Peru: The to-do list that doesn’t include Machu Picchu.

I’m still in a bit of the post-adventure blues, but I did want to jot down a few notes about my trip to Peru for those of you thinking about making a trip there.

1 – If you’re just passing through Lima on your way to somewhere else, why don’t you slow down a bit and spend a night in the community of Miraflores. Miraflores, and really Lima, is quickly becoming known for its food scene.

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Lomo Saltado

The 2015 list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants has 3 Peruvian restaurants on this list! At #4 its Central, #14 is Astrid y Gaston, and coming in at #44 is Maido. And, if you’re wanting to keep up with where the best restaurants are for 2016, you can tune in here for the live announcements!

2 – We took a cooking class from Sky Kitchen. They were quick to respond to emails, and put a class together for us at the last-minute when our plans changed. We prepared a 4 course meal of traditional Peruvian recipes, and were introduced to history and stories along the way. Plus, you can bring your own wine! I highly recommend making some time for this class. Or if you’re traveling to another country, find a cooking class there. It was a really wonderful way to spend the evening.


3 – Rainbow Mountain. It’s gaining momentum in popularity, but worth the effort to visit. You can go through several adventure companies to get there, but I would recommend Ayni Peru Expedition – and specifically Simon as your guide. My original plan to hike the 4 day Inca trail came to an end 1 week before we were set to leave for Peru, so we had to come up with an alternative, yet equally worthy way to experience Peru. After some getting lost in a google rabbit hole, I found Ayni – and within a few days, they arranged a trip for Rose and I to enjoy. It was a 2 day/1 night camping trip that included hiking, high elevation, breath-taking views, and the most wonderful guide ever. I’m talking about a guide who rubs your back and tells you encouraging words while you’re throwing up due to the high altitude.

It was the hardest hike I’ve ever done, due to the 16,000+ elevation, high winds, and freezing temps, but the views were breathtaking.

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4 – Putucusi Mountain. Okay, so a few months ago, my brother casually mentioned this hike that a friend of his did. It didn’t really register with me because we didn’t have time to squeeze it in with our schedule, but then when plans changed, space opened up for some adventure.

Putucusi Mountain is just on the outskirts of Aquas Calientes. You follow the train tracks out-of-town, look for the overgrown path that is unmarked. 20 minutes of stone stairs, past the locals making out, and up to the dilapidated warden’s hut, you’ll find the beginning of the Putucusi hike. Regrettably, this was the beginning of the end for our
hike.

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Apparently there USED to be a wooden ladder at the bottom rock wall that has since been removed. Today, there is only the remains of a large cable rope….and a 60 foot rock wall. I’m told it’s a 70 degree incline. My fear was crippling halfway up, and I had to retreat. But waiving the white flag halfway up a rock wall doesn’t mean it’s over, you still have to scale down.

But, Rose made it all the way up the wall. So, it’s possible. And if you find the tag on instagram, you can see success stories from those who go all the way to the top. I’m told that after the rock wall, are several broken wooden ladders adding to the hour and a half obstacle course climb to the top. If you’re the type of adventurer that’s looking for something a little more rugged, then maybe Putucusi Mountain is your thing. If you make it to the top, let me know how the rest of it is!

5 – El Pan de la Chola. This is a MUST while in Lima. Rose did some research on coffee shops, because, coffee, and found this gem. It’s popular, so when we showed up on a Saturday, there was a line and all the wooden tables with mismatched chairs were full. Vance Joy played overhead, and basically, all my hipster fantasies were coming true. The menu is in Spanish, but the items are easily discernible. You can’t go wrong with anything you order, so indulge! Over indulge!

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Okay, so I do have to mention Machu Picchu. For its history, and its grandeur, and its ability to captivate your soul for a few moments. It will leave you breathless. Partially because of the number of stone steps around the place, but also because it is so impressive. And mind-boggling. You can do the day hike, or the 1 day trek, or the 4 day trek Рjust get there. And try to get there for sunrise!

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And make sure you get your passport stamped at Machu Picchu with the official stamp. Because, why not?!

There are so many more places to explore in Peru. So, go. Find your own adventure. Then come back and tell me all about it!

Salud!

 

 

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