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Peru Destinations Travel Tips What to do

Paracas National Reserve and Ica at Glance

If you are in Lima for more than a couple of days and you want to have a trip nearby to escape Lima’s caos and traffic, one of the main destinations selected by visitors is Paracas National Reserve. This is one of the biggest protected desert natural reserve in South America. This sight is located in Ica region, that is why most of the visitors usually make the most of the day also visiting the town of Ica.

This article aims to give you a sample itinerary that you can do in one or two days, this is up to you and you should see how it can fit into the itinerary you planned. You can come back to Lima late at night on the same day or if you prefer you can spend the night in Ica.

Let’s start then! You have to take the bus to Paracas from Lima very early in the morning, around 4:00 am, just check the timetable of the bus company of your preference. I would suggest you to choose Cruz del Sur, which is a very reliable company and it is also considered one of the safest bus lines in the country. The buses are clean and very comfortable! You can actually take advantage of the comfy seats to have a nap during the 3-hour and half trip from Lima to Paracas. Believe this nap is worth it! Just try to rest before your excursion starts, this is going to be a long day.

Once in Paracas, your tour of the reserve will start from “El Chaco” pier, where you board your boat. So first of all you will have a nice and relaxing tour of the reserve by boat during which you could see the famous ”El Candelabro”, a large prehistoric petroglyph of unknown origin spanning over 150 meters high and 50 meters wide, which is considered a mysterious symbol. There are tons of theories on it, one of them states that perhapsthe symbols was used as guide for sailors many years ago. As we approach the islands, you will see the rock formations from every angle as well as the different species of animals and birds that habitat the island, like sea lions, Peruvian booby, cormorans, penguins and much more. There are more of 400 species of flora and fauna in the area, so if you are into nature and wild animals, this is the place to visit!

Once you finish this tour you will have to go back to Paracas bus station to start your bus trip to Ica. Once again I suggest you to go with Cruz el Sur. There’s nothing better to relax a bit after the boat ride during the 1 hour and half bus ride from Paracas to Ica. Before starting your Ica city tour I would advise you to grab some lunch, food and wine are delicious in Ica region, so you have plenty of choices. A very good spot to have lunch is the Las Dunas Hotel, just that you know. During the Ica city tour you will have the chance to visit downtown Ica and the places nearby, then I suggest to make a stop at the Regional Museum, where you can see archeological artifacts from prehistorical to colonial eras, as potteries, textils, mummies, among others. They are all objects from the ancient civilizations who occupied the area: Paracas, Nasca, Wari, Ica – Chincha and Inca.

After the visit to the city main spots you can also drop by one of the vineyards located in the area. Do not forget that Ica region is where the majority of Peruvian wines and Piscos are produced. You will have the chance to learn how the Peruvian national spirit, Pisco, is produced, learn about the different types of Pisco and of course you will be able to taste them, as well as the wine produced in the area. The virieties depends on the different kinds of grape used in the elaboration process.

At the end of the day you will visit The Huacachina Lagoon, also called “El Oasis de America”, there you will enjoy a beautiful view and a sunny landscapes, which are very hard to forget. Take a good camara, since during this long day you will have the opportunity to take some great shots. The oasis is surrounded by sand dunes, palms, huarango trees and beautiful houses. In the oasis you can choose to simply relax and enjoy the sun and the stunning landscape or if you are into active holidays you can try the dune buggies activity and the sandboarding. Before jumping on the buggy make sure that you are with a professional driver. You will basically go up and down the dunes with the buggy and it is a lot of fun. If you are traveling with kids, Huacachina is the place to go, they will enjoy themselves a lot there. You can also try sandboard, which is a very common activity in the area. It is like the snowboarding but it is done on the sand, so if you fall down, i twill be on the sand … how amazing!

At the end of this long day, you can just overnight in Huacachina and enjoy an additional half day there, which is highly reccommended, especially if you are traveling with kids, but if you prefer you can also take the night bus back to Lima. Another possibility is that you take the bus to Nazca, sleep there so that you can fly over the Nazca lines very early the next morning. These are options that I can suggest you if you are planning to spend 4-5 days in Lima, this is a great plan for a day or a two-day trip to escape Lima’s caos.

