Peru and the Inca Trail
Guest post by Bryan Marjoram, tour host for Peru and the Inca Trail.
Recently, I had the opportunity to host a trip through Merit Travel to experience the “Magic and Mystery of Peru” and gaze upon the ingenuity of the Incas at Machu Picchu and surrounding sites. Terraces were constructed and boulders were somehow “magically” moved to create villages that appear to be logistically and mathematically impossible. Many photographic images were captured, but witnessing the site first hand, is the only way to truly appreciate the magnitude of the Incas’ incredible engineering skills and determined efforts.
My thirteen day journey officially started in the VIP Premium Lounge prior to our flight. This gave everyone a chance to mingle, eat, have a beverage, and get to know one another in the comforts of a beautiful lounge provided free of charge through Merit Travel. We landed in Lima quite late but started our first day off with some much needed leisure time before touring Lima. It is the largest city in Peru and also its capital. We did a half day sightseeing tour of Lima and the surrounding neighbourhoods. Later on we went for a stroll down to the beach area to admire the skill of the many surfers who gather there daily.
Before I continue I must comment on the knowledge of the friendly and incredibly trained guides who accompanied us throughout our journey. They are truly passionate about their country and heritage and every guide provided a vivid description of each and every highlight throughout the tour.
The next day, after a visit to enjoy the wonders of the National Museum of Archaeology, Anthropology, and History of Peru, we boarded a plane for our flight to Arequipa. After landing we enjoyed the splendours of Arequipa, a UNESCO World Heritage site. We toured Santa Catalina Monastery which was built in 1579. Although rocked by two earthquakes in the 1960s, it has been beautifully restored. With our guide, we walked through the many alleys within the monastery and viewed the beautiful fountains and the Convent of Santa Catalina. Next stop was Colca Canyon. We had the opportunity to stop numerous times to take photos of the wild vicuna grazing by the roadside. They bear a striking resemblance to llamas and alpacas. Vicuna produce small amounts of extremely fine wool which is very expensive, because it can only be shorn once every three years. Later on in the evening, a few from our group chose to relax in the thermal baths close to our lodgings.
After taking a stunning tour along the Colca River the next day, we stopped at a lookout to view and photograph the mighty condors taking flight. We reached Puno and the following day we took a full day boat excursion on Lake Titicaca. Dwarfed by surrounding mountains and volcanoes we boated to the amazing floating islands in Lake Titicaca. One of the highlights was stopping at Uros which is a floating island inhabited by locals. We gathered to hear how the islands were made and then had an opportunity to visit the homes of the locals, interact, and purchase some colourful handcrafted items. We also boarded a typical Uros reed boat which was paddled by the locals to tour around the surrounding islands. What a fabulous experience!
The next day we departed to Cuzco which has an elevation of 3,400 metres! It was the capital of the Inca Empire and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. We visited many local markets which were steeped in tradition and a treat for the senses.
Words cannot describe the way we felt when we stepped off the motor coach and gazed upon the Lost City of the Incas. It has also been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. Suddenly you realize you are in the exact location, where the Incas, in the 15th century, used their advanced skills and building techniques to design and construct such incredible structures, approximately 2,430 metres above sea level. You have to actually stop, sit, and just admire the site with awe and an overwhelming sense of tranquility and amazement.
Lastly, I must note that I was quite impressed with the Peruvian people. They were very friendly, welcoming, and willing to assist whenever necessary. They have a great deal of pride in their beautiful country and heritage, and rightly so.
Well, time to double check your bucket list. Machu Picchu and the surrounding area, should definitely be on it.
Note: Travelling within Peru involved drastic changes in altitude. The heights should not be taken lightly. A visit to a travel doctor beforehand to prescribe altitude pills and shots are things to seriously consider. Simple tasks suddenly become strenuous. We were told to rest, take elevators at the hotel as opposed to the stairs, limit alcohol consumption, drink lots of bottled water, stay away from ice, tap water, and salads, and don’t lift heavy baggage. At first I scoffed at such precautions until I climbed a couple of flights of stairs and found myself winded. I thought I was physically prepared. Time to take heed and listen to the advice given. Be prepared.
October 22, 2014