Author Topic: ˇBienvenido a Perú!  (Read 7459 times)

Offline ponash123

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ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« on: July 29, 2019, 02:07:16 PM »
We recently got back from a fantastic trip to Peru, and it has  been one of our favorite destinations!

Some points regarding Peru in general.

Altitude: the extremely high altitude of Cusco and the Sacred Valley was something that was a bit of a concern to me. I based our schedule around that, spending some time first in the Sacred Valley, before going to Cusco, which is higher. We also had a bit of a lighter schedule for the first 2 days, choosing to take it easy and not overexert ourselves.
Altitude sickness is real thing, but thankfully it didn’t get in our way too much. Most of us experienced slight stomach discomfort and headaches, as well as getting extremely out of breath after just a couple of minutes of walking.
Tylenol and caffeine (coffee or coca tea) helped me personally with the headaches.
The huffing and puffing was something we got used to, though it did make hiking that much more difficult.
It’s important to drink a lot of water and not overwork yourself in the beginning to allow yourself to acclimate.

Weather: because of the high altitude, the sun is extremely strong, and the air is cool, and super dry. This made for some really gorgeous weather. Out in the sun it does get very hot, but in the shade it’s nice and cool and at night we needed a light sweater.
Of course, the Amazon is a whole different ballgame.

Monday:
We touched down in Lima on Monday morning after an uneventful Latam flight from JFK.
Latam, as we have come to know, is not the best of airlines. Although the flights themselves were okay, their services is horrendous and they are extremely unreliable.  They cancelled one of our flights without reasons a few weeks prior, and split up our reservation mid-trip without notifying us.
We were traveling from NY to Lima to Cusco, with a 2-hour stopover in Lima. We thought that would be more than enough time, but alas, we were wrong.
Our luggage was extremely delayed in coming out and they insisted on opening up one of our Pomegranate boxes. Another thing we were unaware of is that baggage closes an hour before departure time. We were also unaware that we would need to pick up our luggage in Lima and recheck it to go to Cusco.
Between all that, by the time we got to check in for our final leg, they would not allow us on. After much deliberation, we were finally placed on a different flight an hour later.
Incidentally, our original flight ended up being delayed 2 hours, which meant that we landed in Cusco earlier than we would’ve had we made that flight. All’s well that ends well!

We landed in Cusco at around 10:30 AM and had a driver waiting for us to go to our hotel in the Sacred Valley, with some stops on the way.
We chose to base ourselves in the Sacred Valley for a couple of days, rather than Cusco, because of the beautiful surrounding mountains, and the proximity to some of the areas we’d be visiting.
We made a quick stop to change money and buy water and we were on our way.
The first stop was Chinchero, which houses a large traditional weaving coop and market. The local women showed us how they dye the Alpaca wool from natural plants and weave it.  We then shopped around a bit from the handmade products.





One of the resident Alpacas:


Chinchero also has a large Sunday market, which we missed, as well as ruins. We chose not to enter the ruins (since we’d be doing so many others) but we did drive to a viewpoint and got some great views of the ruins.


Next stop was Ollantaytambo, and old town and ruins, still set in the old Inca structure.
We greatly enjoyed walking around the cobblestoned towns and exploring the markets. We then entered the Ollantaytambo Fortress on the outskirts of the town.
To enter this site, as well as most popular locations, you will need to purchase a tourist pass called the Boleto Touristico. This allows entry into almost all the sites and ruins around Cusco and the Sacred Valley. It needs to be saved and punched at each location you enter.
The fortress is large and impressive. We climbed about a third of the way up before deciding that a full climb wouldn’t be the best idea with the altitude.
Still, we were able to get an idea of how it’s structured and greatly enjoyed the views.






We headed to our hotel, which was a mere 15 minutes from Ollantaytambo.
Casa Andina Valle Sagrado is a beautiful hotel nestled in the Sacred Valley. The views are incredible, and the cabin we got was beautiful and spacious.




