy trails,
[email protected]

jaw501 Jun 1st, 2004 07:59 PM

Thank you very much for this great start-up information. I appreciate it. Eileen

SharonNRayMc Jun 2nd, 2004 05:08 AM

Eileen, you are quite welcome.

travelgirl_67 Oct 26th, 2004 04:01 PM

Jaw501: I saw your post for thoughts on the Hotel Hackescher Markt in Berlin from a few years ago. I am considering the hotel for an upcoming stay and wonder if you ended up staying at the hotel and what your experiences were if you did? Did you end up at another hotel? Any advice? I may reached via email at [email protected]. Many thanks! Lesa

Bobby1 Nov 6th, 2004 02:50 PM

Dear Eileen,

Without question, visit
They designed my parents first class holiday and it was fabulous. My parents can't stop talking about it.


shillmac Nov 6th, 2004 06:26 PM

Sharon: I've read your posts before and didn't realize you are from Oklahoma. We live in the Sooner state as well. Your travels sound interesting and we'd love to travel to Peru one day! I'm curious as to what part of the state you live in. If you don't mind, shoot me an e-mail.

shillmac Nov 6th, 2004 06:26 PM

Uh, well, I guess an address would be helpful! [email protected]

SharonNRayMc Nov 6th, 2004 06:55 PM

Now, now, shillmac,... everyone else will be curious. I'm in OKC. I'll also e-mail. Maybe we can arrange an Oklahoma Fodorites get-to-gether.

cmcfong Nov 8th, 2004 05:24 PM

jaw501, I went to Peru with three friends last year. We had a wonderful trip and our tour was us only, no one else. The tour organizer was Denise Pajak at Lost World Adventures in Georgia. She did an incredible job for us. We had a driver and a tour guide, our own van and we set the pace. The hotel choice included luxury options, but we chose a mid level hotel in each place we stayed. I highly recommend the Pueblo hotel in Aguas Calientes. Food and room were super...and so was the Thai massage!

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