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Spirit Of The Incas QPS

Visiting: Peru
Trip Duration 14 Days
 

Reviews for Spirit Of The Incas

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Spirit Of The Incas reviews verified by Reevoo

7 reviews

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Spirit Of The IncasScores 9.3 out of 10 based on 7 reviews
(10 out of 10)

Christine

Macclesfield
We had a fabulous guide, Helmut who was both very informative and kind all through our trip. Despite the effects of altitude sickness we enjoyed a full and exciting itinerary balanced well with free time to explore. Highlights for me were seeing the condors flying so close to us and the magical stay on Taquile Island. Thanks to Helmut and Explore.
Confirmed traveller: 03 June 2016
Published on: 08 June 2016
(9 out of 10)

Joanne

Birmingham
Overall, it was a wonderful tour/holiday and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. Peru is an amazing country with very friendly and considerate people who proved to have a wonderful sense of humour.

PRE-TRIP ADMINISTRATION

Overall, very good and what I have experienced before from Explore. This was my 7th trip with Explore. I was very pleased to see that the hotels were now listed on the trip notes so that they could be viewed online prior to travelling.

GROUP LEADER - HELMUT

I cannot speak highly enough of Helmut, he is a priceless asset to Explore. He was knowledgeable, endlessly patient, considerate and was particularly attentive to all group members regarding the issue of altitude sickness. He did everything calmly, efficiently and with very good humour. He was a joy to travel with. He would very much like to lead an Inca Trail Trek tour and I can wholeheartedly state that he would be wonderful at this. His knowledge of walking in those conditions, in that heat and at altitude would be invaluable to anyone attempting that trek. He thoroughly deserves the opportunity to expand his experience and types of tours that he leads for Explore.


There were, however, some points of concern about the trip.

FLIGHTS

Probably the most disappointing aspect for me. I flew from Birmingham to Amsterdam then on to Lima. My flight from BHX was at 6am (which meant a 4am check in) with a long lay over in Amsterdam. Following the long haul flight from Amsterdam another group member and I were then made to wait in Lima airport for 1 1/2 hours for other members to arrive on a later flight. This was pretty awful as we had been travelling for well over 24 hours by this point and had we known how long the wait would be we both said we would have got a taxi together. To make matters worse I learned that those group members we had to wait for had had a much shorter travelling day as they had been put on a later flight from Birmingham. Explore needs to consider not just flight time when arranging these things but actual total travel time. I had not been given any other choices except a flight from London. I think the Explore sales team need to be a bit more expansive in explaining the flight arrangements otherwise I would be tempted to arrange my own flights.

There was also a full day to wait in Lima on the return journey. Again, another very long day as we had to leave Cusco at 6am and we arrived in Lima at 10.15am when our international flight wasn't until 8pm. This is a wasted day.

We were lucky that one member of our group sourced a city tour of Lima for $45 which picked up and dropped off at the airport. It took 4 1/2 hours and was really worth it as it felt as if we had an extra day's holiday but also saved us from sitting in Lima airport for nearly 10 hours. This was with Haku Tours and it's a non-profit organisation with the money going towards building soup kitchens and helping the needy of Lima. The tour guide was great (although it was it's very much from the Inca point of view). Still it showed the main highlights of Lima and I would recommend that group tour members be alerted to this option by Explore when there is such a long lay over. Ideally, Lima should be part of the itinerary with no long lay overs at airports anyway.

TOUR/ITINERARY/ACCOMMODATION

A very gruelling itinerary with lots of long travel days. I think this should be listed as BUSY and that all participants should be in a reasonable state of fitness. There were one or two people on this trip who admitted they were not fit enough for this kind of tour; there was the added difficulty of altitude sickness also.

It's a great pity that Lima is not part of the itinerary as there are some interesting places to see here and it warrants at least a day at the beginning or end of the tour. See my note above about the Lima tour that one group member sourced.

