Posts Tagged ‘Peru’

September in Peru: My fam-tastic four-week itinerary

During the month of September, I’ll be enjoying the big perk of life as a travel professional on a fam trip to Peru. I wrote about the anatomy of a fam trip  after Ecuador in 2012. To summarize: “fam trip” is tradespeak for familiarization trip. I’ll be getting familiar with elements of our upscale itineraries at Southwind Adventures.

postcard from machu picchu

To my delight, I’ll be offline and unplugged for two portions of the trip – during a river cruise in the Amazon rainforest and while hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. My American cellphone will be disconnected for the month, and I may be a little belated on email responses. But I’ll have a notebook, a pen, and a stack of postcards ready.

When I was in high school, I had to answer three questions for my parents before leaving the house. Where are you going? Who are you going with? When will you be back? Since said parents represent about 20% of my readership, I’ll outline my itinerary below. It takes me all over Peru, and I’ll be traveling solo. Hopefully I’ll be back in time for peak foliage in Colorado.

three toed sloth

High hopes for seeing one of these

September 1-3: Lima
Stay in the Miraflores district, visit Pachacamac, Barranco, Huaca Pucllana, colonial Lima, Larco Museum

September 3-7: Puerto Maldonado (Amazon rainforest)
Stay at Hacienda Concepcion, Reserva Amazonica, and Sandoval Lake Lodge, day excursions around the ecolodges

September 7-8: Lima
Hotel and restaurant site visits

September 8-12: Iquitos (Amazon rainforest)
5-day cruise aboard the M/V Aria

September 12-16: Cusco
Airbnb homestay at Casa de Carlos, hotel and restaurant site visits, free time, aimless cobbled street wandering and market browsing

September 17-20: Inca Trail
Trekking the classic four-day route, three nights camping, covering 26 miles and several high mountain passes to arrive to Machu Picchu on foot

September 20-21: Machu Picchu
Stay at Inkaterra Pueblo, tour citadel ruins, hike Huayna Picchu, Intimachay, hotel and restaurant site visits


September 21-24: Sacred Valley
Train to Ollantaytambo, Stay at Aranwa Sacred Valley, hotel and restaurant site visits, Inca Trail alternative hike to Cochayoq

September 25-27: Lake Titicaca
Andahuaylillas, Racchi and Pucara en route to Puno, Taquile Island, Uros Islands, hotel site visits

September 27-28: Lima, USA
Flight to Lima and onward connection home

This post is August’s addition to my Ambassador series for


08 2014

Solstice Sun Celebration to Shine in Peru

This article originally appeared on To read the full post, click here. December, 2012.

Each year on June 24th, one of the largest and most colorful celebrations in Latin America erupts on the cobbled streets of Cusco, Peru – a colonial city at 11,150 feet above sea level and gateway to the legendary Machu Picchu. The Inti Raymi festival attracts foreigners and Peruvians alike with a re-enactment of a sacred Inca solstice celebration.


For the event, a cast of hundreds will dress in full regalia to welcome the return of the Father Sun, or “Inti”. The day is filled with Andean music, parades, ceremonies in the ancient Quechua tongue, and a culminating display in the fortress ruins of Sacsayhuaman in the hills above the city.

To keep reading, click here.


12 2012

My New Desk at Southwind Adventures

Last August, while living in South America, I found this job posting on

We are looking for a personable, organized and experienced Travel Consultant to join our team of travel professionals who enjoy sharing the wonders of South America with our discerning and adventurous clientele. Travel Consultants are in contact with travelers from first inquiry to post-trip evaluation …”

I read through the 11 bullet points of requirements. I found the ones I liked the best:

  •  Enthusiastic and friendly personality with a high energy level
  • Must have lived or traveled extensively in South America. Knowledge of Spanish or Portuguese is a plus!
  • Nature and outdoor oriented (hiking, camping, rafting, biking experience highly recommended)

Reading more, I discovered that the post was by Southwind Adventures, and that they’re located in my own hometown of Denver, Colorado. If there’s one way to apply all my experience to a job in Denver, I thought, then this is it.

my new desk at southwind adventures

My new desk at Southwind Adventures

So I got in touch with a resume and cover letter. After months of email correspondence, I had an interview. Since May 1, I’ve been on board full-time with Southwind Adventures.

