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Authentic Peru, Caroline Chandra

Authentic Peru, by Caroline Chandra

 

Offered by: Waterston Collection & Metropolitan Touring Peru, both Virtuoso Vendors.

This is my second trip to Peru. My first trip was in 2015 only for 4 nights with my small group after Galapagos 4 years ago to Cusco, Scared Valley, Machu Picchu. I did not get a chance to site-inspect any properties during my previous trip. The highlight for this trip was the chance to see Lima and visit Puno & Lake Titicaca.

Day 1, Sep. 07th, 2018 – Late night arrival to Lima Airport via Miami. Transfer by Metropolitan Touring Peru representative and private driver to overnight in Lima – Country Club Lima Hotel. Our documents were presented at check-in  – it was a breeze!

Day 2, Sep. 08th, 2018 – After breakfast we had a Half day Artistic Lima City tour. Guided sightseeing focused on several artistic aspects of Lima, the “City of Kings”.  Begin with a visit to Lima’s Historical Center stopping at the Plaza Mayor or Plaza de Armas, birthplace of the city of Lima, as well as the core of the city, surrounded by the Government Palace, Cathedral of Lima, Archbishop’s Palace of Lima, the Municipal Palace, and the Palace of the Union.

We continued our visit to The Museum of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru, located in the city center some 3 blocks from the Main Plaza, formerly the headquarters of the Bank.  It exhibits an archaeological collection with representations of all pre-Columbian cultures, a complete collection of republican paintings of the country, a valuable sample of Popular Art formed by objects of ceramics, painting and textiles and goldsmiths of artisans from various regions of Peru.

Then it was time to visit a quieter side of Lima, the picturesque district of Barranco (Spanish word for cliff). My highlight for the tour,  for today!  It is known as the bohemian heart of the city because towards the end of the 19th Century it became the favorite hangout of poets, writers, painters and sculptors who were inspired by its coastal scenery. Although full with nightlife locals and restaurants, it has nevertheless kept its essence and charm in the form of old houses painted in bright colonial colors. The most emblematic symbol of this neighborhood is its wooden Puente de los Suspiros or “bridge of sighs”. We continued through traditional Barranco by taking a peek at Las Pallas Folk Art shop, and the renowned Peruvian handicrafts at number 212 on Cajamarca, one of the most picturesque and colorful streets of Barranco.

Our visit ended with a tour to MATE, a cultural institution specialized in the work of the world known photographer Mario Testino, who has created a cultural space in his hometown to exhibit his photographic work.  Before even looking at the collection, you will be fascinated by the XIX century historical mansion of republican architecture restored by Testino, preserving its history and beauty.  The landscaping of the entrance garden and the graceful porch with its original tiles are a unique introduction to the visit.  Inside the house, modern technology ensures optimal viewing: seven rooms with climate-control and perfect lighting for Testino’s own photographs, as well as work from other Peruvian artists and even some musical performances.

For Lunch we headed to Hotel B – a lovely boutique hotel in this district of Barranco. I highly recommend! A Relais Chateaux hotel, amazing rooms, each one unique. Fabulous lunch and amazing bar.

Tonight Site-Inspection at The Country Club Lima.  A Leading’s Hotel of the World collection. Excellent location.  The Country Club Lima Hotel is situated in the prestigious residential area of San Isidro district of Lima and is approximately 20 minutes from downtown Lima. Built in 1927 and declared a Peruvian Cultural Monument, the Country Club Lima Hotel presents the perfect marriage of architectural charm, history, and modern comfort. All rooms and suites are decorated in a delightful mix of classical and Peruvian artworks. Celebrated for their innovative style, creative flavors and sophisticated ambiance, three acclaimed destinations are the cornerstones of hotel’s dining experience. This property is simply Lima’s finest hotel.

 

We had a Piso Sour presentation in their English Bar and Perroquet Restaurant followed by dinner hosted by The Country Club Lima and Metropolitan Touring Peru.

 

 

 

 

Day 3, Sep. 09th, 2018 – Lima / Cusco / Sacred Valley

Arrived Cusco 2 hours later! Luggages were transferred to our hotel. We met up with our Metropolitan guide – En route to the Pisac Markets, which was the place of reunion for all artisans of the region to get together and exchange or buy and sell their products.  Originally held only on Sundays, due to the increase of tourism in the area it has become increasingly popular to the point that now it is held daily.   It is a favorite destination for visitors from all over the world who don’t want to miss the opportunity of enjoying the colorful ambiance in this marketplace.  This is an excellent chance to share the peasants’ customs closely with plenty of time to explore and even barter for all the goods and crafts typical of the areas around Cusco.  Leisurely roam through the textiles and souvenir sections of the market.

