Everyone at this South America travel agency provided outstanding service during our recent visit to Ecuador and Peru. From our agent's patience and expert advice during the planning stages of the trip, through our various guides' knowledgeable and entertaining discussions at the sites on the itinerary, to the unparalleled assistance when our flight from Cusco was cancelled, this agency representatives provided stellar service that made our visit an unforgettable experience. I cannot imagine anyone else doing a better job, or even coming close to the level of service the staff provided. I think anyone planning a trip to Peru would be well-advised to to at least consider this agency.
I will confine my remarks to the Per portion of the trip because the Ecuador section was subcontracted to a local company. Although it was midnight when we arrived in Lima, we were immediately impressed by the friendliness and efficiency of both the guide and driver who met us: we were escorted from the chaotic airport to our hotel and aided in the check-in. We had similar experiences at each stage of our stay: the guides and drivers were punctual and friendly; everyone seemed concerned that we would have a good time and get a good, but accurate, impression of Peruvian life and history.
When things went wrong, as they did when our flight from Cusco to Lima was cancelled and we were in peril of missing our connecting flight home, two of our agency's representatives came to the airport and somehow managed to get us on flights that had been declared full previously. An agency that cares this much about clients at the end of a vacation deserves the highest praise.
Your overall comments on Zicasso
This is the third time I have used Zicasso after finding out about it on the internet. Previous journeys booked through Zicasso agencies were to Turkey and to New Zealand and Australia.
Our trip was a month long, so it was packed with interesting sites and experiences. I personally enjoyed visiting Ecuador's Galapagos Islands during bird breeding season and snorkling among reef sharks and young sea lions. In Peru, our group of six had many outstanding experiences. We enjoyed an introduction to Peruvian food because our lunch restaurants were carefully chosen to provide a variety of excellent meals, and the agency managed to procure for us a reservation at Astrid y Gastn, one of the best restaurants in the world. Although I did not think that it would prove to be so enjoyable, I was really pleased with our Amazon stay at Reserva Amazonica because the staff were friendly and the excursions very interesting. I was also impressed by the introduction to pre-Incan and Incan life and history that our guide in Sacred Valley and Cusco provided as he led us to a number of Incan and colonial sites.
Naturally, the true highlight of the trip, and the original reason for taking it, was the visit to Machu Picchu. We visited it on two days. The first day, the mist was heavy in the early part of our visit, giving the site and eerily spiritual quality; on the second day, when we climbed high above the ruins to gain views of astonishing panoramas, the day was bright and beautiful, a picture-postcard day.
On the whole, what made the trip really special, however, was the people. Our guides were all friendly and informative. I appreciated that they indulged me in my halting attempts to communicate in Spanish, even though their English was excellent. We came away feeling that we were not in Peru as clients but as friends.
I would not change much about the trip at all because the people at our travel agency gave us such good advice and we did significant research before we committed to a final itinerary. If I were to change one thing, though, it would be to build an extra day or two of free time earlier in the trip. We did schedule leisure days for the latter part of our stay, but a day or two off earlier may have been quite relaxing and rewarding.
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