Where To Go
My Quest for Zest...
DESTINATIONS IN PERU
Cusco (Machu Picchu, Rainbow Mountain)
Arequipa (Colca Canyon)
MY QUEST FOR ZEST
After travel in Ecuador and my one month visa expired, I took a longggg bus ride into Peru. Traveling by bus in South America in general is a great method of transportation. Buses are safe (generally, I never experienced problems), comfortable, and they often give you food and a blanket for the journey.
Most travelers, whether you come to Peru for a few weeks or a few months, end up going to Machu Picchu. There are several fun ways to arrive at this sacred space. If you don't book in advance, you most likely won't do the Inca Trail. This option I'm sure is great, but also more expensive. The other treks, Inca Jungle and Salkantay Trek also offer experiences to remember to arrive at the same destination. I personally wanted to do the Salkantay Trek, it is a difficult trek with amazing views and a camping experience. However, I fell ill for a week in Cusco just prior to the time I set aside for Machu Picchu. I ended up choosing the Inca Jungle trek, which still offered loads of adventure (trekking, animals, part of Inca trail, biking, rafting, zip-lining). Everyone arrives into the town of Aguas Calientes, sleeps the night, and makes the stairway accent to Machu Picchu in the early morning to arrive for sunrise. It's a lot of stairs and a quite difficult walk. The view and energy is well worth it when you arrive. It's a picture you can see a million times, but when you are there experiencing it, you can feel the magic! There is an option to take a train, omitting the walk up, but I think it makes the experience to put in the effort if you're able.
Another epic hike is to Rainbow Mountain. You can go on a tour from Cusco. Cusco is an amazing place to get comfortable. I spent about 2 weeks here doing day trips, sight seeings, eating good food, indulging in $5 massages, and recovering from some dodgy belly issues. A must eat, that I still remember the name of, it Jack's Cafe! They serve western food, but man is it good! The breakfasts are a must, arrive early, or they'll be a long wait!
Huaraz is another trekking hub. You could easily spend a lot of time here climbing with amazing views. The town is accommodating and nice. The Laguna 69 Trek is a must do day hike! It's so beautiful, stunning blue with waterfalls and a snow-capped mountain. It's a bit difficult and high altitude, but the way is enjoyable and it's 100% worth it! You can find other day or overnight treks. Santa Cruz is supposed to be a great trek, I will have to return for it haha! You can do an easy trip to Glacier Pastoruri for an up close glacier view and fun stops along the way.
Arequipa is the starting destination for hiking in the Colca Canyon. If you're lucky you might be able to spot some Condors, soaring overhead. The walk is challenging, but a great experience with rewarding views of nature!
For more of a beach vibe in Peru, I spent several weeks working at Hostel Kokopelli in Paracas. There weren't many distractions from hanging out, meeting new people, and enjoying the sunshine. I was You can take a tour of Islas Ballestas for some amazing wildlife interactions (seals, penguins, birds). It's also worth exploring the natural reserve with a hired car! From Paracas you can take a trip to Huacachina outside Ica. It is an small town in the middle of the desert. From the top of the dunes it appears to be a small little green oasis. In Huacachina you can go sand boarding and riding into the abyss in a buggy.
Lima is the capitol, which makes it great to arrive into. I did a walking tour and ate nice food, but didn't love the energy here.
You can access Lake Titicaca from Puno. Here is the island built on floating reeds. It is something very unique, but the experience felt a bit too touristy for me. Women in traditional dress greet you with waves and smiles. You are told lots of information about the islands and it's history. You float along the lake with neat sights to see. Somehow, I didn't feel I belonged though, that I was there just observing without authentic connection to the people or place.