1. Will we have the same guide for all of our tours?
You may have the same guide for all tours, or you may have a different guide. It depends on scheduling and expertise. There are advantages to either way. If you are taking the river raft trip on the Urubamba River, you will have a regular guide AND a white water certified guide.
2. Are the guides bilingual and licensed?
All guides for tours are bilingual (Spanish and English) and have received course work and graduated from a certified guide program. They are licensed by the INC. If they are doing any tours at Machu Picchu, they must have additional courses and certification to do so.
Note that most of your guides will also be fluent in Quechua, the language of the native people in rural areas. They may also speak German, French, or other languages.
3. What time will we be picked up for the trek or day trips/tours?
When you are met at the airport by your transfer agent, he/she will give you vouchers for your hotels (if booked through us) and tours. This person will know what time you will be picked up at your hotel for the next trip or tour. Be sure to have that information, before he/she leaves you! At the end of each day, the guide will tell you when you will be picked up the next morning (or afternoon).
4. What are the hotels like?
The hotels in Peru vary in quality and amenities, as they do everywhere. You can feel comfortable in a 3-star hotel. Four- and five-star hotels are VERY nice and, naturally, offer more in terms of services and meals. Beware of seeking out anything less than 3-stars!
The 3-star hotels are the most often used by AWR clients, unless an upgrade has been requested. The 3-star hotels have comfortable rooms, hot running water (with an occasional day or two of problems). If your room is on a busy street, it may be noisy at night (good use for your ear plugs). They serve breakfast, as do almost all of the hotels. These hotels also have internet access...usually one computer....definitely no wi-fi. However, there are reasonably priced internet cafes in most cities/towns.
5. What should we do in Cusco?
Have fun! Your hotel will be near the Plaza de Armes...the main "hangout" for everyone, it seems. Great for people watching.
Be sure you get a guide book(s) and read it before you go. Highlight places you want to visit and restaurants/cafes where you might like to eat. Then, ask the first guide that you have (often the city tour), what his/her recommendations are, depending on your interests. For instance, if you like to observe craftspeople working in their shops, the San Blas plaza is wonderful.
You can feel relatively safe walking around the main plaza and nearby streets. Having a "buddy" is always a good idea. That does not mean that there are no dangers or that there are no pickpockets! Take extra precautions at night (a taxi can take you to/from the folklorica dance program). As with any city, if you do not feel safe when you enter an area, get out of there!
The local people will know you are a tourist, whether you have a camera hanging from your neck or not. They will hound you to buy their wares...and expect a small tip if you take their picture. Be generous with your "no, gracias", if you have enough finger puppets and pictures!
6. Where are the good places to eat?
It would be dangerous for us to recommend a place to eat! Again, we suggest that you use your guide books for ideas and talk with your guide for suggestions. Then, as you walk around the plaza area, be on the watch for places that look like they might be fun... and check their menus. But if you want some guidance, we have created a list of our favorite restaurants for you.
7. Is there an opportunity to bring supplies or clothing for the porters or for children?
Wonderful! If you have extra clothing or shoes/boots for the porters, be sure to bring them and let your guide know that you have them. They can be given to the porters before or after the trek (at the office of the outfitter). If you have school supplies or small toys for children, you can also ask any of your guides for help in distributing them. They are good to give out on visits to schools or orphanages. A pen or small ball is a nice "reimbursement" for a picture taken!
8. Is there an opportunity to give service to the community?
Yes. If you know that you would like to have an afternoon or a day for giving service, let us know and we will work it into your itinerary. Two examples:
- The Aldea Yanapay Alternative School in Cusco is open from 3:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. for students to study. Visitors can go and interact with the children ages 10-16. Playing games, singing or working on school work are all possibilities.
- In Ollantaytambo, there is rural Rumira School to which visitors can go and serve breakfast! You will also be able to interact with the children and take them school supplies, play games or sing songs!
If you would like an entire itinerary of volunteer community service....as well as seeing the icons of Peru, check our website for the 12 day Community Service Program.
9. Should we give candy to the children? Should we give money to children?
Most guide books dissuade you from giving candy to children. That said, many tourists bring wrapped candies and give them to children anyway. (Don't be surprised if you later see the wrappers on the ground!) We would recommend instead: pens, notepads, small balls, toys, sunglasses, baseball caps, stickers.
The same holds true for money. If you buy a drawing, bracelet or finger puppet from a child, you will, of course, pay for this. Otherwise, a small item is better, if given simply as a gift.
10. What are the best side trips? Can I add this to my itinerary?
If you have a few days after your trek, you may want to visit another region of Peru, giving you more of that country's scenic beauty and its culture. A look at our website and your guide book will help. Of most interest to our clients:
- Amazon Rainforest Experience
- Puno, Lake Titicaca and the Floating Isles
- Arequipa and the Colca Canyon
- Nazca Lines Overflight and Ballestas Isles Boat Trip
- Huaraz and the Cordillera Blanca (treks, hikes and cultural tours)
We can book these side trips for you!
11. What activities can we do with children? Teens?
There are many additional options to give young people a unique Peru experience:
- Horseback riding in the Sacred Valley
- Mountain biking from village to village.
- River rafting on the Urubamba River
- Peruvian Horse Show, Dinner and Dance Program (fun for the whole family!)
If you are interested in any of these activities, let us know! It can be added to your itinerary. If your children or teens have special interests, let us know and we can find activities for them geared to those interests.
12. I'm traveling alone; can I join a group?
Yes. Several of the tours are available as part of a group:
- Lima City Tour (1/2 day).
- Cusco City Tour (1/2 day).
- Sacred Valley Tour of Pisac and Ollantaytambo (full day).
- Vistadome train to Machu Picchu (1- or 2-days).
- Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu (1- or 2-days).
(Note that some treks may also be done in a group).
It should be noted that the rest of the time you will be on your own to explore at your leisure and pleasure! However, you will not need to worry about transfers to hotels and airports. A person will be on hand to assist you with that!
13. Who do I call, if I have problems while in Peru?
Your AWR reservation confirmation will have the phone numbers (including 24-hour service) of who to contact if you need to speak with someone in the tour company/outfitter.
These are also the numbers you will give to family and friends in case of an emergency at home. The tour company/outfitter will know where you are at all times, or if you have a free morning, they will know what hotel you are staying at.