Country Overview: Travelling in Peru

One of the last and best shots of Machu Picchu, as the sun goes down it gets ready for another day.

One of the last and best shots of Machu Picchu, as the sun goes down it gets ready for another day.19-Aug-2009 22:13, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 7.1, 28.0mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 400

Introduction: Peru is a vast country, the 28th largest in the world, with desert on its coast, the andes for its backbone and vast jungle inland to the East. Famous for its Incan ruins, we also visited the less travelled archeological North for evidence of pre-Incan cultures including the Chimu and Moche. A fascinating country that kept us occupied and entertained, we loved every minute.

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Gallery: The Wonderful Floating Islands of Uros on Lake Titicaca, Puno!

We were also offered this emotionallly unstable chappy, sadly without eye protection.

We were also offered this emotionallly unstable chappy, sadly without eye protection.24-Aug-2009 17:29, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 8.0, 65.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400

Imaginatively located on the highest navigable lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, we’d been told the Floating Islands of Uros are a tourist trap and the only thing to see in Puno. Right on both counts, but a tourist trap for a reason; they’re really quite interesting! Over five hundred years ago, the original inhabitants fled from the shores of the lake to avoid the impending Incan invasion. Now, they avoid property tax. But they also offer an insight into one of the strangest ways of living in the world, and it was a great way to break up the 18hr bus journey from Cusco, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia.

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Gallery: The Amazing Lost Incan City of Machu Picchu

The obligatory pose; there are quite a few of these so I apologise in advance!

The obligatory pose; there are quite a few of these so I apologise in advance!19-Aug-2009 17:43, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 8.0, 28.0mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 400

Having already visited one lost Incan city in Choquequirao and coming back only slightly disappointed and with one of us on crutches (guess who) we were a little apprehensive of visiting the more expensive and indecently touristic primary Incan offering from Peru, Machu Picchu. It would involve multiple but allegedly easy modes of transport, the stew pot of tourism that is Aguas Calientes, and we would finally be rewarded with the glorious postcard view of the ancient stone city nestled high in the Andean mountains. Would it fulfil the majestic fairytale that we’d been promised? Or would the potential highlight of our trip become a tour group with megaphone nightmare? Would we drink any more rum and yoghurt?!

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Gallery: Guide to Hiking to the Lost Incan City of Choquequirao and an unexpected Horse Trek!

The happy crew at the bottom of the downhill; now all that is left is about 1,500m of up!

The happy crew at the bottom of the downhill; now all that is left is about 1,500m of up!13-Aug-2009 17:25, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 6.3, 28.0mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 400

The lost Incan city of Choquequirao is known as the sacred sister to Machu Picchu, only accessible by foot and receiving just one percent of the visiting tourists annually. As each year progresses, the site becomes busier, so time is of the essence before this mostly unheard of archaeological treasure becomes another tourist’s tick box. With so many improbable rumours to be investigated, the challenge of a soul crushing hike and the opportunity for a good spot of camping, how could we possibly give it a miss? Would my knee hold up? More importantly, is rum and yoghurt actually drinkable?

Continue reading Gallery: Guide to Hiking to the Lost Incan City of Choquequirao and an unexpected Horse Trek!…

Gallery: Amazing Arequipa and Colca Canyon Condors!

Beaming smiles, a hot shower is just around the corner, with the layered vista of Colca Canyon behind.

Beaming smiles, a hot shower is just around the corner, with the layered vista of Colca Canyon behind.06-Aug-2009 17:58, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 8.0, 28.0mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 400

After a horrendous night bus we arrived early in Arequipa, known as the second city of Peru, and quickly found a beautiful, clean, safe city that was a pleasure to walk around. Our main reason for hitting the town was to make a side visit to Colca Canyon, ever so nearly the deepest in the world (beaten by only 163m by its neighbour), twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and famous for viewing one of the most majestic birds of prey, the Condor. But would our bus antics start to get any smoother? Would we see any Condors? Would we finally get a decent hot shower?

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Gallery: Boarding in Huacachina desert and Flying over Nazca!

Lynette and I in front of our death buggy that careered over the dunes with a complete disregard for human life.

Lynette and I in front of our death buggy that careered over the dunes with a complete disregard for human life.01-Aug-2009 22:40, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 10.0, 28.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400

After our amazing morning checking out sea lions and bird poo in Isla Ballestas, we were heading out to a fabled oasis in the middle of the desert, Huacachina. This was our mini weekend break, after which we would be flying over one of the great South American traveller’s tick boxes, the Nazca lines. In Huacachina we’d been looking forward to trying sand boarding without injuring yet another body part, and in Nazca attempting to keep our stomachs under control while being thrown around in a tiny Cessna. Would we succeed in both?!

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Gallery: Hiking Huaraz and Penguins on Isla Ballestas (Very Poor Man’s Galapagos)!

Steve and I posing.

Steve and I posing.29-Jul-2009 17:44, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 7.1, 28.0mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 100

It was time for a change from pre-Columbian ruins so we headed off on a fantastic night bus to Huaraz, a town at the base of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. We aimed to do a hike in the mountains to see the spectacular views this area offered. Following that, animals were the name of the game at the Islas Ballestas just off the coast from Pisco. Two fun experiences, especially when one of them involves penguins !!!

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Gallery: Pre-Incan Indiana Jones trekking in Chiclayo and Trujillo!

Our smiling faces overlooking the Tucume ruins.

Our smiling faces overlooking the Tucume ruins.24-Jul-2009 21:03, Canon Canon EOS 400D DIGIT, 10.0, 28.0mm, 0.004 sec, ISO 400

After whizzing through Ecuador with a small taster of Incan ruins, we were keen to explore Northern Peru and its Pre-Incan treasures which are often skipped out by travellers heading to Cusco at breakneck speed. We found rich history and better understood the history of these amazing civilisations; it’s not all just the Incas in South America… plus I lost something I’d been cultivating for some time, which unlike most gardening attempts hadn’t actually died on me yet.

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Itinerary: South America

South America ThumbWe’re even closer to heading off – more goodbyes have been said at Kelly & Ben’s amazing wedding this weekend and we’ve both now had our last day at work. Current weather in Rio as I write is a balmy 28°c! We’re now hopefully pretty close to actually knowing our route so all the details are below. Its still, and always will be, in flux, but that is the nature and fun of backpacking!

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