Peru

More than Machu Picchu...
After a redeye flight to Lima, followed by a quick flight to Cuzco, we arrived at 8am. The air is very thin 2 miles up, and we made the brilliant decision to stay at a hostel that was at the top of about a quarter mile of stairs....
1 After a redeye flight to Lima, followed by a quick flight to Cuzco, we arrived at 8am. The air is very thin 2 miles up, and we made the brilliant decision to stay at a hostel that was at the top of about a quarter mile of stairs....
Oh my that's a lot of stairs...
2 Oh my that's a lot of stairs...
...but we finally made it to Samay Wasai Hostel. It was a clay and stone structure, and not a little bit chilly....
3 ...but we finally made it to Samay Wasai Hostel. It was a clay and stone structure, and not a little bit chilly....
It had a stunning view over Cuzco. See? The stairs were sort of worth it.
4 It had a stunning view over Cuzco. See? The stairs were sort of worth it.
Cuzco's Plaza de Armas.
5 Cuzco's Plaza de Armas.
The Cathedral de Cuzco.
6 The Cathedral de Cuzco.
The Plaza has a famous statue of the Incan warrior Pachacutec in the center.
7 The Plaza has a famous statue of the Incan warrior Pachacutec in the center.
Pachacutec's fountain.
8 Pachacutec's fountain.
The lovely gardens surrounding Plaza de Armas.
9 The lovely gardens surrounding Plaza de Armas.
And Cuzco doesn't have just 1 church on the Plaza...this is #2.
10 And Cuzco doesn't have just 1 church on the Plaza...this is #2.
Plaza de Armas...
11 Plaza de Armas...
Despite the chill, it is summertime, and the flowers were lovely.
12 Despite the chill, it is summertime, and the flowers were lovely.
The other side of Plaza de Armas.
13 The other side of Plaza de Armas.
Cuzco's town arch.
14 Cuzco's town arch.
Lovely Cuzco street....
15 Lovely Cuzco street....
Peru has amazing juices, all sold in market stalls. Pineapple-banana was one of our first stops.
16 Peru has amazing juices, all sold in market stalls. Pineapple-banana was one of our first stops.
Thos Incans knew masonry. This is one of the oldest, most perfect stone walls in Peru.
17 Thos Incans knew masonry. This is one of the oldest, most perfect stone walls in Peru.
It's beautiful how the mountains surround the city.
18 It's beautiful how the mountains surround the city.
A lovely waterfall near our hostel.
19 A lovely waterfall near our hostel.
Waterfalls! Art!
20 Waterfalls! Art!
The San Blas neighborhood of Cuzco.
21 The San Blas neighborhood of Cuzco.
Another lovely Cuzco square.
22 Another lovely Cuzco square.
So Cuzco has this scam where you have to buy a $35/pp "Tourist Ticket" to get into 2 things you want to see, while paying for 7 you don't. We decided to hit EVERYTHING on the list, and monetize the scam.
23 So Cuzco has this scam where you have to buy a $35/pp "Tourist Ticket" to get into 2 things you want to see, while paying for 7 you don't. We decided to hit EVERYTHING on the list, and monetize the scam.
#1: The Qorikancha, a cathedral built over Incan ruins. Note the cathedral itself isn't included in the Ticket- that's extra. So we didn't go inside. Ha!
24 #1: The Qorikancha, a cathedral built over Incan ruins. Note the cathedral itself isn't included in the Ticket- that's extra. So we didn't go inside. Ha!
This is as close as we got to the Qorikancha.
25 This is as close as we got to the Qorikancha.
But the Qorikancha Museum, described in our guidebook as "sad and dusty," WAS included. We have no idea what this candy exhibit was all about.
26 But the Qorikancha Museum, described in our guidebook as "sad and dusty," WAS included. We have no idea what this candy exhibit was all about.
Best part of the museum: It was underground, and the exit out us into an empty graveyard-like field.
27 Best part of the museum: It was underground, and the exit out us into an empty graveyard-like field.
The next museum on the Ticket had a lifelike guinea pig roasting exhibit. Awesome.
28 The next museum on the Ticket had a lifelike guinea pig roasting exhibit. Awesome.
Also in that exhibit: The Last Supper, with guinea pig as the main entree.
29 Also in that exhibit: The Last Supper, with guinea pig as the main entree.
A Cuzco street.
30 A Cuzco street.
Once again, a "Breaking Bad" chicken reference in Latin America...we called this place Los Toldos Hermanos, yo.
31 Once again, a "Breaking Bad" chicken reference in Latin America...we called this place Los Toldos Hermanos, yo.
We visited Cuzco's awesome market...
32 We visited Cuzco's awesome market...
...where I acquired me some awesome convertible mitten-gloves, immediately christened "Mia-tens" by Matt ('cuz the top comes down, get it?).
33 ...where I acquired me some awesome convertible mitten-gloves, immediately christened "Mia-tens" by Matt ('cuz the top comes down, get it?).
Mmmm....fresh goat head.
34 Mmmm....fresh goat head.
Cuzco at night.
35 Cuzco at night.
A full moon over Cuzco's Cathedral.
36 A full moon over Cuzco's Cathedral.
A gorgeous summer night in Cuzco.
37 A gorgeous summer night in Cuzco.
Pachacuti's fountain at night.
38 Pachacuti's fountain at night.
This is the first of many Pisco Sours, Peru's national drink.  Pisco wine (much like grappa) and lime.
39 This is the first of many Pisco Sours, Peru's national drink. Pisco wine (much like grappa) and lime.
Breakfast in our rooftop hostel overlooking Cuzco.
