I am long overdue for a snapshot post about our Peru trip! Better late than never, and I’m always happy to look back on the memories and relive the adventure a little through these highlights (and lowlights) posts. I suspect because I had so many posts lined up about Peru that maybe I Peru-ed myself out a bit, hence the delayed snapshot. But I love writing these entries, and even more, I love looking back on them years later.
Chris and I traveled to Lima, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley region of Peru. We flew round-trip from IAD to LIM, and round-trip domestic from LIM to CUZ (on LATAM). Our two-week itinerary from July 1-15 included two days in Lima, two days in Cusco to acclimate, a week with Mountain Lodges of Peru on their Lares Adventure trek, two nights in Cusco after the trek, and two more nights after we returned to Lima.
I mean, I don’t know if one can go to Machu Picchu and not name that as the best moment of the whole trip. I’ll admit that I didn’t have the overwhelming feeling of a magical connection like some visitors are said to have experienced, but I definitely understood the significance of where I was, and I was in awe.
Even taking into consideration the situation with the protests in Cusco and nearly missing our opportunity to see Machu Picchu, I’m still going to say the worst moment was my stomach issue on Day 2 of our Lares Adventure. Thankfully I recovered quickly and in time to continue on without missing much.
If I had a dollar for every time we were solicited to purchase a llama keychain in Cusco I think we could have paid for our entire trip. I generally don’t mind the solicitations and in fact, I’m impressed by the hustle of tireless street vendors, but the llama keychain pressure was intense and overly frequent! Every time we left our hotel to explore the streets of Cusco, we were offered street art, sunglasses, hats, and most of all, llama keychains. And I’m all for supporting local artists, but I’m selective and purposeful about purchasing something that will have a purpose or a prominent place in our home. I’m not a big fan of buying stuff just for the sake of buying stuff. I’m not a tchotchke collecting kind of person.
Days later in the peaceful calm and quiet of the Sacred Valley, Chris and I received the key to our accommodations at the K’uychi Rumi Lodges. We dissolved into giggles to see lo and behold the key was attached to…a llama keychain, of course. I actually do kind of wish I had purchased one after all.
We ate so many great things on this trip and I ended up dedicating a whole post to good eats in Lima. It was indeed in Lima where we ate our best meal. ámaZ in Miraflores came recommended to us from a friend, and we ended up there on our last night in Peru for a huge Amazonian-Peruvian feast. Wild boar empanadas, a charcuterie board, lomo saltado, fried rice, and pork-stuffed plantains – I’ve never been so full in my life. I didn’t even have room for dessert! And that’s saying something.
Something We Learned
All the Inca (or Inka) history! I thoroughly enjoyed having such knowledgeable guides for the duration of our time in the Sacred Valley. Eddie and Admil educated us on the region’s ancient origins, the agriculture, architecture, religion, lifestyle, and beyond.
I also learned the difference between a llama and an alpaca. Llamas are bigger, and have long faces with banana-shaped ears, while alpacas are smaller with smaller faces, and they have short ears. Alpaca fleece produces a soft fiber used for fine wool garments. These are alpacas pictured below. (And maybe a few of them are llamas?! Even knowing the differences, it’s still hard to tell!)
We’re Thankful We Packed
Good hiking shoes!
We Didn’t Need To Bring
Rain jackets or ponchos. We brought both, but lucked out with amazing weather and didn’t use them once (although I would always recommend having proper rain gear on hand).
I initially wanted to tack on some time in the Amazon or maybe even a week in the Galapagos Islands, but we just couldn’t make it work logistically. We ended up being happy with our itinerary and I think it would have been too much if we tried to squeeze anything else in, especially in hindsight with the protests and transportation issues. It would have been nice though to consolidate some of the things we know we want to see in South America. We will hopefully get to do those other bits soon!
Reasons To Go Back
I really really wanted the postcard shot of Machu Picchu which I did get, but I also really wanted a photo of a llama with the ruins in the background, which I didn’t get. I was completely overwhelmed at the Inca citadel, and I actually didn’t end up taking as many photos as you might think. I soaked much of it up through my mind’s own lens, so hopefully those images in my memory will last. But I’d love to go back someday to take some additional photos, and to hike Huayna Picchu, which we didn’t have time for on this trip.