Day 1 and 2 – Lima
The day after, I went to discover the capital. Lima has been founded by Francisco Pizarro in 1535. Into the downtown of the historical city, visitors can admire the ancient Spanish buildings and visit the Franciscan monastery. When the colonizers arrived in Perù, they tried to destroy the local culture and imposed their laws, religion and customs. For Incas was weird that their God was represented as a crucified man.
Perù has been liberated by José San Martin in 1821. Since that time, the local culture, that kept on secretly existing, was reborn. But, this time, it was mixed with the European’s one, in a way that makes Perù so fascinating.
Day 3 – Paracas
For those of you that love animals and natures, Paracas has to be visited. It’s a national reserve park where visitors have a boat safari to see, very close, sea lions, penguins, and an incredible amount of different birds species: there are more than 10 birds in 1 sq. m.! If people are lucky they can see dolphins too. Not enough: visitors can reach by car one of the most stunning wild view ever.
Day 4 – Nazsca
After one night spent in a farmhouse, I moved to Nazca for one of experiences that made me decided to go to Perù: flying by a little airplane above the famous Nazca Lines. If you have already heard about them, you probably know that their origin is linked to aliens, and that’s what made me so curious about them. Surprisingly, the guide don’t even mention the “E.T. specie”. Conversely, they seem to explain clearly how, why, and who created them: Nazca was a pre-Inca civilization whose gods had the shapes of the animals, like the colibrì, the monkey, the spider, etc… They created a road large enough to walk into it with these shapes, using systems like an ancient compass, in order to run across the whole path during ceremonies. Nothing left to the people’s imagination, neither the “alien” which is actually a representation of an half man and half owl. That has been pretty disappointed because, as human beings, we love mysteries!
Anyway, the flight is an adventurous experience. Let me give you three tips about it:
- don’t eat before the flight, and
- don’t look the phone screen to much, because people can feel dizzy!
- enjoy the flight!
The same afternoon, I visited an archeological site called Cahuachi. Many tourists visit it every year, mostly during the solstice, because of its magical vibe. They make rituals to honor the Nature. This spot is considered as powerful as Stonehenge in UK or Machu Picchu in Perù as well. My guide improvised a ritual wetting me with water and made me breathe intensely. I couldn’t feel anything, because what I need to get my energy is to be completely alone, doesn’t matter where. I think that any of us has his/her own power, and “rituals”.
Day 5 – Ica
I spent the night in Nazsca, that is a characteristic Peruvian city, colorful and with short buildings, indeed, Perù has a high risk of earthquakes. And, the day after, I visited an other natural reserve, Punta San Fernando. This spot is still pretty unknown by the tourists, so you can easily find yourself alone in the middle of nowhere. I had the chance to see the rare exemplars of guanaco, family of Camelidae like the llama, many amusing penguins, and I fed a fox. It’s a beautiful place, but I’m not sure that the long and unpaved roads worth it. Judge it by yourselves!
Day 6 – first on the road day
This sixth day in Perù has been the longest one. At 7.30 am I left Nazsca to reach my next destination across Panamerica hwy, which is a road that goes from the North of Usa to the extreme south of South America along the west coast. This part of it cuts the desert in the middle of nowhere. After ten hours, included some stops, I got to the wonderful White City, Arequipa.
Day 7 – Arequipa
It is called “White City” because white is the main color of the buildings. Indeed, they are made by sillar, a kind of white volcanic stone: very close to the city you can easily see Misty Volcano, still active, and around there are many more. However, what makes Arequipa so fascinating is that it seems to be a sea city, with its palm trees and its high temperature (around 25 degrees in winter), but it’s actually a mountain city, with its 2350 m a.s.l. Moreover, it looks like a Spanish place, but it’s on the other side of the world. These characteristic make the tourists loose the track of place.
I started the day with a visit to the Central Market, where I found my new favorite fruit: chirimoya. It’s sweet as banana, and has the texture of a melon. An other fruit that you can’t skip is lucuma, the sweetest superfood ever.
