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...
We returned from our trip to Peru, visiting Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, and Lima. The entire trip was outstanding. We stayed at the Lima Airport Hotel which was perfect for our late evening arrival and morning flight to Cusco. I would recommend others to stay there rather than in Miraflores if you are leaving Lima the next morning. It saves the 45 minute drives to and from Miraflores and the airport.
Upon arrival in Cusco, we were met by the representative and driver who took us to our hotel. We stayed at the La Casona Hotel which was top notch in every way. Their service is impeccable and the staff very friendly and helpful. We experienced no altitude sickness since we live at 7200'. Our first afternoon, we took the Marcelo Batata Cooking Class, which we scheduled on our own. The instruction covers everything from Peruvian food, fruit tasting, pisco tasting and drink making, and of course cooking. This was a great introduction to Peru and its food culture. I would highly recommend this to everyone visiting Cusco for their first time.
The next morning we were met by our guide, Juan Carlos and our driver Roddy. We had the same driver and car throughout our time in Cusco and the Sacred Valley. Roddy made sure we had bottled water in the car every day. We also did the Cusco Planetarium on our own, which was very informative. They covered the Inca sky beliefs along with current sky phenomena. Highlights included seeing the moons of Jupiter and the rings of Saturn with their telescopes. I would also recommend it for someone looking for something different to do in the evening. They pick you up and drop you off in Cusco. We were with a group of 3 other people. The planetarium is located near Sacsayhuaman. Our guide, Juan Carlos, was also with us the entire time throughout the Cusco area; including the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Having the same guide throughout was a great advantage, since he could tailor his information more to our interests. Of note, Juan Carlos took us onto the Maras salt fields, rather than just on the outskirt path. We got to see firsthand and up close, some of the workers preparing their areas and they explained what and how they were doing it.
Machu Picchu is everything we've read about and more. We stayed at the Sanctuary Lodge, which was well worth the expense. We were there for two day; one full day with the guide and another without the guide. The guide also climbed Huayna Picchu with us. The advantage of the Sanctuary Lodge is we were able to leave the park, shower after our hike and have lunch in the hotel residents only area, then return back into the park. Our Lima guide, Sophia, was outstanding as well. When we arrived in early afternoon without lunch due to our flight, she made a reservation for lunch for us at the Museum Cafe so we had a table available when we arrived. She also made sure we arrived at Miraflores in time for the sunsetting over the Pacific.
Overall, the trip was everything we expected and more.
- Jay and Heather DeLong, (Laramie, Wyoming)
Photographed at Huyna Picchu
In most cases, after long trips like this, we are usually tired and overwhelmed, but this trip has inspired us to seek our next great adventure, which is a great and refreshing feeling to have :)
Jacqueline (Upon arrival to Cusco) timely met us at baggage claim and escorted us to the Inkaterra La Casona. The La Casona was A-W-E-S-O-M-E!! It is probably the best hotel we have ever stayed at! What put it over the top for us was the personalized service that we didn't experience at any of the other hotels we've stayed at. Of course the grounds and the room were immaculate. It was nice to feel pampered as if we were guests at a large mansion rather than a hotel. On our return to the La Casona following our Inca Trail trek, they were able to rush or laundry before our next day flight to Iquitos which was greatly appreciated!! Cicciolina Restaurant was also wonderful – thank you for that recommendation. The Alpaca steak was interesting to try! The short walk from the hotel to the restaurant was nice as we still were acclimating to the elevation. On our last night in Cusco, ChiCha was also impressive. Great restaurant recommendations!!
Our tours of Cusco, the greater Sacred Valley and the Andean wedding ceremony/ritual were excellent and well-executed. Jorge as a guide was superb and took his time to explain all the relevant history and important facts and made sure that we didn't miss any of the photo opportunities at all the different sites we visited. The Sacred Valley was particularly beautiful as we had a mix of rain, sun, clouds on that day and we want to express once again an additional thank you for making the ceremony happen! It was unique and creative and something we were lucky to have the opportunity to take a part of. Thank you immensely for adding this extra touch to our trip!
