Peru is well known for its excellent and wide cuisine, its history and beautiful landscapes. It is an amazing place with an indescribable charm.
For 10 years I had wanted to do the Inca Trail, and for different reasons I could not do it until 2009, when I went with some friends of mine. Although I had visited Peru several times on work trips, I had not been able to travel around this beautiful land. Before traveling I planned what experiences were unmissable for me and from there I reserved my place in the Inca Trail, and I planned the rest of the trip around that. So it was that in March of 2009, I made my long awaited trip. Then I created a list of the top 5 experiences around Peru:
1- Isla del Sol and Titicaca Lake. This part of this trip, I did it on my own to spend Easter (Good Friday) in Puno, and the rest in Isla del Sol and Copacabana (a village overlooking Lake Titicaca on the Bolivian side). I participated in a Good Friday procession with the people of Puno, and for the rest of the Easter weekend I was on the Bolivian side. In Copacabana they adorned the cars in a very beautiful way.
When I arrived in Copacabana, I took the boat with people from the area (Aymara) and went to Isla del Sol. In order to get to the hostel I had seen, I had to climb the Inca stairs which was a set of stairs of approximately 200 meters and 1 km hiking. Between the altitude (3,810 masl aprox), the temperature and the weight I carried with me, I thought I would not reach the top, but luckily I did it successfully.
The effort to climb the stairs was worth it as it is a really beautiful place. Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world, and it is among the 15 largest in the world.
2- Inca Trail. Upon returning from the Isla del Sol, I hiked the Inca Trail (I had already grown accustomed to the height so I had no problem with that), but you could see a lot of people struggling with that. It was a 3-day hike until we reached Machu Picchu on the 4th day. When we arrived at Puerta del Sol (4th day) with my friends, I must admit that I cried from the great feeling of finally being there. After 10 years, I had been able to fulfill my dream of reaching Machu Picchu! In this 42 km long trail, you peak a height of 4,215 meters above sea level on the second day and you can appreciate all kinds of incredible landscapes. The second day, which is the most difficult one, since it reaches the maximum height you can porters to carry your backpack, but in my case I preferred to carry it myself. The Trail is just as beautiful as Machu Picchu. Along the way, you encounter all kinds of archeological remains.
Such as the Snowy of Veronica (Wakaywillque) of 5,682 meters high.
Finally, I arrived at Machu Picchu.
At the end of the day (5 PM) we chose to walk from Machu Picchu to Aguascalientes and spend the night in a Hostel, the trail is a must.
3- Ollantaytambo in the Sacred Valley. The train back from Aguascalientes arrives to Ollantaytambo town where you can take a bus to Cusco. Instead of taking it immediately, I prefered to spend a day in Ollantaytambo . The village is very beautiful, full of history and highly recommended to spend a day.
4- Maras, Moray and salineras by bike. As I did not want to do the typical tour by bus, I found out about the possibility of doing it by bike. It was great fun, and allowed me to learn and see so much. In addition to the innumerable anecdotes that I had during the ride, such as a broken seat, making me ride on the frame of the bike for the rest of the road.
Maras is a town that has attractions of the pre-Hispanic, colonial and republican period, located in Urubamba (3,300 masl). From there you can appreciate the Vilcanota mountain range and the snowy peaks “El Chikón” (5,530 masl), “Putukisi” Veronica “(5,682 masl). Moray is located approximately 7 km to the south of Maras (3,385 masl) and consists of natural holes that were used by the Incas for cultivation on terraces (difference in height between the holes is 150 m and the average height of these terraces is 1.9 m. The difference in temperature between the lower and upper terraces is 15C.
Finally the excursion ended in the Salineras or Salt Mines that are to the NW of Maras formed by 2000 wells that are exploited since the time of the Incas.
5- Nazca Lines. To get to the lines, I returned from Cusco to Lima by plane, there I took a bus to Ica and then another bus to Nazca. The Nazca lines are found in the homonymous desert. It is amazing to see those lines from the air.
The Astronaut The Monkey
Tips for the trip
1. Peruvian cuisine is one of the richest and most recognized in the world, Ceviche (fish macerated with lemon), Anticucho and chifa food (mixture of Peruvian and Chinese cuisine) among others.
2. When arriving at airports or bus stations, it is recommended, if you are going to take a taxi, to move away from the airport or station and to haggle the fixed price to destination.
