From the category archives:

Peru travel

Cusco’s First Class Train

by admin on December 22, 2008

There is a new first-class train service from Machu Picchu to Cusco in Peru that is intended only for tourists. It is the Hiram Bingham Train line. The train cars were designed by James Park & Associates, and they boast luxurious accomodations. The train leaves at a later time, so that tourists do not have to get up so early in the morning. All meals are provided on the bus, as well as bus service to and from the trains. Guides are provided, if you wish to take a tour once you get to your desitnation. Admission to the Machu Picchu ruins is also included in your ticket price. If you wish to ride on Cusco’s first class train, be prepared to pay. This trip will cost each person $588 for a round trip ticket.

A Peruvian Welcome: Bienvenida!

by admin on December 16, 2008

To experience the welcoming nature of Peruvians, simply visit the enchanting country of Peru in the South-Western corner of South America. Bordering five other countries it has a population of just over twenty-nine million people, a fascinating collection of diverse cultures, life styles and beliefs. A first visit to Peru will confirm that Peruvians are warm people who love to share their culture and heritage with visitors.

The population is a mixture of what’s known as Amerindian, Mestizo, White, Black, Chinese, Japanese and other races from around the globe. Historically, Peruvians have a strong belief in a Christian God since the arrival of the Spanish conquerers and their missionaries. Prior to that, the ancient cultures from the Inca and beyond believed in Gods such as the Sun God, Tumi and the Moon God and they lived their lives in service to their friends and neighbors. Spanish is the official language, but other native Indian languages, such as Quechua and Aymara are spoken in Peru as well.

Peruvians give everyone who visits their nation a warm welcome because it is a custom that dates back to the Inca civilization. Respect, honor and compassion are innate qualities that reflect their culture and their pride. Most people who visit Peru hope that their first visit won’t be their last; I have friends and family who will attest to that! From personal experience I know that Peru can quickly begin to feel like a second home.

Larcomar: When You Just Need Some Coffee

by admin on October 17, 2008

I traveled to Lima in August with my sister and her family, and another family of friends. There were 14 of us all together and one morning, some of us were craving some good old American coffee. I knew exactly where to go: Larcomar, the trendy, ritzy shopping mecca in Miraflores across from the Marriott Hotel. It is full of shops, boutiques, restaurants, and American fast food, like Starbucks.

We walked over from our apartment and as we were waiting for our coffee, my sister chuckled and told me that her husband hadn’t stepped foot in a Starbucks in the U.S. and she found it funny to see him sitting there waiting for us in a Starbucks in Peru. In fact, when the five of us emerged with our Starbucks cups in our hands, he snapped a picture of us and had a good time ribbing us about traveling so far only to buy something that is available around the corner from our homes.

I love looking at this picture and remembering that moment. It was actually pretty ironic since we never thought we would get him to travel to Peru with us and he was the only one that day who was really acting like the commited world traveler.

I should mention that Larco Mar is not just about shopping. It looks like a park with fountains, palm trees, lovely sea views, and futuristic architecture. Filled with entertainment opportunities both during the day and at night, it is impossible to be bored with Larco Mar. There is something for everyone from children to adults with a bowling alley, gold museum, movie theaters, and discos. Open from 10 am to 10 pm, it offers a spectacular view of the sunset and every restaurant has views of the sea.

The Presidents Vacation Spot: Punta Sal

by admin on October 13, 2008

On the northern coastline of Peru is a spectacular sandy beach named Punta Sal. The beach is graced with waves that gently roll onto the sand and balmy water that invites any visitor to swim, which can be enjoyed safely. In the afternoon the breeze picks up, and excellent surfing waves begin to hit the shore. For those who just wish to enjoy and savor the scenery of sand dunes and carob tree groves, not many other beaches can compare. Punta Sal enjoys a semi-tropical climate; this means lots of sun-drenched sand with very little rain. Guests are pretty much assured of a cloudless adventure when they visit this lovely tranquil beach in splendid Peru. The temperatures hover around 68 F or 20 C in the winter, and in the summer, the temperatures are around 86 F or 30 C. It is understandable why Presidents have chosen to take their vacations here in this spot because it is so easy to become revitalized because of the peace and beauty.

