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Cusco and its surrounding areas are out of harm from the heavy rain and mudslides happening in some areas of Peru

It has come to our attention that you have been receiving wrongful information regarding Cusco’s situation due to the heavy rain and mudslides that are currently affecting different areas of Peru.

Rest assured that Cusco and its surrounding areas are completely out of harm’s way in light of what is happening due to the El Niño phenomenon. Certain versions even ensure that passengers are being evacuated by helicopter from Machu Picchu due to flooding. This information is not true, which is why it shouldn’t affect in any way the wonderful experience you’re looking forward to having in Peru.

At the same time, the rest of the country’s Southern touristic circuit -which aside from Cusco includes Puno, Arequipa and Madre de Dios- is out of risk, as well as the North Oriental region -San Martin, Amazon and Loreto. In the larger part of the city of Lima operations have not been affected. These areas are not at risk because they are located at a long and safe distance from where these events are taking place.

Sadly, Chiclayo, Trujillo and Mancora are some of the damaged areas, which is why no tourist operation will resume until after April 15th.  Besides that, touristic operations to Nazca is being suspended as well, since the road that connects Ica and Nazca is experiencing complications by the Ocucaje area.

We also want to share with you, that for each booking Journeyou will make a donation to the affected people.

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Galapagos Islands: How to make the most out of this destination

Photo: Shutterstock

This is definitely one of the most recurrent destinations in travelers’ bucket-lists, especially for those who love nature. The natural wildlife on these islands simply has no comparison and is really well suited for having extraordinary up-close encounters with some fascinating species, both in the water, as on land.

The Galapagos Islands are an archipelago of volcanic origin located approx. 1,000km to the west of continental Ecuador. There are 18 main islands and many smaller ones scattered about. They served as inspiration for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and are now a National Park and Marine Reserve. Also, in 1987 they got listed as World Heritage (UNESCO).

Photo: Shutterstock

The best way to explore Galapagos is by boat and there are many different itineraries and boat types, depending on the time you’ll be staying and what you would like to see. The islands are all very different and boast their own special landscape and wildlife, so it is a good idea to research a bit on each of them before deciding. Some say Isabela island is the most beautiful, others claim that Espindola is the most magical… so it really is a matter of personal taste. Luckily, ¡they are all amazing in their own right! ;)

In any case, your Galapagos trip will revolve around the wildlife, which you can discover by diving, snorkeling, hiking, kayaking or on board one of the many vessels you will get on while you are there. Many species on the islands are endemic –unique to Galapagos. Here is a little preview of what you might see:

  • A diverse array of birds: the very popular blue-footed boobies, albatross (at Punta Espinosa in Espindola), penguins (around Tagus Cove, on Isabela island), and the Darwin’s finch, among others.
  • Marine iguanas! These are a Galapagos icon so you must see them. The largest colony is at Fernandina, but you can also see them during the Bay tour at Santa Cruz. During your hikes you can also spot numerous lava lizards.
  • Marine wildlife to spare: hammerhead sharks, blue sharks, eagle rays, whales, sea lions, Galapagos crabs –zayapas-, gigantic sea tortoises and an endless array of fish types. If you want to make the most out of your marine wildlife experience, ask for the diving tours… mostly to dive spots on Wolf and Darwin Islands.
  • Giant land tortoises, at the various breeding centers, like the ones at Santa Cruz, San Cristobal or Isabela Islands, where you can get up-close with these prehistoric creatures.
  • The opuntia cactus –endemic to the islands-, chandelier cacti and other local flora.

Photo: Shutterstock

Finally, a few tips for you to have the ultimate Galapagos experience:

  • What to pack:  waterproof camera or dry bag, binoculars, swimsuit, swim mask and fins (tours usually provide these, but if you have your own, take them anyway!), sun hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, a long-sleeved shirt with UPF, refillable water bottle, a rain jacket and good hiking shoes (as well as flip flops).
  • Bring motion sickness medication for your boat tours.
  • Visit the Darwin Scientific Station at Puerto Ayora, ideally when there is a guided tour.
  • Dine at the “Calle de los Kioskos” in Puerto Ayora (Santa Cruz Island). Pick your fish (brujo is very popular) or lobster (make sure it’s not ban season), and enjoy! This street is also a feast of flavors and colors.
  • Before leaving home, fill out the pre-registration in the Galapagos Government website. And before boarding your flight to Galapagos go get your TCT card at the Galapagos Government counter in the airport (Guayaquil or Quito), paying $10. This is where filling the pre-registration form comes in handy.
  • Upon arrival in the Galapagos airport, you will have to pay the entrance fee to the National Park ($100). This is usually not included in the tours’ prices.

Find the best Galapagos cruise and tour packages:

https://www.journeyou.com/en/tours/galapagos/

Practical guide for traveling to Peru

 

View from Intipunku. Machu Picchu, Cusco, Peru.

If you are traveling to Peru you are in for a treat. This country really has a bit of everything to offer… from Lima’s coastal urban flair, to the majesty of Machu Picchu, and the intensity of the Amazon rainforest… Should you choose the adventurous nature experiences, or rather the urban escapes; here are some general tips for making your trip to Peru a smooth one. ;)

Before your trip:

  • Get informed on visas, vaccinations or any other special requirements.
  • Be sure to have enough cash and accepted credit cards with you. Cash (preferably in smaller denominations) is the most accepted payment method. Visa and MasterCard are also generally ok, Amex only in some places. Other methods might not be accepted. There are ATMs in most big cities. Exchange houses are also available in the touristic cities and paying in US$ is sometimes an option, but you’ll get charged a high exchange rate.
  • Get informed on currency and exchange rate (1 US$ is usually between S/.3 and S/.3.50 soles).
  • Know that the Inca Trail is genuinely physically demanding and, should you decide to do it, be sure to prepare accordingly.
  • Check your electric appliances. Electricity in Peru is 220 Volts and 60 Hertz. Plug outlets are either two-pronged plugs with flat, parallel blades, or two round prongs. Some outlets accept both types.
  • Drinking age is 18.

What to pack:

  • Sunblock, sunglasses, a hat and some repellent.
  • Proper hiking boots, waterproof, preferably. Flip-flops are also a good idea for those lazy afternoons.
  • A basic first-aid kit with general sickness medication, such as Pepto-Bismol, aspirin, ibuprofen, Band-Aids, cleaning wipes, and any other specific meds you think you might need.
  • A small notebook for writing down words in the local language, addresses or any other useful information.
  • A rain jacket (although you can also buy a plastic poncho in Cusco).
  • Clothes for pretty much every type of weather, sunny and warm, but also cold and rainy. Oh, and, of course, a bathing suit! (You never know.)
  • Camera, empty memory cards and extra battery.

While on your trip:

  • Cellphone rentals are available at Lima Airport, should you want one.
  • Most –if not all- people need some time to adjust to altitude. When arriving in Cusco or other high places, take it easy, rest, drink lots of water and try some coca or muña tea.
  • Do not drink water from the tap, unless advised to by locals.
  • Always get informed about what is or is not included in any of the tours or services you hire.

What not to miss while in Peru:

  • Ceviche is a must-try for any tourist visiting the country; it is the most popular dish, made with fresh, raw fish marinated in lime juice and chili peppers, some salt and onion. Advise your cook or server if you can’t handle much spiciness.
  • Pisco in any form, but we specially recommend trying pisco sour, a cocktail combining pisco with lime juice, syrup, egg white, ice and Angostura bitters.
  • Try pretty much all the food you can. Average price for a meal varies radically, from S/.10 (US$ 3) to up to S/.170 (US$ 50), depending on where you eat, but generally, S/.70 (about US$ 20) should be enough.
  • A walk along the Miraflores seaside parks (malecón).
  • Cusco and, of course, the World Wonder Machu Picchu.

Finally, be sure to find the right Peru travel package with us! :)

https://www.journeyou.com/en/tours/peru/machu-picchu-tour-with-air-from-us/

Rainbow Mountain, practical guide for reaching the top

Rainbow Montain, Cusco, Peru.

Rainbow Montain, Cusco, Peru.

