Peru Has It All - a family trip report

Jul 8th, 2008, 08:15 PM
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Peru Has It All - a family trip report

Okay, so after several years of reading the posts of other Fodorites, I finally got up the nerve to try posting my own trip report of our family’s visit to Peru. First, I just want to say “Thank you!” to the many Fodor's posters – I've learned so much information that really helped us on our trip.

We had a fantastic time in Peru – it is really a remarkable country – so geographically diverse, friendly people, good food and an amazing array of cultural activities.

So some basic info to help you decide if you want to skip this post (I’ll break it up, hopefully into manageable chunks). We travelled as a group of 2 families (4 members/family) that included me, my husband and our 2 kids and my brother-in-law’s family. All of the adults are in their early to mid 40’s and the kids ranged from 13-17 years old. We did use a travel agent – Nina Fogelman from Ancient Summit who did a great job for us. We travelled the last 2 weeks of June with this itinerary (we flew LAN both international and in country):

June 22 – Arrival at about midnight from LAX to Lima, grabbed a few hours of shuteye at the Ramada Costa del Sol, left later that morning and flew into Cusco, met and taken by van to Yucay and stayed at La Casona de Yucay for 3 nights

June 23-24 – Tours around the Sacred Valley including Pisac, Salineras, Maras/Moray, a special lunch prepared by a friend of Nina’s, a visit to Seminario – incredible ceramic workshop

June 25 – left luggage in Yucay, took only our backpacks, boarded the train at Ollantaytambo, got off at Km 104 and did the last day of what is usually a 4 day hike on the Inca trail, reached Intipunku (the Sun Gate) at Machu Picchu by 4:30PM. Overnight for the next 2 nights at the Inkaterra El Pueblo resort in Aguas Calientes

June 26 – up at dawn, took the bus to MP and toured in the AM, lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge, hung out at the hotel in the afternoon

June 27 – train back to Ollanta, picked up and toured Ollantaytambo, Chinchero, and picked up our luggage on the way to Cusco. Checked in to the Liberador Cusco for the next 2 nights

June 28 – city tour of Cusco, Sacsayhuaman,etc. Later in the afternoon, our guide took us to the local market/fair where we finally did it – we tried cuy!

June 29 – flew out to Puerto Maldonado (left most of our luggage at the hotel), took a river boat ride to stay at the InkaTerra Reserva Amazonica for 2 nights. Action packed with night river cruise, daytime excursion to Lake Sandoval and a canopy tour on the suspension bridges

July 1 – flew back to Cusco and the Libertador, visited the Museum of Pre-Columbian Art (MAP)

July 2 - took the 10 hr bus trip with the company First Class to Puno. On the way, made multiple interesting stops to visit a church, an Incan ruin, a museum, etc. Checked in to the Libertador Lake Titicaca.

July 3 – toured the floating reed islands of Uros and then visited Taquile. Did not do the overnight with a local family

July 4 – flew back to Lima, checked into a hostal for day use, left our luggage, had a city tour of Lima, did some shopping, ate dinner and then caught our transfer back to the airport to board our redeye back to Los Angeles.

So itinerary in a nutshell. As a final note, both families have travelled a fair amount – to Asia, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Europe – though we didn’t start until the kids were older – about 7-10 years old.

61luv2travel is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 08:22 PM
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I confess that I was the one who wanted to go to Peru. I also informed everyone else that since this particular trip was my idea that I got to have the final say on the itinerary. For the most part this worked out fine, though with some humorous results. I’ll call this section the preliminaries, skip it if you want to read about the trip itself.

International flights – my family was coming from Sacramento which obviously did not have any direct flights to Lima. I can get really obsessive about trying to find the perfect combination of decent price vs maximizing comfort and efficiency. I have used Orbitz in the past with perfectly acceptable results, but this time, I bought nonstop round trip airfares directly from LAN for the LAX to Lima portion which allowed me to pick seats, but didn’t allow me to put in our American Airline frequent flyer numbers. However, you can check in online with LAN 48 hr in advance and fill in the pre-registration info which lets you put in your frequent flyer number. Unfortunately, I forgot to do it for the return leg, so will have to figure out how to get that retroactively. Then after checking constantly, I was able to purchase round trip airfare from Sac to LAX on Southwest. The pros were saving $100/ticket and being able to pick flights which gave enough safety margin, but didn’t turn into nightmarishly long layovers. The cons are that, if anything had happened to that Southwest flight, we would have been in big trouble. In contrast, my sister-in-law, booked through American and ended up having to rush over to the American counter when she got back to LA because her LAX to SFO leg was turning into a 6-7 hr layover.