A Rainbow over the Valley of Huancayo

by admin on October 9, 2008

My first trip to Huancayo was many years ago, when I traveled with my husband and his mother and our substantially smaller family of only two daughters, who were at that time just 2 and 4 years old. They were enthralled with Huancayo, as it was their first encounter with farmland and the joy of seeing baby piglets running free in the green fields of the valley. How they chased those little pigs! We stayed at a tourist hotel at the shore of a lake; in the morning an incredible rainbow was hanging over the shimmering water of the lake and we all stood there watching it in amazement. The hills, the verdant valley, the rainbow over the lake…all too much to be real!

It was remarkable to see this city’s incredible combination of both ancient mysticism, colonial influence, and modern commercialism. There were so many things to take in, from the Cerrito de la Libertad, to Torre-Torre, to the La Inmaculada church, the National University of Central Peru, and the Parque de Identidad. Also reknowned for its Sunday markets, I had the chance to purchase unique artisan crafts from the local Indians.

We ate trout at a trout farm where the children ran along the waterways, watching the progress of the trout as they swam. It was a beautiful sunny day and we lolled on the grass far from any of the worries of home. On the way out of the valley, we stopped at an outdoor restaurant and had a lovely dinner under yellow umbrellas in the courtyard style dining area; the papa a la huancaina, a dish that has its origins in Huancayo, was by far the best we had ever tasted. It remains in my memory today as the best still.

From it’s beginnings as one of the great cities of the Incan empire, to its current status as one of the important cultural and commercial centers of Peru, Huancayo has remained a must-see location. Located in the central highlands in the Junin Region, Huancayo is a vibrant and bustling tourist center, nestled in the beautiful green jewel that is the Mantaro Valley. Now that the train service to Huancayo has been reestablished, the trip there becomes part of the incredible adventure crossing the highest rail bridges in the world and traveling through over 50 tunnels. The stunning and colorful beauty of Huancayo is definitely an experience, and I highly recommend it on anyone’s Peruvian travels!

Arequipa is rapidly becoming the cultural center of Peru’s southern regions, and with the skill and beauty of the crafts which artisans local to the region produce, it certainly is no surprise. The region’s capital, also called Arequipa, boasts the second most populated city in Peru, nestled deep into the Andes mountains. The local workshops are filled with the productions of skilled craftsmen who pass down secrets through generations of family members in the arts of metal working, jewelry making, and pottery. The Inka native culture has been renowned for hundreds of years for the fantastic and beautiful jewelry they are able to make out of local materials and with the skill of their own hands.

The ceramic production and pottery alone has been the subject of scholarly and professional papers about the craftsmanship and economy of the region. Peruvian local artists and “micro entrepreneurs” have exported more than 694 thousand dollars in textiles, handicrafts, handcrafted jewelry, and other artistic goods since the installing of Peru’s “Easy Export” system that happened in the late summer of 2007. The world wide demand for the goods and crafts of the region has been absolutely enormous as the local artisan’s skill and centuries old techniques are beginning to come forward onto the global stage. It seems that the world is finally learning what the Spanish and Peru’s surrounding neighbors have known for years, that the mountainous regions of Arequipa have an unrivaled artistry to rely on.

A view of the City of CajamarcaCajamarca is a city located in the northern highlands of Peru with a population of approximately 139,000 people. It is also the capital of the Cajamarca region and lies 8,900 feet above sea level. Today, it is home to two universities, one of which promotes bilingual education and it is well known for it’s churches and Inca baths.

Because of it’s history, the city of Cajamarca is usually associated with tragedy. In 1532, Atahualpa , an Incan emperor, beat his brother in a battle for the Incan throne. After stopping in Cajamarca and ultimately being declared an enemy of Spain and the churches of Spain, Atahualpa was help captive by the Spanish. He offered them a ransom for his freedom. The ransom was a room full of gold and filled with twice as much silver.

The room became known as The Ransom Room, which is the most visited site in the city of Cajamarca. In fact, the room was more like Atahualpa’s dungeon, since the ransom was not the ultimate desire of the Spaniards. Atahualpa misjudged the Conquistadors and their intentions towards him and the Incan Empire. In spite of the fact that they received the ransom he had brought to them by his followers from all over Peru, they murdered Atahualpa.

