Friendly Planet Blog

Posts Tagged ‘Machu Picchu’

Experience histories and mysteries in Easter Island and Peru

At Friendly Planet, we’re crazy about exotic destinations, so you can imagine my excitement about our latest package. We’ve bundled together two of the world’s most wondrous sights — the massive, mysterious moai statues on Easter Island in the South Pacific, and the lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, high in the Peruvian Andes. And we’re doing it in major style, too.

Check out some of the images of the wonderful places we’ll be staying, as you browse pictures of the fascinating and exotic destinations themselves. Having just returned from both Easter Island and Peru, I can personally vouch for the transformative nature of this trip. You will definitely have an amazing time.

Here are some photos that I hope will give you an idea of what Easter Island and Peru have to offer, and maybe entice you to join us, too.

Ahu Tongariki is the largest ahu on Easter Island. An ahu is a stone platform, and it holds up moai. Moai are stone figures made to represent the living faces of deified ancestors. Toppled during civil wars and by a subsequent tsunami, the moai were restored in the ’90s. With the heaviest weighing around 86 tons, their remarkable creation remains one of the biggest mysteries of Easter Island.

More moai sit at Rano Raraku on Easter Island, a volcanic crater that supplied the stone from which about 95 percent of the moai were carved. Today, 397 moai remain at this World Heritage Site.
Even though Easter Island is technically a part of Chile, it finds itself influenced by its Polynesian roots. Here people enjoy singing and dancing to the music of their culture.
A Rapa Nui warrior does a traditional Kari Kari dance with other dancers in Easter Island. Often these type of ceremonial dances tell the stories of the island’s early Rapanui people.
The Rapanui are the native Polynesian inhabitants of Easter Island, and most speak Spanish. With under 5,000 occupants on the island, you’re sure to get to know and interact with these friendly people.
Many claim that Easter Island is the most remote inhabited island in the world, and the culture remains pristine.
Machu Picchu, also known as the lost city of the Incas in Peru, remained hidden from the outside world in the mist-covered green mountains above the rushing Urubamba River for centuries. The complex consists of giant walls, terraces, and ramps constructed from precisely cut rock formations. Current historians believe it served as a country retreat town for Inca nobility.

The weaving village of Chinchero is worth a trip from Cusco. Mama and baby are adorable, but what you can’t see is that the mama is spinning alpaca wool with her hands while her baby rests comfortably on her back. The Chinchero women are master weavers, and you can buy gorgeous, handmade alpaca goods directly from them.

“Love Park” is located in Cusco, Peru. It’s a sweet little park that is completely encircled in this decorative mosaic tile. Check out the couple sitting in the curve of the wall.

Here’s proof that my husband Ilan and I traveled to Machu Picchu. You can’t actually get the feeling of being up so high, among such majestic mountains, without actually being there yourself. But I hope the image gives you an idea. It is spectacular, and probably one of the singularly great travel experiences of my life.

This is just a sample of the sights you’ll experience on your own if you book a seat on our Exotic Easter Island and Machu Picchu tour. For full details, check out the full itinerary of this tour

Friendly Planet Travel Winner’s Circle: Update on Peru winner

Since there is still some time before I choose the fifth Win the World Facebook Sweepstakes winner, I thought now would be a good time to catch up with one of our past winners to see how her free trip went.

Our Friendly Planet Travel blogger Caitlin first sat down with our second Win the World winner, Lillian Mayes, to interview her right after she won the all-expenses-paid trip to Peru. In this interview, Lillian explained that she was most excited about visiting Machu Picchu.

We thought we’d bring Lillian back to tell us how her trip went and hear how she liked the Inca ruins. You’ll also get the inside scoop about what it’s like to take a Friendly Planet Travel tour. Listen to this podcast below!

                                                                                                             

Thanks for speaking with us again, Lillian. I’m so happy that you had an amazing time in Peru! I hope to see you again on another Friendly Planet Travel tour.

If you’re on the go, you can also right click on this link, and select “save link as” to download it to your computer and save it to your mobile device. And be sure to scroll down to see some pictures from Lillian’s trip.

