Off we go! The next 14 days will be spent in Peru, home of the most ancient civilizations in North America (Norte-Chico) as well as one of the most ruthless (the Inca). There are six recognized ‘birthplaces’ of civilization in the world, Mesopotamia, Egypt, the Indus valley, China, Mesoamerica and The Andean region of Peru. This place is OLD.
It’s also a biodiverse place. We will be on the tallest sand dunes in the world, a mountainous river valley, one of the highest cities on earth, an ocean island with penguins and seals and deep in the heart of the Amazon basin, the worlds largest rainforest.
By far this is the most complex and difficult adventures we’ve been on, with tight turn-arounds, budget accommodations and few breaks. Internet is spotty, but we are lugging the tech gear in our backpacks and plan on posting daily as usual.
Day 1: Travel from Washington D.C. to Lima, Peru:
- We depart on a 3-leg journey on American Airlines via Raleigh-Durham, Miami and then finally Lima in the evening. It’s a lousy itinerary, but we can’t complain because these tickets were FREE, well not really free. We got them with frequent flyer miles.
- The evening will be spent at Mami Panchita hotel nearby. http://www.mamipanchita.com It’s a cheap hotel, fairly close to the airport, and they do inexpensive pick-ups and drop offs.
Day 2: The Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo
- The next few days are spent in the Sacred Valley, home of Machu Picchu, other Inca ruins and tremendous beauty. We leave early from Lima on a flight to Cusco, the ancient capital of Peru on Peruvian Airlines (who are very inexpensive and were incredibly helpful to this gringo when he messed up the tickets.) Travel tip: try to get seats on the left side of the plane for this trip for a great view coming into Cusco.
- Cusco is very high (12k feet) and causes altitude sickness in most folks. So we are heading lower to the sacred valley to the main hub Ollantaytambo where we are staying at KB Tambo hostel. They have arranged to pick us up in Cusco and drive us down the mountain.
- On the way we will stop at Moray and Salinas. Moray is a famous Incan agricultural site, where they dug concentric circles down into the earth for agricultural purposes. Salinas is an ancient salt terrace.
- In Ollantytambo we will scout the Inca ruins on which the small town was built and have dinner at Tres Kerros, one of the emerging andean cuisine hotspots.
Day 3: Sacred Valley horseback riding and travel to Machu Picchu
- Because the altitude is still likely to be a problem, we are doing half day horseback rides up and down the mountainous valley near Machu Picchu.
- At 15:37 we take a train from Ollanta to Aguas Callientes, the staging town for our assault on Machu Picchu. There are no roads to Machu Picchu, only trails and a train.
- The evening, at the base of the mountain on which Macchi
Day 4 – Machu Picchu and Huyana Picchu
- One of our most challenging days, we get up at 4am to wait in line for one of the few hundred tickets to hike up Huyana Piccu, the mountain that overlooks macchu picchu and and incredible hike, climb and view of Machu Picchu
- In the late morning we’ll descend and tour macchu pichu, the summer getaway for an incan emporer.
- After lunch, we’ll go back to town and do the machu picchu museum to leran more of what we saw and then take a train back to Ollantaytambo where we will stay the night at Kbperu again.
Day 5 – ziplining and climbing in the sacred valley
- Today’s adventure includes a 500 meter zip line across the sacred valley and the Urubamba river and a climbing ‘via ferrata’. www.naturavive.com
- Afternoon is open! I think we’ll all take naps.
Day 6 – The market and ruins of Pisco
- We leave the sacred valley today for our next segment, but first stop at Pisco, the second best inca ruin in the sacred valley (some like it more than Machu Picchu.) It also has the largest craft and souvenier market in Peru.
- We will have rented a driver for the day and he will take us to Cusco, where we will not have much time to explore unfortuately, even though it’s a beautiful city. At 6pm we get on a luxury overnight bus to Nasca.
Day 7 Nasca off-roading and sandboarding.
- Fresh off the red-eye bus through the mountains (they play music an movies all night long and blast the air conditioning), we arrive in Nasca, where we will drop our stuff off at the hotel that we stay tonight at casa-andina.com.
- The day’s adventure includes a wild off -road with Nasca 4×4 to some ancient burial grounds, and then sandboarding till sunset on the tallest sand dunes in the world.
Day 8 Nasca lines and on to Paracas
- The highlight of Nasca are the ancient geoglyph ‘lines’ visable only from the air that have been the source of much speculation. We’ll take a twisting and turning flight in a small airplane for about an hour.
- After lunch in town, we’ll head north to Paracas on one of the many busses that go up and down the Pacific coast to posada del emancipador www.posadadelemancipador.com and get some fresh ceviche from Juan Pablo restaurant with a view of the Pacific.
Day 9 Isla Balletas in Paracas: Penguins and Sea lions and Guano oh my!
- Hyperbolically dubbed the ‘little galapagos’, Isla Balletas still provides an amazing habitat for humboldt penguins, sea lions, dolphins and thousands of birds viewable by small boats we will board early in the morning.
- By late morning we will be on the road back to Lima in a taxi to catch our flight to Iquitos in the amazon.
Days 10-13 Our Amazonian adventure
- Picked up early from our hotel, the folks at Otorongo lodge will speedboat us 2 hours down the amazon for our 4 days of rainforest adventure including, Pink dolphins, howler monkeys, indiginous trib visits, blow gun contests, pirannah fishing, spider hunting and all sorts of hikes and expiditions.
- The lodge has only a small generator, an emergency sattelite phone, mosquito netted hammocks and a small camp kitchen. We’ll sleep out at least one night under the canopy of the rainforest.
- On day 13 they will bring us back to Iquitos for our flight back to Lima. We’ll again stay at Mami Panchitas
Day 14 Lima
- With only a day in Lima, we’ll be skipping the museums and churches that typify the tourist itinerary and go straight for the hang gliding overy the city in the morning.
- After a lunch somewhere, we’ll head to El Circuito Magico Del Agua, an ‘must-be-seen-to-be believed’ water fountain sculpture garden with 12 of the largest water exhibits in the world set to a variety of music.
- Orr flight leaves for the US at 10pm, so we’ll collect our bags from the hotel and head to the airport for the 7-hour red-eye back to Miami.
And that’s our Peru adventure in short. I planned this with two travel guides (rough guides and Lonely Planet), a lot of reserach and Q&A on tripadvisor, and many many emails with hotels and providers.
I can guarantee that something will go disasterously wrong, but as always we will adapt and find a way to handle it.