South America was right at the top of my bucket list so when I was offered a short trip to Peru, I was very excited.DSCF6177

Long haul flights can be exhausting, so the good news is that BA have started a direct flight to Lima from London Gatwick.  It’s a day flight and with the time difference you arrive in the evening of the same day.
After my first Pisco Sour, the national drink, I was ready for bed!

I stayed at the Westin Lima a very sleek and comfortable hotel in the business district of the town. But you may prefer to stay in Miraflores as it is on the coast and has an abundance of shops and restaurants.

It was worth having a guided sightseeing tour of Lima, known as the City of the Kings which is also a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. After a visit to the Larco Museum I had lunch in the beautiful, shaded  gardens of the estate, which was full of flowers.  A truly lovely experience.

DSCF6254Leaving Lima, my next stop was Cusco, where the weather was much cooler. Met by my guide, my first stop was to take in some beautiful view points of the mountains, then on to the Moray circular agricultural terraces (an Inca ruin) where I wandered to various viewing points – nice and slowly! – as I had to adjust to the thinner air at high altitude. Next came the incredible Maras Salt Pans where the heat was intense, so my water bottle was always in reach! But the views were stunning.

After Lunch at Hotel Sol y Luna in the Sacred Valley, which included a Horse and Dance display – I boarded the train to Machu Picchu, a journey of 3 hours. That night I stayed at the Sumaq Hotel and dreamed of my adventure to come tomorrow!DSCF6301

Next morning as the sun came out I set off to Machu Picchu! A bus took me on a winding road up the mountain. It’s extremely busy up there, noisy and full of eager tourists but finally I walked in through the park gates with my guide – the lost city was mind blowing and the vistas were stunning! There is one trek around the site which everybody should follow, and I think a guide is essential to understand this famous Inca treasure. After this and some lunch, I took the train back to Cusco.

The next morning I enjoyed a fabulous city tour – I fell in love with Cusco and its surroundings!  It was here that I decided to test the Pisco Museum Bar and got a private introduction into the history of this famous cocktail and then moved to the MAP Cafe, which is in the museum’s grounds and a wonderful restaurant. My next adventure was the Andean Explorer train to Puno. Now that was a fabulous experience and is a ‘must’ on any itinerary.

To go by DSCF6213train often helps to prevent altitude sickness as you acclimatise slowly. It’s a fabulous experience, luxury surroundings with waiter service at dinner, an observation deck and bar, entertainment and comfortable chairs.  The scenery changed spectacularly the higher I climbed. The train stopped at the highest point which is over 4300 metres above sea level and we were inundated with sellers of Peruvian goods, all in their colourful, traditional clothes.

Arriving late and very tired at the Libertador Puno, I had a quick dinner and slept soundly … to wake up to the most amazing sunrise and views over Lake Titicaca.

The hotel has its own pier and soon we were off on a boat trip to the floating islands made of reeds. The Uros people still live and work on the islands but the numbers are reducing and it is feared that the next generation will only see a tourist display of how they used to live.  We were lucky enough to be invited on to an island by the women, again in colourful attire, and into their homes to be shown how they live. They were very friendly, gentle people, selling some goods, but never pushy.DSCF6501

I then went on a longer trip to Taquile Island. The inhabitants here still live according to their pre Inca traditions – without modern intervention. I walked to the hill-top restaurant and was served a quinoa and fish lunch. I had fabulous views as far as Bolivia and then I walked to the other side of the island where the boat was waiting to return to the hotel.

On my last day here I visited the Sillustani archeological site with its stone burial towers and incredible views over Lake Umayo .  Then it was back to the airport for the lunchtime flight to Lima, and then home to Gatwick!

It was a wrench to return to the reality of home but I have lots of lovely memories and the wish to return to see more of this vast continent and its many countries.

I know I just saw the tip of the iceberg, but if you’d like to chat to me about my trip, please give me a call or send an email!

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