Lillian’s tour group
Lillian posing with some Peruvians
Lillian and her husband at Machu Picchu 
Going on a horseback riding adventure
Visiting Lake Titicaca

Win an all-expenses-paid trip to Peru on Friendly Planet Travel’s “Win the World” Facebook giveaway

I can’t tell you how excited I was to make the call to Jamie Bartlett, the first winner in our “Win the World” Facebook giveaway. Hearing the excitement in his voice as I told him that he’ll be going on a 14-day trip to Cape Town and Johannesburg was a highlight of my year (even if the year is only six weeks old).

Jamie and a friend will be on their way to South Africa, all expenses paid, but we have five more tours to give away until July. The next one up? Peru, a $6,500 value! Wouldn’t it be nice if, instead of Jamie, it was you this time?

It can be! All you have to do to enter is hit our Facebook page and fill out the entry form. If you entered to win the Best of South Africa tour, don’t fret — your name is still in the running to be picked for Peru and our next destination, China. But if you haven’t invited all your friends to enter, you’re missing out on extra chances to win.

For every friend you refer that enters, your name gets added to the list again. You can increase your chances to win exponentially by telling your significant other, family, and everyone you know (over the age of 21, that is) to enter. It can’t get much easier than that!

Our Amazing Peru tour is one of our most visually beautiful and fascinating destinations. The winner of this trip will get to savor the sites, including Lima, Peru’s capital city; the Paracas National Reserve in Paracas; and Cuzco, capital of the ancient Inca Empire. The winner will be able to shop in local Peruvian markets for homemade goods; see ancient sights like Machu Picchu, a mystical stone courtyard thought to be the country retreat for Incan nobility; and plenty more, all while interacting with the locals and taking in the culture of Peru.

The winner of the tour, along with a guest, will get round-trip flights from Miami via LAN Airlines, including fuel surcharges, taxes, and fees; all ground transportation and transfers within Peru; and a deluxe hotel stay with a private bath. The prize package also includes 11 buffet breakfasts, two lunches, and two dinners; comprehensive touring, including entrance fees; a Ballestas Islands boat excursion (weather permitting); and English-speaking tour guides and directors.

There’s more where that came from! The full itinerary is available on our website, so you can start dreaming of the exact things you’ll do and people you’ll meet while traveling in Peru. But you have to enter on our Facebook page to qualify!

So what are you waiting for? Hop over to our Facebook page to enter to win a fantastic tour to Peru! Maybe I’ll be calling you in a month to tell you what you’ve won. :-)

Getaway Dossier: The side of South America you should see

Machu Picchu

We added three new South American tours to the Friendly Planet mix last week, so for my next Getaway Dossier, I thought I’d share my knowledge about all things South America to help you plan your next trip, whether you’ve already booked it or are considering one.

The most recognizable landmark on this continent is probably the Amazon River, but there’s much more of South America’s natural beauty and ancient history worth seeing. Here are my recommendations for the best things to see, do, and know about South America before the plane leaves the tarmac.

Weather: Opposites attract. Since South America is on the opposite side of the equator from us in the U.S., the seasons are a mirror of ours. When it’s summer here, it’s winter in South America, and vice versa. The most temperate times to visit South America are the spring and the fall, which is when the temperatures are the mildest.

The rainy season is in the summer (December to March). However, the rain doesn’t normally last long on any given day. Lima, located on the western coast, has moderate weather year-round with mild temperatures and cloudy skies. Rio de Janeiro, located on the east coast, is also temperate 12 months out of the year, making it a great place to visit.

In Machu Picchu on the southwest side of the country, and at the Iguazu Falls on the eastern side, the days are warm and humid. If you’re traveling anywhere with higher altitudes, dressing in layers is a must because temperatures will drop significantly at night.

Food: BBQ can’t be beat. South America boasts fantastic tropical fruits, such as coconut, mango, guava, pineapple, papaya, and more. And its seafood can’t be missed, especially in coastal towns. My absolute favorite thing to eat when I’m in Brazil is churrasco, also known as Brazilian barbecue.

Meat is cooked on huge skewers over an open fire. Then, waiters come by your table and slice it hot off the skewer right onto your plate. If your stomach is a bottomless pit, you’ll love this: When you’re ready for seconds, thirds, or fourths, just hit the button on your table and a waiter will be at your side with fresh, hot meat.

