Our Traveler Reviews
SA Expeditions is an intimate and experienced international team operating in South America. We have all lived in and traveled through the region in a professional capacity, giving us the first-hand experience and knowledge necessary to plan and provide the most reliable excursions in South America.
Understanding that an expedition to South America can be a significant investment, our mission is to make your experience unique and memorable. From the moment you contact us until you return home we work with you to develop your ideal trip. We know your guides, hotel representatives and drivers by name, and frequently communicate with them, tailoring the experience to meet your particular needs and interests.
In Their Own Words...
Dear Kim, We returned home early this morning from an absolutely fabulous trip to Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu that you prepared for my wife and me and our grandson Liam. From the time we exited the Lima airport last Wednesday night until we flew out of the Cusco airport last night, SA Expeditions expertly handled every aspect of our excursion. The guide who picked us up at the airport in Lima at midnight on the night of our arrival, gave us excellent pointers and recommendations about Peru and specifically Lima.
Every hotel that you selected for us in Lima, Cusco, and Aguas Calientes was superb. Every tour that you arranged for us in each of those areas was interesting to Liam, as well as Grandma and Popa. You made certain that interspersed with Inka history there were adequate activities that you knew would fascinate a 13-year old boy. A really big hit was the chocolate tour were we learned about the process of making chocolate, from the harvesting of the cocoa bean to making our own chocolate candy, which we were able to bring home with us.
Percy, our tour guide in Lima, was quite knowledgeable, and gave us a very good overview of the history of Lima in the short time we were there. The tour of the Museo Larco, where Percy was able to distill the 45,000 Inka artifacts into a visit that all 3 of us enjoyed, was the highlight of our Lima visit. Lima is definitely a city we wished we would have had more time to explore further.
Of course, the highlight of our trip was the visit to Cusco and Machu Picchu, and we could not have asked for a better guide than Johan Sueros and our very skillful driver, Abel. Shortly prior to leaving on our journey when you sent us our final itinerary, you told me that we were going to have the absolute best guide, Johan. You could not have been more accurate. He is bright, articulate, totally fluent in English, kind and just an altogether sweet person. On the drive from Cusco to Aguas Calientes we stopped by a small town, Maras, where we visited an acquaintance of Johan's, a 92-year old man who has been hand-making hats for more than 40 years. What an absolutely delightful man and very fun visit, where we tried on some of the typical hats of Maras.
Johan is passionate about his Incan heritage, and he brought Machu Picchu and the Incan culture alive for us. He was totally flexible, and gave us options when he realized that perhaps the long climb up the nearly 1000 steps of the very steep mountain for the best view of Machu Picchu might be difficult for us. He wanted us to be happy and to enjoy our visit. I realize that he has been doing this for a number of years, but Johan has an uncanny ability to time things so perfectly, that there is very little down time, where you are waiting for a bus or a train. When he says you'll be at a restaurant at a specific time or back in Cusco at a specific time, you can count on it. He tried and succeeded in satisfying all of our needs.
As you know, on our last day in Cusco, Liam was ill, and we needed to cancel horseback riding that we had scheduled for that morning. Even though we had already said our good-byes to Johan the night before, I contacted him around 8:30AM to cancel the tour. He immediately got in touch with you, at 5:45AM PST. Within in minutes you had everything under control, inquiring if we needed a physician to see Liam. Fortunately, I think he was just exhausted, and by the afternoon he was back to himself. However, mid-morning I received a phone call from your local representative in Peru inquiring about Liam's health, again offering a physician if needed, and offering to contact the hotel in Cusco to extend our check-out time.
Kim, as you remember, we had some very specific issues that you had to address before we even left for our trip. You had to be certain that any provided meal, be it box lunch (which was excellent), or lunch on the road, or dinner in Aguas Calientes, had to be vegetarian. You had to make certain that we returned from zip lining by a specific time on Friday afternoon. Several days before we were scheduled to arrive, I changed our itinerary to add an additional day in Lima. You handled each and every request expertly.
