Dizzying and delightful views of Peru
BY DEBBY CARROLL
Want to visit an exotic location where you can see nature in all her spectacular glory, learn fascinating history, enjoy affordable, delicious food and drink, and do some fabulous shopping? Peru is for you!
We chose a group tour, believing we’d feel more secure with a guide. And, we love the lower stress of group travel. Since you don’t have to make any arrangements, the headaches are not yours if things go awry.
International flights go to Lima, a beautiful city on the sea. Many travelers move on immediately and head to Machu Picchu without enjoying what Lima has to offer. That’s a mistake. We loved Lima’s vibrant feel, fascinating cultural offerings, and gorgeous waterfront park with shopping and restaurants. Their food specialty is ceviche, raw fish marinated in citrus and spices. It’s out of this world.
Go to Peru. See the people, learn about their customs, eat the food, enjoy the splendor.
flight to Cuzco took us to higher elevations to get closer to Machu Picchu, the ruins of an ancient Incan city. First stop was a tribal village where we met the locals who make their living, for the most part; weaving using wool from the animals they raise themselves. The meal they served, chicken soup with quinoa, coca tea (from the leaves of the same plant cocaine comes from), bread, and chicken was fantastic. I declined to taste the roasted guinea pig, a local delicacy but my husband partook although he was not a fan.
Getting to Machu Picchu included a 90-minute train ride through scenic mountains. We were upgraded to a first-class train ticket which included two meals, drinks, live music in the bar car, and all of it was just as cool as it sounds. It might have been the most fun we had on this trip! We walked for about four hours through the ruins as our guide educated us about the Incas and their civilization. Suffice to say, it’s mind boggling and stunning.
Cuzco is as beautiful and charming as any European city I’ve seen. Our hotel was fabulous. Mysteriously, our room started vibrating slightly during the night as if it was situated over some kind of machinery. I’ve never asked to change hotel rooms before but I did, despite the fact that I worried the desk clerk would think I was a crazy person because my husband never noticed the shaking. But the desk clerk seemed to know exactly what I was talking about and moved us to a nicer room with amazing views. I learned a valuable lesson; you don’t just have to shut up and accept when something isn’t right. I tend to do that when I travel. I won’t again.
Last stop was Lake Titicaca, the home to the Uros indigenous people and their floating islands. You read that right. These people “weave” islands out of the reeds that grow in the lake and they live in reed huts with no plumbing and minimal electricity from solar panels. (They use the small amount of power for televisions and light bulbs.) They make their living from fishing, weaving, and tourism. I’ve never seen anything quite as fascinating as these islands and the people who inhabit them.
Know before you go: altitude sickness is no joke
My husband and I suffered nasty gastrointestinal upset due to altitude sickness at the higher elevations. We knew of its existence but did not heed warnings because we are both in great shape and perfect health. Learn from our mistake!
- Altitude sickness strikes randomly, causing everything from headaches to stomach issues.
- It can likely be avoided with prophylactic measures so a day or two before you go, don’t drink alcohol, get plenty of rest, and drink a lot of water.
- Once you arrive at higher elevations don’t drink alcohol or caffeine, drink plenty of water, and take it easy, giving your body time to adjust.
- Travel with a decent supply of OTC remedies for headaches and stomach upset so you’ll be prepared if you do succumb a bit.
- Don’t let fear stop you from going to Peru. Go and enjoy the splendor.
5 Must Do’s in Peru
- Eat ceviche.
- Drink Pisco sours, the alcohol of choice.
- Spend two days in Lima, preferably in the neighborhood of Miraflores.
- Get to Lake Titicaca.
- You don’t have to hike the Inca Trail, it’s grueling, but seeing Machu Picchu is a must.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – DEBBY CARROLL
Debby Carroll is executive editor for GRAND Magazine, and lucky for us, she’s a travel adventure loving GRANDmom.
Upon discovering how outdated the images of grandparents were in the children’s books she read to Avery, she decided to write a new one on behalf of fabulous, real grandparents everywhere.