RTW Update No.3 – All About Peru

Zentravellers at Machu Picchu

After an incredible 3.5 weeks in summer all the time Puerto Rico, and an awe-inspiring month in Ecuador that culminated with a blissful trip to the Galapagos Islands, it was time to move onto Peru. There we traded sandals and wetsuits for warm jackets and hiking boots. Indeed, we spent most of our time in Peru either hiking or recovering from hiking. We climbed to over 5100m in the wild and rugged Cordillera Blanca, moved through the ice-capped Salkantay Pass to reach the incomparable Machu Picchu, and walked down into one of the deepest canyons in the world. We also spent 2 weeks learning Spanish in the White City of Arequipa and sampled many delicious craft beers around the country.

In total, we spent almost 2 months in Peru and still are finding reasons to go back, despite spending half of our time there in less than perfect health…more on that later. But for now, Peru inspired us with its landscapes, delighted us with its tasty food and drink, and provided us with a glimpse into its rich history and culture.

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The Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu after completing the Salkantay Trek

Machu Picchu is one of those travel destinations that seems to be on everyone’s bucketlist. Its soaring peaks and ancient streets steeped in rich history draw thousands of visitors each day, making it one of the most visited sites in the world. While there are many ways to reach Machu Picchu, trekking is by far the best route. Walking up to this incredible place allows one to savour the mystical site’s rugged natural beauty and intriguing surrounding and makes finally reaching the ruins an even greater reward. 

There are many trekking options to get to to Machu Picchu, each with their own set of pros and cons. When we were in Peru we chose to do the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu and will share more about this incredible 5 day, 4 night trek!

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Peru Mountain Zen: Huaraz Trekking

Zentravellers on the summit of Mt Matteo

Nestled in the impressive Cordillera Blanca range of the Andes, Huaraz is increasingly becoming a world-class destination for high altitude adventures as Huaraz trekking is considered some of the best in the world.  Huaraz is heralded by some as the the trekking capital of Peru and it offers a more budget-friendly and quieter alternative to crowded Cusco. By far the biggest draw of Huaraz is the trekking in the endlessly picturesque Cordillera Negra and Blanca ranges. Indeed, the Siula Grande from the Cordillera Blanca range is featured in the film about defying death in the mountains, “Touching the Void”, and Alpamayo is thought by some to be the “most beautiful mountain in the world.” The vast and scenic expanses, opportunities for alpine activities to suit every level and interest, and solitude that’s impossible to find in nearby Cusco, make it the perfect place to find some mountain Zen in Peru.

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Touring Isabela Island in Galapagos

In continuing with our Galapagos Island themed posts, we recently spent a glorious 2.5 weeks doing land-based travels in the Galapagos which was an adventure for the ages. We’ve covered  touring the “main island” of Santa Cruz, so now we are moving onto tours on the largest and most rugged of the inhabited islands, Isla Isabela.

Puerto Vilamil is the town on Isabela island and has a population of 2,200 people. It’s a sleepy, charming fishing village that has a renewed focus on tourism. Here wild encounters are possible right from town, but many sites require a licensed guide to accompany travellers when visiting.

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Touring Santa Cruz Island in Galapagos

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands - The Starting Point of Most Land Based Tours

We have been on the road for about 3 months now, and so far one of our absolute highlights was the glorious 2.5 weeks we recently spent doing land-based travels in the Galapagos . It was an adventure for the ages so our next couple posts will focus on what to do and see in each of the islands we visited, starting with touring Santa Cruz.

Santa Cruz Island is the most developed and widely-considered to be the “main” island in Galapagos, although it is not the largest island. It’s main city of Puerto Ayora is 12,000 people strong and features a lively food and drink scene as well as lots of access to the outdoor adventures that brought you to the Galapagos in the first place.

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Why You Should Try Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing at Kimberly, BC

If cross-country skiing  on the beautiful trails of Banff or Kananaskis, isn’t on your list of things to try, it should be now.  A quintessential winter activity in northern climes, spending some time cross-country skiing is a wonderful way to enjoy a winter’s day. With all the snow we’ve been getting in the Rockies this year, now is as good a time as any to try a new and fun winter sport. Here are just a few reasons why we love cross-country skiing:

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Skiing at Nozawa Onsen

The skiing at Nozawa Onsen is not as well known as other areas in Japan. For instance, when people think of skiing in Japan, their thoughts often turn to the massive ski fields of Hakuba Valley, where the powder is deep and the vistas of the Japanese Alps are amazing.  Or they might consider Niseko on the North Island that is so popular with tourists, it has been said that you could close your eyes and think that you’re in Australia. These resorts are definitely popular for a reason. With exhilarating terrain, panoramic mountain vistas, and world-famous Japanese powder, the skiing will not disappoint. But for those looking to surf japow with a side of local culture, consider visiting the underappreciated gem of Nozawa Onsen for your next Japanese ski adventure.

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