Client Info: - Kurt and Maria G. (Aurora, IL)
Destination Name: Machu Picchu
hanks to Riva with SA Luxury Expeditions. We recently returned from a 10-day trip that included Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Believe it or not, this was a last minute trip. We were referred to Riva through a coworker. She was so helpful. She guided us through to various itenerary options, helped align our sudden trip with the coworker and addressed last minute modifications. She was very quick to respond to every email - including a last minute request, during the trip, when we turned ill. She even called the hotel to see if a doctor \ specialist was needed! Every step of the trip was well planned and tended to. The staff that was apointed to our trip were fantastic, very well informed, polite and eager to provide great service. They were individual ambassadors for each city that we visited. Whenever we needed to be taken to an airport, met at an airport, met at the hotel, , whatever - we were never disappointed.
Lima - we had a couple of 'free days' that we'd intentionally added. Riva placed us in the Raddison in Mirraflores. A great choice, great location. This is a very friendly, clean and safe area. It is a short walk to Kennedy Park or the ocean with the great views and restaurants. We found a double-decker bus that took us on a tour - highly recommended. We flew to Puerto Maldonado and spent a couple days with Incaterra. Staying at an eco-lodge was interesting. The staff and facility were great. Our guide - Fray - was very informative. He always had an answer. He always seemed to know what our groups next question was going to be and he was prepared. The cabana was nice clean and well appointed. You just have to remember that there are actually certain hours of the day when they turn off the site generator... our first night was the noisiest night I've had in ages. Serious. When white noise is absent you can't believe how loud the tiniest of insects can be. Oh yeah - December is rainy season. Our second day almost got rained out. We did the (long...muddy...) hike to Lake Sandavol, went out on the canoe and saw some wildlife including otters, birds and a large caiman. That afternoon, the rain eased up so we could go on a jungle canopy hike. I can't forget to tell you about the food at this lodge. Fantastic. They farm most of the food that was prepared. The dinner rolls - with chocolate - were surprising deliscious. That memory always brings a smile. Next, we went to Cuzco to prepare for the Machu Picchu. The elevation, yes, it will affect you. We were met locally by Allison - very helpful and gave us some dinner suggestion that were fantastic. Thanksfully, the botique hotel that Riva put is at was very prepared for its guests... and quickly offered the local remedy (yes.. it helped.) Casa San Blas. Great location, the rooms on the 3rd floor were fantastic, loft style with a nice city view at night. Cuzco was a great walk-around town. Don't rush yourself. The churches and the cathedral were beautiful. I just wish that photography was allowed. We found the chocolate museum in Cuzco. They were very eager to share their knowledge and the process used to make this wonderful chocolate. We had soem great dinners here as well. Cicciolina - I think that's the name - you have to find it and experience it. Unbelievable. This place could have been in any major city. Highlights included the duck piscutto and fried polenta, the red trout ceviche and the bbq scallops.
Finally we were ready to go to Machu Picchu. We did it the easy way. We took the train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes, spent the night and then took the bus in the morning. I won't bore you with the ooo's and ahhh's. You can google a zillion pics and articles. But - I want to highlight out guide. Riva paired us with Silver. He was great. Better than great, he could have lead a history class. He was with us in Cuzco as well. He has a great passion for the region, the people and culture. You will want to ask for him. Oh - everywhere we went he was known... storekeepers and guides... it was like traveling with a rock star :) After Macchu Pichu we returned to Lima and had a halfday tour. Another fantastic guide. We went to a few different locations, including the Monastery of San Franciso (another place that I really really wish I could have taken photos...) and a private residence that has been in the same (wealthy) family for 500 years. Great access and knowledge. Thanks again to Riva for putting together such a great trip.