Client Info: - Vincent & Cheryl T. (San Francisco, California)
Destination Name: Amazon
In most cases, after long trips like this, we are usually tired and overwhelmed, but this trip has inspired us to seek our next great adventure, which is a great and refreshing feeling to have :)
Jacqueline (Upon arrival to Cusco) timely met us at baggage claim and escorted us to the Inkaterra La Casona. The La Casona was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!! It is probably the best hotel we have ever stayed at! What put it over the top for us was the personalized service that we didn't experience at any of the other hotels we've stayed at. Of course the grounds and the room were immaculate. It was nice to feel pampered as if we were guests at a large mansion rather than a hotel. On our return to the La Casona following our Inca Trail trek, they were able to rush or laundry before our next day flight to Iquitos which was greatly appreciated!! Cicciolina Restaurant was also wonderful – thank you for that recommendation. The Alpaca steak was interesting to try! The short walk from the hotel to the restaurant was nice as we still were acclimating to the elevation. On our last night in Cusco, ChiCha was also impressive. Great restaurant recommendations!!
Our tours of Cusco, the greater Sacred Valley and the Andean wedding ceremony/ritual were excellent and well-executed. Jorge as a guide was superb and took his time to explain all the relevant history and important facts and made sure that we didn't miss any of the photo opportunities at all the different sites we visited. The Sacred Valley was particularly beautiful as we had a mix of rain, sun, clouds on that day and we want to express once again an additional thank you for making the ceremony happen! It was unique and creative and something we were lucky to have the opportunity to take a part of. Thank you immensely for adding this extra touch to our trip!
The Tambo Del Inka Hotel was very nice and luxurious and felt more like a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons in the middle of the Sacred Valley. We would have loved to stay there until the morning but had to leave at 10pm given the farmers' strike ☺ In retrospect though, it was a great decision as it would have been far more disappointing if we missed the Inca Trail hike. Excellent choice here!! The dinner we had at the Tambo hotel was very nice and the rooms well-appointed and clean, nothing short of what you'd expect at a 5 star hotel in the SF. The hotel didn't have the personalized feeling of the La Casona but I don't think we could expect that from such a large hotel, nor is this a negative comment by any means.
In a trip where everything was planned and turned out so well, it is difficult to find a “highlight” of our trip because there were so many highlights, but if we had to pick one, Ruben “Charlie” and his team of porters at Wayki made the trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu memorable, exciting and close to perfect. This was clearly the highlight of the highlights for us. Everything about the trek was amazing and over the top – the guidance and motivation from Ruben, the delicious food by Flabio (he should open his own restaurant!!), and the tireless efforts and positive attitudes of our porters (we could tell some of the porters from other trekking groups seemed somewhat questionable in their behavior, but our porters from Wayki Trek acted professionally and had much more class than those porters). I hope SA Expeditions continues to contract with Wayki because these guys along with you and your team at SA, really helped to establish this as a trip of our lifetime!!!
We like the Inkaterra El Pueblo in Agua Calientes and overall it was a great experience following our trek, though we had some minor reservations about the hotel. The meals in the hotel restaurant were good – we did not expect the hotel to include dinner which was a plus. And we were able to partake in a jungle walk on the following morning where we saw interesting plants, teas and some wildlife. This is rather nitpicky, but compared to the other accommodations on the trip, we were not very impressed by the room, most specifically the bathroom. We were also given a two twin bed room and upon mentioning that to the front desk, we were shown a King room behind the Spa which also smelled of mildew and chlorine. We know the hotel is capable of having clean bathrooms – their lobby had a nice one, and clean rooms - some of the suites we walked past looked nice, so it was a shame we didn't get to have one ourselves.
Finally, the Delfin cruise was spectacular! I guess given the price point, we were expecting all the bells and whistles and they delivered on each front! Our room was great (lots of bugs but we are in the rainforest after all ☺, as well as on a boat for that matter) – the floor to ceiling windows, bed and furnishings were all nicely appointed. Sandro, our guide, went above and beyond to ensure that we were able to view wildlife, for instance, standing up in pelting rain in the dark looking for caymens for an hour+. Throughout the trip, we saw lots of birds, some monkeys, fished for piranha, pink dolphins, tried Amazonian fruits and had the opportunity to stand up paddle board and swim in the Amazon! All It was a 360 degree difference from the Andes Mountains! The meals and entertainment were excellent, we could really tell that the staff stopped at nothing and pulled all stops to make sure everything was first class and all the details were addressed.
In summary, everything was close to perfect for this trip. And as we've said countless times, this was in fact a trip of a lifetime!!