One thing I really  like is its mission:

Southwind Adventures provides guests with the highest levels of personal service, quality and value in their travels. We operate our trips in a responsible and professional manner, respecting nature and local cultures while sharing the benefits of ecotourism with our host countries. We offer programs that are safe, congenial and educational, rewarding our guests with authentic experiences that open heart, mind and spirit to the wonders of South America.”

Southwind has been practicing ecotourism for over twenty years, so I think it’s a great opportunity to learn from some of the best and most experienced practitioners out there.

What does this mean for my own plans and travels? I’ll be based in Denver indefinitely, with a regular office schedule. But the great part of working in the travel/tourism industry is that the need to travel is understood. One perk in my new position: “Travel to South or Central America for periods of up to 3 weeks, once per year.”

A life in Denver and a job that involves South America sounds like a good move and a new kind of adventure. I am a bit torn about giving up my various freelance positions and my location independence, so I’ll stay on with a few gigs like my newsletter editing position at The Travel Word on the side.

Check out my profile on the Southwind Adventures staff page
Check out some of the South America trips Southwind offers


06 2012

Taking the High Road from Cusco to La Paz: Bus Travel in South America

This article originally appeared on The Travel Word. To view the original post, click here. August, 2011.

I leaned in, weighing the advice coming from a local tour operator in Cusco, Peru. We were in a tourist information office and he was helping me plan the next leg of my trip to La Paz, Bolivia.

“I suggest you take an airplane,” he said.

Strait of Tiquina, Bolivia

Maybe his advice was because I was a woman travelling alone. Maybe it was because that bus route had been plagued by protesters and blockades in Puno, Peru, for the past month and bus companies were cancelling trips on that road or rerouting them in order to avoid the blockades, adding four more hours to what was normally an eight- to 10-hour long. Maybe it was because overland border crossings tend to be a little rougher than the customs lines at airports. Or perhaps it was simply because I was in a tourist information office and tourists tend to seek the path of least resistance.

I considered my options: a 14-hour overnight bus ride or a one-hour flight. “I think I’ll hope that the blockades clear up and take the bus,” I said.

To keep reading, click here.


08 2011

South America, One Month On

Almost six weeks have gone by since I first arrived in Lima, Peru and started making my way toward Cochabamba, Bolivia, where I currently hang my hat.

“Well?” ask emails and chats from home, “How is it?”

Inti Raymi festival in Cusco Peru

The Inti Raymi festival in Cusco Peru

It’s both. The beginning of my long-term trip to South America has been both of everything. It’s both the suspension from time that is travel and the daily grind that is real life.

It’s both what I love and loath from past experiences in Latin America — piracy, fireworks, endless markets, packed buses, street dogs, public urination, street food, public displays of affection.

It’s both Spanish and English. It’s both what I had imagined and nothing like I expected. It’s both hot and cold. It’s both high and low, and everything in between. But I can say, at over 11,000 feet of altitude right now, that it’s been mostly high and always exciting.

Ekeko en La Paz

Ekeko, the Bolivian god of plenty, in La Paz

Some highlights from the trip so far:
•    The Inti Raymi Festival in Peru to celebrate the shortest day in the southern hemisphere Inca-style
•    A bicycle tour to the ruins of Moray in Peru to see the Sacred Valley
•    A 20 hour bus ride from Peru to La Paz to prove that I could do it
•    Five days in La Paz to catch up with my friend Paul who lives there

Casa Sucre

Casa Sucre, the volunteer house where I live in Cochabamba

•    Arriving in Cochabamba, lots of wandering around
•    Theme parties and community dinners with the Sustainable Bolivia crowd
•    Sun basking on the rooftop terrace of Casa Sucre, the volunteer house where I live
•    Hikes up the 1,399 stairs of the Cristo to see how long it takes

the cristo

Cochabamba's Cristo de la Concordia is the biggest Jesus statue in the world

•    A weekend trip to Villa Tunari to encounter some not-so-friendly monkeys
•    Performance Life’s street children circus
•    A weekend trip to Torotoro to see some dinosaur tracks and caves
•    Feeling very alive on Bolivia’s “death road” by bicycle

