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I know, it’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been busy traveling! So, without further ado, here is my most recent journey. Top 3 side trips from Rio De Janeiro:
Dubbed as “the hamptons of Brasil”, Buzios was by far my favorite city in Brasil. It’s a small, charming fishing village, filled with lovely boutiques and has an incredibly nightlife. Only a 2.5 hour bus ride from Rio, Buzios is easy to get to, and definitely worth the trip. I highly recommend staying at Pousada Abracadabra or Casa Brancas (they are sister hotels and you can use the facilities at both hotels). Rent a buggy for the day and visit the 25 beaches in the area.
1. Buzios sunset.
2. View from pool deck at Hotel Casa Brancas.
3. Our buggy from the 1970s for R$150/day.
2. Ilha Grande.
If you’re the nature loving type, Ilha Grande (prounced Ill-la granja) is the perfect getaway for you. Ilha Grande is a 1 hour boat ride from Angra Dos Reis, which is a 2.5 hour bus ride from Rio. The island is beautiful and has no cars or ATMS, so make sure you bring enough cash. Best thing we did on the trip was to rent a speed boat for a day (~$100 pp) with 3 other couples to tour the entire island. You can only see the entire island with a speed boat, so don’t bother with a slowboat. We went swimming, snorkeling and had a delicious lunch. If you visit Brasil, you MUST order Muqueca (fish or seafood stew w/ coconut milk), which I tried for the first time on this island.
4. The entire island was pretty much a tropical rainforest!
5. Saw a turtle snorkeling at this beach
6. Pousada Sankay, our mini-resort.
If you’re sick of secluded relaxation, head on over to Florianopolis (locals call it Floripa). An easy 2 hour flight from Rio, Floripa is known as “the St. Tropez of Brasil”. It is a well developed island that has over 40 beaches. If you’re looking to “ball out”, rent one of the mansions in Jurere Internacionale, where all the rich Brasilians and international celebrities stay. The day and nightlife in Floripa is incredible, however, you have to pay a hefty price to party. Some clubs cost $300 cover for men. But hey, you’re only in Floripa once!
7. Club P-12 was well worth the hefty price.
8. Rent a bed for the day and relax!
Of course, the main reason we went to Peru was to visit Machu Picchu. The Incan Ruins is amazing and we had a great experience!
Tips for Visiting/ Hiking Machu Picchu and Wayna Picchu:
1. Agus Calientes: Don’t bother spending any real time in Agus Calientes, which is the closest city to Machu Picchu. It’s not interesting and a complete tourist layover. We got in the night before and got up at 4am to head out to the bus stop.
2. Wayna Picchu: We got a tip from someone heading back from Machu Picchu to attempt Wayna Picchu. A mountain located across from Machu Picchu, Wayna Picchu is a 3 hour r/t hike that allows hikers to catch a scenic bird’s eye view of Machu Picchu. However, they only allow 400 people in per day. As soon as we got in to Machu Picchu, we raced cross the ruins towards the line for the Wayna Picchu. There, we waited over an hour to get a ticket for either a 7am (200 pp) entry or an 11am (200pp) entry (the 11 o’clock people just return half an hour before).
3. Shape Up and Dress Properly: If you’re planning on hiking Wayna Picchu, it’d be a good idea to do a little bit of cardio and the stairclimber before your trip. Even the super buff people will be exhusted and gasping for air, but it’s much tougher for people who consider their exercise to be the number of steps it takes to the vending machine. Also, dress the part. You don’t need to go out and buy new hiking boots, but flip flops or shiny black soled leather shoes (both things I saw) is not going to cut it. It’s dangerous and slippery, especially if it is raining. Additionally, use a light day pack. or something that you can strap to your back. Larger baggage can be and must be left at their bag check for free, however, hold on to your valuables and use at your own risk. We left our stuff at our hotel.
4. Bring water and a snack: Trust me, after a steep 1 hour climb where it’s really questionably safe, you’re going to get to the top and wish you had a fat juicy burger. Okay, maybe not burger, but at least a clif bar and a bottle of water. The rules say that you can’t bring food in, but it’s not a rule that anyone follows. Just as long as you don’t liter everywhere, it’ll be fine. Trust me, you’ll need it.
5. Sunblock: Use it. Or suffer from weeks of heckling by your gf b/c of your farmer’s tan! Not that that happens in real life….
Information: Bus ticket from Agus Calientes (the base) to MP is r/t $14usd and entry is 124 (approx) soles. For Peru, that’s not cheap!
Additional Resources and Reading:
I got a lot of really helpful suggestions on where to eat and what to do from local Peruvians. Since it was my birthday, we decided to fancy it up and go to Astrid y Gaston, which is ranked as one of the top 100 best restaurants in the world. With the US dollar so strong, the overall bill was VERY reasonable. I’d highly recommend that you make a reservation for it. Each entree was only about $15- $20 dollars. Definitely one of the best meals I’ve ever had and I’m a total foodie. We started off with Ceviche, Lechon (Suckling Pig), Organic Cuy (Guinea Pig), and Tiramisu. The food was absolutely amazing. The Ceviche came with fresh creamy uni which really brought out the flavors of the dish. The winner of the night was the Lechon which has spoiled me to no end that I now cannot eat suckling pig without cringing. The crispy skin and tender meat would turn any vegetarian into a ravenous carnivore. Must. Go. Please!
