As a child I loved to read Sinbad the sailor.
Every book started the same way. "Sinbad grew restless with the quiet life he was leading. He packed a small bag, and boarded a ship in search of another adventure"
So here we are, in search for a new adventure in the Andean mountain.
We visited Peru between 22nd September and 6th October 2007 - a total of 14 days including the flights.
Here is our itinerary
Day 1: Seattle - Los Angeles - Lima -> stayed at Hotel Los Delfines in San Isidro neighborhood Plaza
Day 2: Lima: Plaza de Aramas, President's Palace, Iglesia de San Francisco; Catacumbas de San Francisco, Dinner at Junius
Day 3: Lima to Juliaca (Puno) - 13:05 departure on Lan Peru 111, stayed in the beautiful Hotel Taypikala Lago in Chicquito, visited Artesian's market in Puno , ate at Apu Salkantay
Day 5: Puno to Cusco on the Cusco Andean Explorer operated by PeruRail, stayed at Hotel Taypikala Cusco
Day 10: Cusco to Puerto Muldanado (10:50 AM departure on Lan Peru 73), Stayed in Corto Maltes Lodge, first excursion into the tropical forest by trochas, Caiman safari
Day 11: Puerto Muldanado: Excursion to Parrot Collpa, Expedition to Monkey Island, 5KM trek to Lake Sandoval
Day 12: Puerto Muldanado lazed in the Amazonian heat
Day 13: Puerto Muldanado to Lima (1:10 PM departure on Lan Peru 72), stayed at Hotel Los Delfines, visited Mira Flores
Day 14: Visited the ruins of Pachacamac, Lima - Los Angeles - Seattle (departure 10:30 PM )
The Peru trip was exhilarating. This being our second foreign locale and the one immediately preceding Egypt, the comparison is inevitable.
Peru is relatively light on history. Everything you see is about 13th century onwards. You see can see the distinct Inkan architecture in places like Sacsayhuman and obviously Machu Picchu. This includes awesome masonry that includes huge well fitted stones, zero mortar and the oft repeated intriguing trapezoidal shape. None of the structures have murals, iconography, or writings. The Inkans had no script and most of the history is lost. Documentation starts after the advent of the Spaniards in the 15th century and history written by the victorious is never true history.
The people in Peru are were warm and friendly. Always ready with a bright smile, and a quick wit. And they are very proud of who they are. See the picture of the bottle on the right. The last line reads 100% Cusquenos, 1000% Peruvian. It is a tiny peep into their psyche. You may see little kids looking for little tips for letting you photograph them but very few begging.
Peru is not yet a commercial tourist place (other than pockets like Machu Picchu). Trips and day tours are not properly "packaged". There is very little signage at key sites. A good guide or a guidebook is a good buy. Researching places you want to visit is a must. You can find very little firm opinions about most places in Peru. It is left (too) much to your discretion (sometimes) People here speak very little English. Knowing Spanish is a big deal and can help make a vacation in Peru super smooth.
Shopping in Peru is wonderful. Just count the number of days in Peru before you buy an Alpaca something. You can buy woolen sweaters starting from $5 to $500. If you are buying costly, do not buy off the street. All wool feels pretty much the same to untrained eyes. It is what happens to it after a tumble wash that you should be worried about. Woolen clothes, reed artifacts (especially a boat - and definitely in Puno), local musical instruments and bottles of Pisco are great buys.
Do not be surprised if the Peruvians do not give you the pleasure of bargaining. They JUST DO NOT BARGAIN.
Peruvian food is very satisfying. There is as much for vegetarians (hearty soups, lentils) as there is for the flesh eaters (especially guinea pig). Sea food is excellent. The Peruvians use a lot of chopped and sauteed onions, bell pepper along with vinegar and indigenous spices giving each dish a very distinct flavor.
Do not miss Pisco Sour.
Do not miss Coco tea.
Local branded beer called Cusquenos is superb. Chicha is awesome.
Peru is a must visit place.
"Bienveneidos a la cuidad imperial del Cusco," they announce when the flight enters the Cusco airspace "Welcome to the imperial city of Cusco".
It applies to the rest of the country.