Trip with Aracari – testimonial
First of all Joyce and I want to say thank you. All the fine staff of Aracari that we met did an excellent job of caring for us and ensuring that every day of our trip to Peru was a wonderful happy adventure. The itinerary that was designed, achieved a good balance of activity and relaxation. I was able to see all the archeological sites of interest to me. We were able to shop for everything we expected to buy, plus a little more. The hotels were well located , comfortable and accommodating. The meals were great; presentation and preparation was excellent. Drivers, vehicles and guides were first class.
Here are our feelings about each segment of our itinerary:
1- Arrival in Lima
We were greeted by Raul of client relations. He has great people and communication skills. His understanding of “tourism”, the processes of moving clients, and the importance of detail, make him a very valuable member of your team. The confidence and calm he displays is contagious. Every time we were back in Lima, his warm and welcoming smile made us feel like we were home. His dining reccommendations were perfect. Driver and vehicle were always excellent.Colonial city tour – John Alfredo Davis – personable, fun guide with a vast knowledge of history and of course textiles. The lunch at Mrs. Gonzales’s home was enjoyable, the conversation equally so.
2- The Iquitos / Ceiba Tops portion
Was exactly the correct balance of comfort and adventure we were seeking. The canopy walkway at Napo lodge, the shaman’s demonstration (and pet anteater), the Yagua village visit (blowgun challenge), the pink dolfins, and pirhanna fishing were all great experiences. Our very good guide at the lodge, Raul Petite, shared his knowledge of his environment and ensured all transfers were trouble free.
3- Shopping with Susy Dyson
Susy was an invaluable resource. We quickly found exactly what we wanted with her help; could not have been as successful without her; a warm and charming person to be with.
4- Trujillo – Chiclayo
The sites (Huaca de la Luna, Chan Chan, El Brujo) were great to see. The Sipan museum is world class and a “must to see”. Our guide, Carmen had a well prepared presentation for each site. She is young and smart, and with experience will be better at fending off the prospective baggage handlers at the airport. Driver and vehicle were excellent. The Libertador Trujillo made a very nice box lunch for our trip. The hotel in Chiclayo was excellent but the traffic noise begins early and could not be eliminated from the hotel rooms.
Urubamba valley – a beautiful, scenic area. Our guide, Fidel, was a delight. He had a great understanding of the many theories surrounding the numerous sites we explored and I enjoyed the exchange of ideas. Although the altitude was not a problem for him, he was very aware and anticipated our limitations.
Pisac, Ollantaytambo, Chinchero were worth seeing. The stop for a buffet style lunch was great. The selection and quality of food as well as the location was perfect. I regret I cannot remember the name of this fine restaraunt. The airport and train transfers were flawless. Driver and vehicle were excellent. The Sol y Luna was a lovely restful spot, with very good meals but surprisingly cold floors. The electric heater was put to good use.
6- Machu Picchu
Fidel was masterful at shepherding us through the train and bus transfers and on site, avoiding crowds and line-ups. The Sanctuary Lodge was a good choice. The meals were excellent and it was a real pleasure to be away from the crowds in Agua Calientes. Fidel gave an excellent tour of the site and coached us well on returning to the train. On his reccommendation we packed an overnight bag and had our driver transport our large luggage to Cusco; a very good idea.
The Casa San Blas is wonderfully located near the square and in the center of very good shopping. We loved the hot water bottles as part of bed turndown. The tour of the surrounding sites was also very good and Fidel and the driver were responsive to all our needs. The Inka Grill was an excellent recommendation (Maria) for meals.
8- Train to Puno
The transfer was flawless and the train very upscale. We enjoyed the observation car / lounge car. I loved the seating design for couples. One bit of advice for Maria (Aracari agent in Cuzco), If it is possible to pre-book the train seats, I would avoid booking the first 6 spaces in the car. We were in car A, in the seats ( A1 and A2) right inside the door. During meal service the door was propped open causing a noticeable draft and an occasional smell of diesel. The family in seats A3 to A6 were barricaded into their seats by the open door.Also the movements of the train seemed to be more noticeable over the wheels where we were and less so in the middle of the car. This discomfort is probably true for the last row in the car as well. Transfer at Juliaca to Puno went well; it certainly allowed us to check into our hotel earlier.