Restaurants that serve churrasco appear most typically in Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu, but can be found all over the country as well. If you’re not much of a meat eater, most metropolitan areas offer a varied range of cuisine.

Currency: Tip the right way. Three of the most common countries to visit in South America are Peru, Argentina, and Brazil, and each has its own currency. The currency in Peru is the nuevo sol; in Argentina, it’s the peso; and in Brazil, it’s the real.

In restaurants in Peru, an 18 percent service charge is included in the bill if you pay with a credit card. If you’re paying in cash, there isn’t a fee so you should tip between 5 and 10 percent. In Argentinean restaurants, tip 5 percent of the bill if your service charge was added and 10 percent if it wasn’t. Tip movie ushers and bus terminal porters 1 peso, and air terminal porters 2 pesos per suitcase. As for tipping in Brazil, a 10 percent tip is usually included in the restaurant bill, but you can leave more if your service was especially good.

Tip cab drivers no more than 10 percent, and tip bellboys, porters, or concierges about 1 real per luggage item or for any help they provided.

Iguazu Falls

Landmarks: It’s all about the falls. Iguazu Falls straddles the border of Argentina and Brazil, and consists of 275 smaller falls and islands. They’re believed to be 200,000 years old and are absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to see the falls from both sides. The Argentinian side at Devil’s Throat is the most famous place to take in the spectacular views. There are also boat and helicopter rides that take you up close and personal with this natural beauty (weather permitting). The falls might be the main attraction, but be sure to visit a fantastic bird sanctuary nearby. You can see dozens of exotic species of birds, as well as butterfly and hummingbird exhibits.

Culture: Appreciate the modern and the ancient. South America is a fantastic mix of old and new. It’s inspired by the traditions of its historical culture while keeping in step with modern society. This is one of the aspects that makes the continent so beautiful. When you visit, you’ll see wonderfully modern cities with every imaginable amenity. Then you’ll visit places like Sacred Valley, where the people still honor the traditions of their ancestors in their everyday life.

Don’t forget: Layers, layers, layers. You’ll probably be experiencing significant weather changes from one location to the next, so I’d say the most important thing to remember when traveling to South America is to dress in layers. Make sure you wear good walking shoes, and bring sunscreen and bug repellent. Much of South America is in the rainforest, so you’ll definitely be happy you brought these along!

The tours we offer to these destinations highlight the history and wonder of ancient South America, and the emerging culture of its cities. It’s a beautiful continent and different from anything here in the U.S. — that’s what makes it so special.

For the full itineraries on our three new tours, visit our website. And if you have any questions, write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

Mark Machu Picchu’s 100th anniversary on Friendly Planet’s new South America tour

Machu Picchu

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu, also known as the lost city of the Incas. American historian Hiram Bingham is credited with bringing South America’s most iconic archeological site to the world’s attention in 1911. And travelers have been flocking to Peru ever since to see the Inca’s architectural masterpiece.

Machu Picchu’s history is quite remarkable. It remained hidden from the outside world in the mist-covered green mountains above the rushing Urubamba River for centuries. The complex consists of giant walls, terraces, and ramps constructed from precisely cut rock formations. Current historians believe it served as a country retreat town for Inca nobility.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this milestone then to see it in person, along with South America’s iconic natural wonder, Iguazu Falls. For the first time ever, Friendly Planet Travel is packaging two of South America’s most significant destinations together on the nine-day Jewels of South America tour.

The distance between Iguazu Falls and Machu Picchu has historically made it difficult to link them together inexpensively on one tour. But we’re now able to thanks to LAN Airlines new flight route between Lima, Peru and Iguazu, Brazil. LAN also introduced a new flight route from Peru to Easter Island, which lets us offer a four-day extension to the island for the first time.

Iguazu Falls

The Jewels of South America tour begins on the border of Argentina and Brazil at Iguazu Falls. The Falls consist of 275 inlets and cataracts cascading down 250 feet, framed by multiple rainbows and mist that rise up to 500 feet in the air.