 

Our last stop is at Pablo Seminario’s Ceramic Workshop, where we observe creations in progress and we were lucky to meet the owner, artist Pablo Seminario, he mainly works in his studio year round.  He dedicates his life to the discovery of techniques and designs from ancient Peruvian cultures and every production of his studio presents a new art expression, providing continuity to these cultural inheritances.  In his atelier, Pablo Seminario works on the drafts of winged men and magic creatures with crowned heads and round eyes, which resemble traditional pre-Inca pieces.  He has 60 art pieces in our Field Museum!

Inside the working rooms, a group of artisans trained by the family draw and paint cups, vases, and lamps with great accuracy and skill by using long brushes submerged in colored paints.   At the end of our visit we had the opportunity of purchasing one of his hand made art piece signed personally by him!

 

THIS WAS MY PURCHASE

 

Due to our late arrival to Cusco, we had a very late lunch outdoor countryside BBQ at a beautiful riverside setting organized by Metropolitan Touring Peru. It was spectacular.

 

 

 

 

After the lunch we were transferred overnight toSacred Valley – Tambo del Inka, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa.

Day 4, Sep. 10th, 2018 – Sacred Valley full day visit to Chinchero Village, Maras Saltpans & Ollantaytambo Fortress. Today we set off in the direction of the Sacred Valley to the town of Chinchero, an authentic Andean village with lots of character, where we will find the colonial church that houses a large collection of painting from the Cusqueñan School of Art. Chinchero is well known for its continuing tradition as a commercial town and on Sundays the townsfolk gather in the main square to trade their products in a bartering system.

Weave demonstration in Chincheros. We visited the home of artist and master weaver Nilda Callañaupa. Peruvian textiles, recently believed to be a generation away from extinction, are making a surprising comeback, and the revival of the country’s 2,000-year-old weaving techniques is largely due to Nilda, who works with six mountain villages to resurrect symbolic patterns and avoid the use of garish chemical dyes and synthetic yarns. We enjoyed a highly educational weaving demonstration which included wool spinning, natural dyes, traditional patterns and weaving techniques.

 

We continue our excursion to the salt fields of Maras and its seemingly never-ending terraces, where salt extracted from springs is stored.  Although these waters have been used for centuries, even before the time of the Incas, Maras was founded by the Spanish in 1556.  It supplied salt to the southern highlands during the viceroyalty, so it was an important town.  The use of Maras Salt dates back thousands of years and is inherited from generation to generation and managed communally.

It is produced naturally in about 5,000 pools of approximately 5 square meters each forming different levels of terraces, nourished by salty water from a creek that permeates the pools and then evaporated by the intense sun, forming thick crystals. They are extracted once a month, as soon as they have reached a height of 10 cm.  It is impressive to see the variety of colors created by the reflection of the sun’s rays in this field of salt deposits, and to learn about the Incas striking ability to generate resources.

Lunch today was at the Belmond Hotel Rio Sagrado – a hotel I have previously stayed during my first visit to Peru and I highly recommend this hotel.  Tambo del Inka does have an amazing spa and pool to relax and enjoy.

 Day 5, Sep. 11th, 2018 – Sacred Valley – Machu Picchu. Full day excursion to Machu Picchu via roundtrip train.  Morning transfer to the train station for an amazing train journey to the famous Inca Citadel of Machu Picchu, the great mountain-top city abandoned by the Inca Empire, reclaimed by the jungle and lost to humanity until its rediscovery in 1911.   Lunch served on board the First Class Train to Machu Picchu. Inca Rail First Class train Ollantaytambo 11:15hrs – Aguas Calientes 12:41hrs

Along the way we enjoyed the changing landscape as you travel from Andean highlands to the beginnings of the jungle (“eyebrow of the jungle”), before finally arriving at the town of Aguas Calientes.

Upon arrival we board the bus that took a 20-minute ride up to the citadel of Machu Picchu, or Lost City of the Incas, which sits upon the summit bearing the same name, and is one of the most representative and recognized examples of Incan architecture. A guided tour of the Citadel includes the Main Plaza, the Circular Tower, the Sacred Sun Dial, the Royal Quarters, the Temple of the Three Windows and various burial grounds.  The sunset was amazing this evening at Machu Picchu.

After the tour this evening we took the shuttle bus back to Aguas Calientes and we arrived at Sumaq Hotel and had our Site inspection,  prior to a 6 course dinner

 

 

 

 

Day 6, Sep. 12th, 2018 – Machu Picchu / Cusco

I enjoyed a cooking class after breakfast, before an afternoon site inspection Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo, were we had an amazing lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Return to Cusco, Ollantaytambo by Machu Picchu 360 train and, upon arrival at the train station we were met by our driver and guide – and it was a long drive back to Cusco City

Inca Rail Machu Picchu train 360° Aguas Calientes 16:12hrs – Ollantaytambo 17:50hrs

I would still highly recommend the BELMOND HIRAM BINGHAM from Cusco to Machu Picchu. This is the best in Peru.

