My A-Z Peru Highlights (part 2, Nasca to Zarcillo!)

(Click here to read part 1, A-M)

N is for Nasca Lines

One of the great mysteries of Peru, the Nasca lines, these enormous patterns and designs in the desert were created by removing all the dark stones and exposing the lighter sand below. They’re fascinating to see, and sure to have you asking, but why? Continue reading

My Peru Highlights A-Z

A is for Arequipa and artisanal alpaca hats

Arequipa was the first town I properly arrived in, having crossed the overland border between Arica in Chile and Tacna in Peru. The old city is full of character, beautiful cobbled streets, it nestles below three volcanoes, and the food has a style all of its own. I especially liked Rocoto Relleno, a large stuffed red chili, with a solid spicy kick. The monastery of Santa Catalina is an eye-opening revelation into how nuns from wealthy Spanish families lived – no vow of poverty here and only the first Vatican council changed their lifestyle into one more of community living.

An alpaca hat with ear flaps and tassels is the must-have item for overnight stays in Colca Canyon or the Inca Trail. There’s a moment on every trek when the baseball caps and wide brimmed straw trilby hats vanish and out come all the alpaca hats we’ve been cajoled into purchasing from the wizened knitting ladies in every market, tourist stop, or café. You can try to resist, but the cold nights in Puno or Cusco mean the alpaca hat will get you in the end! Mine’s reversible, just sayin’! 😉

B is for the Ballestas Islands
Continue reading

In the footsteps of the Incas – part 2

Click here to read Part 1  

Day 3 – Pacamayo to Machu Picchu (21km)

I’ve spent most of the night shifting from side to side seeking comfort from the hard gravelly surface for which my rollmat has been no match. Marco’s wake up call with hot tea at 4.45am comes as a blessed relief. After the heavy rains overnight, everything is cold and damp, but at least it’s not raining now.

Guide Manny is keen to make an earlier than usual start today. Normally this is a 15km day to the campsite at Wiñay Wayna, where groups overnight before walking the final 5km up to the Sun Gate to Machu Picchu at dawn to catch the sunrise. However recent heavy rains mean than some of the camping sites, including the one we’ve been allocated, are no longer in good condition, and the current weather patterns are bringing heavy cloud and rain at Machu Picchu most early mornings. Chances of that romantic sunrise over Machu Picchu are slim. Instead the guides reckon our best chance of sun will be mid-late afternoon, and if we make good time, we could get our first glimpse of Machu Picchu today. That’s enough of an incentive for us, and after yet another hearty Benedicto-blessed breakfast of veggie omelette and plantain, we’re all packed up and on the trail by 6am.

Continue reading

In the footsteps of the Incas – part 1

In the footsteps of the Incas – part 1

It has been a lifetime dream to walk in the footsteps of the Incas along steep valley sides and over the rocky mountain passes and reach Machu Picchu from the Sun Gate. It’s impossible to capture the ongoing breathless wonder of the four day adventure with the awesome guides, porters & fellow hikers in my Peru Treks Inka Trail family,  or that feeling of your first glimpse of this incredible citadel in the clouds, but here goes…

Day 1: Piscacucho to Wayllabamba, 12km

Continue reading

Carpe the f***ing diem


One week to go til I set off on my big adventure…

So, the idea of taking time out from work is also meant to be a break from my über-planned life to date, in which I’ve never been out of work for a single day since I left university, and slogged away at my great and interesting jobs almost without pause since the summer of 1987.

Throw caution to the winds… throw plans out of the window, and just go with the flow…and see what happens. What turns up.

It lasted about a week.  It turns out I can’t live without a plan. I was almost cracking up with the strain of not knowing what I was about to do next. Lost and anxious. My good friend Shirley in Boston came to the rescue. “Carpe the f***ing diem”, she said.

Continue reading