Category Archives: Travel

Peru Vacations

As with many countries, Peru holds its top athletes in high esteem. Every major bank wants them to endorse their products, and you’ll frequently see a toned athlete sitting uncomfortably in the spotlight on television, being interviewed by a selection of cheery presenters.

If you’re heading to Peru for a vacation, here are some well known athletes that you can discuss with a proud Peruvian, who will probably be delighted that you know about some of their greatest achievers.

The Swimmer
Juan Carlos Bello is more popularly known as Johnny Bello for his expertise in swimming. He learned how to swim at the age of seven and from 1965 to 1973 dominated the four major styles of swimming, winning many medals in South American and Pan-American swimming contests. He participated in the Olympics in Mexico in 1968 and in Munich in 1972. He was also a sports leader, being president of the Peruvian Sports Federation Swimming Club and is currently Vice-President of the Peruvian Sports Swimming Federation, in charge of the Committee on Open Water Swimming. He ran for the presidency of the Peruvian Olympic Committee in 2009.

The Footballer
Teofilo Cubillas, a former player of football (or soccer) is widely regarded as one of South America’s best football players of all time. Having excellent technical ability, Cubillas played midfield and had a powerful shot with which he used to terrify goalkeepers. He was known as a free kick specialist, and scored 515 goals in his entire career, placing him seventh in the ranking of the World Cup all-time scorers with ten World Cup goals. A poll by the IFFFHS voted him the 48th best football player of the twentieth century and Pele named him as one of the 125 greatest living football players in his 2004 FIFA list. In February 2008 the All Star First team of South America selected him as a member of the previous 50 years.

The Volleyball Player
Volleyball is a big deal in Peru, and Cecilia Tait is known as Peru’s most talented volleyball player and one of the best players in the history of volleyball. She made her debut in the sport at the age of 18 at the Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She also participated with the Peruvian national team in three Summer Olympics, finishing fourth in 1984 and won a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. At the World Championship in 1982 she won a silver medal and added a bronze to her trophy cabinet in 1986. In 2005, she was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame and in 2000, she was elected to Congress in Peru.

The Surfer
Peru’s location as a world class surfing destination was confirmed when it produced a surfing World Champion. Sofía Mulánovich Aljovín, born in Lima, is the first Peruvian surfer ever to win an ASP event, let alone the World Title. On 27th July 2007, she was inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame for it’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations, the first South American to have achieved this goal.

With a few of these famous names under your belt, you should be able to relate to the majority of sports aficionados and get into some interesting conversations, giving you a great opportunity to get a unique, insiders point of view on your Peru Vacation.

5 Best Extreme Sports in Peru

Many foreign visitors to Peru are happy with a relaxing few days travelling around ancient Inca archaeological sites, kicking-back in luxury hotels, and riding exclusive trains to Machu Picchu.

But if your dream getaway is a taking things to the max in search of extreme thrills and fun, then you won’t be disappointed either! Peru can offer it all! Here are the 5 best extreme sports in Peru.

Extreme Mountain Biking

Peru was made for mountain biking, after all the Andes – the world’s longest mountain chain runs right down the centre of the country, peaking at 22,132 feet (6,746 m) in the Cordillera Blanca in central Peru. Possibly one of the most extreme sports in Peru with locals and foreigners alike, there are literally thousands of places to find fast fun down-hill thrills. In Cusco there is a handful of specialist travel agents that offer a range of different day (and multi-day) trips, with full suspension Kona bikes. Our favourite extreme ride is the 1 day Mega-Avalanche single track ride, that starts at the top of Abra Malaga in the Sacred Valley (close to Cusco) and descends 1600 meters to the village of Ollantaytambo. Oh, and you can do it three times!

Surfing

You wouldn’t think so, but yes, Peru is actually one of the world’s best surfing spots. Along the northern coastline, Peru offers waves for everyone from beginners to pros. Peru has produced many world surfing champions, and it’s easy to see why when you understand just how good the waves are. Chicama has the world’s longest left-handed wave in the world at 4km’s long, and Mancora (close by) has the world’s largest left-handed point-break in the world. Extreme sports in Peru don’t get much better than this!

Sand-boarding

During the 1960s, the small oasis town of Huacachina was once a holiday hot-spot for rich limenians. Nowadays, this rather less glamorous place is the home of one of the most fun and extreme sports in Peru – Sand-boarding. Located 7 km’s from the main city of Ica, Huacachina is surrounded by vast sand dunes which stretch as far as the eye can see. There are only a handful of hostels in the town, but all of them will rent you sand-board for a few soles per day. Cover yourself from head-to-toe in sun-block and start climbing! It’s fun, cheap, thrilling and often painful!

