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Our own “Juan and only” Central & South America Destination Specialist, Juan Munoz, recently travelled to Peru with some fellow travel agents to see firsthand why this country remains one of the most popular choices for travellers heading to South America. We’ve asked him to share the highlights of this trip and any insights into selling Peru to clients.
What do you think is the biggest selling feature about Peru?
Without a doubt it is Cusco and Machu Picchu. Not only do both locations have a reputation that precede them, but that reputation is warranted. Cusco was the original Incan capital and the streets are soaked in Inca architecture as well as a spirit that permeates each side street, main square, and catholic church built on the metaphorical and literal ruined foundations of its Incan past.
Machu Picchu is, well, Machu Picchu, a lost Inca citadel in the far reaches of the Sacred Valley. Each person will take away something different from their experience here. Even as an Ecuadorian—we have our own Incan heritage, as Quito was the second capital of the Inca Empire at its height—the allure to visit Machu Picchu was as strong as it is to anyone from as far away as Austria, Australia, or even Austin, Texas!
What was your favourite hotel and why?
Hotel Tambo del Inka in Urubamba. Everything about this place is incredible. Located in the heart of the Sacred Valley, this hotel has amazing customer service. The rooms were huge and the food was delicious. It’s an amazing property and a truly great experience on its own.
What was your favourite experience?
Visiting Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world and home to the Uros Reed Islands. It’s a 10-hour train ride, short flight, or six-hour bus ride across the Altiplano from Cusco. It was an amazing day exploring the ancestral—and mythical—birthplace of the first Incan King.
As a Goway Central & South America Destination Specialist, was there anything that surprised you?
I was really impressed with the floating reed islands located on Lake Titicaca. I felt like I was walking on a cloud. Plus the locals were very welcoming and there are some great locally-made souvenirs to purchase!
What area would you recommend if clients wanted to combine a trip to Peru with another country?
Lake Titicaca is a stone’s throw away from the Bolivian border and La Paz, the capital of Bolivia can be reached in a day. For those that want to see the Latin America of yesteryear and the most Indigenous country in the region, then adding Bolivia to Peru is easy and affordable. The other obvious add-on would be heading north to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. However, don’t forget the Andes and jungle of Ecuador as well!
Are there any tips or insight about travelling to Peru that would be great for travel agents to know, so they can share with their clients to make their trip even more enjoyable?
You will find that US dollars are widely accepted in Peru, but they have to be in good condition—no tears, folds, writing on them, etc. Don’t carry soles, the Peruvian currency, in too large a denomination as people may say they don’t have change for it. No one has change in South America! Also, coins are wise to have for using public toilets and for small tips.
Do you have a favourite local dish?
Quinoa soup. Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) was forged in South America thousands of years ago and called “the mother grain” by the Inca. Quinoa today is still considered a wonderful “superfood.” Quinoa is a gluten-free, whole-grain carbohydrate and is a seed from the Chenopodium quinoa plant.
CENTRAL & SOUTH AMERICA
I am Ecuadorian and have been enjoying tourism since I was seven years old because my father was a tour guide in the Andes. I worked for well-known travel companies in South America. I have visited 19 countries and enjoyed every single one of them.
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