Other Adventures in Peru

Mountain Biking – the entire country is set up to mountain bike, and there are several types you can do.  Because the Andes mountains offer so much, and Inca trails are mostly single track, it’s possible to ride incredible rides through ruins, although with the protection with the government becoming more vigilant, I’m not sure how long this will last.  Still, there are immense possibilities.  Riding the streets is fun, especially the descents into the valleys from any mountains.  Be careful as peruvians use there horns to communicate for everything, rather than signals or lights, its all horns, and all the time, enough to totally freak you out while you are riding roads.  Also, there are major dog problems.  They are not treated as pets there, it will break your heart, and you might get bitten.  For some reason they come from everywhere when you are on a bike, they will cross traffic to try and get you, and almost cause a major accident in the process.  One time I was surrounded by a pack of dogs, (about eight), and all the neigbors and townspeople just watched, no one helped, it was ridiculous…I just kept biking .  For example riding from Cusco over to the sacred valley is fun, and a giant downhill pass, but is a little wild.  Renting bikes used to be a lot tougher than it is today.  There are a few rentals around cusco and Lima, they mostly come with the tour, and expect pretty outdated bikes.  Taking a bike is logistically tough, and they are always trying to charge you extra taxes during your immigration.  The first year there, I just argued a bunch with them and they finally gave up on the, “pain in the ass gringo”.

Coastal Fishing – Because there is no regulatory agency or group that takes care of the oceans or fisheries, there are high amounts of polution on the beaches and waterways.  It really is a tradgedy as is with most of the country, in that they are so close and yet so far away in reaching their full potential.  Areas of success for us include:  Arequipa, one hour south of Lima, and far North with the Punta Sal Club hotel, (one of the nicest yachts in the north, complete with GPS), our outing in January, yielded over forty fish in an hour, most Dorado, and some big eye tuna’s.  Click here to see some recommended fishing outfitters for the ocean stuff.  We host trips in cooperation with these companies:  Click here to see when the next hosted trip is:  Hosted Trips
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OjtnWZB2VPY - Pretty decent video from other folks in 2011.  They are putting more effort into fishing in Peru, before, Punta Sal only had one boat with Willy.

Hot Springs – Aguas Calientes, Lares, Pisac, outside of the colca canyon, others….
In our oppinion, the best one listed here is Lares.  It is hot, nice and secluded, and because it is tough to get to, doesn’t get near the amount of people as the others.  Everyone knows about Aguas Calientes, as the city, and the hot springs closest to Machu Picchu.  Pisac is nice, but doesn’t have that true super hot, hot feeling, its more like mild, and some would say cold.  The hot springs outside of the Colca Canyon are nice, big, but too packed with the tourists and the big groups, which some people may like. 

Thermal Mud Baths – Pazos de Baros, outside of Mancora – Or north of Zorritos twenty minutes.  Never have I had such a medicinal soaking as these mud baths.  They have great medicinal powers.  Good for your body mon

Bull Fights and Coq Fights – Seasonal, and definitely not nearly as important in Peru as it is in other countries.  As a matter of fact, there is only a minority who are interested in these events, which are seasonal, and only a few select cities have this:  Lima, Cusco, Mamara – (so far away)

Museums – The guide books have better information on the best museums.  We really enjoyed:  Museo de Oro (Lima), Cusco Artifact museums from Machu Picchu, Museo de Senor Sipan,(Chiclayo), many more.  The museo of Senor Sipan was by far the most impressive, not only for the Gold artifacts but for the amount of things found in the tomb, and the complete tomb uncovered.  It is illegal to photograph or video tape the museum, but an anonymous person sent us these shots:  

Art/Clothing  – probably the best art Peru has to offer is in their Andes clothing, weavings, the gold artifacts, the hand made ceramics.  Careful buying things in the tourist zones or at the aiport and expect to pay much more than a different street vendor.  Check our personal in-home peruvian maker with:  Andia Designs

Shopping – Tons of outdoor and indoor markets, just ask around.  In Lima, Miraflores, the Larco Mar, is a gringo type shopping mall with a nice view of the pacific break, some good eateries, and pricey mall stuff.  The breaks below Larco Mar are fun and offer many off different jetties; the area called costa verde we have surfed, here is a video:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YOjuJa4VXm4  In Cusco, there are many as well, the best stuff is from the natives that you encounter while you are out trekking.  Cochas Chico is famous for Delia Poma and friends carved gourds.

