Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A day trip to Tipón

Waterfalls of Tipón
On our last full day in Cusco, we decided that we needed to see just one last Inca ruin!

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Chilling in Cusco!

Plaza de Armas, Cusco
While I fell in love with Arequipa and declared that I could live there, James’ favourite city in Peru was Cusco.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Machu and Wayna Picchu

Wayna Picchu - shrouded in mist!
Machu Picchu is Quechua - the language of the Incas and still spoken in Peru today - for old mountain. It is overlooked by Wayna (sometimes spelt Huayna) Picchu, which is Quechua for young mountain.

When booking the Inca Trail, we were given the option of spending a little bit more to climb Wayna Picchu once we were at Machu Picchu on our last day of the trail and a quick search on the internet suggested it was worth it for getting a different perspective on the site.

Friday, 25 April 2014

No jumping at Machu Picchu and definitely no streaking

Just before going on the Inca Trail, I had read in the Guardian, that an Aussie and a Kiwi tourist had been arrested after streaking through Machu Picchu.

We therefore kept a close eye on the Aussie couple in our group, but while Alex did get his legs out once or twice, that was as far as it went and they successfully managed to stay clothed. 

The authorities at Machu Picchu are taking this incident very seriously though, hence the appearance of the following sign at the front gate.

I'd love to hear that conversation with the embassy!
There are also other rules and regulations to be followed while in Machu Picchu. The ticket explains that there should be no loud shouting or whooping, but we also found that jumping photos are also not allowed. This was the best we could manage (please don't tell anyone), before being told about this rule.

El Camino de Inca

The Team of Champions!

So we made it!

After 3 long days of walking and a very early start on the fourth, the “champions team” - as we were very aptly named by our guide, Valentin from Alpaca Expeditions - were a very close second through the sun gate to arrive at Machu Picchu at around 6 in the morning.

The sight greeting us was as beautiful as I had imagined. There was mist hanging over the mountains below us and it was drizzling, but we could still see the whole site before us. 

And if anything the mist added to the view and made it seem even more surreal that we were finally there!.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Being vegetarian in Peru

Being a vegetarian in Peru was surprisingly easy. 

Peru is getting itself known as being a bit of a foodie destination and as well as the Alpaca steaks that James enjoyed along the way, this also means that there are an increasing number of (varying quality) vegetarian restaurants.

We ate very well in Lima. Following the recommendations of Neverending Voyage and Indefinite Adventure, we made a beeline for Almazen, where we enjoyed sampling a range of different types of potatoes, cooked in multiple ways with delicious sauces, as well as imaginatively stuffed tomatoes and a yummy stuffed pancake.

Into the Colca Canyon

At the start of the trek
Arequipa is a ‘jumping off’ point for lots of hiking and adventure activities, including trekking into the Colca Canyon, which was thought to be the deepest canyon in the world at 3,400 metres, until its neighbour the Cotahusi Canyon was found to be 135 metres deeper.
There are lots of companies in Arequipa offering tours into the Colca Canyon, but having read up on it, I could see that there was a very doable round trip into the Canyon (with a night at the bottom at the ‘Oasis’) that we could do on our own. And generally we like to try and do things by ourselves where we can, particularly where the route looked as straight forward as this one did. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

A visit to the White City (and the search for El Misti!)

Arriving from the desert of Nazca to Arequipa was a breath of fresh air. The high altitude means that although its warm in the day, it never gets too hot and in the evening we started to remember what cold felt like (but only just). So it was perfect for wandering around and soaking in the sights. 

The city’s colonial buildings are built of sillar, a white volcanic material, which has led to Arequipa being nick-named ‘The White City’.

The cathedral and the main square