40 Breakfast in our rooftop hostel overlooking Cuzco.
The next day, we took a tour of all of Cuzco's Incan sites. Saqsaywaman is the most important, and the most fun to say (sounds like "sexy woman"!).
41 The next day, we took a tour of all of Cuzco's Incan sites. Saqsaywaman is the most important, and the most fun to say (sounds like "sexy woman"!).
Saqsaywaman has those amazing Incan walls, but with ginormous stones.
42 Saqsaywaman has those amazing Incan walls, but with ginormous stones.
A view over the site.
43 A view over the site.
These are not actors. These are locals. How Peruvian!
44 These are not actors. These are locals. How Peruvian!
Fun times at Saqsaywaman...
45 Fun times at Saqsaywaman...
At the edge of the site is a huge Rio Christ the Redeemer rip-off statue. We didn't get any closer than this. :)
46 At the edge of the site is a huge Rio Christ the Redeemer rip-off statue. We didn't get any closer than this. :)
Those are some big rocks.
47 Those are some big rocks.
This is how huge these rocks are. No one really knows how they got up to the site, but one must never discount the value of good old-fashioned slave labor.
48 This is how huge these rocks are. No one really knows how they got up to the site, but one must never discount the value of good old-fashioned slave labor.
Saqsaywaman was a fortress city for the Incas. All that is left is the walls.
49 Saqsaywaman was a fortress city for the Incas. All that is left is the walls.
A really cool lookout spot.
50 A really cool lookout spot.
I'm on a rock! And freezing!!
51 I'm on a rock! And freezing!!
The view of Cuzco from the site.
52 The view of Cuzco from the site.
The Joneses conquer Saqsaywaman!
53 The Joneses conquer Saqsaywaman!
Saqsaywaman, summer flowers, and winter frickin' weather.
54 Saqsaywaman, summer flowers, and winter frickin' weather.
Next stop: Tambomachay.
55 Next stop: Tambomachay.
All that's left of Tambomachay is this amazing fountain, which has been continuously spouting mountain water since it was built back in the days of the Inca.
56 All that's left of Tambomachay is this amazing fountain, which has been continuously spouting mountain water since it was built back in the days of the Inca.
At Tambomachay. And still cold.
57 At Tambomachay. And still cold.
It's a really lovely, park-like setting.
58 It's a really lovely, park-like setting.
A closeup of that amazing Incan stonemasonry.
59 A closeup of that amazing Incan stonemasonry.
The still-running fountain.
60 The still-running fountain.
The Joneses conquer Tambomachay!
61 The Joneses conquer Tambomachay!
Next up: Pukapukara. That's also fun to say.
62 Next up: Pukapukara. That's also fun to say.
Pukapukara is a former fortress, sitting on a cliff.
63 Pukapukara is a former fortress, sitting on a cliff.
Forts are good for peeking.
64 Forts are good for peeking.
This Quechua woman provided a perfect Peruvian photograph for me.
65 This Quechua woman provided a perfect Peruvian photograph for me.
Pukapukara from the road.
66 Pukapukara from the road.
Peruvian women in native dress- they really wear those, it's not for the tourists- sell fruit outside the gates.
67 Peruvian women in native dress- they really wear those, it's not for the tourists- sell fruit outside the gates.
I'm at Pukapukara! And still cold!!
68 I'm at Pukapukara! And still cold!!
Matt jumps for Pukapukara-joy.
69 Matt jumps for Pukapukara-joy.
You, my dear, have earned yourself a very big Pisco Sour. And a new scarf, because it's freezing outside.
70 You, my dear, have earned yourself a very big Pisco Sour. And a new scarf, because it's freezing outside.
The next day, we flagged a combi (like a public minivan) to drive an hour east to Ollantaytambo. This was the base for our Machu Picchu visit.
71 The next day, we flagged a combi (like a public minivan) to drive an hour east to Ollantaytambo. This was the base for our Machu Picchu visit.
Ollanta suffered from massive flooding several years ago when this river destroyed the bridges and rail lines in the town. The bridge is still badly damaged.
72 Ollanta suffered from massive flooding several years ago when this river destroyed the bridges and rail lines in the town. The bridge is still badly damaged.
Our most awesome guest house: Casa de Wow! (exclamation point included, as you can see on the sign). It was situated in the town walls, right on the river.
73 Our most awesome guest house: Casa de Wow! (exclamation point included, as you can see on the sign). It was situated in the town walls, right on the river.
Wow, the owner, handmade all the furniture, including the circular staircase and the doors.
74 Wow, the owner, handmade all the furniture, including the circular staircase and the doors.
He also made the bedframes. In all the countries we've been to, and all the places we've stayed at, Casa de Wow! is in our top 3. It's run by Wow and his American girlfriend. They're both amazing hosts.
75 He also made the bedframes. In all the countries we've been to, and all the places we've stayed at, Casa de Wow! is in our top 3. It's run by Wow and his American girlfriend. They're both amazing hosts.
A view from the rooftop of Casa de Wow!.
76 A view from the rooftop of Casa de Wow!.
Ollanta has some of Peru's most famous ruins, located on either side of the walled town.
77 Ollanta has some of Peru's most famous ruins, located on either side of the walled town.
These ruins were the Incan palaces, and the townspeople lived in the walled city.
78 These ruins were the Incan palaces, and the townspeople lived in the walled city.
Ollanta is the longest continuously inhabited town in South America.
79 Ollanta is the longest continuously inhabited town in South America.
At the foot of the Ollanta ruins is a colorful craft market.