NAZCA

Pretty much a waste of time if the option of a flight over the lines isn't advisable. Our tour guide said that there are now reputable companies but he wasn't able to recommend anything due to Explore's policy of caution and that of our own FCO. However, I mentioned that the FCO is regularly over cautious and that if Explore sourced and approved of a particular company that flies over the Nazca lines then I would take Explore's recommendation. I feel this was an opportunity missed.

PUNO

Most accommodation on the trip was of good, comfortable quality with the exception of the Hotel Sillustani in Puno. This hotel was dark and uncomfortable and I would not recommend it to anyone.

The trip to Uros Island on Lake Titicaca was good fun and the boat trip to Taquille Island relaxing but again the walk to the accommodation on Taquille Island was extremely demanding and participants should be made aware of this in the trip notes prior to booking. The stay on Taquille Island was for me the worst part of the trip overall. I do not appreciate being stuck in one place with not alternative for dinner etc. The food provided was poor and there was virtually no choice; fish or omelette (served cold). The same food provided the very next day during the 'lunch' on the beach before returning to the mainland. The accommodation was poor, there were many little things the proprietors could do to make this experience a bit easier eg a table and some chairs in the courtyard. We had to sit on cold, stone steps; the only alternative was to stay in one's room. I felt that these were the only people in the whole of our Peru trip who were unwelcoming and only out to make a quick money. Their attitude to photographs for example, do not take them as it's offensive to them but they were happy to have their photos taken when they were trying to sell us their goods the next morning. It was the only time on the trip that I was made to feel unwelcome by the locals. Also the trip notes stated that there may be a cultural evening put on but there was absolutely nothing to do and basically when the sun went down there was no alternative but to go to bed. I failed to see the point of staying over on this island. Make sure to take a torch as there were no matches for the candle in the room; also it's not easy to carry a candle to the outside toilet and wash basin. A head torch would be most helpful. Also, a towel as these are not provided by the accommodation.

There was plenty of time for this to be a day trip only, could have stayed on the beach or gone for a walk, a choice depending on people's preferences and abilities but then return to the mainland.

PUNO to CUSCO bus. Explore chooses to use a Tourist Bus that takes 10 hours and stops at around 5-6 places, including buffet lunch, between Puno and Cusco. There was little choice on the buffet lunch and the quality not so good. Also, several members of the group, and I agree, that we would have been better to have had a bus just for our own group. We could still have stopped at some places and for lunch but overall we could have done the journey much quicker and got to Cusco at a more reasonable time. The tour guide on the bus was far too talkative which was tiresome on such a long journey and even more so that he kept jumping from English to Spanish and back again. It was very difficult to keep up with what he was saying, one would just tune in to his accent and then he was switch to Spanish only for him to switch back to English a sentence or two later.

ANDEAN EXPLORER TRAIN - PUNO to CUSCO

When I booked the trip I was told that nobody else on the trip had booked the train (it had to be booked in advanced). As I didn't want to travel alone on the train I decided against booking this train and stay on the bus with the group. Other group members were told exactly the same thing so didn't book either. One group member did book the train and was told that others in the group had booked. None of this makes sense as we were all clearly given contradictory advice. Again, I feel saddened that this was an opportunity missed especially as the person who did take the train said it was a wonderful experience.

Overall, the issue with flights was the main thing that tarnished this trip.

I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to Helmut for taking us safely and with a great sense of fun around his wonderful country.
Confirmed traveller: 01 April 2016
Published on: 24 April 2016

Hi Joanne, it’s so nice to hear from one of our loyal travellers, and congratulations on your 7th trip with Explore! I just wanted to take the time to thank you for your comments.

