Published on February 26th, 2014 | by Emma Hackwood0
Llamas, Cuy, and the Sacred Valley of Peru!
How can you turn down a variety of landscapes, an abundance of wildlife, and a rich history? Sandra Hernandez found all that and more on her trip to Peru with Intrepid Travel and shares her experience with us:
As a fan of both archaeology and llamas, Peru was always on my bucket list; so I finally signed up to experience this with Intrepid Travel. It was a 7 day whirlwind tour of some of the major highlights of Peru, which included Lima, Cuzco, Trujillo and, of course Machu Picchu!
Our first day we had some free time to explore the area of Miraflores outside of downtown Lima. We checked out some of the local sites, did some shopping and ate some incredible seafood. The following day we did a walking tour of Lima and we got to see some amazing colonial architecture, some ancient ruins and we visited the Franciscan Church in Lima where they can give you a guided tour of the catacombs.
The following day we flew to Trujillo where we stayed in a local fishing village called Huanchaco, where the locals still use traditional fishing boats made from reed plants. It was amazing to watch them out in the frigid ocean catching crabs and then rowing them back into land. From Huanchaco we toured Huaca de la Luna and Chan Chan, both pre-columbian archaeological sites. Both of these sites were unbelievable; the pain staking work that the archaeologists do to preserve the sites is amazing. In Huaca de la Luna you can still see the original paint on the walls that they used all those hundreds of years ago!
From Trujillo we took an overnight bus back to Lima so we could catch a flight to Cusco and from there we were going to be resting for a day so we could get used to the altitude, which is about 34,000m above sea level! Coming from the coast this was a drastic change. As we walked around with our leader we could all feel ourselves getting short of breath and dizzy, but after a day you get acclimatized. Wandering around this city was amazing, we were walking in the same place that the Incas called their home and capital. You can still see the local engineering feats in some of the buildings. This was my favourite city we visited. There were llamas around each street corner with their handlers dressed in traditional Quechua fashion and the shopping was unbelievable! We bought so many scarves that we could open our own shop here! The following morning we took the early train from Cusco to Aguas Caliente through the sacred valley on our way to Machu Picchu.
The train ride took about 3 hours and then once we arrived we took a 30 minute bus ride up to Machu Picchu. I arrived at the top before entering Machu Picchu and started to get goosebumps. This site is so famous and everyone always talks about it; you see it in pictures or on TV, but it is completely different seeing it first hand. This place took my breath away.
It was amazing to learn about how the Incas built this site lugging up rocks and soil from the mountain, which is a unique accomplishment. We spent five hours atop this mountain just soaking in the serenity and being awed at the achievements of the Incas. On our way back we spent the night in Ollyantambo in the Sacred valley. Here we also visited an Incan archaeological site and interacted with some of the locals. After our day here we took a bus back to Cusco and visited a huge Incan site that had been destroyed by the Spanish.
Our last day in Cusco, our second to last day in this amazing country was our Canadian Thanksgiving so I decided to celebrate and try the local cuisine, Guinea Pig or Cuy. I was a bit apprehensive wondering how it was going to be prepared, but when it came out sliced and fried I breathed a sigh of relief and ate it. It was pretty good! The following day we headed back to Lima where we tried out an Urban Adventure that Intrepid offers. These Urban adventures are great add-ons to the tour if you have extra time before your flight or an extra day. In my case we tried out the pisco sour making adventure, which was a great way to end an unbelievable experience in a fantastic country.