Turtle, Ecuador

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5 Reviews

  • Reviewed July 2019
    IZABELA RUPRIK

    ABSOLUTELY STUNNING

    I booked the jungle extension which we started from then continued onto the cycling part. Our group was small (only 4 people) but well integrated. I would highly recommend the extension but you may want to put it at the end as starting from it means an extremely long travel with 3 back to back flights. The wildlife and the views we saw were breathtaking. Many boat rides, including a canoe-like one which I dreaded (dislike of small boats) but what we saw more than made up for the stress. Be ready for not as much strenuous as stressful at times cycling due to quite technically challenging very steep descents on gravel/stones which require good mountain bike handling skills. Culturally it is a fantastic trip. I loved the flora & fauna of Costa Rica and have great memories from Colombia but Peru is simply an explosion of colour and the food is ridiculously good. The hiking part was challenging but the views breathtaking. The number of Inka ruin sites we visited BEFORE Machu Picchu was also a positive surprise.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The best part of the jungle extension was the 4:30am start on a boat when we travelled to see the macaws and a beautiful sunrise on the way. Also the boat ride on the lake watching the birds, caymans and catching a piranha which then fell into our boat :) I also shed a tear when we stopped the boat in the middle of the night on the river to take in the most starry sky I have ever seen in my life (cue crying) On the main cycling part I was extremely taken with the Maras ruins, salt pans and of course the Machu Picchu itself. When we laid our eyes on the Uros (floating islands) we were all gobsmacked, too. But you cannot underestimate the assault of colours that is the way the strong Peruvian ladies wear! Realising this is not just a tourist thing in Cuzco but what they actually wear on a daily basis, came as a shock. And when the host lady at the home stay brought out all kinds of clothes and hats and we all dressed up in the full attire, hats and all, for a lovely group photo, was a fantastic experience as well.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    First we had Joel in the jungle who is a real Peruvian Wildlife Jedi and can spot a baby cayman in total darkness across the full width of the river. I swear I thought he had placed them there himself ahead of our night trip... Also his tarantula tracking skills are second to none. And when Jeff tripped and lost his sunglasses about 40min away from our base, unbeknown to us Joel traced back our route to retrieve them and arrived at dinner proudly holding them up (drenched in sweat and flustered). Great guy! We then have Carlos on the cycling trip. He is a mountain biker and struggled understanding my fear of steep descents but he took good care of us on and off the bike. When it was one of the girls' birthday he booked a lovely restaurant with a folk show and organised a cake, too. The driver Elvis should be renames as Evil Kenevil after driving that minibus on the most scary road I have ever witnessed! And Leonardo, the Chef, was the sweetest guy with some serious cooking skills.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    I must say THANK YOU to Peter Gomes, whose review I read properly on the day of departure and which made me repack! TEMPERATURE: we went in July which is their winter/dry season. from around 10am to about 4pm it's about 30 degrees Celsius. Nights are very cold and at the Alpaca ranch it was -3 in the morning with ice on the streams. Take many layers, winter gloves and thermals for the descents from 4,300m, warm hats and something to cover your face. We only got rained on once (out of the cloud forest) but badly so waterproofs are a must. The bikes are mountain bikes and have no mudguards and you will go through some streams that run across the road so you will get wet even without rain. In the jungle it's hot and humid but you want to sleep in PJs covering your limbs to prevent insect bites. Some hotels are really nice and warm and have extra heaters but the ranch and home stay despite being lovely get freezing at night so we were wearing hats and ponchos in bed. ALTITUDE: I would recommend getting the Diamox. I had gone to the GP but she refused to give it to me and as a result I suffered badly. First day in Cusco I felt like I was not going to be able to take part. I struggled breathing and was seeing spots. But hecto-litres of coca tea helped somewhat (note: it makes you pee like mad). However, any incline (which thankfully there are not too many of) was a herculean effort. The guys who were on Diamox were absolutely fine. FOOD: amazeballs. In hotels, restaurants and the stuff prepared by the chef. We actually all agreed that there was way too much food for the cycling efforts expected of us. The snack bags were very much appreciated but the massive lunches meant we missed a few dinners. SHOES: the hike the day before Machu Picchu is a serious one and good sturdy shoes and walking sticks (which you can hire through the guide) are a must. I don't do much hiking and after that I struggled to walk up and down the steps for a couple of days... Only bring your pedals and MTB cleats if you are a confident MTB rider otherwise I cycled all the time in the hiking boots. LAUNDRY: there are 2 nights in Cusco in the middle where you can use the hotel service. Other than that you can do handwash but take into consideration that if your room have no additional heaters, the chances of your washing actually drying plummets. And at alpaca farm and home stay it is impossible as no heating is available. You will get lucky if you get a hot shower :) but it's so worth it! FINAL SURPRISE: which I did not appreciate was that when the minibus arrived to our hotel in Puno to take us to Juliaca airport, it contained a guide we did not expect. He talked throughout the ride and we had one stop over right outside the town to see the panorama. We should have been told though. We just wanted to get to the airport on time worrying about the luggage being over the limit (yeah, loads of shopping opportunities :) )

