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Peru, from the Andes to the Amazon: Trip Report

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Aug 20th, 2004, 03:50 PM
  #1
Amy
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Peru, from the Andes to the Amazon: Trip Report

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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Aug 20th, 2004, 04:06 PM
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Amy
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After three nights in Cusco we returned to the Hotel Jose Antonio in Lima from which half of the group of 16 left, after a visit to the eclectic and vast Gold Museum, which also houses a collection of weapons from all around the world.

The remaining eight set off the next day for the northern Amazon, flying to Iquitos and travelling by boat to Explorama Inn, the first of our lodges, 50 miles from Iquitos city. (We went the next day to Explornapo; both lodges are similar in style, but Napo is 100 miles from Iquitos.) The lodges have separate thatch roof rooms with camp style latrines and showers and a communal dining room; the "hammock room" is also quite a favorite spot! Macaws hang out on the railings and kerosene lanterns light your way at night.

I was not prepared to love the rainforest as I did; my favorite place on earth is Iceland, and less Icelandic you can hardly get. But being out at night in a silent boat or climbing the canopy walkway above the trees or scratching the ears of the resident capybara (Rodent of Unusual Size) or hiking through the lianas past buttress roots or visiting a Yagua Indian village for blowdart fun or a ribeno village for a soccer match or Dr. Linnea Smith's clinic or spotting pink dolphins and sloths and butterflies and birds of all kinds...all of these were experiences that enter deeply into the memory and create a longing to return to that humid green world.

Our last night was spent in the luxury of Ceiba Tops, a "jungle hotel" with A/C just 25 miles from Iquitos. There was a spirited performance by some of the local high school students, both music and dancing...and a snake.

It's making it a little difficult to get ready to go back to school when all I really want to do is return to Peru!
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Aug 20th, 2004, 06:13 PM
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I followed your decision from the Europe discussions to here. How delightful it sounds, and how lucky the students this year to hear about it all! I am considering OAT for a couple trips, this being one of them, so it's especially pleasing to read such a wonderful report. Glad you had a great time!
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Aug 23rd, 2004, 07:59 PM
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Amy
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Thanks, amyb!

Here are a few pix to go along with the Andes part of the trip; click on the Peru album on
http://community.webshots.com/user/missalg
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Apr 16th, 2009, 07:17 PM
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Amy, I so much enjoyed your trip report of OAT's Real Affordable Peru (I agree, the name sucks, but it is..real affordable, LOL)

I wrote an article for our local newspaper about my trip, also with OAT. If you'd like to see it, email at [email protected]. My pictures of the trip are at http://community.webshots.com/user/scarlettudor200

We also had a marvelous guide, Marco, one of the best. He told such wonderful stories of his childhood, how he became a guide. And he seriously loved the Incan stonework. The last night, we were going to a different restaurant from the tour and he excitedly said, "Take your cameras! They have a wonderful stonework wall in the restaurant!"

What did you think of the 'restroom restrictions' in Peru? I'd never run into that on a trip and it was very hard to adjust to!

As with all OAT trips, we had a small group, around 16. They were a wonderfully diverse, young group. We had 4 from Colorado who RAN up the larger peak above Macchu Picchu. I'm blocking on the name of it. Waynan Picchu? Or something like that.

I've also traveled once with SmarTours, to Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand, and found it a wonderful value. I was surprised that jkr said above that ST hotels were more upscale than OATs, since ST trips are cheaper, IMO.

I was impressed that OAT took us to the Sacred Valley immediately after we flew into Cuzco, so we could adjust to the 8,000 ft altitude there a few days before tackling Cuzco's 11,000 feet. I had started taking diamoxx before the tour and didn't suffer the effects, but my hands tingled in a very weird way on that medication. Two of the guys on our trip had 1-day 'Pachacuti's Revenge,' but recovered quickly.

If you look at my pictures, you will be amazed at how many similar shots we took!
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Apr 16th, 2009, 07:22 PM
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Amy
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Hi, Scarlettudor, and welcome to Fodor's! (Warning: it can get a little addictive. ) I'd love to see your article; my email is right in my profile if you click on my name. There are also some other trip reports on my profile page; let's just say that Peru's restroom restrictions were easy compared with, oh, side of the road in Tibet.

