The city of Arequipa itself, Peru’s second most populous city, is a UNESCO heritage site, due to the imposing white Spanish colonial buildings throughout the city. It is a fun city, with excellent restaurants, but the reason to go to Arequipa is for the landscape of the surrounding environs. At nearly 8,000 feet, wedged between the coast and the Andes Mountains, the region is one of the highest altitude deserts, dotted with a series of volcanoes. It is magnificent.
From Arequipa, we took an overnight trip to Chivay, notably in order to visit the Colca Canyon and watch the flight of the condors.
For the who/what/where/when/how, check out The NY Times Travel – June article on Machu Picchu.
Like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu did not disappoint, despite grand expectations. In addition to the ruins itself, there are a few hiking trails, ranging from very easy to fairly difficult, each providing a different view of the ruins and the vast mountains range among which the ruins are nestled (these pictures are from the trail to the sun gate). We decided to forgo the first bus at 4 am, and “slept in” until 6:30 am. We had taken the train through the sacred valley the night before (as opposed to the multi day Inca trail trek), and weren’t all that keen for a dawn start, but boy was it worth it. For the first two-three hours of our morning, we had the place all to ourselves. By about 10 am, the other tourists crowded out the trails like ants at a picnic.
Add this one to the bucket list.
Peru was a whirlwind. Our group spent no more than one night in each place for the week that we travelled. It was exhausting, but considering Peru’s natural beauty, I am glad we saw so much.
We started in Cusco, the former Inca Capital with a lot of energy and an incredible culinary scene. From there, we toured the Sacred Valley and the Inca ruins at Pisac and Ollantaytambo, stopping at an alpaca farm to play with the llamas and the Pisac market to buy more layers of wool (it was in the 30s at night!) along the way.
May 28-June 5: Andrew visits Israel!
June 6-7: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 8-10: Salvador, Brazil
June 11-12: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
June 13-14: Iguazu Falls, Brazil
June 15: Iguazu Falls, Argentina
June 16-19: Buenos Aires, Argentina
June 20-22: Cuzco/Machu Picchu, Peru
June 23-25: Arequipa, Peru
June 26-27: Lima, Peru
June 28: Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA!!