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Machu Picchu in Peru: A Travel Diary!

''Travel time from India: Flying time is about 22 - 24 hours via Delhi or Mumbai.''

Countries that you could combine with Peru : Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay and Chile

Ideal time to take a holiday : May to September. Peru has 2 seasons, wet and dry, but the higher you go, the cooler it becomes. The months of May, June, July, August and September also work out to be best months if you want to go trekking on the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the world famous 15th-century site. Pl note, The Inca Trail is one of the most popular treks in South America. It’s best to avoid the months between November and March as it is usually wet then.

Cities that you could visit in Peru : Cuzco, which is a Unesco World Heritage site. This is where Machu Picchu is located. This apart, of course Lima, the capital of Peru, and Puno, located on the shore of Lake Titicaca.

Where to stay : In Cuzco, we stayed at the Tierra Viva Cuzco plaza. It is located in the main square and is walking distance from all important sites. In Lima, we were at Miraflores Park Hotel. The beauty of the hotel is that it is located alongside the Pacific Ocean and thus has a magnificent view from all the rooms.

Food : Seafood here to die for. You could try some signature dishes like the Ceviche, which is fish marinated in Peruvian lemon, coriander, chilli and garlic. Another dish you could try is creamy chicken with walnut and cheese. It’s just yum and will melt in your mouth. In the hilly region of Machu Picchu, you get ample vegetarian dishes as well. When you are there, make sure you try the Andean cheese. Besides, you could also go in for Italian and Chinese dishes here, they are pretty popular. If you visit Puno, you must try out some fish preparations, they are amazingly fresh. In drinks, don’t miss out on Inca Cola.

What to pack : You could carry a pair of jeans or slacks and a few tops. It’s best to keep it simple and sporty. A light jacket is also a must as early mornings are cold. If you decide to trek to Machu Picchu, dress accordingly and in layers. Remember, u might feel hot while trekking. Walking shoes are a must. Travel light from India so that you can shop from there. Peru is COMPLETELY a shopper’s paradise. I THOROUGHLY enjoyed it.

Shopping : As I mentioned earlier, if you are a shopaholic, you will have a ball. In Cuzco, u will find many locals roaming around the airport, bus stops and all other tourist spots, with hand-woven woollen clothes, bags, hats, Tshirts and other accessories. They are quite cheap and good but don’t forget to bargain. You could also buy bags, hats, scarves, sweaters and jackets made of Alpaca and vicuna wool. Pl note you should buy them from proper shops as look alikes are common. Stuff made of Vicuna wool is a little expensive and Alpaca is cheaper compared to that. But both are good. Junk jewellery is famous here. Handcrafted souvenirs are aplenty. Also, you could pick up Peruvian coffee and Andean cheese. And yes, Peruvian paintings are famous, too. In Lima there is an Indian market which you should visit even if you don’t buy anything from there. You could perhaps buy some clothes in Lima as they are reasonably cheap. Also, do visit Lima’s departmental stores called Ripley.

Travel tips : People in Peru are very warm, friendly and helpful. It’s safe to roam around though pickpockets are everywhere in the world so it’s good to be alert. Must consult a doctor if you have breathing problems before planning the trip coz in Cuzco, because of the higher altitudes, breathlessness is a problem but people around will brief you how to tackle it. It's easy; nothing to worry about. Every hotel in Cuzco has coca tea in the lobby, if you consume it in regular intervals, you could get rid of your breathlessness. For eg, you could perhaps have a cup before going for a walk or after coming back from it, it's very relaxing. You also get coca candies everywhere. You could stock it up and carry it wherever you are going. But all said and done, just take it easy, don't run, walk slowly and have coca tea and candies and enjoy.
When in Machu Picchu, do carry your passport and get a Machu Picchu novelty passport stamp. But be careful where you are getting the stamp from as there are fake stamps as well. We were lucky and did not face it. Carry sanitizers and wet tissues. You must take the bus ride from Cuzco to Puno to visit Lake Titicaca. Get hold of a good local travel agent who can show you around. Carry water and sunscreen while traveling to Machu Picchu because the sun there is very strong.

Source / Review By : Aditi Chatterjee

Aditi is a travel buff. She lives in Kolkata

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