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Huaraz, a Charming Destination in The Heart of Peru

If you are planning your trip to Peru and you love adventure, hiking and active holidays, you must visit Huaraz, an enchanting village in the heart of Peruvian mountains, located in Ancash region in the north-central area of Peru at an altitude of more than 3,000 metres above the sea level (approximately 10,000 ft). So, pay attention to altitude sickness and bring your “soroche” pills, and coca candies with you. There is a reason why Huaraz is also called the “Switzerland of the South”, that’s because of its high snow peaks of the Cordillera Blanca mountain chain.

One of Huaraz main attractions is the Laguna 69, the path to the lagoon is only for the brave people…J… I mean, it is for people who are really motivated to visit the lagoon. Be aware that the hike to the lagoon is quite strong, but once you are there you will be very proud of you and enjoy a stunning view. Before starting the hike is extremely important to do the following (these are my personal tips!):

* Stay at least a day in Huaraz city, just to take it easy on your first day and that your body can adjust to the altitude;

* Bring light clothes with you if you are going during summertime. If you are going during winter it is recommended to bring a weatherproof coat for the wind and the rain;

* Bring your sunblock. This is actually mandatory in any season! Never forget that you are at more that 3,000 metres above the sea level, and the sun can be too bright.

* Before your hike to the lagoon have a light meal and bring with you some healthy snacks, perhaps energy bars that you can eat once you reach the lagoon to restore your energy. Also do not forget to bring a bottle of water or mate de coca, that can help you fighting the altitude sickness and can give you plenty of energy for the way back;

* Do not forget to put in your backpack soroche pills, lemon candies, coca candies or coca leaves. These are all remedies against altitude sickness;

* As for your backpack, try to pack light. You do not want to do the hike with a heavy backpack;

* Bring a camara with you, you will need it!

* It is highly recommended to do the hike with a local guide, or a lisenced travel operator, that can guide you along the path and avoid any inconvenience.

And now let me share my experience hiking the path to the Laguna 69. My pick-up was scheduled at 5:00 am, the guy was there perfectly on time, we first stopped to have breakfast at a little rural restaurant nearby Llanganuco Lagoon. Do not exceed with food at breakfast, perhaps just have a plain toast and a coffee or tea or a mate de coca (even better!). If you forgot to pack snacks, here you can buy some for your long excursion. In the way to the hiking starting point we made our second stop at the Llanganuco Lagoon, where you can enjoy an unforgettable view, with the beautiful flowers which is hard to find somewhere else.

After this stop, the transportation will bring you to the hiking starting point. The hike lasts approximately 3 hours, and it is quite strong. At the end you will reach the lagoon, which is located at an altitude of 4,600 metres above the sea level. During the hike do not loose your patience adn control if you get tired, just go at your own pace and enjoy the landscape. Do not run, you will regret it once you get there! During the hike you will enjoy beautiful snow peaks, mountains, waterfalls, colourful flowers and a clear blue sky, you will feel merged and connected with the nature. That’s a great feeling that you cannot miss!

At the beginning of the hike the path is quite plain, so that you can walk quietly, without wasting too many energies. While you go deep, you will notice that the intensity of the path increases and you have to climb in some part of the road. Here just walk at your own pace, and breath deeply; this will help you.

Before reaching Lagoon 69, you can stop at the Lagoon 68, which is a little lake rounded by mountains. Take your time to enjoy the landscapes and use this time to relax a bit. You need to restore your energy for the last stretch of the hike.

Finally, after the last part of the hike, which is very heavy (believe me!), you reach the Lagoon 69, a beautiful lake of blue cristal water rounded by snow peaks. Here you will have the time to take amazing pictures, relax and enjoy the nature.

However, if you suffer from altitude sickness and you do not want to take the risk to get sick during the hike to the Lagoon 69, you can choose to visit only the Llanganuco Lagoon, which is also a charming place. You will feel connected to nature there as well. In my opinion this is the best option if you are in Huaraz and you do not feel like climbing high peaks above but you still want to visit a lagoon. You can reach the lagoon by bus or private car.

There you can be engaged in several activities, you can jump on a boat to explore the lake and take beautiful pictures from inside the turquoise water of the lake rounded by the mountain peaks. Be careful and wear a lifejacket considering that the water is extremely cold. You can also do a little and easy hike around the lake, you can actually do it on your own since the path is easily recognizable.