Within Peru – Nina booked us on LAN and gently reminded me that sometimes things don’t move at quite the same pace as in the US. I have to admit that check-in always somehow felt like controlled chaos, but all of our flights went off without a hitch. Also, they handled the luggage very efficiently. We waited about ˝ the time we usually wait in the US for our luggage to come out. We did meet this one unfortunate group of 2 couples who were trying to “wing it” and were trying to fly standby out of Puerto Maldonado without having any reservations. Somehow they hadn’t realized that there were only 2 flights out a day and that with high season, there were absolutely no seats available at all. In the end, I don’t know what they ended up doing, but they were considering chartering (probably really expensive?) or taking what sounded like an interminably long and uncomfortable bus ride back to Cusco. Finally, either our hotels or our tour contacts, were usually able to print out our LAN boarding passes prior to arriving at the airport. This was helpful as the line of passengers with their boarding passes usually seemed to move more quickly than those without. Finally, don’t forget those airport exit taxes. You have to use cash – either dollars or soles.

Flying around within Peru, it was weird to not have to: get rid of your water, take off your shoes, take out your laptop, or wave your 1 quart baggie full of 3.4 oz bottles of liquids around.

Packing - Many thanks to the posting from Karen and Julie Just Back from Adventures in Peru. I basically printed out their list and used it to shop and pack for my family. We were probably a little bit more generous (a few more pieces of clothing) with what we brought, but their list was the perfect aid. With the exception of underwear, we wore our clothing multiple days in a row. We ended up doing laundry in Cusco, before leaving for the Amazon. At first, I was thinking about having it done by the hotel (Libertador), but it would have cost an arm and a leg (I know that sounds weird, considering how much the hotel cost, but I just couldn’t bring myself to fork out over a $100 to do laundry). Instead, I found a place recommended in one of my guidebooks. I bundled up 2 bags of laundry and made my son help me carry it over about 2 blocks first thing Sat AM. For the cost of laundering 4 pairs of pants at the hotel, I was able to get all of our laundry (11 kg or almost 25 lb) done for less than $15 and ready for pickup by 9 PM. We picked it up, repacked and were set for the rest of the trip. So to me the essential items you really should have for a trip to Peru are – a good hat, sunscreen, lipbalm, a really good pair of hiking or walking shoes, a daypack, hand sanitizer and last, but not least, either TP or travel Kleenex. My husband thought I was being ridiculous about the toilet paper – which I admit I was. We never used it. Instead, I would just carry a pack of the travel Kleenex for those bathroom stops which didn’t have TP available. Almost every hotel had a little travel pack of tissues which we would always take with us for the day and invariably we used them.

Trip Insurance/Medical prep – Since my husband and I are both physicians who take care of critically ill patients, we tend to be on the more paranoid side when it comes to possible bad health events. I bought trip insurance, particularly looking for medical evacuation. It was expensive, but for me it was worth the peace of mind that if something happened we would get some kind of support. I was totally thrilled that we did not end up needing it one little bit. We also decided to take diamox (for altitude sickness) and took anti-malaria prophylaxis pills (pretty expensive) for our brief time in the jungle. It was interesting that my niece, who is a healthy teen, ended up getting altitude sickness on Day 3 while we were in the Sacred Valley. Fortunately, restarting her diamox and getting some extra rest did the trick and she was able to hike the Inca Trail the next day without a problem. The problem with altitude sickness is that it can be really random as to who it will affect. We also drank coca tea whenever we had the chance. The kids loved putting sugar into it and drinking it down.
Money – I brought brand new US dollars, which we did not use very often – many times people would specifically ask for “Soles” only. We were able to withdraw money easily from the ATMs at the airport and in the large hotels. But my husband’s ATM card was eaten by a local ATM machine in Urubamba. Fortunately, I was able to call the bank right after that and they froze just his card and we just used mine for the remainder of the trip to withdraw soles. We only used the credit cards in the hotels or bigger restaurants. Sometimes my husband would try to use the US money to give tips, but we tried to avoid this in the smaller towns because it seemed like you would be creating more of a burden for someone to have to go and change it to Soles. We didn’t even bother with traveller’s checks.

