This was a fantastic trip combining three wonderful, and very different, regions of Peru. It's a hectic trip, but absolutely worth it - so rewarding!
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
All of the trip was amazing, but the most rewarding moment was the first sight of Machu Picchu after 4 days of trekking. The anticipation was building over the 4 days and on the last day we all just wanted to get there!! We walked through the Sun Gate as a group and there it was in distance. I cried at the sight (and wasn't the only one to do so!)
The rainforest was also wonderful. Unfortunately due to flight delays on the way out to Peru, our time in the jungle was cut short, but we made the most of the time we did have there, with a night trek, long (15km) trek and caiman spotting. We saw so much wildlife and plant life on all the trips - it was fantastic!!
The Islands on Lake Titicaca were also highly enjoyable and quite enlightening to see how the people live, particularly on the floating Uros Islands. Some reviewers panned this part of the trip as being highly commercialised and purely for tourists, so I was expecting a Peruvian equivalent of Blackpool!! But I was very happy to see just how wrong those people were!
- What did you think of your group leader?
Arturo was great!! Very kind, very patient, very helpful and so much knowledge!!! He really was an excellent guide and it was a pleasure to know him for those 2 weeks.
We also had some other guides for the different parts of the trip - Admil on the Inca Trail, who was a really great guy too. He was in training to be a full guide and will certainly do a great job when he gets there!
Also of note was Juan Carlos, our guide in the rainforest on the night and long treks. He can literally spot an ant from a kilometre away!!!
And a big shout goes out to our porters on the Inca Trail who did a star job. Special commendation to teh toilet tent porter!!!!
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
Try to pack light - you don't need as much as you think! Layers are definitely the way forward, particularly on the Inca Trail. Also, thermals for sleeping in - it gets pretty chilly at night, especially at the higher levels. I also slept in my thermals in the jungle and during the homestay on Amantani Island. Hat and gloves are also advisable. You have to pack very light for the Inca Trail and one change of clothing (plus waterproofs) is sufficient. The 10kg allowance is strictly adhered to and that includes sleeping bag and mat. Although I didn't take my sandals on the Trail, it would have been nice to have had something to change into after wearing trekking boots all day.
Take lots of wet wipes - they come in extremely useful on the Inca Trail and Amantani Island where there are no showers. Also take plenty of tissues (easier to carry than toilet roll), as even in cafés and restaurants, toilet paper is not always available. For the Inca Trail, there are toilet tents for the group (basic but better than a bush!), but if you're one of the last to use them (or if people are having "problems"), it can be quite unpleasant. Take Olbas Oil (or similar) that you can soak a tissue with to keep over your nose when using the loo!!!
Exodus advises water purification tablets, but you don't need them. Everywhere we went we had access to (purchase) bottled water, except on days 3 and 4 of the Inca Trail and on Amatani Island. On the Trail, the porters boil and cool water to fill up water bottles every day and provide packs of flavoured powders for the taste.
Deet is a must, particularly in the rainforest. Just don't wear anything plastic - I melted the back of my Swatch watch and another traveller melted part of her glasses!!
Head torches are also a must - hand held is OK but when you're trying to pee in the dark, set up sleeping bags, get changed etc. both hands are needed!! Also come in very useful in the jungle where the rooms are lit only by candles!
There is time to get laundry done in Cusco before the Inca Trail. We also got another load in after the Trail, but we had a little longer there the day after the Trail, as our schedule had been jigged around a bit following the flight delay. There are places open 24 hours though which promise a 90 minute service!
Take spare camera batteries - there's time to charge everything before and after the various trips. I took a Freeloader Solar Charger although very cleverly it didn't adapt to my camera! Also take loads of memory cards - I took 1500 photos over the 2 weeks! A camera with a good zoom and binoculars are essential, especially in the jungle.
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
As if I haven't already said enough!! Well, this was an amazing trip and I would highly recommend it to anyone! You do need a certain level of fitness (and walking poles) for the Inca Trail - some of those Inca steps are mean!! I was lucky not to suffer any effects of altitude, though a number of people in our group did. The scenery is stunning and the end result breathtaking though! For the jungle, I chose not to wear earplugs at night as I didn't want to be deprived of the sound of the howler monkeys waking me up! And we had a major result on Amantani Island, as we were there when a Peuvian wedding was taking place and the following day was the annual Festival of the Spirit of Richness.
This is by no means a relaxing holiday - but when so much is on offer, you want to pack as much in as possible! And what really made it for me (especially as I was travelling alone) was the great group of people I was with - thanks to all of you for making it a most wonderful 2 weeks!