80 At the foot of the Ollanta ruins is a colorful craft market.
The market was pretty empty, like the rest of Ollanta. The Inca Trail is closed in February, so very few people visit Machu Picchu during this time.
81 The market was pretty empty, like the rest of Ollanta. The Inca Trail is closed in February, so very few people visit Machu Picchu during this time.
The Andes provide a gorgeous backdrop.
82 The Andes provide a gorgeous backdrop.
Ollanta's teeny town square.
83 Ollanta's teeny town square.
At Ollanta's one and only reggae bar, I made a friend. It's a good thing, because we and this cat were the ONLY ONES IN THE BAR all night. Did I mention it's the off-season?
84 At Ollanta's one and only reggae bar, I made a friend. It's a good thing, because we and this cat were the ONLY ONES IN THE BAR all night. Did I mention it's the off-season?
Today is our 17th wedding anniversary. Behold the official Anniversary Portrait 2013.
85 Today is our 17th wedding anniversary. Behold the official Anniversary Portrait 2013.
The next morning, we walked 20 minutes down to the train station to catch the 5:15am PeruRail train to MACHU PICCHU (well, technically to Aguas Calientes, but close enough)!!
86 The next morning, we walked 20 minutes down to the train station to catch the 5:15am PeruRail train to MACHU PICCHU (well, technically to Aguas Calientes, but close enough)!!
Matt's got his ticket, and we're off to Machu Picchu!
87 Matt's got his ticket, and we're off to Machu Picchu!
We watched the sun rise from the train, and fully appreciated PeruRail's snazzy map-cum-placemat.
88 We watched the sun rise from the train, and fully appreciated PeruRail's snazzy map-cum-placemat.
I got a golden ticket!!! I'm going to Machu Picchu!!!!!!!!
89 I got a golden ticket!!! I'm going to Machu Picchu!!!!!!!!
At the base of the mountain leading up to Machu Picchu.
90 At the base of the mountain leading up to Machu Picchu.
It's a hell of a walk- we flagged a $9/pp bus (TOTAL TOURIST PRICING, ugh).
91 It's a hell of a walk- we flagged a $9/pp bus (TOTAL TOURIST PRICING, ugh).
One must consult maps before one conquers Machu Picchu.
92 One must consult maps before one conquers Machu Picchu.
...and use the toilet. There aren't any toilets once you're inside. Literally, we didn't pee for 10 hours because we didn't want to leave once we arrived.
93 ...and use the toilet. There aren't any toilets once you're inside. Literally, we didn't pee for 10 hours because we didn't want to leave once we arrived.
Cool historial plaques mark the entry pathway into the park. Hiram Bingham! He's the American explorer dude who rediscovered Machu Picchu for the modern age, you know.
94 Cool historial plaques mark the entry pathway into the park. Hiram Bingham! He's the American explorer dude who rediscovered Machu Picchu for the modern age, you know.
...more plaques.
95 ...more plaques.
Matt hikes up to the park entrance.
96 Matt hikes up to the park entrance.
Our first glimpse of Machu Picchu from the Guardhouse, with morning mist obscuring the site.
97 Our first glimpse of Machu Picchu from the Guardhouse, with morning mist obscuring the site.
Walking to the main entrance of Machu Picchu, with Hayna Picchu in the background...
98 Walking to the main entrance of Machu Picchu, with Hayna Picchu in the background...
Machu Picchu's entrance...
99 Machu Picchu's entrance...
Machu Picchu.
100 Machu Picchu.
Shrouded in mist...
101 Shrouded in mist...
The classic shot.
102 The classic shot.
Me at Machu Picchu!!
103 Me at Machu Picchu!!
The mist continued to roll in as the sun rose.
104 The mist continued to roll in as the sun rose.
The lost city is perched on a very, VERY steep cliff.
105 The lost city is perched on a very, VERY steep cliff.
Farming terraces form stairstep-like walls up the side.
106 Farming terraces form stairstep-like walls up the side.
A perfect shot...
107 A perfect shot...
Matt at Machu Picchu!
108 Matt at Machu Picchu!
We took a walk out to the Inca Trail entrance to Machu Picchu. Here, back in the days of the Inca, visitors would have to cross this "bridge"- that slim strip over the cut-out box. Unwanted visitors didn't make it.
109 We took a walk out to the Inca Trail entrance to Machu Picchu. Here, back in the days of the Inca, visitors would have to cross this "bridge"- that slim strip over the cut-out box. Unwanted visitors didn't make it.
The hike up the Inca Trail is fabulous (not that I'd want to walk it for 3 days, mind you).
110 The hike up the Inca Trail is fabulous (not that I'd want to walk it for 3 days, mind you).
At the end of the Inca Trail.
111 At the end of the Inca Trail.
The mist began to lift around 10am.
112 The mist began to lift around 10am.
The city at the foot of Hayna Picchu.
113 The city at the foot of Hayna Picchu.
More Machu Picchu goodness.
114 More Machu Picchu goodness.
We descended the steep staircase to the city and explored the ruins.
115 We descended the steep staircase to the city and explored the ruins.
Matt climbs the stairway down to the city floor.
116 Matt climbs the stairway down to the city floor.
Machu Picchu from the city view.
117 Machu Picchu from the city view.
The steep farming terraces that once lined the homes...
118 The steep farming terraces that once lined the homes...
The Joneses conquer Machu Picchu!
119 The Joneses conquer Machu Picchu!
...and llamas. There are always llamas in Peru. :)
120 ...and llamas. There are always llamas in Peru. :)
Mmmm llamas. They're good eating.
