12. Now Lima being the capital city of Peru apart from being historically very significant, there are many places to visit specially Miraflores and Larcomar. One of the best way to see the city is to either take a walking tour(tip only basis) or one of the many open roof buses.
Instead of walking over the dozen footprints, I decided to combine downhill biking with hiking on old Inca trails. I started my journey by moving from Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire. I then headed to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which hosts many beautiful Inca remains. Moving up into the mountains towards the glacier, I reveled in this place’s scenic beauty. On the way I visited Abra Malaga, which is a habitat of endangered species of birds which live in Andean forest. This high pass has forests with extensive zones of bamboo and straw Andean meadow. This is where I started my downhill biking. The unspoiled jungles imbue you to take your time to immerse in its crude existence. I pedaled further to town of Santa Maria. I took some time to explore this quaint town, and ended the night with a lovely dinner and stay in a small hostel.
Spot a Condor in Arequipa: An overnight journey from Nasca will take you to Arequipa. Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru. 4-5 kms south from Arequipa is the the town of Chivay, which is the entrance to the deepest canyon in Peru – Colca Canyon. The hike into the canyon and back up is 2 days (if taken with a guide). Take some time to spot the rarest Andean birds called Condors at the canyon. Alternatively, you could hike El Misti, the volcano, another beautiful hiking trail in Arequipa.
There is so much more to Peru, than Machu Pichu. I have tried to highlight a few of them by means of this blog. Ofcourse, there is the Huaraz mountains north of Lima, the beautiful city of Ayucucho, the posh neighbourhood of Miraflores – which deserve a mention here. If you are visiting Peru sometime soon, or visiting it the second time around, take the road less traveled and rest assured, you will not be disappointed.This post was originally published on Outbound Again.
Iquitos: Put those survival skills to test by taking the jungle expedition into the Amazon jungle, go Piranha fishing, get face to face with the wild life, try some Ayuhuasca, the jungles sacred drink: you will never run out of things to do in Iquitos. If you do not have time to visit this city, you can visit Tarapoto, a mini version of Iquitos.Go surfing in Mancora: Mancora and surrounding beaches are very popular for surfing. So, if that is something you are interested in, don’t forget to head out there before bidding farewell to this wonderful country.
Then, the most exciting morning was here. We arrived at the station a bit early as advised. It was very different from usual railway stations we see across the world, for example, the station has a gate - for the trains to go through. And that gate remains closed unless a train has to come out or in. That happens thrice a week.
Discover the Chachapoyas fortress: Peruvian history is full of secrets waiting to be discovered. About 1200 kms north of Lima, is a place called Chachapoyas, which once hosted a civilization of the same name. This beautiful little town is overlooked by an ancient fortress: no swarming tourists, no long waiting lines, no crazy-high entrance fee. If you are coming here after visiting Machu Pichu, you will be able to identify the differences and similarities between the two cultures.
Following breakfast on the third day, I hiked by crossing the Vilcanota River by hanging in a basket or ‘Oroya’. The river is a segment of the Urubamba River. My next stop was the hydroelectric station village. I spent some time exploring the archaeological ruins of Intihuatana. It is a ritual stone associated with the astronomic clock or calendar of the Inca. After travelling for two more hours I arrived in Aguas Calientes, which is also known as Machupicchu Pueblo. It is the closest access point to the historical site of Machu Picchu. This place is enclosed by stone cliffs, cloud forest and rivers.
