Category Archives: Peru

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

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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!

Machu Picchu Anniversary

On July 24th 2011, Peru is celebrating the day, 100 years earlier, when Hiram Bingham quite accidentally discovered Machu Picchu.  He wasn’t the first person to find it, but he was the first to recognize its significance.  Thus began the dramatic rise of Machu Picchu as one of the Seven Wonders of the World, the most visited tourist site in South America and the emblematic symbol of Peru and the Incas.

Machu Picchu in 1912

Machu Picchu in 1912

Build up to the Discovery

In July 1911, Hiram Bingham and his Yale University expedition team were roaming the mountains of Peru looking for Vilcabamba, the fabled last city of the Incas.  Records left by Spanish chroniclers led Bingham to believe that he could found the city in the continuation of the Urubamba River.  His team had been promised amazing Inca sites in the past, only to be let down when locals led them to some simple huts.  It is no surprise, then, that when local innkeeper, Mechor Areaga told Bingham of a city on top of a steep and slippery cliff, the explorer was a little skeptical.

Rout Along The Urubamba River

Rout Along The Urubamba River

An Accidental Find

As Bingham relates in his book, Lost City of The Incas, the team met Arteaga at what is now the outskirts of Aguas Calientes.  At the time he was the owner of the local ‘inn’, a grass roofed affair, and was quite put out that the explorers preferred to sleep in their tents.  When Arteaga heard the group were looking for Inca ruins, he offered to show them a city hidden on the cliffs nearby.  The next morning dawned drizzly and there was little enthusiasm for the trip.  Bingham’s companions chose to do their washing and look for butterflies rather than go climbing up an overgrown and difficult mountain.  Bingham,  Arteaga and the local Sergeant escort arrived at the top of the difficult climb to find a series of terraces being farmed by two men named Richarte and Alvarez.  These local farmers had unknowingly made the sacred Inca site their home; saying they enjoyed being hidden away from visitors.  Ironically enough, their once hidden home is now the most visited place in South America.

Bingham continued on to Machu Picchu proper and saw that the stonework was of incredibly good quality.  He claimed that he immediately recognized that the site was built for ceremonial purposes, though it is more likely that he only discovered this later. In short, you get the impression that Bingham was initially not impressed by Machu Picchu. After all, this was not the last city of the Incas that he had been looking for.

Hiram Bingham

Hiram Bingham

Hiram Bingham

Bingham was a man looking for a big find; something to make his fame and fortune. In 1911 he thought he might find glory with the discovery of some bones found in an ice hole.  Gradually he realized that the collection of terraces and white granite walls that make up Machu Picchu, were to be his legacy.

In 1912 Bingham returned to Peru with a team from Yale University to excavate Machu Picchu and the rest, is history.

Explore Peru

Nowadays, with the popularity of Machu Picchu as a tourist destination, it is difficult to recreate that sense of discovery experienced by Bingham.  On the other side of the mountains, though, Choquequirau sees just a handful of visitors and parts of the ruins are still emerging from the dense vegetation.  Kuelap, in the north of Peru, sits quietly and dramatically on top of a mountain as it has for 500 years.  Other nearby forts of the Chachapoyan people are completely covered by dense forest.  Bingham did finally get to the last Inca city at Espiritu Pampa and even now, the 8 day trek there is an Indiana Jones style adventure into the unknown.

Photos from National Geographic

Hidden Forts Near Chachapoyas

Hidden Forts Near Chachapoyas

Dakar Rally to Finish in Lima

The Dakar Offroad Rally for 2011 is already over and we are looking forward to 2012 when the event will start in Argentina and finish in the Peruvian capital of Lima.  The tough route will cross the high Andes, the driest desert in the world before finishing in the main square of Lima on January 15th

Dakar Bike in Argentina

Dakar Motorbike in Aregentina

The Dakar Rally is really an offroad test of endurance.  Comptitors can take on the rally  2012in cars, trucks or various kinds of motorbikes  The vehicles cover a range of tough terrain that  tests their machines and drivers to the limit,  and is open to amateurs and professionals.  The race has taken place in South America since 2009 after security problems prevented it from following the traditional route from Paris to Dakar.  This will be the first time for the race to finish in Lima.

The competitors will start off from Mar del Plata; a seaside resort outside of Buenos Aires.  They will then cross the Aregtine pampa to get to the range of Andes mountains separating Chile and Argentina.  After entering Chile, the rally crosses the Atacama desert; the driest place on earth.

In Peru, the racers will enter via the southern city of Tacna before continuing across the desert to Peru?s second city of Arequipa.  Ica is also on the rally map; an area famous for some of the largest sand dunes in the world.  The final stage will take the cars, tucks and motorbikes into the Peruvian capital, Lima, for the prize ceremony in Lima?s historic main square (Plaza de Armas)

Dakar route for 2012

Dakar Route for 2012

With their combination of ocean, high mountains and desert; it?s no wonder the organizers chose Peru, Chile and Argentina for this exciting race.

Are you interested in seeing the Dakar Rally?  The benefit of travelling with Into Latin America is that we can completely customize your trip throughout South America.  Into Latin America can take you to different stages of the rally as and when you like.  Contact to find out how.

Photos from the official Dakar Rally website.

Richard Gere on Family Holiday to Machu Picchu

Richard Gere Machu Picchu

Richard Gere in Machu Picchu

Richard Gere was spotted today exploring the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru. He said he was on a family holiday and was accompanied by his wife; actress Carey Lowell.

He will go on to take in the beautiful Sacred Valley and stay in Cusco until Thursday. We hope Richard Gere and family have an excellent holiday!

Peru: LAN Airlines’ round-trip Lima fares include connections to 11 cities – latimes.com

Peru: LAN Airlines’ round-trip Lima fares include connections to 11 cities – latimes.com.