The Tambo Del Inka Hotel was very nice and luxurious and felt more like a Ritz Carlton or Four Seasons in the middle of the Sacred Valley. We would have loved to stay there until the morning but had to leave at 10pm given the farmers' strike ☺ In retrospect though, it was a great decision as it would have been far more disappointing if we missed the Inca Trail hike. Excellent choice here!! The dinner we had at the Tambo hotel was very nice and the rooms well-appointed and clean, nothing short of what you'd expect at a 5 star hotel in the SF. The hotel didn't have the personalized feeling of the La Casona but I don't think we could expect that from such a large hotel, nor is this a negative comment by any means.
In a trip where everything was planned and turned out so well, it is difficult to find a “highlight” of our trip because there were so many highlights, but if we had to pick one, Ruben “Charlie” and his team of porters at Wayki made the trek on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu memorable, exciting and close to perfect. This was clearly the highlight of the highlights for us. Everything about the trek was amazing and over the top – the guidance and motivation from Ruben, the delicious food by Flabio (he should open his own restaurant!!), and the tireless efforts and positive attitudes of our porters (we could tell some of the porters from other trekking groups seemed somewhat questionable in their behavior, but our porters from Wayki Trek acted professionally and had much more class than those porters). I hope SA Expeditions continues to contract with Wayki because these guys along with you and your team at SA, really helped to establish this as a trip of our lifetime!!!
We like the Inkaterra El Pueblo in Agua Calientes and overall it was a great experience following our trek, though we had some minor reservations about the hotel. The meals in the hotel restaurant were good – we did not expect the hotel to include dinner which was a plus. And we were able to partake in a jungle walk on the following morning where we saw interesting plants, teas and some wildlife. This is rather nitpicky, but compared to the other accommodations on the trip, we were not very impressed by the room, most specifically the bathroom. We were also given a two twin bed room and upon mentioning that to the front desk, we were shown a King room behind the Spa which also smelled of mildew and chlorine. We know the hotel is capable of having clean bathrooms – their lobby had a nice one, and clean rooms - some of the suites we walked past looked nice, so it was a shame we didn't get to have one ourselves.
Finally, the Delfin cruise was spectacular! I guess given the price point, we were expecting all the bells and whistles and they delivered on each front! Our room was great (lots of bugs but we are in the rainforest after all ☺, as well as on a boat for that matter) – the floor to ceiling windows, bed and furnishings were all nicely appointed. Sandro, our guide, went above and beyond to ensure that we were able to view wildlife, for instance, standing up in pelting rain in the dark looking for caymens for an hour+. Throughout the trip, we saw lots of birds, some monkeys, fished for piranha, pink dolphins, tried Amazonian fruits and had the opportunity to stand up paddle board and swim in the Amazon! All It was a 360 degree difference from the Andes Mountains! The meals and entertainment were excellent, we could really tell that the staff stopped at nothing and pulled all stops to make sure everything was first class and all the details were addressed.
In summary, everything was close to perfect for this trip. And as we've said countless times, this was in fact a trip of a lifetime!!
- Vincent & Cheryl T. (San Francisco, California)
Photographed at Amazon
We are back after a most excellent 10 days in Peru, and wanted to convey our thanks to you and SA expeditions.
Everything pretty much went as scheduled and arranged. Highlights included the Inca trail hike, the days spent in Cuzco and sacred valley, the excellent food and the nice weather.
The guided tours were all very well done, but we want to especially acknowledge Juan Cardenas - our guide at Cuzco & sacred valley. Always enthusiastic, super knowledgeable and adding that extra bit to make it special.
Thanks again to the team, and to you for the prompt responses and clarifications over the past few months. Peru is an amazing place, and we'd be glad to recommend it and SA expeditions to our friends.
- Anil, Dennis, John, Ravi, Vinoo (San Francisco, California)
Photographed at Machu Picchu
Staci- The trip was great. SA Ex did a great job. I've never had guides before on a trip and it made everything so much easier and less stressful. Luis (Amazon Guide) was wonderful and clearly showed a passion and interest in the Eco environment. He took Dillon and I on an exclusive early morning walk thru the jungle the day before we flew out to show us even more.
