Doing the Huayhuash Trek in the Cordillera Huayhuash in Peru had been a dream of ours for over a decade. Although our expectations were high, the reality of our experience far exceeded them: eight high mountain pass crossings, surrounding peaks of 6,000+ meters (20,000+ feet), turquoise alpine lakes, stunning glacier-covered mountains, and a diversity of landscapes.
The Incan ruins of Machu Picchu outside Cusco, Peru grab the lion's share of that country's travel press. But before the Incas stormed through this region in the 15th century, there were actually some other clever people living in Peru. They built an impressive city and lived in circular houses on a mountaintop in the north, near the town of Chachapoyas (meaning “People of the Clouds”).
The ruins of Kuelap, the citadel they built in those clouds.
Maybe you’ve seen the photos coming out of Peru over the last week or two: raging rivers, washed-out bridges, mud-buckled railroad lines, and tourists being airlifted from under the shadow of Machu Picchu in the town of Aguas Calientes.
We’re here to suggest — despite it all — that you keep Peru on (or consider adding it to) your travel bucket list.
Peruvian cuisine has attained a certain hipness over the last decade. So when we put out a call to our network for Peruvian food suggestions prior to our visit to Lima, we were surprised when the net response amounted to “ceviche and pisco sours.”
For sure those are requisite tastes, but the Peruvian food scene offers so much more.
So what happened? Our guide got drunk two nights in a row, tried to pinch us for more money with unplanned and overpriced transport, didn’t buy our Machu Picchu tickets in advance, missed our meeting on the day of Machu Picchu by two hours, and mismanaged our return train and bus tickets to Cusco.
Not bad, eh?
Value: a topic of great debate, perhaps nowhere more so than in the world of travel.
We've had friends rave about inns in Costa Rica that are a “great value” at $300 a night. At the same time, we've met travelers who do the “bad value” balk when accommodation anywhere runs more than $3.
Call one a spendthrift. Call the other cheap. Value is in the eye of the beholder.
“Oooh, Machu Picchu!”
Even my mom caught the hype when I told her we were headed there last week. As excited as she’s been about our travels, I think that was the first “Oooh!” of our trip she ever uttered.
As much as anyone else, we enjoy visiting world-famous tourist sites and embarking on adventure trips. Peru has been no exception. In fact, in just a few hours we depart for a five-day trek to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu by way of a mountain pass at 4650 meters/15,500 feet.
But there’s almost always another side to the countries we visit. And sometimes we disappear into the hills for weeks to find it.