Peru                                                                                 An Adventure in The Land of the Incas

Monday, November 6, 2017

Part 1

Decades have passed and many things have accumulated on my “bucket list” of places that I have wanted to visit in my lifetime. Topping that wish list has always been to travel to Peru to see and experience the ancient Incan Empire's historical site and  “hidden” city of Machu Picchu high in the Andes Mountains. As the years have passed (and youth with them), fulfilling this dream became a high priority.  Additionally, my friend, Tom Spear and I discovered that we both shared this same desire, but more years passed until Tom's recent retirement allowed both of us to finally begin preparations to pursue our dreams together. After approaching Tom early in 2017, and both of us investigating the internet for possibilities, we discovered a couple of travel companies that offered several ideas for an extended expedition to Peru. Most notable, in Tom’s research, he found another, much more remote Inca ruins site that had a strong appeal for both of us and that offered us a great opportunity to put boots on the ground and venture far into the heights of the Andes Mountains to discover this less visited and secluded place. According to history, this site, Choquequirao, was the last stronghold of the Incas against the invading Spanish conquistadors in the early 1500’s. With our curiosities piqued, we then filled in our planned month long trip with other important and historical places in this South American country. 

Eliu Campos of ECS Travel in Lima, Peru guided us into an Peuvian adventure itinerary that included far more than we had imagined. As we discovered, there is much more to Peru than “just” Machu Picchu. The cultures, the people, the foods, the history,  the architectures, Nature, the magnificent Andes Mountains and marvels and mysteries that are Peru were there, waiting for us to discover.

I invite you to follow me through a doorway to discovery in the ancient land of the Incas.

A suggested list of items to include helped us prepare for all aspects of our trip including 3 different hikes over the 31 days we visited in Peru. As we soon discovered during our hiking excursions, many of those suggestions could have been eliminated. Preparing for our trip necessitated that we be vaccinated for typhoid and yellow fever, plus getting medications for malaria, cipro, altitude sickness and re-filling standing scripts and buying mosquito repellants and sunscreen. We included immodium and pepto bismo (which we did need on occasion).

Early on September 28, we flew to Miami, Florida and from there boarded Latam Airlines for the direct flight to Lima, Peru. Arriving at nearly 11 p.m. in Lima, our driver, Ceasar, picked us up and delivered us to our hotel in the Miraflores district of Lima. There we met Eliu from ECS Travel who helped us check in and made us feel comfortable and appreciated as visitors to Peru.

The next morning Eliu met us again at the hotel, reviewed our trip itinerary, and gave us our passes for travel and tours. He was very intent on our being happy and satisfied with his company’s services. 

Later in the morning we took a long walk to and along the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean.  At a restaurant overlooking the sea, we lunched and enjoyed several hang gliders as they soared past the windows. We had been told that serving portions were generally large which was verified by the size of our meal. Waddling back to the hotel, we rested and finished the day with a bowl of soup for supper. 

Ceasar arrived early the next morning and drove us to the bus station where we had upper deck front row seats on the Cruz del Sol double decker bus.. The view from that perch was thrilling. Traffic in Peru was intense. Drivers maneuver very close to each other, whether in a car, van, truck or bus. Intersections can become clogged, but somehow they manage to keep calm and slip in and around each other and keep moving. 

One thing that became very obvious (and disturbing) was that trash along the highways was strewn everywhere. Peru is a beautiful country, but they really need to address recycling and proper trash disposal and collection, an issue that our driver Ceasar had mentioned as he drove us from the airport to hotel. Traveling down the Pan American Highway, our views included ocean views, ramshacke buildings (and the trash). In 4 hours we arrived in Paracas at the Emancipador Hotel and a very nice room with an ocean view.  


The next morning we boarded a speedboat and sped out to an awesome experience at Ballestas Islands (known as the poor man’s Galapagos Islands), a refuge for hundreds of thousands of birds including penquins, boobies, cormorants, pelicans, and sea lions. The sounds of all those birds, hundreds flying overhead, others squabbling together on the cliffs, sea lions lounging in the sun, kamaze birds diving into the sea, and not to be ignored, the smell of guano. Nearing the islands, one hapless person in our boat, was anointed by a (vengeful) sea gull, it’s aim perfectly aimed upon his head. Ewww! 




On the way to Ballestas Islands, our first siting of an ancient geoglyph etched into the dry earth along the coast known as the “candelabra”. This was an incredible site, the purpose of it unknown, but clearly visible to anyone arriving by sea. 














Upon our arrival back on the mainland, we next boarded another double decker bus for the hour or so drive to Ica at Huacachina Oasis and the 132 year old Mossone Hotel. This was truly an oasis, very commercialized, set in the midst of gigantic sand dunes. 




 














The roars of numerous dune buggies was the only disturbance to this tranquil setting. Late in the afternoon, we too experienced a very WILD & THRILLING dune buggy ride. Like a roller coaster, we careened up and then down over the dunes as screams from girls in the back only enhanced and made the ride that more exciting and fun. Between the screams and laughing, sand and dust flying all around, everyone had the times of their lives. Adding to the excitement, we also skimmed down slopes on waxed boards. Topping off the experience, our day ended watching the setting sun behind the mountains of dunes before one last crazy ride back to our hotel. 


So far, by land and by sea, we were having fun and were very pleased with our adventure in Peru. 

We were soon to ascend to new heights: by air, traveling by bus to higher altitudes and even hike with our heads in the clouds.