This is a nice stroll along the lake’s shores where you will enjoy nature and its colors. Finally you can also eat in the area, enjoying traditional dishes from the Ancash region, such as the “Cuchi Canca”, a roasted pork served with baked potatoes and steamed rice or the“Patasca” a meat soap with corn.

In case you have more question just drop me a comment below, and I will be happy to share with you more tips on Huaraz

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3 Spots You Should Not Miss If You Love Hiking

Hiking is real lifestyle, the smell of a new adventure, the feeling of breathing pure air and enjoying stunning landscapes are main elements of this experience. So when you want to get away from the monotonous daily life and have a new adventure you are googling around “hiking trips”, “best places for hiking lovers”, etc… so that’s the time you start to think about a Peru trip. In this article I wanted to share with you some beautiful places that you shouldn’t miss here, I love to consider them the “hiking lovers must-seen spots”. But please do not let anything you hear about altitude sickness scare you, you can try to avoid or at least take under control altitude sickness. I gave some recommendations here.

Rainbow Mountain: The Vicuna Mountain better known as the Rainbow Mountain or seven colors mountain is now one of the most visited places in Peru. It is a beautiful mountain of the Peruvian Andes with a height of 5200msnm. The mountain is completely covered by brilliant and colorful sands; this is actually its main feature and the reason why thousands of tourists every month dare to reach the mountain. The colors come from the minerals and the different types of rock that constitutes the mountain’s surface. This is a real adventure to visit one of the highest mountains in Peru, the only way to get there is by walking about 11 km that will take you about 3 hours depending on your physical condition. Once you arrive there, the view is unforgettable; you will see snow covered peaks, mountains, alpaca and a triumph of color. This is a great trip and you must be prepared not to give up on the way, considering that sometimes it could rain and it could be freezing.

Macchu Picchu: It is one of the most touristic places in the entire world, it will leave you breathless but not only for the beauty of the place but sometimes also for the altitude. J It is noteworthy that Maccu Picchu is not one of the highest place in Peru, it is located at a height of 3,400 msnm, just think about Puno and the floating inslands in the Titicaca Lake, which are much higher; but still it is recommended to be prepared before the excursion.

Huayhuash Cordillera: This trek usually starts from the city of Chiquian at an altitude of 3,400 msnm south of Huaraz. It is a kind of route not so much known by tourists but with breathtaking views with stunning lakes of crystal clear waters, snowy mountains, with small towns that seem like you were alone with the rest of the world.
To visit the Huayhuash mountain you need four to ten days, considering that you have to visit the different lagoons, such as the lagoons Jahuacocha, Solteracocha and Rasac. You will enjoy stunning and unforgettable views in Hirishanca, Rasac, Rondy, among others. The best time to do this trip is during the month from April to October, since it is summer time.

Remember that it is necessary to stay a day before your start the hike to adjust to the altitude, I recommend to avoid walking to much the first day, you could just go for a short walk if you are excited of being in a new place and you do not want to rest.

Peru Destinations Travel Tips What to do

Six Basic Tips for Hiking Trips

Peru is this place to go on holidays if you love hiking and adventure. There are many different places to discover, some of them located at extremely high elevations. Those are the places where you can be affected by heavy headache, dizziness, hangover, fatigue, shortness of breath and nausea. Altitude sickness, “soroche” as we call it here in Peru is very common for tourist visiting Cusco or Puno, since thoses destinations are respectively located at 3399 and 3827 meters above sea level. But don’t worry, here I give you some useful tips that will help you taking under control altitude sickness or completely avoid it while traveling here:

1. Try to drink “mate de coca” (coca tea) two or three times a day. This hot beverage, very common among Peruvians, tastes good and helps a lot with altitude sickness symptoms. It is made of selected dried coca leaves, which maintain 100% of the properties and vitamins. It especially helps with the shortness of breath and the fatigue.

2. It is necessary on the first days no to make heavy activities so you can enjoy the next days without any problems. So try to rest once you arrive in Cusco or Puno, this is truly the best advice and the most ignored to avoid altitude sickness. I know you guys want to go and have a walk around to discover the place once you arrive, but believe the best thing you can do is to rest for at least a couple of hours. Remember that your body is trying to get used to the least amount of oxygen.

