Thank you so much for all your help with organising this trip of a lifetime.
I am so happy with my decision to choose Andean Trails as our guide for this five week trip and of course I will be recommending (have already actually) Andean Trails to family and friends.
Wow!! What an amazing trip. We were discussing the highlight of the trip and came to the conclusion that there really was no particular highlight as every segment was so different and so amazing! Basically the highlight was the whole trip!
Everything ran like clockwork. All the tour guides/drivers were on time and all transport was on time (flights, buses, taxis). Everyone was friendly and helpful and not once were we made to feel scared or unwelcome.Jen Gibbons, Qatar, July 2015
- What was the highlight of your holiday? Was there a low point?
There wasn't any part that no-one liked. The itinerary was organised in such a way that it was varied and exciting throughout. Enough time in the rainforest and camping on the Inca Trail rewarded by more comfortable urban stays afterwards. The adults especially loved the homestay village in Willoq as it offers an authentic and friendly piece of rural living. Football against locals was a highlight as well. The biking to Moray was perfect - a little challenging for some on the downhills but exhilarating with incredible views of surrounding glaciers high in the mountains. The Inca Trail is far more sustainable than I had imagined; very few people up until camp 3 and maintained to an excellent standard. Ridiculous views and incredible engineering to build the stone paths. Miraculous meals produced by our team of chefs and porters; their workrate was phenomenal. Macchu Picchu is as good as you would imagine, and I'm pleased that we scaled Huayna Picchu as well - great sense of achievement here.
For a school trip, this fortnight was superb. If kids are prepared for days without TV, days of no wifi and meals they will have to adapt to, then they will have the time of their lives. Safe, challenging and exciting; everything you want in a school trip.
- How would you rate accommodation/ food/ guides/ overall organisation?
Accommodation can't be faulted. The only chance we had of a pool was in Lima, but it was closed for renovations (and virtually a hot-tub, not a pool). Nobody minded.
Range of food was very good - even fussy eaters were ok. It was a buzz for us to eat piranhas that we had caught in the Amazon. Cuy (guinea pig) was another first.
Guides were all superb. We had a student vote once we had left the guides and the rainforest guides probably gained most votes. They were all especially good with the students.
I was really happy with the tour we put together - no difficulties despite a 3 hour late arrival into Puerto Maldonado, and a similar delay on the train from Agua Calientes - guides were always waiting for us. I don't know how I'd improve on the itinerary we had - rainforest, homestay, biking, Inca Trail, Cusco, Lima - the rainforest disappointed a little in terms of wildlife (I was hoping for more insects, beetles, frogs, etc) but this was undoubtedly due to the dry season.
- Did you feel you benefitted the local communities? Any additional comments on the homestays would be very interesting as this is the first time we have included this in our school programme.
-We definitely benefited local communities. This is partly why we chose a trip like this. One change we made during the Amazon section was to stop at a local (non-touristy) village (Infierno) during a boat trip - we bought a fair amount of juice here that probably made their week! In the homestay village, we were given the chance to buy local clothing that the villagers had made - often the families we stayed with. This was a nice souvenir and definitely added money to the local economy. Unless the students are expecting 5-star hotels (or perhaps even if they are) the homestay experience should be on a school trip itinerary. You are out of your comfort zone and are actually living.The interactions between the students and local children, with little language skills to speak of, were heartwarming. We played football and gave out football tops we had collected for the trip. It was obvious locals were delighted, especially if it was a Spanish top. The weaving and farming activities were fine, probably not a highlight for teenagers but still worthwhile.
- Knowing what you now know what would you like to do differently next time?
I thought about this a lot towards the end of the trip, and asked the tour guide if he thought we could have improved the trip. The conclusion I have is no. Sure, I'd like to fly over the Nazca lines, trek the longer routes to Macchu Picchu, visit Arequipa, see the sites in northern Peru, but this trip was excellent.
I made a photobook for the group, and always ask them for their favourite moment of the trip, which I add to the book. Here are some favourite moments:
- Playing football in the Homestay village at 3500m against a makeshift Peruvian side that featured a woman with a baby strapped to her back playing in defence.
- Being with the people of Willoq village and getting to dress up like them and take part in their way of life.
- Arriving at the Sungate and seeing the first glimpse of Macchu Picchu.
- Watching a tarantula emerge from it's cave in the Amazon.
-The biking, as the route was very fast-paced and had amazing scenery left, right and centre.
- Getting down to the camp after a day hiking up and down dean Woman's Pass. Just relaxing at the tent looking out over the valley was amazing.
- When I first thought I had caught my first piranha but unfortunately it fell off the hook before I could get it on the boat.
David, school group 2016
The trip was perfect.
Main highlight: getting engaged at Macchu Picchu :)
Things that are more within Andean Trails’ control: Condor viewing at Colca, cresting the first pass on the Inca Trail, seeing a whole flock of parrots in the Amazon.
Organisation was excellent. We were happy with all of our guides, they were knowledgeable and personable. Food was great and I liked that all of the hotels had some history behind them.
We loved the order; it was nice to have the slower paced Amazon after the big hike. I think if the Amazon been first, I would have been impatient to get going and do more, but as it was, all the down time was much appreciated. Kerstin Palm, May 2015, USA
Peru has to be one of the friendliest, prettiest places. Really, all of the contacts were great, the only one I didn't meet was Oscar in Puno, but he sent someone to fetch us and drop us, and called every evening which was perfect.
Refugio Amazona was beautiful, and our guide Listen was just such a darling, by far the best guide in the Amazon.
And Jesus in Cusco was also really lovely and warm. The hotels were fantastic, and the amount of time allocated to things was ideal.
I must say Alan, you put together a really fantastic holiday for my Mom and I really loved it, there were just so many highlights I can't really point out only one, but Cusco is a really special spot, and so is the Sacred Valley.
I don't think I would do anything differently - it was really a perfect trip. Thank you so much.Lara van Nunen
"Speaking for myself, the Ausangate trip, end to end, was superb and was easily my high point. The uniqueness of the trip, the quality of the walk, the height of the lodges, the warmth of the fellow guests, the genuine helpfulness and friendliness of the staff and guides all combined to make something extremely special and that I don't think could be repeated.
"The Green House was also top quality and was an inspired choice. I'm not sure there was a low point as such as the holiday in it's totality was truly fantastic but they really need to do something with the toilets on the Macho Picachu trail.
"Organisation was faultless. The accomodation varied from good to superb. The food was certainly a surprise and was of a much higher standard than expected. The guides were both top class and the overall organisation was exemplary.
"Could not be any better, from intial conversations, which were many, to the booking process, the pre takeoff information and all aspects within the Peru interior.
"Tom provided a service way beyond that expected from a travel company. In fact to expand on this, he was so helpful many years ago when we originally looked into travelling to Peru that i was determined that should we take the plunge then it would be through Tom. Much appreciated indeed."
"I believe the money paid to the local communites allow them to continue a number of things. It provides wages for guides, cleaners, housekeepers, chefs etc and allows them to stay in the mountains rather than having to move to townships but also through tourists buying direct from source the locals can carry on traditional customs like weaving/knitting/fishing etc thus prolonging their heritage.
"I believe the Uros tribes are expected to die out/move to the mainland shortly so it was a privilege to have seen and met them while they still stayed out on the floating islands.
"The tourism monies has helped prolong their existence thus far, I believe."Allan McClure, July 2014, Scotland