9- Puno – Suasi
Casa Andina Private Collection Puno was a superb choice, great room, loved the fireplace. The restaurant was excellent and very accommodating. Boat stops at Uros and Taquile were interesting. The “washroom” on the boat was o.k. for males but definetely not inviting for females. Our guide Giobanni was pleasant and I appreciated her language skills on our stops. Suasi Lodge’s pretty setting is only surpassed by the dedication and attention to detail embraced by the manager (Antonio) and his efficient crew. I would have overlooked this accommodation choice and am grateful Aracari put it on our itinerary. It’s a wonderfully relaxing place. We loved the hot water bottles as part of bed turndown. Departing at 5a.m. in a rubber boat in the dark was a little adventurish.
10- Suasi – Puno – La Paz
While we were able to see a huge amount of countryside , starting the day at 5 a.m. and arriving in La Paz after 10 p.m., made for a very long and tiring day. The “contraband” road from Conina to Puno around the north end of the lake was scenic. Our exchange of vehicles and drivers back in Puno was initially confused but was clarified quickly. The drive to the border and the immigration process was handled well by Carlos our guide. Again, drivers and vehicles were excellent.
11- Copacabana – La Paz
I can’t recall if I suggested a visit to the Island of the Sun but it was the most disappointing element of the entire trip. In hindsight, given how unimpressive it was, I would scratch it from my schedule. The 3 hours of daylight would be better spent travelling further to our goal . This would have also changed the ferry crossing at Tiquina into a daylight trip instead of a very dark evening crossing. Arrival in La Paz would also have been just at dark instead of after 10 p.m. Our guide Rikky was well versed about Tiahuanako but was used to younger more adventurous tourists and for all his youthful charm was at times unsophisticated. He exercised poor time management of our tour causing us to arrive 1 hour late for lunch (3 p.m.). I think he was unfamiliar with the restaurant which was closing and refused us service. We decided to skip lunch, abbreviate the tour to view the 2 other sites we were interested in, and call the day to an early end. The vehicle and driver were excellent but I sensed at times that the driver, a more mature man, was chastising Rikky for not being more “professional”. The Hotel Europa was fine but the room service food items were dreary and disappointing compared to the meals up to that point.
12- La Paz – Lima
Transfer was excellent (same driver). LAN opens their counter for international flights 2 hours before departure so we had a 30 minute wait for them to begin operations. Pickup in Lima was flawless. We used our free day to go to the zoo and had a very enjoyable time there. Lunch at Cala (Raul’s reccommendation) was outstanding.
13- Lima – Ica – Lima
Vanessa was our guide for this portion. She was very informative, adapted the program to deal with a delayed flight and was very helpful in fulfilling our requested preferences. Vehicle and driver were excellent. It was a long day but worth it.
Last day; last minute shopping. Again our driver was excellent in finding our requested stops. Raul was vigilant of our departure time and quick to adjust to changing flight times. It was most appreciated. Our hotel, confused us with another guest which led to them misplacing our laundry and the delivery from E L M. Cynthia’s intervention quickly corrected this error.
Our trip and the service provided by Aracari personnel, exceeded all our expectations. The office staff that created our tour and kept it trouble-free were wonderful. All vehicles were in great condition. All drivers were very professional and showed excellent driving skills. All our guides were great but the standards set by our guides in Lima and Cuzco could not be matched. They were beyond expectations. We especially enjoyed the bottled water available in our vehicle every day (except Bolivia). It was yet one more detail covered by you in providing a worry-free trip.
We are certainly giving Aracari high marks to all our friends and colleagues as well as the strongest reccommendation to use your services if they go to Peru. You made our trip a great memory.
Please feel free to pass our thanks and this e-mail on to all the hard working people who made our time in Peru so completely fantastic.
Again, thank you very much everyone.
Joyce Ingram and Murray Fehr