After finally having left Ecuador on a night bus across the border, I arrived to Mancora early in the morning and checked into my hostel Psygon Surf Camp – close to the beach with lots of palm trees, a pool, and bar, a gym and everything a backpacker’s heart desires. Thus, I just chilled at the pool and the beach the whole day after having explored the town. An incredible viewpoint for the sunset is on the hill near the lighthouse.
The next morning, I went to the beach in Los Organos. While swimming there, I was surrounded by huge turtles, sea lions, pelicans, and crabs. Amazing!!! There, I also met some other backpackers whom I spent the rest of the day with before taking the night bus further down South.
The bus ride which was supposed to take me to Trujillo over night was sooo messed up… 🙁 Something on the engine was broken and thus, the bus only went with half the speed until it finally got replaced 15 hours later. That means we arrived in Trujillo with a 12-hour-delay… First and last time I took a bus by the company Primavera.
In Trujillo, I teamed up with Ben from the Netherlands and Diego from Colombia and we stayed in the hostel Wachaque Surf in Huanchaco after having had burger and drinks. In the morning, Adel from England joined us and we went to Chan Chan with its museum and ruins – remains of the Moche dynasty. A looong time ago, this was the biggest capital city purely built of clay. After having spent some time at the beach and in the beautiful city center of Trujillo in the afternoon, we took another night bus to our next destination.
Having arrived in Huaraz, we chose the Big Mountain Hostel to stay in. After breakfast at the terrace, we went on a small hike to a lagoon close by where we enjoyed wonderful views before getting everything ready for pursuing the Santa-Cruz-Trek starting early the next morning – renting the camping gear, buying food, making pasta, and packing everything together.
To get to Huascaran National Park, we had to take two local busses. Having arrived to Vaqueria, we enjoyed a Coca tea to prevent altitude sickness, and then started hiking. The winter camping gear was just too heavy that’s why Ben and I decided to rent a donkey for carrying our stuff (in the end, we not only got a discount but also an upgrade to a horse). During the first night of camping, it rained really hard and we woke up because the tent was leaking… :-/ Although having been advised to turn around and go back, we decided to go up with the wet stuff. The weather was on our side and we were able to dry it in the sun at the highest point Punta Union (4.700m) near the lagoon. When our horse left us, we had to carry our big bags ourselves but very friendly Peruvian guys helped us, offered us tea and snacks afterwards, and even served us dinner and breakfast in the tent. 🙂 On the 3rd day, we started early again and hiked 24km through valleys and along rivers – incredible views!
As soon as we had arrived in Huaraz in the evening, I jumped on a night bus to Lima in order to meet up with my friend Lisa from Germany …
Having arrived to Lima early in the morning, I went to the Hotel where my friend Lisa stayed after having gotten there from Munich on Sunday. There, we had a very nice breakfast, before I finally was able to take a shower again after 4 days without… At noon, we walked through Miraflores, visited two ruins and afterwards the city center which was pretty disappointing and veeeeery noisy and smoggy because of all the traffic. Thus, we went back to the hotel and chilled there before taking a bus to Ica in the morning.
The highlight in Ica is Per`’s mesmerizing desert oasis Huacachina where we stayed in the hotel Rochabus which gave us some pool time. In the evening, we went with a buggy through the sand dunes, tried sand boarding, and enjoyed a wonderful sunset in the desert.
The next day, we had another relaxing time at the pool before going to Nazca to take a look at the famous Nazca Lines. What we saw was a collection of giant geoglyphs created by the ancient Nazca culture depicting various plants, animals, and shapes. The 2,000-year-old lines in the ground – which were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994 – are still a mystery to researchers. From there, we took the next upcoming bus to Arequipa (this time the luxury liner Cruz del Sur for a promo price).
Having arrived in Arequipa, we just dropped our bags at the bus station and went into the city center where we strolled around, stunned by the colonial-style houses, the impressive churches, the arcs – and, of course, the jaw-dropping scenery with two volcanoes surrounding it this city.
In the evening, we arrived in Cabanaconde, where we stayed the night at hotel Villa Pastor in order to start our trek through the Colca Canyon early in the morning – the second deepest canyon worldwide. When Lisa, me, AJ, and Quintin (two Americans we had had met earlier in the bus), arrived in Llahuar about 6 hours later, it was time to relax in the hot springs. What a wonderful afternoon we had at the Llahuar Lodge, where we inhabited our own little cabin at the river! 🙂
The next day, we went on uphill and after a while down again to the oasis Sagalle. But instead of staying there at one of the hotels chilling at the pool, we went on to San Juan until we arrived in Posada Gloria where we spent the night (without wifi, hot water, and electricity but with a great banana-pancake breakfast).
The third day in the canyon was the hardest. We had to leave very early in order to hike uphill for 1.200 m in 3 hours to get the bus in Cabanaconde at 11:30 am while enjoying the last stunning views of this amazing landscape! Back in Arequipa, we took the night bus to Cusco.
When we arrived in Cusco, we felt veeery tired – not only due to the long night ride in the bus but also due to the altitude… Thus, we only checked out the San Pedro market, did a (not very recommendable) free walking tour, and ran around town checking out and comparing the offered tours to Machu Picchu.
The next morning, it was already time to leave for our Inka Jungle Trek to Machu Picchu which we had just booked the night before with one of the many tour operators (the price was about 150 USD). It was a great 4-days-tour including 54 km downhill mountain biking, a 2-hour rafting trip, a ziplining experience, hiking along a part of the Inca Trail, awesome jungle lodges, and delicious meals. On the last day, we started very early in the morning in Aguas Calientes to go up the hill to Machu Picchu (the entrance was also included in the package) – an amazing place and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (one of the Seven Great Wonders of the World) totally worth a visit.
Back in Cusco, we chilled for a day, just visiting the market, some ruins, and enjoying parades at the main square. Oh, and not to forget changing the hostel to Blacky Hostel (very nice atmosphere) because Koko’s House was way too loud keeping you from sleeping and the staff was not very nice.
On our last day, we got up very early in order to visit the famous Rainbow Mountain (“Vinicunca”) which shines in seven different colors. Although crowded with tourists, it was still a breathtaking sight inmidst incredible landscapes such as the Red Valley. And the lunch buffet was delicious! 🙂
At night, we took a bus to Puno at Lake Titicaca where we enjoyed the sunrise at the lake during a stopover before crossing the border to Bolivia…