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Luv2travel

Sep052014

Tour/Activity

Archeological Park of Sacsayhuaman Half-Day Tour

Cusco, Peru

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

My flight was not until the early evening, so this is a good half-day tour if you want to stay near the Cusco area. I'd recommend not going during the rainy season since there are rocks/steps to climb, which can be slippery and challenging. It's about a 3 hour tour, but since I was the only person that day, maybe it was faster. The guide was very informative and willing to take her time to show and explain the areas to me.

Towards the end of the tour, you will stop at a textile shop where they will show you the different types of alpaca vs. wool/synthetics. The prices are decent but there are so many other shops around, so depending on the quality of textiles you want to purchase, don't feel this is your only option. The high quality textiles are found at the Kuna stores, but you will also pay a much higher price for the better quality.

Overall, try to go during the non-rainy season. Your pictures and experience will probably be better.

Sep052014

Tour/Activity

Cusco Airport Departure Transfer

Cusco, Peru

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

As a single person, this was a great and economical option to have. The minivan and guide were prompt, if not early, so I was able to get on an earlier flight.

The driver and guide were both courteous and professional. I would definitely recommend this transfer to anyone staying in the Cusco area.

Sep042014

Tour/Activity

Sacred Valley, Pisac and Ollantaytambo Full-Day Tour from Cusco

Cusco, Peru

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This tour was one of my favorites - it's an all day tour with a variety of places and people to visit. Just when you think you're done with the tour, you are still on your way to another area :) Pumo, our guide, was very courteous and informative. He made the trip worthwhile.

Keep in mind that at some of the locations, there are steps to climb, so if you have a hard time due to a heart condition or from the effects of altitude sickness, you may want to reconsider. If you do not want to climb, there are places where you can stay and still enjoy the view. At Ollantaytambo, you can also walk around the local shops for souvenirs or sit and have a light snack (at your own expense) at a local café.

Lunch is included but since the tour company partners with several other companies, you may need to stop at other restaurants to drop off some of your fellow passengers. Overall, you are given enough time to eat lunch... you can also buy souvenirs at various times throughout the tour.

Besides the Machu Picchu tour, this is one I'd highly recommend if you are in the Cusco area. You can also get the tourist ticket (which is good for almost 20+ museums/attractions and costs about $60), but you will need to figure out the transportation options if you go this route (as well as have an English guide if possible).

Sep032014

Tour/Activity

Machu Picchu Day Trip from Cusco

Cusco, Peru

My Rating
4 star rating: Recommended

My Review

This tour is recommended if you want a guided option to Machu Picchu. If you have a chance, visit the Machu Picchu museum beforehand in Cusco (also known as Casa Concha-also included in one of the tourist tickets if bought), where you can see some exhibits, videos and photos from the original expedition made by Hiram Bingham in 1911-1912. Keep in mind that you will have only 2-3 hours at Machu Picchu, and the rest of your 14-15 hour day is the train and bus ride to/from the destinations. Depending on the season, the bus lines can also be long (as heard through someone else's experience), so if you want to stay longer, you can also buy the train ticket on your own via Peru Rail but will need to coordinate this as well as the bus ticket to/from Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu and overnight accommodations (at your own cost). Also, if you miss your train, they will not automatically give you credit for another departure - you will supposedly need to pay the full amount of the ticket again, assuming there is even availability.

Try to keep up with your tour guide since you can easily get distracted taking photos - I easily got separated from my group so if you're not the type to stay with the crowd, I would reconsider this tour and do it on your own and just make sure you keep track of your bus/train schedules.

I took the Vistadome option and when I talked with others who had taken the Executive option, did not hear much difference - but I'm not sure on the details (on the Vistadome option, we were provided light snacks on the way to and from Machu Picchu). I know on the return trip back, you will have a fashion show in which the rail staff will try to sell some alpaca clothing. I had read someone else's review on this so I was prepared, but for those who want a quiet trip back, this will not be the case.

Overall, it was a good tour and wish that more time was spent at Machu Picchu, but for a first-timer doing Machu Picchu on her own, I'd recommend this option.

Aug312014

Tour/Activity

Temple of Pachacamac Half-Day Tour from Lima

Lima, Peru

My Rating
2 star rating: It was OK, but could have been better

My Review

This tour was just OK for me. We were part of a group that had a Spanish and English speaking guide. Since the majority of people were Spanish-speaking, I felt like the guide spent more time talking to and explaining more in Spanish. I wish I was informed that this would be the case since I thought the entire tour would just be in English, so if you get a chance, contact the tourist agency and confirm the details since this situation negatively impacted my tour experience (and I was not the only English-speaking person who felt this way).