Our villa:


To be continued…
« Last Edit: July 29, 2019, 02:41:22 PM by ponash123 »

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2019, 02:24:49 PM »
Tuesday:
After a relaxed morning enjoying the amenities of our hotel, we were then picked up for our drive to Moray and Maras.
The drive along the way had incredible views of the Sacred Valley.






We chose to do an ATV tour as an alternative way to see the sites we wanted to see.
We met our guide, got basic instructions, and were on our way. It was incredibly exhilarating to be driving an ATV in the valley with amazing views, people, and animals surrounding.



Moray is an archaeological site that contains unusual Inca ruins of farming terraces. It’s extremely picturesque and was quite interesting to see. (Entry is included in the Boleto Touristico.)








Salinas De Maras are ancient salt mines in the city of Maras. There are thousands of small pools dug into the side of a mountain that are fed by a small local stream.
These are still in use today and the salt is harvested by the local families.











Wednesday:
Our third day in Peru was an exciting one – it was Machu Picchu day!
Going to Machu Picchu is a lot easier and quicker from the Sacred Valley than it is from Cusco. We took a taxi to the Ollantaytambo train station for our morning train ride to Machu Picchu.
There are several train options, all of which are pretty pricey. Going to Machu Picchu is going to cost you and there’s no way around it.
Hiking the Inca Trail is also expensive and takes 4 really physically taxing days, so it’s not something we had considered.
We chose to do the afternoon shift at Machu Picchu so as to avoid the crowds and avoid waking up at an ungodly hour.
We enjoyed our 90-minute train ride on the Vistadome train which has panoramic windows to appreciate the beautiful scenery along the way. It’s a beautiful train in which they serve snacks and drinks and you can comfortably enjoy the ride through the Andes Mountains.









We arrived at the small town of Agua Calientes which is located just a short distance from Machu Picchu. We walked through the station and the markets to buy our bus tickets up to Machu Picchu.






The bus lines are long but there are many leaving at all times, so it moves fast.
After a 20-minute harrowing bus ride, we were finally at the entrance of the Incan masterpiece.
We presented our tickets (bought a while in advance) and our passports and were able to walk through. We then chose a guide from the many that were milling about. We knew about how much we wanted to spend on our group and found one that we liked that met our budget. We were very happy with her as she was friendly, knowledgeable, and professional in every way.
We walked up and around a bit until we rounded the corner and Machu Picchu was there before us.
It was incredibly surreal, appearing larger than life.










There are several options of how to spend your time in Machu Picchu. We chose to do the Inca Bridge Trail before heading down to the city itself. Not many people do it, which is a shame, as it’s definitely worth seeing and the lack of tourists along this narrow dizzying trail makes a nice escape from the selfie-taking masses down below.
The views from the trail are stunning, with rainforest, rivers, canyons, and mountains stretching out below and beyond the path.
It was not particularly difficult; however, the steps were harder than usual for us due to the high altitude and the beating sun.





Once we had finished the trek and were done admiring the views, we headed down to the city of Machu Picchu.
We spent some time going through the rooms and getting a history of what every structure was used for.
It’s fascinating to see how the Incas lived and how they built such structures so long ago.
Many people spend a few hours exploring the city. While it was certainly interesting to us, there’s only so long you can spend wandering around ruins hearing things that are entirely conjecture. 45 minutes was enough for us and we headed out, making sure to get our passports stamped on the way.












We took the bus down to Agua Calientes and spent some time shopping in the markets while waiting for our train.
We chose to take the Expedition, a slightly less expensive train back, as it was dark outside, and the large windows were not necessary. As it turned out, there was a train stuck on the tracks which delayed ours about an hour.
We arrived back at Ollantaytambo, caught a cab back to our hotel and called it a night.


Online Dawie

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2019, 02:41:35 PM »
Spectacular!

Offline Joe4007

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2019, 04:58:26 PM »
Great TR! Thanks for sharing!

Offline tavster

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 05:10:45 AM »
Great TR and stunning pictures. Which camera do you use?

Offline Moshe26

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019, 08:19:39 AM »
Amazing TR!! Thanks!

