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Machu Picchu and More

A Recap of Peru by Thecla Vis – Atlas Vacation Travel Specialist

Thecla “on location” in Peru.

There’s no need to explain the allure of visiting Machu Picchu. The famous mountaintop ruin in the Peruvian Andes is a place that everyone should visit during their lifetime; it seems it’s near the top of everybody’s bucket list. A trip to this fabulous destination, however, is not the only reason to visit Peru. Your journey to the Lost City of the Incas can include an array of additional activities. Adventure, history, culture and nature are all available through add-ons that cater to a range of individual interests.

One of my most memorable activities involved not the mountains but the rainforest. Few people realize that one of the most mysterious jungle waterways in the world flows through Peru, namely the Amazon River. Reaching that destination, however, required a bit of legwork.

After my initial flight into the capital city of Lima (a fascinating destination in itself), I boarded a regional flight to the high-altitude city of Cusco. Situated 11,000 feet up in the Peruvian Andes, I found a fascinating World Heritage Site full of wonder and vitality. It is a walking city teeming with outdoor markets, colorfully clad native peoples, and a multitude of festive activities. Emanating out from the central plaza are labyrinths of cobblestone lanes and alleyways that entice the curious visitor to get lost in the charming ambiance.

Only a forty-minute flight from Cusco is Puerto Maldonado, the gateway to the Amazonian Rainforest. This is where I embarked on the adventure of a lifetime. A 2½-hour boat ride through the turbid brown waters took me to “Tambopata,” an eco-lodge perched high above the river, nestled in the verdant jungle. In addition to caimans seen in the river, day and night guided jungle walks yielded encounters with myriad species of plants, insects and animals that I had never before laid eyes on. Peccaries and tapirs revealed themselves to the lucky visitor. Seeing a tarantula in its native habitat (and just a few feet away from me) was an unforgettable experience.

After two nights in this stimulating ecological environment, it was time to continue towards my much-anticipated climax, Machu Picchu. Stops at Inca archaeological sites such as Ollantaytambo afforded a stairmaster workout of ascending terraces reaching up steep mountainsides.

A scenic ride on PeruRail took me through the fertile Sacred Valley and to the town of Aguas Calientes at the foot of Machu Picchu’s mountain. A bus negotiates endless s-turns to take travelers bursting with anticipation to this pinnacle paradise. Amid intricate stone ruins on this storied peak, I could see creation’s grandeur all around me. Disbelief, awe and wonderment filled my being as I comprehended the imposing beauty of this magical place. My journey complete, I realized that it was in fact only an introduction to the many wonders that Peru had to offer. I must return.

 

For more information on Peru, Machu Picchu and other adventure travel, contact Thecla at 508-488-1109 or email thecla.vis@atlastravel.com.

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