Emilio (Cusco & Machu Picchu Guide) was wonderful. I can't say enough about him. Very professional at all times, Respected our space. Cleary had knowledge of the Inca culture. Again he went above and beyond. I would recommend him for any tour. I couldn't have asked for a better trip. The weather was great the entire time. We only 2 minor hic cups. Train was 1 hour late coming off the mountain and our flight out of Puerto Mandaldo to Lima was 1 hour late. Both of which were no big deal.
I have another son graduating next year so I will be scouring the SA Ex site for another trip with him. I'm thinking Galapagos Islands.
- Robert and Dillon, (Los Angeles, California)
Photographed at Huyna Picchu
When I began research on an Inca Trail trek to Machu Picchu I found a wide range of options on the web and it was a bit overwhelming. After looking into some pricer options with well-known names (REI), I stumbled upon SA Expeditions website. Minutes after I entered in my request for a quote I was called directly by the owner of the company, Nick. Speaking with Nick on the phone was incredible helpful to 1. alleviate my fears of booking online with an unknown company and 2. talk through all my travel plans and desires until we arrived at the perfect trip for my husband and I. We ended up customizing our Inca Trail tour by adding a few days in the Amazon first and it was incredible!
We experienced the trip of a lifetime, even when my husband came down with altitude sickness in Cusco the day before we were supposed to leave for our trek. This is when I became incredibly grateful we booked with SA Expeditions. With a phone call we were in touch with Riva, who booked our trip and managed the details, who sent a Dr. out to our hotel to attend to my husband and re-arranged the remainder of our trip as we could no longer do the trek. As my husband was put on oxygen and resting in our hotel room, she put together all new hotel rooms, transfers, and even train and bus tickets so we could still make it to Machu Picchu. As luck would have it, she ended up in the same city we were transferred to (Sacred Valley) and even invited us to a special lunch with her and her colleagues! This ended up being a highlight of our trip. My husband recovered just fine and we still made it to Machu Picchu.
I couldn't imagine having to seek medical attention for my husband while simultaneously cancelling and re-booking our travel plans. We are incredibly grateful for the hard work and "above and beyond" approach of SA Expeditions and would highly recommend them to anyone looking to travel!
- Addison and Ian E. (San Diego, CA)
Photographed at Ollantaytambo
My husband & I just returned from a 2-week vacation in Brazil. This is the second year in a row we used South America Expeditions (SAE) to plan our trip. Last year we were in the Galapagos Islands and Machu Picchu; this year we traveled to Rio De Janeiro, the Iguazu Falls (visiting them from both the Brazilian side & the Argentine side), and the Amazon river. WOW!!! What an amazing trip... and I wasn't even sure if I wanted to go to Brazil. Everything was perfect from start to finish with this vacation; from flights being on-time, to luggage arriving timely, to our personal tour guides meeting us on schedule at the designated airports and hotels, to our feelings of safety, to the knowledge imparted by our guides, to our accommodations... absolutely everything ran like clockwork. Staci, at SAE, hit it out of the ballpark for us again this year. She makes herself available to her clients by phone or e-mail 24-hours per day, and in a few cases we needed her. Her response was almost instantaneous. Even though you are in a foreign country and do not speak the language, she makes sure you do not feel alone or unprotected-- yay Staci! We just arrived home to the States and are already throwing ideas around with SAE as to where we might travel next in South America. If anyone reading this is vacillating about a trip to the Galapagos, Machu Picchu, Rio, Iguazu Falls or the Amazon, my suggestion is run, do not walk, to the phone & contact South America Expeditions to plan your trip for you. You will not be disappointed. If you are world travelers, or simply have an interest in South America, by all means visit the places I've mentioned. The things you see & experience will be indelibly etched into your memories and will never be forgotten. My husband & I have traveled to 71 countries on 6 continents and our recent South American travels have indeed been some of our favorites. Happy trails!
- Jane and Michael Z. (Scottsdale, AZ)
Photographed at Amazon
I finally have a moment to share our comments regarding our trip to Chile. We had a fantastic time. The arrangements were on point and the guides were wonderful.
