Here is the feedback from Swiss couple, Jacqueline Achermann & Romain de Luz, whose Northern Peru trip covered the following destinations:
Lima - Iquitos - 3 days / 2 nights stay at a Maniti Lodge in the Amazon - Iquitos - Tarapoto - Chachapoyas / Gocta Falls - Laguna de los Condores - Leymebamba / Kuelap - Cajamarca - Huanchaco / Trujillo - Lima.
What was your favourite cultural destination in the itinerary?
-> Laguna de los Condores (the mausoleums and its mummies in the museum of Leymebamba).
We really enjoyed our trip to Laguna de los Condores even though it was quite different from what we expected. We were surprised at how much horseback riding was involved. We thought that we could hike a lot and only ride on the horse when we were tired. However, it would not have been possible to walk all the way …
… Anyway, Laguna de los Condores was one of the highlights of our trip and we are very happy that we decided to do it. Thank you very much for your assistance and we can definitely recommend this destination!
What were your favourite natural destinations in the itinerary?
-> Amazon & Laguna de Los Condores
Who were your guides? How did they perform?
-> Our guide to Laguna de los Condores was Santos. We were very happy with him and very impressed by his hard work. The days are very long and physically demanding for all the guides. Even though our Spanish is very bad, Santos gave his best to communicate with us and show/explain things.
However, we should mention that the beginning of the trip was a little bit difficult us as well as Santos. We were surprised / frustrated at how much we had to ride. Of course this must have been difficult for Santos to deal with as to him it was normal to ride to the Laguna.
Which was your favourite accommodation and why?
-> We loved Casona de Chachapoyas for its beautiful building.
-> We loved Casona de Leymebamba for its friendly landlords and beautiful building. But it is also a bit overpriced.
-> Our favorite was Casa Bonita in Cajamarca. It is built in the same style as the Casonas de Chachapoyas and Leymebamba but the prices are lower and the rooms even more beautiful. Also, the staff is extremely friendly and helpful.
Which was your favourite restaurant / dish / drink? Did you lose or gain weight over the course of the holiday!?
-> We both lost weight on our trip as it was a very active trip (lots of hiking).
-> favorite dish for Romain: Ceviches. We also liked the very cheap but filling "menus" that are offered everywhere
-> there are not many restaurants in Leymebamba, but we liked Sabor del Mishqui for supper (at the main square). A very nice café / place to relax is Kentikafé next to the Museum de Leymebamba.
What forms of transport did you use? Pros/cons?
-> Airplane from Lima - Iquitos & Iquitos - Tarapoto (+fast and convenient)
-> Colectivo [minibus] from Tarapoto - Chachapoyas (+beautiful route and road is in very good condition. - takes a long time: about 10 hours)
-> Colectivo from Leymebamba - Cajamarca (+ there are several colectivos a day that depart from the main square. Tickets can be booked in the little shop next to the "Red Bus Sign". Spectacular route!)
-> Bus from Cajamarca - Trujillo (+ convenient & fast)
-> Nightbus from Trujillo - Lima (we chose the most luxurious category, which is definitely worth the money -> around 30 dollars. + fast, we slept during the whole ride, comfortable)
Did your itinerary involve any hiking? How would you rate it in terms of difficulty?
-> jungle hiking in the Amazon: Easy
-> Gocta Falls: steep trails but trails are in good condition. Easy to hike but you should have a minimum of fitness.
-> Laguna de los Condores: First and third day are impossible to do without horses (except if you are a marathon runner;). The trails (1st, 2nd and 3rd day) are very muddy, slippery and steep. Second day is no problem if you are used to exercise...
What was the most pointless item in your luggage!?
-> shorts & dresses (it was never warm enough to wear them, except in the Amazon; but there we did not want to risk to get bitten by mosquitos etc.)
What were your favourite natural encounters (eg. animal / bird / flora seen)?
-> the huge diversity (flora and fauna) in the Amazon
-> the cloud forest around Chachapoyas
Did you suffer any insect bites? Other physical discomforts?
-> hardly any insect bites. No problems with the altitude. Some diarrhea.
Did you feel your money was going to local businesses and people?
-> Yes, we always try to spend our money so that it reaches locals businesses and people. Only with PeruNorth we do not know how much of our money will reach the local community. Maybe you can make this a bit more transparent on your website?
Were you given any information regarding sustainability during the course of your trip (e.g. talks on environmental issues from guides)?
-> Yes, we felt that environmental issues were huge issues wherever we went (especially deforestation in the Amazon and around Leymebamba)