New !08/06/04
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All my apologies for this approximate translation into English
Fichier Google Earth
Google Earth file about the tour
Photos gallery
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Lama vs sheeps
After one of my best stay in Ireland in 2007, our small group decided to travel again together. We chose Peru as a country which offers both walking and cultural visits. Preparations started as soon as october 2007 : tips, interesting places, tour agency, flight tickets...
This spring 2008 is the good time to go to Peru (instead of Ireland usually).

Peru is located on the west coast of South America. It is surrounded by Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and the Pacific Ocean. Near the equator, the length of day and night vary only slightly during the year and are substantially equal. The sun rises to 05:45 and goes down around 17:45.

-5:00 GMT

Geography and climate
The country has one of the greatest diversity of natural environments (84 out of 120 identified around the world). Peru rises from 0m to 6768m (Nevado Huascaran). It is divided into 3 parts :
Mountain (Sierra) : alternating two seasons, one rainy from October to April with cool nights, the other dry.
Forest (selva) : similar to the mountain climate but warm, alternating two seasons. From May to October, it is hot day and night with a dry weather. From November to April, the weather is more humid and the nights are cooler.
Coast (Costa) : rather desert climate, with the garua, a damp fog in the area of Lima. Almost no rain and heat throughout the year.

At least 30 million people, nearly 8 living in Lima which is growing. The population is predominantly Catholic. Poverty affects nearly half of the population.

The Peru produces coca and has significant mineral resources. Its exports include citrus, coffee, cocoa, potato, sugar cane and rice.
Tourism is an important economic resource for the country.

The nuevo sol.

More informations about Peru.

The tour

04:00, the alarm sounded the beginning of a long journey. Departure from Marseille, transit in Madrid, flying over the Atlantic, discovering the vast Amazon and its giant meandering river, then arrival at Jorge Chavez airport in Lima to 17:30 (22:30 GMT). The landscape overview before landing seems particularly desert. 1:30 later and a laborious passage through customs, we finally discover the night excitement and new road traffic rules, at least disconcerting, before joining a comfortable hotel in Miraflores. The day was long and concludes with a surprise last minute to 20:00 (01:00 GMT): The runway of the airport in Arequipa is closed much of the day. So we have to leave the hotel from 3:00 for the first flight of the day.

Arequipa airport's tarmac
02:00, it is time to stand up to enjoy our first day on Peruvian soil. Shortly before 06:00, we land in Arequipa. The weather is cool and our eyes are discovering the peaks around. Some are volcanoes. We join our hotel, hoping to have a short nap before beginning a visit to the city. Not a chance, our rooms are occupied. Then we stay in the garden before strolling through the streets and roofs of Arequipa. Cohabitation is a unknown word between pedestrians and cars : the horn is the king. Around 12:00, meeting with our guide who makes us discover the Spanish colonial architecture and the Santa Catalina convent, a colourful life place despite strict sisters atmosphere. In the evening, after only 5 or 6 hours of sleep in 48 hours, we eat at the hotel. Some try the Cuy festival (it is guinean pig). 21:00, finally a bed!

Roofs of Arequipa hostel's lawmonwer A street in Arequipa Irrigated cultivations

Summits near Arequipa Santa Catalina convent Santa Catalina convent Market in Arequipa

Started on the Altiplano. We cross the natural park of Salinas. Here we discover the famous local wildlife: lamas, alpaguas and vicunas, not to mention ducks and other aquatic species. Arriving in Chivay, we soak in a hot spring with lots of tourists...
Lost place

Caution vicuña Salinas natural park Vicuña with its child Chivay

Let go to the Colca Canyon. We stop at the famous Cruz del Condor. The time that convection currents form, the legendary birds soar ifor long hours. Then we reach the start of our first hike, in the middle of nowhere. Here we take a dusty trail that plunged into the Colca Canyon under a blazing sun. The descent is long (1000m heigt). We discover the desert hills among cacti. Finally we reach our camp area. Our guide and our cook make us a surprise: some tea and popcorn made on the spot! The evening meal under the tent is worthy of an excellent restaurant. Tired by heat, we go to bed early (19:30).
Yanke - Plaza de Armas Colca Valley Condor Colca canyon

