Kimkim made a bucket list trip fantastic
Oct 18 - Oct 23, 2023
I first heard about Kimkim from a friend who used them to book a trip to Peru. She spoke highly of both Kimkim (and Cusi travel who was the local agency Kimkim set both of us up with while in Peru). Take it from both of us who've gone through the experience, the extra cost is 100% worth the money to book a private tour via Kimkim.
Kimkim and Jessica were fantastic in helping create a Peru trip on such as short time frame as we had about 2.5 months to plan the entire trip. Jessica was always quick to respond back to our replies, make changes to our itinerary and provide suggestions that suited what we were looking for. We went through quite a few itinerary changes as our dates shifted slightly along with working with our flights and she she was always on top of it all. We left heading to Peru with a wonderful itinerary and no worries at all.
Our trip to Peru focused on Cusco and the Sacred Valley due to time constraints but the entire trip was wonderful. The entire group left feeling as if we had seen the key places and not once did we feel rushed by our tour guide or group (even when timing was getting tight and we started worrying, not once did our guide make us feel like we needed to rush and we were always on time). Our main tour guide was Valeriano from Cusi travels and he was fantastic. He was able to answer all our questions, always kept a pace with us when the altitude impacted our physical abilities and you could see his passion for the Incan civilization. He also never made us feel like we had to buy something if we stopped at a stall/store like other guides outside of Kimkim made us feel, he was always punctual and he always knew the next day's itinerary and was great about sharing it with us so we never were uncertain. He was super knowledgeable, with great English. Even our drivers were great, encouraging us and always jumping out to help us with bags or holding something so we could safely and easily get in/out of vehicles.
The hotels we stayed in were great, with helpful staff, clean rooms and free breakfasts. The Cusco hotel was better than the smaller towns which is to be expected but at no point did we feel unsafe, felt like the rooms could be cleaner or that we weren't getting our money's worth. They also all had safe to eat at restaurants built in or very close by so we never had to worry about not finding safe food in the area.
Overall for having such a short time span we loved our Peru experience and are super happy we went with Kimkim. There wasn't a single complain amongst the group except that we wished we were able to go longer. I highly recommend Kimkim and Cusi travel for any Peru trips.
We booked a 3 person room for both stays (starting and ending our trip). The staff were always welcoming, and happy to answer our endless questions for help. The luggage storage is very secure, the rooms were clean (our 2nd came with a balcony that let us enjoy some fresh air) and the rooms are a decent size. There's extra bedding which came in handy for when we got cold. The location is fantastic being a minute walk from the main Cusco plaza and surrounded by lots of stores, great restaurants and amenities. It's a bit busy and there's firecrackers that can cause some noise but it didn't bother us. It does take about 30 minutes or so to get to/from the airport depending on traffic but it's a high tourist area and there was lots of police presence around so we never felt unsafe. The breakfast was delicious.
The hotel is clean with decent sized rooms. It does seem a bit older than our Cusco hotel but it still quite a comfortable stay. There are individual buildings so do anticipate having to go outside to get to the front desk or restaurant. Our building also had a 2nd floor via stairs and I didn't see an elevator although there may have been one in another part of the building. The floors also squeak but this noise didn't bother us at all. The internet was quite spotty for us in the room. The hotel is located about 10 minutes downhill from the main plaza of Ollantaytambo (close to the train station) as well as the closest markets to buy water. It didn't bother us much but it could possibly be an issue if going up a semi-steep incline is a challenge. The lobby does sell water at a markup if you prefer. The restaurants is tourist friendly and we had no issues after eating there. It's also where a great breakfast is served. If you have time, climb the terraces behind the hotel (on their property) to get a great view of the Ollantaytambo ruins and to enjoy some fresh air. We greatly enjoyed staying at the hotel.
The hotel is clean, comfortable and not too far from the train station (technically it's right outside the station but because of where the entrance/exit is it's more like a 5 minute walk from the station). The staff were helpful in answering any questions as well as helping with our bags. They do luggage storage as well. There's an on-site restaurant which doubles for breakfast which is handy. Our rooms were clean, of decent size and comfortable. We had an issue with our key cards that was very quickly fixed with no problems at all. Because our room faced the train station there was the train horn and noise but it's far enough down the street that general tourist noises aren't a concern. There's lots of small shops nearby to buy snacks/water if need be.
This was a great tour to see the main sites of the Sacred Valley as well as an introduction to Incan Civilization. It's all driven with different viewpoints and Incan ruins. We greatly enjoyed it as a slower start while we acclimatized to the altitude. It does include a lunch at a buffet serving common Peruvian cuisine which was a great way to try some popular and different dishes before fully committing to a whole plate at a different restaurant. The ruins are great but anticipate a lot of walking and stairs (as well as sun). You'll also drive to lots of different little towns and get a bit of the vibe of what it's like to live there. The roads are bumpy so anticipate that. There is a typical tour stop in a silver store where a employee talked to us about the different designs and types of silver in jewelry - to be honest he talked so fast no one in the group understood him beyond 1 or 2 points and then you are invited to walk around the store; there's no pressure to buy anything at all and we just briefly glanced around before leaving with no issue but it wasn't something we were expecting and would rather have skipped.