121 Mmmm llamas. They're good eating.
One of my favorite shots of the trip!!
122 One of my favorite shots of the trip!!
Happy at Machu Picchu.
123 Happy at Machu Picchu.
We climbed back up the stairs to a fantastic, and completely private and empty, viewing spot.
124 We climbed back up the stairs to a fantastic, and completely private and empty, viewing spot.
Just sittin'.
125 Just sittin'.
Best post-breakfast view I've ever had.
126 Best post-breakfast view I've ever had.
The fun and magic of self-portraiture.
127 The fun and magic of self-portraiture.
The happy photographer.
128 The happy photographer.
We sat for a long while and just enjoyed how deserted, mysterious, and beautiful this spot was.
129 We sat for a long while and just enjoyed how deserted, mysterious, and beautiful this spot was.
And now, four shots of Machu Picchu. Number 1!
130 And now, four shots of Machu Picchu. Number 1!
...and #2
131 ...and #2
#3!
132 #3!
...and the requisite awesome photo #4.
133 ...and the requisite awesome photo #4.
Behind Machu Picchu is Hayna Picchu, that large hulking mountain.
134 Behind Machu Picchu is Hayna Picchu, that large hulking mountain.
For $10 extra on your admission ticket, you can climb it.
135 For $10 extra on your admission ticket, you can climb it.
There are 2 climbing sessions: early morning, and 10am. We took the 10am.
136 There are 2 climbing sessions: early morning, and 10am. We took the 10am.
Only 200 people per session, per day can climb it. Joneses scored 2 tickets!
137 Only 200 people per session, per day can climb it. Joneses scored 2 tickets!
It looks huge, but there are steps cut into the rock. It's basically a mile or two of scary stairs.
138 It looks huge, but there are steps cut into the rock. It's basically a mile or two of scary stairs.
Climbing....
139 Climbing....
It took us about 30 minutes to reach the top. Here is the amazing view out over Machu Picchu.
140 It took us about 30 minutes to reach the top. Here is the amazing view out over Machu Picchu.
I climbed it!!
141 I climbed it!!
Matt, leaning on the last staircase. Oh yes, that nearly-vertical stone is a STAIRCASE. And no railing, of course.
142 Matt, leaning on the last staircase. Oh yes, that nearly-vertical stone is a STAIRCASE. And no railing, of course.
At the top!
143 At the top!
I have a deep-seated fear of climbing over pen gorges with no handles or safety straps. I barely made it out onto this rock outcropping, which was an Incan "seat of honor."
144 I have a deep-seated fear of climbing over pen gorges with no handles or safety straps. I barely made it out onto this rock outcropping, which was an Incan "seat of honor."
The Joneses conquer the Incan Seat!
145 The Joneses conquer the Incan Seat!
Best. Picnic. Ever.
146 Best. Picnic. Ever.
Machu Picchu down on the right side, and climbers coming up Hayna Picchu on the left.
147 Machu Picchu down on the right side, and climbers coming up Hayna Picchu on the left.
There are some Incan ruins on top of Hayna Picchu.
148 There are some Incan ruins on top of Hayna Picchu.
And you can explore them!! This is an old house.
149 And you can explore them!! This is an old house.
That is our staircase down- the rocks on the right side. I had to crawl backwards to get down.
150 That is our staircase down- the rocks on the right side. I had to crawl backwards to get down.
Climbing down...
151 Climbing down...
Possible the scariest stairs I've ever climbed down. No handrails, narrow steps, and a death-plummeting view.
152 Possible the scariest stairs I've ever climbed down. No handrails, narrow steps, and a death-plummeting view.
One last shot from the top.
153 One last shot from the top.
I climbed that!!!
154 I climbed that!!!
Matt totally conquered that. :)
155 Matt totally conquered that. :)
We spent the afternoon exploring the village of Machu Picchu. Again, the Incans had crazy amazing stonework.
156 We spent the afternoon exploring the village of Machu Picchu. Again, the Incans had crazy amazing stonework.
Machu Picchu in the afternoon.
157 Machu Picchu in the afternoon.
The terraces down the village hill.
158 The terraces down the village hill.
We are standing on the cliff's edge, overlooking the river. This is the view of the ruined city.
159 We are standing on the cliff's edge, overlooking the river. This is the view of the ruined city.
Our guidebook said this might have been a sundial of some sort, or a prayer seat.
160 Our guidebook said this might have been a sundial of some sort, or a prayer seat.
The stunning grassy terraces.
161 The stunning grassy terraces.
You can lean over pretty far on the cliff's edge. Like everything else at Machu Picchu, there are no handrails or guard ropes. And yes, LOTS of tourists have plummeted to their deaths here!
162 You can lean over pretty far on the cliff's edge. Like everything else at Machu Picchu, there are no handrails or guard ropes. And yes, LOTS of tourists have plummeted to their deaths here!
The interior of one of the houses.
163 The interior of one of the houses.
A lovely shot from the grassy central plaza.
164 A lovely shot from the grassy central plaza.
Around 4pm, we watched the sunlight change over the site.
165 Around 4pm, we watched the sunlight change over the site.
And got a little silly.
166 And got a little silly.
But, this is without a doubt my favorite shot of the day. Matt totally captured the moment I was enjoying.
167 But, this is without a doubt my favorite shot of the day. Matt totally captured the moment I was enjoying.
So you have to pay $9/per person to ride a bus up, and then another $9/per person down, Machu Picchu. We paid going up, but hiked our bad selves down.
