Monthly Archives: May 2011

Where is this?

Baňos, Ecuador.

The hot springs capital of Ecuador, a great place for rafting canyoning and visiting waterfalls; and for spotting occasional spumes of smoke coming out of the active Tungurahua Volcano.

Baňos, Ecuador

Baňos, Ecuador

Special Offers

10% Off Argentina Tours

Iguazu, Mendoza, Buenos Aires, Patagonia and more.  Take your trip to Argentina before October 1st 2011 and qualify for a massive 10% discount.

Discounts on Galapagos Cruises

Free Galapagos flights and other discounts if you take your Galapagos Cruise between now and October 2011.   Tell us how many people and when you want to travel here and we’ll get back to you with our special Galapagos prices.

Enjoy a Free Meal in Peru

Meal at Ciccolinas

Meal at Ciccolinas

We love food in Peru so much that we want to treat you to a full meal out at one of our favourite Cusco restaurants.   Just book your tour to Peru before July 31st 2011 and we’ll treat you to an evening out at a top Cusco restaurant.


Our Man In Lima

Into Latin America’s man in Lima is the lovely Nilton.  He has been guiding visitors all over Peru for 15 years, but he still has a soft spot for his home town of Lima. Here we ask him about his home town and learn a little bit about Nilton:

Nilton in the Amazon

Nilton in the Amazon

What makes you a Limeño?

The pride of being in the Capital City and having access to everything  you can’t find in the rest of the country. We are proud to have good movie theaters, theaters for plays, great museums, schools, universities, discos and bars, etc. Of course we are proud to have the beach nearby and great beach resorts. Food makes up a great deal of our pride! Cebiches, Mariscos, desserts, anticuchos.  Oh and the cold beer! So cold that “it can destroy your throat” …

Describe Lima in 3 words?

Informal, fun, summer

What do visitors not know about Lima?

They don´t know that Lima has so much culture because of the mixture of traditions, ways of life,  of people from different parts of the country. Migration has made that possible.

They don´t know that a lot of Lima´s economical activities are very informal and they may not know that people in Lima are incredibly hardworking and skillful.  So much so that they can do great business without even finishing school or reading the business section in the newspaper! Some people are just really good at doing business.

Visitors might not know know that Lima has one of the oldest cemeteries in America.  A real treasure that can easily be visited.

Visitors may not know that in Lima, a city that most people simply pass through, one can find Humboldt Penguins!

Where is your favourite place for a day trip from Lima?

There are quite a few but for a day trip Lunahuaná for canoeing rafting.

For a half day excursion Pucusana is one of my favorites.

Boobies in Pucusana

Boobies in Pucusana

What is your favourite restaurant and food specialty in Lima?

For a fine meal the restaurant “El Señorío de Sulco” is great…They have the best “Causa a la Limeña” I have ever tried.

And for a set menu , the way locals eat on regular basis there´s one in Miraflores , in front of the Faraona Hotel , I forget the name but it´s really good deal for a 8 to 10 soles!. Try the Parihuela Soup!!! It’s Fantastic.

What is the best place for people who are interested in history?

The Pachacamac archaeological complex is a good start since it covers 4 periods of Peruvian history. Several museums in Lima are complete and good for a background on Peruvian history.

Nilton with a 'huaco'

Nilton with a 'huaco'

What are best and worst things about Lima?

That is relative because what I see as best may be worst for others. However I am the one interviewed so…one of the best things of Lima is that you can find EVERYTHING you can think of including galleries, local markets, street vendors, black markets, etc. Lima has great characters on the streets …people dressed like big women with big ‘bubbies’ and huge bottoms made out of balloons selling candies…, people that sell  full meals for 3 soles on the streets (and people that eat them!) . The way Limeños interact, especially the ones from middle to lower classes, their interaction is a real street play and if you are there in the right place you can have a laugh and/or learn a lot!.

The best in general is the mixture of people´s culture, faces, food, ways of living. It is not a boring city… completely the opposite!

How can travelers be responsible in Lima?  (Responsible tourism)

  • Don’t give money to the children on the streets.
  • Do not throw toilet paper in the toilets.
  • Do not leave water running more than necessary.

What’s the big topic of conversation in Lima nowadays?

