Travel Consultant Experience – The Magic of Peru

Hi, I’m Joan Leedy.  I’m a senior travel consultant with Preferred Travel.  Today, we are heading for Peru in South America.  I was invited by Lindblad Expeditions to join them to Lima, Peru, an expedition on the Amazon and to Machu Picchu. 

Lima was a beautiful city and I was surprised because Lima is not a city where many people spend a great deal of time but we made it a point to go in early for 3 nights prior to the trip to the Amazon.  The city is actually one of the world’s largest deserts.  It is second only to Cairo, which I actually had no idea.  It has a very interesting client.  It has a desert climate but it has very high humidity, so it makes for a very interesting place to visit.  Lima is a city of 10 million people.  All of Peru is 30 million, so it’s a third of the country’s population and it is diverse in population and it’s really a melting pot of different origins.  It’s also a gastronomic capital.  Very interesting food, very interesting history but the two districts that are the most interesting to visit are Bianca and Mina Flores and these two are both along the coast.  They were the residence years ago of the citizens of Lima.  The would come out to the coast to these beautiful homes and would spend their summers and enjoy the beach.  The reminisce of those homes and those establishments was the coastal resort towns from years ago was beautiful architecture.  There’s lots of art.  There’s museums.  It is a really interesting place to visit

To get to Machu Picchu, we flew to Cusco and we stayed at the Belmont Montasterio Hotel, which is a beautiful hotel and former citadel.  It’s just a really beautiful place.  Next-door is the Belmond Plaacio Nazarenas, which is an ultra deluxe Belmond property.  It is a bit smaller, more intimate, more charming.  They are both just beautiful properties.  From both properties you can walk into the main square of Cusco and visit the various bars and restaurants and museums in Cusco.

To get to Machu Picchu, you drive about an hour and a half to the Sacred Valley.  From the Sacred Valley, you take a train, which is about an hour train ride, and it is just as pleasant as it can be.  It’s clean, it’s comfortable.  They serve you a nice snack and coffee onboard and then you arrive at the base of Machu Picchu.  From the base town you take a bus about 30 minutes to the top.  Machu Picchu is absolutely magical.  When we arrived and entered the gates and the iconic scenes that you think of when you think of Machu Picchu with the mountains in the background, the mountains were showed in clouds.  But as the day went through, the clouds started to lift.  As the day went on you could see more and more of the mountains, the ruins that lie in front of you and it is just absolutely stunning. What really touches you about Machu Picchu?  I recommend if you were going to go to Machu Picchu, I would recommend you spend a day or two in the sacred valley area and even going twice into Machu Picchu because of the weather because you want to take the best advantage of the weather.  In the morning it is shrouded with clouds and in the afternoon it opened up and it was stunning. It is mountainess and it has mountain weather.  So the more opportunity you give yourself to experience it, the more opportunity you have for sites.

We traveled with Lindblad Expeditions and what sets Lindblad apart is their staff.  They have an amazing staff.  On every expedition they have a National Geographic photographer who works with a guest to modify a setting or give them a little tip or help them organize their photos.  It’s a real hands on person. In addition to that they have guides that are local people but have been educated are knowledgeable in all the culture.  Like while we were in the Amazon they were naturalists and biologists, ecologists.  They really know all of the aspects from the flora and the fauna. They are also amazing at spotting the birds. They spotted red mecas, blue mecas, and monkeys in the tree; things you wouldn’t see but it would be a little spec.

We flew into Aquitos and from Aquitios we took a 2-hour bus trip to Nauta where our ship was waiting for us.

The ship is the Dolphin II, which is a 28-passenger vessel, built in 2009.  The ship has a full observation deck on the top floor with an enclosed lounge where they do travel talks.  It’s an expedition ship, so each day you set out in the morning to go out on a skiff and search for wildlife.  Each skiff holds about 10 people and each skiff has its own naturalist. They take you our in groups on 3 different skiffs to tour these waterways for unique birds,

We went on a jungle watch, a night walk and a day walk.  We also did kayaking; we swam in tributary lake of the Amazon, which is clear water.  There is a unique dolphin there called the Pink Dolphin, which people seek out.

It also has a unique people to people connection.  You visit an Amazonian village and spend some time with the children there.  You have a cultural aspect there as well.  Then you come back to the ship for lunch and typically set off with your expedition guide.

If you are interested in booking travel with LindBlad Expeditions, please contact Preferred travel at 239.261.1177 or visit our website at http://www.preferrednaples.com

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