21 Feb 2015 - 06 Mar 2015
I will start with a disclaimer. This is not your typical Contiki tour but man was it good! Being 5,000 meters above sea level, you get this light headed feeling, after taking 25 steps from the bus, you are short of breath. You look down and see a 4,000 meter deep canyon and as you look up, a pair of 2 meter long Condors fly right over your head. It was awesome!
This tour is deep in culture and heritage, action and adventure, and early early mornings. If you are looking to party all night and cure a hangover on a bus ride the next day, this is not the trip for you. If you want to hike the 10k Inca trail that zigs and zags across numerous mountains and ends in a stunning view of Machu Picchu, this is it. If you want a guide who spent 6 years studying their society and history in order to be able to be licensed to give tours, this is it. If you want to spend the night in the jungle surrounded by only the sounds of the birds, monkeys, and other animals, where power is only available 2 hours a day and there is no cellphone service, this is it.
This tour is full on. The altitude is higher than you have ever experienced (word of advice, make sure to get altitude sickness pills), and there are many early mornings to beat the heat and the other tourists. There are a few nights that are good nights to go out, but this is not a tour you want to or can even party hard throughout. If you want to party, stick to Asia or Europe. If you want an amazing time with non stop action, this is it. I would book this tour again in a heartbeat.
Review written Mar 2015event 0.3
08 Dec 2014 - 21 Dec 2014
As much as you can, try new experiences with activities, food, drink, exploring.
Definitely try the Quinoa soup on Tequile Island (Lake Titicaca), the alpaca in Arequipa and the guinea pig whenever you can. Yum!
The zip-lining at Chivay/Colca was really fun (and not scary at all).
Kayaking the Amazon River in the jungle was amazing. We saw so many wild animals including monkeys!
MACHU PICCHU of course. Best day of my life.
My favourite experience was bringing food and toys to a very poor family living on Lake Titicaca. Words cannot begin to describe how good it felt to help them and make a small difference in their lives, if only for a short time.
Learning Spanish (if you didn’t learn it in school) would be helpful as only a handful of people I met on the tour spoke English (outside of the tour group I mean). Plus, learning a new language is fun!
Buy a handmade artwork on Uros Island. They are only the equivalent of $30 and are absolutely beautiful, plus your money goes straight to the locals. But wait until Cusco for the rest of your shopping it’s so cheap and there are many bargains to be had.
Even if you're super fit, you could still become a victim of altitude sickness, especially headaches were very common on my trip. Take a big box of paracetamol with you. Don’t worry about antibiotics, you can buy them over the counter at pharmacies everywhere in Peru. Don’t stress about it too much though or you'll just make yourself sick.
Our tour guide, Flor, was simply wonderful. I could go on and on about what a fantastic job she did of showing us everything and taking us everywhere, all with a smile on her face. Muy bueno Flor!
Don't bother getting the group photo at Machu Picchu, it's poor quality photography and isn't bigger than a standard photo in size. Your tour manager will probably offer to take a group photo on your iphone (or equiv.) and the quality will be muuuuch better.
The awesome part about travelling with Contiki is you don't have to feel pressured to do everything the group does. If you’re sick, tired (this WILL happen at some point, more than once) take the night off and don't go to dinner. Have a nap if you need to. Go for a walk by yourself. You're not "stuck" to the tour.
Having said that, don't limit your experiences by staying all day/night in the hotel and sleeping. Get out there, get lost, meet the locals and see everything! Those are the experiences you'll remember for the rest of your life.
Overall, Peru is a wonderful country with so much rich culture and history, definitely immerse yourself in it! It’s an adventure and it should be approached with an open mind.
I absolutely loved this tour and would visit Peru again in a heartbeat. Thank you Contiki.
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
18 Aug 2014 - 31 Aug 2014
This trip was amazing! Highlights included:
The adventure! From ziplining and white water rafting in the Colca Canyon, to kayaking in the Amazon.
The animals! Loved feeding alpacas and llamas and seeing endangered vicunas (their relative) in the wild. We woke up early in the morning to see macaws and parrots eating clay adjacent to the Amazon river. We were fortunate enough to see a female jaguar cross the Amazon river right in front of our boat. We spotted all sorts of night creatures including caimans in the river and tarantulas in the trees (but luckily no snakes).
The architecture! From the Inca masterpiece of Machu Picchu to the colonial splendor of Lima, Arequipa, and Cuzco.
The food! From ceviche, guinea pig, and alpaca meat on a volcanic stone, to all the delicious, exotic fresh fruit.
The diverse landscape! Snow-capped volcanoes, stunning nature reserves with flamingo flecked lakes, and man-made islands consisting of reeds (Lake Titicaca).
The people! Our guide, Clarissa, was fantastic. She was knowledgeable and passionate about her country, plus a lot of fun. Everyone we met was welcoming and warm (Taquil Island especially - even when we beat them at soccer).
