Today’s blog post comes from Flora Moffat, a Travel Expert in the STA Travel Goodge Street store, in London.
I remember the exact moment I found out that STA Travel were giving me the opportunity to go to Peru, I screamed the store down with excitement!
Peru had always been a country that I wanted to visit. A trip to Brazil earlier in the year really opened my eyes to South America, and how amazing and deep the culture is.
I began to research all the individual places and sites that we were going to see, and the reality of how beautiful and interesting Peru really was began to set it; and it was an easy 15-hour flight from London.
There were so many reasons I wanted to travel in Peru: it has so many natural and cultural treasures, and a deep history, as well as amazing food, handmade crafts, interesting cultures, and the yummy drinks.
In fact, drinks played a key part! Expect the occasional evening sipping Pisco Sours, and recovering the next day on bright yellow Inca Kola; or combating your altitude sickness with Coca tea, made from the leaves of the very same coca bushes that the Inca’s harvested for themselves.
It’s actually really lovely as tea — just not when you are shown how to suck the leaves, and leave in your mouth so that the juices enrich you, and remove the hangover sickness. We soon gave up on this option, and just stuck to drinking the tea, but at least we can say we tried!
My trip was a modified 10-day Contiki trip, a slightly shorter version of Inca Panorama , and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
The whole experience was invaluable, and nothing could of prepared me for how different Peru was to anywhere I have travelled before.
We met so many amazing Peruvians who, despite not being able to speak English, never failed to make us all feel welcome, or make us laugh.
Find Out What Everyone Was Looking Forward To
On our first day in Lima we were all asked to share some information about ourselves by our tour leader, and reveal what we were most looking forward to seeing. Every single person — out of 10 — said Machu Picchu! We couldn’t wait to experience one of the Seven Wonders on the World.
In reality, Machu Picchu completely blew my mind. The sheer size of it, built with their bare hands 600 years ago into the side of a mountain is indescribable, and no photo or description can ever do it justice.
Also, when we took a tiny boat ride out onto Lake Titicaca and were welcomed with dancing and singing onto a floating island by a Peruvian family, I was utterly lost for words (if anyone knows me, that is a unlikely moment).
We were so taken aback with their unique way of life, and their generosity and hospitality blew us away. They really looked after us, cooking us a delicious lunch of fresh fish, and you could see that they were genuinely happy that they could share their history and culture with us.
As well as visiting Machu Picchu and Puno, the gateway to Lake Titicaca, we experienced the stunning Colca Canyon, with bizarre stone formations and snow-peaked volcanoes; and saw the King of the Andes, the mighty condors, which soared right above our straining necks.
We also witnessed the Inca culture, and their way of life at the Sacred Valley. We experienced beautiful, and also very unusual, meals ranging from cow’s heart to alpaca meat and guinea pig meat.
Yes, you read right, guinea pig really is an Andean delicacy. We saw them running around in people’s houses, and then they cook them to feast on usually for special occasions. Our tour guide tried (and failed) to convince us that we would be given the opportunity to milk a guinea pig, and make guinea pig cheese!
As our Peruvian adventure came to an end, I can safely say that I learned so much in a small amount of time about a beautiful, untouched part of the world.
Why Flora recommends Peru
I would recommend Peru to anyone, for its adventure, culture, cuisine, history, and how passionate and proud the locals are.
I met some of the most inspiring people, and was lucky enough to share this with all of the amazing people on my trip — and we have all booked our next holiday together in February.
If you’re visiting Peru, don’t forget to pack warm clothes and layers, as it gets very chilly at night. Also, make sure you have the best camera you can afford to capture the memories, and take your worn-in walking boots to hike the Inca Trail in comfort.
My top 3 tips for Peru would be: make sure you visit Lake Titicaca, that is a must. Indulge in the beautiful Peruvian cuisine (try the amazing quinoa soup). And finally, savour every moment, because before you know it you are back home with only the memories of this wonderland.