3. Try to avoid heavy food, since your dizziness and nausea can get worse. Your stomach will not tolerate a big amount of food at least for the first couple of days. Also try to avoid fresh vegetables, fresh fruit with skin, fresh cheese and all the food sold on the streets for the first days. Consuming foods that provide energy to your body such as Andean grains (quinoa, kiwicha), fruits, jams, cereals, among others.

4. Drink a lot of liquid during your trip, because the height dehydrates, it is good to drink between 4 to 5 liters of water per day.

5. As for the clothes, it is essential to take with you same hats and glove for the cold, but also a raincoat because the weather can change very often, so it is better to be prepared. Also trekking sticks, preferably two in rainy months so that you can use them as support.

6. Bring sunblock, it helps you avoiding sunburns, that can also bring you headache and dizziness. Remember that the sun is very strong at high altitudes, so do not forget your suncream and good hat.

 

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What to do in Puerto Maldonado

I love traveling and looking for new spots around the country and! I was so tired of the city life so I decided to escape somewhere wild and look for the very essence of nature. I am just back from a fabulous trip to the jungle… and what atmosphere, what an amazing experience I had guys!!! Puerto Maldonado is located in the southeast region of Peru, in the Department of Madre de Dios, located on the riverside of Madre de Dios and Tambopata. It is also known as the Capital of Biodiversity, due to the marvelous flora and fauna species we can find over there. If you love nature and adventure Puerto Maldonado should definitely be included in your Peru’s trip itinerary. Here a couple of suggestions on wat to visit while you are in Puerto Maldonado:

Lake Sandoval: If you want to enjoy a beautiful scenery go to the Lake Sandoval, which is located in the Tambopata Candamo National Reserve. It is the natural habitat of more than a thousand species of birds where you can perform different activities, such as boat trip to see different animals in there. Natural habitat such as flocks of macaws, parrots, monkeys, turtles, cranes and other species.

Canopy walkways: You can discover a different experience at 20 or 30 meters from the ground by walking over a suspension bridge. This is a way to capture the landscape, nature and animals much closer since most of the species live in the highest parts, and this is a great chance to take the best picture ever. I can swear that your friends will be jealous of your amazing adventurous experience in the Peruvian jungle!

Wildlife Rescue Center: Taricaya Center is responsible for receiving those animals that were removed from their natural habitat for illegal trafficking purposes. The goal of the rescue center is to carry out a rehabilitation program to take care of their health and to develop their natural abilities so they can be released to their natural habitat once again and live in freedom. You can take a tour of the rescue center and visit the different animals such as monkeys, jaguars, cougars, macaws, among others.

Hike in the forest: You can take a walk through the Amazon rainforest of Tambopata merged into the greatest biodiversity of animals that you can find as birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects and mammals. You can also capture the endless species of plants that exist in this place among huge trees and palm trees.

My experience in Puerto Maldonado was outstanding; I was totally trapped by the sounds and the wideness of the Peruvian jungle. If you are looking for a great adventure, peace and nature, Puerto Maldonado is the right choice for you.

Peru Peru Destinations What to do

Five Restaurants You Should Hit While in Lima

While in Lima there are few culinary spots that you should not miss it! Here I want to share with you five restaurants that I highly recommend if you are up for discovering new taste, new ingredients and delicious food in general.
Central Restaurant: Central celebrates the biodiversity of Peru. Fresh product and an inexhaustible curiosity to discover and integrate new ingredients into the menu bring Peruvian cuisine to the forefront in the heart of the traditional district of Miraflores in Lima. Address: Calle Santa Isabel 376, Miraflores

Astrid & Gastón RestaurantAstrid & Gastón opened in 1995 as a clearly French style restaurant distilled from the owners´ academic training. Astrid and Gaston discovered in themselves a mission to experiment with Peruvian ingredients, draw their inspiration from local traditions, and claim and value a style of gastronomy that every day unveiled itself before their amazed eyes. The tasting menu is a three-hour long unique experience that tells stories about Peru, its products, landscapes, and feelings. This is a long sequence of dishes complemented by art, music and design, typical of each season’s storytelling. Address: Av. Paz Soldán 290, San Isidro

