07.12.2017 - 27.12.2017
I left for Lima dec. 7th and arrived after 8 pm. The hotel promised that a driver would have waited for me at airport, but nobody was there, so I had the first feeling on how things could go. I arrived at hotel Kamana after nine, so I just had a beer and went to sleep. The morning after I started exploring the city. I chose a hotel in the historical centre instead of Miraflores (the area where usually tourists go) because I wanted to have an idea of the city at first approach and it worked. It was dec. 8th the feast of Immaculate and all the historical centre was partying with people dancing on the streets and around the churches.
Then I had the good idea of purchasing a local sim card, I went at Moviestar and, after 2 hours of queu, passport copied and checked twice(from the staff of the same shop as if one did not trust the work of the other one), I finally got my sim card which became active after only 4 days. In the afternoon I had a stop at the Prisco museum, next to the less excyting chocolate one. The morning after I took a flight for Cusco and from the airport I booked a taxi with Taxidatum, to go to Ollantaytambo with a stop at Salinas de Maras on the way. The salinas were stunning and, being there around 2 pm meant that groups of tourists already left so I could enjoy at best. I arrived at Ollantaytambo around 4 pm and loved this small town at first sight. I stayed at Hostal Chayanasi, a few steps away from the main square small and cosy accomodation with heating in the room. Heating in the room should sound normal as temperatures in the night can go near 0 around here but no, this is the only place in Peru where I had heating. I read many posts about the lack of hot water in some hotels or hostels but nobody complained because there was no heating in the room, I must be the only one enjoying a warm bedroom. I had my first dinner in Ollantaytambo at the popular Albergue Restaurant at the train station. I must say it was a nice dinner but definitly not the great experience described in the social networks and in the travelguides. The second evening I hate at Uchucuta and I enjoyed it more, it was much simpler but here you could really say products were fresh and cooked at the moment. I had my first try of Quinoa soup and theirs was really excellent with a few hand maid ravioli in it. Ollantaytambo does not offer much apart a few day trips if this is what you are looking for, but for me it was the first real taste of Peru and Andes, one of the few places I would like to go back one day.
After 2 days in this nice town, I took the Inca rail train to Aguas Calientes to reach Macchu Pichu. Train or Inca trail(walking) are the only ways to reach Aguas and Machu Picchu. Trains are expensive both Peru rail and Inca rail, but if you do not walk for days, you have no chance. The trip is about 2 hours long and in Aguas station I was supposed to be welcomed by the owner of the guesthouse I booked but...guess what? If this happens also to you, just go to the main square(2 minuts from the station) where you find the tourist information centre and they will tell you where to go. Bus for Macchu Picchu was 24 dollars for the 2 ways and you could pay with credit card with an extra commission. I arrived at Macchu Picchu around 11 and it was really a hard experience for someone with a severe fear of the height such I have. I asked in many forums if it could be a problem and got all negative responses but well, I guess none of people that tried to help had an idea of what fear of the height is. Anyway I was there so I had to fight my fear and visit the sacred site. In Aguas I stayed at Hostal Verayok which not only did not have any heating but had an open window(which you could not close) in the bathroom.
The day after I left again for Ollantaytambo, and with a driver from taxidatum, I went to Cusco. Many told me to skip Cusco, but I must say I enjoyed this busy city. It's high, yes but anyway I was heading to Titicaka, next, which is higher. I stayed at Kamila lodge, no heating but a good location, hot water and nice room with a balcony on the curtyard. As I said I enjoyed spending my two days in the city just walking around and stopping just for an icecream or a mate at the San Pedro Market. The centre is not huge so it's easy to walk around it without taxis. The restaurant I can reccomend here it's the Sanguicheria, they mainly serve sandwiches and salads but the quality is excellent the prices very low and the portions are huge.
