We normally prefer to travel as independent travellers, finding that the advance planning of researching and creating the ideal holiday is a big part of our travel experience. This time my wife and I wanted a more structured plan, because we were travelling with another couple and also because of our unfamiliarity with the tourist infrastructure in Peru.
We initially looked at using G Adventures or Intrepid-big international entities with well established reputations for our planned 17 day tour but decided that we would also get a quote from a well rated local Peru outfit, Apus Peru.When their quote came in at a virtually identical price to the same G Adventures tour, we decided to give them a shot, thinking that the profit from our booking might be better staying in Peru. At that point, we had not paid much attention to Apus's commitment to supporting charity projects in Peru and environmentally sustainable tourism, which turned out to be an added "feel good" bonus to having booked through them.
Our experiences have made us reconsider our reluctance to use a travel agency. We soon became appreciative of the fact that every time we would step off a plane or bus there would be an Apus rep there, waiting to take us on a tour, to our hotel etc. All of the hotels they booked for us were at or exceeded our expectations (and in all cases were well reviewed on Tripadvisor), and in cases where Apus did not directly offer services in the area (Amazon jungle, Lake Titicaca) the subcontractors they used were equally of high quality and supportive of the same environmental/ charitable aims of Apus.
Our Apus tour guides (Joel for Cusco and the Sacred Valley, Big Willie for our Lares trek and Macchu Picchu) were both excellent, and we really appreciated their efforts to share their culture and ideals with us. A highlight for us was going on a trek where we saw no other tourists, just locals, allowing us to get a much better appreciation for the way the locals lived and how drastically different our cultures were. I had my iPhone along and when I used it to do a quick recording of a group of schoolchildren in a remote Andean village singing a song for us, it was a blast to see their fascination to the play back. I suspect some had never seen such a device before.
Perhaps the most impressive thing that happened was at the end of our tour, when my wife and I decided to change our itinerary and take a bus to La Paz, instead of returning to Lima from Puno. Since the change was unplanned, we assumed after advising Apus that we didn't require our transfer back to the airport for our return flight, that we would be on our own from there. We were impressed when the evening before our departure we got a call from the contractor tour company in Puno wanting to know what time they could pick us up in the morning to take us to the bus depot. It was a short cab ride so it wan't a big deal one way or the other, but it was a fitting end to a great trip where it seemed that every detail was taken care of with care and efficiency.
Apus Peru is highly recommended.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.