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Huanchaco & Chan Chan

11 Dec

The distances and time it takes to travel on buses in Latin America never fails to astound us. You assume that half an inch on the map will take just a couple of hours but, in reality, your bus ride could take all day or longer. In these situations we’ve found that searching for a place to visit between your starting point and final destination will often form a pleasant break and help to save your sanity. Planning our 30 hour journey between Huaraz, a mountainous region North-East of Lima, to Chachapoyas, a jungle area of the Northern Highlands, we decided that just such an interlude was required.

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The mysterious Nazca Lines

1 Nov

The mysterious Nazca Lines are spread over 500 square kilometres in a dusty, desert landscape in the South of Peru. The lines were first discovered in 1927 when a Peruvian archeologist, Toribio Mejia Xesspe, spotted them whilst walking in the nearby foothills, however, they were largely ignored by the outside world. In 1939, a historian from Long Island University in the United States took a flight over the area and upon seeing these giant lines and figures etched into the ground, he made it his duty to inform the world about them. Every year since, more formations have been discovered and there is presently a striking network of over 80 lines, 300 geometric figures and around 70 animals. In 1994 the site was honoured with UNESCO World Heritage status.

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Lost City of the Incas – Machu Picchu

23 Oct

Our blaring alarm jolted us from deep sleep at 4.00am like a bad nightmare. We tiredly pulled on several layers of clothes, grabbed our pre-packed day bag and left our hotel at 4.30am in the pitch black. We carried torches as just outside of town there were no street lights. It took around 30 minutes to reach the start of a strenuous one hour up-hill climb which leads to the entry point of Machu Picchu. In the dark we were joined by dozens of other people also making the climb in order to be allowed first entrance at 6.00am and have the chance to see a spectacular sunrise over the site.

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Pilgrimage to Machu Picchu – The Salkantay trek

21 Oct

Machu Picchu is considered to be one of the new 10 Wonders of the World and the legendary Inca Trail, a 4 day and 3 night trek following the old Inca road, is the most popular way to reach the site, taking in several smaller archeological sites along the way and reaching Machu Picchu for sunrise on day 4. Over the last 10 years or so the Inca Trail seems to have become a victim of its own success. Several years ago it became necessary to limit the number of trekkers using the trail as the sheer volume of traffic meant that the ruins were being damaged, litter was becoming a problem and sanitary conditions were appalling. The quota is now 500 people per day, which, along with trekkers, includes guides, porters and cooks. The measures taken were required to preserve Machu Picchu, but the outcome has been devastating for the humble backpacker with prices for the trek going through the roof and the waiting list to join the trek extending to 5 or 6 months in some cases. With all of this considered, we decided to try one of the many alternative treks, which offer equally as stunning scenery and the chance to visit small villages before ending up at Machu Picchu on the ultimate day. The alternative trek we chose was the Salkantay trek which traverses snow-capped mountain ranges, passes turquoise lagoons and hot springs, and descends into lush jungle before spending one night at a small town called Aguas Calientes and rising early the following morning for sunrise at Machu Picchu.

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Cusco – City of Kings

17 Oct

If a current day Inca King had the choice of where to build his palace and base his army, there’s no doubt that Cusco would be it. This city in the clouds attracts hundreds of thousands of international visitors every year who are drawn here by colonial majesty built amidst the cobbled alleyways and mighty stone walls of the Incas. Often described as the ‘archaeological capital of the Americas’, Cusco is bursting with historic sites and is the gateway to the beautiful Sacred Valley where Inca fortresses are perched on hill tops and indigenous locals farm and sell their goods at colourful markets as they have done for hundreds of years. Peru’s poster boy is the world-famous Machu Picchu, lost city of the Incas, and Cusco is also the starting point for an unforgettable trip to this new wonder of the modern world.

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Samaipata – celebrating the Inca New Year

30 Aug

We looked at the time – it was 12.20am. We looked down at our jeans and shoes – they were caked in mud. We looked all around us – 500 people were drinking, dancing and singing as they prepared to welcome in the Inca New Year with the party to end all parties.

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