Traveler Review: Larry’s first-hand account of Peru
Expert travel advisor Kelly H. helped Larry and his wife plan an amazing trip to Peru. After returning home to Florida, Larry wrote our Peru For Less team describing their experience. In addition to sharing some photos, he described his unique cultural encounters and detailed helpful information about his favorite hotels.
Larry’s first-hand account of Peru
By Larry Nielsen
“My wife and I try to take a trip outside the United States about once every other year. Some of the trips I plan myself and others I use a travel company. There have been some where I used a travel company, then later thought to myself “I could have done that”. But not so with our trip to Peru. I started to plan the trip over the internet, but quickly realized that I just couldn’t get the right information to coordinate everything that needed to happen.
I called several travel companies and Peru For Less did the best job of understanding what I needed and putting together a package that fit those needs. As an example, by the time I called I had already purchased my airline tickets. So my dates in Lima and Cusco were set, but one of the other companies actually tried to get me to pay to change my airline reservations. But Kelly Hurst from Peru For Less took the dates I gave her and gave me a plan that fit what I asked for. She was also very responsive to some last minute changes I needed.
I knew we had made the right choice when we first arrived in Lima. Peru was actually the third country we visited on our trip. In the previous countries we visited friends, and didn’t need help with planning. But in Quito we needed to use our limited Spanish to take a taxi at night across town to get to our friend’s house. We had the directions written out in English and Spanish, but the taxi driver got lost anyway and we wondered if we would ever get there. When we did arrive the driver tried to charge us for his mistake, but our friend, a 70 year old lady, argued with him on the street until he lowered his price by $10.00.
So when we came out of the Lima airport and saw our name it was a very nice feeling. The feeling became even better when we met Paula. She was the host who met us at the airport. She spoke excellent English and had a wonderful personality. During the drive to the hotel she told us about Peru and herself, and we felt like we had made a friend.
We stayed at the Hotel Runcu. I had asked for 3 star hotels because we came to see the country not lounge in the hotel. The Hotel Runcu was comfortable, clean and everything we needed. They served a nice breakfast and they were walking distance to lots of good restaurants. We particularly enjoyed the bakery across the street. They had bakery and bread and prepared foods like pizza at very good prices.
Our first day in Lima we were on our own. I had pre-arranged to visit a children’s home operated by Kid’s Alive, International.
Our second day in Peru was the day we went to see the Nazca Lines. The Nasca Lines are lines out in the desert put here by the Nasca Indians around 500AD. Going to see the Nasca lines is not for everyone. We rode for four and a half hours to get to Pisco, Peru. From there we took a flight over the lines that went by very quickly. It actually reminded me of a theme park where you wait hours in line for a ride that last minutes.
It would have been nice to hover in a helicopter and be able appreciate each geoglyph, but instead it was more like trying to admire a landscape from a rollercoaster. Still, I am very glad I did it. I saw something that very few people get to see and I took some really good pictures.
Once again, Peru for Less made the experience a good one. Our driver, Hector was exactly on time in the morning. We were impressed with how carefully he drove. Most of our experience riding in cars and buses around Latin America would best be described in “white knuckled”. But there was none of that on this trip. Hector brought us to clean restaurants and got us to the airport right on-time.
The third day we transferred to Cusco. Once again the transfer driver was exactly on time. And once again in Cusco our name was there and we were met by Rachael. She was friendly and gave us a great impression of Cusco and Peru For Less. I particularly needed her because I was having trouble understanding our itinerary. Over the next three days we were to take a tour through the Sacred Valley that left us in a different hotel, then we were to go to Machu Picchu and the same day return to our original hotel. I couldn’t figure out what was going to happen to our luggage. I pictured us having to lug our luggage through Machu Picchu. But no, there was a plan. We could leave our luggage in the hotel in Cusco and use an overnight bag for one night, then the travel company in Aguas Calientes would take care of our bags while we visited Machu Picchu.
I thought our hotel in Cusco, the Casa San Blas Boutique was particularly nice. Besides being clean and comfortable it was just interesting. It had multiple levels and was decorated in natural themes that were very artistic.
The hotel was located in an older area of the city and there were many tourists. There were the usual pushy vendors everywhere, but I felt safe walking in the main areas of the streets. Once again there were many good restaurants in walking distance.
Edward met us at the hotel for our tour of the Sacred Valley. Once again he was exactly on time. We explained that it was getting toward the end of our trip and we wanted to take it a little easy and he tailored the tour to fit our needs.
The Sacred Valley is spectacular. Edward took us through the valley showing us where the Incan culture thrived and telling us about how they lived. We stopped to see Inca ruins as well as a jewelry factory where my wife bought a ring, and a market that was nice, but not really our kind of thing – again too many pushy vendors. We ended the day in Ollantaytambo where there was an Inca temple that overlooks the city. The things Edward told us about the Incans ability to build structures that lasted and their ability to preserve food was fascinating.
Once again Peru For less did well with the hotel. The El Albergue was actually a bed and breakfast and it was located in the train station that runs to Aguas Calientes. We actually weren’t there very long, but I can say the room was clean and the beds were very comfortable.
In the morning we had to hurry to eat breakfast. It was included with our hotel room and my wife ended up taking her lunch to-go and eating it on the train.
We took the train to Aguas Calientes. There we were met by a host from a travel company there. She took us to their office/snack bar where we could use their bathroom and store our overnight bags. The office was right next to the bus to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu was the last full day we had in Peru. It was so amazing that it seemed like anywhere I stood there was a picture asking to be taken. The ruins themselves, the mountains that frame the scene, the valley below; they all worked together to make a scene that was just magical.
On our last day in Cusco our transfer to the airport didn’t leave until 3:00 in the afternoon so we had lots of time to walk around and get to know the area. We found a double-decker bus tour that left from the main square and we took a 2 hour tour of the city. It made for a nice extra to the trip.
When we returned to the hotel to catch our transfer to the airport, just by chance Rachael was there dropping off some tickets. She greeted us and asked about our trip. She even gave us a hug to say good bye. It was a great end to a wonderful trip.”
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