After my two days wandering around Cusco I took the Cruz del Sur bus to Puno. After more than 6 hours of bus I arrived at the Titicaka town and actually the driver from the hotel, this time, was waiting for me at the terminal. Suites Antonio was definitly one of the best accomodation I had in Peru, big room(still n o heating), big bathroom, good b reakfast and decent wifi. At any floor there is a coffe station where you can get complimentary tea, mate, coffe. Puno is a small town and the morning after I would live at 6 for Copacabana in Bolivia so I did not explore much that day. The Titicaca Bolivia bus left a few minuts after six from Puno and arrrived in Copacabana at 11.30, so I had just the time to relax a bit with coffe and mate de coca before catching the 1.30 pm ferry to Isla del sol. The trip from Copacabana to Isla del sol is one and half hour long and, this leaves you at Yumani on the southern and more developed side of the island. It's not an island easy to live in, even for tourists. Most attracion and hostels can be reached after a long serie of steps, but after 5 pm, when the last boats leave the island, it's really a paradise. I chose to stay at the Yumani hostal which is the closer to the port and to the lake(also the easier to reach), and after sunset, I could clearly hear the sound of the small waves from my bedroom, excellent lullubuy. The day after I left at 10.30 am and stopped one night in Copacabana to do some shopping and relax a bit. I stayed at Wendi Mar hotel and it was a good one.
The next day I got back to Peru and stopped one night in Puno before leaving for Arequipa. In Puno I had a very nice dinner at Mojsa, I prefer simpler cooking but I must admitt they are very good, the restaurant is on the main square and their lamb is something to try. In the morning, after 6 hours of bus, I reached Arequipa, which I did not know, was the second biggest city of the country. The main attraction seems to be Juanita:the visit is made of 2 parts: 20 minuts of movie and then the tour of the museum where the last room is the one with the mummy. The guides will start the tour(and at the end you should give them some money), but you are not obliged to follow the guide, so, while the others do that, go straight to the last room and you will be alone in the most important part of the museum, then, if you want, you can go back and finish the visit. I then visited both Recoleta and Santa Catilina monasteries and, in my opinion, the Recoleta one is much better even if more difficult to reach than the Santa Catilina one which costs 4o soles instead of the 10 of Recolletta.A Peruvian friend of mine told me I should try the first Ceviche at Purito Limon in Arequipa and I followed her advice. It is about 2 kiloemetrs from the historical centre but it's absolutely worth the 5 soles I paid for the taxi. Mundo Alpaca deserves a visit, it's free and they explain to you the process of making Alpaca clothes.
On my last day in Arequipa, I walked aroun mainly looking for a park where to sit on the grass and read for a while. The city centre can be really noisy and polluted, and taxi do not stop honking even in the night, go figure during rush hours. I found Selva Alegre park to be pretty close to where I was and so that was my choice. In the morning only a few young couples were there so I enjoyed my book reading and some people watching. The morning after I had a 7 am flight, so, a very long day started at 4.30.
Once in Lima, I went to the Cruz del Sur terminal and, at 1.30 pm, I left for Paracas. After 3 hours, finally I arrived in this lovely small fishermen's village. It has been love at first sight even if I did not visit Ballestas yet. I stayed at Daniel's house hostel, which is a very basic accomodation but Carlos and his wife, enjoy this job and really do all they can to make their guests feel well. I had a fried fish dinner and the morning after, had my trip to las Ballestas. I loved these small islands and the wildlife around them. The trip was a couple of hours long, and after that, I simply started going around the village exploring any corner, enjoying the sun and the smell of the ocean. The next day, I decided to try going to the natural reserve, walking on my own. It has been about 16 kilometers to reach la catedral which is the main viewpoint of the park and about 3 hours going and 3 hours to get back home. There is a checkpoint at the entrance of the park where you are supposed to pay the ticket, but nobody asked me to, may be it's only for cars and busses. You can also vsit the park with quads. Walking on early morning gave me the chance to have it all for me as tourists will start arriving after 10, when the Ballestas tours finish. The morning after I went back to the natural park, but this time I stopped on the beach near the checkpoint where I was still alone and there were lots of cormorans and other birds.The longer I stayed in Paracas, the more I loved this place and its people and its nature. That was my last day before going back to Lima and then home.