Peru with children!


Aug 24th, 2013, 02:55 PM
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Peru with children!

We visited Peru for two weeks in July with our family. We have three boys aged 8, 14, & 16 and had an absolutely wonderful time there.

We arrived in Lima around 11pm from the US. Gathering our luggage and customs was very efficient and we headed straight to our hotel, the Ramada Inn, which is located at the airport. The hotel's biggest advantage was its location which we very much appreciated as we were all very tired. The rooms were clean and surprisingly quiet. The hotel, however, is quite expensive compared to other places that we stayed at in Peru but you can not beat the location!

All of the hotels we stayed at in Peru provided breakfast. After breakfast, we headed right back to the airport for our 10am flight to Cusco. Again we were very thankful to be located right at the airport! (NOTE: It can easily take 1 hour to drive into Lima).

All of our flights were on LAN. I found it very easy to book the flights via their web site. The only glitch I ran into was that my credit card company rejected the charge! This was the first of a couple of times that this happened. Apparently the credit card companies are very wary of any charges from South America. I called the credit card company and got it to authorize it and then called LAN to let them know so they could process the payment again. I was very impressed with the quality of service I received from LAN. The customer service rep also took care of booking our seats for us and we got excellent seats on all the flights!

I noticed a lot of negative comments about LAN on this and tripadvisor's web sites. My experience was the opposite. I thought that the cost of our tickets was very reasonable (including a nice discount for my son's fare). All of our flights left exactly on time, the planes were comfortable and attendants were service oriented.

We were met at the Cusco airport by our driver (we had arranged this via our hotel in Ollantaytambo) and drove directly to our hotel. We stayed at Hotel Samanapaq. We booked two rooms to accommodate our family. The beds were comfortable but the rooms were definitely chilly! (I suspect that the other hotels in Ollantaytambo are also chilly). Our hostess kindly provided us with additional blankets which were perfect. The hotel has a very nice gathering room which had a fireplace, game room and tv room. Breakfast was okay. Our one negative comment about this lovely hotel is that it was quite noisy throughout the night. We were really surprised by the amount of traffic that went by the hotel since Ollantaytambo is the end of the line! (The hotel is right at the entrance of the town). There are some rooms that are in the inner courtyard and I am guessing are much quieter.

I highly recommend staying in Ollantaytambo as there is good number of very good restaurants and the town is very charming, especially after the tour buses leave.

We ate at Hearts Cafe our first night (also went back for lunch another day) and had a delicious quinoa soup. We all enjoyed our meal here and would recommend it.

We did not prearrange any of our tours, except for our trip to MP, prior to arriving. We asked our driver from the airport to drive us to PIsac the next day (Sunday). She picked us up right on time. Although her English was limited, she was very enthusiastic and helpful. We first went to the market and she joined us. Whenever we bought something and they quoted a price, she gave us guidelines as to what a reasonable price would be and also how authentic the item was.

The Pisac market is not to be missed, even if you don't like to shop like the four males in my household. It is very colorful and an unique experience (I love to do photography and the market was a gold mine for me). We had a nice lunch at a restaurant that was located on the second floor in a building on the square-- can't remember its name off hand but do recommend it.

After lunch, she drove us up to the ruins and we spent about 4 hours exploring the ruins. My boys loved the ruins! I would say that you need to be in reasonable shape to navigate the ruins and acclimated to the altitude (my husband and I took medication for this and my boys had no problems with the altitude).

The market and the ruins was a full day. We returned to town, ate dinner at a pizza place on the square that I would NOT recommend, and headed to sleep. Machu Pichu awaited us the next day!

We arranged our tickets to MP and our entrance to MP via a travel agent who I highly recommend. I was unable to book my tickets on the government's web site due to some issue it was having with non Peruvian visa cards. I found this travel agent via tripadvisor and was pleased. She was able to get the discounted tickets for my child and charged a slight fee for her services.

