The year 2011 was one of the hardest years of my life due to personal reasons. Maybe that’s why I decided to go far away from home to Peru to get away from everything I knew. I went to Peru for about a week on a guided tour. I believe I used peruforless.com as the booking agent and I highly recommend them. They were courteous, organized, and on-time about everything.
I took the flight to Lima and stayed their a couple of days. I don’t remember much about the place, but do remember there being a language barrier. Lima is like any other big city. Huge, crowded, and lots of pollution. To be honest, I wasn’t impressed. As an experienced traveler, I have seen better. I would recommend not staying more than one to two days here. I did try their ceviche by the ocean which was to die for. I am not a sushi fan, but ceviche, I can get on board with.
After spending time in Lima, I was sent to the Lima airport again to fly to Cuzco. That’s when things went downhill. Apparently, there was bad weather in Cuszo so all flights going there were delayed. So began the eight hour stay at the airport. The airline was nice enough to give the passengers refreshments, but I had a packed schedule and missed a tour due to the delay. After the okay, we boarded the small plane to cuzco and landed after an hour or so flight. My first impressions were the mountains. I didn’t experience much dizziness or shortness of breath like they warn, however, I still drank that yummy tea. It’s interesting. I took a tour of Cuzco and it reminded me of old Spain. Beautiful cobbled streets, with even more beautiful cobbled streets. Do be careful of pick-pockets. I lost forty dollars at a restaurant that way. Despite this unlucky incident, I was lucky enough to experience an outside Catholic mass. I am not sure what the situation was, but it was crowded! And there were Jesuses and Marys everywhere. I couldn’t understand much because of the language barrier.
The next day, I woke up bright and early and was transported to a train station. There I met a nice Australian couple who I chatted up. Once boarding the train, we began the uphill climb. I had the option of staying longer and hiking to Macchu Picchu, but I was not interested in that. Due to that, I missed some great vistas, but the train ride is beautiful enough. Rivers, abandoned villages, Peruvian Natives, and the mountains were definitely photo-worthy. After the train-ride, we got off at the city of Macchu Picchu. It seemed like the whole of Peru was there, so it is essential to stay with your group. After some scuffling, and tantrums, I managed to find my group and we took a bus ride to the actual Macchu Picchu. If you are out of shape, like me, I highly recommend doing this.
My first impression of Macchu Picchu was how quiet it is. It is quite a spiritual experience to step onto those tiny, unpaved roads and stare at the familiar landscape. The mountain top is the most well-known image and I took plenty of pictures of it. You can actually hike up to the top, but it is quite dangerous and I was alone. I took a tour with a young Peruvian with the same Australian couple. I surely believe that the young guide had a chip on the shoulders and thought I was an idiot or disrespectful when I was asking him questions. One can expect that when you reveal your American nationality. Despite the unpleasantness, it was actually a great and informative tour. It is remarkable how well-preserved those buildings and houses are. I was most impressed by the accurate solstice clock they had built.
After the tour, we were free to roam and explore on our own. I climbed to the very top of village and had great photo opportunities. I didn’t take any selfies, because I don’t remember it being a trend yet. I did saw many aplacas and illamas, which was absolutely a glorious sight as I love exotic animals.
Towards the evening, we came back to the town, and I had aplaca kebabs for dinner. I didn’t halal then so it was on my to-try list. The meat was chewy and I didn’t like it. The town where you board the train is great for shopping, but like any other place in Peru, you gotta haggle to get the best value.
I chose to shop for souvenirs at a little village among mountains called Piku. I highly recommend you shop there. I didn’t haggle much, because, I am not much of a haggler and the prices were reasonable. The best Peruvian crafts were there and you can take pictures with native people in native garbs and goats. One suggestion I would give is to tip those who you take a picture of. It seems nice and they kinda expect it. Another highlight I remember was visiting a small village where indigenous Peruvians show visitors how they make dye with plant and insect extracts and then dye fiber. That was quite fascinating to see despite the fact that they didn’t speak a word of English. I would have bought something on that side tour, but the prices were kind of high, so I opted to shop elsewear in Lima instead. Note that Peru depends greatly on tourism so the prices are high for tourists, but do know that haggling is acceptable and the quality of the handicrafts are superb. For souvenirs, I would invest in some one-of-a-kind handmade embroidered pillows or a soft alpaca fur scarf (I don’t think alpacas die for that, right?).
Overall, a beautiful country with Cusco and Macchu Picchu being the highlight. Okay in food, but wonderful in crafts. Highly recommend going with a tour group.