After getting all my gear together and starting to pack, I realized everything I had was not going to fit into a 55-liter Osprey Fairpoint and a 32-liter Osprey Skareb. Since I’ve decided, I will not check any luggage in at the airport because I will be talking far too many modes of transportation to be lugging around a suitcase. So….. I am going to have to pack lighter.
Day 1: Flight to Lima
Flight departs Pittsburgh on Aug. 24. I have a layover in Miami and then off to Lima.
On arrival at Lima’s Jorge Chavez International Airport, I’ll transfer to my hotel in the well-known coastal suburb of Miraflores.
Flanked by streets of ornate mansions, palaces, and churches, Plaza Mayor is where I will start my exploration of Lima. On one side of the plaza is the Cathedral of Lima, which houses Lima’s founder, Francisco Pizarro.
I’ll visit the nearby San Francisco Monastery, with its catacombs containing some 70,000 human remains. Continue onto the Central market where I’ll take a walk through the markets which have a huge variety of fresh produce to offer, including fruits, vegetables and even guinea pigs. i’ll also have the opportunity to try some local Peruvian fruits and street foods.
Back to the hotel then perhaps head out for dinner and check out the night life.
Day 2: Amazon Jungle
I’ll take a flight to Puerto Maldonado in the Amazon Jungle, where I’ll be staying for two nights maybe three A representative from the lodge will welcome and pick me up at the airport. I’ll then make a trip to the lodge’s in town by van. Here I’ll be able to pack the gear I’ll need for the next few days and leave the rest, securely stored, behind as I travel deep into the amazon. I’ll Travel by motorized canoe to the Amazon lodge (approximately 2 hours). Once I arrive, there It will be time to unwind before a meeting with local tribe. Either tonight or tomorrow night, I’ll venture into the jungle for a night jungle excursion.
Day 3: Amazon Jungle
My full day in the jungle starts with another boat ride (approximately 30 minutes) followed by a hike (between 35 and 45 minutes). I’ll arrive at an oxbow lake in the middle of the rain forest – the habitat of a family of giant otters. Along the way, I hope to see a variety of jungle fauna – perhaps hoatzins, monkeys, macaws, black caimans, flying parrots, and, if I am lucky, a family of endangered giant river otters (pteronoura Brasiliense). In the late morning, I will head back to the lodge, on the way, stopping to see the parrot clay lick. Every morning the macaws and birds come here to feed on the salt in the clay. The macaws begin by ceremoniously circling the cliff area. Usually, the feeding frenzy lasts 20 to 25 minutes. The salt from the clay is thought to detoxify the birds’ fruit diet. After Lunch back at the lodge, I’ll head back out to the jungle to take a short walk and learn about the plants’ medicinal properties and practical uses in the jungle. Return to the lodge once again to freshen up, then of to enjoy some fishing and hopefully eat the catch of the day,
Day 4: Amazon/Cusco
This morning I will travel back to Puerto Maldonado before taking the short flight to Cusco (approximately 35 minutes).
Take the time to acclimatize to the city’s 3,450 m (11,150 ft) altitude and explore the many Baroque churches and ancient temples that dot the city. I’ll visit the Qoricancha temple facade, the local San Pedro market, the main square, past the 12 Angled Stone, Regocijo Square, and San Blas Square. Finally, I’ll visit the Chocolate museum, where there will be an opportunity to sample a hot chocolate made from local cacao beans. Tonight, perhaps I’ll head out for dinner and then get some rest. Notes: Due to the high altitude of many of the places I’ll visit, the air is thinner, and some people can suffer from altitude sickness. The locals recommend drinking tea made from coca leaves.
I’ll visit Café Daria; this café & pizzeria, which opened in its new permanent home in the tourist area of Cusco city in April 2018, is Cusco’s first vocational training site for young adults with special needs. Manos Unidas core purpose of improving the quality of life for people with developmental & intellectual disabilities through vocational training, education, and parent advocacy, leading to successful inclusion within a society in which they had traditionally been ostracised from.
The food is all-natural and is prepared and baked by the students on-site, and students are trained across all aspects of hospitality. This is an excellent way for travelers to interact with locals and in doing so, give a young adult who would typically be isolated from society the opportunity to meet people from all over the World and hone their skills.
Day 5: Sacred Valley/Ollantaytambo
Travel by bus for around two hours through the Sacred Valley, on the outskirts of Cusco. Known as Wilcamayo to the Incas, this fertile valley has long been the primary source of food for the high Andes. At the Sacred Valley, I’ll visit Sacsayhuaman’s stone fortress, where massive stone blocks that form this site’s walls give you a clear image of how highly developed Inca engineering was.
I’ll Venture to a local community in the valley to learn about the lifestyle. Spend time browsing the stalls in search of hand-painted beads or warm lama ponchos. Eat Lunch with the local community. Continuing, drive 20 minutes to Ollantaytambo.
Ollantaytambo’s archaeological site is located to the east of the Plaza de Armas. The upper terraces of this site offer great photo opportunities of the squared grid town below. Tonight I’ll spend the night at a hotel in Ollantaytambo town.
Day 6: Inca Quarry Trail
Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
Make an early start today and drive to Choquequilla, a small ceremonial place where Incas worshipped the moon.
Drive to the starting point of the trek, Rafq’a, and meet the porters who join us on the hike. After an hour’s walk, I hope to reach the small community of Socma.
Carry on to the Perolniyoc cascade lookout, an opportunity to stop for photos and a food break. Continue to the campsite, which is 3,700 meters above sea level. We should reach the campsite around lunchtime. After Lunch, set off to explore the Q’orimarca archaeological site, which once served as a checkpoint to the Incas.
Day 7: Inca Quarry Trail
Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
This is the most challenging and rewarding day of the hike. A four-hour hike will take us to the top of the first pass of Puccaqasa (approximately 4,370 meters high). After enjoying picturesque views of the valley, it’s a two-hour hike before stopping for Lunch. Afterward, make the two-hour hike to Kuychicassa, the highest pass of the trek at 4,450 meters. From here, descend to the sacred site the Incas called Intipunku (Sun Gate), with views of the Nevado Veronica mountain. Head to the campsite, which is only a stone’s throw away at Choquetacarpo.
Day 8: Inca Quarry Trail
Route 2 Inca Quarry Trail:
Today’s hike will all a lot of downhill. The first stop is the incomplete Kachiqata quarry, where the Spanish intercepted the Incas. Around midday, come to the end of the trek.
Explore the cobbled streets of Ollantaytambo before taking the short train journey to Aguas Calientes. Visiting the natural hot springs in town is a soothing way to spend the late afternoon.
I’ll spend the night in a comfortable hotel before tomorrow’s hike to Machu Picchu.
Day 9: Machu Picchu/Cusco
Route 2 Quarry Trail:
Depending on weather conditions, take a bus at 5:30 am along the winding road to Machu Picchu (30 minutes). At Machu Picchu, enjoy spectacular views over the Sun Gate’s ancient city before going on a guided walk around the ruins.
Day 10: Back to Cusco
I’ll head back to Cusco by train and continue to explore the cities culture, food, and ancient ruins. I’m not sure how long I’ll stay in Cusco before heading back to Lima for a few days and then making my way North back to the U.S.
Jaguar in the Peruvian Amazon.