White Water Rafting

With so many mountains, there are bound to be quite a lot of fast flowing and rocky rivers to enjoy. Rafting is probably one of the most common extreme sports in Peru, and in the region of Cusco, there are many expert travel agencies that will take you out on the river. The Urubamba River (in the Sacred Valley) offers a thrilling full day experience which is suitable for beginners through to intermediary rafters. But hard-core rafters looking for the ultimate thrill need to go a little further afield. Cotahuasi Canyon is the deepest canyon in the world, and is also home to one of the world’s toughest rafting challenges. The route includes 6 days of full-on, technical class 4 – 5 rapids, uncharted pre-Inca ruins and spectacular campsites. Extreme sports in Peru don’t get much better than this! But be warned the Cotahuasi raft is for only the toughest travellers!

Zip Lines in the Jungle

15 Km’s from Machu Picchu, close to the village of Santa Teresa is Peru’s first canopy top zip line (also known as flying fox). A series cables with a total length of 2500 meters are broken up into six sections, with the longest section being 400 meters in length. At the fastest point on the wire it is possible to reach speeds of 60 Km/h (37 mph), which is enough to give the sensation of flight! Make sure that you are not scared of heights either, as part of the line hang 150 meters above the jungle floor. Extreme sports in Peru don’t get much more fun than this!

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Trekking Mysterious Ciudad Perdida, Peru

Ciudad Perdida, which is translated to Lost City in English, is one of the rare places on earth that will make you feel like Indiana Jones. Tucked in the rainforest of Peru’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Maria Mountains; Ciudad Perdida is a very intriguing place. It is believed to have been built by the Tayrona Indians between the period AD 500 and 700, about 650 years before the Machu Picchu of Peru was built.

The same group of people had to abandon it during the Spanish invasion. It is not until the 1970s that treasure hunters rediscovered it but they ended up looting the place. Despite this unfortunate event, Ciudad Perdida remains a special historical place. Part of its majesty, is its remoteness. It is not easy to reach the great Lost City and getting to it is part of the travel experience.

It takes approximately 6 days to trek to and from Perdida, which officially belongs to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta and Teyuna Archaelogical Park. This memorable multiple-day trip brings you through the thick South American jungle, covering about 44 kilometers of difficult terrain. Aside from the destination, the trek will also reveal the beautiful waterfalls and streams sharing your hike. Grab the opportunity to take a refreshing dip into some of them as the temperature in the region is usually humid. If you don’t have enough time, it is possible to finish the whole trek in four days. This means that the trekking time during each day is much longer, especially on day four, because you will need to merge two days’ worth of hiking into one.

To protect and preserve what remains of Ciudad Perdida, treks to this ancient city can only be done through a guided tour. There are only a few companies that are authorized to guide visitors into the site. Some of the authorized companies include Magictour, Expotur, Turcol and Guias y Baquianos Tour. Make sure to do thorough research before you choose a tour operator. Booking can be done in the city of Santa Marta. Depending on the number of people signing up, tours can leave every day or every few days.

Trekking to Ciudad Perdida is a serious hiking trip, so don’t forget to wear appropriate trekking clothing and bring camping essentials like hiking boots, water bottle, flashlight mosquito repellent and snacks. Depending on the arrangement made with your outfitter, you may also need to bring your own sleeping bag. But meals are typically inclusive of the tour fees.

The trek commonly starts from the small village of Machete, where you must drive to. Through the course of the trip, your trekking party will move from one designated campsite to the next. Some of the major camp sites include Mumake and El Paraiso. To get to the actual Ciudad Perdida, you need to climb the 1263 stone steps from the riverbank. Once you have done this, you will be greeted by a plethora of plazas and stone paths. It typically takes about two hours to explore the site thoroughly.

Five Things to Do in Peru

When people begin talking about Peru, it’s never too long before the conversation diverts to the lost city of Machu Picchu. It’s understandable, as this country has quickly become one of the most famous landmarks in the whole world, since its relatively new discovery in 1911.

However, Peru has so much more to offer than just this landmark. Here are just a few other things you can experience during your time in the country.

1. Discover the Amazon Rainforest

What people often don’t realise is that the Amazon covers more than 60% of the country, an area with an incredible ecosystem brimming with some of the most incredible wildlife on the planet. Taking a boat tour is the best way to experience this rainforest paradise.

