Ticking Off the Bucket List

Experience Peru

By on January 26, 2013

If you take the advice from guide books at face value, Lima is not a very inviting city for tourists and is quite dangerous to wonder the streets.  We were pleasantly surprised that Lima has a whole lot to offer tourists and going with our guts, we felt really quite safe.  Granted we only had two nights there but we crammed as much as possible in with the time we had.

Lima, Peru
In those two days I received a random hug from a flower lady on the street, we watched model shoots down funky lane ways, we marvelled at the amazing architecture while hearing about it’s rich history and we drank cervezas while the sun set over the ocean.

It doesn’t sound too bad does it?

Lima, Peru

Don’t miss the view from Love Park on the oceanfront at Miraflores and make sure you visit the Church and Convent of San Francisco with the main attraction being the catacombs.  The remaining bones are an eerie sight as you walk through the dingy maze beneath the church.  It’s believed as many as 75,000 bodies were interred here.  The convent’s Harry Potter style library is very cool too.

Travelling south from Lima, we tasted our first ever Pisco Sour in, yep, Pisco.  We got the tour of a winery and how Pisco used to be made using old school clay urns and foot stomping to crush the grapes.  Nowadays it’s a little more boring being distilled in factories.  Pisco itself is an acquired taste and not one that really grew on me.

A Pisco distillery, Peru

Huacachina is where we motored over sand dunes in muscled-up dune buggies with a driver who thought he was in the dakar rally.  After losing our stomachs quite a few times sand dune bashing, we hit the slopes with our boards.  We weren’t quite game enough to actually stand up but if the amount of sand I had in my pants by the end was a measure of how much fun we had, then we had a whole lot!

Sandboarding at Huacachina, Peru

While we didn’t really want to part with over US$100 each for a flight over the Nasca Lines, if you are really into the mystery of the ancient geoglyphs in the Nasca Desert you should definitely consider it.  However there is a viewing platform where you can spot two designs at a glance which was enough to satisfy our curiosity.  The lines, believed created between 400-650 AD, were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994.

We experienced our first night bus from Nasca to Araquipa which was surprisingly comfortable.  Peru’s bus system is world class with attendants serving you food and drinks and reclining chairs that put the comfort level of flights to shame.

Sights of Paracus and Nasca, Peru

Araquipa is at 2380m above sea level and it was here we started to feel the altitude again.  It’s a beautiful old city with Spanish colonial streets but it is here we also started to see the rich mix of its population with many indigenous groups from the Andes brightening the streets with their colourful materials and traditional dress.  We also started to learn some of the history of the Incas including human sacrifice of children to ward off volcano eruptions and deforming skulls to make them conehead-shaped for prestige.

Araquipa, Peru

Araquipa was also our base for a trip to Colca Canyon.

Sometimes I think the less you know about a place the more it blows your mind and Colca Canyon was certainly a highlight.  Getting there we reached a height of over 4900 metres, the highest of our journey and the most knocked around we felt.  We didn’t do any physical activity at this level but it was amazing how tired it made you feel.

On the way to Colca Canyon, Peru

Chivay, settled in Colca Canyon is a little gem with a market place full of tradition but also with the locals capitilising on the bus loads of tourists that descend on this tiny town.  It’s hard to say no to a photo with one holding a cute and cuddly baby alpaca for a coin or two.

Chivay, Colca Canyon

You will be awestruck by the view as you drive the scenic route to catch a condor or two in flight in the canyon.  This in particular was never on my bucket list but I was amazed at how excited we were to actually catch a glimpse.  I have since added it and ticked it off.  We also had a trial hike, 8 kilometres through the valley at altitude to test our abilities ahead of the Inca Trail.  It was breathless in the beginning but we did better than we thought.  The trek ended with a dip in some natural hot spring pools which made the effort worthwhile.

Condor spotting, Colca Canyon

Another night bus and we made it to Cusco at 3400 metres above sea level.  The countdown to the Inca Trail had finally begun and still feeling the affects of the altitude as well as dodgy street food we decided not do any of the optional activities like quad biking, white water rafting or horse riding although I have heard they are awesome.  Instead we rested up and prepared ourselves for the adventure of the Inca Trek to come visiting the Inca Museum to gain a bit more insight about the culture.

Cusco, Peru

Cusco itself is a beautiful old town and worth exploring on foot and the Choco Museum and its chocolate fondue is highly recommended for a great pit stop along the way.

Choco Museum, Cusco

Next stop, Inca Trek to Machu Picchu!


Be the first to comment.

Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>



%d bloggers like this: