A successful weird little venture which started off in Brazil over to Peru and then ended in Brazil in a quick 10 day holiday. Ive made a compilation of my whole journey.
(please click the city for more about the trip)
Straight from London and my first stop. This part of the trip was and insight to one of Latin Americas richest metropolis.
After a glimpse of life in one of South Americas most developed and rich citiy I go to one of its most undeveloped capitals (In my opinion). Nonetheless the experience was a valuable learning curb. In this Leg I visited Central Lima and the Larco Museum to build the flavour of my trip ahead.
And now it was time to acclimatise and get ready for our main purpose (Machu Picchu). A quick roam around the city, into their market and main points of interest. Getting a feel of rural Peru.
Basing at Ollantaytambo the night before Machu Picchu, so we could get an easier transit to the mountain attraction. However I just fell in love with the village and wished I could have stayed longer. The scenery was just amazing.
Again this village was amazing, it felt like a movie set. A quick snack before and after our trip up Machu Picchu. Very touristic but still a pleasure.
A spectacle to see, the most amazing place I’ve been to. Hiking up Wayna Picchu was also something I’m glad i did, the challenge of those slippery un-barricaded steps was a worry but seeing the famous Machu Picchu from another height and view, it was all worth it.
After an adventurous time across Peru’s smaller rural villages it was time to head back to Cusco and roam the city a bit more. Excursing outside the city with the ATV tours showing us Moray, Salt Mines and more.
Finishing Peru its another round of Lima but this time it was the wealthier Mira Flores, here we did shopping in Larcomar and the Indian markets.
Although the bad reputation, I needed to see the paradise destination for myself. In my opinion well worth the visit and what a way to end the trip.
4th leg of my Brazil and Peru trip.
Type : Rural
Best Date : Apr- Oct
Expense : Medium
Things to do : Hiking
Points of Interest: Pinkuylluna, Temple del sol, Ollytaytambo sanctuary, ect
The Good: One of the best scenery from within a village
The Bad: Small not too much to see, limited restaurants and shops
Ollantaytambo is a small town which is a famous archaeological site, it is enroute Machu Pichu in the Urubamba province within the Cusco region. A popular starting point for the 3 to4 day Inca trail. It has an altitude of 2,792m above sea level and is known to be located in what is called the sacred valley of the Incas.
Many Machu Pichu visitors intend to stay somewhere close to the popular mountain attraction the night or day before their visit. Ollantaytambo is a small village in between Cusco city and Aguas Calientes (nearest village to Machu Picchu). The trains to Machu Picchu (Peru Rail and Inka Rail) only operates from Ollantaytambo as there is none from Cusco.
Due to the complexity of the travel from Cusco to Ollantaytambo and our early train ticket we opted to stay in Ollantaytambo so we were just walking distance away from the train station (not needing a 1-2 hour bus ride from Cusco) and just a short train ride away from Aguas Calientes.
Ollantaytambo has a marvellous appeal but it is small and has limited points of interest. The main attraction is the Pinkuylluna which is an archaeological site on top of a mountain (with the same name), this was used by the Incans for granaries and storehouses. To enter this though you would need an entrance ticket of about 130 soles (about £35). There is also the Incan Bridge which is also an attraction with significant history although not too impressive.
After these there is not much to plan for whilst visiting Ollantaytambo. However the village itself and its surroundings is the sole reason for visiting and staying a night or two. A very old town which is probably only improved for tourist accessibility and comfort. The small river is also an additional beauty to this town and there is a few cafes situated next to it. Lastly there is a brilliant market just outside the entrance to Pinkuylluna, they had excellent traditional handmade products from local material like Alpaca fur and others alike. Surprisingly the products were also fairly priced which was an added bonus as it was located in front of a tourist attraction.
Overall Ollantaytambo is your small cute village that is out of the ordinary, it is mainly used for transit to Machu Pichu but i can confidently say you would lose out if you don’t roam this beautiful Peruvian country village. The scenery itself is a pleasure to be surrounded by and there is not too many tourists to disturb the peace and serenity of the area, so hiking here would be nice scenic and peaceful. A night or two is a good duration to roam Ollantaytambo, to visit but also to take a smoother unrushed transit to Machu Pichu.
3rd city of my Brazilian and Peru tour.
