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Highlights From Our Whirlwind Tour of Peru and Chile

Posted on May 23, 2012 by in International, Travel | 16 comments

Magical Machu Picchu

Shh, can you keep a secret?

We generally have a pretty hard time keeping a lid on something that gets us this excited, but in this case, we have to pat ourselves on the back for not peppering every blog entry this past month with the uber-excited proclamation that WE ARE GOING TO SOUTH AMERICA!  Yes, friends, Mr. Travelbypoints and I have just returned from a trip of a lifetime to Peru and Chile.   We took the much talked about recent devaluation of the British Airways Miles as an opportunity to book a trip to South America to celebrate my mom’s 6oth birthday.  Eleven days and seven cities later, I can say with certainty that South America is delightful, mysterious and utterly enchanting – and we’ve just begun  to scratch the surface during our short time there.

I’m still combing through the 3,000+ pictures from our three cameras and at the same time, truth be told, continuing to digest the magical time we had on our whirlwind trip.  Each place deserves its own write-up to do it adequate justice, but before I dive in, I’d like to leave you with a glimpse of what’s to come.

Top 5 Observations from Our Trip (in no particular order)

  1. Your high school Spanish will be put to good use.  Even if you have an English-speaking guide, the ability to converse with those around you in their native tongue will greatly enhance your travel experience.  My high school Spanish teacher would cringe if she could hear what my Spanish has deteriorated to, but I was pleasantly surprised to see what started to come back after a few days in South America – not exactly like riding a bike, but not too shabby for a decade and a half after high school.
  2. If you want to blend in, Vibram Fivefingers should NOT be your footwear of choice in South America.  Wherever we went, we were met with open stares, curious smiles and even laughter.   The phrase, “Mira los zapatos!”, followed by finger pointing became a familiar refrain from the time we landed until we boarded our flight back to the U.S.  That being said, they were a wonderful conversation starter and an absolute joy to traipse through South America in.  Best travel shoes EVER!
  3. Keep the coca handy if you’re afraid of falling victim to soroche.  Coca tea has a sweet, slightly medicinal taste that starts to grow on you after a few cups.  I don’t know if I was actually susceptible to altitude sickness because the moment we arrived at our hotel in the Sacred Valley I immediately downed two cups and kept a handful of the dried leaves on hand throughout the rest of the trip.  When my mom started to complain about the onset of a headache, I’d stuff a few leaves in her mouth (sometimes against her will).  It pays to be prepared!
  4. Machu Picchu will leave you speechless.  Believe the hype – it will far exceed it.  When you arrive, ignore the throng of tourists making a beeline for the main ruins and venture up the mountain to the Sun Gate for one of the most spectacular views of Machu Picchu and the surrounding valley.  Just come with good shoes and be prepared to answer questions from random people about how comfortable your choice of footwear is as you make your way up and down the mountain (see #2).
  5. The ceviche in Lima is really, really good.  Don’t miss it!

Have I piqued your interest?   I can’t wait to share with you some of the wonderful memories we created during this once in a lifetime trip.  If you’re planning a similar trip or have specific questions, please leave me a comment below.  I’ll try to incorporate them into my upcoming posts.  First up – Traveling to Peru and Day Tour of Cuzco.

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