Further hiking. To avoid a hot sun, we leave at dawn (wake up at 04:30). We go back on the slopes of the canyon through the cultivated terraces to reach the ruins of Cara Tapay and the "new" village. By the way, we taste cacti fruits, forbidden food with thorns particularly effective. After the village we arrive in a particularly arid area. We eat in a formerly agricultural land. An earthquake has permanently destroyed the irrigation system around terraces. No doubt in our Westerner mind : water is a precious resource that must be protected. Later in the afternoon we reach the oasis. Nestled at the bottom of the Colca Canyon, a camping under palm trees and equipped with pools awaits hikers. A swim in fresh water before a good tea, then dinner (the night falls quickly near the equator). One of us spent a night disrupted with unexplained vomiting...
Colca canyon Prickly pear Picnic Oasis

Anxious to avoid the heat, we start early. 3:30 later and 1000m above, we come to Cabanaconde. Here, our minibus awaits us. Returning to Chivay, we spend a memorable evening in a local restaurant. Some of us are requisitioned for the Chuccho's dance. The scene makes us regret not having taken a camera ...
Colca Eagle at market Church arches Condor monument

Back to Arequipa to take a bus to Puno. The journey takes us through the altiplano. The city along the famous Lake Titicaca. Over 3500m, the air is fresh, especially at night. A ride on the heights of the city gives us better understanding the place and its distances.
Avenue of Puno Condor monument Condor monument Church of Puno

Puno and its bay

Cruising fun. Early in the morning (06:00), this is definitely a habit, we land first on the Uros Islands. These floating islands are constructed with reed. Their origin dates back to the first "tourist" who met the inhabitants of Titicaca. A Dominican evangelist asked the local people to make a floating platform to build his school. That was the beginning of the twentieth century. In other words, the Uros Islands are an recent change of inhabitants lifestyle of the lake. They lived on reed boats combined. Now these islets are their livelihood, the raw material of these villages is not the reed but tourists ... After this unusual visit, we leave for 2:00 navigation to Taquile. The inhabitants live under a regime of community. We eat tand then we cross the island. we reach Puno, just in time to visit a popular event: the market of dreams.
Uros islands Cormorant Taquile island On Titicaca

Cuzco by road. We embark on a tourist bus, a good way finally. The journey is long and it is cut by guided visits. It makes the trip enjoyable. First stop in Juliaca, where we visit a small museum on the quechua worship. Second stop to Andahuaylillas where stands up the "Sistine Chapel" of Peru, a church built in the XVIth century: a good example of what the Baroque style is... Later we stop to Rasqui to see the first quechua ruins of our stay. It is an urban place lined with a ceremonial centre. We then continue to Pucara to visit a museum about quechua's culture. On the road we reach a pass at 4900m. The surrounding peaks here show how mountains are excessive.
Altiplano Pass at 4900m Rasqui Andahuaylillas

Cuzco by night
The construction in the region of Cuzco are made of bricks. It is a mixture of a red dirt, straw and cactus juice sêché the sun. The tiles replace the tin roofs of the Puno region and the altiplano or terraces of Arequipa and Lima. In fact in Cuzco, there seems to be more house completed elsewhere (to avoid paying a fee, people prefer to leave their homes unachieved). The roofs of the regions of Cuzco crosses are adorned with a pair of bulls Pucara. Plus they are big, the owner of the house is rich. In the evening, we discover the colonial center of Cuzco.

Discovering the Sacred Valley and Cuzco. Early in the morning we visit quechua sites around the city: Tambomachay, Pukapucara, Q'enqo and Sacsayhuaman. The afternoon continues with the visit of Koricancha (temple of Sun) and the cathedral in Cuzco. The latter is remarkable for the paintings and pieces of goldsmiths it contains.
Saqsaywaman Procession Plaza de Armas Qoricancha


Sacred Valley. We go to Pisac early in the morning. A valley seems to go to the sky. After a stroll through the quechua ruins, we resume the road to Ollantaytambo. Ollantay is an officer who fought against the spanish army and its allies to protect the escape of the imperial family, including his beloved, a daughter of the lord. That's what the legend says ... Taking up the road we stop at the saltworks of Maras. During a little walk we browse the evaporation ponds built in terraces. They are used to extract the salt from a spring water.
Vallée enchanteresse Ruines de Pisac Pisac ruins Ollantaytambo

Maras saltworks

Morning departure for Mollepata. We begin the second hike of the stay. After a night without sleep seated on the throne, the trail becomes quickly a difficult test under a warm sun. Victim of dehydration, I am forced to stop: (My companions continue walking while I am going back to Cuzco. The local bus ride is "quaint" and never-ending in my state. I spend the rest of the afternoon sleeping.