Type : Historical City
Best Date : May – Sep
Expense : Fair
Things to do : Dine, Shop, Hike, Adrenaline Sports, Museums, ect
Points of Interest: LA cathedral, Sacsayhuaman, Plaza de Armas, San Pedro Market, Moray, Salt Mines, Hamantay lake and more
The Goods: Excellent architecture and culture
The Bads: High Altitude causes sickness try acclimatizing in lower neighbouring cities before Cusco, many uphill walking
3rd leg of my Brazillian and Peru tour.
Cusco city is the capital of the Cusco region and province. With an average elevation of about 3,400m Cusco is the 8th highest city in the world. The city which is a UNESCO world heritage site used to be the historic capital of the Incan empire from the 13th to the 16th century when the Spanish conquest began. Today Cusco is one of the most popular tourist destination in Peru being the starting point of Machu Picchu and the Inca trail.
Cusco or Cuzco as its sometimes spelt has its goods and its bads, for me it was a good place to unwind but only for a maximum of 2 days. Firstly the city is very high at about 3,339m higher than all the surrounding villages, towns and points of interest including the famous Machu Pichu. Meaning air is much thinner and to acclimatize is much more difficult than if you were at Ollantaytambo, Aguas Calientes and others a like.
Cusco has many attractions for tourists, there are plenty of churches, museums, markets, cultural places and a handful of ancient historic ruins, most are within the city but some are just outside and needs transport arrangements. Firstly within the city there is ‘Sacsayhuaman’ which is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1983. These ruins is known to be the historic capital of the Incan empire and visiting this you will see the formation of rocks and walls from the ancient citadel. A good place to start off your Incan adventure in the city, be wary that this is one of the highest point in the already high city so it’ll be sensible to acclimatise first.
‘Plaza de Armas’ is the main square of the city and around it are various restaurants, shops and 2 churches ‘Iglesia Compania de Jesus’ and ‘LA cathedral’. The plaza has a beautiful fountain in the middle with a statue of an Incan Ruler ‘Pachacuti’ above it and surrounding it a well groomed garden. Within the city there is plenty of churches some of which are open to visitors but many are strictly for worship. In general the city centre is fairly small but the altitude definitely affects your ability to walk the distances, you also have to consider the fact that much of the streets are uphill slopes.
A short walk away from Plaza de Armas is ‘San Pedro Market’ which for me was one of the cleaner markets I’ve ever been to. The market was complete with fresh fruit and vegetables, bread, cheese, products and quiet strangely a line of fruit juice stalls. Although very clean I didn’t see anything different from other markets I have been to in other countries.
A bit of an excursion outside the city you will find attractions such as ‘Moray’, ‘Salt Mines’, ‘Humantay lake’ and many more. We visited these as a part of an ATV tour, which was a pleasure to do passing the beautiful sceneries and friendly local farmers waving at us as we pass. The ‘salt mines’ was unbelievable and the story behind it was interesting, it was 10 soles to enter the attraction and there you can taste the salt water and see the enchanting panoramic views. Moray is another Inca ruin which still has its mysteries because of its circular structure. Lastly the Humantay lake which was a good spot to just chill unwind and again enjoy the scenery. The ATV tour was a good side to see the farmlands and their people there were many animals and friendly locals around to great us as we passed.
Other than these attractions the city itself is a pleasure to be in, the restaurants and cafes vary from traditional Peruvian and even western food. Food in the city though has its ups and downs, fast food such as McDonald’s was the worst I have ever tasted around the world, in most other restaurants we went to the service was also very slow. The buildings itself are of Spanish colonial style and there are no high rise buildings which is good so that you can see the surrounding mountains. However a lot of streets are uphill so for those who don’t walk well it would be sensible to stay nearer the square. The people of Cusco are also very friendly to tourists however you can find many persistent people offering tours. Overall Cusco is a great place to visit but the majority who stay here would excurse to Machu Picchu as the main part of their itinerary.
Reference: Highest cities (https://web.archive.org/web/20130714072634/http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/featured/highest-cities-in-the-world/4660?image=1)
“2nd city of my Brazil and Peru tour”
Type : City
Best Date : May – Sep
Expense : Fair
Things to do : Dine, Shop, Museums, ect
Points of Interest: Museo Larco, Larcomar, La Catedral de Lima, Park of the Reserve, Plaza Mayor, Park of love, ect
The Good: Vey rich in colonial Spanish culture/ plenty of preserved buildings from the Spanish era.
The Bad: One of the most undeveloped capitals I’ve been to/ taxis have no meters making it difficult for tourists to determine correct prices.
Lima is the capital city of Peru which founded after the ‘Peruvian War of independence’. The city has a population of more than 10 million making it the 3rd most populated city in the Americas. An interesting fact is that the City of Lima is built on a desert and is known to be one of the most driest capitals in the world some sources says it is second driest just behind Cairo.
Lima for me was out of the ordinary, it was the most undeveloped capital city I have ever encountered in terms of lifestyle. However this wasn’t a massive blow but an interesting aspect of the country. The city itself was large and easy to explore, first impression is that the city is very very religious (Christianity) with churches nearly every corner of the city.
Firstly the best place to visit in the capital is ‘Lima’s historic centre’ along with ‘Rimac district’. The historic centre is a UNESCO world heritage site since 1988, with plenty of traditional old styled Spanish buildings. Whilst I can’t say I visited every points of interest, there is definitely plenty to see and do. One of the places to go is ‘Plaza Mayor’ which is one of the main square of the district and the area where Francisco Pizarro (a Spanish Conquistador) founded Lima. Around this square you will find the ‘Municipality of Lima’, ‘Lima Cathedral’, ‘Palacio Arzobispal de Lima’ and a few others surrounding a beautifully gardened plaza.
Another square to visit (within rimac and the historic centre) is ‘Plaza San Martin’ which is about a 15 minute walk in the opposite direction of ‘Plaza Mayor’, this is where plenty luxury hotels and restaurants reside a good picturesque square to take pictures and even dine although very expensive. Along the alleys and streets connecting ‘Plaza Martin’ and ‘Plaza Mayor’ you will find plenty of attractions such as museums and churches, so a walk along these alleys and streets is a must. The most significant and interesting building I found is the ‘Torre Tagle Palace‘ which has had many important owners, now it is stately owned and used by the ministry of foreign affairs but the special attribute of this specific building is the two balconies. Others places seen around these streets are ‘Iglesia san Pedro‘, ‘Iglesia de la Merced’, ‘Casa Mariscal Ramon Castilla’ and many more. I advise that tourists also find ‘Petateros Alley’ which has its own historic significance but today it is home to the upper class restaurants, cafes and at times various exhibitions.
In my opinion the historic centre should equate to a whole days visit with plenty of churches, monuments and significant buildings around. Furthermore there is also countless modern outlets and restaurants so there will be plenty to see and do whilst visiting this area.
One of the highlight of my Lima trip is ‘Larco Museum’ in the Pueblo Libre district known to
be one of the best in Peru and top 25 in the world. Here there are many historic relics and artefacts from the ancient Incan era. In my opinion It is a good way to start off your journey if you are visiting Machu Picchu.
Finally one of the more developed places in Lima is ‘Mira Flores’ which is definitely the upper residential and commercial neighbourhood in the city. Firstly the place that must be visited is ‘Larcomar’ which is a large modern upper class shopping mall in Lima, here there are high end brands and restaurants such as Nike, Kipling, Pandora and so much more. Mira Flores also has a ‘cliff walk’ which gives various panoramic views of Lima Bay, this pathway welcomes many with pets and allows various leisure activities such as biking, skateboarding, yoga and many more. Along this area there are lighthouses, paragliding, surfing and many more. The ‘Park of Love’ which is part of the cliff walk and about 15 minutes away from Larcomar, is also a popular place for locals and tourists to unwind. Finally Mira Flores is also the district where there are plenty of traditional outdoor markets one of them which I visited was the ‘Indian Market’ which had various souvenirs and traditional crafts, the best place for souvenirs in my opinion.
Overall Lima is a capital that is catching up with the rest around the world in terms of modernising, however the real gem of the city (for tourism) would not be their modern approach anyway but their history. All their preserved Spanish colonial buildings made the city for me and I don’t think any new buildings would give the city a push in tourism. I was particular assured that there was plenty of security in nearly every corner of the tourist areas I walked (especially in centro) but i tend to think why they need the large numbers, is there something I’m missing in terms of safety? Anyway The biggest negative I have is the fact that taxis do not have meters and a price is negotiated with the drivers, now how can this be fair for a tourist who has no clue on what is fair or not? Nonetheless the city was enjoyable, there was plenty to see and learn, sometimes too many. 3 days would be a good duration to stay in the capital.
