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Anwen's Adventure in Peru

January 12, 2017

Here is a diary of what I got up to during my time in Peru! I was given this amazing opportunity by Tango Tours' owners Aled & Angeles to visit somewhere where I’ve always dreamed of visiting. I was in Peru sussing out hotels, tours, guides and major attractions for our customers so my time was very limited. If you are planning a visit I would recommend spending much more time than I did exploring this beautiful place - and I very much intend to come back and see more! 

Day 1: Departure Day 

Today my journey begins from Aberystwyth to Peru! A dash down to Cardiff to catch the National Express bus to Heathrow Terminal 4 for my flight to Bogota! On arrival in Bogota, there was a 4 hour wait until my connecting flight to Cusco and I was ready to go again! 

Day 2: Arrive in Cusco

I arrived in Cusco just before lunch, and was met by my guide and taken to my hotel. A quick shower and off I go again on my city tour! Cusco is an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site with a really unique style all of its own.

My tour began at Koricancha Temple - an old Incan palace and the main centre for the worship of the sun god Inti. This was followed by the beautiful church of Santo Domingo. Next, was the main square, The Plaza de Armas which has been the heart of Cusco from the time of the Inca Empire. The Cathedral, on the northeast side of the Plaza de Armas, is the main attraction and you'll often find both locals and tourists relaxing on its steps!

Inside, the main altar is made of amazing silver and the choir stalls are intricately carved from cedar.

The other two sides of the Plaza de Armas are lined with colonial arcades. The centre of the square is a place to rest on the benches and admire the pretty gardens and a fountain in the centre as you watch daily life in Cusco pass by. But unfortunatley I had no time for that! Given more time I would have happily sat here and watched the world go by for hours and if anybody is visiting I highly suggest you take the time to do this! The plaza is especially lively and beautiful at night, with people strolling about and the buildings lit with spotlights.

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My adventure continued to Sacsayhuaman Fortress, (known as Sexy woman!) The attraction of this ruin is not just its staggering size, but the sheer size of the stones from which it was built- modern engineers wonder at how the Incas managed such a feat! This is set up high on a hill which overlooks Cusco, what an amazing view of Cusco City from here!

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We continued to a further 3 archaeological sites: Qenko, Puca –Pucara and Tambomachay, important religious centres for the Incas.

By the late afternoon, we continued to visit some hotels in Cusco then I headed back to the hotel for the night. I could really feel the altitude difference here in Cusco so I was happy to be relaxing in my lovely hotel room! 

Day 3: Machu Picchu

Early start today! 5.30am transfer from the hotel to Poroy to catch the train to Aguas Calientes. The Vistadome train (there are 3 types of trains to Machu Picchu!) departed at 6.40am and took nearly 4 hours. A tasty snack / meal was provided on the train. We followed the Urubamba River passing beautiful scenery and villages along the way.

We arrived at 10am in Aguas Calientes, where I was met by my guide who walked me over to board the bus that takes you to the Machu Picchu archaeological site. I was very excited to see this site I had heard so much about! This is a great way to get to Machu Picchu if your not feeling up to a 3 or 4 day hike in the mountains which is understandable - it is a challenge! This is a leisurely and relaxing train journey where you get to see lots of the beautiful countryside en route. Popular with a lot of visitors to Peru, Tango Tours will happily arrange for you to take the train on your Peru tour. 

This, one of the 7 wonders of the world and UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, is simply amazing! I had a guided walk around the site which was very high providing incredible views! 

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To anyone wanting to visit I would say if you have the chance, you must climb Huayna Picchu, the towering mountain behind the actual site of Machu Picchu - it looked amazing and there were people climbing it when I was there. This climb is limited to 400 people a day. As I was only visiting for the day, I was not able to do this climb but if I were to return then this is on my list for certain!

After having my passport stamped, I went for a lovely buffet lunch at a hotel opposite the entrance to Machu Picchu, which was simply fantastic, so much so, I went for second helpings!

I had to be back in Aguas Calientes by 2.30pm, so it was time to queue for the bus! There were lots of people waiting for the bus but it all moved along quickly. There were people from all over the world there and everyone was in very high spirits to be at this world famous site!

