Pampered in Peru
Lima was a surprise, full of Spanish colonial architecture and wide boulevards. Our Peruvian guide took us along a windy route through the cities old town and even into a huge, spooky ancient crypt that I doubt we would have discovered on our own. I love walking around a city with a local, as they point things out to you that you may never have noticed and usually know where to get the best coffee!
We flew on to Puerto Maldonado and from there took a riverboat along a tributary of the Amazon to our Jungle Lodge, Corto Maltes. We could barely see it from the river, as it was so well hidden within the jungle. This lodge was teeming with wildlife; toucans and parrots flew everywhere and as the sun went down, the noise from the insects and frogs and birds was exactly as I had imagined, but louder! I loved this lodge, it is run by a French couple, and the food was practically haute cuisine, and all grown and reared locally. We spent three days here, taking boat trips, relaxing in hammocks on our private decks, swimming in the jungle pool. It was just a small taste of Amazon life but I felt very lucky to be there and experience this lush landscape, more alive than anywhere I’ve been before.
Next we flew to Cuzco. Known as a starting point for trips to the Sacred Valley, it is so beautiful I could have easily stayed longer. Surrounded by a really stunning mountain landscape, Cuzco is bustling, friendly, full of shops and cafés. We then took a short bus trip to Aguas Calientes, as staying the night here means being among the first to reach Machu Picchu the next morning. I quite liked the higgledy piggledy ramshackle town with its swirling white-water river. We woke in the middle of the night to be the first to board the gorgeous bright blue Inca train at sunrise. The train was full of early riser tourists but also local people heading to the world-famous Machu Picchu to sell their wares. The site itself was far larger than I imagined and once again having our own guide who has been with us all along, meant that we avoided queues for tours and could get straight in there. He brought us around the site via an alternative route, so we didn’t miss anything but weren’t traipsing round with hundreds of others either.
Another flight, this time to Puno, our base for a trip to Lake Titicaca. Here we visited the floating islands of the Uru people. Only a few hundred people now live on these islands made from reeds grown on the lake. Such a unique and disappearing way of life, it was really interesting to walk on the bouncy reeds and very hard to imagine allowing your babies to crawl around on them as the locals do, they were totally fearless!! This trip offered me a varied, colourful, easy insight into Peru, mostly showing me how it was in the past. I was most struck by the ingenuity of the Incas and the architectural skill they showed, in creating complex towns and cities in remote mountainous landscapes, capable of surviving earthquakes and invasions. I will return some day and hike the Sacred Valley, but for now, this snapshot was a joy.