I found SA Expeditions in July, 2016, just by searching the internet for companies that provided tours in Peru. I read the reviews on the company, and was impressed, but also a bit skeptical. After all, I was trusting a company in California that I didn't personally know to plan and execute a trip to Peru that wasn't going to take place until February, 2017. Well, now I am a believer! You, SA Expeditions, the guides, the drivers, the hotels, the tours, etc. have all exceeded our expectations. Thank you!
With sincere appreciation,
- Eddie & Shelley S (Connecticut)
Photographed at Machu Picchu
Jeanie: Our trip was absolutely magical thanks to all the great organization, preparation, wonderful suggestions and impeccable professional services we received from SA...starting and ending with you! The booking process was so easy, all questions along the way were addressed and SA (you) were responsive to all of our questions and concerns. In addition, some of the suggestions for out of the ordinary experiences made our trip unique. SA is one of the few tour groups that allows you to book your itinerary exactly as you want it...then Jeanie takes care of all the details. I only wish you were world wide!!!!!!
Our hotels were fantastic...our favorite was Inka del Tambo in Urubamba which is truly one of the nicest hotels in the world...what a great way to start our trip and unwind a luxury hotel in such a beautiful Sacred Valley setting.. Casal del Sol had a wonderful location in Aguas Client and though it was in need of some "polish" the staff compensated by their ever willing hospitality. I got sick 3/4 of the way up Wayna Picchu ( not the ideal location to contract intestinal illness) but made it back to hotel ...the staff went to the store to buy me gatorade, made me special tea a and looked in on me in my room for the day and a half I was in bed. The view of the river was a great distraction. Casa Cartegna was a jewel in the middle of lovely Cusco. Again the staff made me home made chicken noodle soup to get me well. Our room was so comfortable and the grounds are an oasis in the city. The spa was terrific as was the masseuse. Our Radisson in Miraflores was a perfect location for touring Lima and was most accommodating as well. In addition the food was fantastic....we ate such beautiful vegetables, potatoes and Peruvian dishes everywhere we went. Le Soleil (french food in Cusco and Cicciolina in Cusco were fabulous as was an extraordinary evening at La Barra Casa Moreyra. in Lima....wow!
Even though there were unforeseen circumstances such as a protest that shut down all tourist roads throughout the Sacred Valley, SA tours reacted with quick response. I cannot say enough about the drivers ( Louis especially) and all the guides who were with us . They were knowledgeable, gracious, always willing to go the extra distance and warm lovely friends. We loved them all. The horse back/hiking trip to Choquechaca was an experience we will never forget. It was Peter's 65th birthday in Cusco and SA even arranged to have the meal paid for by our thoughtful children.
In short, it was the best trip we have experienced and we look forward to many more! Thanks so much for creating a truly memorable experience...we only regret we did not get to meet you in Lima!
- Pam and Peter C. (Denver, Colorado)
Photographed at Machu Picchu
On a "snow day" last February we decided to plan a big summer vacation for our family of four (my wife, two daughters ages 13 & 9, and myself). We had the itch to do something adventurous and looked into Africa, Alaska, Thailand and the Galapagos Islands. All are on our travel list but the timing didn't seem quite right for any of them. When investigating the Galapagos, we stumbled into the SA Expeditions website, which is when we first considered going to Peru. The more we researched, the more it seemed right. We could see wildlife in the Amazon, which was our girls' #1 priority, and we could take in some history, culture and natural beauty during visits to Cusco and Machu Picchu (which is not only on the travel list, but also on the "bucket list").
We sent a message to SA and within minutes we were on the phone with Staci Steele. Staci was incredibly helpful in mapping out a trip that met all of our time and budget constraints while making sure to maximize our opportunity to see as much of Peru as possible. The trip and using SA were both huge leaps of faith for us, as we had never used a tour company and had only traveled internationally twice as a family (fairly tame trips to London and Costa Rica). Staci was incredibly patient in answering our never-ending questions, right up until the day of the trip!