After the market, the guide drove me inside the mysterious “city into the city”, an ancient Spanish convent. The nuns lived there isolated by a tall wall from the rest of Arequipa. They had houses, roads, addresses, sharing places, kitchen, everything that could make it a real little town, except for the fact that the inhabitants couldn’t go out. Santa Catalina convent was a gilded cages.
In the afternoon, I lost my self in Arequipa’s streets, and I took the chance to do some shopping. You can’t go back from Perù without an alpaca sweater!
Day 8 – second on the road day to Colca Valley
Waking up pretty early, I have already had to leave Arequipa and followed my plan that led me to Colca Valley only in the evening. On my way, I saw some of the most incredible views of my life. Firstly, I saw closely the volcanos of Arequipa region. Then, on the side of the long straight way, which you can see in the picture, I run with some vicuna exemplars. They are endangered species, and their wool is the most is finest of the world: one scarf costs about 2 thousand euros. On the contrary, llamas and alpacas are many and domesticated, so I could petted them. I crossed valleys, river landscapes, snowy mountains up to 4900 m a.s.l. and, exactly there, I had the lucky experience to see three condors flying on my head in the moment I was passing by car. However, don’t worry if you don’t see them: you can go directly to their place in an other area of Perù.
Day 9 – third on the road day to Puno
On my way, I crossed Colca Valley’s eden and see its wonders. The twice bigger canyon than the USA’s one, 3800 m, is what hit me the most. Unfortunately, I could’t take a picture equal to its immensity.
The other unforgettable experience was the chance to observe the condors there. This driving hasn’t been that long: I was in Puno for lunch.
When in Puno, I just needed to have a rest. So, I opted for a massage and a relaxing afternoon. In the evening, I had the stunning view of the lake and the lights of the city.
Day 10 – Puno
In the morning, the view is pretty different: Puno is not that attractive! But, my plan didn’t include a city tour. From the pick of the hotel, a boat was waiting for me to pick me up and drive me to the Uros floating islands. What does it mean? Exactly what I said: the Uros live on islands that they make themselves by bamboo, and that float on the Titicaca lake. I visited one of this island, where the Uros, used to tourists, invite me to see their rudimental houses, made by bamboo as well, and buy their hand-made colorful fabrics. On the same island about 20 people live, they have their chef who changes every year and decides how to administrate their piece of “land”. The island is pretty small, so they don’t make more then few meters everyday. In addiction, the place is wet. For these reasons, the Uros suffer of arthritis and their legs are incredibly swollen. This doesn’t mean that they never move form the island: they have their typical boat used to move to the school, for instance, and only sometimes to the land. It’s difficult for them to walk on the solid ground because they always walk on the floating bamboo. Therefore, the Uros live working all the time, without been affected by nowadays mind kind.
After that, the boat went on to Taquile Island among the waters of the Titicaca lake, which is mostly Peruvian but also Bolivian, and it’s incredibly big. Once on the island, I took a walk to the top. It was about 30 minutes and 300 m higher. That’s remind me to say something very interesting that I forgot to mention: Titicaca lake is 3.800 m a.s.l.! And there are beaches which look like Caribbean’s! When on the top, a made a ritual as my Peruvian guide had taught to me: putting one plain stone on the other to make a little tower. I personally decided that any stone means a different piece of my life, and while I was making it I was praying for each of them.
Taquile Island’s hand-mades are protected by Unesco, and they deserve to be seen. Then, it was almost lunch time my boat left for an other island where some inhabitants prepared the local foods in their own way: heating potatoes and fish under the earth.
In the late afternoon, I was back to the hotel and got ready for the longest day of my trip…
Day 11 – Rainbow Mountains
Have you aver checked “Rainbow Mountains” on internet? You’ll see incredible landscapes, full of colors which depend on the different period they were been created and the different materials. When the sun reaches these mountains, they bright with rainbow’s colors. I was really attracted by this natural miracle, so I insisted to add the trekking to get there to my schedule, which was already pretty hard. I managed it, and my guide led me to a 2 hours walking up to the pick from which people admire the famous spot. Unfortunately, the only colors I was able to see were black and white, and, with a lot of imagination, some red and dark green too. When I was in Perù it was almost winter, a cooler winter than they aspected it to be. It was windy and snowy.