61luv2travel is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 08:30 PM
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Day 1 - Originally we were going to get a transfer when we arrived in Lima, but in the end opted for the more expensive Ramada Costa del Sol. To me it was worth it, you're tired when you arrive at midnight, you pick up your luggage, you move pretty quickly through the formalities, you look through the window and literally right across the arrival/drop off zone is the hotel. You can get 5-7 hours of sleep as nothing seems to leave for Cusco until the morning. All of the hotels we stayed at offered a breakfast buffet as part of the accommodations. It was pretty convenient and a good way to start the day. One thing it took us a while to realize is that at most buffets, you could request an omelet from the kitchen.

In Yucay (Sacred Valley), we didn't have anything planned for that first day which was disappointing to me at first, especially since we felt okay. But by the next day (Day 2) when we really started going I was very glad that I had had the chance to get acclimated. Yes, you are not as high as you are in Cusco, but you are still at altitude, and one thing which I never appreciated from all of the exciting guidebook photos was the number of stairs the Incans built and used. And if you really want to see these ruins (Pisac, Ollanta, etc.) you have to climb. You get a pretty decent workout with the added benefit of significantly less oxygen than most people are used to having in the air

In the SV, our travel agent, Nina, had set us up to visit one of her friends who runs a cooking school and who also grows her produce organically. I was a bit hesitant about what it would be like to have lunch with her, but it was fantastic. She served a typical Andean meal with ingredients that were so fresh and flavorful. It was definitely a typical meal as we saw many of the same elements in subsequent meals, but it kind of spoiled us, because I donˇ¦t think any of the other meals tasted as good.

Later, we visited Awanakancha which is a showplace for textiles. They have very, very cute baby llamas, alpacas, and vicunas that you can feed and pet. The kids really loved playing with them. The shop has a lot of amazing woven and knitted items, though some of them are incredibly expensive.

Day 3 - The following day, we visited Seminario. Developed by the ceramic artist, Pablo Seminario, this workshop/studio was really neat. When we first arrived, we thought that perhaps it was closed (for the Inti Raymi in Cusco). But when our guide rang the doorbell, they were open. First, they took us into a little area to watch a video (again I thought, Great, we won't get to see very much actual work.ˇ¨) But then we toured the entire studio, from the clay beds, to the men working on the molding, to the area where the women were painting pieces (they had a restaurant order to fill for place settings). We met and spoke with Pablo himself, he showed us 2 pieces he was kind of experimenting with and that he was planning on taking to the United Nations in NYC later next month where he has a show scheduled. We met his wife who plans all of the painting and coloring. One of her sons is an architect, and as my brother-in-law is also an architect, they had a lot of fun discussing this. Of course we bought pieces (later at the airport in Lima, we saw some of his pieces for sale in the crafts store which were going for twice as much as what we had paid at the studio itself). Pablo has really made an effort to investigate the Pre-Columbian and Pre-Incan native Peruvian cultures to bring back and incorporate their iconography into his ceramic sculptures. He and his wife also seem to have made a real commitment to bring in members of the community to train them at the studio. We had a very nice time.

Afterward, we went to Salineras with the salt flats and Maras/Moray with the agricultural terraces. It is hard to write about the scope of the landscape in the Sacred Valley dusty, harsh and almost brutal aridness, but also awe-inspiring mountains, wide open fields dotted by native Andeans in their bright native dresses, beautiful children (my daughter commented that she had yet to see an ugly Andean child).
Our guide, Jimmy (who was Quechuan) took us to a local restaurant in Urubamba where we ordered a variety of dishes alpaca, beef, chicken, fish, and some type of "mountain beast" with horns that he couldn't translate for us all of it deep fried with potatoes and French fries. Personally, I just donˇ¦t enjoy fried food that much, but the rest of my family absolutely loved the food. We were definitely the only tourists in the place! Afterwards, we watched a small presentation of schoolboys performing a little dance at a school across the road from our hotel. Nina, had set this up to try to help this group with some fundraising. The boys live in a poor community outside of Yucay and have to travel some distance to get to school. I had brought bags of extra crayons that my kids had barely used and for some reason had not been able to bring myself to throw them away. We gave them to the kids after the dance and they absolutely loved the crayons.

