Deciding to travel to Peru with G Adventures / National Geographic Journeys was one of the best travel decisions travel advisor JoAnna Gonseth has made. Adventure trips aren’t new to Gonseth, who loves exploring unique destinations.
A native of upstate New York, Gonseth loves hiking through wooded areas and usually travels independently. Opting to travel to Peru with a group, as part of a Peru tour through G Adventures was a first, but definitely a choice she would make again.
Here, Gonseth describes what it was like to travel to Peru, including what she learned and what she loved.
Travel Advisor Dishes on Peruvian Cuisine and Other Standout Experiences From Her Decision to Travel to Peru
How would you describe your trip to Peru in three or four words?
“Breathtaking. Legendary. Life-changing.”
What stands out about your trip to Peru?
“So many things. First of all, the cuisine. It was excellent. Absolutely everything was five-star, farm to table, organic and delicious. Every place we ate provided full service. From soups and appetizers to fish, steak and alpaca, the food was really great.
Our G Adventure tour provided flexibility and structure so that we had freedom to try a few places on our own but also eat as a group. We even took a cooking class where we toured the local market to select our food, purchased the items and cooked the meal.
One thing that stood out to me about Peruvian food besides its incredible flavor and freshness was the size of the corn. A single kernel was easily five times the size of a kernel of the Nebraska corn I’m used to seeing grown on farms back home. We learned through our tour guides that many things are grown in the mountains and sent down to Lima.
One of my favorite stops was taking a trip to the highlands of the sacred valley and meeting people who live in a village in the mountainous region. G Adventures partners with the Planeterra Foundation, an organization that focuses on helping local communities. In the part of Peru we visited, we met people from the rural community of Pampallaqta in Parque de la Papa (Potato Park), where they grow about 1,300 of Peru’s 3,000+ potato varieties. We learned about the importance of potato cultivation, how they weave local textiles and hand-dye lama and alpaca fur and the importance of both to Andean culture. The village was struggling before G Adventures and Planeterra got involved in bringing tourists up to learn about how the indigenous people there live.
Just to hear them speaking in their native tongue to our guide, who would translate for us, was so very moving. Many tourists were moved to tears by this experience and it remains one of my highlights of the trip, which is incredible considering I also toured the Machu Picchu ruins and Aguas Calientes Hot Springs.”
Speaking of touring ruins of ancient civilizations, are there any Machu Picchu tours or Peru tours in general you recommend?
“Yes. G Adventures offers wonderful Machu Picchu tours. They include almost everything, but still leave some free time open for independent exploration. The tour I took — Explore Machu Picchu — included everything except tips for the drivers and guide, some lunches and dinners and minimal optional tour entry fees. With the money exchange rate in my favor, even purchasing the non-included items kept the cost reasonable.
While we traveled to the Pisac ruins and the Ollantaytambo ruins, the Machu Picchu ruins were the main highlight of the entire trip and one of the main reasons I wanted to travel to Peru in the first place. Seeing the Lost City of the Incas up close was incredible!
The views and weather were perfect, making every single angle a perfect photo opportunity.”
When is the best time to visit Peru?
“Peru has two seasons — wet and dry. The dry season is the best time to see Machu Picchu. The land turns green and warm in the wet season, making it an ideal time to surf and enjoy other water activities in lima. The best time to visit Peru really comes down to what your travel goals are and what you want to see. An experienced travel advisor can help you determine when the best time to travel to Peru is to see and do everything on your list.”
What is your advice for others who want to travel to Peru?
“I would highly recommend working with an experienced travel advisor to plan your trip to Peru. Someone who can help you select the perfect tour or plan the ideal itinerary for your vacation. There are just so many things you may not be aware of or account for when you plan entirely on your own.
“For example, the language was surprising to me. English is really not spoken in Peru. You need to speak Spanish and have the proper Peruvian currency. It’s not like traveling to tourist areas in Mexico where English is spoken. Tour guides speak English, Spanish and Quechua, the main indigenous language there. Without a guide who speaks all three, you’ll miss out on so much.
“I’m an independent traveler and enjoy exploring on my own. However, G Adventures’ focus on smaller groups and an immersive, local experience was really eye-opening and enjoyable. I don’t know if I would adventure travel without them again. It was that good of an experience.
“Beyond that, the simple conveniences of having your transportation arranged ahead of time and knowing that your hotel, tours and flights are all arranged for you, takes so much stress out of the trip. These are all benefits of working with a travel advisor. The reasonable fee for their time is well worth the value you enjoy while you’re on vacation. They can also help you decide what to ax from your potential itinerary and what to keep. In Peru, this is particularly important as it’s hard to accurately gauge the distance between locations and how long it takes to get from one tour stop to another until you’ve been there. It’d be very easy to plan more than you would comfortably be able to see in a day or a week without the assistance of an experienced travel advisor.”
Are you planning a trip to Peru? Get the expert assistance of someone who has been there and can help you plan the perfect itinerary. Contact JoAnna or one of our other experienced travel advisors today to begin planning your Peruvian vacation!
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