Wednesday, May 19, 2010

1 Where Next Wednesday: Peru

*Photos courtesy of Lonely Planet and Tripadvisor

To Do List
  • We would definitely want to hike the Inca Trail to visit Machu Picchu. Hiking permits are in high demand and they only dole out 500 for each day so we'd need to book well ahead of time. The cost is around $400-500 for four days including entry and various transportation costs. Hikers have to go with a tour, and the trail is closed every February. Lots of advanced planning required for this one.
  • Lake Titicaca, on the border of Bolivia and Peru, is located at over 12,500 feet which makes it the highest navigable body of water in the world! There are several islands with Incan ruins and sacred sights on the lake, as well as the floating islands of the Uros people, where everything, including houses, boats, carpets and more are constructed from reeds.
  • Arequipa, a nine hour bus ride from Cusco (the home base for Machu Picchu), is supposed to be an incredible sample of mixing colonial and indigenous cultures--many of the buildings were made from volcanic stone.There is also Colca Canyon and El Misti for those who want to summit an Andes peak. We hear that La Iberica Chocolate Shop is pretty yummy, too.
  • Lima is reputed to be a pretty cool city itself, not just a transit point on the way to Machu Picchu. Plaza de Armas is the ceremonial center, Cerro San Cristobal offers great views of the city, Huaca Pucllana is a clay pyramid dating back to 200 AD, and Fountain Park houses the tallest public fountain in the world!
  • The Nazca Lines are an eerily precise pattern of engravings in the ground that were left by the Nazca people circa 200 BC. Think the Inca ruins are old? These people were long gone before the Incas showed up! The plane we'd take to see them is apparently miniature and the ride often nauseating, but supposedly entirely worth it to see the spider, monkey, and astronaut carved into the earth!
  • Chan Chan is home to the largest adobe city in the world. It's estimated 30,000 people lived there in its day.
Peru is known for having a bit more variety and spice in its food than some of its neighbors.
  • Guinea pig, an andean specialty.
  • Anticuchos, a kebab of marinated spicy beef heart. A common street food.
  • Mazamorra morada, a purple custard made from purple cor.
  • Picarones, a sort of donut made from fried yams dough.
  • Pisco sour. Raw eggs and liquor.
  • Chicha morada, a soft drink made from boiled purple corn, sugar, and spices.
  • Mate de Coca, a tea made from the leaves of the coca plant. It's the prescribed medicine for adjusting to the altitude.
Get Me There
No visas are required for tourist stays of up to 90 days, but it is necessary to show evidence of return or onward travel. Yellow fever vaccines are recommended--we'd have to find out if the ones we got last year are still good.

Flights to Lima from Boston are currently going for as little as $550 this summer. The cheapest option at the moment is on Delta, with one stop in Atlanta.

Did You Know?
The Peruvian root Maca is the key ingredient in an American favorite: Viagra. It's been around for hundreds of years.

The Word
The Brink of Something Else - I've never been much of a believer in magic...And here I find myself in the Andes.  Here, ancient Incan beliefs mesh perfectly with Spanish-imposed Catholicism.  Apus reside in every mountain.  Baroque churches drip with gold...Despite my skepticism, I'll confess to a few chills at this point... 
A Travel Diary from Mexico, Central America & South America - One of the things I like most about Cusco is the road signs prohibiting the use of car horns on certain streets and intersections. I really don't know how the average Peruvian driver copes with that. Imagine a sign in the UK forbidding the British from queuing in a bank or post office. It just goes against our instinct...

1 comment:

  1. Good round-up of info on what to do in Peru! Just a note that a visa is required but it is issued automatically on arrival in Peru.

    For more info on Peru, see

    David and Linda Schneider
    Los Organos, Piura, Peru


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