Lima - Day 2
Last day of the trip! We joined a free walking tour around the historic center of Lima. We got to witness the changing of the guard outside the President's house which was very impressive. We visited a cathedral which was beautiful. We were also shown shanty town type areas where people fled from terrorist groups called the Shining Path in the highlands. It was a really interesting day! We ended it with a delicious churro!
28 September 2017
Lima - Day 1
Early flight from Cusco to Lima this morning! We are staying in the Mira Flores area which is beautiful along the coastline and a much wealthier neighborhood. We spent the afternoon walking along the boardwalk and visiting the scenic view points along the way. Different sites included the Bridge of Sighs, which we renamed the Bridge of disappointment as it was really nothing very special, even though everyone had told us it was! We also visited Parque de l'Amor and Barranco area. And we had a couple churros along the way, which made for a great afternoon!!
Cusco - Day 3
Today, we visited a bunch of different archeological sites around Cusco. The first one was called Saqsayhuaman (pronounced sexy woman). It's a big fortress though it is only about 20% of it's original size. A lot of the rocks were taken by the Spanish when they took over Cusco to build their houses. We then visited Q'enqo which was a tomb, and place used for sacrifices and different rituals. Then we went to Puka Pukara which was another fortress built out of red rock. We ended in Tambomachay which was a beautiful sanctuary/resort with little waterfalls running within the ruins. A really beautiful day!
26 September 2017
Cusco - Day 2
Back to Cusco last night after Machu Picchu, we slept in this morning (till 8am!! Wow!) And then got a slow start to the day. We planned a relaxing day of shopping and visiting different free museums such as the Coca museum which is all about the Coca plant which is a bronchodilator and used to combat altitude sickness here.
Machu Picchu - Day 1
Began our day with a 3:30am wake up, and were off by 4am. The hostel packed us some breakfast to go and we had bought a lunch to bring with us as well. We walked to the first gate which opened at 6am, and waited in line for a bit. Then began our hike, or should I say Stairmaster session, for just over an hour. This brought us to the 2nd gate which was the entrance to the site. We had another 1h30min Stairmaster session to the top of Machu Picchu mountain scheduled as we had payed for it with our original ticket and there was a time assigned for us to visit. All that hiking was very intense. We all found it actually more challenging than our Colca Canyon Trek. But we made it! And the view was.... well there was no view. Clouds everywhere!! The clouds eventually cleared up around mid morning and then it was spectacular to visit the rest of the site. We hustled ourselves a guide who was GREAT. Made the experience much more meaningful. End of the day train sprint = 😪.
Aguas Caliente - Day 1
We left Cusco this morning to catch our train to Aguas Caliente, which is the town from which we can begin our hike to Machu Picchu. The train had panoramic views and was a nice change from bussing around. Aguas Calientes really took us by surprise. It's a beautiful little town, and I could have spent more time there, had I known. We went to some hot springs, but were a little disappointed. Very busy and smelly, though the jungle backdrop was beautiful. We had a relaxing evening as we had another early morning wake up call schedule to climb to Machu Picchu.
Cusco - Day 1
After another big bus day yesterday, and relaxing evening, we truly visited Cusco today. We met up with a couple other of our Physio friends who are doing a similar trip in South America, and so for the day we were 8!! Cusco is one of my favorite cities. It's gorgeous! We began by walking around and eventually made our way to the Chocolate Museum! It was very well run, and interesting to learn all about the process of making chocolate and various products that can come from a single bean! ++ tasty as well! In the afternoon, we joined a free walking tour. The guide was excellent, and the tour included a pisco sour, Peru's national drink! Cusco has 14 Catholic churches, which sit above 14 Inca temples that were destroyed by the Spanish. The majority of people in Cusco speak 2 languages, Spanish and Queshua, the Inca language. Actually, they are Queshua people and it is wrong to call them Inca's since Inca means King in the Queshua language.
21 September 2017
Puno - Day 1
We arrived in Puno, which is on the edge of Lake Titicaca, yesterday after a long bus ride from Arequipa. The altitude here is 3800m and will be the highest point we will stay during the trip. After our hike, we needed some relaxation. We took a 3 hour tour to the floating islands, which are these man made islands that float on Lake Titicaca. Originally created by the Uros people to prevent attacks from the Inka, the islands are now mainly a tourist attraction, but people really do live on them. The one we visited had a population of 25 people! The president showed us how they built the islands and their way of life. Tourist trap, yes, but still very interesting, and one of the main attractions of Lake Titicaca, which is a massive lake! We spent the afternoon walking around the Puno markets and main squares.
Colca Canyon - Day 2
Up and ready to leave for 4:30am! We needed our headlamps for the first hour, but it was so nice to hike without the heat of the sun, and scenic as we saw the sun rise from behind the mountains! Uphill the entire 3 hour hike, we felt a great sense of accomplishment when we completed it! We arrived in the town of Cabanaconde, and had lunch. We then took a bus to some nice hot springs which felt amazing post hike. After this, we stopped at the highest point for 5 minutes to take quick pics. This was at an altitude of 4900m and people did not feel well, hence the hasty departure. Then, we drove through a national reserve and saw some wild llamas and alpacas, and headed back to Arequipa arriving around 5pm. An exhausting couple of days, but very memorable.
Colca Canyon - Day 1
2:30am wake up call today to catch our bus for the Colca Canyon 2 day trek. After the 2 hour bus ride, we ended up in Chivay, a small town on the border of the town, where we had breakfast. Following this, we stopped at the Condor Viewpoint, where we were able to see these impressive birds. Then we arrived at the start point for the hike. The first 3 hours were mainly downhill, so I lost my knees. Then we stopped for lunch, and the following 3 hours were a combination of uphill and downs, so I lost every other muscle!! It was a difficult hike, particularly the uphills with the effects of altitude, but so worth it. Our guide was awesome, and told us a bunch of cool facts about the people here and the different plants we would see. The Canyon itself is the 3rd largest in the world at 4000m in depth, following one in China and one in Nepal. The Grand Canyon is only 2000m! Our accommodations for the night were lovely little huts at the bottom of the canyon with a pool!
Arequipa - Day 1
The overnight bus, though quite luxurious, was still exhausting. When we arrived in Arequipa, we dropped our bags off at the hostel and went for lunch before joining a free walking tour. It was excellent, and included visiting and Alpaca and Llama farm, and having "Queso Helado" which translates to cheese ice cream, so really you can't go wrong with that combination. It tastes like eggnog! Arequipa is really beautiful, and took us all by surprise I think. Reminds me of Old Montreal. It is also called the White city because most of the infrastructure is made of white volcanic rock. In fact, Arequipa is surrounded by a few active volcanoes.
16 September 2017
Huacachina - Day 2
Today we went sandboarding (like snowboarding, but on the dunes) and dune buggying! These are the 2 main attractions of Huacachina and our main reason for coming! It was such an incredible experience. The dunes are massive, and so imposing. Pictures don't capture it. We also walked around the small town and took in the sun! Now eating a last meal here before our overnight bus to Arequipa.
Huacachina - Day 1
We arrived in Huacachina in the afternoon after a luxurious bus ride (they had bus attendants and movies on the back of seats!!) Huacachina is a small oasis in the middle of the desert! It's so beautiful, surrounded by dunes. We spent the afternoon relaxing by the pool, and then hiked up the dunes for a beautiful sunset! And then, we ran/tumbled all the way down!