Casa Sucre view

The view of snowcapped Andes and palm trees from Casa Sucre's terrace

Less certain and equally exciting is the list of what is to come:
•    A brief foray into Uzbekistan
•    El Salar de Uyuni, the Mecca of trick perspective snapshots
•    The silver mines of Potosí and the colonial whitewash of Sucre
•    A 2.5 day bus ride to Argentina when my Bolivian visa expires at the end of September

Torotoro National Park

Torotoro National Park in Bolivia


08 2011

The Incan Ruins of Moray, Peru by Bicycle

This article originally appeared on Mynatour.  To view the complete article, click here. July, 2001.

Moray, an Ancient Incan Agricultural Laboratory

Upon arriving at Moray, you’ll find a parking lot full of buses for tourists who have opted for motor-powered transport to the site. The entrance into the site is 10 soles. Moray was discovered relatively recently in 1932, a full 31 years after the ‘old peak’ of Machu Picchu was discovered. Excavation is still incomplete, and the park has been open to the public for only about five years.

Ruins of Moray, Peru

Looking down into the huge concentric terraced rings of Moray, it looks somewhat like an ancient amphitheater. To some, they’re reminiscent of extra-terrestrial crop circles, but according to most archeological theories they’re actually very terrestrial and even ingenious in their design. Experts hypothesize that the ancient Incans built the circular terraces to create a series of progressively cooler microclimates for testing different crops. Temperatures can vary up to 27 °F form the largest top circle to the bottom-most one. Climb down the ancient ladders and see if you can notice slightly decreasing temperatures yourself.

To keep reading this article, click here.


07 2011

Notes on a Long-term Ticket to South America

“Thank you for booking with us. Your ticket has been issued as an E-Ticket”

Clicking ‘purchase ticket’ of a flight always carries a little emotional charge. I have a special file for flight confirmation emails that has become a sort of scrap book. I take a minute to look back through it. This is definitely not the first solo flight I’ve booked. It isn’t the first international long-term long-haul either. But my new ticket has that first-kiss zing to it. This is the start of something: it’s confirmed. I’ve got the email and the butterflies in my stomach to prove it.

the passport shot

My passport has extra blank pages inserted and ready for South America


  • I’ll be in South America for a little over six months, starting June 22 2011
  • I depart June 22 to Lima, Peru. I’ll make my way from Lima to Cuzco to catch the the Inti Raymi solstice celebration on the 24th. From there I’ll travel overland across the border to La Paz, Bolivia, and then on to Cochabamba
  • I’ll be spending months of July, August, and September in Cochabamba doing a writing residency at Sustainable Bolivia. I’ll continue doing my current job remotely from there and ideally some freelance writing for SB on the side
  • The last three months are an open book. The idea is to find a new city to set up shop and call home for a little while. Possible candidates: Valparaiso, Chile; Bariloche, Argentina; and Montevideo, Uruguay
  • The [arbitrary, negotiable] return date is Dec 22 2011


  • Visit some of my MTEE colleauges/classmates/friends. Paul in La Paz, Italo in Lima, Jesica in Buenos Aires, and Maria Laura in Montevideo are on my list. Diego, onde está você?
  • Find a place like that one cafe in Tirana where I scored on all the articles I pitched from there
  • Explore in and around Bolivia. Hit up the major stuff like the salt flats and Lake Titicaca
  • Finally meet my Brazilian coworkers Andre, Wallace and Laura in person in Belo Horizonte
  • Contribute wherever I go


  • Getting stopped at Bolivian customs for questionable ‘proof of onward travel’
  • Working too hard online and not having enough time to just enjoy being somewhere new
  • Not working hard enough online, subsequent unemployment
  • Loneliness
  • Meeting too many other foreigners and not speaking enough Spanish (again)
  • Walking out on North America mid-summer
  • Not being able to stop shivering in the Bolivian highlands in July
  • Bed bugs
  • The unknown

Still lots of planning to do! Feel free to share your South America tips and tales.


04 2011