Escorted Tours & Independent Package Tours
Packages for the Independent Traveler
Package tours are simply a way to buy the airfare, accommodations, and other elements of your trip (such as car rentals, airport transfers, and sometimes even activities) at the same time and often at discounted prices.
One good source of package deals is the airlines themselves. Most major airlines offer air/land packages, including American Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/321-2121; www.aavacations.com), Delta Vacations (tel. 800/221-6666; www.deltavacations.com), Continental Airlines Vacations (tel. 800/301-3800; www.covacations.com), and United Vacations (tel. 888/854-3899; www.unitedvacations.com). Several big online travel agencies -- Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz, and Lastminute.com -- also do a brisk business in packages.
Miami is usually the jumping-off point for package deals to Peru. The following are just a few among the longtime packagers to Peru and other destinations in Central and South America. A recommended tour operator and travel agency long specializing in South America packages, including some to Peru, is eXito Latin American Travel Specialists (tel. 800/665-4053; www.exitotravel.com). Analie Tours (tel. 800/811-6027; www.analietours.com) also offers a number of Peru packages targeting the country's major highlights. Tara Tours (tel. 800/327-0080 or 305/278-4464; www.taratours.com), based in Miami, is also worth a look; it usually offers several air/land packages to Peru, as well as tours such as the 9-day "Tara's Inka Journey" (Cusco, Machu Picchu, Lima, and the Amazon), starting at $3,220 (£1,610) per person, and more adventurous tours to Kuelap and Sipán in northern Peru.
For more information on Package Tours and for tips on booking your trip, visit www.frommers.com/planning.
Escorted General-Interest Tours
Escorted tours are structured group tours, with a group leader. The price usually includes everything from airfare to hotels, meals, tours, admission costs, and local transportation.
For more information on escorted general-interest tours, including questions to ask before booking your trip, visit www.frommers.com/planning.
North America- and Europe-Based Companies
- Abercrombie & Kent (tel. 800/554-7016; www.abercrombiekent.com) calls itself the "original luxury travel company." It runs an extensive lineup of luxury trips, all of which are well managed and pampered, with stays in many of the finest hotels available. The tours aren't cheap, but if you want to go in style, A&K; is the way to go. Group size is generally limited to 16 people. About a half-dozen Peru itineraries are available (such as the 9-day "Wonders of Peru," a family adventure, and combo trips with Bolivia and the Galápagos); check the website for occasional discounts on selected tours and dates.
- Adventure Life Journeys (tel. 800/344-6118 or 406/541-2677; www.adventure-life.com), based in Missoula, Montana, is an Andean specialist with a roster of interesting Peru trips that focus mainly on ecotours and adventure trips, including some to off-the-beaten-path destinations.
- Adventures Abroad (tel. 800/665-3998; www.adventures-abroad.com), with offices in Washington state as well as the U.K., Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, has a massive database of trips. The tour operator prides itself on small group travel, from 4 to 21 participants. Peruvian offerings are highlights tours, ranging from 7 to 21 days, but longer trips include features such as hiking the Inca Trail. Several trips combine either Ecuador or Bolivia with Peruvian attractions.
- Butterfield & Robinson (tel. 866/551-9090 or 800/6781-1477 in Europe; www.butterfield.com) is a top upscale tour company that promotes biking and walking trips. You'll stay at some of the country's finest hotels and will get full van support for any light adventure trips. To Peru, it offers an 8-day "Machu Picchu Found" tour that includes the Inca Trail. Trips are top-of-the-line (with commensurate pricing, about $6,500/£3,250) per person).
- Exito Latin American Travel Specialist (tel. 800/655-4053; www.exito-travel.com) has a limited number of Peru packages, including the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu and jungle lodge tours. It's also a very good source for finding discounted airfares to Peru and elsewhere in Latin America, as well as language programs.
- GAP Adventures (tel. 800/708-7761 or 0870/999-0144 in the U.K.; www.gapadventures.com), the "Great Adventure People," focuses on adventure-oriented "independent travel with the security of a group" in Central and South America. It offers a huge number and variety of Peru trips (190 or more with stops in Peru). Some trips are more comfortable; others are a bit edgier. Most trips have a maximum size of 12 travelers.
- Kon-Tiki Tours has offices in New York (tel. 877/566-8454; www.kontiki.org) and Lima. These South American travel specialists offer a large variety of Peru trips, including rainforest expeditions, spiritual sojourns, trekking and adventure-sports tours, and targeted cultural programs.