SA added so much value to the planning process. Staci recommended that we spend a day in the Sacred Valley instead of going straight from Cusco to Machu Picchu, and that was an amazing experience that we would have missed had we planned the trip ourselves. She lined us up with a tour guide, Mary-Luz, who felt like a member of the family by the time we said goodbye. Every detail was accounted for. Whether it was being handed our boarding passes for our Amazon flight when checking into our Lima hotel, or having our bags waiting for us at the Aguas Calientes train station for our return to Ollyantaytambo (I could go on an on with examples like this), we never had to think about anything, we just had to follow the plan and enjoy ourselves. The trip was absolutely flawless and we were really blown away by the whole experience. We would not even consider using a different tour provider if (when!) we someday return to South America.
As for Peru itself, we fell in love with it. It is a beautiful country with beautiful people. The weather in July was fantastic and the culture and history were fascinating. We will return someday (maybe to do the Inca Trail!). Thank you Staci and SA Luxury expeditions for helping us pull of an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
- Bill, Marissa, Julia & Natalie R. (Scarborough, Maine)
Photographed at Moray Ruins in Cusco
Gina Alman from South American Expeditions planned our most INCREDIBLE and FASCINATING five week journey to Peru and Ecuador in May, 2015. Together we detailed the kind of trip we wanted and then Gina set it in motion. Her attention to detail is beyond extraordinary. She worked diligently and spent many hours on the phone with us to insure that our trip would be exactly what we wanted. Machu Picchu was on our bucket list and it was an awesome experience to witness one of the great wonders of the world!!
Gina is extremely knowledgeable, delightful, committed to please, and completely understand how we like to travel. And our trip turned out to be even more spectacular than we anticipated!!! It was packed with adventure, luxury, education, and philanthropy. We enjoy bringing children's books with us and bringing these books to local communities. Gina researched and arranged for us to meet with a gentleman in Cuzco who has built 200 schools in Peru. Mr. Meekes met us and brought us to visit children in Cuzco who were part of his HoPe Foundation. It was one of the most rewarding days of our trip (see photo at Biblioteca Kallpanchis)!!
We have traveled all over the world and there is no question that SA Expeditions goes beyond your expectations in meeting your destinations, budget, style of travel, and customizing your trip to be the very best ever!
- Marilyn and Don, (Delray Beach, Florida)
Photographed at Cuzco
The trip was great – We were a little nervous about how everything would work but everything went very smoothly. It actually set a new standard for what I would want on a vacation. I felt a little spoiled because everything was taken care of and I didn't have to worry about anything – just enjoy. Everyone we met was very professional, solicitous, helpful and informative. The hotels you recommended were great. We loved all the hotels. I don't think we would change a thing. In fact, I think the schedule worked well. We went to Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu at the beginning – which kept us pretty busy. Then we went spent 3 days and 2 nights at the Hacienda Concepcion in Puerto Maldonado which was very nice because everything was right there and even though the jungle activities kept us busy, we had a time to relax a bit in the very nice cabana – I rested in the hammock looking out on the jungle scenery. I also want to give a special shout out to Marco, who was with us for 3 days. He is terrific, very easy going and really made our trip through Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. He was also great on the Huayna Picchu Hike. Having him as a guide on the hike was very comforting. Then on our drive back to Cusco, he stopped so we could get a view of the stars and milky-way.
Thank you for putting together this wonderful family trip for us. I would definitely recommend SA Expeditions and would use it again for my travels to South America.