Gold mining situation in the rainforest.

Latin Music Festival June 11th

Meet Nilon on one of our Tours in Peru

Top Travel Tips: Know Before You Go

1. Save Money On Flights

Try LAN for special offers

Try LAN for special offers

Book your international flight to Latin America with a local company and save $100s on your internal flights.  Companies such as LAN and Aerolineas Argentina offer substantial discounts on flights within South and Central America when you book your international flight with them or their partners.

2.  Ask When to Travel

Patagonia in Winter

Patagonia in Winter

Seasons vary tremendously in South America.  Patagonia’s very cold winter is from April to November, the rainy season in the mountains of Peru and Ecuador lasts from Nov to April; but this is the best time to visit the coast!   Ask your travel agent for information about the best times to travel.

3.  Speak Spanish Well

Spanish only really has 5 vowel sounds:

a as in apple

e as in egg

i as in inn

o as in octopus

u as in ubrella

Remember this, and you’ll sound like a local!

4. Save On Hotels

Triple Room

Triple Room

Travelling in a group of 4 or more? You can gain considerable savings if you travel in a group.  If you are three people travelling, consider asking for triple rooms instead of a double and a single.  Most hotels have triples and the overall cost will be a lot cheaper.

5. Read The Small Print

What happens if your travel company goes out of business?  Will your trip be covered?  European based travel agencies must protect client’s funds by what is known as bonding.  This protects your deposit and ensures that all suppliers are paid, therefore guaranteeing everything is in place for your trip.  Beware any company that does not have this in place as they can pretty much do what they like with the funds you hand over.

Have a great trip!

The Inca Trail: A Personal View

Steph from Into Latin America has spent many years leading tour groups in South America.  Here she gives a personal perspective on her favorite trek:  The Inca Trail

Steph enjoying the Inca Trail

Steph enjoying the Inca Trail

How many times do you think you have walked the Inca Trail?

25

Would you do it again?

Yes

Are there any memorable moments from your time on the Inca Trail?

I saw a bear!  It was from a distance but visible with the naked eye.  We watched it from Runcuracay ruins for a good 20 minutes.  Many guides who have done the trail for 20 years plus have still never seen one.

Often I missed the site of Sayacmarca as it would be down to me to go ahead with trekkers who were tired,  while the guide did a tour of the site.  One time though I had the chance to look around the Sayacmarca and pretty much had it to myself, looking out over the cloud forest and just taking in the peace and beauty of the place.

The cloud forest has a certain smell that I call the Machu Picchu smell.  It’s hard to describe but I love it.

What is your most and least favourite part?

Puyupatamarca

Puyupatamarca

Most:

Watching the sunrise on Salkantay from Puyupatamarca

The section between Sayacmarca and Puyupatamarca for its variety of flora and birds and views across the valley of dense cloud forest.

Seeing my group arrive at the Sun Gate and getting their first glimpse of Machu Picchu.  On the 5 day Inca Trail you get there mid afternoon and I have been able sometimes to sit there for half an hour or so with them, just contemplating Machu Picchu and reflecting on the achievement of getting there.

Yumm Pancakes

Yumm Pancakes

Pancakes with dulce de leche for breakfast at Puyupatamarca.

Least:

Being cold!  A down jacket and a good sleeping bag are essential.

Getting to Wiñay Wayna campsite where, if you do the 5 day Inca Trail, you see a lot of people for the first time on day 4.  t’s quite a shock after feeling that you are away from it all.  A reminder that soon you will be back in the real world when usually I would have been happy to stay out in the sticks for much longer.

What is the reaction of other travelers to do the Inca Trail for the first time?

It’s great to be there when people realize their dream of being in Peru and walking the Inca Trail; and then it exceeds their expectations.  I have seen people cry with joy, pain and tiredness but at the end everybody is always exhilarated and that’s great to see.

Porters at Deas Womans Pass

Porters at Dead Womans Pass

Who are the other people on the Inca Trail?  What’s it like to trek so often with guides and porters?

