Beautiful Peru: Discovering Lima, Arequipa and the Machu Picchu

November 28, 2009

Thanksgiving is one of the best weekends to go away if you are planning a longer trip somewhere far away. You can get two bonus days off without using your vacation days. My cousin and I flew down from New York to Lima to discover some of the most amazing sights I have ever seen with my own eyes. We wanted to reach the Machu Picchu. After flying for about 8 hours to Lima, we slept in a hotel nearby the airport and the next morning we continued our journey towards Cuzco. Lima Peru

Cuzco

The flight was nice and short to Cuzco but as soon as we arrived, we realized we could barely breathe. We were up at 4000m (12,000 feet) high and we were suffering from altitude sickness for the next week or so. It was amazing to be in Cuzco it was a pretty little town surrounded by beautiful mountains with beautiful Inca churches on every corner.

Church in Cuzco, Peru

Church in Cuzco, Peru

Locals were walking around in their colourful tribal outfits.

Local Peruvians in Cuzco, Peru

Local Peruvians in Cuzco, Peru

The town was very quiet and authentic. The food in Peru was great. I especially liked the Ceviche and the stuffed avocados. The avocados were large and tasty. You could also get a whole guinea pig if you had the stomach for it. I felt bad for the pig, so I didn’t try it. The corn was very large and tasty as well. After walking around the town for a couple of hours, we went back to the hotel and slept for the next 15 hours or so, because we had such a headache from the altitude. By the way, that’s my best and only cure for altitude sickness. I always sleep for about 15-18 hours every time I land in a very high city. The next day I usually feel better, however it always takes a couple of days to get fully acclimated to the altitude.

Inka Ruins

Next day we visited the Sacred Valley as well as the town of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. The Sacred Valley is the valley of the Urubamba River with beautiful Inca Terraces. We visited the town of Pisac on the Urubamba River. It had a cool market where they sold all sorts of cool hats.

Cool Peruvian Hat, Cuzco, Peru

Cool Peruvian Hat, Cuzco, Peru

We saw more locals in their beautiful traditional dresses. We ended the tour in Ollantaytambo, where we visited some more inca ruins and some cool 1000 year old temples. We had some quinoa soup in a local traditional restaurant for lunch. It was a very nice day around the mountains and the ruins, even though we were suffering from severe headache because of the altitude. The sunset was spectacular. One of the most beautiful sunsets I have ever seen with my own eyes.

Sunset in Cuzco, Peru

Sunset in Cuzco, Peru

Hiking the Machu Picchu

Next day we took the train up to the Machu Picchu. The panoramic train had a glass ceiling and we could see all the mountains above us from the train. I could see big birds flying above the train. It was a very scenic journey. I highly recommend everyone to take this train. It’s a bit pricier than the regular train, but the scenery you will see above you will make up for the extra dollars you spent on it. We took the train and then a bus straight up to the top of the mountain. Machu Picchu was stunning.

Macchu Picchu, Peru

Machu Picchu, Peru

First, it was hard to believe that all these ruins that I had only seen on postcards before, were right beneath me. We were up in the top of the mountain. We felt like we could touch the sky and all the Inca ruins were right below us. It was spectacular. We fooled around all day in the ruins, taking photos, meeting the local llamas.

Lamas in Peru

Lamas in Peru

They were very friendly. In the afternoon after taking about 100 photos, we climbed down the mountains and took the train back to Cuzco. There was a performance and a small fashion show of local artisanal cloths on the train to provide entertainment for the guests. We were still suffering from severe headaches because of the altitude. At night we took the bus from Cuzco to Puno to visit Lake Titicaca and the floating islands.

Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca, Peru

Lake Titicaca, Peru

We arrived after a few hours of sleep and took a boat to the islands. We observed how these tribes called “Uros” lived in artificial floating islands. They made boats and huts out of bundled reed.

Who wants breakfast? Lake Titicaca, Peru

Who wants breakfast? Lake Titicaca, Peru

Puno

They led a simple but very interesting lifestyle. After the visit to the island, we discovered the local culture of Puno. Saw the local tribal dance in the village.

Local Dance of Puno, Peru

Local Dance of Puno, Peru

Kid on the Local Market in Puno, Peru

Kid on the Local Market in Puno, Peru

Saw many sheeps as well. We visited the local market where we ate some unrefrigerated cheese. This was obviously a bad idea, because it got us pretty sick for the next couple of days.

Arequipa

After a couple of days in Bolivia, we fully recovered from our altitude sickness and food poisoning and we took the longest scariest ride on a bus from the Bolivian border to the town of Arequipa. The journey was very long. It must have taken us over 12 hours to get to Arequipa. Locals were coming and going with lots of kids and animals and everything else you can think of on the bus. The bus was riding on a dirt road on the side of the mountains. Every time I looked down from the bus window I saw a big cliff just below us. It was so dangerous to drive around there. The bus driver was rallying up and down the mountains. I decided not to look down any more at one point. Luckily we arrived to Arequipa safe and sound and we decided not to take any more buses on this trip again. Once we arrived, we had to find a hotel and it was not easy to find something at night. We were very tired form traveling, but we did go out to see the centre of the town. Arequipa was absolutely beautiful with its elegant architecture and palm trees.

Arequipa Centre, Peru

Arequipa Centre, Peru

We found the usual cathedrals like in every other city in Peru. These cathedrals were always in the middle of the centre and they were usually huge. Arequipa was a very pleasant city with beautiful white buildings and elegant architecture. We visited the Santa Catalina Monastery the next day. The monastery was about 500 years old and still served as a home of nuns. Here we could see the conditions they have been living in in the last couple of hundred years. We did some shopping in Arequipa as well. They had the freakiest mannequins in the shops.

Mannequins in Arequipa, Peru

Mannequins in Arequipa, Peru

Lima Peru

After a few days in Arequipa we had to go back to Lima to eventually head home from there. We decided to fly this time, because we could not bear another hour on a bus. Flying was quick and easy. Lima was a massive and unpleasant city. On our first day we decided to visit the city centre. We found the big cathedral again in the middle of the main square. Lima Peru

Cathedral in Lima Peru

Cathedral in Lima Peru

We saw some weird exhibit of cows displayed all over the city. They were in all sorts of shapes wearing weird costumes. Lima Peru

Cows in Lima Peru

Cows in Lima Peru

The town was so intimidating. We stood out because we were tall blonds while most of the locals were short and dark. We were harassed everywhere we went, so we decided not to venture around the town too much for the rest of the time in Lima and we mainly stayed in our hotel for the next couple of days. I m curious to hear what impression you had of Lima. Leave a comment below if your experience was different from mine. Lima Peru

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About Barbara

Barbara is a London based luxury travel and lifestyle blogger. She started traveling through Paris, London, New York, Milan, Tokyo at the age of 17 to conquer the World as a model. Ever since, she has visited 67 countries. She writes about the most exclusive jet-set destinations such as Cannes, Venice Film Festivals, Monaco Grand Prix, Oscar Parties in LA, Fashion Weeks in Milan or Paris as well as yacht parties in St-Tropez, Miami Art Basel, Biennale in Venice, Frieze in London or the Royal Wedding in Monaco.

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