Peru - Amazon/Andes - the good and bad

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Peru - Amazon/Andes - the good and bad

Postby champy » Wed Sep 03, 2008 8:20 am

First, let me start by saying how amazing our group was. We booked an early August tour to do the Inca Trail/Amazon rainforest trip and were kinda wondering how our group would end up being. To put it mildly, we ended up making friends for life. We all exchanged email addresses and made friends on Facebook to share pictures after we got back.

Second - let me start by saying on qualm we did end up having with GAP. On night 3 of our Inca trail journey, we found out from our guide (who is amazing) that GAP has booked our train back from Machu Picchu home at 10:30am! Since we wouldn't be getting into the site until around 8am - that would have left us slightly under 2 hours to explore the site - not "most of the day" as is assured on the trip dossier. Needless to say, there were unhappy people since the entire 25 mile trek is leading up to visiting this wonderful place.

GAP seemed unconcerned about this until our guide made calls to his headquarters in Cusco and then to Canada and finally found an extremely strange round-about way where we could end up staying the Machu Picchu until noon, take a local train the opposite way of Cusco, and then take a 7 hour bus ride around and through a 14,000' mountain pass back to our hotel. We opted for that and got to experience some 'interesting' and highly apprehensive Peruvian driving up extremely steep mountain roads.

Other than that one issue, we felt GAP was well prepared. I'm not sure what the issue is with booking trains, why it can't be figured out beforehand like flights and hotel rooms and transfers, but it apparently isn't the first time it has happened to a group - and if they don't want to lose business, I would think they would work hard to get it fixed. No one wants to hike 25 miles to a destination to be told they can spend less than 2 hours there seeing a wonder of the world.

Like I said before, the rest of the trip was great. Some general points:

- A lot of great free-time in the cities and free days where you can explore with members of your group. When we first arrived in Lima, we had the entire day, so my fiance and I just grabbed a map and went out exploring
- Peruvian cities I found to be extremely safe and friendly. Never felt threatened or like I couldn't carry around my expensive camera or even walk alone
- EAT! Sample the cuisine. Try Ceviche, look for the smaller places off the beaten path.
- Go barter in the markets. There is some beautiful craftwork to behold.
-Backpack or rolling luggage - doesn't matter much. You main packs stay behind most of the time, when you're on the Inca trail and in the jungle. We found rolling luggage easier to handle.
-T-shirts. I didn't bring enough. I would sweat through them both on the Inca trail and especially in the jungle. I would recommend 5 or more t-shirts for the entire trip
-Hiking pants. Waterproof ones that can change into shorts - a must!!
- Weather. We lucked out. The group before us got the first rain on the Inca trail. We ended up with beautiful weather the rest of the trip.

That's about it for now....I have some pictures here too that I'll post from the trip as well.:
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The rest as they are put up can be found at http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattchamplin
champy
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