168 So you have to pay $9/per person to ride a bus up, and then another $9/per person down, Machu Picchu. We paid going up, but hiked our bad selves down.
Crossing the river into Aguas Calientes, after descending the stairs for an hour.
169 Crossing the river into Aguas Calientes, after descending the stairs for an hour.
This is Aguas Calientes, a town at the foot of Machu Picchu. It is built purely for tourists, and is overpriced, and the only place in Peru where a shopkeeper tried to cheat me. Bleah.
170 This is Aguas Calientes, a town at the foot of Machu Picchu. It is built purely for tourists, and is overpriced, and the only place in Peru where a shopkeeper tried to cheat me. Bleah.
We of course visited the town square, 'cuz they had statues!
171 We of course visited the town square, 'cuz they had statues!
Our PeruRail train, heading back at 6pm to Ollantaytambo.
172 Our PeruRail train, heading back at 6pm to Ollantaytambo.
This intrepid explorer has indeed earned himself a pisco sour.
173 This intrepid explorer has indeed earned himself a pisco sour.
The next day, we explored the ruins of Ollantaytambo.
174 The next day, we explored the ruins of Ollantaytambo.
A view of Ollanta's ruins from our guesthouse.
175 A view of Ollanta's ruins from our guesthouse.
At the base of Ollanta's mountain.
176 At the base of Ollanta's mountain.
Climbing up the hill, and viewing the Incan palace ruins built into the cliff.
177 Climbing up the hill, and viewing the Incan palace ruins built into the cliff.
Halfway up!
178 Halfway up!
A view from the top!
179 A view from the top!
The rock terraces look like just green grass from the top of the site.
180 The rock terraces look like just green grass from the top of the site.
A view into Ollanta town.
181 A view into Ollanta town.
The ruined buildings are still roofed...and you can see the walls built into the cliff.
182 The ruined buildings are still roofed...and you can see the walls built into the cliff.
Those are called "flying steps." It's what the Incan considered to be stairs.
183 Those are called "flying steps." It's what the Incan considered to be stairs.
They're kind of scary with their drop-into-oblivion design...
184 They're kind of scary with their drop-into-oblivion design...
Matt tempts fate. Fun!
185 Matt tempts fate. Fun!
And then we both get cocky and decide the Incan stairs are pretty fun, after all :)
186 And then we both get cocky and decide the Incan stairs are pretty fun, after all :)
Ollanta from the top.
187 Ollanta from the top.
At the top of the site is an abandoned quarry- the Incas never finished this palace.
188 At the top of the site is an abandoned quarry- the Incas never finished this palace.
Playing on old rocks ;)
189 Playing on old rocks ;)
The town has carved a walkway through the walls of the old palace.
190 The town has carved a walkway through the walls of the old palace.
...so you can walk along the cliffs. It's stunning.
191 ...so you can walk along the cliffs. It's stunning.
Walking the walled city.
192 Walking the walled city.
Matt enjoys the view from the cliff walk.
193 Matt enjoys the view from the cliff walk.
...and that's a pretty steep drop.
194 ...and that's a pretty steep drop.
Going back down to town.
195 Going back down to town.
At the base of Ollanta are ruins of the town.
196 At the base of Ollanta are ruins of the town.
The fountain, like many other Incan fountains, has been continuously flowing for centuries.
197 The fountain, like many other Incan fountains, has been continuously flowing for centuries.
This is a ritual bath. At the solstice, the sun shines through the opening in the wall.
198 This is a ritual bath. At the solstice, the sun shines through the opening in the wall.
Across from Ollanta's ruins, on the other mountain bordering Ollantaytambo, are MORE ruins. So we climbed up!
199 Across from Ollanta's ruins, on the other mountain bordering Ollantaytambo, are MORE ruins. So we climbed up!
The view from the top of the OTHER ruins, across Ollantaytambo, to Ollanta's ruins.
200 The view from the top of the OTHER ruins, across Ollantaytambo, to Ollanta's ruins.
This side of the mountain has much more basic ruins.
201 This side of the mountain has much more basic ruins.
At the top!
202 At the top!
Matt poses as I climb to the mountaintop.
203 Matt poses as I climb to the mountaintop.
Conquering Ollanta's OTHER ruins!!
204 Conquering Ollanta's OTHER ruins!!
And that night, to celebrate our adventures, we hit the weirdest bar in Ollantaytambo: the Gonzo Bar. I am drinking beer on a swing suspended from the ceiling.
205 And that night, to celebrate our adventures, we hit the weirdest bar in Ollantaytambo: the Gonzo Bar. I am drinking beer on a swing suspended from the ceiling.
Oh, and this is how you get downstairs from the swing room. Whee!
206 Oh, and this is how you get downstairs from the swing room. Whee!
The next day, we bid goodbye to Ollantaytambo, took a combi back to Cuzco, and then flew on this tiny StarPeru jet to Puerto Maldonado, the entry point to the Amazon jungle.
207 The next day, we bid goodbye to Ollantaytambo, took a combi back to Cuzco, and then flew on this tiny StarPeru jet to Puerto Maldonado, the entry point to the Amazon jungle.
What a "taxi from the airport" looks like in the jungle outpost town of Puerto Maldonado.
208 What a "taxi from the airport" looks like in the jungle outpost town of Puerto Maldonado.
Tambopata Hostel, our hostel in Puerto Maldonado.
209 Tambopata Hostel, our hostel in Puerto Maldonado.
The "Jungle Hostel" theme extended to the natural jungly gardens in the hostel's courtyard.