The morning drive to Moray took us through a less used road which was actually really nice because it gave us a chance to see the path the locals often take as well as unique views of the Sacred Valley. It also did allow us to pull over and get lots of photos as needed. The salt flats were amazing to see as were the Moray terraces. The ATV tour with Mountainview Experiences was probably the weakest link in our entire tour. It took a bit of time for them to get us organized (which is abnormal as everything else on this was super smooth). One of us then ran out of gas fairly early on and we got stuck for a while waiting for someone to bring us more gas; another ATV group came across us and the tour operator made us switch ATVs with the other group so we could continue on...only for us to run into the other group still stuck on our loop back which made us feel awful ( we assumed they were done and hence the switch but that seems less likely now). A bit more time stopping to see the views and take pictures would have been nice but it seems this didn't happen due to the previous delays and us having to catch a train. The instructions on how to ride the ATVs were mostly clear and outside of the delay/issue it was an enjoyable experience otherwise. The salt flats were nice and our guide took us to a stall where we were able to try some chocolates with no pressure to buy anything. They even pulled over so we could get some nice shots of the flats before we made it all the way down.
The food at Mountainview was great although it did take some time for each course to come out (our driver and guide were done their main courses before our main courses arrived and we had already started on our appetizers before they had ordered) and because of the ATV tour delays we felt like we had to rush the dessert part to make our train despite our tour guide not making us feel rushed. The area is quite clean and the view is definitely fantastic. The eating area is indoors but there's lots of space to wander outdoors and take pictures. The food was fantastic and we greatly enjoyed it. It was also quite a bit of food so we were all quite full when done. I
This was the main point of our Peru trip and a bucket list item. It was fantastic and breathtaking no matter how many times you see the iconic photo. The line up to get on the bus that takes you up can be crazy long and it took us about 20 minutes to board a bus but the buses were always coming and we got to Machu Picchu about 10 minutes after our entry time with no delay entering the ruins. There's a decent amount of steps to start circuit 1 and 2 which covers most of Machu Picchu so be prepared for that and there's going to be lots of people. Our guide was able to get some fantastic shots of us from angles that hid a lot of the people so definitely trust your guide. It also helps bring the entire city to perspective having someone knowledgeable talk about it. It started chilly but all the walking definitely makes you feel warm so layers is key as well as a raincoat as no umbrellas are allowed. Because of how late we booked our trip we got a later entry time but didn't feel rushed when we had to make it back for our afternoon train (Valeriano was a fantastic guide despite the time constraints). And at no point did we feel like we missed out on anything by the time we left. We did have to skip lunch but we stopped for snacks both before heading to Machu Picchu and before catching the train (if you are on the Vistadome train they provide a small snack box) which tided us over until dinner.
We got really lucky and were able to see an end of the school year church celebration on our way out of the city which Valeriano stopped to let us film and enjoy even though it definitely delayed us. The hike starts with climbing a fair amount of steps to get out of the city with some great views. It does pass through some local and farming areas as well as follow parts of the Inca trail and we got to have some frequent stops along the way because the altitude does get to you. It was definitely way more strenuous than we expected for being a 4 hour hike but it was worth it to see the ruins around Cusco. It's also less visited than other ruins so there weren't many others there even though it was a weekend. One part of the trail has you going down a slightly steep hill were we did have a few tricky areas. Our tour guide did stop and buy us snacks and water before we met up so there's a brief snack break/picnic on some ruins to let you rest which was enjoyable. From there the rest of the hike isn't as challenging but we were definitely tired by the end of it. Be prepared for a heavier workout than you'd expect.
The Cusco city tour covers a lot of the immediate ruins outside of Cusco such as Saqsayamun and well as the Sun temple in Cusco - essentially places that are hard to get to by yourself. It doesn't cover as much within the city itself but most of that can be discovered by yourself walking around. It was a nice easy tour to wrap up our stay in Cusco with our international flights later in the afternoon. It's less physical than the rest but do keep in mind that the parking lots and the actual ruins can require some walking. There's lots of stalls along the way to buy any last minute souvenirs although they are pricier than buying at San Pedro market in Cusco. We opted to visit the textile workshop and feed llamas which was enjoyable and got a quick workshop on how to tell fake from real Alpaca wool. There was also the option to buy products (without any pushback on that) which was nice because we got some great gifts at cheaper cost. Overall we greatly enjoyed the tour.