Peru for Two
It is hard to deny the beauty and flavor of Peru. As one of the most popular travel destinations for Americans, it is an amazing environment in which to make memories that last a lifetime. Travel to Peru offers experiences on the magical Amazon river, recalls of royalty at Machu Picchu, and the deliciousness of anticuchos. To better serve your Peruvian adventures, my husband and I recently traveled to Peru and I can’t wait for you to create your own memories!
Is sailing the Upper Amazon River and hiking Machu Picchu on your bucket list? It was for me, too!
We arrived in Lima just past midnight so that meant a quick trip to the Hotel Westin Lima. The plan was to have an easy first day that would allow us to get rested and explore the cityscape of Lima if the mood struck. We were greeted by an amazing view of the city from our modern hotel room. We enjoyed a delicious chicken dinner at a local polleria in Lima and then grabbed more sleep to prepare for adventure.
The next day after our flight to Iquitos, we started our journey in Nauta, a small riverside town on the banks of the Marañón River. It was here that we boarded our river boat, the Delfin III. This luxurious boat affords a variety of luxury in an exclusive environment. Only 44 guests are boarded to ensure your views through the floor-to-ceiling windows are not obstructed. You will have room to relax in the lounges, spa, pool, and dining room. It will be my goal to find the best accommodations for your getaway!
Our itinerary had us on the boat for three days. The rooms were very relaxing and allowed for some calming down time. (I’ll discuss that in another blog.) Rooms were spacious with relaxing furniture, similar to what I experienced on the Crystal Bach river ship in Europe. The food and drink menus incorporated local ingredients so that provided new and unique flavors! Ask me about the native Doncella fish.
Along our journey, we woke up early one morning in one of the most beautiful areas of Peru, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. The flora and fauna in this locale were breathtaking. Few areas on Earth possess the biodiversity seen in this tropical rainforest. Monkeys and sloths dotted our path and we saw the famous pink dolphins! They were incredibly curious. Scratch that off my bucket list.
My husband lived out one of his dreams by fishing for piranha. Unfortunately, we missed an opportunity to taste them. Our very wise captain saw that the prow of the ship had come into contact with a bush leaning from the shore and local ants were using the branches to climb aboard! The uninvited guests were quickly dealt with and we moved to a new fishing location for the rest of our quest. We also visited a local community called San Francisco. This was a very enjoyable stop. At one point, I even had a monkey climbing on my head!
One of my favorite experiences was a stop on our last evening on the river. We went out in the skiffs to a particular island in the river. We pulled up into the reeds and the sky was filled with clouds of squawking birds. We learned they come there at night, because there are no predators on the island and it’s a safe place to sleep. We drank champagne to celebrate the end of an adventurous cruise and watched a very colorful sunset.
We visited the Floating Mammals Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre after our cruise to learn about manatees and other rescued species. This facility and others like it do incredible work to protect the wildlife we love to see. Manatees are such integral parts of the fragile ecosystem and the Centre works to educate locals about the manatees’ vital contribution.
For our next leg of the journey we flew to Cusco which sits at 11,152 feet above sea level. The altitude is a huge change! Be prepared to pace yourself and acclimate to the lower oxygen levels. We walked up a small hill to see the beautiful Cristo del Pacifico statue. What an impressive site. This experience was just a taste of what awaited on our journey to Machu Picchu.
In order to acclimate for our hike at Machu Picchu, we proceeded with touring on the way to the Sacred Valley, which is at a lower elevation. Saw many things along the way; colorful and touristy town of Pisac, Awanakancha, an exhibition center of textiles and South American camelids where we bought a chullo (Peruvian hat) for our daughter and a slingshot made from alpaca fur. This town is keeping their culture of raising alpacas, llamas, etc. and dying and weaving beautiful items with their fur. The town of Lamay is known for serving cuy (guinea pig) – part of their diet for around 5,000 years. They hold skewered cooked cuy out to passersby along the road.
At the beautiful Wayra ranch, we toured the incredible Sol y Luna which is my #1 choice for accommodations in the Sacred Valley. From natural beauty to unique artwork, this is an unforgettable destination. We had a delicious and interesting lunch, including a sampling of many local dishes such as anticuchos or beef heart, as well as a wonderful Paso horse show. The show includes a young couple dancing out on the grassy field with the horses and riders. I got to mount one of these beautiful horses for a trot around the field.
We stayed at the luxurious Belmond Rio Sagrado in Urubamba at 9,420 feet above sea level. This elegant resort sits beside the Sacred River for a good night’s rest before boarding the train in the morning from their private train station, bound for Machu Picchu.
The train ride to Machu Picchu was very relaxing. The entire trip entranced us with beautiful scenery of the Andes mountains and the small hamlets we passed along the way.
“Machu Picchu” means “new mountain” and sits 7,972 feet above sea level. We dropped off our luggage with our hotel’s porter conveniently at the train station. Then we met our local guide who assisted us in boarding the bus for the 20 minute ride from the town of Machu Picchu (also known as Aguas Calientes) to the ancient site of Machu Picchu. We hiked all over the site and the guide helped us get some great pictures, including a very cute one with a llama at the city gate. The weather was spectacular.
After lunch, we headed back down to town and the Sumaq hotel, right on the Vilcanota river. We had a river view from our lovely suite. The Sumaq’s restaurant served one of the best meals of our trip. Peruvians take great pride in artfully displaying their culinary creations.
Ready to go higher? It was time to visit Hyuana Picchu (old mountain) at an elevation of 8,924 ft. Hiking Hyuana Picchu must be planned far in advance. Because they only allow 400 hikers per day; 200 in the morning and 200 in the afternoon. (I will take care of this for you)! We booked our tickets over 3 months in advance. We were nervous about the steep climb, but looking forward to the challenge. We had to stop many times along the way for a break and had to get down to our hands and knees in some places, but so did younger folk, so we didn’t feel bad. We were rewarded with a beautiful view looking down to Machu Picchu. We got down with 30 seconds to spare and had the feeling of a difficult task accomplished together.
We had enough time to go back to our hotel to shower and pack up before check-out. The hotel took our luggage back to the train station, while we had lunch and explored the town, hunting for fun souvenirs.
After our train ride back to the Belmond, a guide picked us up on arrival and we were driven back to Cusco. Cusco was an amazing city and we stayed at two amazing hotels: the Palacio del Inka and the Belmond Palacio Nazarenas. We also toured a third hotel – the Belmond Hotel Monasterio.
We loved wandering around Cusco! We walked to the main square and ate at a McDonalds (traveling is the only time we eat there, I guess because it gives us a taste of home). During one of our night walks I got popcorn from a female street vendor with her homemade popper and it was delicious. They grow 300 to 500 different varieties of corn and even more varieties of potatoes. They also have about 30 different varieties of super foods such as quinoa. I got my picture taken more than once with local ladies in Peruvian dress and holding baby alpacas, which is how some locals make money. It is expected to tip them but people are very nice when you say no and they don’t keep bothering you. Their artwork is amazing; woven items, paintings, and ceramics. Despite the effect that Spanish colonization had upon the native Inca peoples, Peruvians are very proud of their ancestry and the Incan culture is very important to them.
My husband has been wanting to go to Peru for so long. I loved Peru because of the warmth of the people, their fascinating culture, their beautiful landscapes and their incredible art. I would love to return someday to see more; condors, visit Rainbow Mountain, hike the Inca trail, go to the Nasca lines, and more.
If you are ready to experience the magic of Peru, setup an appointment with me and let’s begin planning!
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