- Tasia, Harley, Shane, Molly (Maryland)
Photographed at Sacsayhuaman
When we began research on a trip to Peru including the Amazon, Cuzco and Lima, we found a number of options online. We were impressed with the information provided on the SA Expeditions website. I decided to contact SA Expeditions, research/investigate their history as a business, reputation, reviews, etc. Ms. Gina Allman was incredible helpful and responsive and answer all our questions. We were afraid of booking online with an unknown company and the service/or lack of and overall traveling experience in a country like Peru. BTW, I was born and lived in Peru for almost 30 years and moved to the US approximately many years ago.
We stayed in Lima for three days visiting my father. The hotel in Miraflores was great, the food unbelievable.......simply best in the world!! Then, we flew to Puerto Maldonado (the Amazon Rainforest). We were received at the airport and taken by canoe to The Posada Amazonas/Boutique, a 30-45 minute ride in the Tambopata river. We experienced the hospitality of Eric, the Posada's manager and his entire team. Rodolfo, our guide displayed great knowledge throughout all activities and excursion. They kept us busy, the food was extremely good, and the room was very clean. Everybody was extremely helpful and worked hard to make sure we had the best experience. After The Amazon we went to Cuzco, The Archaeological Capital of the Americas. We visited Ollantaytambo, Koricancha, Moray, Sacsahuaman, and Machu Picchu. Best part of the trip. We were greeted by Froylan at the airport, very well spoken, extremely professional, courteous and efficient. He stayed at the airport on our way back to Lima until our departure.
A special note about our extremely knowledgeable guide Marco (the most of all guides). A special mention to Aranwa Cuzco / Luxury Hotel, great customer service and very attentive. And please let's not forget our driver Antonio, very good driver, calm, punctual and professional. Everything was perfect from start to finish with this vacation; from flights (LAN PERU - provided remarkable and friendly service) being on-time, to our personal tour guides their knowledge, punctuality, and dedication, to our accommodations. The trip of a lifetime!!
- Cathy and Javier (Miami, Florida)
Photographed at Sacred Valley
Rachel and I can say that the “father/daughter Galapagos & ultimate Peru expedition” was a terrific success. After having fiddled with the complicated itinerary for so many weeks, I wondered if it would all work out as planned. But it did! Every connection, every reservation, every guide and activity turned out as described on the final itinerary. We had a wonderful, eye-opening adventure, with knowledgeable, solicitous, very helpful guides, and even a day all to ourselves in Cuzco, a day to wander and enjoy that Rachel says was her favorite one of the trip.
Our guide in the Galapagos, Pablo, was a sweetheart. I loved that he was an island-born Galapagoan. Everything was delightful and amazing except for the very rough boat trip from Santa Cruz to Isabela and back. Motion sickness pills were essential. Hacienda Conception was perfect for us, a great place for getting a first taste of the jungle. Everything from the din of the howler monkeys to tiny trails made by the leaf-cutter ants. Terrific sunsets over the Madre de Dios river. Be warned to keep all medications in airtight container. Humidity will disintegrate them. A note on “Amazon lodge” baggage. Although advised in the itinerary to do so, we did not leave our luggage in Puerto Maldonado, taking “only the essentials” to the lodge. They told us it was fine to take everything along, and we really liked having all our stuff with us at the Lodge.
Our Inca Trail guide, Milagros, was great, and made everything come off like clockwork. The Trail itself was harder than I expected, but I had been warned, and wanted to do it anyway, and we did make it. And I think it's good to have to do a little work to experience such a breathtaking place. A great trip. Thanks for all your work.
- Bob and Rachel B. (San Francisco, California)
Photographed at Galapagos Islands
My wife & I booked a 2-week vacation in Peru & Ecuador with SA Expeditions and it was incredible. I can't say enough good things about our experience! We made our own arrangements for traveling to and from Lima, Peru, and our last 3 nights in Lima, but SA Expeditions handled all the rest.
