Dear Marla and Michael,
We want to thank you both for helping us plan a phenomenal trip to Peru. It was an amazing experience and a trip we absolutely loved! We can't say enough about the spectacular landscapes , cuisine and people.
Here is some feedback for future travelers:
SouthWild Tour company—Manuel, our guide for our entire trip was absolutely fantastic. He was with us for the entire week and was knowledgeable, with a great personality and really flexible. He also had a terrific sense of humor! Pilar the manager and Edgar our driver were also terrific.
Belmond Hotel chain—excellent experiences at all the hotels. We loved the Rio Sagrado and Hotel Monasterio. Staff and service were outstanding. At the Rio Sagrado we would not recommend a stay in rooms 18/19. The noisy neighbors are literally right behind and above and every morning at 6AM they blasted a radio and dog was barking a lot. We spoke to management several times who tried to get them to quiet down (little success). The setting, food and service were outstanding, but the location of our rooms was not the best. Still we loved it. At the Monasterio, the room temperature was quite hot and hard to control, but staff were very helpful accommodating us. We loved the location of the Sanctuary Hotel and after 5pm when all the tourists leave Machu Picchu, the place is peaceful and magical. Much better than staying on Agua Calientes with the crowds and ride up the switch backs!
Must see—we loved the archaeological sites, particularly Moray and Moras. Machu Picchu goes without saying—spectacular!! The Museo Larco in Lima is a must! The vistas and scenery in Peru are some of the best we have ever seen in all of our worldwide travels.
Dining—We loved Pachapappa, The Greens and Limo for lunch. Did not love Ilcanto or Wayra Ranch, they were both ok. Hotel breakfasts and dining were all fantastic! The Hiram Bingham train was fabulous! The food, service and dancing/bar car were the Peruvian equivalent to the Polar Express train. So special!
Overall—If we were to do it over, we would recommend taking the trains from Ollantaytambo, not Cusco. (cuts down travel time by 2 hrs. to Machu Picchu) on a very slow moving train (15mph). We would recommend one additional night in Sacred Valley and one less in Cusco (also with Cusco's high altitude easier on travelers to spend less time there). The Inti Raymi festival was very interesting, I think a half day would have been better for us (we did end up leaving early). During the morning part of the festival we ate brunch at Limo and watched from above and that was amazing.
Thanks again for making our travel experience so special and so seamless!
We will be in touch in the fall to plan our trip to Europe for March 2015.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks so much!