I am very good at listening to suggestions of places to go, foods to try, etc. So after (seemingly) everyone said that I had to go to Machu Picchu, I got the message. Peru became number two on my list of “Places Near Colombia You Must Travel To,” right after Galápagos. When I realized it is common to travel to the two together in one trip, my plan basically was set. The photos are here.
The best decision I made was to use a travel agency. To cover the standard itinerary* there are lot of logistics beyond the hotels—planes, trains, and automobiles—really! I’m good at figuring out all of those things, but I am starting to realize that I don’t enjoy it very much. Also, I’m good at recognizing when there are professionals who have mastered all of this already. Why should I reinvent the wheel?
I did not know much more than “Inca ruins” when I started booking my trip. By the end, I had gained a lot of respect for this (not so ancient) civilization. The way they cut rocks perfectly to fit together without needing mortar is crazy impressive. And we can still see the clear differences between the techniques used to construct everyday buildings and agricultural terraces versus the temples.
Although I asked to join other groups, I ended up having a private tour every day. This was great for my language skills because for two days I had the guides conduct my tours in Spanish. Since it was just me, they could speak more slowly and use simpler words than they would have with a group of native speakers. But, I admit, it also was lonely at times. Luckily, just when I started climbing Machu Picchu Mountain—the hardest day of my trip—I made friends and we all got each other through it. (I wrote a separate post about this day and have an album of Machu Picchu photos.)
I loved learning about a history and culture that were completely unknown to me before the trip. I loved eating a lot of good food (overall, the food was much better in Peru than in Colombia). I loved the challenge of climbing a mountain. I loved making chocolates.
I have now joined (seemingly) everyone in recommending travel to Peru.
* By “standard itinerary” I mean Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.
Dates: May 29-June 2, 2015
Cusco Day 1: Catedral Basilica de la Virgen de la Asuncion, Museo Histórico Regional, Sacsayhuaman ruins, Q’enqo ruins
Cusco Day 2: Pikillaqta Archaelogical Site of the Wari people, San Pedro Church in Andahuaylillas, Tipon ruins
Sacred Valley: Awana Kancha Alpaca Farm, Pisac market, Temple in Ollantaytambo (note: stay in Ollantaytambo if continuing on to Aguas Calientes; I was in Urubamba and there was no reason to be there)
Machu Picchu: ruins and Machu Picchu Mountain, town of Aguas Calientes
Tour company (HIGHLY recommended): Condor Travel