We got up early and walked to the train station (the station was on the other side of town-- about a 15 minute walk). The train left promptly. We took the expedition train to MP. As soon as we left, they walked around and sold drinks and some snacks which we unwisely purchased. Ten minutes later, they returned with a complementary drink and snack!!! Live and Learn!

The signage once you get to the train station in Agua Calientes is non existence. It took us a few minutes to figure out exactly where to go. Once you find the buses, there is an office from which you can purchase the bus tickets. We immediately got on our bus and were on our way to MP!!

Please don't forget to bring your passports with you!! The trains and MP checked each ticket's name against our passports.

We hired a guide prior to entering and found this to be very worthwhile. He gave us a 2 1/2 hour tour of MP and explained to us the significance of each ruin, etc.. We learned an incredible amount about Incan society from him. After the tour, we ate lunch at the cafe by the entrance. It was not very good and was very overpriced. I would recommend that you pack your own lunch and eat it among the ruins (there is a sign to not bring in food but we saw A LOT of people eating there). After lunch, my husband and oldest boys went for a hike to the Incan bridge and my youngest son and I explored some of the ruins further. After a very busy day, we returned to town, got some ice cream, and headed back to Ollantaytambo.

I debated quite a bit about whether to spend the night in AC while I was making our plans. I think that our choice to return to Ollantaytambo was the right one for our family.

We returned to Ollantaytambo around 7:30 and ate dinner at the train station's hotel restaurant. The meal was fabulous! The service was excellent. And the prices were very reasonable (we did not spend more than $100 at any restaurant in Peru for our family of five and we went to a few very nice places).

We took a combi back to our hotel as we were all exhausted from a day of hiking. We required two combis who decided that they would race each other. The boys loved it-- I was a bit nervous! Cost is just $1 for the ride.

The following day we decided to stay around Ollantaytambo and explored the ruins there in the AM. In the afternoon, we arranged to take an ATV tour with KB Tambo. We loved the ruins but were very disappointed by the ATV tour. We had been told that there would be four ATVs for us-- in fact there were only 2 and one of my sons had to join the "guide" on his motorcycle. The guide was nice, but didn't give us any instructions as to how to operate the ATV beyond pointing to the brake and gas. He also spoke ZERO English so we learned nothing during our trip. And finally one of the ATVs broke down. After spending almost an hour of trying to fix it, he told my husband and son to push it (luckily the way back was all downhill). KB did not proactively offer a discount to us but we asked. We got a minor discount for a trip that did not have a true guide and where we had to push the ATV 1/2 of the time. Oh, we also were not gone for the full time promised in spite of having wasted an hour trying to fix it (it was curious that he didn't try to call someone to help us-- my cell had service here so I know it wasn't because of a lack of service). Bottom line: It was the most disappointing part of our trip.

We had another very good meal out that evening and returned to the hotel to pack up for the next part of our adventure.
jeanned is offline  
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Aug 24th, 2013, 06:13 PM
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Great report. Interesting to hear of your experiences with KB Tambo. I always believed them to be one of the better operators. We tried to book a couple of trips with them when we were there a month or so ago but they weren't very responsive so we didn't bother in the end. Sounds like we made a good move...

Looking forward to readin more of your adventure!
crellston is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2013, 04:00 AM
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Thank you for a great report, jeanned.

Keep up the good work!
avrooster is offline  
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Aug 25th, 2013, 10:05 AM
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Good report. How wonderful that the airport taxi driver came back and took you around Pisac! Do you recall approximately what you paid for the various transfers and tours? We often see this question and it is nice to have a recent report from a "real tourist".

I wonder if KB himself was around? He is usually pretty responsive but is often off leading treks.

About LAN. If everything goes smoothly they are fine. If there is any kind of problem, they are hell. I speak from experience.

Also I noticed that LAN has reduced the price of their Lima-Cusco flights (hooray for competition)and they have many more flights. Despite my dealings with them, I would probably still use them if there isn't much price difference.
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Aug 29th, 2013, 01:02 PM
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great report. We are thinking about something similar with kids... so it was nice to see your report.

