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Cusco and Machu Picchu: Three hotels reviewed

Cusco and Machu Picchu: Three hotels reviewed

I just got back from a trip to three gorgeous – but very different – hotels in Cusco, the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Here’s what I loved about each place…
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Lodge versus cruise: Exploring the Peruvian Amazon

Lodge versus cruise: Exploring the Peruvian Amazon

You haven’t truly experienced the wonders of South America until you’ve immersed yourself in the canopy of the Amazon and explored its many waterways. Until you’ve got up close and personal with a macaw and heard a howler howl… Why go The numbers don’t lie. The Amazon Rainforest covers about 2,100,000 square miles, making it far and away the largest rain forest on the planet. The Amazon River, without which there would be no forest, is the world’s largest river by volume and – recent studies suggest – also the world’s longest.  The Amazon Rainforest is shared by eight different countries, with Brazil, Peru and Columbia boasting the largest swaths. Photo credit: R.Rodrich / Delfin Amazon Cruises By area 60% of Peru is rainforest, but only 5% of the population calls it home. What it lacks in humans it makes up for with a multitude of plants, insects, birds, animals and fish that is quite simply without compare. The Amazon is the most biodiverse place on the planet and it has to …
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The Great Inca Trail - Part III

The Great Inca Trail - Part III

Day 29 The Great Inca Trail that runs through Aypate connects south by a four-day foot path to an important, but now disappeared Inca Citadel named Caxas near an Inca bath. The walkable route (as the Inca road from Aypate has been covered over) drops in elevation 2,000 meters South from Aypate, weaving between river valleys and cloud forest, before climbing to Caxas. On the third of these four days, you go from the Aranza Valley to Bellavista, where were provided a roof from the hospital director of the local school, whose extra storage house worked as a great covered camp. We’re expecting a full day’s walk to Caxas tomorrow, on what we hope will be preserved sections of the original Inca Trail. Although, the rain has been relentless, coming down a significant part of the day for the last week, meaning we’ll also have a significant amount of mud to work through as well. The constant rain definitely saps the spirits of the team, as it dampens a lots of aspects of life on the trail. …
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5 iconic Amazon animals

5 iconic Amazon animals

Your once in-a-lifetime adventure to the world’s largest and richest rainforest will be packed with wildlife highlights from start to finish. Here are a few of the most exciting species found near Puerto Maldonado... Giant river otter (Pteronura brasiliensis). These graceful river giants, which attain lengths of 8ft (if you include their long tails) and weights of 70lb, are the largest member of the Mustelid family. Only 5,000 remain in the wild (in an area the size of the Lower 48!) but the oxbow lakes of Tambopata in South-Eastern Peru are one of the best places in the world to see them. The sociable otters who live in groups of up to 20 individuals are expert fishermen who eat approximately 3 kilograms of fish every day. Each otter is born with a uniquely shaped patch of cream-colored fur on its throat – much like a human fingerprint this can be used by rangers and scientists to identify individuals. They’re also extremely vocal animals…as you will find out on your Amazon …
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Everything you need to know about Peru

Everything you need to know about Peru

From the vibrant colors of the Amazon to the wispy clouds of Machu Picchu, Peru has it all. We’ve sifted through our archives to compile one megablog that covers every corner of this magnificent country… Lima, the thriving capital With great beaches, the world’s best food (officially!) and a fascinating history Lima really does have it all. Where else can you see a pre-Incan adobe pyramid surrounded by skyscrapers and go on a tour of the oldest colonial house in all of the Americas? Adventure junkies can jog, surf, bike and paraglide to their hearts' content while kids and adults will love the water and lights show at the Parque de la Reserva. Making the most of your Lima layover Colonial Culture in Lima An introduction to Lima Lima through the lens Lima más arriba (amazing aerial photographs of the city) Water and lights shows at the Parque de la Reserva Photo credit: Kenneth Moore Lima, foodie heaven With five restaurants in the the world's Top 50, Lima is …
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Making the most of your Lima layover

Making the most of your Lima layover

With a fascinating colonial past, a thriving culinary scene and a gorgeous coastline, Peru’s bustling capital is so much more than a layover. Whether you’re coming from the giddying heights of Machu Picchu or the steamy lowlands of the Amazon, one thing’s for certain: Your once-in-a-lifetime Peruvian adventure will include at least a few hours in Lima before you fly out of Peru. This blog takes you through some of the best ways to capitalize on this opportunity to delve further into Peruvian culture. Eat and drink your way around the city on a food tour Peru has been voted the World's Leading Culinary Destination for five years running, and Lima is the undisputed epicenter of the country’s gastronomic renaissance. Peruvian cuisine has been refined over millennia and the fusion of cultures and variety of local ingredients makes it both unique and exquisite. These highly-rated tours aim to nurture an understanding and appreciation of the culture of Peru by experiencing its food at …
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Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: Kevin Floerke

Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: Kevin Floerke

A bona fide archaeologist with a special interest in Inca roads who also just happens to be a drone pilot, rock climber and videographer...Kevin was made for our Qhapaq Ñan expedition. Born and raised in the wine country of Northern California, Kevin has always been pathologically curious about the world and its people. He majored in anthropology and archaeology at UCLA, but it was a chance encounter at the university rock climbing wall that nudged him in the direction of the Incas. There he met a professor who was in urgent need of an experienced climber for a project in the Peruvian highlands. The rest, as they say, is history... All roads lead to... Kevin has spent every summer since then hiking and working in the Andes. As one of his first archaeological projects, Kevin, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institute, used GPS data, drone, aerial and satellite imagery, and the extensive knowledge of local collaborators to survey all of the Inca road remnants within a 75 mile …
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Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: John Leivers

