An Escorted Tour Through PeruPeru, Tours & Attractions — By Alex B on December 18, 2011 at 3:00 am
When Lost Girl Sophie McGovern felt the pull of returning to Peru, she worried that at age 30 she was over the backpacking scene. She quickly realized there are alternate ways to travel the Andean highlands, and set off to rediscover the home of the Incas.
From the glossy pages of travel brochures and the dusty photo-albums on my bookshelf, I could hear Peru calling to me. But nearing thirty and settled into a comfortable groove, I wasn’t sure that I still had the courage to make such a trip. Was I physically equipped for a backpacker-style jaunt? Could I handle a terrain void of macchiatos and hairdryers?
I had been eighteen on my first visit to Peru, and had experienced the pure joy and freedom of a pre-college adventure. During that time I met some incredibly inspiring people and gained several of my most treasured memories. Having said that, there were many things I didn’t necessarily want to repeat from the first time round. You know, things like shaving my head, eating guinea pig and having a two hour conversation with a shrub after sampling Ayahuasca.
All things considered, it seemed that times had changed. I had changed. But the lure of the Andean highlands had not. I just needed to take a different approach to travel if I was going to make my ambition a reality, and thus began looking at escorted tours. Comfortable travel arrangements with all the trip organisation taken care of? My two weeks in Peru was booked.
Everything had been expertly planned for us and the tour came complete with knowledgeable guides. I didn’t need to worry about ordering a pet-shaped animal for lunch, or buying the wrong ticket and ending up in a trailer full of livestock bound for Paraguay. The two-week tour included all of the most significant sites in Peru, beginning with the living museum of Lima and then heading through to Arequipa and the Colca Canyon. I hadn’t visited the Canyon on my first trip and was amazed by the sheer scale of it, condors soaring over the lunar-like landscape. The next destination was Lake Titicaca, said to be the birthplace of the Incas. Locals sell crafts from small islands entirely made of reeds, and the lake is so huge that one has the impression of being afloat a tideless ocean.
Next it was a luxurious train ride through snow-capped Andean heights and traditional villages towards the historic Incan capital of Cuzco. When we drew into the city I felt a warm familiarity- the antique architecture and narrow hillside lanes were just as I remembered from years before.
From there we explored the Sacred Valley sites, Incan ruins sprawling over mountain sides. The intricate precision of the stonemasonry is breathtaking, as is the echo of a formidable, vast empire and the ambitions it held. Macchu Picchu is of course the crowning glory. Nestled between verdant mountains, this is a place of magic and dreams. Lost to jungle until the early twentieth century, the site retains a mythical, overwhelming presence which rekindled the sense of awe and imagination I had felt on my first visit there over 10 years ago.
Sophie McGovern is a writer and freelance journalist. Originally from Scarborough, she has travelled throughout Latin America, North Africa and Europe, and currently lives on a house boat near Bath. Her articles are featured on various websites including Heading There, Lonely Planet and Southbank Centre Literature. She has a Masters degree in Creative Writing.
Image courtesy of destination360.com
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