The Inca Trail team consists of a guide, assistant guide (or 2 if group is larger than 7), a cook, assistant cook, head porter, one porter per 2 customers, and horses (as far as Wayllabamba).  Over the years you see many familiar faces, most of them come from the same village.  When I first started working on the Inca Trail in 2004,  I practiced Spanish a lot by walking with the assistant guide and played countless games of cards with the team.  The cooks not only produce amazing meals every single time but also have a tea for every ailment you can think of.

What are your essential things that you always take with you?

From the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu

From the Sun Gate, Machu Picchu

Chocolate – you get given plenty of food and snacks but I would save this as a special treat to have at Dead Woman’s or the Runcuracay pass – or both!

A pillow that folds into a small bag,  given to me by a customer once.

Coca leaves to share with the porters.

Pack of cards

See here for more on the Inca Trail

5 Reasons to Visit North Peru

Tucman

Tucman

Away from the much visited tourist centers of Cusco, Machu Picchu and Colca Canyon, is the very varied and surprising north of Peru.  From ancient pyramids to surf beaches, and the best mountaineering in South America, North Peru makes a great addition to your Peru vacation.  Get off the beaten track and away from the crowds in adventurous North Peru.

Chan Chan

Chan Chan

Trujilo

Heading up the coast the first major city is Trujilo.  Peru’ s third city has probably the most impressive main square in the country.  Nearby are some beautifully restored colonial mansions such as Casa Ganoza Chopitea . The main reason to visit, though, are the incredible pyramids made by the Moche people around 1500 years ago.  The tombs, called Huacas, were built to house important members of society along with belongings, servants and family members; much as the Pharaohs of ancient Egypt did.  In Huaca de la Bruja are the remains of an important female shaman and in Huaca de la Luna has incredible,  intact,  colorfully painted friezes; preserved for centuries by the dry desert.  The main part of the largest adobe city ever built still stands at coastal Chan Chan.  The Chimu civilization who lived here before the Incas decorated their city with dramatic shapes and symbols; all easily visited from Trujilo.

Peru's Paddington

Peru's Paddington

Chiclayo

Chiclayo is also a good place for visiting Moche pyramids including one of the most important finds of modern times.  At the Lord of Sipan site, archaeologists unearthed a treasure trove of gold, silver, pots and even some weavings.  All these are on display at the purpose built museum in Lambayeque; and the Huaca of Sipan itself has a small but very informative museum.  On a visit to Chiclayo, don’t miss the wonderful reserve of Chaparri to spot all manner of wildlife including the Specactled Bear ; the Paddington  of Peru.

 Chiclyao and Trujilo Tour

Huaraz

Huaraz is a small town in the Andes that has become world famous as the access point to the best mountaineering in South America.   It is the location of Peru’s best school for mountaineering guides and a Mecca for lovers of trekking and climbing.  Huayhuash is the location of a stunningly beautiful 8-10 day trek as well as the incredible story of Joe Simpson in ‘Touching the Void’.  Peaks in the Cordillera Blanca include what’s known as the most beautiful mountain in the world:  Alpamayo.  Huascaran, the highest peak in Peru, and Pisco,  a popular climb for beginning mountaineers,  are also accessed from Huaraz. The 4-5 day Santa Cruz trek is popular and there are some beautiful day trips to lakes, mountains and glaciers in the area.

Ask about tours to Chachapoyas, Huaraz and Mancora

Chachapoyas

The Chachapoyan people were ‘the people of the clouds’ and the city of the same name is a pretty place located in the cloud forest, a 8 hour drive from the coast of Peru.  Few visitors get this far but numbers are growing as more and more people are enchanted by this very laid back and friendly place.  There re plenty of possibilities for horse riding, hiking and Indiana Jones-style exploring here.  If you are looking for untouched, centuries-old ruins, just peeking out of dense forest; then take the trek to Kuelap and watch out for hidden forts.  Kuelap itself is a stunning, extensive site perched on a mountain top.  Unlike Machu Picchu, Kuelap has been left mainly as it was.  Although dubbed the ‘Machu Picchu of the north, Kuelap is hardly visited by tourists; most visitors being Peruvians.

Mancora

At the end of all that exploring you’ll want to rest on a beach.  Mancora has year round sun shine, excellent sea and kite surfing and some funky beachfront hotels and spas.

Think out of the box and look into North Peru as a real alternative for your Peru vacation!