Mary Poole, Manager of our Ipswich travel agents, recently took her dream trip to Peru and the Galapagos islands. In part one of her blog post, she tells us all about trekking the Inca Trail, waking up in the rainforest and discovering the capital, Lima.
Operator/Host: G Adventures
(Hotel names/Ship name): Hotel La Castellana, Lima; Prisma Hotel, Cusco; Inka Paradise, Ollantaytambo; Hotel Pachakute, Aguas Calientes; Tambopata Ecolodge, Amazon Rainforest
Duration: 12 nights
I was pleasantly surprised by all of the accommodation used by G Adventures. Each of the hotels we stayed in had their own quirks and individuality, which added to the tour. All of the hotels were in a good location within each destination, making it easy to explore during any free time. The Inka Paradise was a little gem; tiny but beautiful gardens and well worth paying extra locally for their scrambled eggs.
All of the hotels are very much aimed at the touring customer, but all offered comfortable beds and adequate facilities.
What Was Included?
We booked as part of a package through G Adventures. Transfers on arrival and during the tour were included and meals varied depending on destination.
We spent our first night in Lima and paid locally for a city tour. I would definitely recommend an extra day here to acclimatise and explore this city if time allows.
Next morning, we flew up to Cusco and were very grateful to receive some coca-tea on arrival at our hotel. The altitude is just under 4000m, so taking coca in various forms really helps with keeping altitude sickness at bay.
The following day took us from Cusco to Ollantaytambo. On the way, we visited The Women’s Weaving Corporation (a local project supported by G adventures), The Pisac Ruins (a large site of Inka ruins) and The Inka ruins at Ollantaytambo (these were good practice for the trekking the following day). It was a very enjoyable day.
The next day, our group separated off to their individual trek choices, with some going to do the Inka Trek and others the Lares Trek. I chose to go back to Cusco and would re-join the group in a couple of days’ time.
After a leisurely morning in Ollantaytambo, we headed off to see the Salt mines and the archaeological site at Moray, before heading back to Cusco. Over the next couple of days, I enjoyed a city tour and free time in Cusco. I also had a Peruvian cooking lesson.
Next stop was to be Agua Calientes. After a very early start, I took the panoramic train from Ollantaytambo and enjoyed the stunning scenery along the way. Agua Calientes is where the bus leaves for Machu Picchu; it’s a small village but offers quite a bit for the day tourist – butterfly gardens, botanical gardens, a large market and hot springs. Peru happened to win their biggest football match in recent years whilst we were here. It was an amazing experience to see almost the whole village parading through the streets to watch the big game.
The next day was to be even better than expected. Another early start saw us take one of the first buses that morning up to Machu Picchu, arriving just after the gates opened and allowing us to be one of the first groups to enter. The forecast had been thunderstorms and rain, but thankfully these held off until the afternoon. Following a very informative walking tour of the ruins by our G Adventure Guide, we had free time to walk to the Sun Gate and Inca Bridge if we chose to. Otherwise, we had plenty of free time before heading back down to Agua Calientes for the train back to Ollantaytambo and coach back to Cusco.
The next day, we were able to just relax and enjoy Cusco at our own leisure – something that was very much appreciated by those who had been trekking.
We chose to finish our trip to Peru with a stop in the Amazon Rainforest. There was a lot of travelling involved in getting here and, with hindsight, I would have booked a longer three-night stay. We certainly learnt why this was called the rainforest over the next three days! The accommodation at the Tambopata Lodge was more than adequate, but not for those that wanted constant electricity and Wi-Fi. I actually had my best night’s sleep here as it was so peaceful. Whilst staying here, we saw a large variety of animals, birds and insects including black caiman, tarantulas, brown capuchin monkeys, saddleback tamarin monkeys and turtles.
Machu Picchu was, without a doubt, the highlight of my Peruvian adventure; watching the clouds clear to see this spectacular sight in clear blue skies is something I will never forget. Sometimes when you finally get to visit an iconic destination you are disappointed as it’s not as good as the pictures. Not here. Machu Picchu was even more stunning than I had expected. There is a lot of talk amongst the guides that the Peruvian Government is looking to change the visiting procedures here so, if this is somewhere on your bucket list, do it sooner rather than later! Being with G adventures was definitely a bonus as their guides were extremely helpful and knowledgeable.
I would recommend Peru to anyone that likes adventure or is looking for that bucket list holiday. If you are looking to do the Inka Trek then this MUST be booked in advance as they only allow so many permits on each day. The rest of my group spoke very highly of the porters on the treks and were amazed by the quality and amounts of food cooked fresh for them every day – they even had a homemade cake one day.
Don’t expect too much from your accommodation, then you won’t be disappointed. All of the hotels I stayed in were good three-star properties and more than adequate. This isn’t a destination you travel to and spend time in your hotel room.
Peru is a photographers dream. There’s so much colour and diversity, you definitely won’t want to leave your camera at home.
South America is a vast continent with so much to offer. There are lots of companies that offer tours here and I think this would be my preferred choice should I be lucky enough to return.
A lot of the tour operators are able to tweak their itineraries around your preference – so if the tour you are looking at isn’t quite right it’s worth asking if it can be altered.
Book in advance, stay for as long as possible and add on extra nights in Lima. There is a lot to see and do there and we, unfortunately, ran out of time.
Must see? If you are fit and able then make time to trek – even if just the one-day Inka Trek. The views from the Sun Gate are worth it.
Must do?Remember to take a raincoat at all times when in the rainforest.
Must try?Pisco Sours - a local alcoholic drink that tastes good with mango.
If you would like us to plan an adventure like the one Mary enjoyed, we can find your perfect tour. Call at either or Ipswich store or travel agents in Woodbridge to speak to a member of the team.