Everybody that ever went backpacking or just on a holiday to multiple countries for that matter, knows that crossing country-borders is a stress-full, tiresome but also exciting experience. Sometimes it goes super smooth! Sometimes it takes hours, a lot of bribes and probably ten years of your life because of pure stress. All you can really do is prepare, brace for a long day and hope you get there before nightfall. How best to prepare for the border-crossing between Peru and Bolivia? By reading this article of course!
“Peru in two weeks? That can’t be done.” Is probably the first thing you will hear from somebody that traveled to Peru after they just read this title. And in all fairness, they are sort of right. Peru is huge, spanning from north to south in about the same amount of kilometers as the USA. So you got two option here: you either include 6 or 7 flights into your itinerary and rush around without having time to catch your breath or you make compromises. Needless to say, following this itinerary means you’re choosing the latter. But by including most highlights, taking into account elevation-differences and leaving you with enough time to actually enjoy being away from home this itinerary will absolutely deliver you the best of Peru, all in as little as two weeks.
One step outside the bus and your nostrils will let you know that you have reached the coast, as next to pelicans darting around everywhere, the ocean smell is very characteristic for the little town of Paracas. Officially know as El Chaco, this coastal town lies at the north-end of the Paracas Peninsula, a national wildlife reserve. The big draw is the abundance of sea-mammals and birds surrounding the Islas Ballestas, dubbed ‘the poor man’s Galapagos’ but besides that there is also the Peninsula itself to explore..
Of all places in Peru, its capital Lima is by far the most urban and sophisticated. Many travelers that visited told me that Lima was not really worth the time except that it had the convenience of one of the biggest international airports in South-America. I disagree. Lima offers world-class cuisine, beautiful neighborhoods, an interesting colonial heritage and the best clubbing in the country. Staying a few days while eating delicious Ceviche and fighting off a jet-lag after a long-haul flight is certainly not a bad idea! Continue reading “How to spend your days in misty metropolitan Lima”
Nestled between the mountainous peak of the Andes lies Ayacucho, one of the most traditional cities in Peru. Often skipped, but not rightfully so because if you want to taste the traditional Peruvian way of life, understand the tragic history of the ‘Shining Path’ and venture out into the Andes on horseback, Ayacucho is the way to go.
Arequipa, often dubbed ‘the white city’ is the colonial pride of Peru. The second-largest city in the country combines beautiful colonial buildings with all modern amenities of a large urban dwelling. It is situated about 2300 meters above sea-level making it the perfect place to acclimatise to the altitude before visiting Cusco, Machu Picchu or Puno which are all a lot higher up. And with the Colca Canyon, El Misti and Chachani on its doorstep, there is really no reason to skip this beautiful colonial gem. Continue reading “Arequipa: what to do in the colonial gem of Peru”
When I was a child I once saw a Discovery-documentary from Jacques Cousteau where he explained about the weird frilled frogs that live in lake Titicaca and ever since visiting this lake has been high on my list. On the shores of lake Titicaca lies Puno, the second-most visited town in Peru. People flock here to see the floating Uros islands. Yes they are undeniably beautiful. Yes they are unlike any other islands you have ever seen. But man did I hate visiting them. Continue reading “Why I hated the beautiful Uros Islands”
A few hours drive from Arequipa (the second largest city in Peru) the Rio Colca has carved out the Colca Canyon. Twice as deep as the Grand Canyon, and the second deepest canyon in the world (the nearby Cotahausi Canyon is deeper but very hard to get to). Just after sunrise Andean Condors use the updrafts to glide over the gorge and if you are lucky enough they soar over at only a few meters distance at ‘Cruz del Condor’ which makes for a very impressive sight. Continue reading “The Colca-canyon in 500 words”
As the gateway to Machu Picchu, Cusco is rarely skipped on a trip to Peru. What once was the sparkling capital of the Inca’s has turned into a true backpacker-mecca. Very touristic, full of hawkers, but charming nonetheless. If you are looking for a comfortable base to explore the sacred valley, go out on treks or if you just really love the vibe of a backpacker-filled city, this is your spot. Continue reading “Cusco: what to do in the backpacker-mecca of Peru”
With a headlight as your guide you slowly decent a dimly lid unpaved road. You rub the sleep from your eyes and see a few other early birds moving in the same direction. After twenty minutes you arrive at a surprisingly modern iron bridge and even though it is only just past 4 AM there is already a fairly steady line-up in front of it. You flash your entry-ticket at the uninterested guard, cross the bridge and then there are stairs.. many stairs. When the climb starts knocking the wind out of your lungs your enthusiasm shrinks, why on earth did you opt for the climb and not just lazy it out in the bus? Continue reading “Machu Picchu explained in 500 words”