61luv2travel is offline  
Jul 8th, 2008, 08:33 PM
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Day 4 – We caught the train at Ollanta which was very comfortable. Our guide, Jimmy, had gone on ahead to get ready to meet us at Km 104. He emphasized to us to not fall asleep and miss our stop! This was when my sister-in-law discovered that you could actually take a train all the way to Machu Picchu. I swear I did not mislead her, but somehow she had the impression that the only way to get to MP was by hiking there! In the end, we were all pretty proud of ourselves that we did it. I know that true backpackers are probably rolling their eyes, and Jimmy did say that the portion that we hiked was probably only 20% of the difficulty of doing the full 4 day hike (the earlier portions also have the higher passes and more difficult climbs).

Still, we stopped at Winay Wayna (forever young), an ancient way station on the Inca Trail for lunch. As you begin to approach it, all you can see are terraces on the side of a mountain, as you get closer you start to see some of the ruins which look like Legos since they are so tiny. As you hike closer, the structures get bigger and bigger and then when you get there, you realize that the walls are taller than you are. You have great views of the surrounding mountains. After lunch, you hike to the Sun Gate where you get your first view of MP.

Okay, the first thing that caught my eye was the curving road which leads down from MP to the town of Aguas Calientes and the river. I was really disoriented and couldn’t figure out where Machu Picchu was. When I did figure it out, it seemed so tiny and far away. But from the Sun Gate we made our way down to the more typical lookout point and the ruins became larger and larger. It was kind of hard to tear your eyes away from the view, but you had to watch where you were going if you didn’t want to fall or trip. Jimmy had timed it perfectly as everyone had left MP and we were staring down at it while it was absolutely empty. With the exception of one other couple, we were the only ones around at the lookout point and were able to take our pictures. Then we walked over to the bus stop and took the absolute last bus of the day down to AG.

A few extra comments about the hike – most of us had hiking shoes on and I think they worked the best. One of my nieces had just regular running shoes and she twisted her ankles a little bit a couple of times, but for the most part she did just fine. My husband bought a walking stick for 10 soles (about $3) just after he got off the train – before starting the hike. It ended up being incredibly helpful and he used it a lot at the other Incan ruins (to help with a bad knee). Also, my husband is not that thrilled with heights, but he did great by just concentrating on the path. Finally, we didn’t realize until we got to Peru, that really the best way to do the hike was to put whatever you needed to wear into your backpack. We left all of the rest of our luggage at our Yucay hotel and picked it up safe and sound (as was the case at every hotel that we needed to do this) when we returned from MP.

Day 5 – Explored MP with Jimmy. We got there not at dawn, but just as the sun came over the peak of the mountains. It was very cool. Also, we had pretty much finished touring by 11:30 which was good because by that time the crowds had really built up. I guess the first train from Cusco arrives around 10 or 10:30AM and MP can get crowded pretty fast. At times, you have to wait your turn to go up or down stairs. By that point, you feel like you are in Europe in July – not a very pleasant feeling. It made me even more grateful for the “alone” time our family had had the previous day. We ended up not doing Huayna Picchu. We are all kind of regretful, but our legs were pretty tired and sore from the hike the day before. We were also a little worried about how well we would handle the stairs. The line was already at its limit by about 10AM.

Machu Picchu was the primary reason that I wanted to come to Peru. It was truly amazing. The archeologists are still uncovering more terraces, etc. It is sad that this site is yet another treasure that we are “loving to death” but I am grateful that I had the opportunity to see it, touch it, explore it.

