Departing La Paz!
Days 16 – 18
We left La Paz and headed to Puno, a small town that is based on the edge of the highest lake in the world – Lake Titicaca. To get to Puno we had to cross the border into Peru. It’s a nice and easy process, you stand in line with your passport and get it stamped, walk across the line and you are in Peru!
As soon as you cross over that border into Peru, you instantly feel like you’re in a different place. They had flushing toilets and that was a big thing.
We continued on to Puno. The whole way we had amazing views of Lake Titicaca! It really looked like we were just driving along a coast line but instead we were at 3800m above sea level. Once we got to Puno it was pretty late in the afternoon and we were all pretty hungry!
Once we got settled in at our hostel we went for an orientation walk of the city and then to met up for dinner. In Peru they have a delicacy and its guinea pig. Yes, they eat your childhood pet! So of course when we went out, I ordered the delicacy and it was very interesting haha. They serve the whole bloody thing to you… head and all! Its very weird. Its texture is somewhat like duck and of course it’s like everything else that’s weird to try, it has a chicken flavour to it! I can’t say i’d order it again and there is really no meat to it at all but i’m glad i tried it. The next day we had a boat tour of Lake Titicaca and a home stay with a local family on an island.
A nice and early wake up and we headed to the docks. We headed to a really small reed island where people who are native to the area still live. The island is literally made from the reeds that grow throughout the lake and all they do is fold the reeds over each other to create a base and continue the process. Its pretty impressive how they build these small islands and everything else they use the reed for.
If you do a lake tour to the reed islands, expect to bombarded with the locals trying to sell you their textiles, this is one of the ways they make their money. Another is charging a small fee for a boat ride where the boat is made completely out of reeds.
We headed to a different spot for lunch and the view there was amazing, all you could see is the blue water for days.
Next we kicked off to where we were going to have our home stay for the night. Here we played soccer with the locals and my god was that hard at altitude! We met our host family for the night and they dressed you up in traditional dress which was a bit of fun and then took you back to their home for a homemade dinner. This was one of the best meals we had had for over a week and a home cooked meal is always nice. As soon as we finished dinner, we were sent off to bed……
The next day we helped out around their farming area by harvesting quinoa, moving the sheep and also getting to explore the area. There were lots of little baby animals around, lambs, calves and even baby donkeys!
We said goodbye to our host family once we adventure around the island and headed back to Puno to celebrate Beths birthday!
Of course we went out for dinner to celebrate Beth’s birthday and had some good food and watched a traditional dance performance. We kicked on afterwards to a cool little bar that made cocktails in a very unique way! It was like a science lab, being served your drink with dry ice bubbling away or a tequila shot in a small egg shape sack. It was very interesting and a great night.
We Departed Puno and headed to the hip town of Cusco! I think Cusco is one of the coolest towns you’ll see in South America. Rule number one of Cusco, you must go the “Jacks Cafe” they serve the best food you will have for the whole trip! Its a really cool and groovy cafe and it is ALWAYS BUSY, but it’s well worth the wait.
We went and explored Cusco for the first couple of days. We visited a museum that was built by the spanish over Inca Ruins. The spanish destroyed a lot of the ancient sites in cusco and these are really all that is left. I would recommend checking it out it really shows you what this ancient civilisation was capable of and it shows off their amazing stone work.
After checking out Cusco for 2 days we headed off to Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo is a small town and it is the starting point of the Inca Trail, it also has some Inca ruins and they are worth going to have a look at.
The next day was the best day! The only reason I booked this tour was so i can do the number one thing on my bucket list, the famous Inca Trail hike to the amazing ruins of Machu Picchu and we were about to start the awesome adventure!
Please click here to read about the amazing adventure!