Reference: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lima https://www.lonelyplanet.com/peru/lima https://www.wsp.org/featuresevents/features/lima-running-dry-–-promoting-water-culture-second-driest-capital-world
“The First stop in my 10 day South American Trip”
Type : City
Best Date : May – Sep
Expense : Fair
Things to do : Shopping, Dining, Visit Museums/ Galleries/ Park
Points of Interest: Sao Paulo Cathedral, Sao Paulo Arts Museum, Ibirapuera Park, Estadio do Paceambu, Municipal Market, ect
The Good: Much safer than other places in brazil, plenty of culture and arts
The Bad: There is not too much to see and do, 1-3 days is enough
Sao Paulo is a city in the south east region of Brazil about 500 km from Rio De Janeiro. The city is the most wealthiest and populous in the country. Furthermore it is largely influenced by many different nations (largely by Arabic, Italian and Japanese immigrants) and it is seen by the city’s communities, food and even architecture.
Brazil is a beautiful tropical nation which boasts one of the largest and most diverse rainforests in the world. However Sao Paulo is anything but a place to see the natural world and you would be disappointed if you went to the city to see wildlife. Nonetheless Sao Paulo is a very important city as it is deemed to be the financial centre for Brazil.
In a tourism aspect Sao Paulo offers fewer than its neighbouring municipality ‘Rio De Janeiro. It is centered on its culture, museums, monuments and arts although the city does have its green space for tourists to unwind.
Firstly one of the main places to visit in Sao Paulo is ‘Paulista Avenue’ this is Brazil’s version of time’s square (how it was described to me). It is their business district which stretches more than a mile and hosts many financial institutes, museums, churches, shops and restaurants. Sao Paulo’s ‘Museum of Arts’ resides here and in my opinion the museum doesn’t really have a brilliant exterior but inside which has some of the most notable artwork in brazil is where the brilliance is, so for those art fanatics this could be the place to visit. Apart from that the strip itself is a pleasure to roam for shopping and dinning and should be a place to go while staying in Sao Paulo.
Another place to visit in the city is ‘Centro’ location of the ‘Sao Paulo Cathedral’ which is considered as one of the city’s main attraction. Anoth
er point of interest around Centro is the popular ‘Municipality Market’ which was built on 1933 and till now the building itself trades fresh fruits, vegetable and other Brazilian products. This area is a bit more dangerous than Paulista Avenue as there are plenty of dodgy homeless people, but a little vigilance and everything should be fine as there are plenty of security and police around. It is advised not to visit this area at night as it could be very dangerous
Another area of interest is Vila Madalena which is popular for its street arts, music and nightlife. This is the area where the majority of backpackers stay because there are many hostels and cheaper restaurants here.
Football is huge in Brazil and Sao Paulo has one of the countries most important stadiums in the ‘Estadio Municipal Paulo Machado de Caravalho’ or ‘Estadio do Pacaembu’ which is more popularly known as, is the city’s resident stadium. The big four resident football clubs that use this stadium are Sao Paulo, Corinthians, Palmeiras and Santos who share the ground for their respective games. Away from matches the stadium still has one of the most sought out football museums in Brazil, a definite place to visit for football fans.
Sao Paulo has a very high influx of Japanese immigrants and this has resulted in a popular area within ‘Liberdade’ known as the little Tokyo. Here there are plenty of Japanese shops, restaurants, cafes and even Japanese gardens. A very popular place for tourists to visit, buy souvenirs and even have a snack.
Last but not the least away from the city rush, there is an excellent place to unwind in ‘Ibirapuera Park’. A peaceful location away from the hustle and bustle of the city, this is a green space where many unwind, run, cycle, picnic, skateboard and do other leisure activities in their free time. Furthermore the park is also home to a few museums and important monuments such as the ‘Monument of Bandeiras’ a famous sculpture at the entrance of the park to commemorate the settling expeditions of inner Brazil.
In Conclusion, Sao Paulo is a beautiful city that distances itself away from the bad reputation of Brazils crime rate. Although tourists still need to be vigilant, I felt safe enough to bring out my camera and phone (except for Centro). I was also fine with using the ‘metro’, it was easy, cheap and safe to use just like any metro system in Europe. Food in the City is also very easy to find and you will be spoilt for choices with either local, fast food or international cuisine. Overall do make sure you visit this lovely Brazilian metropolis but staying here longer than 2 or 3 days could result in boredom, out of town excursions would be a good idea.
Its now 2018 and i’ve got more travel plans on the agenda, this year I’m looking for something new, somewhere I’ve never been, doing activities I have never done.
So my initial plans for this year are:
- Lima/ Cusco/ Aguas Calientes (Peru)
- Sao Paulo/ Rio De Janiero (Brazil)
- Edinburgh (Scotland)
- Marrakesh (Morocco)
And many more across the UK and the Philippines.
