For the latest installment of Our Routes series dedicated to sharing travel experiences from our experts all over Latin America, we have a bumper edition to share with you all! Three budding explorers from our team – Travel Specialist Nicole, Business Development Executive Georgia, and Operations Team Leader Milly – enjoyed an incredible trip across Peru during the spring. Read on to hear about their shared experiences in this epic country.
Nicole: We flew from Lima to Arequipa, then drove for half a day to Colca Valley from Arequipa, making many stops on the journey for site seeing. We first stopped off to get Coca leaves and various other local treatments for altitude sickness. When traveling through the desert, we also stopped to see alpacas, the view of the mountains, and local shops. We also stopped at the highest point on our journey, which was 4800m!
We then drove from Colca Valley to Puno. Half of the journey is the same as Arequipa as you go back along the same road. On the way into Puno, you drive down a hill that slowly reveals the lake. It is very pretty! We also drove from Puno to Cusco, although you can fly. This took 10 hours, however again we stopped at many places. This included old Incan ruins and a museum. We also drove through Juliaca. Cusco to the Sacred Valley was a 2-hour drive. This didn’t have any stops but was very pretty as you go through the foothills of the Andes.
You take a 1.5-hour train from Sacred Valley to Aguas Calientes. This was stunning. We took the Vistadome observatory on the way there, and the Inca rail on the way back. The Vistadome has a carriage on the back with a glass roof and entertainment in the form of dancers! To get to Aguas Calientes to Machu Picchu, we took a bus from the main bus station, which was a 10-minute walk away, and then a 20-minute bus ride up to the site.
Nicole: First time! I had stupidly skipped out on Peru on my sabbatical!
Georgia: First timer!
Milly: It was my first time, I have technically been to Lima Airport before, but that was just a layover!
Nicole: I loved Ollantaytambo and Aguas Calientes. I really enjoyed how stripped back it was with the cobbled streets and basic necessities. I’m a huge fan of the market too and seeing all the beautiful coloured textiles all around was amazing.
Georgia: Aguas Calientes. The mixture of lush green jungle and raging river crashing through the town was tremendously atmospheric.
Milly: I absolutely loved Cusco. It was incredibly vibrant and had so many nooks and crannies full of treasures. Our guide was superb and gave us many good restaurant recommendations, which we took full advantage of, and they did not disappoint! The food at Chicha was incredible; we tried Pachamanca for the first time here. I also really like that the different areas of the city are so different. You can go from the colonial centre, then to the busy streets above, followed by the scenic streets of San Blas.
Nicole: Climbing Huayna Picchu on the second day of our Machu Picchu experience. We were the only ones up there in the clouds and it was beautiful to capture a glimpse of the sunrise above Machu Picchu. The timelapse videos were really cool! It’s not as busy as Machu Picchu so you get to enjoy the mountains and the clouds in silence.
Georgia: Trying guinea pig in a Belmond hotel! If you’re going to eat a Peruvian specialty, then having it prepared just for you in a 5-star hotel is no bad way to try it!
Milly: One of the mornings in Colca Valley, we visited the Condor Cross. This was absolutely incredible. We saw 8 condors at once, all below us in the Canyon, all of them slowly moving up on the heat columns to start the hunt for the day, until they were so high we couldn’t see them anymore. We even had one that flew metres away from where we were standing!
Nicole: I loved the floating island of Uros on Lake Titicaca. The locals there live very basic lifestyles and it was great to learn about the reeds and how their communities work together.
Georgia: Machu Picchu was an absolute highlight. It really does blow your mind. So stunning and impressive. Quite an assault on the senses.
Milly: It goes without saying that visiting Machu Picchu was phenomenal. However, the second visit we had was beyond amazing. We had one of the first entries of the day, giving us the site practically to ourselves. The fog was heavy on that day, however, slowly started to lift as we climbed Huchuy Picchu (a 15-minute hike). We sat on top of this mountain for an hour, and whilst we did, the fog fully cleared revealing Machu Picchu below, as well as a rainbow!
Nicole: Wear sunscreen in Arequipa, even when you’re clouded out. During the condor watch, we were completely clouded out and couldn’t see a foot in front of us, but we still managed to get a little burnt within 30 minutes.
Georgia: If travelling in shoulder season bring clothes for every weather type! We had scorching sun, tropical downpours, and snow!
Milly: I recommend packing layers, as the climate is so different in all areas of Peru! We had 30-degree temperatures whilst in Lima which is in a desert, which moved down to 15 degrees in the jungle in the Sacred Valley. A raincoat is also a must, as sudden downpours are common, but they don’t last long!
Nicole: Peruvian Ceviche is incredible, especially if it includes their corn and potato. If you’re feeling brave, you could always try ‘Cuy’ – Guinea Pig – which is the local delicacy.
Georgia: Has to be pisco sours!! Food-wise, definitely not guinea pig…..but lomo saltado made with alpaca was delicious! The food and drink in Peru is of exceptional quality and variety. You can eat and drink very well in Peru!
Milly: A must-try for food is the Ceviche, which I am sure doesn’t come as a surprise. Try this in Lima and Colca Valley, as they use different fish, so would be interesting to compare! As for drinks, I recommend Chica Morado. It is a drink made out of purple corn; a very unique taste!
Nicole: The amazing rainbow through the mist near Machu Picchu!
Georgia: The lobby of boutique hotel CIRCA by Andean Experience.
Milly: This American kestrel resting on foliage.
Nicole: Adventurous – Beautiful – Bucketlist.
Georgia: Memorable, magical, non-stop!
Milly: Exciting, colourful and surprising!