Do you think I should have been disappointed? You are wrong. I learn a lesson: never been disappointed by your expectations, but take advantage of them. That made my day.
Day 11 – Cusco
I arrived in Cusco in the end of the previous day. When I woke up, I started my city tour from the heart to the tail and up to the brain of Cusco. What am I saying by heart, tail, and brain? I’m telling about the puma shape, of course. Cusco was the capital of Inca’s, and it represents their culture at all. The whole city is built in order to represent the Puma, who was one of their gods. The heart corresponds to the temple. It was completely covered by gold, and it was composed by four temples, one dedicates to the Moon, one to the Sun, one to the Lighting, and one to the Stars. Moreover, apparently in the garden in front of it there were gold statues of the animals. Imagine the reaction of the Spanish conquers when they saw it! But this is an other story. Let me finish to tell you about what Cusco was before. The tail corresponds to the end of city, where the two artificial rivers crossed. And the brain corresponds to the protective walls. This place attracted my interest the most. The strategy by which it was been built was unique. The tall walls and the tall doors as well were thought to make people think that the inhabitants were giants. Moreover, to enter the fortification, people should have gone by a kind of labyrinth of aisles. There were many stairs to slow down the invaders. And, of corse, the Puma’s brain was on a hill which dominated the area.
This fortification is different from the ones we know. Ours are usually more safe. But, visiting the Inca’s, I realized that our walls’ meaning is weakness, like they say: we are weak so we need to be well protected. The Inca’s walls, conversely, say: come in, we are not afraid of you, but you should be afraid of us.
Endeed, the history doesn’t say anything about a real invasion of Perù. Spanish people has been welcomed as gods. Inca were going through an hard period, due to the famine and the king’s vacant seat. Inca though that gods had sent them a salvation by the conquers. Then, little by little, Spanish revealed their intents: exploiting the Inca’s richness. They made it destroying their culture, language, uses, religion, both with their buildings, in a ideological and physical destruction. Nowadays, visitors can still see the ancient richness on the bottom of the city, literally. Spanish built their house on the old ones, because they were made very well, thick and obliques, in order to stay against the frequent earthquakes.
After the visiting, I took a time to buy an alpaca sweater for my dad and some silver earrings for me and my sister and mum. The silver from Perù is the purest one, so I suggest you to take advance of it and buy Christmas presents.
Entering in the mystical atmosphere of this place, I decided to buy a quartz too. It protects heart, both in a medical and in a sentimental sense. The shop assistant told me that in order to purificate it I should leave it for 30 minutes in the ground of the ancient temple’s garden. And so I did.
Day 12 – fourth on the road day to Sacred Valley
That day I had the chance to see the most beautiful landscapes of my life. From Cusco to the astonishing Sacred Valley, going by Morai, where there were the ancient Salinas and the agricolture laboratory. Do you know that Perù has thousands of different kinds of potatoes, for instance? All of these knowledge comes from the past, when Perù was dominated by Inca. They used to build terraces on the sides of the mountains with canals for irrigation. The Salinas are big tanks where they collected water and save salts, built as well on the side of a mountain.
After these stunning views, I reached Sacred Valley at sunset. That orange sweet light highlighted the memory of this day in my heart for ever, like an enchantment.
Day 13 – trekking in the Sacred Valley
To be honest, today should have been the first of three trekking days among the Andes to reach Machu Picchu. Something went wrong. I went wrong. My guide explained to me that it would have been very cool during the night, snowy and windy. I could face with the effort, and with the absence of the running water – which means no shower -. I was prepared for them. But not for the low temperatures. So I replanned my trip, including only one day of trekking in the Sacred Valley.
I left at 8.30 am with my guide. I walked for three hours in a steep climb. I was going without any big effort because I’m trained. When my guide suggested me to slow down, I thought that he was hard for himself, and I didn’t follow the advice. At 11.30 we made our fist stop. I had a banana while joining the view from the top. I thought that the hardest part was done and that the descent would have been faster.
An hour walking later, I asked to my guide how long it was. He said: “We are almost at the ancient Inca’s ruins”. Sounds good.
