Awakening in Peru
A country balancing on a plane of opposites
Steadfast in heritage while embracing pieces of the modern world, the people of the country welcome visitors with open arms, educating travelers on who they are based on the strong history woven into Peruvian culture. A sense of pride and warmth is palpable in every step on the desert land, and a true majesty is felt at the sight of the landscape surrounding you at every moment.
Explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas
The Sacred Valley of the Incas is one of those special places that truly stop time, sights that can take a person out of context and place them in a state of wonder that is almost incomprehensible. While Macchu Picchu exists as the largest and most enticing to tourists, there is equal value in the surrounding sites. All just a collectivo ride away, you can see the Inca ruins of Moray, Ollantaytambo, Urumbamba, Pisac and Chinchero as well as the salt flats of Salineras de Maras.
There are barely any words to describe the Inca Trail that leads to Macchu Picchu. As you walk along the stone path among mountain ridges, cascading down valleys and scaling up the mountain inclines, the wonder of the path’s existence never ceases. It is no easy feat; strangers become partners as you bond over common struggle and breathe deeply together in the moments of accomplishment. For the duration of the trek, you live with a sense of separation from the world; a certain wall divides you from the connective tissue of modern technology. You think more clearly, relax effortlessly and find an innocence in staring up at the stars in the sky. Go in with little expectations and believe that it is possible. Leave the sacred untouched so that others to follow you can feel as you did.
Lake Titicaca & Arequipa
Lake Titicaca is situated between Peru and Bolivia and provides a home to various island communities. Tequile, the largest of the islands, is accessible via ferry boat out of Puno’s ferry terminal. The inhabitants, known as Taquileños, are known for their fine handwoven textiles and clothing, as well as the community-controlled tourism model. Home stays, transportation, meals & lodging for groups are run by the community in order to maintain their culture and feed the internal economy directly. Uros, the series of floating islands you reach just off the coast of Puno, are complicated structures to understand. Luckily, part of the visit is an explanation from the architect, the man of the family who calls the island home.
Our favorite stop along the way, Arequipa, is a lovely and rich city, with pieces of the past woven into the winding alleys and cobblestone streets. It is an alluring city — the perfect place to wander, to invite the unexpected and to explore. Find the homemade, local food and dazzle in the salsa nightlife. Relax here, soak in the ease of this city and partake in the small pleasantries. This is a place to indulge and leave room for the spontaneous.
The Santa Catalina Monastery, only open to the public since 1970, is a step back 400 years in time. With its high walls blocking it from the public, the monastery existed as its own city and is spectacular in its self-containment. The vivid colors of the adobe walls and artwork around the monastery are dazzling, a must-see within Arequipa.
Lima, a Collection of Small Cities
Arriving in Lima, the modern amenities lacking during most of the trip begin to emerge. Indulgences are abundant — cheap nail salons, savory ceviche and delicious pisco sours are around every turn. Spend a bit of time here; Lima has so many things to offer that are worth the stay. Everything they say about Cebichería La Mar is true. Located in Lima’s popular Miraflores district, La Mar is the brainchild of Gastón Acurio, once of Peru’s top chefs. The ceviche is simply untouchable and the unique cocktails are spectacular. Lima is a dry, desert city that sits atop a cliff and leads directly to the coast. Beaches, headlands and coves provide for a huge range of surfing within the vicinity of the city. The surfing culture is evident everywhere in Lima, with local surf shops offering beginner lessons and locals offering generous insider scoops on the incoming swells. The Barranco District seems like something out of a fairy tale. This neighborhood was home to many 19th century artists and writers, maintaining its laid-back charisma and colonial charm. The Bridge of Sighs (Puente de los Suspiros) is a romantic wooden structure crossing the Bajada de Banos, a stone walkway that runs down to the ocean. As the sun sets, Barranco comes alive with its electric nightlife and dancing.