Our first night was at the Costa del sol Wyndham at the Lima International Airport. After we cleared customs the hotel was a short walk directly across the street from the international terminal. The room was nice and clean and just what we needed after a full day of travel from our home in Las Vegas. The best part was no cab ride! The next morning we walked back across the street for our flight on Avianca Airlines to Guayaquil, Ecuador. After clearing customs, we were promptly met by Kristin from SA and driven to the Oro Verde Hotel in downtown Guayaquil. She was very pleasant and very helpful pointing out some points of interest in the city to visit and recommending some restaurants to us. The Oro Verde Hotel was magnificent! I travel for work and stay in a lot of hotels and the Executive Suite at the Oro Verde is one of the finest rooms in which I have ever stayed. My wife is not easily impressed and she was extremely impressed. The service, the food, the amenities….they were all wonderful! We both wished that we had had more than night at this hotel. For dinner that night, we took Kristin's recommendation of Caracol Azul about 2 blocks from the hotel. The service and food were excellent! The next morning we were met in the lobby by Francisco, another SA employee, and driven to the airport for our flight on Avianca to the Galapagos Islands. Francisco walked us right through Avianca check-in avoiding the lines. He could not have been more helpful.
When we arrived in the Galapagos Islands, we were met at the Baltra Airport by representatives of the Galapagos Legend Cruise Ship, put on a bus for a short ride to a ferryboat & ferried out to the Galapagos Legend, our home for the next 5 days. The ship's representatives took our luggage at the airport and delivered it to our suite onboard the Legend. We never had to touch our bags after we cleared security on Baltra. Onboarding the ship was a truly hassle free experience.
The Legend is a small cruise ship holding about 100 passengers. There are no really large, luxury cruise ships operating in the Galapagos. Cruising in the Galapagos is an adventure cruise and not a luxury cruise. With that said, our two bed suite with a private balcony on the Legend was very nice and suited our needs perfectly. The staff was very helpful and the food was good. The guests were broken down into groups of about 14 and assigned to a National Park Guide for all activities in the Galapagos Islands. You can do nothing in the Galapagos Islands without a National Park Guide. Day One consisted of lunch on the ship followed by our first adventure in the Galapagos, a zodiac excursion in Black Turtle Cove, which is part of Santa Cruz Island. It was a bird lover's paradise with only a couple of sightings of sea turtles.
The next 3 days consisted of hiking & snorkeling each morning and each afternoon in our assigned groups. We even had a National Park Guide with us for snorkeling. Day One was Sullivan Bay & Isabela Island in the morning and Rabida Island in the afternoon. Day Two was Urbina Bay & Isabela Island in the morning and Tagus Cove & Isabela Island in the afternoon. Day Three was Espinoza Point & Fernandina Island in the morning and Vincent Roca Point & Isabela Island in the afternoon. We sailed that night back to Baltra & Santa Cruz Islands. We disembarked the Legend after breakfast on Day Five and were taken to the highlands of Santa Cruz Island for a hike among giant land tortoises followed by a bus ride to the ferry port on Santa Cruz and then ferried over to Baltra for the flight back to the mainland. Again at disembarkation, our luggage was handled by representatives from the Legend and was waiting for us at the airport for check-in after our hike in the highlands. What can I say about the Galapagos…walking in the footsteps of Charles Darwin, seeing amazing wildlife & fauna and swimming with countless kinds of fish, incredible numbers of turtles and a few sea lions, sand sharks & stingrays….it was a once in a lifetime experience. The Galapagos Legend & SA Expeditions made it so easy to experience and enjoy the Galapagos Islands.
After the Santa Cruz Highlands adventure, we flew on Avianca back to Lima by way of Guayaquil and another night at the Costa del sol Wyndham. The next day we had a morning flight on Avianca to Cusco. When we arrived in Cusco, we were promptly met by Jacquelin, another SA employee. She escorted us to the JW Marriott Hotel and assisted with our check-in. She informed us that we had the afternoon free to explore or rest as we saw fit and that the next morning we would be met by Marco, our tour guide for the rest of our time in Cusco & Macchu Picchu. We were ready for a rest after all the travel and the action packed schedule in the Galapagos Islands. Again, SA Expeditions arranged for the JW Marriott Cusco to provide us with another lavish suite on the top floor for the next two nights! The service and food at the Marriott was top notch!
