G Adventures is a special tour operator. Their tours are quite affordable and they always offer a share roommate program so single travelers don’t have to pay a single supplement if they’re willing to share a room with another traveler of the same gender. As their name implies, their tours specialize in adventurous outings to exotic destinations.
Plaza de Armas – Cuzco, Peru
I just returned from Peru Explorer, and what a trip! This 10-day adventure is great for the traveler who wants to be spoiled a bit, since we enjoyed upgraded hotels throughout, and excellent sightseeing with local experts was provided as well.
My flight arrived in Lima mid-morning, and after my free transfer to our hotel, I had the afternoon to explore Peru’s capital city on my own. I grabbed a taxi and went to the historical center of Lima to visit the Plaza de Armas, where I saw the Government Palace and the Archbishop’s Palace. Then I strolled across the square to go inside the beautiful Cathedral, built in the 1700s and housing the remains of the Spanish conquistador, Pizarro. Our tour group gathered at the hotel around 6pm and we were off to a really fun local restaurant to savor the fantastic ceviche. Lima is a seafood lover’s mecca!
Next morning we flew down to Juliaca, then transferred to the town of Puno, on the shores of mighty Lake Titicaca, the largest freshwater lake in South America. The inhabitants of this area are the Uros people, who have lived on the lake for hundreds of years. Their homes are floating islands, made of the tortora reed, plentiful around the edges of the lake. It is fascinating to closely observe life on these islands. The Uros use the tortora reed to fashion their furniture and their iconic boats shaped like canoes with woven animal heads adorning the prow. Witnessing the daily life of the Uros people was so special; they are a unique people in the world.
Continuing the adventure we next drove up to Cuzco, enjoying stark yet beautiful scenery along the way. This night we enjoyed dinner together, then turned in for an early night since tomorrow’s activities were plentiful. After a guided tour of the city next day, we were allowed to choose an optional activity that afternoon, from horseback riding, mountain or motor biking, hiking or visits to Incan ruins around the town. This was an especially nice touch offered by G Adventures.
After spending the night in Ollantaytambo, it was over to the train station next morning for the remarkable train ride that winds through the steep Leaving Cuzco behind, we next ventured with our local expert guide through the Sacred Valley of the Incas. We stopped at Pisac and did some shopping at the colorful artisan market, bargaining for Alpaca sweaters and shawls. The Pisac market offers some of the very finest, and most reasonable, souvenirs you’ll find in all of Peru. So many of the beautiful items are handmade, from carved musical flutes, to magnificent woven wall hangings and rugs, to lovely handbags. Skip the expensive shops in Lima and Cuzco, and do your shopping here instead!
We departed Pisac and ventured onward to the town and fortress of Ollantaytambo, overlooking the Urubamba River Valley. This too is a major archeological site, where one still admires the ruins with the huge, steep terraces guarding the Inca Fortress.
Urubamba Valley, admiring the soaring mountains and listening to the rushing river outside our train window. The train arrived into Aguas Calientes (hot waters) early afternoon, and many of our group trekked off to the famous hot mineral baths to soak.
From Aguas Calientes we boarded a minibus for the 35-minute ride straight up a steep mountain road to the entrance of the much anticipated Machu Picchu. In 1911, local farmers and an 11-year-old boy led the American explorer and Yale professor, Hiram Bingham, to the ruins and he made this magical place known to the world.
Standing 7,972 feet above sea level, this wonder of the world sits in the middle of a tropical mountain forest. Surely one of the most astounding creations of the Inca Empire, the showcase of the ruins, is a historic sanctuary. The ruins encompass a sprawling 80,000 acres, with huge terraces cascading into the side of the mountain, where once the inhabitants grew crops of maize and potatoes. The entire site boasts over 200 separate structures, ranging from those devoted to religious and ceremonial activities, to agricultural centers, and homes for the Incan people who lived here.
Construction of the enormous site began around 1450, and although never entirely completed, the magnificent edifice was abruptly abandoned by the Incas when word of the conquering Spanish conquistadors reached the rulers, around 1532. The Spanish never discovered Machu Picchu, and thus this monumental achievement has survived to this day.
Any traveler with an ounce of curiosity and sense of adventure will want to add this treasure to their list of must-sees in the world. This G Adventures tour did an impressive job of bringing all of the magic and mystery of Peru to life on this tour.
About the Author
Sunny Lewis is a Tour Specialist at AffordableTours.com
Tel: 800.935.2620 Ext 127
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