210 The "Jungle Hostel" theme extended to the natural jungly gardens in the hostel's courtyard.
Our little jungle hostel room. Those mosquito nets are not for decoration!!
211 Our little jungle hostel room. Those mosquito nets are not for decoration!!
Every good jungle adventure must begin with beer- Cusquena, to be specific.
212 Every good jungle adventure must begin with beer- Cusquena, to be specific.
Jungle kittens!
213 Jungle kittens!
The next morning, a guide from the hostel took us out on our jungle adventure. This is the entry to the Rio Madre de Dios, which leads into the Amazon.
214 The next morning, a guide from the hostel took us out on our jungle adventure. This is the entry to the Rio Madre de Dios, which leads into the Amazon.
On our canoe, heading down the Madre de Dios river!!
215 On our canoe, heading down the Madre de Dios river!!
Matt enjoys the ride.
216 Matt enjoys the ride.
We'd only been on the canoe for 10 minutes when we saw our first jungle animal...a crocodile. I hate those guys.
217 We'd only been on the canoe for 10 minutes when we saw our first jungle animal...a crocodile. I hate those guys.
Jungle bliss!
218 Jungle bliss!
After an hour canoe ride, we arrived at the entry point of the Tambopata region of the Amazon jungle.
219 After an hour canoe ride, we arrived at the entry point of the Tambopata region of the Amazon jungle.
We climbed up the riverbank, and this is view over the river...
220 We climbed up the riverbank, and this is view over the river...
Those were some rickety stairs.
221 Those were some rickety stairs.
This is the check-in point for the Tambopata region. You go in, sign your name, and write when you'll be back...and if you don't come back when you say, well, they don't really do anything.
222 This is the check-in point for the Tambopata region. You go in, sign your name, and write when you'll be back...and if you don't come back when you say, well, they don't really do anything.
These are all the cool animals to be found in the jungle.
223 These are all the cool animals to be found in the jungle.
From the check-in point, we had a hot, muddy hike several miles into the Lake Sandoval campsite.
224 From the check-in point, we had a hot, muddy hike several miles into the Lake Sandoval campsite.
That was some nasty mud- some parts up to our knees. Hiker in photo looks much happier than she truly was.
225 That was some nasty mud- some parts up to our knees. Hiker in photo looks much happier than she truly was.
After a long hot hike, we and our guide Nilton arrived at Lake Sandoval.
226 After a long hot hike, we and our guide Nilton arrived at Lake Sandoval.
...and then had a 30 minute canoe ride into the campsite!
227 ...and then had a 30 minute canoe ride into the campsite!
Ridin' through the jungle!
228 Ridin' through the jungle!
Happy to be out of the mud.
229 Happy to be out of the mud.
Once we exited the mangrove swamp, the water opened into gorgeous Lake Sandoval.
230 Once we exited the mangrove swamp, the water opened into gorgeous Lake Sandoval.
A gorgeous jungle lake.
231 A gorgeous jungle lake.
Whee! I'm in the jungle!
232 Whee! I'm in the jungle!
Our little home for the next two nights. No electricity, plumbing, or glass windows. Lots of mosquito nets, dirt, and bugs.
233 Our little home for the next two nights. No electricity, plumbing, or glass windows. Lots of mosquito nets, dirt, and bugs.
We quickly found the coolest place on the site: The campsite hammocks. We spent an entire sweltering afternoon there.
234 We quickly found the coolest place on the site: The campsite hammocks. We spent an entire sweltering afternoon there.
Late in the afternoon, we regrouped and went for an evening viewing of the wildlife around the lake.
235 Late in the afternoon, we regrouped and went for an evening viewing of the wildlife around the lake.
Hoatzin, or "stinky chickens."  This is the only species in the Amazon that isn't going extinct, because they smell and taste like rancid garbage. Mmmm.
236 Hoatzin, or "stinky chickens." This is the only species in the Amazon that isn't going extinct, because they smell and taste like rancid garbage. Mmmm.
We came upon a family of otters!!
237 We came upon a family of otters!!
Yay! Otters! So cute!
238 Yay! Otters! So cute!
Otters having dinner at their home stump.
239 Otters having dinner at their home stump.
Mmmm rotting fish.
240 Mmmm rotting fish.
The little guy on the left was not getting any dinner.
241 The little guy on the left was not getting any dinner.
Monkeys in the trees!!
242 Monkeys in the trees!!
Matt and Nilton enjoying the afternoon.
243 Matt and Nilton enjoying the afternoon.
...and then, a spectacular sunset began.
244 ...and then, a spectacular sunset began.
Dusk on Lake Sandoval.
245 Dusk on Lake Sandoval.
The best way to watch the sun set on a lake.
246 The best way to watch the sun set on a lake.
Sunset.
247 Sunset.
Matt and I watch the stars come out.
248 Matt and I watch the stars come out.
At full dark, we went caiman spotting- caiman are a small crocodile found in the Amazon. When bright lights hit their eyes, they glow. Our guide Nilton found it necessary to pull one into the boat.
249 At full dark, we went caiman spotting- caiman are a small crocodile found in the Amazon. When bright lights hit their eyes, they glow. Our guide Nilton found it necessary to pull one into the boat.
I will say this clearly: I do not believe you should touch or interfere with wildlife. Especially wildlife with big sharp teeth.
250 I will say this clearly: I do not believe you should touch or interfere with wildlife. Especially wildlife with big sharp teeth.
My new favorite animal: SPIDER MONKEYS!!
