We finally got to Peru after 2 reschedules due to circumstances beyond our control on 27 April 2019.From our first encounter with the guide who met us at Lima airport at 1 AM local time to our farewells 10 April 2019, I felt that we had received the best value and superior guides than we had expected.Our first guide really did not have to be there, as all we had to do was walk across the street to the Airport hotel, but he was there, cheerful and helpful.We were back at the airport at 7 AM for our flight to Cusco, where our guide (he was greeted by virtually every other tour guide we met for the next week) met us and began a week exploration through the Sacred Valley, Macchu Picchu, and Cusco. Having been a former guide on the Inca Trail, our guide knew what we needed to become acclimatized to the altitude, as we were headed next to the Ausangate Trek with hiking at altitudes near 17,000 feet (>5000 meters).Our first two nights were in a hotel in Ollantaytambo, as nice a hotel as I have ever been in.Our next day after an early morning visit to the Ollantaytambo Sun Temple, found us at the Moray Terraces and the nearby salt mines where our guide showed us a path to hike down to the valley to meet our driver for a wonderful lunch.You will not go hungry in Peru! Not only is the cuisine delicious, the portions are enormous.The following day we rode the scenic Peru Rail to Aqua Calientes where we hiked to waterfalls and a butterfly preserve. We were again housed in a fine hotel and served five star meals.The next day was Macchu Picchu, our guide had us in line for entry as they opened at 6AM. We were able to explore and get pictures before the crowds arrived later. We were also able to climb Huayna Picchu for some the best photos of the area. It is a strenuous climb, but well worth it. After lunch we returned to another night to a hotel in Ollantaytambo.The next day, our guide got a day off as we were driven to the top of a 14,500 foot pass for a downhill mountain bike ride of 50 kilometers (30 miles) and 5000 feet vertical descent. There maybe another similar ride on the planet, but I do not know of one! Spectacular scenery and travel through at least five different climate zones. We checked out of Pakaritampu and drove to Cusco with our driver to spend the night.Our last day with our guide was spent exploring Cusco parks and ancient churches, finishing with another fine meal. The rest of the day was spent shopping at the local markets and preparing for the Ausangate Trek with a Cusco lodge.We met that evening with a representative of the Lodge and one of our fellow travelers for the trek for last minute preparations.The following day we met with our guide and driver to begin the Ausangate Trek. After a four hour drive with stops in Urco and Pitumarca, we had a lunch cooked for us near a ruin of an ancient water mill. We then began an easy 3 mile hike to the first Lodge near the town of Chillica, where we we treated to a three course meal and hot showers. The stars were out this evening, with no light pollution at all.The second day starts easily as you follow a primitive road upstream until it end at a llama corral. After this, you climb to lakes and pasture near the base of Ausangate approaching 16,000 feet altitude. Again a hot lunch was prepared on the trail. Terri was beginning to suffer from the altitude, but we managed to get to the second lodge, for another hot shower and excellent meal. Our guide was able to make a Terri more comfortable, and after discontinuing Diamox, and drinking electrolytes, we were able to continue.The morning of the third day we awoke to 4 inches of fresh snow and clearing skies, we then climbed to Palomino Pass 16,887 feet for highest elevation of the trek. from here it was mostly down hill through a broad valley to the next lodge. we were beginning to see the colors of the mountains becoming more pronounced as we were approaching the Rainbow Mountains and Red Valley of the Peruvian Andes The third lodge is the only single story lodge of the four we stayed at.Day four is the day we pass the Rainbow Mountain and Red Valley. We begin with a climb to another pass approaching 17,00 feet, then descend to a series of three lakes. As we approach the Rainbow mountain overlook, we can see the crowds of people who come here for a day hike from Cusco. Our guide knew the crowds would be gone after lunch, and by the time we got to the overlook, we had it to ourselves. Without a doubt, one of the natural wonders of this planet! We then traversed the Red Valley to our last lodge. The final supper was remarkable!Our last day on the trek begins with yet another climb, but then down hill to lunch and our bus back to Cusco. Along the way down, we passed through a small village, where we were greeted by the entire elementary school student body. ( about 12 children) We gave out the last of our trail snacks and continued downhill. we arrived in Cusco about 4 PM, pleasantly tired.We were driven to the airport in time to catch an 0830 flight back to Lima, where we were picked up and driven to the Largo Museum for a tour and yet another example of fine Peruvian cuisine. After a tour of central Lima, we drove to Paracas marine preserve where we stayed at a hotel.Our next day, we were taken to an airport in Ica, where we were first in line for the best seats on a Cessna Caravan for a one hour flight over the mysterious Nazca lines. We then rode dune buggies and sandboarded the dunes near Huacachina before stopping at a three generation old Pisco distillery for samples and lunch. we spent the rest of the day relaxing at the our resort.Our last day, we toured the Ballestas Islands and the Candellabra of Paracas harbor, before returning to Lima for lunch and shopping in the Miraflores district. Our driver then had to get us to the airport in Friday afternoon traffic in Lima. There are somedays you just do not get paid enough for the work you do! We the flew home after an unforgettable trip!
Our guides were excellent! They were informative, entertaining and went out of their way to see we got to do as much as we could in the time allowed. We were also fortunate to have timed this trip on the edge of the high season, so we were the only two people in our group. Except for one morning of snow, the weather was perfect. Macchu Picchu, Huayna Picchu, and Ausangate will always be pleasant memories.
I would like to spend more time, visit the northern part of Peru and surf some of the magnificent breaks we saw along the coast.
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