Sometimes you end up in places you can only dream about. So was the bizarre and unusual 2020. I left Mexico in early February 2020, and flew straight to Lima, Peru. I spent about 6 hours in Lima and then flew to Cusco. I spent a week in Cusco learning, or at least trying to learn Spanish. It was the perfect place to learn, the Spanish here is easier to understand, probably as everyone speaks a little slower. It also matches the Peruvians laid back nature. After the madness of Colombia and Mexico, I really needed Peru. And it didn’t disappoint:
CUSCO AND SACSAYHUAMÁN
I had heard so much about Peruvian cuisine. It was a pleasure to finally sample the ceviche and lomo saltado (alpaca instead of beef). This place is a photographers dream.
THE SACRED VALLEY – MACHU PICCHU
Words can’t even describe the beauty of the Andes or Incan engineering.
THE SACRED VALLEY – MARAS, MORAY & OLLANTAYTAMBO
A pre-Incan salt mine in Maras. I had seen a documentary on this place maybe 10 years prior. I was always fascinated by this place, as salt was considered more important than gold. The circle fields of Moray were essentially science labs. An Australian scientists figured out, that it was built to test out grains at various elevations. I was not prepared for the beauty of Ollantaytambo. There are giant grain stores (fridges) cut out of the side of the mountain. I only had a few hours here, I would definitely go back and explore some more.
LAKE TITICACA, PUNO, JULIACA, AREQUIPA
The Uros Islands on Lake Titicaca are made entirely of peat and reeds, and they float. They are anchored to the bottom of the lake to stop them moving. We stopped at Taquile Island for lunch, then back to Puno. When I was travelling through this region, there was some serious rain. There was substantial flooding in Juliaca. I took the bus further up to 2,335 m elevation to Arequipa. I decided against Rainbow Mountain as the weather was overcast and not worth the trek.
AREQUIPA TO NAZCA & HUACACHINA
I’ve never seen so much desert in my life, all through very windy roads. And an cliff side ocean road, where I prayed it was not a day for tremors or earthquakes. A quick stop to check out the Nazar lines and onto Huacachina. This place was the biggest surprise in all my travels. A ‘desert oasis’ which was once just a dirty waterhole, and some local decided it would make a great resort.
Where the desert meets the sea. This place was devastated by an earthquake and tsunami in 2007. It is a quiet town close to Pisco. Many people come here to kite surf. Which is exactly what I did for a week, I took kite surfing lessons.
My travels were abruptly brought to a halt in March 2020, when I got sick (not coronavirus). Peru suddenly went into lockdown and The Jorge Chávez International Airport international airport shut down. The only way to get out of the country, was by a charter flight with government to government intervention. A large chunk of savings later (I had managed to secure a seat on a charter flight back to Australia) I was, along with about 250 other Australians, herded onto a Latam Airlines flight at Grupo 8, the Peruvian Air Force Base in Callao. Not to worry, I met some amazing people at Pariwana Hostel and I thank them for looking after us all! 90 people in lockdown, not an easy task.