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Trip Report Peru, from the Andes to the Amazon: Trip Report

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Las estrellas y las ranas...two weeks ranging from the chilly starlit nights of the Andes to the delight of Amazon lodges...Peru was everything I'd hoped for and much, much more.

This was OAT"s (Overseas Adventure Travel) Real Affordable (hate that name) Peru trip, with the Amazon extension. I took the trip through them due to time constraints and ease, as I generally like to travel alone, but I'm glad that I did as the guide, Maricel Bedregal, was extraordinary--think revisiting the best teacher one has ever had. (And the Explorama Amazon guide, Armando, was very gifted in his naturalist field as well; the trip would not have been the same without him.) Whilst the other elements of group travel are not entirely to my liking (most meals included, your hotels chosen) I have no complaints at all with the meals or hotels; the food was delicious and fresh and the hotels interesting.

We started with a day tour of Lima under sunny skies, a minor miracle for August. The Archaeological Museum was of particular interest; the Moche certainly seemed to have a sense of humor! There are street sellers everywhere, but, while they are persistent, are engaging and not physically pushy.

We traveled to the lovely bungalow style Incaland hotel in the Urubamba Valley after our flight to Cusco; this somewhat lower altitude helps one get acclimatized for Cusco later on. The town is nearby and has email and a farmer's market. Rafting down the Urubamba River was mellow and relaxing, with gorgeous mountain scenery passing by. Visits to Pisac Market and nearby Ollantaytambo ruins got me ready for the climbing in Machu Picchu.

From Urubamba we took a train to Machu Picchu Pueblo (Agua Caliente) through more lovely scenery; our quaint small hotel, Hanaqpacha, had jewelbox rooms and a very convenient location right by the tracks. We first visited MP in the afternoon; clouds rolled by and added to the mystery of the city in the sky while keeping us from becoming too hot. The next morning I visited on my own; the first official bus up is 6:30, but I caught a full one at 6AM and was up to the top by 6:25. Alas, no visible sunrise, as the clouds were much thicker! However, I hiked the Inca Trail to the Gate of the Sun (Intipinku {sp}) and had glimpses through the mists and purple orchids hanging over the trail.

Cusco is a city of stones, many of them remainders of the Incas. It's not easy to breathe for those of us who are coastal dwellers, but certainly worth a few gasps! The San Blas section had incredible handicrafts and artwork; in fact, overshopping may be the primary danger in Peru.
Visits to Sacsayhuaman's might other Inca sites were mixed with the Cathedral and Dominican Convent; most interesting and informative.

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