The day I found out that I would be the lucky lady travelling on the Peru recce, I was bouncing around the office with a huge smile on my face – I could not have been more excited! Fast forward a few weeks and having met my lovely group at Heathrow, we were off on our Peruvian adventure!
After a great flight with Avianca and a short transit in Bogota, we landed into Cuzco where we were met by Brad and Bianca (our tour guides for the week, who head up our South American operations team). After settling in to our hostel, we set out on a walking tour of the city and I quickly fell in love with the beautiful architecture. We could feel the effects of the altitude straight away….trying to climb up a flight of stairs left us all breathless so that was a definite eye opener. We had a great first night dinner together at Green’s Restaurant which gave us the opportunity to try alpaca steak (surprisingly delicious!).
Next stop was Camp Moray up in the mountains where we were able to see some of our Gap students in action. This was my first experience of a Camp and I was blown away by the setting….what a view!
We were given a tour of the local village where our Gap students had been painting new outdoor toilets. Our Maestro Percy explained how our students next year will be getting involved in building a community centre, to provide a central meeting place for everyone in the village. We had the chance to look around a typical house and were greeted by 20 guinea pigs in one room….they are bred to eat as a local delicacy in Peru!! The locals gave us a really warm welcome and invited us to try their traditional chica drink….definitely an acquired taste!!
From Cusco we travelled on to Lake Titicaca, a long journey of 8 hours but stunning scenery to enjoy en route and we were greeted by the most spectacular sunset as we pulled up on the shores of the lake….WOW!
One of the highlights of the trip was our boat trip over to the famous Uros Islands. It was fascinating to learn about how the floating reed islands were made and to get an understanding of a typical day for the eight families that live together on the island.
We were lucky to spend one night at Camp Colca in the beautiful Colca Canyon and get a true taste of camp life on expedition. After a quick tour of the local village Pinchollo, we had the opportunity to get stuck into some project work and helped to landscape the outdoor area of a nursery. We brightened up the play area with some flowers and plants from the nearby church yard and three of our teachers sanded down and repainted the entrance gate. It sounds straightforward but even simple tasks were TOUGH! Lots of bending down and heavy lifting left us all a bit dizzy and out of breath…..definitely a great insight for me into how important it is to drink lots of water and how altitude adds an extra level of challenge to project work for our students.
What a week! Stunning scenery, incredible people and so many new experiences……I didn’t want to come home!
My top tips for anyone visiting Peru are:
- Don’t underestimate the effects of altitude! Be kind to yourself, drink lots, rest when you need to and take things steady.
- Be prepared toilet wise! They don’t flush paper down toilets in Peru and toilet paper is in short supply in public toilets….it’s definitely worth having a spare toilet roll in your day bag along with a few 1 peso coins (as you often need to pay to use public toilets on your stops when transferring between camp locations)
- A supply of sweets is a must have for a quick energy fix and sugar hit during project work and on the trek!