The schedule was packed tight with fun things to do, like participating in a blessing ceremony by local shamans and tasting chicha, an alcoholic Inca beverage.
The logistics were arranged well, the buses were comfortable (and almost always included a restroom), the drivers were nice, and the local guides in Arequipa, Puno, and Puerto Maldonado (Wasai Tambopata Lodge) were interesting and engaging. The included meals offered plenty of options (one highlight being the dinner show in Lima! Wow!) Hotels were comfortable, centrally located, and were often unique (a former Inca palace in Cusco and a place in the middle of the Sacred Valley with stunning views and a pet llama).
This was truly an incredible adventure!
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
05 Jul 2014 - 18 Jul 2014
This trip was the most amazing excursion through each of Peru's regions. We saw the coast line of the South Pacific, the high plains, the desert, the lake region, and the rain forest. We met Andean priests, a monkey whom invited us into the forest, and even our tour-guides mother! We were welcomed by the leader of a floating Uros island, and the leader of Taquille Island. The best dinner had a live show with dancing from each region, including los bailarinos de tijeras (scissor dancers). The highlight was feeling so small next to the humongous Incan temples of Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo and Pisac. I did three optionals: zip lining through the Colca Canyon (followed by amazing HOT SPRINGS!!!!), kayaking the amazon river, and a VERY safe (padded down) bicycle ride through Sacsayhuaman. I would recommend each and was saddened that water-rafting was cancelled. You have to be sure enough people sign up for each activity. The altitude is in your head, most of the time; so just enjoy the ride!
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
18 Aug 2014 - 31 Aug 2014
This was my first Contiki and the first travel that I actually count as travel. I went alone which was a big deal for me, but everything was worth the worry I had. We started in Lima, then to Arequipa, Colca Valley, Colca Canyon, Puno, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, back to Cusco, then to the jungle.
I didn't realize how amazing all of the cities would be. Before I left all my focus was on the Inca trail trek to Machu Picchu (which WAS probably one of the best days of my life), but Peru has so much more to offer than that. There were so many beautiful churches/cathedrals, monastaries/convents, archeological sites, even the streets were beautiful.
The scenery is beautiful, the food is amazing, and all of the crafting you come across is beautiful.
I got to go horseback riding for the first time in Cusco and saw the temple of the moon, I went Whitewater rafting in th Sacred Valley, went Ziplining/did a ropes course in the jungle plus went swimming in El Gato falls, and of course hiked up to the Sun Gate at Machu Picchu.
I met great people on my tour, my tour manager Clarisa was such a happy, enthusiastic, and passionate person, and everyone we came into contact with for our backstage passes, our MeTime, and our "special surprises" were great.
I'm already saving up for my second Contiki, it won't come soon enough.
Review written Sep 2014event 0.3
25 May 2013 - 07 Jun 2013
This trip is amazing and well worth the money. Our guide Roland was very knowledgeable and able to answer almost all of the questions we had and showed us the best places to visit in every city we went. There are a couple longer bus rides (6ish hours) but they are broken up well and the stops along the way, as well as the destinations, make the rides worth while.
There is plenty of free time to explore the larger cities you go through. The optionals are also a lot of fun (except for the "Mountain Biking" is Cusco, not worth the money). You get to check out many nice restaurants, eat local foods (alpaca, guinea pig, ceviche), and explore the nightlife in the different cities. The hotels on the trip are quite nice, especially at the Jungle Lodge. The ruins we explored were very interesting with incredible views and Machu Picchu alone makes the trip worth while.
If you have time in Lima try and go surfing. Its a short walk from the hotel and super cheap (Lessons, wet suit, and board for about $20 USD)
I highly recommend going on this trip.
Review written Jun 2013event 0.3
05 Jan 2013 - 18 Jan 2013
What a great tour. Despite it being the rainy season our groups "positive energy" kept the clouds away and we had a great time. The Inca trail is a must, so many stairs but so worth it when you get to the top. The altitude sickness got to quite a few of us, but most of us acclimatized quickly. The tour was good value for everything that was included, I was surprised at how many great meals were included. Peruvian cuisine is amazing, We ate alpaca, guinea pig, and pirahna. The amazon jungle lodge was such a cool experience, bring mosquito repellant though!
Review written Apr 2013event 0.3
28 Apr 2012 - 11 May 2012
Peru as a country is absolutely stunning, the tour was well organised, Gaby is an amazing guide and there are plenty of opportunities for fun socialising.
The accommodation may vary in quality, they were all consistently comfortable and safe. The food was great with a variety of things to try for those of a more adventurous culinary attitude, while you can be just as happy if you are of a less experimental disposition.
Highlights include visiting an alpaca farm, salsa lessons, piranha fishing and Machu Picchu, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to.
Tips - remember to take plenty of hand sanitizer and headache pills for the high altitudes of Puno.
Review written May 2012event 0.3