Recap: Peru

January 7, 2010 at 6:24 am (Photos, Travel)

I haven’t kept up my weekly recaps since leaving for Peru, but I thought I’d give you a quick run-down of the trip as a whole – which was incredible and awesome, by the way. Sheri was the perfect person to travel with and we had some fabulous adventures.

Day 1 – Sheri and I both arrived in Lima late on the night of Dec. 21. We stayed at a hostel in Barranco and spent the first day exploring the downtown area. We went to the San Fransisco museum, which had really neat catacombs under the church. We basically walked around taking pictures and trying to find some of the tourist spots to hit.

A view of the Lima coast.

A view of Lima's coastline.

Day 2 – We made it into the Colombian embassy to look into my work visa, but didn’t accomplish much. We wandered around downtown some more, but after getting terrible directions from a police officer that sent us into a sketchy neighbourhood, we decided to grab a taxi to visit Huaca Pucllana, one of three adobe pyramids in the city. It was neat to be standing in centuries-old ruins with city all around, and also to see the ongoing restoration process. We also visited the Inquisition Museum and found a seal beached on the rocks.

Huaca Pucllana sits right in the middle of an urban landscape.

Day 3 – Sheri and I left for Cusco in the morning, and arrived at the 3,400-metre-elevated city in time for some afternoon sunshine. After settling into our hostel we hit up the one-day, annual market in the main square, Plaza de Armas.

The Christmas Eve chaos of Plaza de Armas.

Day 4 – It didn’t feel at all like Christmas Day … at least not any I’ve experienced before. Instead of hot chocolate around the tree with family, Sheri and I wandered around Cuzco, bargaining with the locals like pros for hand-made products and watching colourful and boisterous parades around the square.

A giant nativity scene with a llama - we're definitely not in Canada anymore.

Day 5 – Off to the rainforest! Sheri and I were picked up bright and early – 4:30 a.m. – by our guide, cook and driver (Satu, Jorge and Ancase) and we headed off to Manu National Park. We hit some snags along the 10-hour drive though: landslides. It’s the rainy season, so it wasn’t an unexpected phenomenon.

Our hero: the bulldozer operator.

Day 6 – Even though the landslides changed our schedule a little, we persevered and reached our lodge on the Rio Madre de Dios in the morning. Sheri and I absolutely loved being on the water – the boat rides were our favourite part. We had a second guide, Darwin, meet us there and take us on a couple of jungle treks.

Sheri in the Amazon jungle.

Day 7 – It was another brutally early morning for us, as we wanted to see the macaws visit a nearby clay lick. Unfortunately, we weren’t told we were only allowed to view them from 50 metres away … so no pictures, just peeks through binoculars. And no big red and blue guys either, just some green parrots. But on our hikes through the jungle later that day, we saw a whole clan of squirrel monkeys that entertained us.

The monkeys were fun to watch, but eventually they scampered further into the jungle.

Day 8 – And it was time to head back to civilization. We left early but stopped to see the Peruvian national bird – the Cock of the Rocks – do their morning dance ritual or something. Our travel was slowed by another landslide that took eight hours to clean up, due to some broken machinary. There must have been a few hundred people waiting on either side of the road by the time they had it cleared. Brutal!

Sheri and I enjoyed the gorgeous views while waiting for our ride back to the city.

Day 9 – I don’t know if it was a jungle sickness or food poisoning, but Sheri felt terrible the next day so we had a pretty relaxed time at our hostel. It was good to catch up on the sleep we lost while in the rainforest (firecrackers at 1 am., roosters at 4 a.m.) and recharge before our next adventure.

Day 10 – More of the same … I had a delayed reaction to the same bug or whatever, and was out most of the day. We had planned to go horse back riding to some nearby Inca ruins, but had to cancel. Instead, we had chicken soup for supper, had a little siesta and then hit the main plaza for the countdown to 2010.

Champagne and sparklers to ring in the new year.

Day 11 – Sheri and I, with our guide Carlos, boarded the train to Machu Picchu – but disembarked after 106 kilometres. We climbed up a porter’s trail: elevation 600 metres in about two hours, so intense is putting it rather mildly, especially after barely eating for two days. But we made it to the Inca Trail, which we followed for another couple of hours through the Sun Gate to the edge of the incredible ruins, worthy to be counted one of the seven wonders of the world.

... sitting on the edge of the world, aka the Sun Gate.

Day 12 – After spending the night in Aguas Calientes (Yes, they have hot springs), we took a bus back up to Machu Picchu for the day. Carlos gave us a two-hour tour, then left us to explore on our own. We were two of 400 people to snag the opportunity to climb Wayna Picchu, the mountain behind the ruins. It was a misty and rainy day and quite a difficult hike, but there were a few clearings in the clouds to reward us with glimpses of the site.
It was fantastic to walk paths and touch walls that were built a thousand years ago by a still relatively unknown people group. I thoroughly enjoyed myself … after the rain stopped and I put some hot chocolate in me, of course.

In our matching shirts, made by a friend that wasn't able to join us. (You rock, Jackie!)

Sheri and I in our matching shirts, made by a friend who couldn't join us. (You rock, Jackie!)

Day 13 – We spent our last few hours in Cuzco recovering from both our lingering sickness and muscle pain from our mountain conquers and picking some souveniers. Then it was back to Lima. We threw our bags down at our hostel and headed for the beach. We both received odd sunburns and wished surfing was as easy as it looked, but thoroughly enjoyed the gorgeous sunshine and salty waves anyway.

We love the ocean!

Day 14 – Our last full day together in Lima. We took advantage of the picture-perfect weather and went paragliding! I hope to have some video up later, but I’ll just say that it was awesome! Floating over the Pacific and getting a birds-eye-view of the entire city was fabulous. The rest of the day was spent grabbing some last-minute items, swapping photos and enjoying some South American wine.

Yup, that's my feet dangling over the coast. Good times.

And that’s about it. For the last two days I’ve been in Peru by myself working on acquiring this work visa, which is a saga in itself for sure. This afternoon it’s back to Cali, then back to school, and back to my new normal. This has been a holiday to remember, with hundreds of incredible memories and experiences. I love traveling, and I love South America. Oh, and Sheri rocks my world.

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4 Comments

  1. thelocalguide said,

    It looks like it was such an awesome trip.
    And you have some excellent photos here, I like the one with your feet over the coast (how high is that?) and the blue shirts one :)

  2. AndrewP said,

    That last picture is AMAZING!!!!

  3. Karen said,

    Wow I have an amazing and crazy adventurous sister :) I love hearing and reading about all your stories, these pics are amazing!

    Missin’ you!

    Kare

  4. Jen said,

    I’m glad you had a good time in Peru! I also got sick and so did my sister. I think it’s one of those things that you just have to experience while there? ha ha ha. Next you should take a trip to Argentina! My sister LOVED it there. Much more than Peru.

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