I arrived in plenty of time for the train, so had a lovely walk around the market in Aguas Calientes where Aled’s Poncho was purchased! It was great to see such an array of colour, textiles and ceramics all under one roof. I would highly recommend spending some time here before getting the train back - I think our customers would love it. 

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The train departed at 3.20pm and by about 5.30pm it was nearly dark, so not a lot to see out of the train on my return journey, but the staff on the train provided entertainment by means of a fashion show (where you could purchase the clothes) and a show of the typical Andean Saqcra dance from Paucartambo, in honor of “Our Lady of Carmel”. Very entertaining! I arrived back in Poroy at 7pm where I was met by my guide and transferred back to my hotel in Cusco.

Day 4: Sacred Valley Tour

A bit of a lie in this morning! I was picked up at 8am by my guide and driver and we made our way to the Sacred Valley. We headed to the Chinchero, where families still preserve their traditional costumes. I was shown the traditional way in which they process wool, from washing to dying into bright vivid colours from natural products. I was shown the techniques and tools they use. It truly was an amazing thing to see. I saw some Guinea pigs which they breed to eat too. Wow, they were fat!

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From here, we continued to Ollantaytambo, one of the most important architectural complexes of the ancient Inca Empire. From the terraces if you look across the valley you can see the ruins of the old store houses built by the Incas. These were known as qollqa. They were used by the Incas to store crops to feed the town.

From here we visited Moray which is not inundated by visitors which was nice. Alot of our customers at Tango Tours have visited this spot on their trips with us and all have said how much they liked it, I agree! I liked how serene and quiet the area was and it was great to learn about the fascinating agriculture that was so innovative of its time here - I highly recommend! The deep bowl shaped hollows of Moray almost look like a Roman amphitheatre. They are circular in shape and have stair like terraces climbing up to the valley floor above.

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After the sacred valley I visited some hotels around this area which our customers would love - it is great that you can actually stay in the sacred valley itself! Later I returned to my hotel for the night.

Day 5: Bus from Cusco to Puno

Another early start! I was picked up from the hotel at 6.15am by a guide and driver to take me to the bus station for my transfer to Puno. The bus left at 7.00am, where there was a guide on board who spoke English and Spanish. There were lots of other tourists on the bus who were all lovely and very happy to chat! Our first stop was in Andahuaylillas, a town where a precious church from the 17th century boasts an amazing organ decorated with angels and cherubs! We continued on to Racchi, where we saw ruins known as the Temple of God Wiracocha. We had a lovely walk around the ruins and there was a little market with gifts there too. 

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From here, we continued to to Sicuani, where a buffet lunch was waiting for us! A picturesque place with a waterfall and alpacas in the backdrop of the dining room.

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We continued on to La Raya , the highest point on the route. Unfortunately for us, the rain and mist was falling, so the views of the snow-capped mountains were not visible but it was still a picturesque place. I'll have to come back next time to spot the mountains!

Pucara was our next stop. It’s origin is 1600 years BC and it’s archaeological remains include lytic pieces and a ceramic exhibition in the museum.

Our final destination was Puno, where we arrived at around 5.00pm. This bus journey is a fabulous way to get from Cusco to Puno and I think our customers at Tango Tours would love this experience. You get to see so much more of the country than if you were to take a more direct transfer or a flight and it is a great opportunity to talk to some like-minded travelers on the bus - all part of the experience! 

I was met by a guide who transferred me to my hotel on the peninsula. It was real luxury! I decided to try out the facilities in the hotel, so had a lovely Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room before I decided on dinner! This is a must visit and we will be sure to book all our customers into this fantastic hotel when they visit Puno and Lake Titicaca. My favourite part was the stunning views of the lake itself - truly magical.  

This evening the dining room was full, so the waiter offered me room service for no extra charge! I ordered my meal and drink and back into my PJ’s I went! Beautiful thunder and lightning over Lake Titicaca around 9pm was incredibly impressive - loud bangs and bright lightening forks!

