The country of Peru is home to thousands of historically significant Inca and Pre-Inca sites and ruins. Seeing even a fraction of what cities like Lima and Cusco have to offer can be a real challenge, but hiring a reputable tour guide service can help you make the most of your time abroad.
To control erosion, sites like Machu Picchu also place daily limits on the amount of visitors that are allowed access to their hiking trails. In an effort to avoid any unwanted surprises, and ensure access to these trails, we decided to use the Go To Peru Travel Agency for our trip to Cusco.
Throughout our travels, we’ve hired dozens of tour guides and travel agencies to help us coordinate with our vacations. This unbiased review provides our honest opinion of the Go To Peru Travel Agency and it offers some tips to help you save money and get the most from your visit.
Quick Article Guide
1. An Overview of the Go To Peru Travel Agency
2. Why You Should Consider a Tour Guide for Cusco
3. Getting Acclimated to the Elevation in Cusco
4. Sites We Visited with Our Go To Peru Tour Guide
5. What Set Go To Peru Travel Agency Apart from the Competition
6. How to Save Money with the Go To Peru Travel Agency
The Go To Peru Travel Agency is a legitimate business that is licensed to provide tour guide and travel planning services throughout the country of Peru. Overall, our experience with the travel agency was excellent, but there were a few minor issues that this review could help you avoid.
During our visit to Peru, we had a laundry list of historic places that we wanted to visit, so we knew we would need to pack as many events as possible into each day to accomplish our goals. In fact, two travel agencies actually told us five days in Cusco area simply wasn’t enough time.
Thankfully, we stumbled upon the Go To Peru Travel Agency where we were introduced to our travel coordinator, Martin. In our email to Martin we provided a list of the places we wanted to see during our visit and the hikes that we wanted to complete while at the Machu Picchu Summit.
Most people don’t realize how remote Machu Picchu is. Most international flights from the United States arrive in Lima which an hour flight from Cusco. To further complicate matters, the flights from Lima to Cusco are early in the morning, so probably need to stay in Lima for at least a night.
Once you arrive in Cusco, you’ll have to take a train to the nearby town of Aguas Calientes, and then hop a bus or hike to the Summit of Machu Picchu. For most people, it takes at least two full days of travel just to get from Lima to Aguas Calientes which is the closet town to Machu Picchu.
In the morning, Aguas Calientes transforms into a zoo of people sometimes waiting for hours at a time to catch a 20 minute bus ride to the summit. Planning for a trip like this requires a great deal of research, so hiring a travel agency is worth the money, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.
Cusco sits at an elevation of 11,152 feet, more than twice the altitude Denver, the “Mile High” city. For most people this means mild elevation sickness, so our tour guide recommended going straight to our hotel when we arrived to allow our bodies to adjust to the altitude.
Jenn and I noticed an immediate change when we landed. Our hometown of San Diego is just above sea level. I immediately began chewing on a handful of coca leaves. They are offered at kiosks throughout the airport and in the hotel lobbies as a remedy to offset the undesired effects of elevation sickness.
While we have a negative stigma about the coca plant in the U.S., it is not seen as a drug to the Peruvians. Chewing a few leaves has the same effect that drinking a cup of tea would. We never felt inebriated, but were warned that if we had too many, we might have trouble falling asleep.
Instead of following Martin’s advice, we got bored and decided to start exploring the city. That evening we also treated ourselves to a deep-tissue massage at the hotel. At the time this seemed like a great idea, but when we woke up the next day, we were exhausted.
The next morning we were up bright and early to explore the Sacred Valley and then onto Ollantaytambo where we climbed the ruins. Afterwards, we took a ninety minute train ride from Ollantaytambo station to Aguas Calientes where we had dinner and checked into our hotel.
These ancient ruins predate the Inca who began adding to the existing structure in the 1400s. The Ollantaytambo Ruins are arguably the most well-preserved ruins in the entire country. They were also the site of one of the last major battles between the Spanish and Inca armies.
A fountain still flows down the ruins, and hiking the structure provides a nice view of the city below. You can even see where the stones were removed from a nearby mountain face to construct Ollantaytambo. The Inca also left the pre-existing temple to the sun god as they found it.
Machu Picchu Summit
If you don’t feel like hiking a few miles to reach the summit, you’ll need to take a bus to Machu Picchu. The ride takes about 20 minutes and you have to buy your ticket in advance. Our guide from the Go To Peru Travel agency had everything set up. We met him in the lobby and he took the bus with us.
The line for these buses can take hours, so make sure your ready before to go before 6 a.m. Unfortunately, I had been awake since 3 a.m. that morning. I had food poisoning and was dehydrated, nauseous, and exhausted. If it wasn’t for our tour guide holding our spot in line, we might not have made it.
Buy your tickets in advance! The Huaynapicchu Trek trail is limited to only a few hundred visitors each day. (Another reason to hire a travel agency) The hike was less challenging than the Montana Trek, but there are a few places where you have to use your entire body.
We completed the Huaynapicchu Trek on our second day and it only took us two hours. Afterwards we literally ran back to our hotel to finish packing our bags and shower. Our train back to the Ollantaytambo station was scheduled for a 10:50 a.m. departure from Aguas Calientes.
Access to the Montana Trek is also limited to just a few hundred visitors per day. We completed this hike on our first day at Machu Picchu after our tour of the summit with our tour guide. This hike was a challenge for me, especially with food poisoning. It took us more than 2 hours to reach the top.
