2016 Peru Nov14

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2016 Peru

This was our first time in South America and i have to say, it was a blast! Viva Peru!

For this trip, we wanted a little more outdoorsy type stuff and Renu was crazed about the prospects of being able to visit the Amazon Jungle. I was excited about climbing a mountain and sleeping on some mountainside pods, so we decided what better place than Peru to see it through…

I’m not entirely sure why, maybe i just figured it was relatively easy to visit due to its proximity to North America, but I’ve been putting off South America for years. And boy do i regret it. I got to bust out my 7th grade Spanish (Thanks, Mrs. Asenho, i retained a decent amount and you were a great teacher!), and people in Peru were extremely nice.

This marks the first time ever that we used a tour company at the suggestion of my colleague Jason O’Brien, and while the tour was amazing, and we had great guides, Renu and i decided that tours are just not for us. We found this out the last day in Lima when we were on a bus getting ready for our Lima city tour, something just didn’t feel right, so we got off the bus. We ran into some folks on bicycles, asked where they rented them from, we got there, rented two and off we were. From that moment on, we really felt free.

I guess we don’t like the idea that you are seeing what the tour company wants you to see vs. what is actually out there. That’s probably our biggest complaint. Don’t get us wrong, we could have changed the itinerary and it wasn’t the tour companies fault, obviously, but more about how we like to travel. We like to plan less and see where things take us. So no more tours for us.

Anyhow, we visited three major areas, Puerto Maldonado, Cusco, and Lima.

New York City, seen from Newark:
New York City from Newark

Puerto Maldonado

Here we stayed at the absolutely amazing Amazonas Refugio lodge. Puerto Maldonado is already on the cusp of the forest, but then to get to this lodge – you take a boat ride for 2.5 hours!!! to the lodge. And once you reach the shore of the lodge it’s about another 15-20 minutes into the forest. So make no mistake, you are in the motherfuckin’ forest by the time you get there. This isn’t one of those forest ‘feeling’ type places. Oh no. You are in the thick of it. And that’s by design. The owner wanted you engulfed in nature with no noise, no distractions other than nature itself. A 100% success. Amazingly, they even had (weak) wifi.

Anyhow, while here, we were completely captivated with the facilities and wildlife. The facilities consist of a huge main lodge, which serves as a lounge, bar, cafeteria and library, houses a lot of people at once. And there are three large wings which house the bungalows. In each room, you have three walls only. The fourth wall is completely open (Without screen) to the forest. We saw and heard birds, small animals and huge butterfly’s. You sleep with mosquito nets over your bed which was different and the sound of insects at night was almost deafening. We also got a taste of Red Howler monkey’s in the middle of the forest (Sounds like some crazy machine!):
[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfG5UU-1s8c[/embedyt]

But overall an amazing experience. Something very special and unique. I would highly recommend this to couples and small families alike. Each day is filled with activities, from kayaking/canoeing, nighttime Cayman hunting, all sorts of stuff. Anyhow, enjoy the pics:

Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru

A video of the macau’s here:
[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uo4_jV7CKNk[/embedyt]

Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru

Cusco

Cusco seemed the quintessential South American city. Beautiful old architecture, lots of pride and tradition and lastly many sites and shopping! It has an extremely high elevation 12,000 feet so some folks experience altitude sickness. I escaped unscathed, Renu was a bit dizzy on day one. But by day two, she was back at it. Cusco is also the launching point for several important other cities like Moray, Maras, Sacred Valley, Chincherro and towards Aguas Calientes which brings you to Macchu Picchu.

I don’t have much else to say about Cusco, it’s a big city with lots to offer both inside and nearby. We thoroughly enjoyed it there and in the surrounding cities. Enjoy the photographs!

Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru

Macchu Picchu

A quick negative before getting into a most amazing positive. Aguas Calientes, a complete shithole of a town. All touristy, no character. Loud bars, karaoke into the night. American and Mexican food…. not much else. Don’t get me wrong, i know outside a lot of UNESCO World Heritage sites it is usually touristy, but this was something else.

Ok, now onto what most would consider the main event… Machu Picchu. I don’t know the split, but you either take a bus up to the Machu Picchu site, or you hike up the trail to Machu Picchu. Most use the Inca Trail and camp along the way, usually 2-4 days. However, we took the bus. We didn’t have enough time in our trip to dedicate 2-4 days to getting up a mountain so we went the easy way to Machu Picchu. Here are the pics of the Machu Picchu site:

Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru
Puerto Maldonado Peru

We decided to go the extra mile (More like the extra vertical mile) Huayna Picchu, the little mountain which is behind Machu Picchu that you see in most photographs. Now, i thought this would be a nice easy little hike, but man was i wrong. This is a serious hike. Takes about 1-2 hours for most (We were around 1 hour) and it’s extremely treacherous. Some parts have stairs, some parts have loose rock, so parts just have a wire which you use to pull yourself upward. It’s a really great trek no matter how you slice it. When you reach the top, you get this magnificent view:

Getting back down from Huayna Picchu is no easier, in fact, for my knees, it was much worse. But once we got back, we took a nice break and got to leave the region on the Peru Rail Vista Dome train, which included food, a fashion show and some typical Peruvian dance. All while seeing the beautiful scenery fly by.

Urabamba

After Machu Picchu, we went directly back to Cusco by train. The next afternoon we were shuttled off to Urabamba in the Sacred Valley which is a small farming town, but is also home to Natura Vive. The pods on the side of a mountain hotel!

Doing this the day after Huayna Picchu was sort of a mistake. You don’t have to be in tip-top shape to climb this mountain, but you can’t be weak either. We had a great time climbing and Renu got over her fear of moving laterally over two horizontal wires. =)

Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru

Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru

Natura Vive Peru
Natura Vive Peru

A couple of videos of Renu and I zip-lining:
[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e9O65Yy8BGo[/embedyt]

[embedyt] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1Ds641JVpw[/embedyt]

Lima

You know, we spent much less time in Lima than we should have. I think we were so scarred from big cities like Amsterdam we decided to make Lima the shortest part of our trip, despite being the largest city. We really should have based our time there on its own merits. Not our preconceived notions. Anyhow, in the time that we did have there, we got to see mostly the MiraFlores (An upscale, semi-touristy) district. Turns out that many other parts of Lima aren’t really 100% safe for tourists so almost all tour companies insist that people stay in MiraFlores.

That all being said, MiraFlores is really nice. Doesn’t have the heavy tourist overtones, it’s just like any other major city. Has beautiful promenades which lead all the way down to the beach. Speaking of the beach, man, what a fantastic beach does Lima have! And they have a mall built into the mountain on the beach! One of the nicest malls I’ve ever been to, outside of Dubai.

Lima is currently known as one of the upcoming culinary capitals of the world. We only got to experience a few local shops and boy, were we impressed! La Lucha and Monola were both exactly what i was hoping for while i was down there. But we were yearning for more. I guess another reason to visit again the future!

Lima Peru 1
Lima Peru 2
Lima Peru 3
Lima Peru 4
Lima Peru 5
Lima Peru 6
Lima Peru 7
Lima Peru 8
Lima Peru 9
Lima Peru 10
Lima Peru 11

Overall

We absolutely loved Peru and now have the outlook that there is so much more to offer than Machu Picchu. In fact, i feel like Machu Picchu is almost Peru’s curse in some ways, because it overshadows everything else that it has to offer, such as the Amazon jungle. We’ll be back.

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