251 My new favorite animal: SPIDER MONKEYS!!
These guys are SO CUTE!! Barely 2 feet tall, and crazy energetic.
252 These guys are SO CUTE!! Barely 2 feet tall, and crazy energetic.
This is what I look like at 5am in the jungle. It ain't pretty, though the sunrise is.
253 This is what I look like at 5am in the jungle. It ain't pretty, though the sunrise is.
We got back in the canoe at sunrise to ride back to the mud trail, to see the wild parrots.
254 We got back in the canoe at sunrise to ride back to the mud trail, to see the wild parrots.
Morning jungle rainbow!!
255 Morning jungle rainbow!!
Rainbow over Lake Sandoval.
256 Rainbow over Lake Sandoval.
We're going to see parrots! Matt affects his best pirate face.
257 We're going to see parrots! Matt affects his best pirate face.
Monkeys in the mangrove swamp.
258 Monkeys in the mangrove swamp.
Wild parrots and macaws feed on the trees at dawn.
259 Wild parrots and macaws feed on the trees at dawn.
Clusters of several hundred converge on one tree.
260 Clusters of several hundred converge on one tree.
Green macaws!
261 Green macaws!
Above our heads was a tree sloth. I had never seen one of those in the wild before. They're quite slothful.
262 Above our heads was a tree sloth. I had never seen one of those in the wild before. They're quite slothful.
I think the sloth is kinda cute...
263 I think the sloth is kinda cute...
So we passed this tree every time we canoed in or out of camp. Nilton said everyone calls it "The Mr. Burns Tree."  It looks like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons in profile. After a few sightings, we saw the resemblance. Maybe it was jungle fever.
264 So we passed this tree every time we canoed in or out of camp. Nilton said everyone calls it "The Mr. Burns Tree." It looks like Mr. Burns from the Simpsons in profile. After a few sightings, we saw the resemblance. Maybe it was jungle fever.
Fun with lunch.
265 Fun with lunch.
Late in the afternoon, our guide showed Matt how jungle guides open coconuts.
266 Late in the afternoon, our guide showed Matt how jungle guides open coconuts.
Matt is loving his new chef's knife.
267 Matt is loving his new chef's knife.
Machete time!
268 Machete time!
Happy camper with coconut milk.
269 Happy camper with coconut milk.
We went on a jungle walk, and stopped to pick fresh oranges.
270 We went on a jungle walk, and stopped to pick fresh oranges.
And we picked fresh cacao pods, which taste weirdly like citrus and look like female genitalia.
271 And we picked fresh cacao pods, which taste weirdly like citrus and look like female genitalia.
Nilton made me a jungle swing.
272 Nilton made me a jungle swing.
Nilton was explaining how Peruvians used natural dyes for their clothes, and decided to demonstrate on Matt's face.
273 Nilton was explaining how Peruvians used natural dyes for their clothes, and decided to demonstrate on Matt's face.
Drawing pictures on Matt...
274 Drawing pictures on Matt...
I think it's a gecko. :)
275 I think it's a gecko. :)
I got warrior stripes!
276 I got warrior stripes!
Jungle love.
277 Jungle love.
Playing in a really big tree.
278 Playing in a really big tree.
Having fun in the jungle :)
279 Having fun in the jungle :)
Matt does his best Tarzan impression.
280 Matt does his best Tarzan impression.
Matt swings above the jungle floor.
281 Matt swings above the jungle floor.
Those are jungle branches hanging from Matt's do-rag. It's a very, very strange look for him.
282 Those are jungle branches hanging from Matt's do-rag. It's a very, very strange look for him.
More hoatzin-stinky-chicken!
283 More hoatzin-stinky-chicken!
We rode the canoe out to the sort-of-sad overlook spot.
284 We rode the canoe out to the sort-of-sad overlook spot.
The rickety jungle overlook.
285 The rickety jungle overlook.
More monkeys!
286 More monkeys!
Not as cute as spider monkeys, but still kind of entertaining.
287 Not as cute as spider monkeys, but still kind of entertaining.
As dusk arrived, more animals came out for viewing.
288 As dusk arrived, more animals came out for viewing.
More spider monkeys! I love these guys!
289 More spider monkeys! I love these guys!
Hundreds of these guys run frenetically through the trees, leaping from branch to branch, and quite often missing, and falling into the river. It's very comical.
290 Hundreds of these guys run frenetically through the trees, leaping from branch to branch, and quite often missing, and falling into the river. It's very comical.
Watching another lovely Lake Sandoval sunset.
291 Watching another lovely Lake Sandoval sunset.
Sunset over the lake.
292 Sunset over the lake.
....darkness falling...
293 ....darkness falling...
The colors were spectacular.
294 The colors were spectacular.
Matt got this excellent night-vision shot of a spider monkey.
295 Matt got this excellent night-vision shot of a spider monkey.
Spider monkeys rock.
296 Spider monkeys rock.
They are extremely acrobatic.
297 They are extremely acrobatic.
....and adorable.
298 ....and adorable.
Late that night, we went out for a night hike through the jungle. This is not really my thing. I do not like bugs, snakes, nighttime with wild things, or tripping over mud and rocks in the dark. So here's a tarantula. I got the hell away from it.
299 Late that night, we went out for a night hike through the jungle. This is not really my thing. I do not like bugs, snakes, nighttime with wild things, or tripping over mud and rocks in the dark. So here's a tarantula. I got the hell away from it.
...and a grasshopper.
300 ...and a grasshopper.
The next morning, we arose at 5am again, and canoed back to the mangrove swamp to mud hike back to the checkpoint.
