I just returned from a Brendan Tour to Peru – Land of the Inca, Lake Ticticaca and Lines of Nasca. It was fantastic. The Sheraton Hotel in Lima is lovely, the staff wonderful, and the food delicious. They have free shuttle service to Miraflores, the section of the city on the ocean.
We flew to Cusco and immediately took a bus to the sacred Valley of the Incas, touring Ollantaytambo and staying at a wonderful hotel-Casa Andina Private Collection nearby. There is a spa and a daily astronomical show (for $10 US) that is not to be missed. The ruins are incredible, and the Pisac market is fascinating.
After that, we took a train to Macchu Pichu and stayed at the Sumaq Hotel in Aguas Calientes, across from the Urubamba River. The hotel was gorgeous. We had a morning and an afternoon tour of the ruins, along with a great lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge at the top of the mountain. There was time to Climb Huayna Pichu, the mountain across from Macchu Pichu (very rigorous but climb at your own risk) and to visit the Sun Gate, where the Inca Train ends at Macchu Pichu. Buses run continuously from the bottom in Aguas Calientes to the top from 6 AM to 5 PM.
Next we took the train to Cusco and spent 2 nights at the Casa Andina Private Collection – a converted hacienda. We toured Sachsay Waman – an ancient ruin outside Cusco proper, and had a tour of the main cathedral. We also had time to explore on our own. It’s a great shopping city!
Next was a 10 hour train trip to Puna for a visit to lake Titicaca, which is over 12, 500 feet in elevation. The train went by fast and was similar to an Orient Express. There was food, entertainment, a fashion show, a bar car and a domed car for viewing. We made a number of interesting stops along the way. Our visit included the Floating Islands of Uros, made out of reeds, and Taquile, where we had a fabulous lunch and were entertained. The entire island sells its crafts on a cooperative basis, with some of the proceeds going to island improvement. The floating islands were incredible. They are built on a bed of reeds and they can cut parts off and tow them to different locations! We also took a ride on a reed boat, which are built to look like animals. One evening a number of us went into the city (a cab ride less than $2.00 US for 5 of us) and had dinner. The main square was filled with young dancers in costumes from different villages.
Our last stop was in Ica, where we took a small plane over the Lines of Nasca – figures in the dirt made thousands of years ago by pushing the dark rocks to one side or the other. They can only be seen from the air. It is a mystery as to who did them and why, and theories range from extra-terrestrial landing sites, to astrological calendars, to ceremonial reasons. We stayed at Las Dunas, a fancy, gorgeous resort.
On the way back to Lima we took a boat ride to the Ballestas islands, a mini Galapagos, where we saw penguins, pelicans, cormorants, sea lions, boobies, terns, gulls, and sunfish and bottle nose dolphins.
Due to high elevations in Cusco (over 11,500 feet), Macchu Pichu (over 9,000 feet) and Lake Titicaca (over 12, 500 feet), people with respiratory ailments should check with a physician before going. It was a wonderful vacation – all our guides were knowledgeable, all transfers, flight, trains and buses went smoothly, and it was the experience of a lifetime.