The flight from Lima will take you to Puerto Maldonado on the edge of the Tambopata National Park. You can deposit your excess luggage at the Butterfly House reception lodge before you set off towards the main lodge. A motorized canoe on the Madre de Dios River will take you up to the lodge. The first excursion into the forest is on the very same day, after you have settled in and had lunch. Your guide will take you on a series of trails close to the lodge, exploring and at the same time also learning about the primary and secondary rain-forest, and its components.At dusk, a small sailing trip along the Madre de Dios River to seek out and hopefully see some of the nocturnal animals that reside in the Jungle will be arranged before you finally call it a night. Over the next two days, you will be guided through the forest, experiencing the wildlife, the views and sights in a series of hikes and excursions. A hike to the Lake Sandoval and a ride on a dug-out canoe on the mirror-like lake is an amazing chance to see the endangered giant otter and the paiche fish (one of the world’s largest scaled fresh water fish). A similar canoe ride on the Cocha lake is where you can actually fish for for some of the native species. Many of the excursions will start off on the Madre de Dios River, taking you by a motorized canoe to the clay lick Cachuela to sight the the blue-headed parrot and the cobalt-winged parakeet; and also to the largest and longest tree top canopy tower in Tambopata, where hanging bridges interconnect and allow you to get up-close and personal with the wildlife hidden in the tree tops. On the fourth day you re-trace your route back to Puerto Maldonado, where a mid-day flight will take you to Cusco.
This is one of the most affluent areas in Lima almost like it has life of it's own. This place never sleeps and is right over the Pacific shore.
Everything here is very colourful. Especially clothes. The fact that an entire continent full of people are wrongly named and called 'Indians' seemed more amusing than ever. Playing with words makes a whole lot of difference. These are the ream Americans. They call themselves Americans.
Ollamtamybo, one of the more important sites of the Inca era became the last stop in my Inca trail. I arrived here after walking for 4 days from my living Inca trail. This is where I would take the train to Aguas Caliente for Manchu Picchu and return to Cusco after. I returned to Ollamtamybo, wanting to do a short 2 days in this tiny town. After Manchu Picchu, the wonderful ruins of Ollamtamybo seemed a little underwhelming. While visiting one of the ruins, met a very friendly Peruvian and his son who worked with the archaeological digs in nearby areas. He invited me to his home to look at some of his archaelogical finds. This became the highlight of my trip to this town. The house was a typical mud brick construct with guinea pigs running around the mud oven kitchen. Quite a sight by itself to have dinner running around. He took out some Inca burial artifacts from a serious of cardboard boxes, one of the fascinating finds was a tiny desiccated human baby.Then there were others, adult human skulls. Some had broken cranium, a chilling proof that these were human sacrifices. The non-enlongated skulls showed these human artifacts were not from royalty but of normal descent and hence the Inca sacrificial burials for these mummies were for minor events. Still, the artifacts were fascinating and a great opportunity for a close up glimpse which otherwise be viewed from afar in boxed up windows of a museum.
Take a flight over the Nasca lines: Further down south is the desert of Nasca, the capital town of the Nasca civilization. This civilization was known to exist in 300 BC, way before the Incan civilization (1200 AD). The Nasca lines in this region are large engravings in sand that are only visible aerially. Take a flight over the lines (~80-100$) to be able to figure out the engravings in the shape of spiders, hummingbirds & monkeys or just climb the watch tower (~3 $) to see some of these lines from a height. Also, visit the Nasca cementary close by to be surprised by how well the Nascan mummies are preserved.
Bond with the sea lions at Paracas: Going south from Lima, Paracas islands a is popular destination for wild life watching. Take a ferry to the “Bellastas islands” and say hullo to friendly sea lions! Chuck Antarctica and meet the cute, human like creatures right here in Paracas. Yep, warm weather penguins are not very popular and are only found in Paracas and Galapagos (in Ecuador). The ferry will also take you through the Candelebra, one of the mysterios geoglyphs in Peru.
Go sand-boarding in Huacachina: Literally 5 minutes away from the sleepy town of Ica (see map), is the oasis town Huacachina. Bet your bottom dollar, you wouldn’t have seen anything more beautiful in your entire life! Book a buggy trip with a hostel to ride up and down the sand dunes and make sure you don’t miss out on sandboarding. Try to take the last trip of the day (~4.00 pm) to witness the sunset.