As expected, my Classic Peru trip with Intrepid was a phenomenal mix of culture – including Lima, the food mecca of Latin America; Cuzco, the ancient Inka capital of South America; and the islands of Lake Titicaca, which seemed to me a blast from the past as they really have not adopted much of our modern world.
Some of my favorite stops along the way included:
1. Of course #1 has to be Machu Picchu.
The peacefulness and awe that you feel on arrival just can’t be expressed in a photo. You must go! If you can, stay as late as possible on the mountain. Most of the tourists leave around 3pm so if you can stick around you may have most of the area to yourself. That is, besides the llamas that freely roam.
Tip: The hike to the Sun Gate is about 90 minutes roundtrip and is worth doing.
2. The cuisine in Lima is original and fabulous.
We were lucky enough to take an Urban Adventures cooking class. Our local guide invited us into her home, where her mother taught us her personal recipes for ceviche and a local classic, aji de gallina.
Tip: Another stop that just can’t be missed in Miraflores, Lima, is La Mar. It is one of the city’s top restaurants and serves many kinds of ceviche. Expect to pay $20-$30 for a full meal and cocktails – I promise you won’t be sorry.
3. In the Sacred Valley we visited a local community.
Here the locals demonstrated how they make yarn from alpaca fur and how they dye the fur using organic and traditional methods. The colors they are able to get from nature are stunning.
Tip: Make sure you have some soles on hand in case you want to purchase their homemade apparel and goods. There is some time to do a little shopping and it’s a great place to buy genuine local souvenirs that support the community.
4. Boating on Lake Titicaca was a nice respite from the busy trip.
This was a lovely chance to lie back and take in the beautiful scenery. We visited the floating islands which are a feat in themselves, as well as larger island communities.
Tip: I can’t stress enough that you need to wear sunblock. The reflection from the lake makes the sun incredibly strong, even when there are clouds.
5. Our last stop was a homestay on Lake Titicaca in Puno.
Our group split up and stayed with two families. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect and was more than pleased with the accommodation. We played volleyball with the families and then helped prepare dinner of fava bean and quinoa soup with potatoes. On departure we offered a basket full of goodies to the families in thanks for their hospitality.
Tip: Bring a book or some small games to play. We were in bed by 10pm and if you like to stay up a bit later you will need some entertainment.
Traveling to Peru introduces you to amazing people and a fascinating culture. Definitely worth a spot on the coveted travel bucket list.
Feature image c/o Chelsea McGlashan, for the Intrepid Photography Competition.