Just came back from another Gate1 tour, this time from the 7 day Peru/Machu Picchu trip. It was an awesome trip and I'm so glad we did it!
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Unless you speak Spanish, I recommend paying a little extra to get a direct flight to Lima, Peru. Upon arrival, we picked up our bags and met our tour manager, Henry, right outside of customs. There were so many people with signs, so make sure to look for the Gate 1 sign. Henry was behind a lot of people (and he's short) so he was a little hard to spot. But once we found him it was easy sailing from there.
We signed up for all the optionals on the tour. We enjoyed all of them but did not think the "Lima by Night" tour or "Half day Larco Herrera Museum" was worth it. I'd recommend visiting these places on your own if you can.
Cusco was our favorite city of all. Other than our Machu Picchu tour, the best optional tour we purchased was the "Half day Cuzco behind the scenes AM" tour. We met a 100% Inca Shaman who traveled 2 days by foot and 5 hours by car to meet us to perform a special ceremony! Very authentic only to Cusco. This tour also included a trip to the cemetery (beautiful) market (so authentic) and a cooking class. We tried food from the market and made Causa. After we had a prix fixe meal included in the tour. Only four of us signed up so it was super intimate and really fun. Our tour guide RONALD was super awesome! Make sure to get him if you can.
When doing the Machu Picchu trip, stick with whats included (the expedition train). Its not worth the $76 or $600+ upgrade to the Vistadome or Hiram Bingham train. The upgrade required people to leave at 3:30AM in the morning for the journey. Those that didnt upgrade left at 5:30AM for the journey. The major difference is the seats. Upgrades included leather seats and a small meal (small sandwich going there, lasagna coming back). Both regular train and upgraded train included ceiling windows for the ultimate scenic view. Seats are assigned by the train company but the left side has views of the river, the right side has views of the mountain. Snacks and a drink were provided complimentary on the Expedition train. Train ride is about 1.5 hours each way.
Many places in Cusco and Lima accept dollars (except the post office) and will give you change back in Soles. Make sure to bring bills that are NOT ripped otherwise they will not accept it (including money exchange places). The rate was $1USD to $2.75 Soles.
The tour included an intercountry flight from Lima to Cusco (about 1 hour flight) with LAN Peru. We were fortunate not to have to pay airport fees but that may change depending on Peru's airports.
All of our tour guides were very helpful. We thought Ronald did an exceptional job. THANKS RONALD! All the drivers did an outstanding job as well. The people of Peru are so respectful and quiet people. I would love to do a return trip to see more Inca sites on my own not included on the tour.
One last recommendation, I would pay extra for the hotel upgrade. We did not upgrade out hotel rooms and had the Best Western and Los Portales. Los Portales was wonderful, but the Best Western was NOT. The first room we had smelled mildewy. The second room we had did not have any cold water, only hot. Taking a shower was quite a challenge.....but we were on vacation so we made the best out of it and turned it into a funny story! All the hotels chosen by Gate 1 were located in safe areas so it was easy to walk around. Of course its always best to be aware of your surroundings despite how safe a neighborhood is. Thanks Gate1!
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Best Suited For: Couples
Tour format: Various
Tour type: Group
Tour length: Several Days