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2019, 03:12:47 PM »
Thursday:
Thursday morning saw us packing up and checking out of Casa Andina for our day on the road. We planned on making our way up to Cusco, while making several stops along the way.
Our first stop was Cerámicas Seminario, a charming ceramics workshop and gallery in Urubamba.
What was intended as a quick stop, turned into a 2-hour fascinating visit. We were spellbound by the artist Pablo and his wife and the beautiful pieces of art they produce. Of course we ended up purchasing some of their items as well.







About 45 minutes away is the village of Pisac. We planned to do the ruins and hike down, as opposed to the difficult hike up, which we thought would be too strenuous.
In order to begin the descent, there’s quite a bit of uphill climbing that needs to be done. After just a few minutes of breathless constant uphills, and numerous extremely steep steps down, we realized this wasn’t going to be as simple as expected.
The altitude and ferociously beating sun made it that much more difficult, and probably doubled our time coming down.
The silver-lining? The expansive Pisac ruins blew us away. The stonework is phenomenal, we got to climb through a tight cave, it’s got superb dizzying views of the Sacred Valley, and we were practically the only ones there. 
In the end, we greatly enjoyed the hike, even though it was a bit more intense that we had anticipated.
Entry is covered by the Boleto Touristico.













The Pisac market is one of the biggest ones in the Sacred Valley and Thursdays are one of the busiest days. We had a great time strolling through the market and shopping.







Good and wiped, we drove about an hour to Cusco and checked into our hotel, Esplendor.
We chose Esplendor Cusco largely based on its location and proximity to Chabad. It’s cheap, decent, clean, and a 3-minute walk to Chabad, so it served our purposes beautifully.

Friday:
Friday was a leisurely relaxed day spent exploring Cusco. There’s not that much to do in Cusco-Proper that’s not in the way of museums and temples, so we spent a bit of time just wandering around.
We explored Plaza De Armas and walked through the street. We also explored the San Pedro market, which is a great local market and is down the block from Esplendor.








We also visited Sacsayhuamán, an ancient stone wall complex located about 15 minutes from Cusco city. It’s quite impressive since the stones are absolutely massive and weighing up to 360 tons each. They are fit together with unbelievable precision and with no mortar.
Entry is covered by the Boleto Touristico.










Shabbos:
We spent Shabbos with the Cusco Chabad, eating Friday night and Shabbos day meals there. It’s one of the largest Chabad centers in the world, and the meal had close to 200 people there.
They are incredibly welcoming to all the guests and we greatly enjoyed our Shabbos there.
We also went back there for havdala and enjoyed a great Melava Malka of pizza. (Fun fact! They are the only Chabad center in the world that makes their own cheese).


We got an early night as we were waking up at dawn the next morning to head out to the Amazon!

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2019, 04:23:11 PM »
Great TR and stunning pictures. Which camera do you use?

Thank you!
Pictures are taken on a variety of devices. The really great ones were taken on a Sony A600.

Offline PBaruch

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #8 on: August 07, 2019, 04:29:15 PM »
Nicely written up.  Great TR.  Just curious what you did about food when you were not with Chabad. 
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #9 on: August 07, 2019, 04:49:09 PM »
Nicely written up.  Great TR.  Just curious what you did about food when you were not with Chabad.

Thank you! I still have a couple of days left, just need to find time to write it up  :)

We brought lots of food with us. A combination of Pomegranate meals for dinner and various other items for breakfast and lunch.

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #10 on: August 07, 2019, 04:58:32 PM »
Thank you! I still have a couple of days left, just need to find time to write it up  :)

We brought lots of food with us. A combination of Pomegranate meals for dinner and various other items for breakfast and lunch.

No problems bringing in food through customs in Peru?
What do you do after your dreams come true?

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2019, 09:38:34 AM »
No problems bringing in food through customs in Peru?
Nope. They did open up one of our Pomegranate boxes, just to confirm that it was food, but that was it. 

Offline sam28

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #12 on: August 08, 2019, 10:52:04 AM »
wow amazing TR and pictures keep it coming . how did u plan all this ?

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #13 on: August 08, 2019, 01:13:25 PM »
wow amazing TR and pictures keep it coming . how did u plan all this ?