Vinicunca, also known as Montaña Arco Iris (“Rainbow Mountain” in Spanish), is most definitely one of the trendiest spots near Cusco. Travellers claim it’s stunningly beautiful and the picture-perfect scenery make it into a superb setting for a mini photo shoot. It is a rather unusual natural formation, where the mountain appears striped in many different colors, as if it had been painted, resembling a huge rainbow.

This gem is one of the scenes travellers come across while on the 6 day Ausangate trek. However, there are now other options to enjoy it on a full day tour or a 2 days/1 night trek. In any case, while you don’t need to be an experienced hiker, getting to Vinincunca is not like a light stroll along the promenade. It does take a fairly good physical condition, but there are also some tips to reach the top and make the most out of the experience.

Before undertaking this walk… be sure you are in a generally good physical state and acclimatized to the altitude, as the low level of oxygen can actually make it that much more demanding (you will walk over 4,000 meters above sea level!). It is advisable to have arrived in Cusco a couple of days earlier… unless you are already coming from a higher place, like Puno, for example.

Also, let your tour operator know if you have any dietary or special requirements.

On the day of the walk, you should take with you…

  1. Proper hiking shoes, with good traction and preferably waterproof.
  2. Comfortable trekking clothes and use them in layers, prepared for cold weather during the early morning and late afternoon, even an eventual snowstorm, but also ready for some pretty warm moments while walking (many hikers are actually in shorts and t-shirts for parts of the way)
  3. A rain jacket or poncho (just in case)
  4. Warm hat and gloves (wool or soft shell)
  5. Hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and lip balm (also with sunscreen!)
  6. Water bottle (for the whole day) and maybe some snacks
  7. Coca candy or coca leaves (ask your tour guide about this)
  8. Any medicine that you might need… paracetamol or aspirin and some altitude sickness meds are not a bad idea, just in case
  9. Some cash for horse renting or any other fees not included in your tour (ask about this beforehand!)
  10. Camera with full battery and lots of space for some AMAZING PICTURES! ;)

Pack everything in a small backpack, as you will be carrying your own things (at least on the full day tours).

During the walk… First of all, find your own pace and stick to it! Also, let your guide know if you are having any trouble or doubts about anything. And, should you not be feeling too well, feel free to rent a horse, many tourists do so. Just bare in mind this is usually not included in the tour’s price. Chewing on coca leaves can also help with altitude and tiredness.

After the walk… make your friends jealous with all those wonderful pictures and brag about your altitude trekking performance! ;)

 

5 reasons for having Chile on the top of your bucket list

About 4,300 km length from north to south make of Chile a geographically extremely diverse country, hosting a wide range of sceneries, from deserts to glaciers, going over beaches, the Andes, valleys… Therefore, this is a destination that has an experience for everyone. We’ll try to sum a few of our top ones here. ;)

So, why should Chile be on the top of your bucket list?

 

1. It is home to the world’s driest desert, the “Atacama Desert”

It showcases stunning views of salt flats, geysers, natural hot springs, volcanoes and out-of-this-world landscapes like that of the “moon valley”, area which resembles the moon surface. All of that is topped up by the clearest skies in the world and some serious stargazing.

San Pedro de Atacama. Photo: Shutterstock.

San Pedro de Atacama. Photo: Shutterstock.

 

2. The Chilean Patagonia and its immense glaciers will blow your mind

The Torres del Paine National Park, one of its most iconic protected areas, features immense glaciers like the Grey, and pristine lakes, such as lake Nordenskjöld. The Chilean Patagonia also gives away unique views on icebergs, mountains, intensely colored turquoise waters and picturesque towns like Puerto Varas.

Torres del Paine National Park. Photo: Shutterstock.

Torres del Paine National Park. Photo: Shutterstock.

 

3. Few places are more intriguing than Easter Island, PLUS, it’s also gorgeous

More than 1000 stone statures from the Rapa Nui culture known as “moais” are waiting for you on this island full of breathtaking scenery. Here, your imagination will be highly stimulated, as the real origin behind these sculptures is yet unknown. According to the legend, 7 of the statues represent the first explorers of Rapa Nui, which were sent by King Hotu Matua. The archeological treasures scattered about the island are framed by amazing geography, from white sand beaches to craters and lava formations. You can horseback ride or hike to explore this destination, but, heads up, there’s also a whole underwater world to explore.

