Kuoda Travel organized a 10 day/9 night tour of Peru for us. We went to Lima for one night, Sacred Valley for two, Machu Picchu for one, Cusco for two and four days on an Amazon cruise.
All the reviews are true. Kuoda made the trip carefree and enjoyable. They were there for us for just about every step of the way. They are based in Peru. The employees know how to get you around easy and address problems you may encounter. Plus, on more than one occasion we were upgraded in room type or given VIP treatment because we were associated with Kuoda.
Initially I was trying to decide between Kuoda and two other tour operators. I was really impressed with the first draft of an itinerary. It had color pictures and very detailed descriptions of what we’d be doing each day. Jesus Ramos did a wonderful job and worked with me on making our trip just right.
Our flight from DFW to Lima was delayed almost two hours because of weather. It was no problem for Kuoda as our guide was at the airport waiting to pick us up. We were taken to the Belmond Miraflores Park. We had breakfast and rested. Then, we did a quick tour of the main square, Casa Aliaga and Museo Larco. Traffic is insane in Lima. The driver did a great job. I wouldn’t want to ever drive one mile in that city. We didn’t love Lima though, so we were glad we only had one night.
The next day we flew to Cusco. We had a nice lunch and got a quick taste of the main square before our amazing guide Jeremy and the wonderful driver took us into the Sacred Valley. We stopped a couple times to enjoy some beautiful vistas. Then, we went to Awana Kancha. It was really fun feeding the llamas and alpacas. Plus, we bought a nice Christmas ornament there to remember the trip.
On our way to the Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba hotel, our guide indulged a spontaneous request to stop in Pisac to check out the market. It wasn’t in our itinerary. But, we went anyway. It’s where I ended up taking one of my favorite pictures from the trip. Also, we bought a nice and colorful rug that will be used as a wall decoration. We relaxed the rest of the evening in our hotel.
The guides/drivers are always prompt. The next day we went to see the agricultural terraces at Moray, the ruins of Ollantaytambo and visited a small community Kuoda invests in. We brought school supplies to donate to the community’s school. We also met with some very welcoming women who showed us how they make the dyes for the items they work on. There were 10 women. We didn’t buy anything. However, they were so nice and very poor. We donated 10 sols to each (100 total). It was 100 sols we weren’t planning on using but we’re glad we did. If you have the extra money I would recommend planning on giving the women a donation. They were very nice and really cared about educating us on their culture.
Day 4 was the big journey to Machu Picchu. The train was another example of us being glad we had Kuoda with us. Jeremy got us to the train station and made the process of boarding the train worry-free. He rode the train with us and helped us navigate through Aguas Calientes and on the bus up to the Belmond Sanctuary Lodge. We dropped our luggage off and he gave us a very efficient yet thorough tour of Machu Picchu. We saw all of the main highlights I had researched within two or so hours with the exception of a couple higher up points near the gatekeeper’s hut. Jeremy was very accommodating and patient considering one of us had mobility issues. We finished with some lunch and were on our own for a day until we went back to Cusco.
The next day we explored Machu Picchu some more on our own. I did the hike to the Sun Gate. The Vistadome train ride from Aguas Calientes to Cusco area was long and slightly unbearable. But, it has to be done. Kuoda was there to pick us up at the station and take us to the Belmond Monasterio.
Day 6 we went to Saksaywaman, saw a few other nearby sights and got a quick tour of the Cusco main square. We said bye to Jeremy and explored San Blas on our own. The owner of Kuoda, Mery, stopped by our hotel to talk with us. She asked how everything was going and how the company could improve. She was genuinely friendly. She gave each of us a nice gift (coffee mugs.) The added, personal touch really sets Kuoda apart from the rest.
The next day we had to wake up very early (we were picked up at 3:50 in the morning) to fly to Lima and then fly to Iquitos to catch our Delfin II boat. The Amazon was separate from Kuoda. They were not there with us. However, they helped make sure we got the exact cabin we wanted (second deck and in the front of the boat). Plus, when I was still deciding what company to use for the trip I had reached out to Delfin via email. They never responded. Kuoda was able to communicate with them on our behalf. It’s another example of how Kuoda eased possible stresses associated with the trip.
After the cruise, we flew back to Lima. We had the option of exploring the Barranco neighborhood. We changed our minds at the last minute. We were tired and didn’t feel like being in traffic for hours. It was no problem for Kuoda.
Kuoda was expensive but very worth it. We brought an extra 750 US dollars (like 1,800 sols) for tipping/spending and used every last coin. Most was spent on gratuities. The tipping does add up just so you know.
I highly recommend Kuoda. I plan on traveling with the company in the future. My hope is to use Kuoda for a Quito/Galapagos/jungle trip within the next 5-10 years and Bolivia in the next 10-15 years.
Thanks Kuoda for a memorable vacation.