The next afternoon, jump over to the Brazilian side of the Falls. Walk along the pathways through the sub-tropical rainforest into the canyon on the Falls for an incredible, up-close view. That evening you depart for Lima, Peru where you travel through the magnificent Urubamba River Valley to the picturesque Andean village of Chinchero. By train you proceed to Machu Picchu. It is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and enigmatic archeological sites in the world.

Continue to Cuzco for a walking tour of the capital of the Inca Empire that is located 11,000 feet above sea level. Spend your last day in Lima, the City of Kings and the country’s capital where you enjoy an authentic farewell dinner.

If want to spend more time in South America, we have two extensions you can take advantage of. You can start your tour early with a four-day, pre-tour extension in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Also known as the Paris of the South, Buenos Aires is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own flavor, but everywhere the people are warm and welcoming.

Easter Island

Or opt for the four-day, post-tour extension to Easter Island, Chile. It is one of the most exotic, isolated islands in the world and is best known for the incredible moai built out of volcanic rock.

Packaged in the price, from just $1,899, are roundtrip flights from Miami via LAN Airlines, including fuel surcharges; all intra-South America flights and transfers; accommodations in superior hotels with private bath; daily breakfast and one farewell dinner; comprehensive guided sightseeing tours including entrance fees; and professional, English-speaking tour directors and guides.

See for yourself why travelers agree that among all the glorious and inspiring sites of South America, Machu Picchu and Iguazu Falls stand out as jewels of the continent. Book the Jewels of South America tour for $1,899 by Dec. 15.

For the full itinerary, visit our website. And if you have any question write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

After Peru mudslide, Machu Picchu reopens today

I wanted to start the week off with some good news. But before I tell you, let me bring you up to speed on what was happening in Peru. A massive mudslide occurred on Jan. 26 that closed cities, suspended all transportation, shut down tourist attractions, and more.

Since then, the country has been working hard to repair the damage. On the top of the list was reopening Machu Picchu, which is among the most important and popular tourist destinations in this hemisphere. I’m happy to report that PeruRail will resume service to Machu Picchu starting today!

I’m looking forward to bringing travel back to Peru’s most spectacular site. When we first heard about the mudslide, we got very busy. Two of our tours, Amazing Peru and Peru, Ecuador and Galapagos were directly affected.

If you’re wondering how Friendly Planet handled this force majeure, let me tell you what we did to accommodate our travelers. First, we immediately contacted our suppliers and made sure that there were no penalties associated with any of the options we were giving our travelers. Then we gave everyone four options to choose from.

Travelers could go on the same tour, but with an adjusted itinerary. The next option was to schedule a later departure date and receive a $100 credit to help with costs associated with changing domestic flights. Lastly, if travelers didn’t like either of those options, they could book any other Friendly Planet tour or, if travelers found none of the options appealing, they could get a full refund.

When situations such as these occur, we do everything possible for our travelers so they avoid incurring extra costs and experience as little inconvenience as possible. I put myself in their shoes. Telling them their tour is canceled because something happened that was beyond their control, and then letting them cope with the consequences themselves, is simply not an option for Friendly Planet.

In the case of Peru, I think we did a terrific job accommodating our travelers. Now that tours to one of the most stunning sites in the world is back in business, take a trip to see Machu Picchu. It’s one location everyone should see. If you want to experience it, book our 12-day Amazing Peru tour or the 15-day Peru, Ecuador and Galapagos tour.

Amazing Peru: Machu Picchu and the end of the road

As the last part of my Peru series, I want to tell you about one of the most amazing sights in the world: Machu Picchu.

FP_Peru9.JPGWe woke up early for our train ride to Machu Picchu, which was a very scenic and memorable experience on its own. Once we arrived at the base village, with the Urubamba River running right through its center, we took a bus to the top of the mountain.

Once again, this bus ride alone was amazing and the anticipation continued to build on this 25-minute ride on a road that snaked its way through the mountain. As the bus arrived at the top of the mountain, we took care of the admission formalities and began our hike to the actual site of Machu Picchu.

The terrain and steps just to get to a viewable height was difficult to navigate even for me, and as we got to the knoll for our first views, it was amazing. We were level with the clouds, and could see the entire site of the ruins from our vantage point.