Day 6 – Took the train back to Ollanta. I had told the kids that we wouldn’t do any hiking, but I didn’t realize that visiting more Incan ruins would involve more stair climbing. The ruins are very interesting, but the stair climbing was definitely not as enjoyable as arriving at the top. We also stopped at Chinchero with its amazing church. Despite the tension between the Quechuans and the conquering Spaniards, some very beautiful churches were built, filled with paintings, tile work and 24kt gold leaf on wood. We stopped at a mountain lookout to eat our box lunches (provided by our InkaTerra hotel because we had missed our lunch while we were at MP) and we shared our chocolates with the young children who were there with their mothers (selling woven goods to tourists). They were very happy and of course, very cute.
Day 7 – Cusco is a very interesting city. It feels much safer than Lima and also seems to have a warmer, more genuine personality. Many Fodorites have already written detailed descriptions of the various sites. The city tour was quite interesting, though somewhat exhausting. Once you are back in Cusco, you have come up in elevation again. It makes you realize that the Incans really loved their steps. Their construction techniques are truly amazing. Afterward, Jimmy took us to the local state fair. It was like a low tech version of a typical county fair with many displays of agricultural products – I never realized that there were so many varieties of corn and potatoes! We saw this one baby llama which had won a ton of ribbons, was very cute, but was also the most stuck up animal I have ever seen! It was hilarious, we would call to it and usually the baby animals will be curious and come up to you, but this one would just turn its head disdainfully away as if to say, “Why are you bothering me? Can’t you see I am a very important animal?” There were also many guinea pig displays. Finally, we went to the food area and ordered these mixed plates which included cuy. I have to say it does kind of taste like chicken. My daughter, who is fairly adventurous (after all she tried live termites in Costa Rica) had one bite, and then couldn’t do it any longer. She said that she had an image of her former pet guinea pig squeaking at her reproachfully. It was interesting because Jimmy noted that most guinea pigs are eaten by 3-4 months of age when their meat is tenderer, I guess.
61luv2travel is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 03:49 AM
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Welcome back ... looking forward to reading the rest of your post.
eenusa is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 02:13 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to write this detailed report. I can't wait for the next installment.
kencolian is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 05:37 PM
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Day 8 and 9 – Flew to Puerto Maldonado – so much warmer, though not as humid as we had expected. We had a very interesting time at Reserva Amazonica. When you arrive by river boat, you eat lunch and then go to your cabin. I have to say that I loved the design of these cabins. They have a screened in porch area with 2 hammocks which opens directly to the twin beds, each with its own mosquito netting. The bathroom is toward the back. If you want privacy, you can shut the sliding screens which effectively separates the porch from the sleeping area.

During the nighttime river cruise, we saw caiman and a family of capybara. They look like guinea pigs on steroids. During our hike and canoe on Lake Sandoval, we saw innumerable birds, river otter, squirrel monkeys, butterflies and dragonflies,fireants, turtles, an anteater, and a couple of caiman – pretty up close and personal. Thank God we did not see any snakes this trip (have seen the fer-de-lance in Costa Rica). I was actually surprised by how much wildlife we saw as this is the dry season when the wildlife tends to be less prominent than during the rainy season.

The canopy walk was also very interesting though again a little bit of a challenge for those who didn’t like heights as much. Elias, our guide (also Quechuan) was very knowledgeable. But I couldn’t help smiling when he turned to us just as we were about to start our first hike, “Remember, do not touch anything!” It was stated very seriously and kind of made me feel like we were about to start an Indiana Jones adventure.

Day 10 – flew back to Cusco, and I really had a hard time adjusting to the big jump back to altitude. In retrospect, my sister-in-law and I both regret that we didn’t spend more time shopping while we had the chance. The choice of native crafts was much better in the Sacred Valley. But we were both so tired and did not have very much energy. I very much wanted to see MAP and managed to get up enough energy to go with my family to see this museum. It is not on the boleto turistica, but it is such a well presented museum. We went at night and the displays with their dramatic spotlights were even more fascinating.

Day 11 – On our way to Lake Titicaca by way of the bus company First Class. We had had to choose between taking the 10 hr train ride vs the 10 hr bus ride. The bus ride worked out better for us as we had multiple stops – Raqchi – an Incan ruin, Andahuaylillas with San Pedro church and Pucara with its small, but very interesting museum. If you prefer more comfort and don’t mind the cost, then I would recommend the train. But for us, the bus was a much more interesting way to see more. They even provide a tour guide on the bus who provides information at each of the stops. We were really impressed with how knowledgeable he was. My husband gave the guide a tip at the end of the journey and he was somewhat distressed when he realized that no one else thought his efforts were worthy of more tips.

After arrival, our transfer took us to the Libertador which sits on a small peninsula slightly north of Puno. I swear it looks like a big white prison with klieg lights. Inside, however, the common areas are beautifully decorated and the rooms all have a lake view. However, we definitely would not recommend the hotel restaurant for meals other than breakfast. We had the hotel call a cab which for about $2-$3 will take you to Puno and then come back to pick you up once you are finished with your dinner.

