Sunday, December 4, 2016

Peru Adventures--Summer 2005

On April 20th I left Seattle on Continental Air to Peru by using 40,000 American Air frequent flyer miles.  After staying the night in Lima, Peru I took the Copa Air to Quito, Ecuador to explore the Galapagos Islands.  After this adventure in Ecuador, I returned to Lima, Peru to join up with my Crooked Trails tour of Peru on May 3rd.  

I enjoyed a short tour of Lima, on June 6th before heading to the Peruvian Highlands.

Tammy Leland, our Crooked Trails leader, and co-owner arranged for a welcome dinner for us at a couple's restaurant (the standing couple) which was a fun and delicious way to get to know our traveling partners.  Seated from L to R:  Judith, Veronica, Judy, Lisa, Tammy, and Barb.  I soon found out that three of them were professional photographers: Judith, Veronica, and Lisa.  This trip was like getting private photography tutoring lessons.  The other two Judy and Barb were psychotherapist---helpful as well on this trip.

We headed north for 8 hours and 250 miles on the night bus to Huaraz, which became our jumping off spot to visits to the villages of Vicos, Huaripampa, and Humacchuco.  While in Huaraz, we enjoyed great food and were constantly entertained by the El Senor de la Soledad Festival.  

Jorge Riveros-Cayo is a journalist who is conferring with Tammy since he is writing some articles about responsible tourism.  He joined us for our travels, especially for the home-stays in Vicos and Humacchuco.

We took an afternoon trip out to Huaripampa to visit with a weavers cooperative.

We then headed to Vicos where we would do a 5 day home stay, but first we had to hike up the hill to the village which has no electricity nor plumbing.  It took us 1 1/2 hours to hike up there and the children who attend school in the valley took just 1/2 hour from this school.

During our visit to Vicos, we lived in adjacent buildings. Small groups of us ate with and helped our host families.  Victoria and Andres are the parents of Mitra, Rose, Jonny, and Miguel.

Miguel, Rose, me, Jonny, and Mitra.

Rose and Victoria are peeling and cutting vegetables for our dinner.

Sleeping area

Gathering up lots of varieties of potatoes.

We hiked up to their potato and tuber fields to dig up the vegetables for a community feast called “Panchamama” feast or mother earth feast.  Most of their marriages are arranged.  They have no electricity or running water.

In our visit to Humacchuco, we learned that many supplement their income by providing guide and porter service to the tourists who hike and climb the famous Cordillera Blanca Mountains.  We are greeted with music and food as we arrive in Humacchuco.

Rosa and Miguel are my home stay hosts and she is also one of the main cooks at our central dining area.

Our highlight here was a hike up to Lake 69 at about15,000 feet where we drank hot mate from china cups and ate meat and cheese sandwiches while resting by the “bluest” lake in the world. 


We traveled by private bus to Chinchero where we toured the Inca ruins and visited a weavers coop.  We had demonstrations of weaving and wool dying.  Our lunch included the national Peruvian foods of potatoes and cuy or guinea pig.


I would again meet up with Jesus, the flute maker, in 2015, ten years later after doing the Choquequirao Trek.

Inca walls near the Chinchero town square.

We continued our journey Cusco where we saw many celebrations and enjoyed the food and nightlife.

I enjoyed the fruit smoothie as I wandered around the central market.

We rode horses to above Cusco to Saksaywaman, a citadel comprised of huge boulders that have been finely chiseled so that no mortar is needed.  The boulders interlock and have withstood earthquakes common to this area without damage compared to all other structures found in Peru.

No this is not a gay parade but rather the City flag of Cusco.  These students are celebrating Children's Day which includes a big parade around the downtown city area ending at the Plaza de Armas.

These musicians were performing at a restaurant that overlooked the Plaza de Armas.  Of course Tammy knew these musicians.

On our way to Machu Picchu we spent the night in Ollantaytambo where we unexpectedly came across a huge three-day festival that was ending that day.  We joined the festivalgoers.  There were more than twenty groups that were dressed in various costumes ranging from drunken cowboys,whip dancers, lawyers with very long noses, bejeweled step dancers, bolo dancers, to fancy hat dancers.  There were also horse riders who tried to grab a corncob that was suspended over the raceway on a rope.

The following morning, we caught the train to kilometer 104 where we began our day hike along the Royal Inca Trail to Machu Picchu after first viewing these Ollantaytambo ruins.

After two hours of hiking, we came to the second Inca Ruins on our way to Machu Picchu.

We entered Machu Picchu through the Gate of the Sun in the late afternoon to see Machu Picchu for the first time as the crowds cleared out. 

In early morning, we return to Machu Picchu to catch the morning light and the sounds of the flute playing by the Peruvian guides.

We spent the day exploring Machu Picchu.


I climbed to the top of Wuyanu Picchu where I was greeted by the local hawk that was more adept at catching tourists’ goodies than field mice.

We left Aguas Calientes by train after a our Machu Picchu experience.  

After returning to Cusco again, we then headed to Lake Titicaca stopping at Rachqui for a short tour and some chicha before spending the night in Puno.


We were suppose to go to Areoquipa in southern Peru to raft down through the Cola Canyon, but a bus strike prevented that, so Tammy arranged for us to explore a bit of Lake Titicaca  by boat instead.

Our boat tour the following day included visits to the Uros floating island community and Taquille before arriving at the resort island of Suasi for the evening.

Here are our eager porters ready to haul our bags to the resort.

After returning to Puno, the group headed back to Lima, and I continued on  by bus to Nazca.

I took a flight over the Nazca lines which are a series of geoglyphs in a variety of animal shapes that can only be seen from high overhead like in a small plane.  These were created by the Nazca culture between 200 BC an 700 AD.  It is just amazing to imagine how and why they created these shapes.

From here I headed south to Bolivia only to run into the Bolivian Revolution that interrupted all travel.  After a short visit in Bolivia during their revolution, I flew back to Cusco and then on to Lima for the remainder of my Peru Adventures.  

While in Cusco they began the celebration of Corpus Christi on the 9th Thursday after Easter.  The Spanish introduced this festival to try to replace the Inca festival of Inti Raymi.  Saints are taken from churches in the area and paraded around the Plaza de Armas.  For 7 days these saint figures remain in the Cusco Cathedral  and then returned to their respective churches followed by dances, musicians, and fireworks.

With all of the crowds, there were food vendors lined up all along the closed off streets leading to the Plaza de Armas.  Cuy--guinea pig--was one of the big favorites along with corn on the cob.  I tried one and it tasted like rabbit.

 I returned to Lima for my flight home and was invited to stay with Jorge Riveros-Cayo, the journalist that joined us for the tour of Peru.  

His place was in the upscale artist area called Barranco District next to Miraflores.  While there, we saw a dance performance in the town square and nearby we expanded my taste buds from Pisco Sours to El Capitan's at his local bar.

Pisco Sour

 El Capitan

Trip Cost

The total Peru trip cost for the was $2,511 for a daily cost of $120. My flight from Seattle  cost 120,000 American Air Frequent Flyer miles.  The 18 day Crooked Trail tour cost $1,995. Excluding the Crooked Trail tour, the travel and tour costs were $516.  The lodging costs were $120 or  $10 per night, and the food costs were $117 or $9 per day.

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