From Ecuador we hit the coast of Peru in a hurry, we spend a while on the beach in Huanchaco before heading into the mountains around Huaraz. From there we head to the great city of Lima, the Nazca Lines and of course, the famous Incan ruins of Machu Picchu.
Our trip updates will be published here along with useful recaps of our budget, the internet situation and how long we had to stand in line at the border.
This article is part of our Internet and Phone Report series.
General availability: High
Quality of bandwidth: Medium
Frequency of internet in campgrounds: Medium-High
Frequency of internet in hotels: High
We spent six weeks in Peru. We visited the beaches in the north, the Cordillera Blanca around Huaraz, Lima, Nazca, and Cusco and the Sacred Valley. We did not visit the ruins on the northeast side of the country, the Amazon or Arequipa.
Internet availability is pretty amazing. We camped almost everywhere, and with few exceptions always had access to free wifi. Every town regardless of the size will have an internet café.
Lodges that are off the gringo trail (especially in the Cordillera Blanca) may not have internet. Same with off the beaten track national parks. If there are few facilities (i.e. no showers) don’t expect internet or electricity.
Hotels and hostels all have internet. Peru is enough of a tourist destination that unless you are in the middle of nowhere, free wifi is a given.
Start: September 28, Santa Teresa
Finish: October 5, Tinajani Cayon
Machu Picchus Seen: 1
Tourists Taking Stupid Pictures Seen: Hundreds
Dutch Ovens Used to Cook Dinner: 3
Price of One Peruvian Cow: 300 Soles, About $115
Well, we made it. Check it off the list. Never to return again.
Machu Picchu is one of those places everyone must see given the opportunity. It's an image that immediately evokes the wanderlust amongst travelers who have never been. And it's an image that few ever care to capture a second time.
Why the mixed messages? Simply put, it's a tourist trap. And it's either very difficult or very expensive to get to. Normally we would go out of our way to avoid any place fitting that description. However, this is Machu Picchu we're talking about. And we'd be stupid to come all this way just to pass it by.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Was it expensive and full of goofy-hat zip-off-pants-wearing tourists? You better believe it. Would we go back? Not a chance.
This article is part of our Budget and Money Report series.
Our per diem expenses cover food, lodging, gas and other supplies and travel costs for three people. We travel in a 1997 Toyota 4Runner, tent camp in paid facilities roughly 70% of our nights and eat less than 10% of our meals in restaurants. This budget does not reflect personal spending money, which is mostly used to buy souvenirs and booze. We don't track this money, but we do know we have not come close to spending our budgeted amount of $10 per person per day.
We spent nearly seven weeks in Peru, and in that time we did our fair share of eating out, visiting ancient ruins and driving a whole heck of a lot. Aside from the gas prices, Peru is a cheap country to travel in. Groceries are reasonably priced, especially at local markets, and camping is prevalent, even in larger cities.
We stuck pretty close to budget. Our main downfalls were expensive hotels and a pricey trip to Machu Picchu that we never bothered to include in our budget. But we made up ground the old fashioned way, by camping the majority of our nights and cooking most meals for ourselves.
Start: September 19, Nazca
Finish: September 27, Santa Teresa
Days Jess & Kobus Spent Puking: 4
Alpaca Steak Consumed: 1.5lbs
Death Roads Successfully Traversed: 1
The past week we left the coastal roads of Peru at the mysterious Nazca Lines and headed into the Andes to the historic town of Cusco. Our end goal is to reach the ruins of Machu Picchu, a milestone of epic proportions for any overlanding expedition in South America.
It's not the easiest place to get to, but as you will see we took our time. Partially because Jessica and Kobus both fell deathly ill on two separate occasions and partially because driving 8 or 9 hours a day does not equate to having fun times. So we hit up a craft market, sampled more of Peru's delicious cuisine, and generally did our best to slow things down.
Hard to believe it's been 365 days since we left home in Seattle. In a few short days we'll be crossing into Bolivia, our 13th country, after 19,000 miles on the road. Here's a recap of some our highlights, hi-jinks, hilarious encounters and generally horrible experiences.
Start: September 9, Huaraz
Finish: September 19, Nazca
Hours Spent Waiting in Line for Best Pork in the World: 1.5
Guinea Pig Ears Eaten: 2
Ancient Cities Explored: 2
Days Spent Not Talking About Food: 0
Everybody who has met us learns after a day or two that we like food. Even though we spend most of our nights in tents, we cook fancy meals and spend quite a bit of time talking about food. I know it's bad when we haven't even finished dinner and we're already discussing what's on the menu for the next night.
To be fair, we are in Peru, one of the culinary capitals of the world. And we happen to be in Lima, the foodie paradise of South America, during its annual food festival that draws tens of thousands of visitors daily. However, food is not all we've indulged in the past ten days. We also manage to visit two pre-Colombian cities, one of which is the most ancient city in the Americas.
Start: August 26, Mancora
Finish: September 8, Llanganuco
Hand-carved Tunnels Passed Through: 40
Avalanches Witnessed: 1
Noisy Kittens Successfully Rescued: 0
Fire Pits Dug: 1
Our first two weeks in Peru take us from dusty coastal towns into the Cordillera Blanca mountains around the town of Huaraz. Along the way we visit a few pre-Colombian ruins for the first time since Central America, hang out with some old friends, and drive down a few spectacular mountain roads.
We spent a bit over a week up in the mountains; exploring, hiking and soaking up the amazing Andean scenery. We also dust off our birding vests, on the hunt for the world's largest hummingbird and a species of goofy ground-dwelling owls.
This article is part of our Border Crossing Report series.
Border name: Huaquillas or Aguas Verdes
Closest major cities: Machala, Ecuador and Tumbes, Peru
Cost for visas: $0
Cost for vehicle: $8 for insurance, permit was free
Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Date crossed: Thursday August 23, 2012