Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Peru - Part 1

First off, let me just say, if you think the only thing to do in Peru is hike the Inca trail and see Machu Picchu you couldn't be more wrong! A group of us went in April 2012 and we spent one day at Machu Picchu, and nine days exploring the vastly different terrains that Peru has to offer. Because of this there is no way I can tell you everything in one post so I'm going to split it into four different ones.

Part 1: Haucachina Oasis, Nazca Lines & Paracas National Reserve
Part 2: Puerto Maldonado/Amazon Rainforest
Part 3: Cusco
Part 4: Machu Picchu
Overall Trip Guide

We were picked up from the airport early in the morning and started through Lima to the Oasis at Haucachina. On the way there we stopped at a few villages that specialize in Pisco, a grape whiskey made in the wine making regions of Peru. It's also the liquor needed to make the national drink of Peru, the Pisco Sour!

left: old way of storing pisco to ferment
center: pisco for sale (we left with a couple)
right: pisco sour (pisco, simple syrup, lime juice, and an egg white on top)

After getting a morning buzz on Pisco Sours, we arrived at the Haucachina Oasis. Good News: It looks absolutely beautiful (minus all the tourist-y shops and restaurants)! Bad News: 20 or so years ago the lake emptied due to the nearby town, so the water is now artificially pumped in to keep the oasis look up. In Haucachina there are about three things to do: boozing, buggies, and 'boarding (sand boarding that is)

left: having a drink while watching the sunset over the dunes
center: dune buggies!
right: sandboarding

view of the oasis from the top of the dunes

sunset over the dunes

Nearby the Oasis is Nazca, home to the Nazca lines. No one knows exactly how these (extremely straight) lines and creatures were created, and the best way to see them is from the air.

TIP: these tiny, vomit-inducing airplanes are not for the easily motion sick. trust me.

left: astronaut
center: straight nazca lines
right: hummingbird

On the way back from Nazca we stopped a small workshop that specialized in traditional Nazca pottery. These native pots were still being made the old school way by one of the most life-loving people I've ever seen. Toby walked us through the process of making them (he uses oil from his face to add the shine to the pots) and we (of course) all walked out with a few souvenirs

Next we went onto the Paracas National Reserve which was established in 1975 and is the oldest marine reserve in Peru.  I can't nearly describe all the playful animals we saw, so here are a few of my favorite pics!

Ballesta Islands, each rock was COVERED in birds


plenty of seals tanning themselves, I liked this ones expression!

landing in the water

I swear this guy wanted to eat me

the contrast of the red sand (from the red cliffs nearby) against the yellow-y rock was beautiful
I would easily say no trip to Peru is complete without a trip to the Paracas Natural Reserve, this is especially a must if you love animals! Another most do if you're an animal lover is visiting the Amazon, which takes us to part 2

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