Easter Island. Photo: Shutterstock.

Easter Island. Photo: Shutterstock.

 

4. Santiago and their neighbor coastal towns of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar

There is always something going on in the capital of Chile, Santiago, especially in its downtown and financial district. You’ll also get a great panoramic view of the city with a fantastic backdrop, from the San Cristobal hill. Santiago’s surroundings are also worth visiting, especially the coastal towns of Valparaiso and Viña del Mar (connected by a coastal road featuring beautiful views). During winter, there are also some great ski resorts just about an hour away from the city.

Santiago de Chile. Photo: Shutterstock.

Santiago de Chile. Photo: Shutterstock.

 

5. And, of course, Chile has some world-class wine!!! ;)

While you are there, seize the opportunity to visit any of the most re-known wineries nearby Santiago. Day trips to Maipo Valley, Casablanca, or Colchagua Valley, having a taste of some of the best wines in the world is a perfect way to round-up your Chilean experience.

Wineries near Santiago. Photo: Shutterstock.

Wineries near Santiago. Photo: Shutterstock.

Travel with Journeyou and win a journey to Galapagos 2016


We will announce the winner on June 30th!

Meanwhile check out the chosen photos that have made it to the final round!

 

Una foto publicada por @mikesbca el

 

Una foto publicada por Lora P. (@thumpergurl) el

 

Una foto publicada por @sheemakhan el

 

Una foto publicada por David (@dlcox) el

Una foto publicada por Kathryn Davisson (@dkaysplace7) el

 

Una foto publicada por Amy Waldinger (@amywaldinger) el

The City of Cusco

The city of Cusco, situated in the Andes, developed into a complex urban center with distinct religious and administrative functions thanks to the large variety of cultures that came together. It was known for its clearly delineated areas for agricultural, artisan and industrial production. Cusco is full of archeological appeal and had an infrastructure that was unprecedented in the ancient world. You can see temples and Baroque churches as well as palaces over the ruins of the Inca city.

When visiting Cuzco, Peru, you will be overwhelmed by the amount of tourism agencies and street vendors selling tours to Puca, Pucara, Machu Picchu, Ollantaytambo, Moray, Sacsayhuaman, Q’enqo, Templo de la Luna as well as various other important Inca locations. Tourists looking for a little exercise can hike to Cristo Blanco. It’s located 11,811 feet up Pukamoqo Hill, where you’ll come face-to-face with an enormous statue of Christ. It was donated in 1945 by refugees and is truly a sight to behold at night when you can see Cristo Blanco all lit up from the downtown area of the city.

Although seeing these sites is an important part of getting to know the culture of the city as well as the areas surrounding it, there is also a possibility that you may want to do something different. You can take in the local colors at the Pisaq Market. It is the biggest market in Cusco, which is why you can find handicrafts, jewelry, minerals, spices, herbs, and local foods. The best time to go is usually over the weekend. Local citizens travel from all around to attend church as well as to sell their goods, which means you could find that special something at a better Price.  Even if you don’t buy anything it’s a good way to learn about the local way of life, get a taste of how herbal medicine works, see how paints and dyes are made using natural minerals and sample the various local foods such as adobo, a pork stew made with chicha (corn beer) or roasted cuy (guinea pig), a delicacy in the Cusco Region.

Travelers to Cusco can also take part in traditional festivals that take place during this time when locals dress in traditional clothing and celebrate. These celebrations have amazing programs, which include dances, parades, pilgrimages, dinners, handicrafts and agricultural fairs as well as other events. These celebrations have a wide range of overtones, going from a sensual feel to a more spiritual one, a little bit of everything.

Then, there’s the nightlife. Cusco is known for its large variety bars and clubs. It’s easy to find a great place while on a budget, as a full-priced cocktail will only cost around $4 to $6. Places to visit include Mama Africa, a favorite among tourists and locals as well Real McCoy, 7 Angelitos, Groove, Mythology, The Frogs, Cross Keys and Kamikase.  So why wait, Cusco has everything that a tourist needs.

