Exploring the wonderful Peru 🇵🇪
After all the stress with the entry into Chile, we actually made it to a new country - we are in Peru! 🙂 The first peculiarity we encountered was before the entry - it was mandatory to wear 2 masks on the plane, as it is also everywhere in Peru, which we simply could not get used to/wanted to during our entire 2-month stay. 😂
At the beginning, we stayed in the capital Lima for a week, specifically in the district of Miraflores. We didn't expect much from Lima since we hadn't heard many good things about the city. However, once again it was confirmed: always make your own experience! We really liked Lima overall - all in all, it's very European (at least the tourist center), very well-maintained, and everything was beautifully decorated for Christmas. Additionally, the people were super friendly, the food was good, and the prices were quite cheap (except in Miraflores). A visit to the capital is a must for every trip to Peru for me! ☺️
From Lima, we took a bus to the village of Paracas, which is about 4 hours away. The village doesn't really have much to offer for tourists, except for the well-known Belestas Islands - a group of islands under nature protection, where you can observe thousands of birds, pelicans, seals, and even penguins. We did this tour the next day and didn't regret it at all. 🙂 However, you don't have to stay in Paracas for longer, so we moved on one day later...
Our next stop was Ica, where we stayed for an entire week because we also worked a lot in between. Ica is actually not touristy at all, since there really isn't much to do here - however, it looks completely different in the oasis of Huachina, which is only 15 minutes away. Huachina is located in the middle of huge sand dunes and has many restaurants, bars, and especially huge amounts of tourists to offer. 😂 Here we did a sand buggy tour, which you shouldn't miss! We drove through the desert with the buggy all afternoon, went sandboarding, and then enjoyed the sunset in the desert - a great experience! 😬
From Ica, we took another bus to Cusco. 18.5 hours, overnight, and through hundreds of curves - the worst bus ride of my life! 😂😂 For anyone who wants to visit Cusco (which should definitely not be missing on any bucket list!), I recommend taking the flight from Lima, which costs almost the same but saves many nerves...
Cusco itself is beautiful! There are so many things to experience in the city and its surroundings, especially if you like being in nature. In addition to magnificent viewpoints, many alpacas, traditional Inca buildings, and great people, there is of course one main attraction near Cusco: Machu Picchu. However, there will be a separate blog post about this because it was a very special adventure. 🙂
Moreover, in Cusco, there is the right food for every taste and especially many markets with super delicious fruit & vegetables for very little money. Because life is so good here, we spent almost 3 weeks in Cusco overall, and I am sure that this was not my last time here! 😋
In Cusco, we revised our plan and decided that Arequipa would be our final destination in Peru. Before heading there, we made another special stop at Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world! 😎
As befits such a special stop, we stayed in a very special accommodation - right in the middle of the lake! We spent wonderful nights on our small floating island in close proximity to breeding Titicaca divers, pigs living on small islands, and many other local animal species. Our host, Julio, also explained a lot to us about the culture of the floating island inhabitants and showed us all the beautiful spots on Lake Titicaca. Moreover, we were able to explore the lake on our own with the kayak or canoe whenever we wanted. In the evening, we enjoyed super fresh and regional food and spent the evening at our small fireplace, with a view of the lake. So, if you're looking for a very special overnight accommodation, check out Titicaca Lodges! ☺️
Finally, Arequipa was on our itinerary. We also traveled there by bus, and this bus ride was terrible - the bus system in Peru is well developed, but the buses would probably not be in operation in any other country in the world because neither air conditioning (at over 30 degrees Celsius outside temperature) nor the seats work (some seats cannot be reclined, while others only have the recline function… 😂).
The center of Arequipa does not offer much in terms of tourist attractions, but there are many things to explore in the surrounding area, such as the Colca Canyon. Since we only had one week and had already done a lot of hiking in Cusco, we skipped this adventure. Instead, we only explored the city center, worked a lot, and went rafting for the first time - a very special experience that we will definitely do again! 😁
Next, we were supposed to fly to... or so we thought! Once again, COVID threw a wrench into our plans. We had packed our bags again and were planning to go to the airport the next day when the results of our PCR tests came in. Janet's test was fine, but mine was positive - what a bummer. Although I had no symptoms, it was time for me to quarantine and postpone our flight... again! Well, if there's one thing we've learned from traveling, it's that things never go exactly as planned. And sometimes you just have to stay positive, even when life doesn't deal you a good hand! 😬🙌