FP_Peru15.JPGAfter some guided touring, my girlfriend and I explored for about an hour and a half independently. There were many different trails to investigate, each of them marked with the difficulty level. We were surrounded by thousands of people walking around in awe. Llamas were also plentiful, chewing the grass and keeping the site free of overgrowth.

FP_Peru16.JPGIt felt as if we were literally a five-minute walk from the surface of the sun, and I had the sunburn to prove it (even though I did use lotion).

Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay forever, and we made our way back to the bus which took us back down the mountain.

We were off to Puno. On our drive, we again experienced the vast differences in the regions of Peru. Some of the areas we traveled through were desolate. And some were roughly populated by humans who raise of llamas or cows. We also saw the ice caps on some of the distant mountains.

Once we arrived in Puno, we went out on Lake Titicaca and visited the floating islands of Uros. This island floats 30 meters above the bottom of the lake, and is made of woven weeds and naturally floating vegetable roots.

We continued on deeper into the lake to visit Taquile Island, close to the border of Bolivia. Again we saw many ice-capped mountains in the distance. On Taquile Island, there was a huge festival with music, drinking, and food. We ate lunch on the island, enjoyed the views from high above the lake, and eventually headed back to Puno by boat.

My Amazing Peru trip was coming to an end, and it was bittersweet. After 11 days on the road, I was happy to get back to my own bed, but I was sad to leave the beautiful country, friendly people, and wonderful scenery that I had the privilege of visiting.

If you have any questions about Friendly Planet Travel’s Amazing Peru trip, I’d be happy to answer them. You can leave them in the comments here, or send me an e-mail. And for some more photos of my incredibly journey, have a look at the Friendly Planet Travel Flickr page.

More Amazing Peru

Yesterday I told you a little bit about my recent trip to Peru with Friendly Planet Travel, and I have so much more to tell. When I left off, we were at the incredibly beautiful Ballestas Islands.

The next day we flew into Cusco. The high altitude began to take effect, but I chewed on cocoa leaves that I bought at the airport, which helped somewhat. After checking into a hotel in the middle of town, we had some time to relax and acclimate before taking a walking tour of the city.

During the walk, we visited an old Incan temple converted to Spanish. We continued to walk to what we were told is the “most important church” in South America.

After the tour, we stayed up and enjoyed some authentic Peruvian wine with our guide and some of our group members. Helpful hint: Wine in the hotel is about 8 USD per glass, but there is a store around the corner where you can get a bottle for 5 USD.

From Cuzco, we headed to the Sacred Valley, stopping at the Pisac market on the way to pick up some souvenirs. Then we were back on the bus for a drive to the Incan ruins of Ollantaytambo, located at the foot of a spectacular mountain. These buildings are what protected the strategic entrance to the lower Urubamba Valley, also known as the Sacred Valley.

The temple area is at the top of a series of steep terraces, which helped provide excellent defenses. Stone used for these buildings was brought from a quarry high up on the opposite side of the Urubamba river — an incredible feat involving the efforts of thousands of workers.

FP_Peru6_small.JPGThe complex, still under construction at the time of the conquest by Spain, was never completed. This was a very interesting sight, which was also discussed in the book that I read while on trip (and I’m still reading: “The Last Days of the Incas”).

After visiting the ruins, we had lunch in the small village below, and I also saw one of my favorite sites on the whole trip: a small monkey riding on a dog’s back! Even our tour guide said he had never seen anything like it. Looks like one of the town’s many strays was adopted … by a monkey.

FP_Peru14_small.JPGWe then headed back to our hotel in the middle of the mountains for the remainder of the evening with the anticipation of visiting Machu Picchu starting to build … which seems like the perfect spot to leave you today. So make sure you come back tomorrow to hear all about it!

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

Tour & Cruise Packages Our specialty for 30 years! Find one now:
choose a region Europe Mediterranean Asia Middle East Africa Central America Caribbean South America South Pacific
  • Follow Friendly Planet Share the love of travel
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • Pinterest
McAfee SECURE sites help keep you safe from identity theft, credit card fraud, spyware, spam, viruses and online scams
Great Greece Giveaway: You could win a trip for 2 to Greece worth up to $6100!