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Travel Logs October 2015

Compulsive Traveler

Peru: Land of the Incas

By Sandra Scott

There are several ways to get to the iconic Machu Picchu. The hale and hearty can take a multi-day trek along the Inca Trail. Most people take either the tourist train or the luxurious Hiram Bingham train.

When it is winter in the Northern Hemisphere, it is summer in the Southern Hemisphere making Peru a winter getaway that is teaming with history, picturesque cities, unique cultures, amazing scenery, and adventure.

  1. Lima: In Lima, the capital city, head to Plaza de Armas, where the Government Palace is located with a colorful Changing of the Guard at noon. Be early to get a good viewing spot. Also on the Plaza is the Cathedral of Lima and the Archbishop’s Place which was built in the 1600s. Take note of the intricate, carved wooden balconies the city is known for.
  2. Cusco: The Incas thought Cusco was the center of the world. The city is a jumping off point for visiting Machu Picchu but don’t miss the Plaza de Armas with a beautiful cathedral and
    where there are usually llamas, alpacas, vendors, and Andean musicians. Take note of the foundations of the older buildings which were built by the Incas. The Spanish built on top of them.
  3. Machu Picchu: There are several ways to get to the iconic Machu Picchu. The hale and hearty can take a multi-day trek along the Inca Trail. Most people take either the tourist train or the luxurious Hiram Bingham train. The last part of the train trip is a heart-stopping bus ride from switchback to switchback.
  4. Nazca: The Nazca lines are one of the world’s mysteries. They are only visible from the air. There is a fun four-wheel tour over the massive sand dunes. The small plane dipping and turning over the Nazca Lines and the four-wheel ride that charges up one dune and down another are exciting to say the least.
  5. Trujillo: Trujillo is a coastal city north of Lima. Near Trujillo is Chimu, the capital of Chan Chan, the largest pre-Columbian city in the Americas. The city was made up of large plazas, temples, and large tombs for their nobility. The Chimu Kingdom reached its peak in the 15th century and then fell to the more powerful Incas. The ruins are impressive – another of Peru’s World Heritage sites.
  6. Arequipa: Arequipa, lovely colonial city, is home to Monasterio de Santa Catalina which is frozen in time. For centuries it was closed to the public. It is the starting point for visits to the Colca Canyon, one of the deepest in the world and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
  7. Puno: The city is located on Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world accessible by the train from Cusco. The main reason to visit Puno is to take a tour to the Uros Islands where the villages of the pre-Inca people are on floating reed islands.
  8. Amazonia: There are several places in Peru to enter Amazonia. Most travelers head to Iquitos for a river cruise. However, Manu National Park, another UNESCO site, has a large expanse of virgin forest and is less visited. Don’t expect to see a lot of wild animals including snakes in the Amazon.
  9. If there is time: The lovely town of Yucay is in the heart of The Sacred Valley with numerous archeological ruins. It is another great place to shop for handmade Peruvian crafts, sweaters, scarfs and hats. Mancora is a fishing port that is home to a trendy beach.
  10. The facts: Tourists only need a valid passport with empty pages and valid for 6 months from day of entry. Visitors should be cognizant of altitude sickness – headache and shortness of breath. Take it easy the first couple of days, drink plenty of water, and travel from lowest altitude to highest.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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