I am planning a 3-week trip for me & my girlfriend to Peru in June/July this year, but haven't booked anything yet.
We want to definitely get to do the following things in our itiniery :-
Ariquep (i've probably spelled this wrong...)
Rafting in colca
I guess this is a fairly well trodden path - we're used to travelling independently in asia but have never done South America.
Can anyone advise what we might need to consider and what do we need to book in advance, and does this itiniery look realistic for 3 weeks? I've read that you need to be flexible due to unreliable travel etc. so have I got enough time allowing for delays??
A lot of people are saying on this forum that you can pretty much turn up and do Macchu Picchu independently without arranging through a tour operator - but does this apply to the 4 day trail? If I have to book in advance, can anyone recommend a decent operator? (less worried about price more interested in one with quality tents & equipment, good guides etc). Don't want to run out of time if you need to book 3 months in advance......
Any other nuggets of experience would be most appreciated, and I will continue researching blogs in the meantime!
Your trip is very doable! And it's about time you start booking, because you're going to Peru in high season!
You can surely go to Machu Picchu without booking it in advance. But if you want to take the Inca Trail you MUST book it in advance. At least 3 months prior to your trip! And it can only be done using an agency!
Andex Adventure is a great tour operator for all of South America, they are Peruvian experts and are based in Lima!
You should only re-arrange your order of tours, starting Lima - Arequipa/Colca CAnyon - Cusco/Inca Trail/Machupicchu - Lake Titicaca and Amazon!
Best of luck!
I suggest you base your trip out of Cusco. I spent 9 weeks in Peru a few years ago, and did all the things you wish too (except the Rainforest) from cusco. There are countless tourist companies there that will book any trip you want (remember everything is negotiable). To visit Lake titticaca I recommend taking a public bus to copacabana, Bolivia. From there you can take a 15min boat trip to Isla Del Sol. you can stay on the island at one of the couple hostels for very cheap.
If you do go to peru, remember it will be cool in the mountains, even in July, and the inca trail will be downright cold at least one night.
Have fun, and be safe.
My boyfriend and I were recently on a vacation in Peru (Jul 2009) and we booked most of our tours from a travel agent based in Arequipa – Inka Fest who showed us that Peru is a country of astounding natural diversity. We did our bookings directly with the owner, who also accompanied us personally on some private guided tours, where we got to see Peru much better than being part of a large group of tourists. She and her staff are remarkable and very knowledgeable. During our stay in Puno we got delayed by a day due to strikes. Inka Fest took care of extending our accommodation in Puno, and rescheduled our transport. Inka Fest did a truly wonderful job. With them we booked a tour to the Ballestas Islands and the Paracas Reserve, City of Ica and Huacachina Oasis, City of Arequipa and Countryside, Colca Trek and Titicaca Lake including all accommodation and transport to and from – all to the highest standards with very reasonable prices. Well spoken in English & French. Overall I would say that Inka Fest is highly recommended to anyone visiting Peru!