I would highly recommend using Alpaca Tours. They were very responsive to our many questions before the trip, and with the exception of Chivay, there was always someone to pick us up when we arrived at each destination. They created an individualized itinerary for us based on how much time we had, how much money we wanted to spend, and what we wanted to see and do. We were more than satisfied with the variety of activities and tours, and felt that we got excellent value for the money. All of the tours were very good, and every tour guide was knowledgeable and enthusiastic about their material.
This was the first tour that I have ever taken, and it felt so good to have everything taken care of. We were so spoiled being picked up at every destination, that we started to fully rely on our various drivers. However, when we returned to Puno from our homestay experience, the driver asked us the name of our hotel. Both of us went blank, but between us were able to figure out the name. Little did we know that there were two hotels by that name in the city, and of course, the driver dropped us off at the wrong one! We went into a short state of panic, as we had left our luggage at the hotel, and only taken our daypacks to Lake Titicaca. Fortunately, the staff was able to guide us to the correct hotel, but we realized the importance of ALWAYS getting the hotel card before going off on even the smallest excursion, in case you get lost!
We also didn't realize that we would be expected to pay for small charges, like a bus tax of 2.50 solaces in Arequipa, and 3.80 solaces tax for the dune buggy ride. It is a good idea to always have some small change for situations such as these.
Given that we were extremely tired, we would have given ourselves at least one and better yet, two days to recover in Cusco.
We also would have stayed overnight in Ollyantaytambo before going on the trek, as we had taken a tour to this area the day before, and then went back to Cusco to sleep, only to wake up very early to drive all the way back to Ollyantaytambo the next day. This was about two hours each way, so it would have been nice to have avoided this.
If we had know how beautiful the lodge at Colca Canyon was, we would have opted to stay an extra day, and flown from Arequipa to Nazca rather than taking the overnight bus.
Packing list: we were surprised at how cold it is in Peru. While daytime temperatures climbed to around 70 degrees most days, once the sun went down, it was COLD! We had taken several pairs of shorts and tank tops that we never wore. One of each is lots for this trip, but you might want to pack a change of cold weather clothes, as we found ourselves wearing the same long sleeved top, fleece and jacket every single day of the trip! However, if you like shopping, there are lots of "alpaca" products for sale that will do a great job of keeping you warm. Beware that the cheap "alpaca" products sold in the markets and roadside vendors are likely synthetic blends. A good alpaca sweater will cost around $60 - $70 American dollars. (Still a bargain in my books!)
Don't bother bringing a scarf, as there are so many lovely ones to buy along the way.