2. Visit lake Titicaca

Another truly incredible sight in this country, Titicaca is established as the highest commercially navigable lake in the world. Towering nearly 4,000 metres above sea level and with a surface area of more than 3,000 square miles, it’s so large it can even be seen from space.

3. View the weird and wonderful Nazca Lines.

In southern Peru, hundreds of individual figures from monkeys, hummingbirds and sharks have been etched into the floor. You will have to get up high to view them, these incredible drawings were created sometime between 400 650 AD and are made from removing the upper layer of reddish sediment to unveil whitish ground beneath. These are truly a breathtaking work of ancient art.

4. The Inca’s Sacred Valley.

It appears that Machu Picchu wasn’t the only thing the Inca’s made; The Sacred Valley might not be quite as spectacular but it still an incredible sight none the less. It’s a must see for history enthusiasts and culture vultures, spanning over the Urunbamba River from Pisac all the way to Ollantaytambo.

5. Trekking the Cordillera

If you feel energetic enough, climbing this breathtaking mountain range will be an experience you will keep for the rest of your life. Forming part of the Andes mountain range, the area includes 33 different peaks including Huascarán, the largest mountain of the Andes at 22,000 feet. It also contains Alpamayo, what is considered to be the most beautiful mountain in the world, mainly because of its steep pyramid of ice at the summit.

So there were just five other things you may not have thought about doing when you visit Peru. However I’ve hardly touched the surface on the opportunities of this great country. Why not go sightseeing in Lima? Observe the abundant wildlife of the Ballestas Islands? Or even go surfing in Manorca? Whatever you’re looking to do, Peru is so diverse it can cater for anybodies taste.

Volcano Climbing in Arequipa, Peru

Arequipa, the attractive “White City” in Southern Peru, is surrounded by three volcanic mountain ranges: the Cordillera Volcanica, the Cordillera de Ampato and the Cordillera de Chila. The volcanoes have provided interesting findings for archeologists as it has been discovered that the Incas used to climb some of these volcanoes and use them to perform rituals in various sanctuaries, leaving human sacrifices near the summits. Some of the special Inca offerings that have been discovered include Juanita, the Ice Maiden, who in 1995 was discovered on top of Ampato. The geography of the area lends itself to volcano climbing with summits of between 5000 and over 6000 meters.

There are various organizations that provide guided volcano climbing in Arequipa. For example some tours climb to the summit of Picchu Picchu (plus many others) in two days. The first day involves reaching the base camp, firstly driving in a four-wheel drive vehicle and then climbing to 4700 meters to camp. The second day involves a four to five hour climb to 5664 meters at which point, El Misti, Chachani, Ubinas volcanoes and the lovely colors of Picchu Picchu itself can be admired.

Another popular tour climbs the famous El Misti cone in two days. A Quechua name, El Misti means the gentleman. This volcano is 5825 meters high and sits between the Chachani mountain and the Picchu Picchu volcano. There have been some random eruptions of the volcano since written historic records began and between 1438 and 1471 the last really strong eruption is thought to have occurred.

Inca inhabitants living near the volcano reported other smaller eruptions dating from the mid-fifteenth century but the year 1870 saw the last major eruption of this volcano. A large quantity of white volcanic stone from El Misti (sillar) has been used as construction material for most of Arequipa’s colonial buildings and gives the historic center of the city a lovely appearance.

In common with climbing of Picchu Picchu the first day of the El Misti climb is taken up with hiking for five hours to the base camp at 4500 meters and then the second day requires hiking for another five or six hours to reach the summit. At the top the crater can be seen which is still active pumping out sulfur as well as affording great views of the beautiful surroundings.

At a height of 6075 meters, Chachani is another popular volcano to climb. The altitude is the biggest concern to climbers, who really need to spend time to acclimatize, but no special equipment is needed to climb the mountain as it has no remaining glaciers. It was first ascended by Biggar in 1889 but it was also climbed in pre-Columbian times shown by the existence of archeological remains near the summit. Although it is not climbed as often as El Misti, many people still attempt it.

The first day of the ascent of Chachani involves a 4×4 excursion through the National Reserve of Aguada Blanca to see wildlife such as vicuñas, guanacoes, eagles, viscachas, deer and sometimes condors. Following this is a hike to the base camp at 5200 meters with its sandy slope, reddish colorations and volcanic ash. The next day is a two step approach to the summit with a stop at 5800 meters to view the other nearby peaks of Coropuna, Ampato, Hualca Hualca, Sabancaya, El Misti, and Ubinas. Then it is a push onwards to the summit to enjoy the superb views and spectacular scenery. Then climbers descend to the base camp and take road transport back to the city of Arequipa.