Day 6: Visit to the Taquile and Uros Islands 

I woke up this morning at 4.45am to see the most beautiful sunrise over Lake Titicaca. Not sure where my body clock is at the moment but I was glad it to be up to see the sunrise! 

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I was picked up at 8.00am by boat from the hotel’s private jetty! This is another great thing about this hotel and why Tango Tours will be sure to use it - it has its own jetty out onto the lake making trips out onto Titicaca really easy. Onboard was the same guide I had yesterday along with 2 groups of people.

We were split into Spanish and English groups and there was a guide for each group. We headed out by speedboat to the Uros islands, a set of man-made floating islands in the middle of Lake Titicaca! We met some of the people who live here including descendants of the first inhabitants who lived on these man-made reed islands.

It was amazing to see that everything was made from reeds including the ground you walk on! I am gutted that I didn’t have the opportunity to stay on the islands like Tango Tours' group tour did earlier that week! They dressed me in their traditional costumes and I took the optional boat ride on a boat made from reeds which I highly recommended and think our customers will love!

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Following our visit here, we headed to Taquile Island. The islanders are world renowned for their lovely outfits and incredible textiles. While on the island, I visited the community of Huayllano, whose members showed their impressive artistic, handicraft and farming. 

We had a traditional lunch of veg, fish and rice with coca de mate with mint to help the digestive system. From here we walked to the boat on a different route on the other side of the island. Beautiful views and a lovely clear day where we could see for miles!

We travelled back to Puno where the guide suggested I disembark so that I could have a walk into Puno itself. I highly recommend this walk to our customers so you can see a bit more of the city. The main square was full of activity, children of all ages having a karate class, other sports going on around and many locals relaxing and watching all the activities. I had a walk around the shopping / restaurant area which was busy but I felt safe. I returned to the hotel by taxi to await my transfer to Juliaca airport.

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It was approx. 1 hour drive from Puno to Juliaca airport. The flight was delayed by about an hour so I got to Lima at around midnight where I was met by a driver to transfer my to my hotel. As soon as I checked in, it was a re-shuffle of my bags ready for my International flight home tomorrow! I cannot believe how quickly the time has gone - I don't want to go home yet! 

Day 7: Lima then home!

Another early start this morning! I had a message not to have breakfast in the hotel as the lovely ladies, our partners in Peru, Vlada and Stephanie, were taking me out for breakfast after our hotel visits.

So, at 7.30am we began our 4 hotel visits at different areas of Miraflores district in Lima. Breakfast was at an artisan café near Stephanie’s home. A fresh avocado and tomato sandwich with freshly squeezed orange juice. Amazing!

From here we returned to the hotel to pick up my luggage and meet my guide for the city tour. I said my goodbyes to Stephanie and Vlada and off I went to visit Lima’s colonial downtown with my guide.

We walked around the main square where we saw the Presidential Palace, the Cathedral, Archbishops Palace and the Metropolitan City Hall along with many other historic and traditional buildings. 

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We visited the amazing Santo Domingo Church and monastery which has been recognized as a cultural heritage by UNESCO. We continued on to the modern district of San Isidro. Finally we visited the Larco Museum, the most complete private collection of treasures from Old Peru. The erotic museum is located here too which is included in the separate part of the beautiful building. This was ... interesting!

I think our customers would love this city tour - it is a fabulous way to see the sights of Lima all in one go, I only wish I had more time here to spend another night or two taking some time to stroll around the city. It was a nice way to spend my final hours in Peru!

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My time in Peru was now sadly coming to an end. I transferred to the airport with the driver who ensured I checked in my bags without a problem and stayed with me until I arrived at the security point. That is what is nice about having private transfers - your friendly local guide will make sure you get where you need to go and assure you have everything you need. I always felt if anything did go wrong they would not hesitate to help me out. Therefore, I would highly recommend letting Tango Tours organise transfers for your trip!

A quick meal and a cheeky glass of wine before boarding my flight to Bogota where my connecting flight to London was waiting for me! Thank you Peru for an amazing time and thank you Tango Tours for sending me! I will be back!

Ready to start your own adventure in Peru? Check out our sample itineraries here and get in touch to book your trip of a lifetime today!

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