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A trip to Peru in 18 days covering many of the well known tourist attractions, persoalised for us.
A fascinating city, with contrasting 'have' and 'have not' society. The colonial capital has shops and bars, though no big store groups familiar in the west. You don't have to stray far from town though to see poverty, people living in slums on the dry aid slopes, and selling to drivers in traffic queues. Heartbreaking, but get used to tis throughout the country.
Reminiscent of western hotels of 50 - 60 years ago, colonial style with welcome old fashioned courtesy and service. Rooms are comfortable, quiet and clean, good standard of buffet breakfast.
Peru's second city, quieter than Lima but still a busy place, a good stop before exploring the mountains, volcanoes and canyons of the Andes.
Charming hotel made up of individual chalets around a pool and gardens. Quiet, comfortable.
An oasis in the desert, attractive small town with all the amenities, and all the souvenirs you want, good restaurants serving local and international cuisine.
Charming small tourist hotel, fabulous views of the Andes, and a good base for walking. Superb local cuisine. Comfortable room.
Advice is to get there early if you want to see the condors. They are supposed to come up on the morning thermals a couple of times, but you need to be there for the first flight for a good sighting. The canyon itself though is well worth a visit, amazing views and walk right along the edge.
Big town on the edge of Lake Titicaca. Main street has plenty of local shops, bars and restaurants, and views across the lake are stunning.
Big comfortable friendly hotel, but let down by the fact there is a club next to the hotel that pumps music loudly into your room til 5am, and another at the back. We're told its not so bad on weekdays but one night on a weekend was enough not to want to come back, and hotel management was not in any way helpful or sympathetic. Buffet breakfast served fruit that must get wheeled out every day because it was not fresh. Shame for the friendly helpful staff, but this hotel does not deserve to be in business.
Most trips on the lake include a visit here, but its best avoided, its far too touristy. Yes its got a fascinating history, but most of that has been lost as locals invite you into their home then forcefully tout souvenirs at you that are overpriced, or take you on a boat then tell you the price before you get back to shore. Nothing authentic about this any more, just purely a tourist attraction.
Idyllic island that was so mush more than we could have imagined. Islanders live in a natural way, no cars, only solar-powered electric lighting but no mains. Tourists are given the opportunity to 'stay with a local family and live their way' for a night. This is in fact a homestay, and many have only basic 'facilities' - bring a toilet roll! But we stayed two nights, had a comfortable room, superb local food, of course including several potatoes, and had a fabulous relaxing time, away from all the tourist tat. Not sure we could have stayed forever, but a few days away from civilisation certainly puts life into perspective.
A little more touristy than Amantani - fabrics for sale etc., but still beautiful, relaxing, and stunning views.
As we were so put off by Hotel Qalasaya, we were moved here, and what a difference! Definitely worth paying a little more for, central hotel with good food, great service, incredibly comfortable rooms. The restaurant serves a good local and international menu at a good price, and service was exceptional
The old Quechua capital, busy town with lots to offer tourists, from local festivals to museums, bars, restaurants, and no chance to forget you're close to the heart of the Inca civilisation. Can't help feeling a little more effort could be made to tidy the place up, considering the huge push for tourism, but nevertheless a great place to start the cultural part of any trip to Peru.
Colonial style hotel that must have been something grander in a previous life, rooms open out into the grand spacious lobby, so no views out of the hotel, only problem is, two nights out of three we were kept awake, either by late night students arriving back and not ready for bed, or by early morning risers on their 5am trip out, so this is a problem. Shame, as the rest is good - rooms are a bit cramped, but service is good and excellent breakfast.
So from Cusco the natural trip towards Machu Picchu is via the Sacred Valley, where a guide will take you through all the remains of the towns the Quechua built. You cannot help marvel at the way these were built using bare hands and the tools of the day.
This town is really just one massive souvenir market. Barter hard, you need to be aiming for about a third of the price first quoted. And tour guides will try and get you into a factory of some sort to help their commission along.
Small town, very picturesque, aimed strictly at tourists. No local food here, everywhere serves pizzas. But its a natural stop on your way.
Excellent hotel. If you're looking to break up the journey before the big stop, spend an extra night here. Nothing to do, but views are stunning, surrounded by mountains, the hotel is in beautiful gardens, we woke to see alpaca grazing outside our bedroom window. Very good breakfast, efficient service. And train station is a 2 minute walk.
The train to Machu Picchu! Here the scenery changes as you move closer to the edge of the Amazon, and follow the river to Aguas Calientes.
Everybody's stopping point before the place we've all come here for, so its just one big tourist town. One huge market greets you as you get off the train. Lots of bars and restaurants serving local but mostly international food.
Small friendly hotel, not too impressive from the front, but the rear view from the rooms is of the river, and is fabulous. Comfortable rooms with sumptuous bathrooms complete with jacuzzi.
Nothing can prepare you for just how incredible it is. Whatever anyone says, be there early, and if you followed the history from Cusco via the Sacred Valley so you know what Machu Picchu is, go to the Sun Gate before the sun comes up, and watch. The miracle will unfold in front of you. Arrive by 6.30, those on the Inca Trail will already be there. After sunrise, get down to the ruined city and you can still take great photos without tourists. By 9am it will be busy and by 11 it will be packed. So enjoy it early and you won't be disappointed. Buses from Aguas Calientes leave from 5am.
Spanish town in the middle of the northern Amazon. The flight over is the first highlight. Busy town but very different to all those so far. Everyone rides motor scooters. Not lots to do here but some decent restaurants around the riverside.
Sells itself as a 5 star hotel, its big and modern with a lovely pool. But service is lacking. The only place that failed to pick us up at the airport. When they tried to put it right with a complimentary course at dinner they messed it up big time. Locals said they are known for it, big communication problem. If it was not for that, it was a great place, comfortable room, though can be noisy with traffic not being soundproofed out.
For us the highlight of the tour, and definitely the best of many lodges available. Most lodges are about half an hour along the river from Iquitos, the boat passes them. Some are a bit basic, others are like a 5 star resort, and some attract families - never a good thing on a cultural trip. Muyuna is 90 miles / 3 hours from Iquitos so does not attract families. It has about a dozen rooms plus the main dining room and staff areas. Each room has a bathroom with all necessary facilities, plus the end of the lodge is open to the elements, but screened with mosquito netting, so you don;'t have to provide one. No electricity except for a generator for camera batteries. The only sounds you hear are of wildlife. All tourists work it out when they arrive so there is no noise. Laze on your hammocks or go n all the organised walks and boat rides, all in small groups. Fabulous food, mix of local and international. And we saw all the wildlife we were promised. Seems a shame to pass on the secet as it would not be so good if it were too busy, but for the most authentic glimpse of the Amazon this is the place to go.
Offering tailor made tours of Peru and other parts of South America, using local tour companies. Nothing was too much trouble, Paul certainly knows his stuff. Even being provided with a mobile phone on arrival, with the numbers of all the local guides, what a great idea for peace of mind. Steer away from the big companies, this is how to have exactly the holiday you want, without having to pay over the odds.