- Ladatco Tours (tel. 800/327-6162; www.ladatco.com) has specialized in tours to Central and South America for 3 decades. Its Explorer Tours are locally hosted and include hotels, sightseeing with an English-speaking guide, and all land, cruise, and air transportation. Tours are grouped by theme, such as "Mystic" and "Inca." There are also "Pampered Adventure" programs and custom-designed tours -- in all, more than two dozen trips to Peru throughout high season. Tours are a bit pricey but are well designed, and prices include airfare from Miami.
- Latin America Escapes, Inc. (tel. 800/510-5999 or 530/879-9292; www.latinamericanescapes.com) is a California-based company that offers fully escorted adventure trips, cultural tours, and natural history programs in Peru, as well as customized trips with your own private guide and driver and fully hosted independent tours with all major details (transportation, hotels, and tours) included. Check the website for current specials.
- Nature Expeditions International (tel. 800/869-0639; www.naturexp.com) has a good reputation for package tours and has been in business since 1973. It offers a 10-day highlights trip to Lima, Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Arequipa, as well as a 7-day trip to Lima, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. All trips have interesting, educational lecture options.
- Overseas Adventure Travel (tel. 800/493-6824; www.oattravel.com) is an English outfit with economical small-group (10-16 people) tours, such as its "Real Affordable Peru" trip (11 days, $1,795/£898). Another tour combines Machu Picchu and the Galápagos Islands.
- Peru for Less (tel. 877/269-0309 or 203/002-0571 in the U.K.; www.peruforless.com), a Texas-based company, lives up to its plainspoken name, guaranteeing "the lowest prices outside Peru." It has at least a half-dozen affordable Peru tour packages, such as "Historical Peru," which visits Lima, Paracas, Nasca, Arequipa, Cusco, and Machu Picchu. Tours include guides, hotels, all visits and transfers, plus daily breakfast.
- Peru Horizons Travel & Tours (tel. 877/786-6826; www.peru-travel.com) offers economical vacation packages to most parts of Peru, including Machu Picchu, Cusco, Lima, the Nasca Lines, the Amazon, the Inca Trail, Trujillo, Lake Titicaca, Puno, Arequipa, Ica, and Urubamba.
- Southwind Adventures (tel. 800/377-9463 or 303/972-0701; www.southwindadventures.com) plans distinctive and high-end adventure trips with a cultural emphasis in South America. Among them are 16 Peruvian trips, from mountain biking to specialty tours such as the Kuélap ruins, and cool offerings such as "Inca Visions," a photography workshop tour. Custom trips include a 21-day Grand Andean Traverse trekking expedition, with possibilities for bird-watching, rafting, and family adventure.
- Tambo Tours (tel. 888/2-GO-PERU; www.tambotours.com), based in Houston, is a Peru specialist and one of the best spots to shop for a package deal to Peru. It offers a wide array of great-value trips to most parts of the country, as well as customized tours and discounted airfares.
- Tico Travel (tel. 800/493-8426; www.ticotravel.com), an established expert on Costa Rica and Central America, with an office in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, now offers packages to Peru and discounted airfares. Its good-value 4- to 9-day packages cover Cusco, Lima, and Lake Titicaca.
- Amazing Peru (tel. 800/704-2915 in the U.S. and Canada, or 0808/234-6805 in the U.K.; www.amazingperu.com) is a well-run multipurpose agency, with several offices in Peru and an extensive roster of trips, offering everything from family and honeymoon tours to luxury trips and adventure and jungle tours, for virtually any budget.
- Chaska Tours (tel. 084/240-424; www.chaskatours.com) is a professional, multipurpose Cusco-based company offering a large menu of travel itineraries both in groups and tailored for individuals (you can go right on the website and fill out a custom request form), especially ecotourism and adventure trips. It has everything from day tours in Cusco and jungle tours to off-the-beaten path trekking and mountain-biking excursions and jampacked 11-day trips that take in Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Titicaca, and the Amazon.
- Class Adventure Travel (tel. 01/444-2220; www.cat-travel.com) is a very professional and dependable Dutch-owned and -operated firm with offices in Lima and Cusco, as well as Argentina, Bolivia, and Brazil. It offers adventure (rafting and trekking) and jungle tours, long trips (a 17-day "Ancient Cultures of Peru" trip), short trips (a 7-day Cusco and Puno trip), and design-your-own tours. If you arrive in Peru and then decide to book a tour, CAT is one of the best general agencies to contact.
- Fiesta Tours International (tel. 01/225-1336; www.fiestatoursperu.com) has a multitude of trips within Peru, such as its 6-day "Discover Peru" tour. It also deals in airfares from Miami or Los Angeles.
- Peru Gateway (tel. 888/671-2852 or 01/444-3027; www.peru-explorer.com) also has an extensive roster of Peru tours and a good selection of hotels.