After breakfast the next day, we went down to the lobby early and Marco was already waiting for us. Marco and his driver, Alberto, were the surprise highlights of our entire trip! Marco's knowledge of Peruvian history especially that of Cusco & Macchu Picchu was extraordinary. Alberto was a courteous and able driver. They were both true gentlemen and a joy to be around. We were scheduled for a half-day tour of Cusco and the surrounding area including the ruins of Sacsaywaman. Unfortunatley, after Sacsaywaman my wife was not feeling good from being at an altitude of over 11,000 feet for more than 24 hours. Marco arranged for Alberto to drop us off at the Temple of the Sun and then take my wife back to the hotel to rest. Marco & I spent more than half a day visiting several churches built on top of ancient ruins and other areas inside Cusco. He then escorted me back to the hotel. On the way back, he treated me to the best street tamales in Cusco. He introduced me to an elderly lady who sits in a shaded area just off the main square in Cusco selling her delicious tamales. Without Marco, I never would have experienced the best tamales in Cusco!
The next day Marco and Alberto were waiting for us in the hotel lobby at 7:00 am. We left for a tour of the Sacred Valley between Cusco and Ollantaytambo. The ride from Cusco to Ollantaytambo is normally just over two hours. However, we made stops to explore the salt mines of Maras and the pre-Incan & Incan ruins at Morey, two very fascinating places along the way. The trip is a descent in altitude and by the time we got to Ollantaytamba, my wife was starting to feel better from her altitude sickness. We had a wonderful lunch in Ollantaytamba at one of Marco's favorite restaurants. Marco also treated us to a tour of a private residence of some friends of his that was truly fascinating. Two women and a girl were washing clothes by hand outside the residence. They invited us inside their one room residence with a loft and gave us a look at how Peruvian people of this mountain region live. Their beds, a cooking fireplace, an altar for worship and an area for the handicraft work were all in a single room. It was a very colorful and cozy place filled with local aromas. Afterwards we toured the pre-Incan & Incan ruins just outside the city. At around 3:30 we left Alberto behind and boarded the train from Ollantaytambo to Macchu Picchu. The two-hour train ride is along a roaring river through a narrow mountain valley and canyon. It's an incredibly scenic ride. It reminded my wife and me of the Colorado River running through Glenwood Canyon in Colorado. Upon our arrival that evening, Marco escorted us to the El Pueblo Hotel located on the outskirts of town in a tropical rainforest area. He agreed to meet us in the lobby at 6:00 am the next morning for our journey to the ancient ruins of Macchu Picchu. The El Pueblo Hotel is another superb hotel. The rooms are quaint but nicely furnished with a wood burning fireplace and a private veranda enveloped by plants and trees. It is by far the nicest hotel in town and it even has its own restaurant. The staff was very accommodating and the service and food in the restaurant were excellent.