Day 12 – My husband didn’t seriously consider the entire itinerary until we were already in Peru. He had also wanted to see MP and the jungle. But now he wanted to know why we weren’t going to go Arequipa and Colca Canyon. There were definitely more things to see and do in Peru than time available and I guess I chose Lake Titicaca as the more unique place to go. After visiting the Uros islands and Taquile, my husband was happy with this choice. Uros and Taquile have also been described in detail by other Fodorites.

After the initial explanatory talk and demonstration, it was a bit unnerving to be told not to walk too close to the edge. They had just finished demonstrating how the lake was about 55 ft deep at this location! Of course, we took a ride in one of the reed boats. We watched as parents rowed their children to the island where school was held. On Taquile, we hiked around the part of the island which was away from the main square. It was a beautiful hike, from above you could see how clear the water was here, away from Puno. Our guide, Cesar jokingly referred to the international boundary that runs across Lake Titicaca between Peru and Bolivia as dividing the lake into 60% “Titi” (the Peruvian side) and 40% “caca” (the Bolivian side). Though he hastened to add that the real “caca” side was the area right around Puno because the water is so polluted there.

Okay, just one more part to post.
61luv2travel is offline  
Jul 9th, 2008, 05:39 PM
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Day 13 – Our transfer brought us back to Juliaca, the nearest town with an airport so that we could catch our flight to Lima. We stopped at Mami Panchita to drop off our luggage. We had lunch at a nearby restaurant and then went on a city tour. Lima feels a lot like any big city – definitely less charm than Cusco. We toured San Francisco, a convent, which had a lot of Muslim inspired design features. We had just visited the Alhambra in Spain the year before and many design elements were definitely inspired by the Islamic style seen in Andalucia. Then we went below to the catacombs – there were tons of bones neatly arranged from the thousands of people that had been buried there in years past.

Anyway, after the tour finished our bus left us at Larcomar (in the Miraflores district) to do some shopping and eat dinner. Even though everyone kept saying that Lima was much safer than it used to be, our guide cautioned us to use only the registered yellow taxis and to keep any bags with purchases either under our legs or down on the floor of the cab so as not to tempt thieves, I guess. Our cabbie, who’s English was quite good, started asking my husband whether he preferred Obama or McCain. It was a very interesting conversation as he said that most of the Peruvians favored McCain because they perceive him as more favorably disposed towards free trade agreements which would help Peru’s economy. Anyway, we freshened up at Mami Panchita, picked up our bags and took our transport to the airport where we checked in for our uneventful redeye to LAX.

So closing thoughts –
Definitely not enough time to see everything that Peru has to offer – we never made it up north to Trujillo to see ChanChan or down south to see the Nazca lines or to Arequipa/Colca Canyon.

With the exception of our Lima guide, our tour guides were all Quechuan. They have so much pride in their heritage and also a lot of knowledge about their cultural history. I always remember my 3rd grade history which marched through all of the European explorers and made them out to be heroes. The Quechuan perspective is very different and thought provoking. If you have the option, get a good guide. As our travel agent, Nina, said, they are worth their weight in gold.

Speaking of travel agents - I can't say enough complimentary things about ours. She really listened to me about what I wanted out of this trip, gave me the benefit of a lot of first hand advice, but also gave our group a lot of leeway while taking care of all of those troublesome details that can sometimes make your vacation miserable. Particularly through our guides, we were able to experience some of the non-"touristic" parts of Peru and we really appreciated the generosity and friendliness that we encountered.

Peru is truly an amazing country – we saw so many beautiful sunrises, each one different – from the sun rising over the Sacred Valley from the balcony of our hotel in Yucay to the mist filled sunrise over the jungle and the Madre de Dios river to the rose and lavender sunrise as the sun came up over Lake Titicaca.
Peru also seems to be changing by the second. I have to admit that we are not the most resilient travelers. We like to be comfortable and I know that is reflected in our choice of hotels. However, if you are thinking of going, do it. You won’t regret it.
61luv2travel is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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Enjoyed reading your trip report. Thanks for re-posting it all in one thread. Can you elaborate on your stay at La Casona de Yucay. This is one of the places we are considering and I'd value your comments.
eenusa is offline  
Jul 10th, 2008, 01:40 PM
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Enjoyed reliving my own trip to Peru through your reporting!
We agree there is so much more to Peru than Machu Picchu although that in itself is a wonderous sight.

I have been encouraging others to forget about islands for a while and head to Peru. I loved the people, the scenery and the entire experience.

