So far I’m loving life on the road… once you get used to cold showers, paper thin pillows and bread/butter (sometimes cheese!) for breakfast on an almost daily basis.
Over the past week I’ve seen so many breathtaking mountain vistas and Inca ruins across Peru. From Pachacamac (in Lima), to Pisaq (in the Sacred Valley) and the town of Ollantaytambo, the highlight for me was definitely Machu Picchu… sometimes referred to as the lost city of the Incas. The view of these mysterious Inca ruins and the Huayna Picchu mountain towering over them was truly spectacular and took my breath away… I don’t think any photos can really do it justice! Visiting Machu Picchu has always been a dream of mine (and on my bucket list!) so I’m glad I finally made it there… the short hike up to sun gate while the sun was rising, although challenging, definitely made it all that more special!
Machu Picchu an Huayna Picchu
View of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu from Sun Gate
Woman Dyeing Alpaca Wool at Planeterra Women’s Weaving Project
It hasn’t been all history lessons, ruins and photography though… there has been a lot of fun and adventure too. Travelling with a group for the past week has been a blast and it’s been interesting meeting people from all around the world. Together we’ve had a lot of fun… from walking for hours along railway tracks and through dark tunnels in search of waterfalls, chilling out in thermal hot springs, quad biking along dirt roads surrounded by wild animals and snow capped mountain peaks, drinking pisco sours and sometimes simply playing cards over a cold Cusqueña beer. I’m just soaking it up and enjoying every moment of it!
Salineras (Salt Mines) de Maras
Next stop… Puno and Lake Titicaca. Then it’s time to say adiós to Peru and hola to Bolivia.
Following the volcanoes of Arequipa and Colca, I took off on a trip to Ica and the desert oasis Huacachina. My journey to Ica was my first bus trip in Peru, in fact my first in South America, so I was a little nervous and didn’t know what to expect. I received a lot of advice from friends and family: ‘hold on to your luggage as tightly as possible for the entire trip‘, ‘sleep with one eye open‘, ‘hide some money in your socks in case you get mugged or the bus is hijacked!‘, etc etc… it’s no wonder I was a little apprehensive. I still don’t fully comprehend the bus system in Peru but I managed to get to the right destination and made it there with all my luggage intact and without being robbed… I’d consider that a successful trip!
Huacachina was a very serene and beautiful place… a small oasis surrounded by desert sand dunes as far as the eye can see. I spent a relaxing and fun couple of days there, riding up the sand dunes and sandboarding down (with a few minor mishaps!). Watching the sun set behind the dunes was a breathtaking experience!
Sunset in the Desert
I also managed to squeeze in a little visit to the town of Paracas with a boat trip around the Ballestas Islands, where I spotted my first penguins (from afar) as well as Peruvian boobies, pelicans and seals. After the boat broke down near the Islands, we were lucky enough to even see dolphins!
Wildlife on the Ballestas Islands
My first few days in Peru have been great. I’ve stopped several times and thought to myself, “I can’t believe I’m actually here and doing this!” and then a big grin appears on my face.
Over the last several days I’ve wandered the streets of Lima and Arequipa, soaked in a lot of Inca history and also managed to visit the spectacular Colca Canyon – I was even lucky enough to see some cute Vicuñas, Alpacas and Llamas and the mighty Condor birds in the canyon! It’s been a pretty amazing time so far aside from a small bout of altitude sickness when I reached around 4900m. From watching colourful sunsets, being surrounded by mountains and volcanoes, bathing in thermal hot springs and sampling delicious Peruvian food… it’s been an eventful and fun few days.
Below are some pics from the last few days:
Lakes in Tocra
Mirador Wayra Punku
Condors in the Canyon