Restaurants to Eat in Lima (recommended to me by a local):
- Astrid y Gaston
- La Red- Address: Av. La Mar 391, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
- CeLa Mar (Miraflores): recommended- ceviche, tiradito and causa sampler for apps, suspiro limeño (really sweet) and derrumbado de chirimoya (local fruit) for dessert. Address: Av. La Mar 770, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
- Los Pescados Capitales: Recommended- grilled baby octopus. Address: La Mar 1337, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
- Hierbabuena – organic cuisine
- La 73- Address: Av. El Sol Oeste 175, Barranco, Lima, Peru
- El Tarwi
- Embarcadero 41- Peruvian food. Address: Calle Fleming 181, Surco, Lima, Peru
- Señorío de Sulco– Address: Malecon Cisneros 1470, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
- Las Brujas de Cachiche– Jr. Bolognesi 460, Miraflores, Lima, Peru
- Food Park de E. Wong (second floor)- Peruvian food
- Pardo’s Chicken– Address: Av. Benavides 730 – Miraflores
Recommended Peruvian Flavors:
- Pollo a la Brasa: rotisserie chicken. Served with Yukon golden potatoes, it’s everywhere!
- Anticuchos: marinated, grilled cow heart on a stick- It’s a local dish, so just ask for an anticucheria and they’ll tell her where to find one. Picarones is the dessert that goes with anticuchos, similar to sweet potato donuts
- Comida Criolla- creole food comfort food.
- Lucuma ice cream
- Drinks: chicha morada, maracuya, cuzqueña (beer), pisco sour and leche de tigre (with ceviche usually).
- Queso and pan serrano (the local bread and cheese of Cuzco)- baked in humongous stone ovens
- Cuy- Guinea Pig. It’s really not that strange at all. The BF and I both thought it tasted like a cross between pork and chicken. Very tasty.
Additional Reading and Resources:
La Buena Mesa – Escape.pe (spanish)
Peru – mmm-yoso!!! (food blog)
We went to Cuzco (overnight), Pisaq/c, Chincherro, Ollyatombo (over night), Moray, and Salinas in the 2 days before Machu Picchu. I can’t stress enough how magnificent it is here. So many times we were silenced by it’s awe-inspiring landscape. Look people, it was like having a long orgasm everytime you saw something amazing…. which happened everytime we took two steps. YES. THAT gorgeous! We agreed that we were glad we did it before Machu Picchu to get acclimated to the weather and build up to the spectacular views there. You can buy a boleto touristico, which is a 2 day pass (depending on your trip) for 70 soles ($23usd) and it covers most of the entry fees to popular sites in the SV. They have other options if you’re spending more time there.
Another great part about this area is being able to see the women in traditional Andean garb. Sure, there are the ones carrying a lamb or a lama decked out like it’s 1999- Andean style for pictures, but there are also women who are wearing what they wear because… well, that’s what they rock. The area is full of small Andean villages and is considered a very safe area compared to Lima. It’s also where I spent 10 minutes trying to convince a lady to sell me a belt for 50 cents less then she wanted. Shameful? Totally!
Three areas that you must visit in the Sacred Valley:
Pisaq (pictured): The city of Pisaq isn’t the most exciting place to be. They have a fairly sizeable market which does get more festive on Sundays (so i hear), but one good reason to visit Pisaq is their ruins, Inca citadel, in the mountains above the town. It can be reached by cab. I’m sure we overpaid, but it was roughly 30 soles ($10 USD) all negotiable. Don’t worry, cab drivers will find you before you find them. It can be a moderately tough hike due to the altitude. My smoking-out-of-shape-and-constantly caffinated friend had an extremely tough time with this hike. But it’s a great place to start before Machu Picchu to get your body acclimated to the thin air. Expect the hike to be about 1.5 hours round trip.
Ollantaytambo & Chincherro: Ollantaytambo was my least favorite town. Because of the PeruRail, it is a popular tourist layover, however it does have it’s own ruins. Chincherro is a traditional Andean village with ruins and a church. The view around the area is gorgeous with the sheeps and cow farmers. Between Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, and Chincherro expect a 45 minute to 1 hour drive.
Salinas & Moray: From Ollantaytambo, we headed to Salinas to check out these crazy salt pans and Moray to see a circular terrances carved into the ground by the Incans.
Apologizes for the lack of posting lately! Life has been extremely hectic complete with a move across country, a 7 day semi-backpacking trip through Peru (posts and pictures to come!) and starting a new teacher credentialing program (great time to be a teacher in CA, eh?). But, I’m back! Not only am I back, but I also have a few trips coming up in the next few months and will be blogging to my heart’s desire about travel.
But until then, here’s some pictures from Peru:
My friend recently told me about Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia. It’s the world’s largest salt flat. Looking at these pictures and videos, it’s definitely on my list of places to visit! As my friend puts it, it’s literally “heaven on earth”.
From what I read, the landscape is ever changing and when it rains, the ground mirrors the sky. What a Pirates of the Carribbean 3 moment!
1. Tour Costs: Tours generally cost about $55- 80 for 4 days tours (includes food and housing). For that price, expect the housing accomedations to be very minimal.
2. Some places to see within the desert (source):
- Salar de Uyuni - Uyuni's salt desert (salar), the biggest salt desert in the world.
- Laguna Colorada - a red lagoon with a large flamingo population.
- Laguna Verde - a green lagoon situated beneath a perfect shaped white-peeked volcano. Sometimes the wind changes the water to an amazing turquoise color.
- Sol de Manana - geyser and bubbling mud pools area.
Doesn't that all sound AMAZING??!?!?!!?
(thanks Tae for the great tip!)