This tour also stopped at Barranco before leaving for Pachacamac, but since all the stores/restaurants were closed, there was not much to see. This area is more known for its nightlife with the clubs and restaurants in the area, so there was nothing unique or special about it besides seeing some historic pictures and a wooden bridge that was being renovated at the time.

As for Pachacamac, you will need to climb up to the temple at some point, so if you have a hard time due to physical restrictions, you may find this tour more challenging. The ruins were interesting but not as intriguing if you've been to other ruins, especially since you can only make photo stops or see some from afar.

Aug302014

Tour/Activity

Lima City Sightseeing Tour

Lima, Peru

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This city tour is recommended if you have little time in Lima but want to explore the highlights of the city. In my opinion, there was not much to see in Lima without knowing your way around the various neighborhoods, so this tour gave me that option.

Fortunately and unfortunately, the day I took this tour was the Santa Rosa (the patron saint of Peru) Fiesta, so the Cathedral was not available for viewing since there was a formal ceremony and parade that was happening in the main square. But at the same time, we were able to see other areas such as Santo Domingo and the local ruins that weren't as crowded yet due to most of the people wanting to view/participate in the parade.

Our guide was informative and let me and another person (there were only two of us on the tour that morning) ask and see things at our own pace. It was a relaxed tour that gave me the highlights of Lima, ideal for anyone short on time and at a decent price.

Aug302014

Tour/Activity

Larco Museum and Magic Water Circuit Evening Tour

Lima, Peru

My Rating
3 star rating: Worth doing

My Review

My experience was unique in that I was not able to experience the Magic Water Circuit portion of this tour - apparently the night my tour was scheduled, there was a private event that was booked for the Magic Water Circuit, which did not allow us entry. Instead, we went to the Barranco area which is known for its restaurants and night life. This was just OK but did not meet my expectations since all we did was walk around the area vs. watching a water fountain show. I wished the tour company would have informed me beforehand so I could have switched to another tour or ask for other options like the Larco Museum with dinner.

In terms of the Larco Museum, that part of the tour was interesting and worthwhile. It is not often that you can view thousands of artifacts in good condition all in one place. The tour guide was informative and took her time in showing/explaining to us the highlights of the museum.

For the Pisco Sour tasting - it was in a local bar that gave you an idea of local town life. The Pisco Sour was not to my liking (similar to a margarita) but if you go to other restaurants in Peru, there are other variations that were better in my opinion (try the passion fruit or strawberry versions).

Overall, it was a decent tour, but I would recommend confirming your itinerary a few days beforehand to avoid the situation I experienced.

Mar082013

Tour/Activity

Tokyo Tower, Tea Ceremony and Sumida River Cruise Day Tour

Tokyo, Japan

My Rating
5 star rating: Highly Recommended

My Review

This tour is highly recommended. If you've been to the Eiffel Tower, Empire State Building and any other significant highrise, then the views are similar. If you want a free view of the city, I'd recommended the Tokyo Government Metropolitan building in Shinjuku since the observatory deck is free and gives you a similar view.

The tea ceremony was a good experience if you want to observe and participate in one of Japan's traditions. You only get a sampling of the tea - which is green and frothy, but as with most Japanese teas, has a bitter after taste. When attending this ceremony, participants are asked to be respectful and abide with the local tradition. The teahouse is also surrounded by a garden, so it's best to go there during Spring or Fall. There is a 300+ and 500+ year old bonsai tree on the premises, so make sure to ask the tour guide if you are interested in seeing them.

The lunch was one of the highlights of the tour - it states a "BBQ" lunch, so don't be deceived if you are used to the concept of an American BBQ. It's actually a hibachi-style lunch, a la Benihana, but not with the volcano or cutting shows. The food is freshly prepared in front of you, so it's definitely worth the experience and was the best lunch out of all 3 tours I took in Japan.

The Sumida River cruise started at the Port of Tokyo to Asakusa, where you will be given about 50 min to an hour to browse around the local shops and bakeries. Most of the vendors do not accept credit cards, so if you want to shop for souvenirs and sweets to take home, make sure you have enough yen on you. Since there is a limited amount of free time in this shopping area, make sure you have a plan of action since the tour bus leaves timely.

Lastly, the tour ends at Tokyo station, and you are responsible for finding your own way back. The guide will help you with directions but you will need to have enough money to return by train/subway. Overall - it was a good tour if you are short on tiime.

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