My brothers, my teenaged son and I used Kuoda for a 10-day stay in Peru. Kuoda personalized our itinerary (we were coming from different US cities at different times) and organized the in-country flights, hotels, meals, guides, drivers, sightseeing, etc. incredibly well, while still leaving us enough independent time. Our tour designer, Molly, also sent us very helpful tips for preparation and acclimatization.

The quality of the hotels and meals arranged was high. The guides and customer coordinator were articulate, insightful, personable and had great energy. One nice touch is that in her follow up post-trip, Molly sent us recipes for our favorite Peruvian dishes.

All of this was to some extent expected, but where Kuoda unquestionably earned its 5 stars was in the handling our little (but to us big) emergency. My son lost his passport after the initial flight from Lima to Cusco. We narrowed it down to his having left it on the plane, but that was not necessarily helpful because by the time we realized it, we were checking into a hotel in Yanahuara (Sacred Valley) and would not be back in Cusco for several days.

The hotel charged us an extra tax (later credited back) because he didn’t have his passport, and it was possible that we would not be allowed to board the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes or be admitted to Machu Picchu. (A friend who lives in Peru would later tell me that he knew someone who was denied admittance to Machu Picchu due to lost passport given that there was no guide to broker a deal.) Luckily, my son had his school id with photo.

With that and our guide’s persuasiveness, we had no problem on the train or at Machu Picchu; however, there remained the concern about the flight back to the US. I would still need to get a police report and then go to the US embassy in Lima to get an emergency passport issued in 3-4 hours (it takes several weeks to get an emergency passport at the US consulate in Cusco). Calls to LatAm airlines were fruitless. I expected to invest much time and money to rectify the situation — along with the stress of getting back to work later than planned.

However, Kuoda to the rescue! The Cusco coordinator managed to get LatAm airlines to find the passport and confirm it was in hand. By the time we were back in Cusco, we picked it up at the airport and continued our trip as planned. Kuoda even gets kudos for managing the airport pickup efficiently without having to stand in long lines!

Lessons learned — hold on to passports, bring an extra photo id, and book with a respected agency such as Kuoda when visiting Peru!