Wow where do I start ?! Having just returned from a 3-week Peru Explorer trip (APX230521) I suppose my first thoughts would be about the size and scale of Peru, the sheer variety, the colours, the smells. The landscape is one of extreme contrasts from arid desert flanked by the Pacific, to vast empty looking scrub in the highlands dotted with the occasional vicuña or alpaca (or volcano), to small fields of crops on the edge of towering mountains and plunging canyons, to steamy jungle with the snow-capped peaks of the Andes in the distance. The sweeping scenery changes steadily as you drive through it – just be prepared for a number of long days on the road.. Exodus list this trip as a 2 out of 7 – Leisurely/Moderate activity level. This is not the case. The distances, the roads, the “standard” early starts – the alarm was usually set for 5:00am – and the altitude made this considerably more arduous. (This rating should be reconsidered I suggest). As you might expect Peru’s cities are noisy bustling places – often choked by traffic – Lima being a case in point. Getting around takes time. This trip actually spends little time in the capital. If you can spare half a day (ie. on Day 2 before the city tour) I would urge you to devote an hour or two to the Museo Larco as we did. This houses a spectacular collection – www.museolarco.org/en/ Arequipa and Cusco were both fascinating, Cusco seemed especially vibrant as the locals prepared for the big festival with music and dancing from the young and not so young ! As one who did the Inca Trail, I actually had little time in Cusco (initially arrived late in the evening from Puno, then away at 5:00am the next morning ..) Whether the itinerary was changed a year or two back (so I was told ?) it might work better if the Day 17 tour of Cusco and Sacsayhuaman were brought forward to Day 12. I would also be tempted to drop one of two of the smaller Inca sites on this day to allow more time in Cusco itself. The actual Inca Trail was well organised and well run with a very experienced guide – but be warned. The cold at night (I found it odd that my “4-season” sleeping bag didn’t seem to keep the cold out), then the heat once the sun rises and the altitude can make this hard work .. but the scenery was again a complete delight. Those porters work really hard for what they get. Set in all this are the various historical and archaeological sites – these do not disappoint ! The view of Machu Picchu really is stupendous and the site visit fascinating – despite the crowds and the various limitations imposed on visitors, fixed itineraries for example. (Be aware that those who opt to do the Inca Trail have to follow a different route to those who do not trek. My wife and I were there on the same day – but had to visit separately). Wiñay Wayna and Sayajmarca (for those trekking) are also spectacular locations – again set on steep mountainsides. From start to finish our whole trip ran calmly and smoothly, controlled quietly by our experienced leader Raul – despite running into the odd problem with roadworks/traffic and with changes of drivers/vehicles. His attention to detail and to the personal needs of his group was excellent. My wide became quite ill – he did everything to help her. This made all the difference to her trip. Thank you Raul. One further comment, about money. Yes, ATM’s are readily available in the cities however – the withdrawal maximum can be rather limiting (400Sols so 85 quid give or take). Bear in mind also that the Peruvian bank charges a fee for using their hole in the wall, normally something like PENS 36.00. It can be less, but for a smaller withdrawal total.. People might want to consider taking some Sols into Peru from the start. Over 3 weeks our Peru Explorer trip involved many wonderful places and many amazing people – both guides and locals. Despite some of the news coming out of Peru this year and despite a 3-year delay (we had booked originally to go in 2020 ..) the dream finally came true, a dream since childhood for some of us.. PS: the Café Manos Unidas mentioned towards the end of the Trip Notes should be removed. When we asked about it, we were told this worthy training initiative had stopped during Covid ..