12 Lima Surprises

Spectacular art of the Museo LarcoMochica Headdress in the Museo Larco

Lima is one of those cities which travelers tend to rush through. More than once, we’ve heard tourists count their luck that they only had to spend a few hours here in transit, or were able to bypass the metropolis altogether. So we were quite shocked when we got here and sort of fell in love with this South American capital. Lima has a fun, quirky vibe,  and Limeños are humorous, welcoming and helpful.

Yes, this town definitely has a rough side, and visitors and locals alike hold their breath every time they step into a taxi out of fear of being abducted. But if you pick your neighborhoods, take official taxis, and use your head, you’ll quickly discover that Lima is a unique city with a great deal to offer. Here’s just a sample of what we think makes this city of 8.5 million pretty great Continue…

Merry Christmas from Peru

Isas Uros in Peru

Merry Christmas to all our friends and family from the Islas Uros, the floating islands of Lake Titicaca. Time to gather ’round the tribal reed Christmas tree and sing some carols.

Deck the halls with bails of lake reeds,

Fa la la la la, la la la la… 

Outstanding Things to Do in Ollantaytambo

Thomas in the backstreets of Ollantaytambo

It took me a whole week before I could pronounce the name of this little Sacred Valley town without totally embarrassing myself. Luckily, I quickly learned that locals referred to Ollantaytambo as Ollanta which makes talking about this gem to locals much easier.

Most tourists make a quick stop in Ollantaytambo to visit the famous ruins on their way to Machu Picchu, but few people seem to notice the town itself. Big mistake! With its gurgling irrigation channels and narrow cobblestone streets, Ollantaytambo is a surviving example of Incan urban planning and a living work of art. Staying here is an absolute no-brainer for architecture freaks like us.

The town is also the perfect place to just wander around, soak up the atmosphere and people-watch. Cobbled paths take you away from the tourist buzz of the central plaza and way back into areas where only few visitors stray. This is authentic Peru just a few feet off the beaten path. Peak over the high stone walls and you will find beautiful gardens with colorful flowers, toddlers playing, drying laundry, chickens, cats, donkeys and cages full of guinea pigs destined for Continue…

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is spectacular… so spectacular that we needed to visit the super-monument twice. The first time was in July during a visit by friends Lisa and Garrett, who pop up on this blog once or twice a year. The second time was the last day of our incredible Salkantay Lodge Trek with Mountain Lodges of Peru.

In some ways, it almost feels ridiculous writing about one of the most photographed and documented places on the planet. Volumes have been written about how beautiful and mysterious the site is. Article after article invokes images of “the lost city of the Incas,”  which was never really all that lost. (Locals living in the area knew it was here.) So what is there to write? Can Thomas and I really add anything that hasn’t been said a thousand times? Perhaps.

One thing we can Continue…

Fallen Angel in Cusco

Fallen Angel restaurant

We love daring adventures: tracking wildlife in the jungle, clinging to sheer rock walls, crossing 17,000 ft passes in the shadow of crumbling glaciers. You wouldn’t think that a boutique hotel could rise to our standards of “epic” experiences. But then again, you’ve probably never seen Cusco’s Fallen Angel.

Bold, ostentatious, humorous, psychedelic, flamboyant and fun, you might expect Fallen Angel in Berlin, Paris or Tokyo. But it comes as a TOTAL shock in the 16th century colonial courtyard of a historical casa in Cusco. The moment you step into the restaurant-bar-hotel, you realize you have entered a parallel universe of art and ideas, a cultural statement meant to challenge assumptions about Cusqueña and Peruvian culture: this country is about Continue…

Cirque du Soleil Corteo in Lima

Cirque du Soleil Corteo

OK, don’t get confused… this isn’t a continuation of our via ferrata in the Sacred Valley or another Amazon adventure sport. This time, Thomas and I are just kicking back in our VIP seats and watching Cirque du Soleil’s Corteo in Lima, a touring production presented in their cutting-edge traveling tent.

Corteo presents the Cirque’s unique blend of acrobatics, music, and variété through the death visions of a clown. Angels hover midair as a ballet tightrope artist dances en point onto the rope. Scantily clad ladies Continue…

Paracas and the Islas Ballestas

Paracas

If Dali designed a desert it would look a lot like Paracas. The surreal landscape of the Paracas Peninsula and the offshore Islas Ballestas are quite unlike anything we’ve encountered before. Where else do mustard yellow desert sands tumble down sheer cliffs onto rust red beaches. Green waters filled with white foam crash against a rainbow of rocks, the scene comes straight from an artist’s palette.

The fantastical environment is inhabited by a cast of weird and wonderful characters. Humboldt penguins waddle through stone arches past blood-red crabs and blue-footed boobies. Orange starfish and alien urchins cling to the rocks. Inca sterns with handle-bar mustaches and red-legged Continue…

The Ultimate Amazon Adventure (Part 2)

It’s not often that you can lie in bed and watch wildlife at the same time. Like the other Rainforest Expeditions Lodges, the rooms at the Posada Amazonas are open-walled. As I shift in bed and reposition my pillow to look out into the night jungle, I see the silhouette of a night monkey leaping from one branch to another. So cool. I check my phone to discover it’s 4:30 am, time to get up for breakfast before we head to the canopy tower.

We’re staying in a superior room, which means we have electricity when the generator is running. I fumble for the lights – YES – the generator is on. Even better, a green light on my Continue…

The Ultimate Amazon Adventure (Part 1)

Thomas slides the paddleboard off the muddy riverbank into the slow-flowing river.

“What about piranha?” I ask as Thomas climbs onto the board, “This isn’t going to be like one of those ’70s horror movies if we lose our balance, is it?”

“No, piranha almost never attack people, especially in rivers,” answers our guide Pepe smiling at what is clearly a common question, “Those horror stories you hear are usually rare cases where piranha have been trapped in small bodies of water. I’ve been swimming in these rivers for years, and nothing has ever happened to me.”

Confident that bad balance won’t prove fatal, I push my paddleboard off the bank and follow Thomas downriver. Pepe and Angel, our sports guide, follow. The scene is like something out of a movie: a winding jungle river, steep red-clay riverbanks, a towering canopy of rainforest trees. Two scarlet macaws fly overhead and a chorus of gurgling oropendolas Continue…