One of the mini-trips that I took when based in Costa Rica for 3 years was a trip down to Peru. For me from Costa Rica to Peru it was like taking a trip to Greece and whilst I was on that side of the world I knew that I wanted to see a little more than just Central America.
Although wildlife and nature has always been my main passion the other area that I sought out books to read about was always History and more specifically history from ancient cultures, the Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Aztecs, Mayans and of course the Inca’s were the ones that I read about and I devoured books about them from the library and started my own collection of coffee table books asking for them for birthday’s and Christmas. I have a whole bookshelf on Egypt in my lounge now!
Travelling to Peru was a dream like Costa Rica that I was never really sure would actually happen of course when a group of friends suggested we do it I jumped on the chance and we sat down with some beers and worked out what we wanted to see in a small number of days that their tour companies and before I returned to the UK would allow we came up with a short itinerary that would get us to see some of the highlights and give us a taste to return (which is in the long term plan of travel with the kids).
Our 4 destinations that were must sees:
- Lima – we were travelling with a Peruvian friend that worked in Costa Rica and he wanted us to meet his family and see the capital
- Cusco and Machu Pichu – ok I know technically they are two destinations but if we heading to cusco you can’t not go that little further to Machu Pichu
- Lake Titicaca – the highest navigable lake in the world and a visit to some of the villages on the lake
- Arequipa – travelling with Central and South American’s this was a highlight of their trip seeing where some of the colonisation of South America started and although I knew little of the more modern history I was interested in the colonization of the country
There is/was so much more that we wanted to see which I know I will plan for when I return with the family at some point as it’s on our bucket list. But for a short visit this gave us a mix of ancient, modern and intermediate culture, some natural history (we saw condors and Lllamas in the wild!) and gave us the highlights.
Keeping to a budget was going to be interesting – from Lima to Cusco there are three main ways to go – train, bus or plane. Although the biggest expense of our trip we decided flights to Cusco would be a benefit for us all, it would get us to the start in the quickest time and we would then be able to get straight on to exploring the rest of the country. From that point on we either used train or public buses.
With more time and not travelling in July/August which is cold especially compared to Costa Rica I would walk the Inca trail, but with limited time the train from Cusco to Aguas Caliente at the bottom of Machu Pichu is a great idea.
Budget travel options were numerous in all of the cities, sharing rooms 3 girls and 2 guys meant that we were able to cut costs and save money as we travelled and taking buses overnight although not as comfortable as a bed we had accomodation for a night and arrived at a destination ready to explore.
We visited sites not on organised tours which would have cost a lot of money but instead used the local resources – a taxi driver took us around the Inca sites around Cusco and our guide books provided great details about what we were seeing as we walked around and gave us time to explore at will (I’d done a similar take a taxi tour of Egypt whilst visiting Cario many many years ago).