Days 26 – 31
After hiking and camping for the past 4 days to get to Machu Picchu, it was great to be back in Cusco. Unfortunately for me, I got sick about half way into the inca trail and by the time I got back to Cusco I was pretty crook. I had to call a doctor who gave me some drugs to try and kill the bug! Luckily we had a free day in Cusco which i used trying to recover. I had a doctor come out to our hostel who prescribed some pretty strong drugs. I went to get lunch that day and I sat at this one cafe for a good 4-5hrs just in my own little world, completely spaced out. That day some of the group chose to go white water rafting and the others just chilled out and relaxed after a pretty intense couple of days.
Eating out in Cusco was great, there are lots of good little cafes and restaurants that are worth a visit. There is a really cool burger place to the right hand side of the main church and its on the second level called Papacho’s, if you have spare time I would check it out!
Choose wisely if you’re after a massage in Cusco….. Keeping in mind – you get what you pay for. Some people in the group really enjoyed the massages, I think I would have had a more relaxing time if I just slept for the day, and it would’ve been less messy too!
The next day we had another full free day in Cusco and we attempted to go and see the Saksaywaman Ruins (pronounced like sexy woman according to our tour guide) at the top of the valley, but unfortunately for reasons unbeknown to us, people of Cusco have decided you can’t buy a one ticket entry, instead, you have to buy a whole tour. This tour takes you to about 5 other ruins throughout the region and its a whole day. It was unfortunate for us as we had already seen some of the ruins listed so it was not worth our money. I do not know why you can’t buy an entry ticket to just see Saksaywaman, it just doesn’t make sense. If you do want to see just those ruins you can attempt to “break in” and jump the fence, but they have ramped up security when we were there and you get stopped pretty quickly. The other option to see Saksaywaman is to spend the $100 + Australian and buy the tour ticket, but to just see one site we couldn’t afford to spend that much. You can see the ruins from a distance but it’s not quite as good as being up close.
After an eventful day, we had an overnight bus to Arequipa. A small town that doesn’t really have too much to it, but it is a good little stop over for one night. We had one full day in Arequipa and we spend the day looking around the city. We went and visited the Monastery of Saint Catherine, I personally wasnt overly excited to go and see this place but i still went along and i am glad I did. This place was on another level. The Nuns who lived there did not leave the monastery for the rest of their life, but of course the priests were allowed to. The monastery is pretty small and I don’t know how these women lived there. The whole area constantly changes colours and design and it is quite nice to walk around.
We kicked off to Chivay that night on an overnight coach. Chivay is home to the Colca Canyon one of the Deepest canyons in the world. The small town has a small little cafe that just sells chocolate, and I would check that out! It has great hot chocolates!!!!
Chivay have some ancient ruins as well not a huge amount but some pretty cool burial sites. It gets really cold there at night so be ready to be cold!
We had two days in Chivay. The first day we went and explored the Colca Canyon, there are some great view points along the way to the which makes for some great photos.
The second day and we got up early and set off back to the Canyon to try and spot Condors rise up out of the Canyon using the thermals winds to lift them up. The Condors are giant birds and look very similar to a vulture. There is a little stop over on the way back to Chivay in a small town where you can buy some ice-cream and food and some lunch and get some photos with some Llamas!
That afternoon when we arrived back in Chivay and we all opted to go to the local hot springs. we got to relax in the hot springs while we watched a volcano slowly release smoke. I would recommend going and relaxing there they are great, but be prepared to be really cold if you stay there late in the afternoon, the temperature drops really quickly so bring some warmer clothes with you.
We headed back to Arequipa and had a free afternoon to hang out before we headed to Nazca on an overnight bus.
Days 32 – 38
Nazca is another place I was eagerly awaiting to get to. Nazca is basically a desert with not much around but of course this is home to the famous Nazca Lines. You can go to view points to see some of the lines, or you can opt to take a small plane flight over the whole area. The lines themselves are really cool. It’s pretty hard to understand how such an ancient civilisation knew how to draw such detailed giant images and for them to only be seen from a “birds eye view” which is extraordinary. No one knows who actually drew these lines in Nazca, there are many theories on who did and of course there is always the Alien theory. Surprisingly there are some lines that look exactly like run ways… So who knows the alien theory could be true…..