As is true in most of the cities and pueblos of Peru, the people are connected to their history with all its glory and its tragedies, and a visit to these places is a life-enriching experiencing. As you plan your visit, keep in mind that there is more here than museums and churches. We stayed in what appeared to be a country hotel with grass fields that the children romped about it; in fact, we also enjoyed lovely massages after our return from the city, and an evening out that included acoustic guitar playing by candlelight. The following day we drove up the road several miles north of the city to Granja Porcón, a dairy farm where travelers can take part in farming chores. The farm is famous for its herd of cows which are still called by name at milking time. Our daughters who were still in elementary school were thrilled to see these bovines amble toward the barn in response to the call, “Margarita…Sofia…Juanita”.

You know I’ve been saying here that the Colca Valley is one of the most scenic places to see in the country of Peru. Home to the Colca Canyon that has a depth of 13,100 feet from rim to riverbed, one of the deepest canyons in the world, the Valley is considered to be home of the Andean Condor.

It’s one thing to be told that the Andean Condor is the largest living bird on Earth, and it is an entirely different and amazing sight to see. The main lookout point is 4000 feet above the river below, and from this vantage point at the rim of the Canyon, you have the opportunity to look down on the birds while they are in flight. If you watch long enough you may get the surprise of your life, as some of the Condors have been known to fly just overhead of those spectators that are watching. Some of these amazing creatures have a wingspan of 10 feet and can weigh as much as 35 pounds. To see one floating on the thermal air that rises from the Canyon as it leaves in the morning in search of food is a sight that will take your breath away.

Forgive me for repeating myself: make sure that you visit the Colca Valley during your trip to Peru, you will not be disappointed.

Shores of Lake Titicaca in Puno, Peru

by admin on September 5, 2008

Lake Titicaca is in the Andes Mountains with borders in Peru and Bolivia.  It is the highest lake in the world that can be navigated by large vessels. If you are fortunate enough to visit this breathtaking sight you will see that the cultures that still exist along the shores of the lake continue to use the traditions of ancestors long ago.

Visiting Lake Titicaca is an experience you will never forget. Standing on the shores of this vast body of water, an amazing feeling comes over you.  You are aware of the pride of the people who live along the shores while also noting their humility; this is an incredible combination and the time, place and people etch a place in your heart.  While some residents of Puno work the land to make a living on the shores, others still inhabit the “Uros Islands” located well off the shore and they keep alive traditions that are centuries old. You do not want to miss this wonderful adventure and experience the high mountain air of the Andes. You will begin to understand the ancient culture of Peru, one of the gems in South America’s crown.

Arequipa, Colca Valley and return to Lima

by admin on August 18, 2008

View of the Colca Valley, PeruWhat a great trip we had traveling the Colca Valley. I’ve posted a photo here. We also spent a couple of days in Arequipa, including a morning touring the Santa Catalina Convent.  At this convent, the second daughter of a wealthy family was sent to live her life as a nun and it was considered a privilege to live a life in the convent.  The girls didn’t live in poverty, in fact their families provided them with luxuries such as china and silver; they also had 5 servants each to wait on them, cook and do their laundry.  Isn’t it incredible the different lifestyles that exist in the many cultures of this world?

One of the highlights of our stay in the Colca Valley was viewing the Condors that rise out of the valley on the warm thermal currents as they leave the canyon and make their way to the sea, where they feed before returning in the evening to the canyon. As we left the canyon, we stopped at a roadside artisan market where an older gentleman was allowing tourists to take a photo with his domesticated condor. What a fun time we had passing the condor from person to person. I’ll post some of those photos on our FlickR account.

A post about Arequipa wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the romantic view of the Cathedral in the Plaza of Armas in the evening. We always choose an outdoor terrace of one of the second story balcony restaurants to dine and gaze at the sight of the Cathedral being lit from below by large spotlights. Not the greatest food in Arequipa, but definitely the greatest view. We ate wonderful food at The Rocoto – the typical Rocoto Relleno and Chupe de Camarones – an incomparable culinary experience.