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The World Through My Eyes Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.

Peru in a nutshell!

PERU | Monday, 27 May 2013 | Views [1286]

Seeing as I've travelled through the Andean countries quite quickly, I thought it would be better to write one blog for Peru and sum it up in a nutshell but a big enough nutshell so you can all still share my experiences with envy!

My journey to Peru started by walking across the border from Bolivia, which took all of five minutes! Once over, I got back onto the bus and headed for Puno, a small tumbleweed town situated on Lake Titicaca.I only stopped there for one night so as I could catch an early morning bus to my first Peruvian destination - Arequipa or The White City as its known, due to many of it's buildings being made out of sillar.It is also home to the famous volcano, El Misti which creates a fantastic backdrop for a photo from most views in the city. The city has a lovely laid back feel to it with some outstanding architecture which includes the Monasterio de Santa Catalina. I read you need to spend around half a day in there, they're not wrong! It really is a city inside a city!They have a nice little cafe set outside in a garden which Clare (a girl I met and went with) and myself spent quite a while in eating cake and catching some mid morning rays!

Whilst in Arequipa I visited the Museo Santuarios Andinos which houses the famous Momia Juanita or (the Inca Ice Maiden as she's also known as) during certain months of the year. I was fortunate to be there when she was on display. A fascinating museum and definitely the most interesting one I've visited during my whole South American trip. For those of you who may not have heard about this young girl, she was specifically picked, raised into a family then taken to the top of Mount Ampato and offered as a sacrifice to the Inca gods. She is not technically a mummy as such as her body was never mummified. It is thought her body froze not long after death, causing her body to stay well preserved. So there you have it, a bit of history for you there!

It was also in Arequipa where I tried my first Granadilla fruit thanks to Jesse, which was later named "The Snotty" because of its snot looking appearance, surprisingly good though and tastes similar to a passion fruit.

A few hours from Arequipa is the Colca Canyon, a canyon that is twice deep than the grand canyon and well known for the Cruz del Condor. The canyon itself wasn't as deep as I thought it would be but maybe that's because I visited the easy way on a one day tour instead of trekking through it! The Condors were absolutely amazing though, their wing span is huge and casts a large shadow below them.

Leaving Arequipa, Jesse and myself took a cab to the bus station. There we were sitting waiting for our buses for sometime before we realised Cruz del Sur actually had their own departure lounge which we'd been missing out on! Sadly Jesse didn't get to experience it as he hopped straight onto his bus, luckily I did though. Those leather seats were a tad luxurious to the plastic one's we'd been sitting on!

After a ten hour bus journey I arrived in Cusco - the capital of the Inca Empire! I spent a week there, the city is great and filled with lot's of colonial history from the Inca period. I took a free walking tour around the city, learning about historical facts en route (which I later relayed to Erin and Jesse!) sampled traditional Peruvian cuisine and drink, went up to the viewpoint to overlook the city, saw how their silver jewellery is designed and made and also learnt that baby alpaca wool isn't from a baby alpaca at all, it's named that because its from the first lot of wool that get's sheared off! Quite an educational three hours, has to be said! Erin, Jesse and myself ate a lot of the local food and discovered it was dry, especially the Casino biscuits which have a deceiving appearance, they look similar to a custard cream but taste more like what I imagine sawdust would! The best food I had there was Causa, a traditional Peruvian dish accompanied with a glass of Chicha, a purple corn drink. I didn't try any of the traditional deep fried Cuy (guinea pig) as it looks far too much like a domesticated animal for me!There were a few festivals during my time there, all situated around the Plaza de Armas and all very lively and colourful.

From Cusco I caught a bus to a town called Ollantaytambo where I caught the eighty minute panoramic train to the lost city of the Inca's....Machu Picchu. As I didn't do the Inca trail I didn't arrive at The Sun Gate like many do but that didn't matter because on entering the site I was struck with the astonishing craftmanship that welcomed me. Standing above the terraces looking out onto Waynu Picchu is a moment quite like no other, to see the skill these people took to create this city is truly amazing!Walking around the site pretty much takes all day, I opted not to go in a tour group and can honestly say it was the best decision. By doing this I was able to avoid the crowds and made my way around the site in my own leisure. I headed up towards the Sun Gate and made a friend along the way, it took us around thirty minutes to walk up hill. Once arriving at the top we were granted with the most magnificent views. Looking directly down you can see the windy and also fairly scary bus route you take from Aguas Calientes, then looking further afield you see the peak of Waynu Picchu and the Inca city in all it's glory. We stayed up there for about thirty minutes then headed back down and went our separate ways, I headed in the direction of the residential sector although, it took me a while to get there as it's like a maze down there! Once there I just stood and listened, complete silence.It was perfect.Difficult to describe in words but a moment I won't forget, a moment where you stop and think to yourself "I'm walking in the steps of the Inca's , the steps they created centuries ago."

I headed back to Cusco the same day and two days later off I went on the Sacred Valley tour. Once again I was shocked into amazement by the stonework creations and the history that surrounded them. We first stopped in Pisac which was quite a climb uphill, you need a good set of lungs! The Inca's never built cities at the bottom of the valleys, always on top of the mountains! The site is actually bigger than that of Michu Picchu as it is spread out across more land. Heading upwards we were shown around and had Quechuan tombs pointed out to us which lay nestled high up in the mountain side. Next stop was Ollantaytambo, possibly one of the most important Inca ruin sites. Surrounded by steep mountains it was the royal estate of the Emperor Pachacuti. If you look carefully enough you can see a face carved into one of the mountain sides. A site with many steps, terraces and huge stones, it is thought the site was still under construction when it was abandoned. It was interesting to find out that the stones would have been brought down from a neighbouring mountain which has a quarry at the top, however it is still unkown how they transported them down. Getting back into the bus we were shown fields where quinoa and the barley for the Cusqueña beer is grown, we then arrived at a town called Chincheros. Here we were given a demonstration by the locals on how they dye and weave the wool used in many Andean products.

After Cusco I took a sixteen hour bus ride towards Huacachina. Huacachina is a small oasis town situated in the desert, it is also where the world sandboarding championships are held every year. The sand dunes are huge, I spent the afternoon with a group riding around them in a sand buggy and sandboarding down them. It was so much fun, if you've never been before think rollercoaster and times that by ten! The next day I took a tour around the Ballestas Islands just off the coast near Paracas. We got to see sea lions, penguins and a lot of birds! It was here I discovered I'm really not a sea person. The place smelt like fish and wasn't too pleasant but an experience none the less and nice to see some wildlife in their habitat.

Last but not least on my Peruvian and South American adventure is the city of Lima, where I am writing this from.Other than being a big city there's not too much to see so I'm taking the time to relax a little before I get to The Big Apple and see my sisters, ready for the fun to commence again.One thing I did discover in Lima though was La Lucha, the best sandwich place ever! A crusty roll filled with grilled steak, cheese, avocado and a side of salsa picante makea a good lunch! 

Tags: arequipa, ballestas isla, colca canyon, cusco, huacachina, incas, machu picchu, sacred valley, santa catalina monastery

 

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