The next day Marco was waiting for us in the lobby at 6:00 am. He escorted us through town to the bus station. He moved us ahead of lines to a shorter line where we boarded a bus for the 45-minute ride up to the Macchu Picchu Park Headquarters and the entrance to the ancient ruins. We entered the park and made the short climb up to the main gateway into the plaza of the ruins. At that point, Marco suggested that we not head directly into the plaza of the ruins but that we go to the left and continue climbing higher up into the terraces above the plaza. We made a fairly strenuous climb for about 20 minutes up terraced mountain slopes to the upper terrace with clear vistas in 3 of the 4 directions. Before us and below was a magnificent view of the stone ruins, the green, grassed plaza and terraces and the two peaks that serve as a backdrop to all of it. To our left and our right in the distance were snow-capped peaks of the Andes. We could have gone higher up the Inca Trail to the Sungate or we could have gone right towards the Inca Bridge but we chose to stay right there on that upper terrace with it's magnificent views. Marco was right. Everybody seemed to be down below. There was hardly anybody up where we were. It was peaceful and quiet. The perfect place to sit and meditate or pray and take in all that Macchu Picchu had to offer. We spent over two hours in that serene place before the hordes started to ascend to where we were. Those two hours were the highlight of our Macchu Picchu experience. We eventually descended and enjoyed the rest of Macchu Picchu but nothing compared to the time we had up above in the early morning. Thank you, Marco! Our experience of Macchu Picchu would not have been the same without you. And thank you too for being so patient with us and helping Marsha with her bag and the climb.
By 1:00 pm we were back in the town and Marco took us to his favorite restaurant, Indio Feliz Bistro. WOW….what a great meal! It was the best food in our entire trip. Owned by a French born gentleman named Patrick, the food and the service were both superb. Indio Feliz Bistro would be successful in any town in the world but to find it in this little town was a real surprise. If you went to Macchu Picchu and didn't eat at Indio Feliz, you missed a real highlight! Again, thank you, Marco! Our experience of Macchu Picchu would not have been the same without you. At 3:30 we were on the train back to Ollantaytamba. When we arrived two hours later, there was Alberto waiting to help us with our bags and drive us back to Cusco. We were back at the JW Marriott in Cusco in about 3 hours because of traffic. Marco & Alberto helped us with our bags and check-in. Then we shared some sad “goodbyes” with Marco. His time with us had come to an end. We have traveled to many parts of the world and have had tour guides in many different countries. With Marco we never stood in line to buy a ticket. He had pre-purchased tickets for everything that we did thereby avoiding all the lines. He also had a sense for when to provide us with the history before our eyes and when to leave us to our own thoughts and devices. He could not have been kinder or gentler with my wife when she was suffering from altitude sickness. When it comes to photography, Marco knows the best locations for photo opportunities at every location that we visited. I can't count how many times my wife or I would be ready to take a picture and Marco would suggest that we shoot it from over there or over here where there were less people and a better view. MARCO, YOU ARE ONE OF THE BEST!!!
The next morning got to sleep in since our pick up for the return ride to the Cusco airport was scheduled for noon. Right on time, there was Alberto to help us with our bags and drive us to the airport. With him was Carmen, another SA employee. She was there to help with our bags and our check in at the airport. Again we had another sad parting. Marsha and I had grown fond of Alberto. He had taken great care of us with his driving and always made sure we stayed hydrated with plenty of water. Every time we got in his car there was a fresh bottle of water waiting for us. THANK YOU, ALBERTO!
We flew from Cusco to Lima on Avianca. When we came out of baggage claim, we were greeted by Santiago from SA Expeditions. He and his driver helped with our bags and escorted us to the JW Marriott Lima where he assisted with check-in. On the drive to the Marriott, he pointed out some points of interest along the way and recommended several restaurants for us to try in the Miraflores area of Lima where our hotel was located. We tried two of his recommendations, Tanta & Mangoes, and they were both outstanding.
The next day we scheduled a half-day tour of Lima with SA Expeditions. Promptly at 9:00 am were met by Rina, our SA Lima tour guide. Rina was well versed in the history of Lima and the surrounding areas. We visited parks and pre-Incan & Incan ruins inside Lima. Lima is made up of numerous neighborhoods and we visited a number of them. One of the highlights was the Museo Larco, which is an outstanding museum housing a massive, private collection of pre-Incan & Incan artifacts, all of which were amazingly well preserved. After that, we toured the original city of Lima and the main plaza. Lima was the first Spanish capital of South America and the main plaza and several of the churches surrounding it are original structures from the early 1500s. The second highlight of the Lima tour was the original house of the first Spanish Governor of South America. Rina had arranged a private tour of several parts of the house, which has been continuously occupied by the relatives of the first Spanish Governor for 17 generations. The relatives occupying the house today have private apartments in the structure, which we did not tour. However, one of the descendants, a very elegant lady was leaving her apartment during our tour. She and Rina exchanged pleasantries and it appeared that Rina was acquainted with her. The Spanish Governor's house was a special experience. Thank you, Rina.