In terms of the waiting time in Lima at the end of the journey, I will discuss with the Explore Leader and our supplier in Peru about offering an optional tour. You’re quite right in saying that 10 hours in the airport is a long time to wait, and could be better used. Regarding Nazca, as you pass by on the way to Arequipa it would be a shame not to break the journey there, but we still don’t feel comfortable in promoting any flights over the lines due to the major crashes that regularly occur, the last of which was in 2015. Despite improvements, the risk in this area is still not one that we are willing to accept. On the other hand, I will revise our trip notes about the bus journey from Puno to Cusco to include more details of timings and the number of stops that you make. The QPS is a ‘simply’ tour, which means that we use more public services and basic accommodation. In terms of the flights – to ensure the best fit possible, we perform a general search which returns all the available options and fares for each traveller on a case by case basis. This shows us the availability and most appropriate option available at the time and within cost. We’re always happy to discuss alternatives if you have specific requests – just let us know at the time of booking.

Your comments are very useful, and will help me when looking at the quality of this trip for last year. I’m really glad that, aside from the flights, you had such a fantastic time, and we will make sure to pass the feedback onto Helmut!

(9 out of 10)

Linda

It was a great trip. Particularly memorable was the Andean Explorer train, trip to Macchu Picchu and Puna - but it was all wonderful!
Confirmed traveller: 23 October 2015
Published on: 24 November 2015
(10 out of 10)

Roger

Oslo Norway
Highlights: All day folk-costume and dance parade through streets of Puno (morning), and carnival with fantastic costumes (afternoon) a parade held by the different university departments which lasted 18 hours from 09.00 am til 03.00 am next day. Fantastic.
On the way to Copacobana in Bolivia we stopped to visit one of families who helped Thor Heyerdahl to build the famous Kontiki reed boat which attempted to trace the route of the first immigrants from South America to Easter Island. Bought a signed copy of a typical Lake Titicaca reed boat (signed by son), also fabulous alpaka cardigan and stunningly colourful tablecloth made by family members.
The MANY possible outcomes of height sickness, I had none of the expected symptoms, appart from being out of breathe, but over 4000 m. suffered from urine-retension, - fitted with catheter to complete holiday. Group leader Helmut was fantastic.
Confirmed traveller: 04 October 2015
Published on: 01 November 2015
(9 out of 10)

Kathryn

Formby
No problems with booking and information about group - it's useful to know the age range. Itinerary was detailed. Some advice about luggage would be useful eg a suitcase is fine. The tour guide did a good job .
The only problem was the guide had to leave before us on the last day to join another tour. There were a couple of problems for some travellers at the airport that were sorted out eventually by another Explore member of staff.
The wait at Lima airport was overlong and this felt like a wasted day at the end of what had otherwise been a very good holiday .
Confirmed traveller: 14 August 2015
Published on: 28 September 2015
(9 out of 10)

Tom

Bangor, Wales
An amazing trip! Definitely the best I've been on! Highly reccomended!
There were so many highlights! Nazca lines, the amazing city of Arequipa, experiencing the high altitude as we moved into the Andes, and of course Machu Picchu . Not to mention a great tour guide as well!

My personal tips for anyone thinking of going:
- If you're travelling alone, be sure to ask about who else is on the trip to ensure there are some people of similar age, etc. There's a great crowd on mine, a variety of ages and background!
- I went during Jul/Aug, which was perfect! The Peruvian Winter but still so very hot compared to Britain, and nice and dry so no rain or mosquitos! Be sure to take plenty of sun tan lotion. I took a mosquito net, but it wasn't necessary.
- Taxis are very, very, cheap. So make the most of them.
- The itinerary contains a few 'free days', make sure to explore what's available in terms of day trips. We did a dune buggy tour in Nazca which was amazing!
- The altitude was a struggle at first so make sure to stay hydrated. Paracetamols help so make sure to pack plenty.
- So there's no concept of squash in Peru, as in Robinsons orange squash etc. So if you don't like water (I don't), make sure to take some with you otherwise you'll be stuck with overly sugary drinks the whole trip.

- This is quite a big one.. if you have the time, do try and learn some Spanish before you go. I know slim to no Spanish, and most Peruvians no slim to no English - this makes life awkward when you're in restaurants, taxis, and shops, etc.

Have fun!
Confirmed traveller: 14 August 2015
Published on: 28 September 2015