To start off this year (in March) I’ve got my first ever trip west from Europe and I have chosen ‘South America’ instead of the richer more developed ‘North America’. With only 7 days to spare from work, ill be visiting 2 different countries, 5 different cities and 2 of the ‘7 world wonders’.
Firstly I fly to ‘Sao Paulo/ Brazil’ where ill spend a single day. I plan to visit the city’s Cathedral, Municipal Market and other attractions allowable within my time frame. I will then leave Sao Paulo for a short layover at ‘Lima’ in ‘Peru’ where I will arrive late night and only have a few hours till I leave early next morning for a 5am flight straight to ‘Cuzco’. I’ll probably stay at the airport due to it being late night and only having a few hours, not a problem as I will have plenty of time to roam Lima on my way back. ‘Cuzco’ will be my base for the next 4 days but will excurse to one of the world wonders ‘Machu Pichu’ whilst staying overnight at the nearest town ‘Aguas Calientes’ where I’ll have a whole day to roam the small town before heading back to Cuzco. After returning to base at ‘Cusco’ I plan to visiting many more attractions within the Inca trail including the ‘Moray’, ‘Sacsayhuaman’, ‘Coricancha’ and plenty more. I will then return to Lima for a longer period to roam around the capital, probably at the city’s central. Then to end the vacation its back to Brazil but this time into ‘Rio De Janiero’ the samba and carnival capital of the world where I will stay for 3 days. Here I am not sure what I’ll be doing but I will most definitely visit another of the world wonder in the ‘Christ the redeemer’ statue. Overall its somewhat of short boomerang trip.
There are a few potential problems in this trip, from my busy jam packed schedule, the hurdles of Peru’s undeveloped cities and Brazils reputable crime rate. My daily itinerary is so tight and busy that if I miss a single flight, it will ruin the following sector and mess up my whole schedule which could result in wasting valuable time, missed reservation and higher spending. Furthermore even with early planning I’m finding transport a little difficult in Peru where trains and buses seem less straight forward and find myself with a huge chance of getting lost. The two countries also speak very little English which will toughen my trip should I need assistance or enquiries. Another precaution of this trip is the altitude of ‘Cuzco’ and ‘Machu Pichu’ peaking at 2,430m which will probably be the highest I’ve ever been, hopefully altitude sickness is something I don’t get. Finally the main thing I’m cautious about is safety in the regions I’m visiting more so for Rio De Janiero, with the city being a metropolis for snatchers, pickpockets and robbers that sometimes carry weapons, the dangers loom and I’ll need to be vigilant.
So why am I going?
Apart from all the negatives and risks these two countries retain, they both have the most beautiful landscapes, attractions and culture in the world.
According to Lonely Planet’s 500 best places, Peru’s ‘Machu Picchu’ is 3rd behind only to the ‘Great Barrier Reef’ 2nd and the ‘Temples of Angkor’ in Cambodia winning the title of best place in the world. Brazils ‘Christ the Redeemer’ 170th and ‘Ipanema Beach’ is 440th. Visiting these places will just be a spectacular and an amazing experience the reason for taking this trip even with 7 days.
What I expect form this trip?
Well its not going to be a relaxing trip, that’s for sure!
In Peru I expect to experience new cultures, somewhat familiar to the influx of tourist but still hold ancient values some maybe influenced from the Inca empire. I expect to find tourism to be the breadwinner in Cuzco, so maybe people will be very welcoming but also aggressive on selling products, tours and food as it has been in many rural tourist spots I’ve visited in the past. However I hope to find new ways of life that I’ve never seen before and lastly to witness probably one of the most majestic villages left by the ancient world in ‘Machu Picchu‘. Lima would probably be a developing city, a metropolis of Hispanic influence.
Brazil is probably more livelier as I’m visiting two huge cities ‘Sao Paulo’ and ‘Rio De Janeiro’. I expect ‘Sao Paulo’ to be a busy business and industrial centre, whilst ‘Rio’ will be the messy but beautiful party and cultural region. I am aware of the dangers in Rio and although I wont ignore them, I will try and enjoy the city for what it is. In the country overall, I envisage to find a division between the rich and poor as shown in many movies, shows and documentaries.
South America will be very new to me and although the two countries can have influences and similarities to places such as Spain and Philippines, I expect to find a new side to Hispanic cultures.
Picture Credits: Cover Photo Machu Picchu -Lonely planet (https://www.lonelyplanet.com/peru/machu-picchu) Christ the redeemer - https://wall.alphacoders.com/by_sub_category.php?id=210814&name=Christ+The+Redeemer+Wallpapers