Our last day in Lima was a relaxation day. Our flight back to the US was scheduled for 12:50 am on July 14th. Santiago was scheduled to pick us up at 9:00 pm on the 13th for transfer to the Lima International Airport. He was right on time and helped us with our luggage at the airport. SA Expedition truly made our vacation a memorable one by eliminating the language barriers, expediting us through long lines at many different places and providing a first class experience everywhere we went. MANY THANKS TO RIVA BACQUET AND HER ENTIRE TEAM!
- Fred and Marsha J. (Las Vegas, Nevada)
Photographed at Galapagos Islands
My husband and I have been very fortunate in that we've been able to travel a great deal throughout our lives. However, no trip or vacation has ever compared to our recently completed three week tour of Peru. From the moment that we connected with Staci at SA Luxury Expeditions, I knew that we were in great hands. Her knowledge of the area, the hotels and tours put her into a class by herself. During our three week tour EVERY single event, transfer, tour and hotel stay went without a hitch and like a perfectly oiled machine. Our hotels throughout the trip were some of the best that we've ever experienced anywhere in the world, with both the La Casona and the Casa Cartegena (both in Cuzco) being tied for the best hotels in our world of travels. LOVED Cuzco and we were fortunate enough to be there during June when there were tons of celebrations, parades and fireworks going on…we can't wait to return.
The Amazon cruise was beautiful (we did the 7 night) and the ship, staff and accommodations were out of this world. A great way to see the Amazon…and trust us, there's no “roughing it” here!
And the guides! Sol (our guide in Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu) and well as Josephine in Lima were simply amazing. Their knowledge and enthusiasm for the area was infectious and made you want to ask even more questions. The drivers were all courteous, friendly, and knew the area (and traffic!) beautifully. The transfers and transportation made us feel like VIP's as every single time we left an airport, city, or venue, there was our driver with a sign ready to assist with our bags and a helping hand. And the little touches, like water available in the vans, made the trip especially comfortable.
We looked at several companies before selecting SA Luxury Expeditions and we couldn't have been more happy. Thank you to Staci, Riva and the entire SALE staff for taking such great care of us. We can't wait to use you again for our return to Cuczo and for Iguazu Falls…it's never to early to start planning!
- Duncan & Russell (New York)
Photographed at Amazon
Thank you so much! We couldn't have put a trip this amazing together without you! All in all, simply put, amazing. I'll send along some photos when I get the chance to sort through them. 4sd cards at 8-64gb full of pics and video.
I think, we would've been happier in a hostal with laundry service post-trek. It might just have been that el Mapi was a little too uber-hipster for us.
The guidance for tipping was a little vague and in retrospect I feel badly because I think some of the people got shorted. All of the drivers and pickup people were very professional and great.
Highlights: Abra Salkantay. We were very happy we took the Salkantay trek vice Inca trail due to the shear numbers of people and amazing array of micro-climates. Cuzco was amazing, especially being there for Inti Raymi. Wayki trek was rugged and engaged enough that I felt like we were with just a group of guys who didn't distance themselves from us simply because we were the gringo tourists. I would use Wayki trek for everything. I would've liked to have Alfredo and his group the entire time, and knowing what we know now we would've spent even more time in the mountains with them rather than going to Lima. The locals were great everywhere. I really made some lifelong friendships. That was the prime highlight for me.
Trip of a lifetime!
- Sean, Carol and Anthony (Hawaii)
Photographed at Cuzco