Tourism in Lima Peru

Why ask about Tourism in Lima? Well, why not? Lima is the historic capital of Peru and is known as the main, economic, social, political, and touristic hub of the nation. Lima was founded in 1535 by the conquistador Francisco Pizarro and due to this various cultures have come together. There is something for anybody, beaches, art, cuisine and nightlife.

If you’re looking to relax then visit some of the many beaches in Lima. Asia Beach is 100 kilometers to the south and is popular among residents as a summer getaway with its sandy shores and beautiful landscapes. Other beaches in Lima include Punta Negra and Punta Hermosa. Have a frosty drink and relax on the calm sands. You could take a different route and go to one of the many green spaces that Lima offers tourists. You can check out the Park of the Reserve or the Park of the Exposition (a gorgeous park filled with giant water fountains with light shows and music). You can even go to some of the various national reserves such as the Lomas de Lachay. It is 105 kilometers north of Lima and is home to a large variety of wildlife and vegetation.

If you want to take a more cultural look at things then nothing exemplifies this more than the multiple museums found throughout Lima. Among these, the largest and most recognized are the National Museum of Peruvian Culture, National Museum of Anthropology, Archeology and History, Museum of Italian Art, , and the Rafael Larco Herrera Archeological Museum.

But that is not all that Lima offers to tourists. Not only does Lima have a rich and historic culture, it’s also one of the greatest gastronomical hotspots in the world. Lima’s cuisine is a combination that represents every group and ethnicity that has become part of this great city with influences from European, Asian, and Andean mixed together to create what is now known as Limean cuisine. The food sector is an extremely important part of Lima’s tourist economy as many of South America’s best restaurants and chefs are there.  Check out restaurants such as Astrid y Gaston, Tanta or El Hornero.

This brings us to the nightlife. There are many areas in Lima; among them is the Miraflores District. It is frequently appealing to tourists because of the multitude of restaurants, hotels, parks, events, and attractions in the area. If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife with various nightclubs and pubs then go to the Barranco district where you can find Peñas, a special kind of pub. Peruvian culture is part of everyday life, with frequent local festivals showing it off in its great fashion. La Candelaria dance troupes of Puno or the marinera dancers from northern Peru, for example, can be seen at peñas (dance shows) all over Lima. You can even hit the theater at Teatro Segura which hosts operas, plays, ballet and other dance festivals, with the program running from May to February.

So what are you waiting for? Lima, Peru is an incredible destination with a lot to offer savvy tourists from around the world. Whether you just want to relax or if you want to let loose then Lima is the place to go.

Peruvian Gastronomy

Peruvian cuisine is among the most varied in the world while still retaining local practices and ingredients as well. It has been influenced by both indigenous Inca and immigrants from around the world, including Spanish, Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese and African influences. Peru has a wide variety of flora and fauna but the three traditional staples of Peruvian cuisine are corn, potatoes, and chili peppers, which can be found in most Peruvian foods in one way or another. Ingredients brought over by the Spanish, the biggest foreign influence to Peruvian cuisine, includes rice, wheat and meats (beef, pork and chicken). However, traditional foods are on their way back and foods such as quinoa, kaniwa, some varieties of chili peppers, and several roots and tubers have increased in popularity in recent years. This reflects a new interest in native Peruvian foods and culinary techniques. Now, usually when we speak about Peruvian gastronomy, three regions come to mind: the coast, the highlands and the jungle. The gastronomy scene has exploded in Peru, now reaching into almost every corner of the world.

Coastal cuisine in Peru is among the best in the world. Peru is widely known for having an abundance of fish and aquatic life, a veritable menagerie that can only be found in Peru. Every coastal region, being distinct in flora and fauna populations, adapts its cuisine in accordance to the resources available in its waters. One of the most popular dishes, Ceviche, has many variations (typically mixed with fish and shellfish) and provides a good example of regional adaptation. Ceviche is found in almost every Peruvian restaurant, typically served with sweet potato and can be very spicy. It is certainly one of the many delicacies that can be found in Peru. Other dishes include “tiradito”, a Peruvian dish of raw fish, similar to sashimi and carpaccio that differs from ceviche in the way in which the fish is cut, “chupe de camaron”, a shrimp soup make with milk, eggs, and oregano, and “leche de tigre” (tiger’s milk) which is basically a by-product of ceviche made up of concentrated lime juice, pepper and fish.