Language classes – Lima is loaded with institutes, there are also quite a few english institutes that hire gringos, if you are interested in a longer stay.  Several to chose from in Cusco.  Huancayo has a neat set-up for hostel type travelers in Incas del Peru:  Saludos a Luchito de JP:  www.incasdelperu.org    Here’s an old friend that does a good job too:  http://www.spanishabroad.com 
We also sell copies of a ninety page paper book that is somewhat of a berlitz with language, to cooking, to songs and many great pieces of language learning and cultural learning for travelers.  This is something you should ordere at least two weeks before you go:  send us an email to request this:  mailto:[email protected]

Best guidebook:  Lonely Planet- they have always had it dialed in, with fresh writing about once every three years. http://www.lonelyplanet.com/peru


Air– Getting to and from Peru can be expensive.  The busy season coincides with summer vacation in the States and same with Europe.  Regional Travel from neigboring countries is December –March.  We have found the best carriers to be:  American, LAN, and Continental (sometimes very marginal service and comfort, lost bags etc).  The popular routes depart and enter the US through Miami, Houston, and Los Angeles.  The shortest most direct flight is the American Airlines: Miami – Lima.  Most flights arrive at night in Lima, and having ground transportation pre-arranged is smart.  Usually, because of the duration of your trip, and the way flights coincide, it is almost a must to sleep in Lima, before and if continuing on to another destination.   We can arrange ground transport and give you recommendations on places to stay in Lima.  Click here to send us a quick email.  Be sure to include your pertinent flight details:  [email protected]   .  Also, if you are traveling only to visit the north of Peru, maybe coupled into the Galapagos, Guayquil, is a shorter better destination option.  If you find tickets for seven-hundred and under, buy them, they don’t come around often..  There are airport taxes Lima, Iquitos, Cusco, some of the major carriers include them in their ticket price, be sure to check. 

Bus - After having ridden some nightmearish bus rides through Peru, I would only recommend travel by bus along the Coast Arica Chile to Tumbes Peru and everywhere along the coast, and the trip between Cusco and Puno (Lake Titicaca).  Traveling by bus in the Andes is common and possible especially for the economically minded or the back-packer, but they can be hellish long windy rides through the mountains on bumpy dirt roads going thirty m iles per hour the whole time.  We work with and recommend :  Cruz Del Sur, Oltursa– The busses are nice, affordable, meals on board, bathroom, and nice reclining seats; if it’s a long or overnight trip get the “bus cama”.

Taxi – Not safe for everyone, can arrise weird situations, depending on city etc – around Lima a little sketchy, Cusco, not too bad, everywhere else is totally mellow.  Some taxi drivers have alterior motives.  If you’re a gringo, select your taxi’s carefully.  You will be offered the gringo price and can negotiate, but expect to pay double the local’s fair.  All should have certifications and all promote it.  Generally if the car looks rough and not official it’s probably not licensed.  Otherwise your good to go. 

