All Ways Travel, Amantani, Community, Cultural Exchange Tour, Culture, Cusco, Eco Tourism, Hiking, Lake Titicaca, Peru, Pullman Tourism Bus, Puno, Reviews, Taquile, Tour Bus, Transport, Travel, Uros Islands
This section of the trip to Peru, was probably the easiest overall to book. Right off the bat, I decided to go for the highly recommended All Ways Travel. Every reference I looked at for trips on Lake Titicaca, with exception of one or two self-recommended tour operators, all referenced AWT as the superior option. AWT take very little for themselves and the main goal of the tourism, is to support the community of the islanders; something that was at the forefront of my mind, when looking for this trip.
The website is very clearly laid out, and it was so easy to choose the tour I had wanted (Cultural Exchange Tour). At first, I was a little despondent over the minimum requirement of four people for the tour, but, after a brief E-Mail and quick response from Willy, I was assured that due to the request being so far in advance (six months), I could book anyway and they would have plenty of time to find another couple of people, to make up the minimum group size.
The tour itself includes Amantani and an overnight stay with a host family. If you’re looking for something close to a day in the life of the islanders, this is perfect. The lodgings have very basic toilet facilities and no running water or electricity, so don’t expect the usual tour treatment; I need to remember to take water and also some snacks, in case the local cuisine doesn’t agree with my stomach or nostrils.
Something that really attracted me to this particular tour, is that we are required to pay the overnight and meal costs, directly to the host family. This is a guarantee that no money is going through the operator and, the islanders themselves are directly benefiting. Incidentally, the cost is amazingly cheap for the experience you’re getting – at the time of booking, it’s just shy of $10 per person.
The remainder of the islands tour includes the floating Uros Islands and Taquile, as well as some meals and hiking to the lesser travelled parts of the islands. I’m more interested in getting away from the crowds so again, this was extremely appealing. The full tour excluding the overnight costs, is only $45 per person, which is an absolute bargain for what you’re getting. All hotel transfers are included (with a $3 transfer fee, for hotels out of the free pick-up range).
As a wonderful bonus, AWT also has on-line booking for a tour bus to Cusco. The Pullman Tourism Bus is an all day affair, departing at 7:30am and arriving in Cusco at 5:30pm. While it seems a long journey to take, cramped inside a bus, it does cover five sight-seeing stops along the way and also includes lunch. At $40 per person, it’s a little more expensive that the standard bus but the richness of experience, makes it so much more appealing. For those interested in visiting Puno after Cusco, the tour bus also operates in the opposite direction, leaving and departing at the same times; an additional $5 cost, to the Puno to Cusco direction.
When everything was finalised via quick E-Mails and it came time to book, the procedure was as simple as sending passport numbers and names, along with confirmed itinerary – hotel details are also needed, if you’re requiring a pick-up and/or drop-off. No money, not even a deposit, is required for any of this and everything is paid for in cash, when arriving for the tour. Be aware to take enough currency, to cover the costs of everything as it goes without saying really, that the islanders will likely not be looking to hand out change, for large denominations.