Our second country visited in South America was Peru. We travelled across land to get to Peru from Chile. We were meeting a friend in Lima and had limited time so we ended up going direct from Tacna to Lima once we crossed into Peru. We arrived in Miraflores, which is super touristy but safe. We spent longer here then needed and we got sick here too so most of it was spent in bed (party). There isn’t much to say about Miraflores or Lima as we didn’t see much. We did find some decent coffee and some pretty tasty food (Read here: In Search of Good Coffee in Peru). We spend some time with my friend and then we all moved on to Iquitos as we had an Ayahuasca ceremony planned. A separate post for both Dave and my experience with Ayahuasca are linked here: Natasha and Ayahuasca and Dave and Ayahuasca.
Iquitos is closely linked to the Amazon and due to that it has amazing jungle weather and it was a refreshing change from the cold of Chile and Lima. Iquitos offers very little and reminds me so much of Phuket in Thailand. Its hot, dirty, noisey and you get people trying to sell you everything, all the time. It gets old quickly, just as Phuket did. One main thing we did was see the Belen markets, which we ended up visiting twice as the first time I was sick so I could barely stomach the smells. The second time was better but the markets are still gross. We also visited the Butterfly Farm which also houses rescue animals. The Tapir was my favourite. I normally hate going to zoos or similar but this is more an animal rescue so we did it. I do feel sorry for them in cages but they are hunted by humans so humans sucks (hmph). Iquitos is somewhere I wouldn’t visit again unless I decided to do Ayahuasca again or go through the jungle that way. It was a quick and short lived trip.
From Iquitos we went to Cusco, the main reason for Cusco as Machu Picchu trek (read more here: Me, Inca and Machu Picchu), we had organised. We flew in and thankfully the altitude didn’t worry us as much as we anticipated. The altitude did come in to play during the trek though. Cusco surprised me, it’s actually quite nice and clean. We stayed in an awesome hostel, the only downfall was it’s on a hill, which most of Cusco is. We didn’t have that much time in Cusco but we had Dave’s friend Ben join us in Cusco for Machu Picchu. Apart from the trek we went on a private taxi drive around Sacred Valley to see some sites and get out of the city. This was a breath of fresh air as staying in the main square you get endless harassment from locals selling paintings, jewelry, tours and random souvenirs. It gets old after a few days when all you want to do is relax in the square but they just see dollar signs. Nonetheless, Cusco still remains my most livable city In Peru.
From Cusco we travelled by bus to La Paz stopping at Puno then crossing the Bolivian boarder to Copacabana before arriving at La Paz. We did this via Peru Hop which turns in to Bolivia Hop. You can read more about them in my Bolivia, Left Me Wanting More post. On the Puno stop we went on a tour to the floating islands of Lake Titacaca. It’s actually amazing, these villages live on floating islands which are made up of reeds among other things. We got to stop off and have a look at how they live and buy homemade gifts if we wanted. I enjoyed it but the most annoying part was there were others on the tour from Peru Hop who have little respect for other cultures. Most, without permission, kept taking photos of the locals and their children and one particular male got right up in the faces of the locals to take their photo. This to me and most likely to them given their reactions and uncomfortable mannerisms was so rude. Other than that the tour was great!
After Bolivia we came back through Puno before heading to Arequipa, which we didn’t stop at and the reason for this was we wanted to do Colca Canyon but my body wasn’t up for it so we took a raincheck and continued on to Nazca to see the two free Nazca lines and then to Huacachina. We stayed the night in Huacachina so we could do sunset sand boarding. Sand boarding was awesome. Driving around in the dune buggy was double awesome. The driver was a crazy mofo. The boards included in the tour absolutely sucked so couldn’t really sand board like you would snow board (Dave tried and failed) but you could ride down them on your belly or sitting and it still made for an adventure. I thought I’d survive without any injuries but I stacked it at the last dune and skinned my shoulder. It was worth it! Huacachina itself is a desert oasis, as they call it. Its quite fascinating the town is surrounded by Sand Dunes and there is a lake in the middle. The lake is pretty yuk when you go up close, a bit green but from afar it looks pretty special. The weather is amazing and if you want to relax and have some fun I would totally recommend.
Next time we visit Peru it will be to do the north as it’s not as common as south but I’m told but offers some great treks. Probably time to get training so we smash them out.
My only negative about Peru, well it seems all of South America is that there is little to no respect for the environment. There is litter everywhere, it’s upsetting. I hate watching people throw rubbish on the ground. It sucks that there aren’t many bins but the lack of education is sad. It’s worse when I see parent tell their kids to throw rubbish on the ground. They also burn rubbish which is bad for the environment too. In time I hope this changes.
Nonetheless, we had a fabulous time and thanks for the memories Peru, we shall meet again.