Peru

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Cusco

This original Inca city, is located at an altitude of over 10,800 ft and home to innumerable Inca monuments. It took us a while to get ourselves acclimatized to the altitude of the ares. Once we got our bearings, we went on to visit the nearby Inca ruins such as Pachacuti and Ollantaytambo. The market at Pisac is a good place to shop for souvenirs though pretty touristy.

Arequipa

On the western edge of the Andes, at the foot of the Misti volcano, Arequipa is a beautiful city of mansions, temples and convents built out of 'sillar' - a material of solidified volcanic rock. We spent a day there enjoying the beauty of the town and the ethnic food cooked over lava stones and utensils. We went on to visit Colca Canyon and Crux del Condo, the home of the majestic Andean Condor.

Peru is country of astounding natural diversity that fires the imagination like few other places - the parched expanses of dusty desert in Huacachina, the cool sapphire-blue waters of Lake Titicaca, the jaw-dropping glaciated pinnacles of the Andes in Arequipa and the lush jungles of Amazon, replete with wildlife and hidden treasures of the Incas. Add to all of this the most strikingly familiar image of South America the awesome, cloud topping Inca city of Machu Picchu, it simply takes your breath away!

We started our journey of this quintessential South American country at Lima. We spent the first day exploring Caral, described by its excavators as the oldest urban center in the Americas dating back to 2600 BC. We spent a couple of days later exploring Lima and enjoyed especially the Peruvian cuisine which is a rich melting pot of several immigrant cultures, including Spanish, Chinese, Basque, Japanese and of course the influence of the Incas. No trip is complete without trying the Inca Cola, though I doubt the Incas had any influence over this drink!

And do not miss the Algarubena Pisco cocktail.

Machu Pichu

We woke up before dawn and walked through the mist shrouded mountains to catch a glimpse of this lost City of the Incas. As the first rays of the sun broke through the clouds, the mist engulfed and took us back over 600 years to the Inca empire. The torrential downpour of rain did not deter or distract our captivation with this mysterious and magical moment.

Paracas

The Paracas peninsula is an unspoiled natural paradise where the desert sands reveal treasures of ancient civilizations. We flew over the Nazca Lines spread across the dry plains of the southern coastal desert and drove to the Huacachina oases with its mammoth sand dunes. We also sailed around the Ballestas Islands inhabited by birds galore and marine animals.


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Copyright 2008 Rajani Ramanathan