Travel advice and stories from my adventures
starting Llama Expeditions
Contact Us
415-701-7600
info@llamaexpeditions.com

Posts By: Dee Estaniel

Are You Missing Out?

Amantani home stay

“Now that I’ve gotten to a certain age, I really like my creature comforts,” a friend recently admitted in response to hearing about some of my adventures creating itineraries for Llama Expeditions.

I completely understood. Long before I reached that certain age, I too had grown to like my creature comforts. My vacations generally consisted of staying in tastefully decorated B&Bs and doing nothing that would make me break sweat except maybe lying on the beach.

For some reason, I had convinced myself that I couldn’t handle anything more adventurous. And, I just couldn’t get my head wrapped around the idea of being voluntarily uncomfortable.

Then, a divorce turned my world upside down. My entire life felt uncomfortable. In fact, I had the disorientating sensation of having woken up in someone else’s life. The process of adjusting to this new normal had me re-thinking all of my assumptions about who I was and how I fit in. (more…)

Posted in Travel Advice | By

Our Peru Adventure: Our Last Day in Lima

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Inca mummy

Following our wonderful buffet breakfast on the top floor of the Miraflores hotel, we checked our bags with the concierge and met up with Gustavo and our driver at 9:00 to head to the Museo Raphael Larco Herrera. Larco Herrera’s son was a renowned archeologist, who wrote several books on Inca history and culture.

The museum houses a spectacular private collection of rare objects with wonderful pottery pieces, jewelry, mummies, tapestries, and more. Gustavo made sure to point out some of the most interesting pieces in the museum and explained their historical significance. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Lima, Peru, Travel Stories | By

Our Peru Adventure: Lake Titicaca

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

lake titicaca boat

We were met at 7:30 by Mary and our guide, John Alexander. The first part of our day included a tour to the Uros floating reed islands. Mary left us after we crossed the train tracks in front of our hotel to get to the pier where our private boat was docked. It was a 25-passenger boat. But since we had booked a private tour, it was just the six of us plus our guide and the two boatmen.

After traveling through acres and acres of tall reeds, we came to a “toll-like” hut where our guide paid our entry fee to the floating islands.

Imagine our shock when we saw islands literally made of nothing but reeds lashed together. They appeared to be at least a full meter thick with multiple layers of reeds lashed together with rope. We learned that the islanders need to repair their islands twice a month as the organic material of which they are made eventually decomposes. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Lake Titicata, Peru, Travel Stories | By

Our Peru Adventure: Visiting Vicuanas and Pre-Inca Burial Towers

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Umayo lagoon rowboat

We were met by Mary and John Alexander, our guide, at 6:30. While we weren’t able to print our boarding passes for our flight from Juliaca to Lima due to a glitch in the LAN website, Mary made sure that we were checked in for our flights and were assigned seats.

Two members of our group had been bumped on the flight from Lima to Cusco. So she made sure that this wouldn’t happen again. As it turned out, there were a couple of people who had been bumped on the return flight. But, thankfully, we got on the flight without a hitch.

Our first stop was the Umayo lagoon, a body of water that at one time was a part of Lake Titicaca. However, as the earth moved and reformed, the lagoon was cut off from the main lake and eventually formed a separate body of water.

As there were six of us, we were met by three boatmen (one was a woman) who rowed for about a half hour to the wild vicuna preserve on Umayo Island. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Lake Titicata, Peru, Travel Stories | By

Our Peru Adventure: Train Ride to Puno

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Andean Explorer train Puno

We celebrated my birthday on the Andean Explorer train, a 10-hour ride through the high Andes (elevation 13,975 feet). This is a luxury train that looks like a living room with sofa-like seats, tables, and lamps.

The train ride took us through pueblos built of the traditional mud bricks, which are made of straw, sand, clay, cactus juice (which acts as a binding agent), and are baked and cured in the sun over a period of several days. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Lake Titicata, Travel Stories | By

Our Peru Adventure: Visiting the Sacred Valley Again

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Ollantaytambo ruins

Armando and our driver, Lucho, met us at Pakaritampu at 7:30 and took us to the Ollantaytambo ruins right in the town. Ollantay means warrior in Quechua and Tambo means rest. So, the name of the ruins, Ollantaytambo means “resting place of the warrior.”

This section was built over a period of 600 years commencing with the pre-Inca period in the 800s and culminating with what we saw here by the time of the arrival of the Conquistadores. Built into the mountains facing west , the way the wind blows, were structures designed to keep food cool. On the opposite side of the mountain, we climbed stairs that led to the top and to the primary temples where they worshipped the sun. (more…)

Posted in Cusco, Guest Post, Peru, Sacred Valley, Travel Stories | By

Our Peru Adventure: Wayna Picchu and Aguas Calientes

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Wayna Picchu Peru

There were two morning hikes – one at 7:00 and one at 10:00. We chose the 7:00 AM hike because we had heard that the trail was very narrow and by hiking early we’d avoid having to pass others on the trail.

The morning was cool and overcast, just perfect for the strenuous 1,000 foot climb. The trail was a series of switchbacks and stone steps that crossed from one side of the mountain to the other. At times we’d catch our breath with a slight descent. But most of the time, we headed continuously uphill. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Machu Picchu, Peru, Travel Stories | By

Our Peru Adventure: Train Ride to Machu Picchu

Mike & Lili at Machu Picchu

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

We woke up really early to take the 8:00 train to Machu Picchu. After settling into our assigned seats, the train took off promptly at 8:00. This was one of the most beautiful train rides we ever took.

The train passed through towering snowcapped mountains, while the Urubamba River glistened and flowed alongside the train tracks tumbling over rounded boulders and rocks with occasional rapids here and there. We were so absorbed by the landscape that we barely felt the time pass. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Machu Picchu, Peru, Travel Stories | By

©2014 Llama Expeditions Inc. - All Rights Reserved. Content and photography on this website is copyrighted by Llama Expeditions and may not be reproduced without permission. WA UBI #602-993-1. CST #2099713. Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California.
Click here for Privacy Policy.