Sounds like the altitude was more of an issue for you than kids?
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Sep 1st, 2013, 10:42 AM
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Crellston, I had read that KB Tambo was very reliable and was extremely disappointed by our experience. In fact, I posted a negative review of KB Tambo on Tripadvisor and was contacted by Tripadvisor that perhaps I made a mistake. I emailed them that I had not made a mistake and that it was KB Tambo in Ollantaytambo. I received another email back from Tripadvisor informing me that my post has been removed without an explanation!! All this to say that I will now be very careful in using Tripadvisor knowing that they remove certain posts if they are negative (all my other posts from this trip were positive-- the negative one was the only one that they contacted me about).

mlgb, I don't recall how much the driver was but it was reasonable for a very comfortable van. The only person who was around at KB was a lady who didn't speak English. We did have a slight problem with our LAN reservation as outlined above and I truly found the customer service rep to be very helpful and he went out of his way to book our seats for us which he did not have to do.

surfmom, my husband and I decided to premedicate so the altitude would be a non issue for us. I have experienced altitude sickness before and it isn't fun. And I have found it to be unpredictable. I have been to Mexico City several times, but only had altitude sickness once while there. My oldest son complained the first day of a headache but it wasn't that bad as he was still moving at full speed. I think adults tend to have more problems than children.
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Sep 1st, 2013, 11:01 AM
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On our way to Cusco, we stopped first at Pablo Seminario's studio in Urubamba. Mr. Seminario is a well known Peruvian ceramicist. He has a wonderful studio and tours of it are provided. In addition, we were able to meet Mr. Seminario and he spent quite a bit of time talking to us about his art, inspirations, etc.. If you enjoy art, I highly recommend that you go here. It was one of the highlights of our trip. He has a gallery there with items in all price ranges. We bought a good number of things there and had everything shipped to our home. All items arrived on time and in perfect condition. The cost of shipping however was fairly high but we did not want to risk breaking anything by carrying the items.

After our tour of the studio, our driver (same driver we used for our previous trips) brought us to the salt mines at Salinas. She knew the salt mines well and brought us fairly deep into them-- I am sure if we went on our own we would not have done this. The salt mines are fascinating. My children were starved at this point (we had spent a lot of time at the studio) so we ate at the cafe at these mines. It was okay.

We continued on to Moray and explored the agricultural circles. The views on the ride to the circles were great and I loved photographing the ladies working in the fields, etc.. As we were leaving there, we were diverted and traveled through the town of Moray. It was interesting to see the life of this small town.

Our driver brought us to our hotel in Cusco, Andenes al Cielo. We checked into the hotel and were disappointed that they did not honor our reservation as originally made. We had asked for both rooms to be next to each other and the hotel confirmed in writing that this would be the case; however, the rooms were located on different floors. I showed her the email and she said that it was a mistake and that they were full. As a result, my youngest son stayed in our room the entire time . Besides this one glitch, I would highly recommend this hotel. Our room was lovely. It was very spacious and had a fireplace and very good shower pressure! The location of the hotel is perfect-- very close to Plaza des Armas and close to San Blas.

As it was quite late when we got there (remember the hours spent at the studio ), we headed straight to dinner. We ate at a mediocre Italian restaurant on Plaza des Armas square. We then walked around a bit after dinner. We were all very excited to be in Cusco as it was a bigger city and has an electricity about it. We found a tour office while we were walking and booked a horse back riding trip for the next day.
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Sep 5th, 2013, 01:17 PM
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I think the fact that KB was not around probably had something to do with your experience at KB Tambo. My experience with the hotel was that there is confusion when he is not there (even though I speak Spanish). After I stayed, he wrote an email to me asking how things went in his absence.

If you have not written to him directly, I would recommend doing that.

His email is [email protected]
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