I went on the group flights with United Airlines with changes in Houston on the way out and Newark on the way back. We were unlucky with delays due to electrical problems. On the way out the flight from London was delayed and so we missed our connection and had to spend 24hrs in Houston. United Airlines put us up in the holiday Inn at their expense and gave us meal vouchers. We phoned Exodus about missing the connection and they arranged that when we reached Lima the next night we were met by the tour operator and driven four hours through the night down the coast to meet the rest of the group, so that we only missed one day of the trip. On the way home at Newark the flight to London was cancelled due to an electrical fault and we had approx 9 hours in Newark airport until the next flight. Again we got meal vouchers. It sounds bad, but I think we were unlucky to be delayed and the service on the actual flights was very good. As it was the official group flight that was delayed on the way out, I arrived home to discover a very prompt letter from Exodus apologising for my delayed journey and with financial compensation. I was very happy with Exodus' response and their actions to catch us up with the group. If we had not been on the official group flights and had been delayed we might have had to arrange our own transport at Lima to drive down the coast. So don't let my experience put you off the group flights!
Apart from the flights saga, it all went quite smoothly. Two people were quite badly affected by the altitude at various times but were dealt with promptly by our guide and completed most of the trip with a few modifications. Most of us had only mild symptoms and just had to walk more slowly than usual - and not talk so much when walking!
As regards money, I would suggest planning to use nuevo sol everywhere rather than dollars. I only used dollars twice - once to pay the local tour operator for some extra tours and once in a market when I ran out of sol. Most places seemed to prefer sol to dollars. I brought some from home and also changed a lot at Lima airport. For the first two to three days no-one seems to have any change but from Cusco onwards this is not usually a problem. From Cusco onwards it is easier to access ATMs or money changers.
Some of us felt that we could have done with fewer hot weather clothes and more warm ones - it gets very cold at altitude especially in the early or late parts of the day. Layers are the way to go - the temperature changes a lot in one day as you go up and down in altitude.
There is a lot more to Peru than I ever knew before. I enjoyed all the Inca history and sites - there are many others besides Machu Picchu. The Santa Catalina convent in Arequipa was beautiful. Also we were able to go and see the "ice mummies" in the museum and I had never heard of them before I went there. I also really enjoyed Chinchero market as we saw the locals in their national dress doing their shopping as well as seeing the weaving etc for visitors. The scenery in the Andes was wonderful and much more interesting than I had expected.
Although there are people who want to sell you things there is no hassle from them - it is all a lot more relaxed than in, say, Egypt or India. The food is plentiful and varied though you do have to be very careful to avoid the local water and any food affected by it.
We had a lot of early starts but that was good because we saw places at the best times of day and were not travelling the the dark. Bring things to do on the bus - although I hardly read any of my books in the end as I was too busy admiring the secenery or chatting to members of the group. It was all great and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did!