Sandboarding in Peru

When my friend suggested that we could go sandboarding in the Huacachina oasis of Peru, my first thoughts were: “Peru has sand dunes?”

Before my trip this April, I thought I could count the popular Peruvian highlights on one hand: 1Andes, 2Machu Picchu, 3-Amazon, 4-guinea pig and 5-Nazca lines. Since I was already going to experience the first three, not interested in the fourth (note for non-regular readers: I am vegetarian) and couldn’t afford the fifth, I decided to give the lesser-known Peruvian desert a chance. Not to mention, after last year’s embarrassment royale during volcano boarding in Nicaragua, I wanted to prove to myself that I had become better at standing and sitting on planks.

“Sandboarding sounds amazing!” I told my best friend who was living in Peru for a year (read about her Peruvian adventures here). While I was discovering the mystical land of the Incas and realizing that couldn’t be more inaccurate in thinking that Peru only had a handful of major attractions, my friend organized our sandboarding adventure in Huacachina. Continue reading

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Portraits from Peru

Peruvians are some of the friendliest and most vibrant people that I have ever encountered. Dedicated to their profession and content with their lifestyle, a constant stream of emotions flows through their eyes. And that’s what I have tried to capture in these photos.

So what do these Portraits from Peru say to you?

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu easily makes it on the bucket lists of many travel junkies, photographers and spiritual explorers. This Lost City of the Incas was built in the 15th century and never discovered by the Spaniards during their conquests. Although the locals knew about its existence, Machu Picchu was brought to international attention in 1911 by American historian, Hiram Bingham.

To visit this historic site, you could either take a bus from Aguas Calientes (also known as Machu Picchu town) or you can be a little more adventurous and do the historic Inca Trail. Often described as the most memorable and exciting hike in the whole world, the typical Inca Trail is a four-day trek that follows the footsteps of the Incas and finishes at Machu Picchu. If you don’t have the time or the physical ability to complete a four-day trek, you can do the one-day Inca Trail from Kilometre 104, which is what we did.

Travellers doing this hike need wake up before sunrise in the town of Ollantaytambo and walk to the train station to catch an early train headed to Kilometre 104 or Chachabamba. Chachabamba is not a train station. It’s a sign in the middle of dense green mountainous terrain that marks the start of the one-day Inca Trail. It is also a check-point that verifies information for all travellers about to embark on the Inca Trail.

Okay… before we continue this journey, time for some FYIs:

  • Make sure you have your passport with you because going on the Inca Trail is equivalent to crossing country borders.
  • Make sure you bring at least 1.5 litres of water with you; carry all the water that you physically can.
  • Even if the morning is chilly, know that you’ll be boiling by noon so dress according; tear-aways are recommended and so is layering.
  • Walking stick will be helpful even if you are super-fit; they sell walking sticks for really cheap at the start of the trail or in any of the near-by towns. Continue reading

The Andes vs. The Amazon

From the coastal metropolis of Lima to the majestic Andes and the adventurous Amazon, going to Peru feels like you visited three different countries in one vacation. Upon my return when I told friends about my trip,  the most common question I was asked was, “What was your favourite part?” to which my politically correct answer usually was, “I loved every bit of it, even when I got sick in Cusco.” But, that got me thinking it wouldn’t be a bad idea to compare the highlights from the trip to discover what my favourite part was (and it would probably help me plan future trips, no?)

The biggest problem in conducting that exercise? You can’t really compare all the unique elements of Peru; it’s almost like comparing Asia and Europe. In fact, packing for Peru felt like packing for a trip around the world – I had to make sure I had warm sweaters, windbreakers, hiking boots and thick socks, while also stuffing my bathing suit, sweat absorbing T-shirts and flip-flops into my backpack. I had to stock up on a supply of both altitude sickness pills and bug repellent (Alas! Despite all those layers of bug spray, they still got me!)

I narrowed down my favourites to two exotic regions of Peru – the Andes and the Amazon – and compared them based on completely random categories. Here’s what I came up with… Continue reading