Jenn got bit by an insect and we ran out of water before we reached the summit. We were completely out of breath and dehydrated, but the experience and the breathtaking views were worth it! Most people don’t reach the top of the mountain, but if you can, the views are astonishing.
All of the Inca Ruins we visited, Tipon was my absolute favorite. This walled-city is surrounded by small irrigation canals that carry water from a natural spring nearby. A true testament to Inca engineering, these hydraulic fountains still serve the needs of the local population to this day.
Built more than 500 years ago, the Tipon Fountains were once home to Inca nobility, and they served as an important spiritual and agricultural center. The site has received international attention and is often referred to as the “Water Engineering Masterpiece of the Inca Empire.”
Sacsayhuaman is one of the most mysterious sites in Peru. These giant stone walls pre-date the Inca and historians credit the Killke for contructing them. The sheer size of the stones used for this structure are mind-boggling, especially when you consider the distance they were transported.
What’s even more mysterious about Sacsayhuaman is the fact that the giant stones appear to be melted together. In fact, most of the joints between these stones won’t even fit a pin. Archaeologists still debate about how these impressive monuments were created to this day.
Maras Pre-Colombian Salt Mine
This Pre-Colombian salt mine has been producing salt for thousands of years, and it’s still being used by the Inca today. A steady stream of water flowing from the mountain produces Peruvian pink sea salt, traditional white sea salt, and brown table salt that is used for commercial purposes.
Visitors can walk down to the edge of the saltwater pools for an up-close view of the workers separating the salt by hand. Above the mine near the parking lot, there are vendors selling a variety of local items including the Peruvian pink sea salt, Peruvian coffee, and salted chocolates.
Moray Agricola Laboratory
The Moray Agricola Laboratory almost looks like a giant crop circle or an auditorium from above. The Inca used these “laboratories” to bred crops including potatoes, squash, peppers, and corn. The Inca also acclimatized their crops to get the most from their limited farm lands.
At the end of the season, each crop would be replanted on the next highest layer of soil, forcing the plants to slowly evolve. These adapted seeds were then transferred to areas like the Pisac agricultural terraces and Ollantaytambo where they were used to feed the local population.
Pisac Agricultural Terraces
The Inca were extremely skilled farmers. The steep slopes that surround Cusco have very little topsoil and they are not suitable for growing crops. To make use of this terrain, the Pre-Colombian Peruvians built stone terraces on the faces of the mountains that surrounded them.
These terraces served as retaining walls, allowing the farmers to grade the slopes, and fill them with rich soil. This practice also made working the land much easier. Innovative agricultural techniques like this and the acclimatization used at sites like Maras helped the ancient Inca thrive.
The Sacred Valley
As previously mentioned, we toured the Sacred Valley on our first full day in Cusco. After taking a few photos of our drive into the valley, we stopped for a few hours to shop for souvenirs and have lunch. Some of the local favorites include empanadas, chicha morada, and guinea pig.
We didn’t eat the guinea pig, but the empanadas and chicha morada (a sweet drink made from corn) were delicious. We also purchased a few souvenirs from the Pisac market including a carved obsidian sculpture, silver jewelry, cotton shirts, textiles, and a water color painting.
The South Valley
The South Valley is the home of lots of ancient Inca Ruins including the Tipon fountains, PikiIlacta, and the Moray Laboratories. To this day, the area is still rich with agriculture including dozens of different varieties of corn, potatoes, cocoa beans, vanilla beans, and coco leaves.
The San Pedro Apostol de Andahuaylillas is also located in the South Valley. The Spanish built this church over an Inca Temple in 1610 A.D. to convert the indigenous to Catholicism. The cathedral is also referred to as, “The Sistine Chapel of the Andes,” because frescoes cover the ceiling.
What Set Go To Peru Travel Agency Apart from the Competition
We really appreciated the fact that the Go To Peru Travel Agency customized our trip for us. While the first two travel agencies urged us to stay longer, Martin’s attitude was entirely different. He was willing to accommodate all our requests, but he warned us that our schedule was packed.
After we arrived back in Ollantaytambo, Martin actually called our tour guide, Franklin, to see how we were holding up. Martin told us over the phone that is this was the first time they had scheduled someone for the Huaynapicchu Trek and a train ride back to Ollantaytambo on the same day.
This flexibility allowed us to tour the South Valley and see some additional sites in the Cusco area. The Go To Peru Travel Agency also allowed us to book our hotels for the trip which saved us money. Martin even provided recommendations for us based on the hotel’s accommodations.
If you decide to book with the Go To Peru Travel Agency, book your own hotels! We were able to save money by using credit card points, airline miles, and rewards from our favorite travel websites. We started planning our trip a year in advance so we had lots of to time search for deals.
You can take advantage of the free shuttles your airport offers. The elevation in Cusco can create issues for the airlines, so flight in and out of Cusco are constantly being canceled and delayed. Our afternoon flight to Lima was canceled at 11:00 P.M. the night before we were supposed to depart.
We had two options, take a 6:00 A.M. flight, or stay an extra day in Cusco. Needless to say, we did not sleep that night. We also didn’t want to wake up our tour guide to tell him about the flight change. We were offered a refund but we refused to make sure our driver, Persi, got paid.
Overall, the Go To Peru Travel Agency provided us with an excellent value for the services we received. The drivers and tour guides we worked were on-time, professional, knowledgeable, upbeat and positive. Our days were well-planned, and we had no issue with the reservations they completed for us.
Would you like to share your experience with the Go To Peru travel agency? Do you have questions about your upcoming trip to Peru? Please leave us a comment in the section below!