Hi Guys! Today, I want to tell you about my wonderful and magical trip to Peru. 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 went to Peru for seven days on a guided tour. I used peruforless.com (See HERE) as the booking agent and I highly recommend them. They were courteous, organized, and on-time about everything.
I took a flight straight to Lima with a layover in Panama (there are no direct flights to Peru, I think) and stayed there a couple of days. I don’t remember much about the place, but do remember the language barrier. Lima is like any other big city. Huge, crowded, and polluted. As an experienced traveler, I wasn’t impressed. I recommend staying for only one to two days here. I did try their ceviche in a restaurant by the ocean which was to die for. It had a very lemony zest to it and the paprika was just the right spice for my taste palette. I am not a sushi fan, but ceviche, I can get on board with. Lima is also a great place to do some shopping. Beautiful handcrafts at not so beautiful prices, but of course you can always haggle and the best quality is found here.
After spending time in Lima, I was transported to Lima airport in a private van (all organized by Peru For Less) to fly to Cuzco. That’s when things went downhill. Apparently, there was bad weather in Cusco so all flights going there were delayed. So began the eight-hour stay at Lima airport. The airline was nice enough to give the passengers refreshments, but I had a planned a packed schedule in Cusco that day and missed a tour. After the okay, we boarded the small plane to Cuzco and landed after a 45-minute flight. My first impression of Cusco was the beauty of the high mountains. I didn’t experience much dizziness or shortness of breath as they had warned, however, I still drank that yummy Coco tea. It’s interesting. I walked around Cuzco and the architecture reminded me of Spain, but the culture was very Peruvian. Beautiful cobbled streets and red-orange rooftops were a beautiful aspect of this old city. Do be careful of pick-pockets. I lost forty dollars at a fast food restaurant that way. Despite this unlucky incident, I feel I was lucky enough to see a Catholic mass on the streets, which I had never experienced in America or during any of my trips to Europe. I am not sure what the situation was, but it was crowded!
The next day, I woke up bright and early and was transported in a van (organized by Peru For Less) to a nearby train station. There I met a nice Australian couple who I chatted up with while waiting for the train. Once boarding the train, we began the uphill climb. I had the option of hiking to Macchu Picchu, but I was not interested in that. I felt like I was out of shape. I know I missed some great vistas on the famous Inca Trail, but the train ride is beautiful enough. Rivers, abandoned villages, Peruvian Natives, and the green mountains were definitely photo-op worthy. After the train ride, we got off at the city of Macchu Picchu. It was very crowded there so it was essential I stay with my group. Once we assembled, the group I was part of got on a bus to take us to the actual Macchu Picchu. The group tours at Macchu Picchu and the train ride were organized by Peru For Less. I loved the schedule because it provided me with enough flexibility to roam Macchu Picchu on my own.
My first impression of Macchu Picchu was how quiet and oddly serene it was. It was quite a spiritual experience to step onto those tiny, unpaved roads often ignored in photographs and stare at the famous 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 to do that alone. The trip consisted of one tour with a young Peruvian. I surely believe that the young guide had a chip on his shoulders and thought I was an idiot or disrespectful when I was asking him some basic questions. Maybe they expect you to do some research before you go there, I don’t know, but because of that, I didn’t feel comfortable revealing my American nationality to anyone there. Despite the unpleasantness, it was actually a great and informative tour. It is remarkable how well-preserved those buildings and houses are still. I was most impressed by the accurate down-to-the-minute solstice clock the Incans had built.
After the tour, I climbed to the top of one of the many terraces there (where the lookout post was) and took very creative shots of the landscape. It is quite stunning to see Macchu Picchu among the rising mountains from there. I also saw many alpacas and llamas roaming freely, which was absolutely breathtaking because I love animals.
Towards the evening, we came back down to the village where I had alpaca 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 the texture. But for food enthusiasts, it may appear interesting. Another food item to see (if not eat) is the guinea pig. That’s a particular horrendous delicacy so I would stay clear of it. If you have some time, the village is packed with souvenirs shops. However, they are a huge tourist trap and the prices are inflated.
I chose to shop for souvenirs in a little village between the terraced mountains of the Sacred Valley called Piku. The trip was part of a tour organized by Peru For less and I highly recommend you shop there. I didn’t haggle much because I am not much of a haggler and because the prices were reasonable. The best part about Piku was that you can take pictures with Peruvian people in traditional garments and goats. One suggestion I would give is to tip those people. It’s nice and they kinda expect it. Another highlight of the Sacred Valley tour was visiting a small village where indigenous Peruvians show visitors how they make organic dye with plant and insect extracts. They even demonstrated the dying process. The whole experience was quite fascinating despite the fact that the natives didn’t speak a word of English. I would have bought something on that tour, but the prices were very high. Note that Peru depends greatly on tourism so the prices are high in some places, but haggling is perfectly acceptable. For souvenirs, I would invest in some unique hand-embroidered pillows or a soft alpaca fur scarf (I don’t think alpacas die for that, right?).
Overall, Peru is a beautiful country with Cusco and Macchu Picchu being the gems of the nation. The food is okay in Peru, but culturally, it is quite interesting. I do recommend going with a tour group. Happy Travelling!!