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think Exodus should equip the riders with reflective strips/waistcoats or at least the bikes with some form of reflective items for the descent in the rain forest. It was a great ride but 60km with really bad visibility at times where we were plunged into dense fog completely invisible to the oncoming cars or at times each other. All other bikes we passed had this issue sorted out. It was only for that one day but even the bike pedals had no reflective parts and it must be sorted out.
  • Great introduction to Peru

    A great introduction to the country and the culture of Peru. Hits all the highlights of the Sacred Valley and then finishes with a visit to Lake Titicaca - recommended!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    It doesn't get much better than visiting Machu Picchu - its the sort of place you want to breath in and remember for ever. Cuzco was a great place to spend a few nights - full of interesting places to visit, easy to get around and tremendous views.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Carlos and the whole team were enthusiastic, patient and helpful throughout. Carlos had a great sense of humour which helped the group bonding process.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    The altitude is a factor to consider - although the effects wear off after a while. The weather conditions can change quickly - so be prepared for hot sunshine, chilly mountain rides and sharp down-pours of rain, often around lunch time. Bring lots of layers and good cycling gloves!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Cycling was good – hardly any uphill climbs - which is probably just as well because the altitude would have made it very challenging. Unfortunately we had a change of schedule meaning the day hike was missed with the unique view of Machu Picchu - did not ruin the holiday by any means but was still disappointing. The lunches on the cycling days deserve a special mention - I was not expecting sit down 3 course meals - a bit over-indulgent but a real treat!
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Cato Davidson

    Peru cycling

    Juan Carlos & fellow guides Havier & Diego great - helpful & able. Cooks were amazing! Tents up each lunch time & 3 courses. Also a portable loo with its own tent!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the Inca ruins leading up to, and including, Machu Picchu. The lunches : )

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader was fab. Very knowledgeable and enthusiastic imparting it. Great sense of humour - even in a 2nd language! In the latter days would have liked more accurate estimates of time / distances when psyching myself up to the long flat rides. Missed seeing Machu Picchu from opposite mountain - due to change in schedule. I was sorry about this - thought we could have done bus transfer to next hotel the evening of 45km descent to keep us on schedule...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take polyprops. Buy a plastic emergency poncho.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thoroughly recommend the trip. Do some altitude training prior to going.
  • Reviewed November 2018
    Cato Davidson

    Peru cycling

    Juan Carlos & fellow guides Havier & Diego great - helpful & able. Cooks were amazing! Tents up each lunch time & 3 courses. Also a portable loo with its own tent!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the Inca ruins leading up to, and including, Machu Picchu. The lunches : )

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Group leader was fab. Very knowledgeable and enthusiastic imparting it. Great sense of humour - even in a 2nd language! In the latter days would have liked more accurate estimates of time / distances when psyching myself up to the long flat rides. Missed seeing Machu Picchu from opposite mountain - due to change in schedule. I was sorry about this - thought we could have done bus transfer to next hotel the evening of 45km descent to keep us on schedule...