After an other hours we reached a gorge. It was like being in an Indiana Jones’ movie. The Sacred Valley is soon before the Amazonian Forest, so the place was full of big leaves, a river on the bottom, and a tight path on the side of the mountain. It was the Inca’s path that connects Cusco with the Sacred Valley. Inca used to do it as a pilgrimage. I thought that after the gorge I should have seen the ruins.
Not yet. On other hour, and I finally saw a big green garden. Through a door, I have got into what once had been a town. I spent half an hour to visit the place. I learnt from my guide that during a trekking people shouldn’t stop walking for more than 5 minutes, but I did anyway. I was reassured by the descent.
I couldn’t imagine that the descent would be the hardest part. The path was tight and unpaved, full of little stones that made me slip at each step. My guide told me: “No worries, we are almost there”, and I could believe him anymore since he had said that many times before. Then he added: “This is an adventure. The harder it is, the satisfier you’ll feel. You’ll never forget this experience”.
During the descent, I started thinking about his words. “I have to manage it” I told to myself. Nowadays, people have lost the real meaning of adventure. It doesn’t coincide with adrenaline. It means going through difficulties, and overcoming them. Inevitably, it means getting out of the comfort zone, and face to the unknown. That’s why the guide never said how long the trekking would be, and he cleverly avoided to answer my repetitive questions.
After two hours I arrived. Safe. I was surprised to realize that I had been stronger than I thought. And that has been the adventure I’ll never forget about.
Of course, after the walking I had the most appreciated massage ever, and I fall asleep during it.
Day 14 – Machu Picchu
The day after, I haven’t restored yet, and I spent the morning in my bathrobe going around the hotel, doing trivial stuff. Everyone needs it sometime. The beautiful hotel where I was deserved to be lived, after all. Check it out here: Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort.
In the late morning, I left for Machu Picchu. Not the famous spot, but the little town under the mountain. Anyway, to get there people have to take a train, the Inca Rail. The guide came to pick me up at the arrival station, and drove me to the hotel in the town. It was pretty nice: one main road full of hotels and restaurants. I immediately realized how much it could be changed in the last years after Machu Picchu had become famous all over the world.
After a huge dinner, I went to the bed, exciting for the next day trip…
Day 15 – Machu Picchu
I woke up early to take the bus that drove me to the well known spot. Firstly, my guide took me to the Sun Gate, from which people have a stunning view of Machu Picchu, that is “small mountain”, and the bigger one bigger one beside. The gate is so called because in the summer solstice (in December for Perù) the sun rises exactly through that cut in the mountains. In the same way it shows itself from an other cut in the winter solstice (few days after my staying). During sunrise, the rays reach the sundial set in the ancient Machu Picchu, which means that Inca were knowledgeable of astronomy. But it’s not that which made Machu Picchu so famous. This spot was the only one that Spanish had never discovered. It’s not mentioned in their writings and maps about Perù. So, for an unknown reason, it has never been touched by the conquers and remained exactly as it were during Inca’s period.
For the same reason, it’s a pilgrimage destination for esoteric religions. It should have stored its ancient positive energy more than any other Inca’s city. And actually, even if you don’t believe in them, if you are a little sensible, you can feel an unique sensation when you walk on that ground.
I’m writing more than one month later I have come back. So I can be sure about the lesson that Perù taught me. If I had written this immediately after, I would have taped many things. But, today, after a time, I can say what actually changed in me after this experience. I extended what my guide said referring to the the trekking. That day I was able to overcome the limits I though to have. I was convinced to have them, because I had never been in a situation like that, where I have to face to them. I realized that I’m more powerful than I thought. I realized, a bit later, that I could be more powerful in many other occasions. Maybe, every single day. I will never assume again to have limits without having experience of them. I will always try my best, knowing that if I want, I can. I’m not going in search of dangerous affairs or difficulties, but whenever it’ll happen now I know that I have enough strength to face them. So, nowadays, I’m not anymore afraid about future. I will deal with everything, in case. What matters is not to change my path because of the fear. What matters is following my path besides any fear. Fear is in the eye of the viewer.