Two weeks before their trip, Jason McLaughlin and his wife Charlotte knew they were going away, they just didn’t know where.
You see, the couple were the winners of an Intrepid mystery trip competition, so imagine their delight when Jason and Charlotte turned up at the airport and discovered they were going to explore Peru and its astounding Amazon Jungle…
“The driver kills the engine and for several moments the boat sits in darkness in what equates to silence in the jungle – the polyphonic hum of the cicadas, the occasional whoop of a nighttime bird and the excited wails of unseen monkeys, somewhere, maybe far away, maybe watching us from the shadowy trees which overhang the river banks. We gaze at stars I can’t remember seeing before. The constellations I recognise, The Plough, Orion, Pegasus are there of course, but between them are sparkling clusters of light which, I swear, just don’t exist in the city.
One day a guy walked in to Intrepid’s London store, while simultaneously a girl in Sydney booked her tour of Peru. What comes next is a romantic tale that Holly Howard will be able to tell the grand kids…
“I was at a stage in my life where I wanted to shake things up a bit. I was in a job I didn’t particularly enjoy, at the end of a relationship and living in a flat that I no longer liked. I also just turned 30, so thought it was the perfect milestone to ‘up-stumps’ and see more of the world. South America seemed like an exotic destination, full of history and not yet overrun by tourists – a place where I might even have an ‘epiphany on a mountain top’ about what I should do with my life.
Why have fountains flowing with water when they could be splashing about in the country’s national drink?
Yes, Peruvians are so passionate about their beloved Pisco that on the first Saturday in February they honour their famous cocktail with Pisco Sour Day. On this day each year the fountain at Plaza Mayor in Lima even pours with thousands of litres of the local brew!
If you can’t make it to this huge Pisco party, there is another chance to celebrate the iconic liqueur on National Pisco Day in July. And if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you can join Intrepid’s special Pisco Making Urban Adventure in Cusco to discover why this national drink has a way of bringing locals and travellers together.
Our ‘hairy neck’ in Peru, David Knight, has shared with us many wonderful insights into Peruvian life the past 6 months. But now as his time as Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher is drawing to a close, it’s hard not to wonder if his alternative career ambition is to be a world food writer!
We’ve heard all about spicy aji on the side of soup, the delights of cuy (guinea pig), chicha (corn beer), ceviche, the best quinoa soup around, fresh honeycomb and ‘spider’ punch. Now David shares with us the triumph of the humble tater…
When you travel to Peru, there’s no excuse to buy a standard soft drink when you’re out and about or to stick to the old vodka and soda when you’re at a bar. Peru has a unique variety of rehydrating beverages – here are the top five drinks you must try in Peru…
Pisco is to Peru what Vodka is to Russia – it is the national spirit. Pisco is distilled from grapes and is primarily produced in the towns of Pisco and Ica. You’ll find a Pisco Sour on any cocktail list in Peru and it’s a delightful mix of Pisco, lime juice, egg white and sugar syrup, shaken up with ice then topped with a few drops of bitters. You can even learn how to concoct the legendary cocktail on our Lima Pisco Making day tour. The combination of bitter/sour/sweet works very well… go easy though, the local bartenders are very liberal with their Pisco pouring!
“It took several minutes before I realized that an entire squadron of baby spiders was repelling down from the thatched roof above me and into my cup of hot aba* punch”, relates David Knight, Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher in Peru.
“My research assistant and Spanish-Quechua translator, Nilo, seemed all too amused. Together, we had been invited into the home of a kind local woman to shelter from the hail that had begun to fall in destructive force upon the high Andean town of Amaru, where we’d been conducting research for several weeks. As the tiny spiders descended upon me to escape the fury of the elements, I couldn’t help but laugh with my companion in contemplation of the unique challenges and experiences we’d had thus far in these remote and breathtakingly beautiful highlands.
Sure you can get a buzz on roller coasters, jet boats and hang gliders, but as Intrepid’s Ella Benjamin discovered, sometimes a simple piece of ply board can give you the most thrilling ride of your life…
“Flying face-first down a hundred foot mountain of sand is one of the most exhilarating and adrenaline pumping experiences of my life.
Huacachina, a tiny town in southwest Peru, has increasingly become an attraction for tourists drawn by the sport of sand boarding and taking dune buggy rides. The town is built around a small natural lake in the middle of the desert and is surrounded by enormous sand dunes.
Ceviche is a classic Peruvian dish with simple but decidedly delectable ingredients including raw fish, onion, salt, cilantro and garlic – tantalizingly tossed in lime juice. For David Knight, Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher in Peru, his recent experiences examining local perspectives of tourism impacts in the Sacred Valley town of Chichubamba could well be compared to the preparation of a fine ceviche. David tells us why…
“Now, given the references to my pasty, peeling skin in previous blog posts, you might be inclined to see me as the raw fish in this citrus soup metaphor; and, until recently, I might have been inclined to agree with you. But I learned a new Peruvian phrase yesterday while talking with an Intrepid leader, and it seemed a truer analogy to my experiences thus far.
“There are many small non-government organisations which try to make a difference by their humanitarian efforts to help malnourished and disadvantaged children, especially in underdeveloped and developing countries. Yet this work is not considered ‘sustainable’, THE buzz word when applying for grants or donations”, writes Sonia Newhouse who works high in the Peruvian Andes. ”But what could be more sustainable than children, for the future of their societies and countries!”
“Sustainability of projects is recognised by most large and small donors as ‘the’ qualification when receiving grant applications, as they are then considered to be self-sustaining and will therefore only need a one-off donation.
Some adrenaline junkies will go far and wide to find the next big thing. For David Knight, Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher in Peru, an adrenaline rush came quite unexpectedly the other day during a mini-van ride from Cuzco to Urubamba in Peru’s Sacred Valley…
“Keep hands and feet inside the car at all times, ’cause this here’s the wildest ride in the wilderness. The final words of warning from the old cowboy on Disney’s Big Thunder Mountain kept running through my head as our driver took one harrowing turn after another. A woman walking beside the highway with her baby strapped to her back appeared entirely at ease as we sped by, the baby barely turning its head beneath a brilliantly-colored cloth.