We were received in Santiago by Pablo (I hope my memory works regarding names). He was very personable and gracious. He left us at our hotel. He advised us the time he would be picking us up the next day. My husband and I spent the day visiting the city using the hop on -hop off bus tourist bus that was easily accessible near the hotel.
The next morning Pablo picked us up with Mark Knowles, who would be our biking guide for the next 3 days. He was the perfect guide for us. As an American we had no problem communicating. However, having been in Chile for 10 years, he had an in depth knowledge and understanding of the country and its customs. In addition, he is a professional cyclist so he was able to tailor our expedition to our ability level. It was thoroughly enjoyable. Pablo was a perfect complement to the entire biking experience. We felt safe at all times.
In Puerto Montt we were greeted by our two guides (his and her name escape me). Again, they were very professional and friendly. We arrived quite late. They drove us to Puerto Varas to the lovely Cumbres Hotel. Clearly, it was perfect location with spectacular views and a beautiful, expansive room. We enjoyed the New Year's dinner which was all arranged beforehand. We were pleasantly surprised about that detail. We enjoyed the spa services, room service and gym. We will definitely stay there again when we visit in the future.
New Year's Day we had a free day. We were able to explore Puerto Varas on our own. We had dinner at Mediterraneo. We enjoyed the food and the service. It was walking distance from the hotel. The next day Francisco (Ko Kayak) and their driver picked us up to go kayaking. Again, it was a beautiful day and a wonderful experience. We had the opportunity to share it with a young couple from England. We had lunch at a lady's house who lives next to the lake. We enjoyed the boxed lunch at their humble home. They shared their family history. It was lovely.
In the end, our experience was remarkable. This was one of the expeditions that left us with the clear notion that we will be back. We want to thank you for arranging such well-organized and enjoyable trip. We have already mentioned it to several friends who are looking at possible places to visit. Your professionalism and level of detail made this trip one of our top experiences.
- Hy and Lucia (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)
Photographed at Torres del Paine
The highlights of our trip were the trip to Machu Picchu, Our stay in the Amazon, and all of the beautiful accommodations at each place we stayed. We were very pleased with our guides and representatives. It was so nice to be greeted by Allison's smiling face when we landed after a long flight. Her thorough review of our itinerary put our minds at rest about the exciting week ahead. Wilfredo was an outstanding driver. He kept our vehicle spotlessly clean the entire trip, and maneuvered through some of the most difficult roads and traffic so that we always had a comfortable ride. He was always promptly waiting to pick us up from wherever we were, so we never had to wait. However, it was Johan, our guide that truly made the trip memorable for us. The wealth of information he shared with us about the Inca and Spanish history brought each site alive for us. He told us about each place as if it were a story unfolding before our eyes. He would frequently ask us questions, that made us think about what we were seeing and helped us to remember all that we learned. His calm and smiling demeanor combined with Wifredo's driving, created a delightful, stress free trip. In addition, the other guides that took us on our shorter excursions were also friendly, professional, and courteous. As Dennys in the Amazon reminded us- “No worries!” Finally, our last few hours in Lima with Reynardo were a relaxing conclusion to our trip as we came full circle from the Incas, to the Amazon, to the history of the Spanish in the historical district of Lima.
All of our accommodations were first class. The service at each place was impeccable, as if the staff anticipated our every need. Our rooms and cabana were beautifully designed for our maximum enjoyment.We felt like royalty at each place! As for the Amazon-it was a true adventure crossing the canopy walks, seeing the wild life and learning about the medical qualities of many plants. Thank you and all your wonderful staff for making this the trip of a lifetime!
- Harri and Heidi B. (New York)
Photographed at Machu Picchu
hanks to Riva with SA Luxury Expeditions. We recently returned from a 10-day trip that included Lima, Puerto Maldonado, Cuzco and Machu Picchu. Believe it or not, this was a last minute trip. We were referred to Riva through a coworker. She was so helpful. She guided us through to various itenerary options, helped align our sudden trip with the coworker and addressed last minute modifications. She was very quick to respond to every email - including a last minute request, during the trip, when we turned ill. She even called the hotel to see if a doctor \ specialist was needed! Every step of the trip was well planned and tended to. The staff that was apointed to our trip were fantastic, very well informed, polite and eager to provide great service. They were individual ambassadors for each city that we visited. Whenever we needed to be taken to an airport, met at an airport, met at the hotel, , whatever - we were never disappointed.
