Let me start off by saying that the archaeological sites of Northern Peru are absolutely spectacular as are some of the museums. I had no idea they’d be that good. So, if you are ever thinking of doing a trip to Peru, make sure to add in Trujillo and Chiclayo to your itinerary. Mind you, the cities themselves are nothing to write home about, but the museums and the surrounding archaeological sites are stunning.
From the hot, scorching sun of Chiclayo we flew to much cooler Arequipa. It is a gorgeous city. It’s very modern but also maintains the beautiful Colonial architecture in the historical centre. Our hotel was across the street from the famous Santa Catalina monastery so it was very easy to start our one short day of sight-seeing there. We also visited Juanita – the frozen young girl that was sacrificed in the Inca times to appease one of the various mountain gods. Her body was up at around 6,000m so it was very well preserved.
The following day we headed out on a group tour and transfer to the Colca Valley. This part of the trip took us up to the highest point of 4,910m where we got great views of the surrounding mountains and volcanos. As rainy season has started, it meant that the area was covered in snow, creating some absolutely stunning scenery. When we left there on our way to the town of Chivay, the clouds rolled in and we found ourselves driving through thunder, lightning, hail, then sleet and snow. Given the windy mountain roads, it made for a pretty interesting drive. We had a good driver, so he took it slow. I have to admit that it’s a bit hair-raising to travel in those conditions on roads with no safety rails and sheer drops off the mountainside.
The hotel Alex and I were staying in was in a different town, about 20 minutes out of Chivay. No idea of its name. (Tamara, it is the place we stayed in back in 2007!) That afternoon we went to the hot springs in Chivay. I’d been there before and loved it. They have since modernised and built an additional pool. It was a bit weird for me as the place was empty. The other times I’ve been there, the place had been packed. It really highlighted the difference in high-season vs low-season travel. (This is low season).
We had a super early start the next morning to visit the Colca Canyon to see the condors. Even though it is not the season for them, we still got to see 2 or 3 of them. One young male provided me with some great photos. (One young male condor… just in case you misinterpreted what I meant). The spectacular terracing in the Colca Valley didn’t disappoint either. Still an amazing sight.
Our group then split – some going back to Arequipa and the other half, Alex and I included, headed to Puno. There wasn’t any time to do anything there except have some dinner and do a short walk around the pedestrian area. Mind you, there was some festival going on (as is usually the case in any Peruvian town on any given day) so we got to see the dancing Peruvian horses that are famous in the North, but that we ran out of time to see there.
So, next morning was the trip out to the Uros floating islands and then onto Llachón, a small community located on one of the peninsulas of Lake Titicaca, were we had lunch at a local family’s place. Both Alex and I can get sea-sick, so I dosed us both up on some really good travel sickness pills and we both survived the 4 hours of being on the boat. Oh… and the boat we had was for 25 people… and there were just 2 of us plus our guide on it.
Even though we survived suffering any sea-sickness, we both ended up getting sunburnt. Well, Alex is sunburnt and I have a much tanned face with panda-eyes (but white) where my sunglasses were. It looks ridiculous.
Last night we caught the night bus to Cusco. The Peruvians have some pretty terrific bus services. Much more comfortable than aeroplane seats. Not that either of us found it that easy to sleep. It didn’t help that there was a loudly-snoring man who didn’t stop snoring at all throughout the journey. I managed to fall asleep eventually using my ipod’s ear plugs.
We got into Cusco at 5.00am and once in the hotel, went straight to sleep for a few hours.
We’ve now been out for a little wander around town and had some brunch. Alex is still pretty tired, so we’re resting for the remainder of the day. Tomorrow, sight-seeing commences in earnest!