Thanks for bringing it all back to me!

chacheetah is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 11:16 AM
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Can you elaborate on the lunch with Nina's friend ... what kind of food did she prepare and serve?
eenusa is offline  
Jul 11th, 2008, 08:08 PM
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With respect to La Casona de Yucay - I enjoyed my stay at this hotel. It has beautiful gardens on the premise. The rooms are simply furnished but clean and comfortable. The views from the balcony out across the valley are really amazing, especially at sunrise. The restaurant is okay for breakfast and simple meals, but you have to get a taxi if you want anything more elaborate. It is very peaceful, but if you want more immediate activities, then I would suggest staying in Ollantaytambo.

The special meal that had been arranged for us during our stay in the Sacred Valley included a vegetable salad (very fresh veggies), quinoa soup, albondiga/potatoes, bread, chicha and an apple flan. It was really fantastic - one of best meals we had in Peru.

Hope that helps.
61luv2travel is offline  
Jul 12th, 2008, 03:43 AM
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Thanks, that is helpful. Hubby doesn't like to sit still for long, and would prefer a place where he can wander into town when it strikes his fancy, so La Casona is out for us. We'll probably stay at Pakaritampu in Ollanta.

It certainly sounds like Nina's friend prepared a tasty meal for you guys ...
eenusa is offline  
Jul 13th, 2008, 03:08 PM
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We are just sitting down to plan a family trip from Tahoe to Peru next March 2009. By your account, are planning with enough lead time to get land reservations (hotel-guides-etc)Your trip inspired us to get going! Offline address is [email protected] (Ron & Donna)
rdefsworld is offline  
Jul 18th, 2008, 04:37 PM
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Bookmarking thanks
trumps is offline  
Jul 19th, 2008, 05:26 AM
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rdefsworld - we're in the same boat; planning for April 2009 ... seems like we're in the minority planning so far in advance ;-). I'm waiting for one more itinerary/pricing request to be fulfilled before deciding who we want to work with to organize this trip.
eenusa is offline  
Jul 20th, 2008, 03:03 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 85
Hi, sorry I haven't said much more since my original post. Still trying to catch up from coming back from vacation.

With regards to booking, the earlier you can plan probably the better as it seems like Peru is really becoming a hot spot. Going in March will probably be easier as it isn't quite high season like the summer. However, as you pick your travel agent/group keep in mind that the schedules can change quite a lot over time. One thing that was very helpful about our travel agent is that she really keeps on top of those things. Our families are not quite as flexible as the "Lonely Planet" crowd and we were very grateful to know that she was looking out for us. She called me at the hotel our second night to just check in with us. While travelling, we would email her from time to time and she would reply. Also, if you will notice from another recent Peru posting, there were strikes going on right after we left (which seems to happen from time to time) and she worked pretty hard to get her clients where they needed to go. So it worked out well for us. We were more able to relax since we knew we had "back-up."
61luv2travel is offline  
Aug 9th, 2008, 12:54 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 253
I very much enjoyed your report. We are planning a similar trip in Oct. Did you take a tour at Lake Titicaca? If not, can you please tell me more about how you spent the day on the lakes and how you arranged the transportation? We'd like to see Uros and Taquile but not interested in the family stay.
thank you,
Tuni01 is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 1,735
Bookmarking. Thanks for the detailed report.
shelleyk is offline  
Aug 11th, 2008, 07:57 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 85
Tuni01 - our travel agent set up our day on Lake Titicaca. I just noted that I didn't think our group would be able to do the overnight - we're too wimpy! The first half of our tour of several of the Uros islands was probably somewhat standard. It looked like the speed boats that take you out of the dock at Puno try to split up the tourists so that the individual islands all get their own group of visitors. Perhaps our agent kept us more protected in that we had our tour guide - Cesar - for the entire day and we were the only group on our particular island. It was really fascinating to see how they live on these floating islands.

The second half of the day we went to Taquile. Again we watched a demonstration about life on the island. But I think the major difference from most tour groups is that we did a hike on the far side of the island. It was not that strenuous (despite the altitude) and it was very peaceful and beautiful. Cesar pointed over to another part of Taquile and mentioned that most of the large tour groups go to the main square where they can buy some of the woven crafts, etc. If that is all they do, then they miss out on the best part of the island.

Hope that helps.
61luv2travel is offline  

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