Rest day, I stroll on the Plaza de Armas and I walk in neighborhoods from downtown Cuzco. During that time, my friends cross the Salkantay pass at 4600m height...
Paqcha de Pumaqcaupan Cathedral of Cuzco House of Cuzco Street in Cuzco

Getting better, I visit the neighbourhoods around the centre of Cuzco. My friends reach Santa Theresa where are the best hot springs in the region.

06:00 departure to Aguas Calientes. The train is cosmopolitan, spanish couple, brazilian man, japanese girls, an opportunity to meet people. The city is like a trap. There is only two railway to escape the town. Finally I discover the trail of Montana Putukusi. A vertical drop of 400m, stone steps and few ladders offer a nice panorama: Machu Picchu, Urubamba, the surrounding peaks and Aguas Calientes, stain color wedged between the mountains. In the evening, I find the group at the hotel, their hike finished.
Machu Picchu from Putukusi mount Mountains Aguas Calientes Flower

My hiking companions continue toward Salkantay. According to their opinion, the adventure would have been seriously complicated in my state. This is a long day under a blazing sun.

Gap of Salkantay
After a particularly cold night, the group reaches a gap near Salkantay peak, a goal to 4600m altitude. After passing through a landscape worthy of alpine pastures, the path plunges into lush vegetation, a favorite place for orchids.

Orchid Jungle
Hot springs of Santa Theresa
After the efforts of the previous two days, a step taken quickly leads the group in Santa Theresa, the best spas in the region.

My companions enter the last portion of the hike in the direction of a power station. The penstocks lead to a spectacular waterfall. The tour ends in train to reach Aguas Calientes.
Power station Railway station


Machu Picchu was probably discovered in the late 1860 by Augusto R. Berns, a German mine prospector who had a sawmill near the site of Aguas Calientes. At that time, the Inca ruins were treated as mines that the owner could operate freely. Hiram Bingham would therefore not, in 1911, the first discoverer of Machu Picchu.
Wake up at 04:15, we're ready to go to Machu Picchu. In less than 2 hours, we visit the famous quechua site, with more questions than answers about the destination of this ruins. Then we climb up the Huayna Picchu (2800m). The trail is made of stone steps. At the summit, the view is unique. Incidentally, we note that the concept of public safety is almost non-existent in Peru. After a pause, we join one of us who had gone alone on the path to the "great cave." We find him exhausted (without papers and as he could not see us, he ran back to us). We pursue the path to the Temple of the Moon. The temperature is hot and legs are heavy... We finish the visit of Machu Picchu in a restaurant at Aguas Calientes pending the train from 18:00 to Cuzco.
Machu Picchu Le Gaudi quechua ! Machu Picchu depuis le Huayna Picchu Machu Picchu

Plaza de Armas Iglesia de San Francisco
09:00 a fly to Lima. Unloaded from our bags at the hotel, we take two taxis to visit the centre of Lima. A driver confuses the Plaza San Martin with the Plaza de Armas. After few minutes, we are again together. We visit a Franciscan monastery, the largest in the region, with catacombs. Then back on the Plaza de Armas, we have the chance to see the presidential orchestra and the parade of navy troops. In the evening, we eat at a good table in the district of Miraflores, near the Pacific Ocean. The dishes are tasty...

End of the trip. The time is particularly foggy : it is a weather phenomenon called garua. We walk along the coast. We discover a famous exhibition venue temporarily from France: the Earth from the sky (Yann Arthus Bertrand). Then we go to the terrace of a cafe well known. Here, we take our time. It is Sunday and Mother's Day in Peru. We eat slowly and then we go back to our hotel. It is time to return to France.
Etranges sapins La garua (brouillard de Lima) Un air de Gaudi Ponton sur Pacifique

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