I absolutely fell in love with Peru; I've been back again, to the Amazon, and hope to return in 2010 or 2011. Just a magical, magical place.
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Apr 22nd, 2009, 09:26 PM
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I hope you're still watching the Forum. We are leaving on OAT's trip on May 4th. I am in a quandry about what shoes to pack. What worked for you? We do plan to do the minor hikes in Macchu Pichu, and, of course, the jungle activities. I am so excited about this trip! I think it is going to be a favorite, and we haven't left yet!
Answers appreciated from anyone, especially if experience around May/June.
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Apr 23rd, 2009, 02:56 AM
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Amy
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Hello, makinghay! It is a great trip; Peru is special.

I wore (leather) Tevas most of the time, similar to these: http://www.teva.com/ProductDetails.a...gged+Leather+2
But then, I wear these pretty much everywhere I travel.

I also took a pair of (low top, not high-top) lightweight hiking shoes from LandsEnd; they don't have the same ones anymore, but they were similar to this:
http://tinyurl.com/csx3ny

You might want closed in shoes for a lot of the jungle activities, due to bug bites, and the trails around Machu Picchu are a bit slippery/uneven sometimes, so you need good soles, but I definitely didn't feel the need for hiking boots.

I was to the Amazon in July on my second trip, and even one month made a difference, so I'm sure May is quite different in terms of water levels and such. But I'd go any time!
(If you have or see a guide named Armando at Explorama, tell him hello from his sister Amy, okay? All the guides used by OAT in Peru seem really good, so I hope you have a great experience.)

Happy trip--I'm a little envious! I am booked to go to South Africa (with OAT, actually--only my second trip with them) on July 10th, and I'm really looking forward to that, but I still want to be returning to Peru.
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Apr 23rd, 2009, 01:43 PM
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Amy, What a perfect,precise,very helpful reply! I guess my Land's End beach trekers might do after all. Sole is the same. The water-draining openings on the sides are occasionally a problem when I hike in them at home. Little rocks get in, plus I've been concerned about critters crawling in or biting. But maybe with socks....What do you think?
Also, did you take an antimalarial? I just spent almost $200 on them for the two of us, then read on this forum that there maybe is not a problem? I am a mosquito magnet...big time, so need to be careful. Guess I'll go back to the CDC site and see what more I can learn. Still would like to know what others do....
We went with OAT to Tanzania...the mobile safari. Liked it a lot. Finding the animals is like doing those "find Elmo" type of pictures. Soon you can really spot the lion's black ear tips sticking up! It's fun to be first to spot them! I LOVED the tents! But most of all, meeting the tribes in their bomas, talking with them (thru our leader,of course) and getting involved in their cultural activities was the VERY best part. I know you'll have a great trip.
I can't remember OAT'S So.Africa itinerary. I really would love to do the Botswana trip...the water areas look really unique.
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Apr 23rd, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Amy
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Well, no antimalarials for me, but of course it is very much a personal choice. I did get a few bites (and no malaria!) so they are definitely there, those mozzies, and the ants!

I've gotten these socks by ExOfficio for South Africa: http://www.sierratradingpost.com/p/,...and-Women.html The Buzz-Off stuff is supposed to work really well, so maybe they'd be a thought with your shoes? There are those little rocks on the MP trail, for sure, plus the slippery bit; I found it astounding that the Inka messengers used to run up and down the trail delivering messages. (sighs just thinking about magical Peru right now, what with the groceries to be put away, dinner made, stack of papers graded...)

My OAT trip is new this year, going to Kruger in SA and to Swaziland and Lesotho as well. It seems a nice mix of history/culture with the wildlife watching. There's some time in Jo'burg and Capetown mixed in. I think I'll be ready to travel independently again next year, but right now it's kinda nice to know that OAT is making all the reservations and I won't have to figure out transport.
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Feb 14th, 2011, 06:38 PM
  #11
Amy
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Just wanted to add the proper photo links to this report:
First, Lima and the Andes:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/177940849oewGhL

The Amazon:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/178913732cYcXFU

School visits in the Amazon:
http://travel.webshots.com/album/561024042uUQIiq
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