In the valleys and plains of the Andes, the locals’ diet is still based on corn, potatoes, and an assortment of tubers.  One of their most famous dishes is the pachamanca, which is made from many kinds of meat (including beef and pork), herbs and a variety of vegetables that are slowly cooked underground on a bed of heated stones.  Other dishes include guinea pig, or “cuy”, an Inca delicacy, “rocoto relleno”, spicy bell peppers stuffed with vegetables and/or beef among others.

Last but not least is Amazonian cuisine.  Although many animal species are hunted for food in the biologically diverse jungle, standouts are the paiche (one of the world’s largest freshwater fish), prepared in variety of dishes; many other types of fish like gamitana, tucunare, boquichico, palometa, bagre (catfish), and many others including the piranha, that are prepared in variety of dishes such as “timbuche” (soup) or “patarashca” (grilled in vegetables). The Black Caiman is also considered a delicacy although it is forbidden under Peruvian law.

No matter who you are, whether you’re a gourmand looking for a luxurious morsel or a tourist that just wants to try something new, there’s no better place to travel to than Peru.

Things to do on the Inca Trail

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (also known as Camino Inca or Camino Inka) consists of three overlapping trails: Mollepata, Classic, and One Day.  Located in the Andes mountain range, it is one of the most famous hikes in South America, a potentially life altering trek through several types of Andean environments including cloud forest and alpine tundra. Settlements, tunnels, and many Incan ruins are located along the trails before ending the terminus at the Sun Gate on Machu Picchu Mountain. While awe inspiring, it can also be quite difficult to hike the Inca trail. It takes roughly four days to traverse and the cold and exhaustion can take a toll on the body. However, once the mist lifts and the backdrop exposed, peaks and ruins dappled across an ancient city you’ll be sure that you made the right decision.

The best time to visit is during the dry season, May through September. It should be noted that the Inca Trail is closed in February due to the heavy rains of the rainy season.

The first trail, Mollepata, is the longest of the three routes.  It’s the highest mountain pass and intersects with the Classic route before crossing Warmiwañusqa (“dead woman”). The two longer routes require an ascent to beyond 4,200 meters (13,800 ft.) above sea level through varying landscapes.

So, what is there to see and do on the trails? Well first of all there are the Inca ruins of Patallaqta (sometimes called Llaqtapata). This site was used for both religious and ceremonial functions as well as crop production and housing for soldiers from nearby Willkaraqay, an ancient pre-Inca site first inhabited more than 1,500 years ago. The trail eventually ascends along the Kusichaka River and passes through several small permanent settlements, it passing through differing habitats, one of which is a cloud forest containing Polylepis trees. This is a sturdy tree that has specializations that help them withstand the harsh conditions, thusly creating a veritable forest entirely made up of Polylepis trees.

Eventually, one kilometer along the trail, at an altitude of 3,750 meters (12,300 ft.) is the Incan Tampu Runkuraqay which was heavily restored in the 1990s. This ancient city overlooks the valley and is an astounding sight to see, with views of mountains and drop-offs. Later on you will pass the Phuyupatamarka ruins, an archaeological site along the Inca Trail in the Urubamba Valley of Peru discovered by Hiram Bingham III. Due to its altitude of roughly 3200 meters, it is known as “La Ciudad entre la Niebla” (“The City Above the Clouds”)

Afterwards, you’ll be going down a staircase that is 1,500 steps long, mostly carved out of granite. Eventually you’ll begin to notice how everything changes, from rocky outcrops and short grass to lush environments full of jungle like features, filled with birds and butterflies. It is truly a sight to behold. A small spur of the trail leads directly to Wiñay Wayna, while the main route continues to Intipata. From Wiñay Wayna the trail goes under the crest of the eastern slope of the mountain named Machu Picchu. After around 3 km you will reach the Inti Punku (“sun gate”) at which point you will be able to marvel at the incredible vistas that the Machu Picchu ruins have to offer. Don’t hesitate, this will be a life altering trek that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. Sightseeing at its finest.