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  • Writer's pictureBarrett B.

3 Amazing Cities you have to see in Peru: Train travel advice, Scary Catacombs, Jungle Treks!

Updated: Apr 28, 2021

Lima to Cusco to Machu Picchu - Bring a backpack and go!


When you think of Peru you think world class ceviche, yes? Oh wait I'm leaving out something, of course, Machu Picchu!! This is definitely a wonder of the world and although its a smaller geographical area than the Great Pyramids or Angkor Wat in Cambodia it is still awe-inspiring. The clouds slowly cascade around the mountain tops as the forest engulfs some of the surrounding stone structures.


LIMA HAS IT'S OWN FLARE

THE CEVICHE MAY BE THE BEST IN THE WORLD


I'm not a huge seafood fan but the Ceviche is quite simply a must! I was with a friend on the trip and we found a restaurant off a busy tourist section in Lima known as the Miraflores (which means "Behold the flowers") area. It's a bit more lively with bars, restaurants and unique shops. If you head towards the ocean from there you will be rewarded with a sensational view of the towering cliffs overlooking the beach. If you catch a day of clear blue skies it's utterly heaven. My interpretation of the area in Miraflores on a nice day with the ocean breeze is similar to California about 30 years ago before the crowds and pollution. It's fresh, a lot less people and surfing is everywhere. Yes the beaches might not be as good in Miraflores but the constant waves, cliff side parks and high rise views is something to behold. Take a look at my video below that will take you to my IG page.


Now I'm not a foodie but as my friend said, "We have to try the Ceviche." I went along with it and I was not disappointed. Apparently how it is prepared in Peru is on another level not to mention the ocean is a mile away that always helps. Let's say I'm a fan for life and I'm not into seafood at all.


We spent the day just walking around the city, sticking to the Miraflores section and it was amazing on a mid-March day. The weather was in the low 80s just like California. I heard later from the locals that the blue skies are not the norm there but it does happen 50% of the time. Later in the evening we found a lively area called "Calle de las Pizzas" which is loaded with restaurants, bars and live music.


The Miraflores area boasts some absolutely amazing cliff side views.



The fresh ocean breeze and cliff side panoramic views makes Miraflores a must see. You can follow a walking path along the cliffs and snap unlimited selfies. If the weather cooperates with crystal blue horizons you'll be in heaven.


 

CUSCO IS NOT TO BE MISSED

Take your time on the way and stop in Cusco, Peru. The mixture of Spanish and Peruvian architecture blends beautifully in this epic city. Old Spanish Cathedrals with historical murals and drawings line the walls giving every visitor a taste of what people from the past lived. Cusco was one of my favorite cities and I wished I had spent more time there.


Cusco, Peru was one of my favorite places. Amazing Spanish and Peruvian architecture


There's all kinds of little mom and pop restaurants and cafes that put their spin on signature dishes. Simply head to any of the main squares and do some intriguing people watching.


When you arrive go the Plaza de Armas, the main popular square and find a restaurant with a balcony overlooking the picturesque plaza. You can hear live Peruvian music and sample some of the local dishes or alcohol. You can easily get our your journal and sip on something sweet while you take in the view.






 

MUSEO Y CATACUMBAS DEL CONVENTO SAN FRANSICO


In Cusco be sure to check out the Museo y Catacumbas Del Convento San Francisco de Asis Del Cusco (photos above). This Spanish Cathedral is something else. As you go deep inside the bowls of the church there is a huge catacomb section where bones of the past residents lies in perfect order.


From skulls to femurs to vertebra, the oddly designed placement of bones is chilling. The remnants of Spain's influence are everywhere and as you pass some quarters of the city you feel like you might actually be in Spain. Make sure also to walk through the Plaza De Armas (large open plaza) which is the highlight of Cusco.




Here's a detailed map from google maps to help. You can see there are other nice attractions near by. Simply walk the surrounding area and take in this city.




 

CUSCO TO AGUA CALIENTE (CITY AT THE BASE OF MP) TO MACHU PICCHU



There's three ways to get the Machu Picchu (train, hike the short or long routes on the Inca Trail) but most go by train. It's a bit pricer by train but it's still a scenic ride. When you get your train ticket if you are not boarding in Cusco it will include a VIP bus ride to the next train station. We jumped on at the Ollantaytambo Station and our bus ride was surprisingly interesting. If you get a window seat you will see some spectacular mountainous scenery with the clouds floating in the valley.


Which rail service should I use? There are two, Inca Rail and Peru Rail - I took Peru Rail. Both are reputable and respected.


How much does it cost? Tickets start at $140 USD on Peru Rail and go up from there.


How long does it take to travel by train to Machu Picchu?

The duration of the train trip (one way) depends on the station where the train is approached:

  • From Poroy station (Cusco): The trip takes 3 hours and 15 minutes approximately.

  • From the Urubamba station: The trip lasts 2 hours and 30 minutes, approximately.

  • From the Ollantaytambo station: The trip lasts a little less than 2 hours.




SHOULD YOU HIKE TO THE TOP OR TAKE TRANSPORTATION?

Seriously? Throw down the walker and strap on your shoes and go for it!! Take the hike, but let me explain. Unless you are an avid hiker who wants the 2-4 day trek, take the hike at the base of Agua Calientes (base town before Machu Picchu) and make your way through the slightly vertical zig zag hiking trail on route to the top. The jungle is dense and the path is well marked as you reach the summit of Machu Picchu. It will take around an hour and half with small breaks. As you get close to the top you can view the green landscape below and the winding aggressive river that will easily swallow up any average kayaker. (I went in March and the power of the river was incredible).


HOW'S AGUA CALIENTE? WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT?

Agua Caliente has everything you will need including some nice hotels or very reasonable hostels and accommodations. There are numerous restaurants, cafes and other places to enjoy. It's not too big but it gets the job done for basic necessities. From the town city to Machu Picchu is about 30 mins by bus or you can hike for about an hour and half.



 

YOUR HIGH SCHOOL SPANISH PROBABLY WON'T DUE. STUDY MORE


Brush up on Spanish if you can. Yes you'll be fine without Spanish but even my lame attempts at using my high school Spanish didn't exactly get me by, especially in Lima and Bogota.

My advice is to write down 40-50 of the top common conversational questions you would ask when you travel and practice those repeatedly. Obviously if you are only there for 3 days there's not much motivation to learn the language but still, it's fun and who knows who you will meet along the way. Also I know some people may just use google translate but it's really not the same. Be brave and go for it!



FOLLOW ME ON:


FOLLOW MY LAST ADVENTURE IN THAILAND HERE ✈️ 🇺🇸 ➡️ THAILAND - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGLpbnKi2Kc&t=38s


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