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take polyprops. Buy a plastic emergency poncho.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Thoroughly recommend the trip. Do some altitude training prior to going.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Peter Gomes

    Impressions of first run of the new Cycle Peru: Machu Picchu & Lake Titicaca trip

    We booked this as a great way to see the iconic sights of Peru as part of another Exodus cycle holiday. I would say we achieved the former more so than the latter with full marks for visiting all the key sites along the Sacred Valley and more but with considerably fewer cycling miles (200) than the other four Exodus long haul cycle trips (300-400) we have completed. We also added the Amazon extension at the start of the trip which I would also recommend. This is a great sightseeing (and indeed eating) trip but not one for the hard core cyclist as the miles are flat or downhill and thus present little serious challenge. So if you want to see and experience the sights of Peru with a relatively modest amount of cycling thrown in, please don't be put deterred by the Grade 4 assigned to it by Exodus.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Where do I start ? Machu Picchu was busy with tourists as you would expect and a tad cloudy weather-wise but majestic and inspiring nonetheless. First sight of it from the clearing on the trek from Llactapata was one of those moments where you just stop and slowly mouth "Wow". Lake Titicaca was beautiful (loved the short sunset hike on the first evening) and I could easily have spent more time there than the itinerary allowed. However, beyond these famous two, I was particularly struck by the other Inca sites - Sacsaywaman, Ollytantambo, Moray, Maras and especially Pisac which covered a greater area than Machu Picchu and was all but deserted on the morning we arrived there. When you see the truly immense scale of the engineering involved you can only marvel at what the Inca achieved. Cuzco itself was a great starting point for the trip with everything within strolling distance from Plaza de Armas, in turn barely a five minute walk from our hotel. Even some of the transfers (usually my least favourite part of the trip) provided some memorable moments- in particular the climbs to each of Abra Malaga and Abra La Raya (would love to ride both) and the section from Santa Maria to Santa Teresa. And yet what arguably touched me most were two episodes in Llacon - the ruddy cheeked (courtesy of their high red blood cells) kindergarten class singing Happy Birthday in Quecha, Spanish & English and the women (in full local dress no less) thrashing the track-suited men at volleyball on the court in front of the local church at sunset. I can hear the laughter now.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Carlos was super in the time honoured fashion of Exodus leaders. Organised ,diligent, committed, amusing and keen to show us the best of Peru. He was ably backed up by his team of Diego (mechanic), Ronny (minibus driver) as well as Jorge, David, Alex and the legend that was Leonardo.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    1. Don't underestimate the cold (as we did). The trip is almost entirely above 3,000m and sometimes over 4,000m. This means it gets cold (rather than cool) overnight so you need several layers each morning and from the moment the sun dips behind the hills in late afternoon. I envied the chap in our group who had the sense to bring a woolly hat, and at Abra La Raya a well placed road-side stall sold four long scarves to our group with stunning ease. This advice applies to both regular as well as cycle clothing. Bring the thermals and long fingered gloves. On the descent from Abra Malaga, we even stopped to add a layer or two. 2. In contrast, in the middle of the day, it does get hot with intense sun at altitude so you need both a hat and plentiful sunscreen. 3. Mosquitos are an inevitable hazard on both the Amazon extension and the weekend at Llactapata / Machu Picchu so long sleeved tops and long trousers are recommended as are long socks so you can tuck your trousers in. Mosquitos appeared to very effective at attacking the space immediately above the top of our (short) socks. 4. You don't need walking boots for the trek - study shoes will suffice but trainers probably won't as you ascent 1,000m and descent slightly more. 5. Altitude takes a day or two to become accustomed to and you do notice the difference in oxygen levels but everyone seemed to cope ok, and, with next to no climbing whilst cycling it wasn't really an issue on the bike. 6. Finally invest in a pair of ear plugs as one of the disadvantages of centrally located hotels in Cuzco and Puno is noise including fireworks at any time of the night. 7. Big meals and altitude. We ate very well indeed on this trip. Carlos' recommendations in Cuzco - Greens, Fallen Angel and Uchu were all excellent and we can also recommend Greenpoint Café in the Las Blas quarter. Along the Sacred Valley the meals were good too particularly Indio Feliz in Aguas Calientes. Allied to a decent breakfast and hearty lunches, this added up to hefty food consumption which didn't sit all too comfortably with trying to sleep at altitude. But this didn't stop us indulging in cerviche, alpaca, trout, and even the odd guinea pig washed down with a Pisco Sour or two.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Overall, a terrific way to see the many highlights of Peru. Personally, I would compress the transit from Cuzco to Puno from two days to one and spend more time at and around Lake Titicaca, but otherwise, its a very good trip and one I am happy to recommend.