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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!

Amazing stories from Amazing Peru

As many of you know, I just got back from an incredible two-week trip to Peru on our Amazing Peru.

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While I was there, I kept Friendly Planteers back home abreast of our adventures through Twitter.

And of course, I took a ton of photos, a few of which I posted on the Friendly Planet Travel Flickr page. Now that I’m back, I can’t wait to tell you all about it. So keep your eyes here on the Friendly Planet Travel blog this week, because I’ll be sharing a new experience each day, beginning today!

During my two-week travel experience of Peru with my girlfriend Kelly, I truly got a sense of many different parts of the country and the different people that make up the unique Peruvian culture.

Starting with Lima, there was a great urban atmosphere that changed slightly as I traveled through the different boroughs that make up the city.
With English as my only verbal form of communication, and Spanish as the Peruvian language, hand signals and laughter were a universal way to correspond between nationalities; and I never felt uncomfortable or out of place.

As an American in a foreign country, I was still able to take public taxis, walk the streets at night, and thoroughly enjoy myself in Lima.
A bike tour of the city, facilitated by Bike Tours of Lima gave me a better sense of the history and different aspects that make Lima the city that it is now.

Driving south along the Pacific coast, from Lima to Ica, the landscape changed from urban to desert after only a few miles. Having never seen a desert before, I enjoyed the great views and the vastness, with constant views of the ocean along the way.

Just south of Ica, we visited the ancient city of Nazca: home of the famous Nazca lines.
I sat in the co-pilot seat as a five-person prop plane flew me over the Nazca Desert so that I could witness, first hand, the unique qualities that make these vast drawings, of unknown origin, such an attraction.

Further north, I visited the town of Paracas so that I could see the Ballestas Islands, a.k.a. “the mini Galapagos.” In a speed boat, a few miles off shore, I witnessed many different birds, seals, and even penguins. There were literally hundreds of seals, swimming, sunning, and sleeping amongst the thousands of birds and dozens of penguins. Besides the amazing wildlife, the islands themselves also had beauty and uniqueness as the current and waves splashed through the tiny caves and crevices.

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For more incredible photos of my Peruvian adventure, don’t forget to have a look at the Flickr page. And stay tuned, because tomorrow I’ll fill you in on more of my trip to Amazing Peru.

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

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