Overnight in Cusco –  Libertador Palacio del Inka Cusco

Day 7, Sep. 13th, 2018

Half day Archaeological Cusco City tour.  Today we discovered the archaeological capital of South America, a city of amazing cobblestone streets and original Inca walls. Among the city’s most important historical monuments that reveal the influence of different cultures. We visited Santo Domingo church built upon the foundations of the Inca Temple Koricancha, an impressive site dedicated to worship the Sun God. From this point head we headed to San Cristobal view point that dominates a privileged view of the city of Cusco, undoubtedly a special and magical place, a must for those photography lovers in search of portraying different angles of the Imperial city.

 

We continued to the Sacsayhuaman Archaeological site or Fortress, a ceremonial compound a magnificent example of Inca military power also offering a panoramic view of the City.  Then next stop was at the Inca Baths of Tambomachay.

Back to Cusco, we did a Site inspection of Belmond Monasterio followed by Belmond Palacio Nazarenas and had lunch after.

This evening Cocktail Tour & Dinner, to learn more about Peruvian cuisine and mixology while walking the Cusco streets to three renowned bars in a fun bar-hopping night experience.  Our first stop was “La Taberna” bar at Pachapapa restaurant where we will learnt more about Pisco and taste their signature drink Cholo Sour (a coca-based cocktail). The adventure continues with a visit to Kion restaurant which specializes in peruvian-chinese fusion cuisine and where we learn to make a Ten’Cantalá, a pisco and ginger based cocktail. We end the experience in Calle del Medio restaurant with a Pisco Punch sampling and a delicious dinner full of traditional Peruvian flavors.  Fantastic evening.

 

Day 8, Sep. 14th, 2018 – Deluxe land journey from Cusco to Puno including en route stops and picnic lunch. Our land journey began with an early departure from Cusco to the City of Puno located south at 3860 meters (12,664 feet), by private luxury transportation and guide.  During this full day we adventure pass through breathtaking landscapes and discover the imposing Andes Mountains in style.

 

After approximately 2 hours, our first stop was at the Archaeological Complex of Raqchi, dating from the 15th Century, considered among the most audacious works of engineering built by the Inca Pachacutec and dedicated to Wiracocha, the great Inca God of the Sun.  The site includes military barracks, priest quarters, the baths of the Inca, lodging, terraces among other constructions, but the most important component is certainly the Temple of Wiracocha, a monumental two-story structure considered to be the largest building built during the empire.

We continued this exiting excursion heading towards La Raya Pass, located at an altitude of 4,338 meters (14,232 feet), the highest point of our escapade and the border line between the Cusco and Puno Regions.  We had a quick stop here to admire the snowcapped mountains and take pictures of grazing wild llamas and alpacas.

Then, we began descending until reaching Tinajani, an amazing canyon formed by large rock formations, to savor a delicious picnic lunch.   After lunch, we stretch our legs while admiring red sandstone deposits, volcanic rocks millions of years old formed by wind, hail, snow and rain.

 

 

 

 

 

We ended the day with a visit to the Town of Pucara, located at 3,900 meters (12,795 feet), well known for its earth colored pottery and the famous Pucara bulls perched on the roofs of most Andean house as protection and prosperity for their homes, families and livestock.

After, we continued south until we reached Puno, Cradle of the Inca Empire and festive city, with floating islands, colorful folk tradition and home to Lake Titicaca, a protected natural area in which dozens of bird, fish and amphibian species have been recorded as well as home of the world´s highest navigable lake.

 

 

Overnight in Puno – Libertador Lago Titicaca

 Day 9, Sep. 15th, 2018 – Puno

This morning after breakfast – Full day motorboat excursion of the Lake Titicaca to Uros & Taquile Islands. Fist stop, visit to the unique “Floating Islands” of the Uros.  These ancient inhabitants of the lake, known as the Water Tribe, have built their own islands by periodically adding new layers of a vegetable fiber of the Papyrus family called “Totora” (scientific Scirpus totora), which is unique to the area.

Taquile, a natural island inhabited by Quechua-speaking natives, who have developed efficient and unique social systems, as well as fine hand weaving techniques, passed down through the generations.

We continued our motorboat trip to the peninsula of Chucuito, for a stop at the rural Aymara Community of Luquina, where we had a lovely buffet lunch including regional dishes while enjoying a magnificent view of Lake Titicaca.

Return to Puno after the visit.  We had a late Site inspection Libertador Lago Titicaca. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset followed by dinner. Our group then had a casual meeting discussing about our trip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 10, Sep. 16th, 2018 – Puno to Lima

On the way to the Airport, we visited the famous Chullpas of Sillustani: stone cylinder burial chambers used by the Aymaras to bury their important leaders. Lake Umayo, located in front of the Chullpas, adds further beauty to the place.

It was an hour ride to the Airport after for our flight to Lima

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