Lima - we had a couple of 'free days' that we'd intentionally added. Riva placed us in the Raddison in Mirraflores. A great choice, great location. This is a very friendly, clean and safe area. It is a short walk to Kennedy Park or the ocean with the great views and restaurants. We found a double-decker bus that took us on a tour - highly recommended. We flew to Puerto Maldonado and spent a couple days with Incaterra. Staying at an eco-lodge was interesting. The staff and facility were great. Our guide - Fray - was very informative. He always had an answer. He always seemed to know what our groups next question was going to be and he was prepared. The cabana was nice clean and well appointed. You just have to remember that there are actually certain hours of the day when they turn off the site generator... our first night was the noisiest night I've had in ages. Serious. When white noise is absent you can't believe how loud the tiniest of insects can be. Oh yeah - December is rainy season. Our second day almost got rained out. We did the (long...muddy...) hike to Lake Sandavol, went out on the canoe and saw some wildlife including otters, birds and a large caiman. That afternoon, the rain eased up so we could go on a jungle canopy hike. I can't forget to tell you about the food at this lodge. Fantastic. They farm most of the food that was prepared. The dinner rolls - with chocolate - were surprising deliscious. That memory always brings a smile. Next, we went to Cuzco to prepare for the Machu Picchu. The elevation, yes, it will affect you. We were met locally by Allison - very helpful and gave us some dinner suggestion that were fantastic. Thanksfully, the botique hotel that Riva put is at was very prepared for its guests... and quickly offered the local remedy (yes.. it helped.) Casa San Blas. Great location, the rooms on the 3rd floor were fantastic, loft style with a nice city view at night. Cuzco was a great walk-around town. Don't rush yourself. The churches and the cathedral were beautiful. I just wish that photography was allowed. We found the chocolate museum in Cuzco. They were very eager to share their knowledge and the process used to make this wonderful chocolate. We had soem great dinners here as well. Cicciolina - I think that's the name - you have to find it and experience it. Unbelievable. This place could have been in any major city. Highlights included the duck piscutto and fried polenta, the red trout ceviche and the bbq scallops.
Finally we were ready to go to Machu Picchu. We did it the easy way. We took the train from Cuzco to Aguas Calientes, spent the night and then took the bus in the morning. I won't bore you with the ooo's and ahhh's. You can google a zillion pics and articles. But - I want to highlight out guide. Riva paired us with Silver. He was great. Better than great, he could have lead a history class. He was with us in Cuzco as well. He has a great passion for the region, the people and culture. You will want to ask for him. Oh - everywhere we went he was known... storekeepers and guides... it was like traveling with a rock star :) After Macchu Pichu we returned to Lima and had a halfday tour. Another fantastic guide. We went to a few different locations, including the Monastery of San Franciso (another place that I really really wish I could have taken photos...) and a private residence that has been in the same (wealthy) family for 500 years. Great access and knowledge. Thanks again to Riva for putting together such a great trip.
- Kurt and Maria G. (Aurora, IL)
Photographed at Machu Picchu
SA Luxury Expeditions and Gina Allman planned and provided an amazing tour of Peru for this father/daughter expedition. We loved the colorful introduction to Peru in Arequipa. Our trip took us took to see the huge condors and the beautiful native terraced area of Colca Canyon. The floating Uros island, Lake Titicaca boat ride, and fresh lake trout lunch on Taquile Island were breath-taking. The sacred Valley, Cusco, and Machu Picchu, and our guide Marco provided the most memorable moments of our trip. Looking over Machu Picchu, with my dad who had read about the Incas in eighth grade and always dreamed of seeing their innovative wonders, was a thrill of a lifetime for this daughter. Thank you SA Luxury for providing such a special lifetime experience.
- Lasca A. (Goliad, TX)
Photographed at Sacred Valley