"Had a life changing experience"
By Jenny, Vijay, Anita and Armita - from USA
TLDR - Amazing team of people! Highly recommended.
Cusco, Moras, Moray, Qorikancha, Urbumba, Ollantaytambo, Aguas Caliente and Machu Pichu! As you can see our itinerary was packed!
The booking experience: 5 stars, Deslie was very knowledgeable and patient and gave us very good advice.
Actual trip experience:
Day 1 - We had an delicious lunch on a restaurant balcony overlooking the square and toured Cusco city and nearby sites. Our guide Kevin was knowledgeable and very perceptive to our needs. We stayed at the Maytaq Wasin and were happy with the room and breakfast.
Day 2 - Kevin and Bruce were sharp on time and we visited the women's cooperative, Moras, Moray and Qorikancha and went to the Ollantaytambo railway station to catch the train to Aguas Caliente. Joel (our guide for Machu Pichu) was at the station and took us to the hotel for the night and advised on the time to meet next morning. Dinner at the recommended restaurant was nice. The hotel was nice and breakfast was fresh and the right fuel for the long day ahead.
Day 3 - Joel was sharp on time and we left to the bus to take us up to Machu Pichu. Joel is very knowledgeable and friendly. He took time to explain details and significance of many things that were not readily apparent. He was perceptive to our needs as we were still adjusting to the altitude. We had lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge (we requested this as an experience) at Machu Pichu and took the bus down to catch the train back to Ollantaytambo and stay at the El Albergue hotel (right at the train station!) This hotel was an amazing experience.
Day 4 - Sol and Bruce picked us up from the hotel at Ollantaytambo sharp on time and drove us back to Cusco. We had missed Qorikancha on day 1 as the place had closed. After checking that we had time Sol arranged for us to see it. We had a tasty lunch at a local restaurant (at our request) and proceeded to the Cusco airport.
Deslie - (Our booking contact) knowledgeable, patient and considerate of our situation made the booking that would normally be a harrowing process a pleasure. She was responsive and took the time to explain our options and pro and cons of some of the choices we made so there were no surprises.
Sol - (Our contact for everything) Kind, perceptive, punctual, very knowledgeable, ender of all problems! She did all the worrying so we could do all the enjoying! She brings energy and sunshine to the room when she walks in. Meeting her was pleasure. We thought we were going to meet our tour guide but we met a friend.
Kevin - (Our Cusco tour guide) Punctual, skilled photographer, great sense of humor, grew up in the area and is very knowledgeable. Very perceptive he would take breaks at the right moment so we could acclimate to the altitude. We enjoyed his company throughout the tour.
Joel - (Machu Pichu tour guide) Punctual, skilled photographer, unique sense of humor that lifts the spirits. Spiritual leader! he offers more than a touristy perspective on things. Joel knows everybody! Very perceptive he paced the tour such that we could cover the vast area without tiring ourselves out.
Bruce - (Our driver for the trip) Punctual, squeaky clean car every day, steady hands and safe driver. I was able to take naps knowing that he was always cautious and focused while driving.
You may be able to save some money by shopping around and piece-mealing the trip with multiple agencies, but it's not worth what money you may save. Machu Travel helped us make the right choices for our family and the experiences we desired, they are responsive and genuinely care about your experience.
- Machu travel - Not your cheapest option, but that is not the market they cater to. Thiers is a book and forget model. Once you book all you do is focus on absorbing Peru they take care of everything else.
-Paying by card is expensive due to the processing fees, that's not under Machu Travel's control. They do offer a bank transfer option as well to lower fees. They need the payment in advance as all tickets and experiences are paid for and they have all documents in hand before you get there. There is no standing in line/waiting to get tickets except a couple of locations that do not allow earlier purchases. Even in those cases our guide had tickets in hand before we finished taking pictures outside the site.
- Lunch at Sanctuary Lodge at Machu Pichu - (We requested this) Don't have high expectations about the food, the property is a marvel and staff there were friendly and helpful so we are happy. Definitely a place to stay at least once in a life time even if is extremely expensive.
Closing comments -
Things run on time but allow for delays if there is bad weather (Take your booking agent's advice on buffer times). Over all 5 stars. Go with Machu Travel if you want to book once then focus on enjoying your trip and not having to worry about things when you get there. This is all the more important if you are travelling with children. They have earned a customer for life.