Malabar Restaurant:  In this restaurant, Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino offers a creative cuisine in which he fusions his Peruvian heritage with the influence of his grandmother and his 4 years of experience working in Italy. The result is a “personal style” of our Peruvian flavors. The style of Malabar is directly related to the products that the Chef uses from all the different regions of our country. His objective is to recover, rediscover, and promote the products that have a high gastronomical potential. The restaurant has a modern decoration, warm ambience, an amazing variety of Piscos and a great bar where you can taste the original recipe of the Pisco Punch. Address:  Camino real 101 San Isidro

Osaka Restaurant: here you will experience Nikkei cuisine infused with traditional Creole style cooking, which in turn provides new, surprising, and delicious results. In just few year his kitchen has captivated the hearts of food critics from the “Wiken” magazine and “The Daily Mercury”, who proclaim Chef Ciro Watanabe to be a “Revelation Chef” for 2010. Despite all of his accomplishments, his story is only beginning. Address: Indira Miranda: Conquistadores 999, San Isidro

Costanera 700 Restaurant: Its Chef was the first to merge traditional Latin and Japanese cuisine and take the best from two amazing food cultures. This restaurant offers an excellent variety of traditional Peruvian Creole seafood dishes along with delicious Japanese specialties such as sushi and tempura. Both culinary traditions are fused together here along with the different flavors that originate from the Pacific Rim. The décor is oriental style, with plants and subtle lighting augmenting the classy and pleasant atmosphere. Costanera700 offers a mixture of flavours and has now over 25 years of experience in fish and seafood combinations at the Nikkei Style.
Address: Gate 1: Av Del Ejercito 421 – Miraflores; Gate 2: Manuel Tovar 179 (on the back)

So once in Peru do not forget to pay a visit to these amazing restaurants. One last tip: book your table in advance since the request is extremely high.

 

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Top Things to do While in Puno

Puno is located in the south-east region of Peru, located on the shores of the beautiful and mysterious Titicaca Lake, the highest navigable lake in the world. Once you get to Puno, the first thing you should do is to relax and get some rest, since the altitude could make you feel sick. The “soroche” is very common for tourists in this area. Also have a hot coca tea that is very effective to deal with altitude sickness in local people’s opinion. I can swear it actually helps!

Here some sights you should definitely visit:

Jiron Lima: This is Puno’s main street, where you can find restaurants, pubs and several shops. You should not miss a walk along this vibrant street to have an idea of how local people live. This is a pedestrian street which will bring you to Puno’s main square where you can find the Cathedral, Saint John Church and more.

Sillustani: It is an ancient burial ground near Lake Titicaca. The tombs are built above the ground, and filled with symbolism. The inside of the tombs are shaped like a woman’s uterus. The ancient people in Peru believed in a mother earth that created and regulated life. So, when a person died, they were mummified in the fetal position, just like they came into the world. The doors of the tombs face east, because it is believed that is where the sun is born from the mother earth each and every day.

Uros Island: The residents of Uros Island are the Aimaras who have inherited the way of life of the long-gone Uros. Their livelihood is based on the benefits of a unique plant: the “totora” reed. They use it to build their homes, boats and even the floating islands they live on, periodically adding new layers of reeds.

Amantani Island: This Island has lovely landscapes and a community organized like in the ancient time. It is less visited, making it attractive to those seeking peace, quiet and eager to get in touch with local people ad learn their charming traditions. Here you can also opt to spend the night with the villagers in one of their houses; this is a very nice experience that will allow you to fully get in touch with the local community.

Taquile Island: Thirty minutes away from Amantani Island there is Taquile Island, which inhabitants speak only Quechua. Farmers, fishermen and weavers, they wear distinctive outfits, which are usually very colorful. Taquile has several beautiful hills and many archeological sites; from there you will enjoy stunning views of the Titicaca Lake and its beautiful blue sky.

Week-end Market: if you happen to be in Puno on a Saturday you can also visit the local market, located in the city center. There you can find fruit, vegetables, grains, the majority of the varieties of Peruvian potatoes and much more. This is one of the best way to get in contact with local culture.

Also, do not forget that Puno is one of the richest regions when it comes to folklore and traditions; it is actually known as the folklore capital of Peru. You can often see street parades and other kind of celebration during the week-ends or in November, which is the month of the city’s founding and there are many celebrations going on. If you have more tips on Puno, do not hesitate to share it with me in the comments below.