3. It is recommended to avoid altitude sickness. The day you arrive in Cusco, eat light and do little physical activity in order to adjust. The pills for altitude sickness or Soroche are taken in case of suffering from such an evil. Around 3000 – 3500 meters above sea level, symptoms may begin.
4. It is recommended to spend the night in Aguascalientes after the Inca Trail, so you can stay in Machu Picchu until the last hour without problems because you may miss the train that goes to Ollantaytambo.
5. It is recommended to stay in Lima in the Barranco, Miraflores or San Isidro neighborhoods, as they are the safest neighborhoods.
6. Haggling is a common practice in Peru.
7. Single women can travel without any problems in Peru and Bolivia, at least in the towns where I was.
8. In the majority of the places and for different activities you may have to be ready to pay cash. Credit cards are not used everywhere.
9. There are 2 seasons: the dry season and the rainy season. The rainy season is from October to March. Despite the fact, that it is recommended to go from June to October because there are no rains, I traveled in March and it practically did not rain and enjoyed landscape with intense green lush, due to recent rains.
10. High season is from June to August so prices will be higher than at another time.
11. If you go on the Inca trail, it is advisable to wear “layers of clothing” or dress “onion” style. Except for the 2nd day that is the most demanding and that you can pay porters to carry your backpack, the rest you have to carry it yourself, so it is advisable to leave all luggage in the Hostel or hotel and carry a light backpack. It is necessary to wear trekking shoes with a good grip, mainly on the 2nd day if it rains or drizzle. In the descent, the stones become very slippery. It is also recommended to wear a raincoat and drink plenty of liquid to avoid dehidration.
12. To make sure you take part in the Inca Trail, it is recommended to book it in advance. In the page http://www.machupicchu.gob.pe/ you can see the availability and the tourist agencies recommended to make the reservation.
13. If you are a student, it is recommended that you take the ISIC student card since they give you discounts in almost all places.
14. If you take the Inca trail, you may not be able to go to HuaynaPicchu, so if you want to make it up there, it is recommended to buy the entrance ticket in advance (like the Inca trail and entrance to Machu Picchu, as daily visits availability is limited) or you may go the following day very early in the morning.
15. For overflights of the Nazca lines, it is recommended to check the prices of the air tickets before buying it, since there are “tour companies” that offer you the ticket at a higher price telling you that the increase is due to inflation (this happened to me).
Visa, passport and vaccines.
Most countries in Latin America, USA and Europe do not require a Tourist Visa with a maximum stay of 180 days approx. both in Peru and Bolivia.
In the case of Peru, for those who carry out activities in jungle areas at 2,300 mts or less, they are required to have the vaccine against yellow fever.
For Bolivia, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required for those entering high-risk areas such as Chuquisaca, La Paz, Cochabamba, Tarija, Santa Cruz, Beni and Pando.
For vaccines check at https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list/
Below I detail my itinerary as a guide of what to do and times.
Below I detail my itinerary as a guide of what to do and times.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5||Day 6||Day 7|
|-Arrive to Lima. -Flight Lima/Cusco -Arrive to Cusco.||-Visit Cusco – Acclimatize||-Bus from Cusco to Puno – Night at Puno and visit Puno||– Bus from Puno to Copacabana – Ship Copacabana/Isla del Sol -Visit Isla del Sol||-Visit Isla del Sol||-Return by ship Isla del Sol/Copacabana -Return by bus from Copacabana to Cusco||-Visit ruins close to Cuzco|
|Day 8||Day 9||Day 10||Day 11||Day 12||Day 13||Day 14|
|-Inca Trail – Day 1||-Inca Trail – Day 2||-Inca Trail – Day 3||-Arrive at Machu Picchu. – Return to Aguascalientes by foot or by bus. – Night at Aguascalientes||-Trip by train from Aguascalientes to Ollantaytambo – Visit Ollantaytambo||-Return by bus from Ollantaytambo to Cusco – Night in Cusco||-Visit Maras, Moray y Salineras by bike.|
|Day 15||Day 16||Day 17||Day 18||Day 19||Day 20|
|-Flight Cusco/Lima – Bus Lima/Ica/Nazca (10 hs approx). – Arrive at Nazca at night.||-Flight the Nazca Lines. -Visit to different Archeology places||-Return to Lima from Nazca (10 hs aprox).||Visit Lima (City Center, Inquisition Museum and other museums)||Visit Lima (San Isidro, Costanera, Miraflores and Barranco, visit puente de los suspiros)||Return.|
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