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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

Best and Worst Times to Hike the Inca Trail

inca trail

The Inca Trail has become so popular that you need to reserve your spot at least six months ahead. In fact, I just had someone contact me to hike the Inca Trail in three months. Unfortunately, the dates he wanted had been sold out for months.

To help you with the advance planning necessary, here are the two best times to hike the Inca Trail.

Summer. June, July, and August are the most popular months to hike the Inca Trail. While it gets quite cold at night, the days tend to be warm and sunny, making it a perfect time to hike.

Spring and fall. April and May as well as September and October are good times to hike, too. There is a slightly increased chance of rain, but it is not quite as cold at night.

Winter. December through February is the worst time to hike the Inca Trail. This is the rainy season in Peru during which torrential rainstorms cause dangerous mudslides. In fact, the Inca Trail is closed for maintenance the entire month of February.

I would strongly recommend against hiking the Inca Trail during the rainy season unless you are a glutton for punishment or a frog.

 

Get Your Inca Trail Survival Guide!

Posted in Hiking, Inca Trail, Peru, Travel Advice | 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

Our Peru Adventure: Touring the Ancient Sights in Cusco

Sacsayhuaman Cusco Peru

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Armando picked us up at 9:00 from our hotel. Our first stop was at Sacsayhuaman – an archeological site that means “head of the Puma” – a site where the Incas undoubtedly worshipped the sun. This strategic location, perched high atop the hills overlooking Cusco, was significant from a military and religious standpoint. The high ground certainly had to benefit the Incas during conflicts, even prior to arrival of the Spanish Conquistadors.

Contained within the site was also a large plateau where large ceremonies could take place. In fact, during Incan times, young men of 18 to 20 years old would participate in Olympic style games. (more…)

Posted in Cusco, Guest Post, Peru | By

Our Peru Adventure: Visiting the Sacred Valley

San Pedro Market Cusco Peru

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Today Armando picked us up at 9:00 to take us to Ollantaytambo. We first headed to the Cusco market, which is quite large on Saturdays. After walking through all the stalls, we went to a place where we could buy school supplies for a local village that Llama Expeditions supports. After picking up dozens of notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, glue and such, we headed off to the Sacred Valley.

The valley is no more that 1 – 2 KM wide, but it’s 275 KM long and it is incredibly beautiful – surrounded by towering mountain peaks with the Urubamba river running right through it. The soil is so fertile and the weather is so perfect for growing crops, that they are able to have 3 harvests per year. (more…)

Posted in Guest Post, Peru, Sacred Valley | By

Our Peru Adventure: Lima to Cusco

 

Llama Expeditions

Guest Blog Post by Lili Mahlab

Gustavo picked us up at our hotel at 7:15 to take us to the airport. As usual, traffic getting to the airport was awful. It took us an hour and by the time we got there, Jean and Joe were bumped from the flight since it was overbooked. Fortunately, there were 4 more flights to Cusco that morning so they were only a half hour behind us. We met Diane Valenti, our tour organizer, at the airport in Cusco with our guide, Armando. They took us directly to our hotel, the Monasterio. (more…)

Posted in Cusco, Guest Post, Peru | By

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