Meet the Qhapaq Ñan crew: John Leivers

Veteran Australian adventurer John Leivers has spent more time walking in the Andes than most llamas. His vast knowledge and on-the-ground experience of the Qhapaq Ñan make him an irreplaceable member of the team. John, who is now 64, divides his time between coaching and ‘sweeping’ a women’s surf boat crew in Perth, Western Australia and being the “chief consultant” on SA Expeditions’ ground-breaking Qhapaq Ñan Expedition from Ingapirca in Ecuador to Cusco in Peru. He will hike every step of the way alongside, with Nick Stanziano, (Founder and Chief Explorer of SA Expeditions), providing invaluable insights into the route, history, politics and more. As Nick says ,“Since I first conceived this Qhapaq Ñan expedition until today, John’s stories, mentorship and expertise on the Qhapaq Ñan have been ever present.” John in action with the 'Senyoritas' women's surf boat crew in Perth. John has always been “one of those blokes who’s keen to see what’s over the next ridge and deal with …
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Climbing Huayna Picchu (the mountain in THAT photo)

Climbing Huayna Picchu (the mountain in THAT photo)

This short, sharp ascent on narrow paths and stairs is both hair-raising and exhausting. But this is all forgotten when you stand at the top and look down on the wonder that is Machu Picchu. What is Huayna Picchu? Day visitors to Machu Picchu can choose between a regular entry ticket or a ticket that includes hiking to either Huayna Picchu or Machu Picchu Mountain. Huayna Picchu is the dramatic cone-shaped peak which towers above Machu Picchu in all the photos…you know the one. Machu Picchu means ‘old mountain’ in Quechua and Huayna Picchu means ‘young mountain’. At 8,920ft, it’s the second highest point in the ruins precinct (Machu Picchu Mountain is higher) but it still enjoys great views. This could be you... (Photo credit: Jipe7 on Flickr) Huayna Picchu versus Machu Picchu Mountain If your legs allow it, hiking up one of these two peaks is highly recommended. But which one will it be? Huayna Picchu is much more popular among visitors, and despite the fact that only 400 visitors …
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Pariacaca in literature...Of gods, engineers and doctors

Pariacaca in literature...Of gods, engineers and doctors

The section of the Qhapaq Nhan which joins the highland outpost of Jauja (aka Xauxa) and Pachacamac on the coast traverses some of the continent’s most spectacular – and storied – landscapes. For centuries travelers have marveled at, and written about, the fabled mountain of Pariacaca – an 18,868 ft ‘apu’ or sacred mountain. For this month’s blog I read as many accounts of the region as I could find and have shared some of the best excerpts below. There are pieces on the beauty of the landscapes, descriptions of the incredible flight of 1,500 stone steps known as the Escalera de Pariacaca; and a fascinating treatise on Pariacaca’s unlikely and important place in the history of medicine. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I did... On the natural beauty of the landscapes The Jauja Valley is commonly regarded as one of the most beautiful in Peru – something which clearly has not changed much since Pedro de Cieza de Leon, author of the definitive Crónicas del Perú, passed …
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The Two Day Inca Trail – The Best Kept Secret

The Two Day Inca Trail – The Best Kept Secret

Hiram Bingham’s discovery of Machu Picchu and the subsequent photos published in 1913, in the fledging National Geographic magazine, changed the course of Peru (and the magazine). Today the region of Cusco, which is the gateway to the most stunning of mountaintop Inca citadels, now sees over a million tourists a year. When Bingham first arrived to the site, he traversed the beautiful stone roads that the Inca’s built 500 years prior, a walking path that was bypassed in the subsequent decades by a rail line, built in the 1940’s to bring ever more visitors arriving to Peru, on modern jet airplanes. The Re-discovery of the Inca Trail By the early 1980’s some entrepreneurial explorers recognized the potential of these same paths that Bingham took in 1911 when he re-discovered Machu Picchu (Bingham’s route differed slightly from the current Inca Trail) and created a four day trekking circuit that again changed the course of tourism for the region. It established one of today’s most …
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Qhapaq Ñan: Not your average World Heritage Site

Qhapaq Ñan: Not your average World Heritage Site

Spanning six countries and 273 distinct sites, the Qhapaq Ñan’s nomination as a UNESCO World Heritage Site was a global first. We unpick the backstory. Not all UNESCO World Heritage Sites are created equal. Honoring and protecting a single cathedral or castle in a developed country with an established infrastructure is a relatively facile process, but doing the same for a road network which in its heyday spread across the length and breadth of the Andes is an entirely different prospect. El Caminante awakens the sleeping giant Were it not for the exploits of Peruvian author and adventurer Ricardo ‘El Caminante’ Espinosa, the Qhapaq Ñan may well have been forgotten by history. As recently as the 1990s the Qhapaq Ñan was – in the words of Espinosa – “just another legend, or in any event, a reality that time had snatched from us forever...which had lain hidden for centuries precisely because of its gigantic size.” Ricardo 'El Caminante' Espinosa enjoys a rare breather alongside the …
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