After the high altitudes of Cusco and the Inca Trail, I told myself that I was done with heights for a while. But a few weeks later I found myself back in the mountains, this time in the Northern city of Huaraz. For two days I hiked, rock climbed, enjoyed the Aguas Calientes, and took in the beautiful, stark scenery.
Peru’s Sacred Valley is a special place in so many ways. The site of so many Incan ruins, it holds the remains of a civilization, adding the sense that we were trespassing on something special. The valley is also a fascinating look at the more traditional lives of many native Quechuans, most of whom are more than happy to welcome visitors into their villages for an up close peek at their way of life. Finally, the breathtaking views of this region are hard to capture on film, both from the effects of the area’s altitude and the soaring peaks of the surrounding mountains.
When I think of Cusco, Peru I think of slow, languid movements, of stormy skies and breathless views, of colorful garments and hearty meals. My memories of Cusco are visceral in nature, mostly due to the lack of oxygen I endured during my five-day stay. While I was adjusting to the new altitude in preparation for the Inca Trail, I spent my time wandering the long cobbled streets, foraging through the vast markets, sifting through the rainbow assortment of alpaca garments, and eating enough food to last me through a long winter.
During my two-month journey through Peru I found myself constantly fascinated by it’s food culture. With over 500 unique dishes, Peruvian cuisine is fresh, unique, and absolutely delicious. Here are some of my favorite Peruvian dishes including Lomo Saltado, Aji de Gallina, and Inca Cola (this only made the list because of its fun name and color…definitely not its taste).
For more detail on Peruvian food and drink, check out this article I wrote for Viator.
Follow a typical day in Cusco, Peru through the lens of my camera.
Now that I am back in NYC after my amazing 2 month journey through Peru, I have had more time to reflect on just how incredible this trip was. Sometimes it takes going back to your old routine to appreciate that special moment in time.
I will still be sharing stories, photos and videos from my journey, but for now, I would like to leave you with a glimpse of some of my favorite moments from Peru.
These are 2 variations of the traditional reed boats on the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Each boat is made entirely of dried reeds and filled with empty water bottles, and is steered with paddles and a Eucalyptus pole. Floating down the lake on one of these handmade boats is a surreal experience.
There are some places in the world that will always hold a special place in my heart. Florence taught me how to sit for hours in cafes and developed my love for pasta at all hours of the day (or night!) Bangkok took away my fear of foreign cultures and food, and Huacachina gave me a totally new perspective on my place in the world.
Located high among the rising sand dunes, Huacachina, Peru houses a giant oasis at its center; life bubbling forth amongst the miles of nothingness. Just a 15 minute mototaxi ride from Ica, this little resort town is the perfect layover on your journey down south to Cusco. Hostels and streethawkers compete for your business in sand board rentals, dune buggy rides, and neighboring day trips.
Rent a board for the day and spend the sunny hours hiking to the highest dune and racing down, snowboarding style. Enjoy the afternoon from a boat and paddle around the lagoon, or just enjoy the view from the surrounding eateries. An hour before sunset, grab a bottle of Pisco and a trek up as far as your legs will take you. Watching the sun change from red to orange to pink as it dips lower and lower is an incredible sight.
As you toast to good friends and a good life, make sure to take a few moments and get lost in the undulating peaks and neverending sand. Time stands still on these dunes, and it is a rare moment to experience such breathless clarity.
Check out a video of the dunes here!