Car Rental – Can be done, but it’s logistically tough, and you are taking your own hands into your life to try and drive, it is crazy, navigation would be totally obscure and cumbersum.  They have a completely different chaotic system of driving that does not adhere to any law or western law similarities, it’s a free for all and way too noisy.  Never heard a country that had such a diversity of horns in their cars as Peru.  I almost up-chuck at least once during a trip due to the ride.  It’s way better just to hire a driver and leave it to them.  They have big vans and you can score a nice set up.  We can help you with transfers and drivers, click here to send us a message:  [email protected], [email protected]  

Train – Cusco – Machu Picchu – Also, one from Cusco – Lake Titicaca……Haven’t ridden many others in the country. http://www.perurail.com/en/

Helicopter service – yes there is a helicopter service to Machu Picchu...wow  http://www.helicusco.com

Typical Food and Drink
Ceviche (best in the world) – served with corn, and sweet potatoes
Papa Rellena – stuffed mashed potatoe balls, with meat and veggie
Chicharones – deep fried pork.
Palta rellena – Avocado half stuffed with vegies and tuna. 
Picarones – fresh peruvian donuts
Anticuchos – beef heart cooked as kabobs on a barbeque (totally delicious)
Caldo de cabeza – sheeps head soup
Lomo Saltado – Fried beef, potatoes and onions served with rice.
Pollo a la brasa – Rotissere chicken served with potatoes and or salad.
Papa a la Huancaina – cold potatoes served with cheese and chili sauce.
Asado con pure – Baked beef in tomatoe sauce served with mashed potatoes and rice.
Picante de cuye – Guinea-pig in chille sauce.
Tamales – a corn mix cake with either chicken or pork
Aji de Gallina – chicken  in a spicy-nutty sauce served with rice
Pisco Sour - from the aguave plant, similar to a margaritta.  Chile thinks they have the best Pisco, but Peru invented it and has the best – It is a constant argument between Chileanos and Peruvians. 
Chicha Morada – a red/purple drink made from purple corn, tastes like a sweet grape juice or koolaide
Chicha de jora – a drink made from fermented corn – be careful some of the fermenting processes are a little dirty, and we have gotten very sick from this one…
Pachamanca – ancient traditional method of cooking with hot stones burried underground:  anything from beef, to lama, alpaca, potatoes, and different varieties based on the pueblo.

Exchange rate:  obvioulsy fluctuates daily, but it is nearly always between 2.6 and 2.9 Nuevo Soles for One Dollar, figure three to one…Check on-line for current rates.  Do not change your money in the streets.  There is an extreme high amount of counter fit bills, all bills are checked at time of purchase and if you are a gringo you are targeted more because you don’t know the foreign currencies and are a target for scams.  The best way to do it just take your debit card and pin number, often times the ATM’s provide the best exchange rate.  Credit cards are not widely accepted except in popular towns.  Make small change because often times no one has change or they have to leave to make change, especially when you go rural…which is a funny experience…

About the Coca leaf:  Wikipedia does an alright job of explaining the Coca leaf:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coca  But they miss a few important points – like there is no cocaine in a coca leaf, and the Andes people use it as a medicinal helper with the altitude, hunger, and some other natural remedies.  Science has proven that chewing on coca leaves and or drinking the tea, helps the capilaries in your lungs to enlarge and allow them to receive more oxygen at high altitude.  One can’t get high by chewing the leaves or drinking the tea.  There is a lot of mystery surrounding this leaf, and the natives believe it was a gift from another life forms.  When sharing leaves there are cultural practices on how, when and where to do this.  They view the leaves as a god, so you can begin to imagine how it is used, shared, and sacrificed in the culture. 

Why is the Inca empire and their building so heavily scrutinized, what is the big deal?
Simply put:  Their building form, architecture, and the way the stones fit together so tight that one can’t slip a dollar bill through them, represent modern building that would require tools and machines, but that were built in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when there was no tools or machines.  Some say they had bronze axes and tools, (as the bronze age had been introduced), (not many tools found around the ruin sites), but even so would take them years to work on one stone, not to mention the great buildings, the cities and on and on.  Some say aliens taught them how…it is a mystery.  This is a great blog subject, and too that, the spanish conquest and what took place.  Start the blog here:  www.globetrotteradventures.wordpress.com


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