Thanks.
Lots of research!

Offline yoohoo

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #14 on: August 08, 2019, 01:19:21 PM »
nice

Offline iluv2travel

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2019, 11:10:53 AM »
Wow! Jaw dropping amazing TR! Incredible trip, will need to add to my bucket list (which is getting to be quite long)

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2019, 12:09:46 PM »
Wow! Jaw dropping amazing TR! Incredible trip, will need to add to my bucket list (which is getting to be quite long)

Thank you!

Offline ponash123

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2019, 02:16:34 PM »
Sunday:
We got a super early start Sunday morning for our trip to the Amazon. From Cusco airport, we took a flight to Lima. After a short stopover in Lima, we got on a 2-hour flight to Iquitos.
Iquitos, located in the north of Peru, is the largest city in the world that is not accessible by land and is the gateway to the Amazon.
As we were coming in, we saw the actual Amazon River beneath us, and it was quite surreal and a hugely exciting moment. I may or may not have done a jig in my seat.





We landed in the miniscule airport and were immediately assaulted by the thick humidity. Coming from the cool dry air in the Andes, this was quite an abrupt change.
There are a couple of ways to experience the Amazon, jungle lodges being the most common. We chose to be a bit more adventurous and chose to stay in a treehouse!
The airport itself is one room. It was quite funny to see them load the luggage, literally through a hole in the wall, and when we walked into the airport, we see it coming out the other side on a conveyor belt.



Our guide from the lodge was waiting at the airport so after dousing ourselves in OFF, we loaded into the van and were off.
Iquitos itself is quite dilapidated and run down. We didn’t spend too much time there, but we enjoyed driving through and seeing the sights.
We had an hour and a half car ride from the airport to the riverside town of Nauta. It should be noted that the time there is ‘Peruvian Time’ and is generally a lot longer than it sounds.
At Nauta, they loaded our luggage on one small boat, and us onto another.   We then had another 90-minute boat to reach our lodge.

Our boats:


By the time we reached the lodge, we had been up since 3:30 AM, had traveled by car, plane, car again, and boat, and were hungry and hot. But our excitement mounted as our boat pulled up.
The Treehouse Lodge is located on the Yarapa River, a tributary of the Amazon River. The treehouses stand tall, the highest being 60 feet off the ground. They come equipped with a toilet, shower, and clean comfortable beds. There is no hot water, and a paltry trickle of water emerges from the showerhead, but it does the trick.
It’s built on and into a tree, so sap is constantly dripping, making it look like someone came and bled on the floor.
There are mosquito nets on the treehouse, and on each bed, so the bugs are not too bad.
There is a central treehouse as well which is used as the dining area, kitchen, and a second floor which is a lounge area.
Our treehouse was the largest one, and it was triple decker treehouse.

Entrance to main 'lobby':














Shower:


Main treehouse / dining room:



We spoke with the kitchen staff about our needs, and then sat with our guide to discuss the next few days.
Every group gets assigned a guide at the beginning of your stay and you craft an itinerary suited to your interests.
Our guide was really knowledgeable and friendly and took care of all our needs throughout the day.

We wanted to do an evening excursion that wouldn’t require too much effort from us, so we settled on, what they call, Nighttime Caiman Spotting.
We went out on a boat and enjoyed the sounds and sights of the jungle wildlife. We used our headlamps to spot different birds and fish.
We then started looking for the red lights that are the caimans’ eyes. We spotted several, but they disappeared as we got close.
Eventually, we slowly brought our boat close, and our guide reached out grabbed a baby caiman with his bare hands, bringing into the boat!
We all took a turn holding it, being sure to keep our hands tight around its mouth so no fingers become dinner. After we had our fill, we let him back into the water unharmed. 




« Last Edit: August 12, 2019, 02:43:16 PM by ponash123 »

Offline shwarmabob

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2019, 02:24:55 PM »
wow  ;D

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Re: ˇBienvenido a Perú!
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2019, 02:30:01 PM »


Epic shot!

And that treehouse looks amazing.
Check out my site for epic kosher adventures: Kosher Horizons