Saturday, February 21, 2009

Peru - all in one


As we say in Germany I had to leave for Peru with one smiling and one crying eye (not sure if that translates) ... Brazil was amazing (and I will have to go back again one day), but I also finally got to meet up with Katina in Lima, Peru. I have to admit that I am way behind on my blog postings at this point and will cheat a bit by referring you to her blog (which she is ok with): ... here simply some highlights I would like to point out. So here my two cents:

Lima: slightly delayed, and still missing Brazil, I arrived to meet Katina!! ... the public transportation in this city is interesting ... also third world and absolutely not recommendable for germaphobs. People are nice ... downtown is decent (especially the San Francisco cathedral) ... but really there is no reason to stay here ...

Pisco: Psico sour - Peru's national drink ... ok, but nothing to write home about ;) ... most likely because I still had too much alcohol left in my bloodstream from Brazil ... we took a boat trip to the Bellista Islands = very amazing ... seals, penguins and lot's of bird life ... we also got to see a dolphin on our way there (thosee always get me exited) ...

Nasca: supposedly lines that are 3000 years old ... I took a helicopter write over them ... quiet large and impressive looking ... however the explanation on how they came about was not that impressive (the moved stones aside ) ... we also visited graveyard many hundred of years old ... usually these graves were for families, greatly decorated depending on their profession and gift for them to use in the next life..

Arequipa: quiet the beautiful city with the mountains/volcanoes in the background ... the mail attraction is the Catalina convent ... brightly colored you can see how they lived in the 17the century up to today ... unfortunately not my style and therefore nun had to be taked of the list of possible occupations (the beds are just not comfortable enough)

Colca Canyon: one of the largest canyons in the world ... also beautiful, but the highlight here are the condors cycling over the canyon in the morning ... I was lucky enough to get there when many of them were around and just when I arrived to the top a lady condor sat down in front of me (maybe 20 feet away) to hang out with us for a good 5 minutes ;)

Lake Titikaka & the Floating Islands: our first stop was Puno, the city right by Lake Titikaka about 3800m above sea level. Lake Titikaka is the highest lake in the world this size, also believed to be the origin of the Inca empire (with many more mystical stories) and right in between Peru and Bolivia (both having about half of the lake under their jurisdiction). The lake is much larger than I expected and surrounded by some stunning sights in the distance (snow capped mountains). We actually stayed with a family on one of the islands for one night, and while most of the group decided to play soccer in this high elevation environment, I snuck off to get to the pacha mama temple on top of the island ... absolutely gorgeous. That night we dressed up in traditional clothing and went dancing with the people in the village ... quiet exhausting in 3800m ;) ... on a side note: my camera broke the morning of our departure :(
Cusco: was my favorite city in Peru ... Town square, with lot's of nice little cafes and restaurants. many of the churches built during the times of the Spaniards are in amazing condition and the hills covered in small homes make a beautiful background. On day two my need for a new camera took me to the black market in Cusco (el munilo) ... most Peruvians actually go shopping here ... however I was the only tourist this morning wandering around this large flee market trying to bargain my way to a new and nice camera ... i think I was pretty successful, but I have not dared to look up priced online to compare ;)

Machu Picchu: I had decided early on (a few months ago) to do the Lares trek instead of the Inca trail ... I had heard from many others that the inca trail is very busy and touristy ... also my travel agent had told me that the Lares trek is a great alternative because you get to see how the people live in the country side, since this track leads through rual peru ... what she didn't tell me is that the Lares trek is also supposedly harder, longer and actually just a hike and not an actually way to Machu Picchu (one has to take a train and a bus to get to the top) ... nevertheless I really enjoyed this three day hike trough the mountains of Peru ... day two was actually hard ... we hiked 18km over a 4300m pass, in rain, with strong winds and no trails ... on day 4 we got up very early to get our bus up to Machu Picchu ... around 6:30 we arrived and actually had the mountain to ourselves ... almost anyways ... I also got myself on of 400 tickets to climb the mountain up in Machu Picchu (Waychapicchu ?) - highly recommended - stunning scenery!!

The Amazon: Towards the end of my stay in Peru we spend three days in the Amazon - my favorite part of Peru. Lush rain forests, filled with heap and heaps of animals and insects. We stayed in a fantastic lodge in the middle of a wildlife reserve, right by a lake. During our guided expeditions we got to see all kinds of different monkeys, birds, ants, spiders, other insects, butterflies and caymans. the local guides are a must - their knowledge about their home is unbelievable ... we seem to far separated from our surrounding while these guys literally know every last creature and leaf in their back yard ... bring lot's of insect repellent if you go ... enough though they didn't spare me despite my desperate attempts to keep a fresh layer of it on all day ;)

All in all Peru was a great place to visit once ... but I can not see myself going back (any time soon anyways) ... instead of spending some extra days in Lima, Katina and I decided to head to Bunoes Aires for three days ...

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