The most famous icon of Peru has got to be Machu Picchu – only discovered by explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911, Machu Picchu has been voted the most beautiful place in the world. High in the cloud forest, surrounded by mystery, symbols of sun worshippers, ruins of buildings, the homes of a whole community built in foundations of organic engineering – planned and structured…… advanced before its time. It was all I could do but sit and stare at it all around, below and above me…….Machu Picchu is pure magic!

In what seemed like the blink of an eye I had travelled 6,000 miles and hundreds of years back in time to witness the evidence of Inca Civiliastions, and to wonder at their religion and their rituals. Peru was very strange to me, Spanish speaking, with Catholic churches and cathedrals everywhere, along side long lost Inca temples and cities.

The local people, with black shiny hair, and wearing bright colourful clothes carry loads tied to their shoulders with a woven blanket, are smiling and friendly.

The altitude doesn’t affect them at all!

As I travelled through the country, by train and bus, even the animals are different, herds (or flocks?) of llamas and alpacas grazed in the plains – and the landscape changed from rainforest to stony desert until I reached the Pacific Ocean.

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At Ica, I took a flight to see the geometrical designs and drawings in the desert called The Nascar Lines. How they came to be here, who drew them and what for? I listened to all the theories. The Nascar Lines only visible properly from the air due to their vast size, are virtually invisible on the ground – so the first time they were noticed was in the 1920s when they were spotted by early aircraft pilots!

Lake Titicaca, the world’s highest navigable lake, is a beautiful blue, and huge, the size of an ocean really. Fed by glaciers, it’s cold and fresh and this is where you find the Uros people………. people who live and thrive on floating islands that they make from the totora reeds that grow on the lake – their houses, boats and food are all provided by the reeds on the lake.

I must confess that my accommodation was much more comfortable…..and I enjoyed the unashamed luxury, steaming hot showers and big comfy beds at the lovely Orient Express hotels here in Peru. At The Monasterio in Cusco, at high altitude, we stayed in an oxygenated room. At The Sanctuary in Machu Picchu – it was a room with a view, and at Lima’s Miraflores Park, the rooftop heated pool was welcome after a hard day’s sightseeing!

I could write pages and pages about my experiences in Peru, but I would much rather tell you about this most wonderful and exciting country – it was an adventure, it was my challenge and a memory to treasure of one of the most beautiful places in the world!
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