posted by Mandy
30.04.2011 - 01.06.2011 80 °F
Better late than never! Hi blog followers. Sorry for the delay! Kevin and I flew back to the states on June 1st and we have been busy getting re-acquainted with the mother land. Our South American adventure ended with a good month meandering through Peru. We spent a week or so in southern Peru, visiting the surprisingly hip city of Arequipa
then busing up to the second deepest canyon in the world, Canon del Colca. The bus ride was long and windy, with vertigo-inducing sheer cliffs dropping off the single lane highway. We went over one of many 10,000+ feet passes that caused a bit of altitude sickness, but nothing too serious. We fell in love with the lush green mountains and steep canyons, scattered with the famous agricultural terraces and hospitable locals.
We stayed in the town of Cabanaconde and then trekked overnight into the canyon.
On the hike down the canyon, we were passed by several locals, donkeys and alpacas, making their way home on the only available trail.
At one point a woman, who was probably in her 70s passed us and was wearing tattered sandals and several layers of long dresses! She offered us some fruit that helped feed our thirsts. We made it to a tiny little pre-Incan village at the bottom of the canyon and stayed at a hospidaje for the evening, where we were fed and able to take a cold, but refreshing outdoor shower.
We were in complete awe of how isolated the villages were and how resilient the Peruvians are! After a night of good sleep, we made our way to the "Oasis," a series of river-fed swimming holes available for tourists. We took a refreshing dip, then hiked up the canyon back to Cabanaconde.
Our next stop was in Puno, Peru on one of the largest high altitude lakes in the world (12,500 feet), Lake Titicaca. We toured the floating islands of Uros, which are man-made islands formed by reeds.
The pre-Incan people of Uros created the islands to escape persecution on the mainland. We also toured the island of Amantani, where another pre-Incan tribe lives and still holds ancient traditions of farming and weaving.
We then made our way up to Cuzco, Peru, which was the capital of the Inca Empire. We both loved and hated Cuzco. Loved it, because the city was charming, with narrow cobble-stoned streets and beautiful architecture, rich with history and mystique.
Hated it, because it was uber-touristy, which was a lot to handle so far into our trip. After a few days, we bussed/trained up to Aquas Calientes, the even more touristy town that is the gateway to Machu Picchu.
We were apprehensive about Machu Picchu, as the areas surrounding it were so touristy and the price tag to get there was ridiculous! But we had to do it, right? We were in Peru! Machu Picchu proved to be as amazing as it looks in pictures! It was incredible!
We spent the entire day touring the Incan site, and did the short hike up to the Sun Gate on the Inca Trail during the peek hours between noon and 2.
Machu Picchu exceeded our expectations. We then spent a couple days in the nearby town of Ollantaytambo, to do some more Inca site seeing in the Sacred Valley.
After surviving a couple more days in Cuzco (delayed a day because of a large protest blocking the main highway), we arrived in Lima, the capital city of Peru. Lima is huge and populous (9 million people!), but we enjoyed it non-the-less. We ate well, walked a ton, and shopped.
Next stop, the small beach town of Huanchaco, where we spent a couple days hanging out on the beach and checking out an interesting pre-Inca city called Chan Chan.
We made our way further north to spend a full week in another small beach town called Mancora. We were feeling a bit run down and just wanted to relax and chill out for a while. Mancora was the perfect spot for this. We were able to find cheap accommodations and the beach was picture perfect.
After that, we crossed the border into Ecuador and spent a few days in Guayaquil before flying home to the states.
We came back to take a break and spend time with family and friends. My sister, Courtnie had a baby girl on June 6th and our good friend, Inga got married on July 16th. We are leaving next Monday for South East Asia and are planning on spending 2 months there. We shall see though! Stay tuned for new updates! Also, don't forget to check out the rest of our photos from Peru. We uploaded a ton!