We opted to take the light plane flight over the whole area so we could get a good view of the lines. The pilot takes you across a huge area where you can see every engraving, and some of them are huge. It’s hard to understand how the people who drew them could tell what they were drawing considering the vast size of them. The Lines are perfectly done, there are no squiggly lines or out of proportion images, they are just perfect to look at.
A heads up on the flight itself, be prepared to vomit… if you have never been on a small plane then be ready to feel a little uneasy, it is a lot more bumpier then a normal plane, your stomach is constantly feeling queasy and when they turn it’s hard not to feel like your going to throw up. They do provide you with sick bags and have plenty to go around.
We left Nazca and headed to Paracas. We had a stop over at the Oasis of Huacachina. This place is awesome!
We went of a 4×4 tricked up V8 sand buggy, and my goodness was that bloody awesome. This is a must if you are traveling through this area. They take you on the buggy and fly across the giant sand dunes. Some of the dunes they take you down are huge and it is so much fun! After about 30 minutes of zipping around the sand they take you to some of the biggest dunes around and get out the boards to go sand boarding, This is a lot of fun and totally worth going to see and do. I cannot recommend this highly enough.
Once we had finished sand boarding we headed to a great lookout point where you can see a great view of the Oasis of Huacachina. I had never seen anything like this before and it was pretty impressive spot.
We had lunch and a quick dip in the pool in the small town around the oasis and then continued to the sea side town of Paracas.
Paracas was a pretty good change of scenery being in and around deserts for a couple of weeks it was nice to see the ocean. Here we visited a tiny museum that we and heard about previously and that was quite interesting. Paracas was home to an ancient tribe whose skulls were elongated. It is unknown why this tribes heads were so different to everyone else’s and they did not practise head binding. The museum there had a lot of these skulls on display and information about the ancient civilisation.
We only had one day in Paracas before we were heading Peru’s capital Lima that night.
We spent the day in Paracas going on the Ballestas Islands Wildlife tour. Before we got to the island we went past the Candelabra symbol. This is like the Nazca lines but a lot bigger in size. Again no one knows who did it but there are theories.
The Ballestas Island is full of wildlife and pretty stinky, but that is due to the amount of sea birds poo! There is one beach on this island and it was covered in sea lions when we went past, there was literally hundreds of them either sun baking, fighting or just making noise.
We got back to our hotel packed up our stuff and headed to the bus terminal for the last overnight bus and the last stop of our trip LIMA!
Lima the capital and largest city of Peru. As a tour we only had one day together, but we had an extra 3 days there and so did most people from out group. We explored Lima and tried to do many things but most failed. We did a free walking tour that was suppose to be 2 hrs but went for over 4 and we left before it actually finished. the tour was way too long for me personally, but if you are interested in architecture then I think you would enjoy the tour a lot.
There is a park that is built just for cats, and there are hundreds of the bastards in the park. Beth was in her element and loved every minute we spent there and so did a couple of others from the group.
At night only on specific days Lima puts on an evening performance of the City’s Magic Water Show held at Parque de la Reserva. If you have spare time and it just so happens you are there on the specific days i would go check it out. It’s a pretty nice walk around the park looking at all the lights and water fountains, it’s pretty impressive and entertaining.
Like everything in south america it’s very unpredictable. We attempted to go hang gliding off the coast cliffs, but the guy we booked it with never showed up (lucky we didnt pay before hand). We did do a chocolate making class, and my god I was in a foul mood, we were stuffed around so much by the company. Firstly the place they have online of where the cooking class is doesn’t exist anymore and they don’t answer their phones, nor do they try an explain where you need to go. We basically went all over Lima to get to this cooking class we eventually got there and got to make chocolate.