Hi Miles -
Thanks for reaching out!!
I cannot thank you enough for your services. From start to finish, it was seamless.
The trip was beyond our wildest expectations -- truly the trip of a lifetime. It would not have been possible without Peru North. Thank you so much.
What was your favourite cultural destination in the itinerary?
What was your favourite natural destination in the itinerary?
Day hiking in the Atuen Valley – Diablo Huasi cliff tombs.
Who was/were your guide(s)? How did they perform?
Roger Vigo Vargas was hands-down amazing. He was born and raised in Kuelap, which made our visit their especially meaningful. He spoke English fairly fluently, which was also helpful.
John, our driver, while not English-speaking was so friendly and fun to be around.
Which was your favourite accommodation and why?
Casa Mallqui. It won on all fronts. Situated next to the mummy museum, it felt like a real once-in-a-lifetime spot to stay. The rooms were really lovely, with beautiful views. Quiet grounds, with gorgeous flowers.
Ayoko, the innkeeper, tended to our every need with grace and care. The food cooked by her was the best we had by far on our entire trip. Also, we were the only guests there!
Which was your favourite restaurant / dish / drink? Did you lose or gain weight over the course of the holiday!?
Ayoko's meals at Casa Mallqui! I also really loved canchita [toasted corn].
We had a tremendous meal after Gocta in San Pablo de Valera, that Roger arranged for us. It was chicken, rice, potatoes, yucca, mango juice (see photo).
I think we both stayed about the same weight with all of our hiking.
What forms of transport did you use? Pros/cons?
We used private cars throughout Northern Peru, and felt very safe. Only con was maybe not getting to interact as much with locals or feeling as though we'd "earned" the trip for having to struggle in any way, because it was all easy and taken care of.
We went by horse / donkey to Gocta. I'm comfortable on horses, but didn't feel too safe with the rain and the incline, so wound up hiking on the way down. The handlers were fantastic - no fault of their own.
Did your itinerary involve any hiking? How would you rate it in terms of difficulty?
Yes- daily! Diablo Huasi we'd rate as 7 out of 10. It was about an 8 mile / 7 hour hike with a lot of mud, elevation gain, and some bushwacking with Roger leading the way with a machete. We loved it!
Revash Tombs were a 1-2 -- very easy.
Gocta was a 6-7, depending if you hiked the entire way.
What was the most pointless item in your luggage!?
Neal said his umbrella wasn't needed (though it did rain, and we were glad to have a poncho).
I didn't need a hairdryer.
What was/were your favourite natural encounter (eg. animal / bird / flora seen)?
Condors at Diablo Huasi, wild orchids, cloud forest ecology in general (so wild!!), all the birds.
Did you suffer any insect bites? Other physical discomforts?
We had a few mosquito bites, but nothing serious. We both began feeling a little ill on the flight home - travellers tummy, but were fine in-country.
If hiking in March, I'd definitely stress bringing good boots that will dry out quickly. Mine were older (all leather), and worked fine for the short trip, but weren't drying out as they usually do in Colorado.
I'd absolutely stress bringing a poncho, more than one pair of good hiking socks too.
And given that northern Peru is just starting to attract a higher number of domestic and international visitors, we feel it is important to assess the impact of this on a naturally and culturally sensitive region.
Did you have much interaction with locals? Where and how did this occur?
One of the highlights of the trip was having a picnic lunch with Roger's family outside the walls of Kuelap. They are all from that region, and likely ancestors of the fortress.
Did you feel your money was going to local businesses and people?
Absolutely. This felt great.
Were you given any information regarding sustainability during the course of your trip (e.g. talks on environmental issues from guides)?
Did you notice any areas where environmental practices could be improved?
It's difficult to use so many water bottles on a vacation like we did, and not recycle at all.
Finally, if you could provide an overall summary of the holiday, we would be most grateful.
The trip of a lifetime - it felt like we were exploring places just recently unearthed. We went over Spring Break, and saw only a handful of other tourists mid-way through our trip.
From an all-day trek to view mausoleums in cliffs, to sleeping next to a museum of 200 mummies, to a horseback ride through the cloud forest to the highest free-leaping waterfall in the world, to visiting a Kingdom in the Clouds - more ancient than Machu Picchu, to delicious homemade meals and private rides through the Amazonian Andes -- we were delighted beyond our wildest dreams.