Our last days in Peru found us coming full circle, one more day in Lima before flying home to Boston. When we finally got into our hostel, it was about 11PM on a Saturday night. Every one in the hostel was already asleep! Well, not everyone, we ended up hanging out with some folks from Australia, England, and Canada before meeting our Peru Hop tour guide to go out.
Boston isn’t New York or Tokyo. I’m used to “going out” around 10PM, and getting back by 2AM (and that’s if it’s a really crazy night). People in Lima don’t even leave the house until 1AM! We were out until 5 in the morning, with a much needed pit stop at a very Peruvian McDonald’s…
The next day, we woke up late, and wandered down to Mistura 2015 to experience Latin America’s biggest food festival.
Paracas is a bit of a sleepy coastal town, but still draws plenty of people with its “poor man’s Galapagos” and an active tourist industry. According to one of our guides, the area saw it’s heyday in the “Guano Boom,” and now it’s a bit more quiet around Paracas.
If you’ve never seen a real oasis, Huacachina should be on your list. The town is completely surrounded by an ocean of massive sand dunes, with a tiny body of water in the middle. The town hugs the edge of the water, boasting only a few hostels, restaurants, and dune buggy garages. It really is neat to see. We arrived at night, and didn’t even realize the towering sand dunes behind the hostel when we checked in.
On our way from Arequipa to Huacachina, we made a few pit stops. The bus ride is an all day event (+/- 11 hours), so everyone on the bus was happy to stop at the Nazca Lines Tower.
This is going to be a short post, just explaining what the Nazca Lines Tower is, and how to best see the lines.
Not far from a few of the world’s deepest canyons, a couple of active volcanoes, and a vast desert, you might not expect to find that gorgeous white cathedral in the picture above.
But if you miss the city of Arequipa while traveling in southern Peru, you might regret skipping it.
The city boasts some amazing cuisine, arguably one of the best plazas in South America, and is mere steps from amazing natural and archaeological sites. Needless to say, we were stoked to be there, and loved our time in Arequipa.
One of the best decisions we made during our trip to Peru, was to ride with a bus company called Peru Hop.
Peru Hop operates a few different options along two routes in Southern Peru. The first route is Lima-Cusco, and the second is the reverse, Cusco-Lima. Your next option is where you want to stop along the way. You can stop and spend a few weeks in one spot, or you can go straight through if you’re short on time.
Like I mentioned before, we had already passed through Ollantaytambo on our way to Machu Picchu. We took a combi from Cusco to Ollanta, and then the train from Ollanta to Machu Picchu. On the way back, we saved room for a night in Ollantaytambo, to see the ruins there and check out the town. The image above is taken at the Ollantaytambo train station around dusk.
When I told people I was planning a trip to Peru, the next question was inevitably, “Are you going to Machu Picchu?” Or for some: “There’s that famous mountain with all the ruins on it in Peru, right?”
Well OF COURSE I’m going to Machu Picchu! It’s only one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, one of Peru’s (and arguably one of South America’s/the world’s) most well known ancient sites, it’s surrounded by beautiful rain forests and mountains, and it’s covered in ancient ruins! Plus, people still don’t quite know what Machu Picchu was for, which is awesome! I love finding little pockets of mystery that still exist in this hyperconnected world, it keeps your imagination going.
If you’re in Cusco, you have to make the most of it. We didn’t just hang out at the bars. We took advantage of the area, took in the sights, and learned a few new things while we were at it. The Sacred Valley of the Incas is loosely placed between Cusco, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo. The Valley is covered with archaeological sites, places of religious importance, and dramatic natural scenery.
Our next stop was Cusco.
The city itself was amazing. Cusco has a palpable character to it. You walk the streets and there’s something in the air. You’d be hard-pressed to be in the city for more than a few days, and not see fireworks, a parade, or some other kind of festivities.
Asking one of the locals why there were so many parades only got us “Por que es Cusco!” (because it’s Cusco).