301 The next morning, we arose at 5am again, and canoed back to the mangrove swamp to mud hike back to the checkpoint.
En route to the checkpoint, we had monkey escorts.
302 En route to the checkpoint, we had monkey escorts.
The mangrove swamp was really mystical in the early morning.
303 The mangrove swamp was really mystical in the early morning.
One last hoatzin shot :)
304 One last hoatzin shot :)
I am truly thrilled to be mud hiking for the LAST TIME.
305 I am truly thrilled to be mud hiking for the LAST TIME.
This is what a jungle outpost "airport" looks like. From here, we fly all the way to Arequipa in the south.
306 This is what a jungle outpost "airport" looks like. From here, we fly all the way to Arequipa in the south.
We arrived in Arequipa in the evening, during a light rainfall. The temperature and climate difference was astounding- from jungle swelter to chilly city. We checked into our hostel, La Portales de Merced.
307 We arrived in Arequipa in the evening, during a light rainfall. The temperature and climate difference was astounding- from jungle swelter to chilly city. We checked into our hostel, La Portales de Merced.
Breakfast in Arequipa.
308 Breakfast in Arequipa.
Arequipa is known as "The White City," because most buildings are made from white volcanic rock.  This is Arequipa's Plaza de Armas.
309 Arequipa is known as "The White City," because most buildings are made from white volcanic rock. This is Arequipa's Plaza de Armas.
The Cathedral on Plaza de Armas.
310 The Cathedral on Plaza de Armas.
Must have ice cream.
311 Must have ice cream.
We were told that Arequipa's St. Catalina Monastery was a must-see. We were skeptical, because 1) it's a monastery, and 2) it was freaking expensive to get into.
312 We were told that Arequipa's St. Catalina Monastery was a must-see. We were skeptical, because 1) it's a monastery, and 2) it was freaking expensive to get into.
But once inside, we were very glad we'd decided to visit.
313 But once inside, we were very glad we'd decided to visit.
This is the entry courtyard.
314 This is the entry courtyard.
The Monastery used to be a nunnery for very wealthy women. It's basically a 16th century Club Med for women- only wealthy Spanish women were allowed in.
315 The Monastery used to be a nunnery for very wealthy women. It's basically a 16th century Club Med for women- only wealthy Spanish women were allowed in.
It's incredibly picturesque.
316 It's incredibly picturesque.
It has many winding breezeways and courtyards, each painted a distinctive color.
317 It has many winding breezeways and courtyards, each painted a distinctive color.
It is the size of a small town- it's called "The City Within Arequipa."
318 It is the size of a small town- it's called "The City Within Arequipa."
These cloisters are extremely luxurious, both for its time, and for nuns. They got their own rooms! With furniture!! And servants!!
319 These cloisters are extremely luxurious, both for its time, and for nuns. They got their own rooms! With furniture!! And servants!!
More lovely staircases.
320 More lovely staircases.
In the 19th century, the Pope sent a nun to end the fun times, and reform the monastery. All the servants and slaves were freed, and these luxury items were confiscated.
321 In the 19th century, the Pope sent a nun to end the fun times, and reform the monastery. All the servants and slaves were freed, and these luxury items were confiscated.
One of the many kitchens of the monastery.
322 One of the many kitchens of the monastery.
The dowry, or "entrance fee," to join the monastery was today's equivalent of $150,000. At its height, it housed 450 women.
323 The dowry, or "entrance fee," to join the monastery was today's equivalent of $150,000. At its height, it housed 450 women.
Another gorgeous courtyard.
324 Another gorgeous courtyard.
Today, only 20 nuns live in the monastery, and their living quarters are off limits to visitors.
325 Today, only 20 nuns live in the monastery, and their living quarters are off limits to visitors.
All of the monastery's walls are made of Arequipa's famous volcanic stone.
326 All of the monastery's walls are made of Arequipa's famous volcanic stone.
The flowers were in full bloom, and the entire site was lovingly landscaped.
327 The flowers were in full bloom, and the entire site was lovingly landscaped.
A very, VERY fancy room. This was unheard of for nuns with a vow of poverty.
328 A very, VERY fancy room. This was unheard of for nuns with a vow of poverty.
This is the room of the monastery's only canonized saint, Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo. Supposedly she could foretell the future.
329 This is the room of the monastery's only canonized saint, Ana de los Angeles Monteagudo. Supposedly she could foretell the future.
More walkways. The monastery is known as a "photographer's dream."
330 More walkways. The monastery is known as a "photographer's dream."
Decorative courtyards.
331 Decorative courtyards.
A shot from inside the arched breezeway.
332 A shot from inside the arched breezeway.
More of the lovely courtyards.
333 More of the lovely courtyards.
The long white walkway joins the differently colored sectors.
334 The long white walkway joins the differently colored sectors.
The blue breezeways had exquisite al frescos near the ceiling.
335 The blue breezeways had exquisite al frescos near the ceiling.
Pretty flowers!
336 Pretty flowers!
These are the current nuns' quarters.
337 These are the current nuns' quarters.
Each nun's private quarters has her name embossed above the doorway.
338 Each nun's private quarters has her name embossed above the doorway.
Another lovely walkway.
339 Another lovely walkway.
This is the original laundry- the "faucet" is fed by a spring, and pours into all these individual stone tubs.
340 This is the original laundry- the "faucet" is fed by a spring, and pours into all these individual stone tubs.
One of the luandry tubs. Today, these are just ornamental fountains.
341 One of the luandry tubs. Today, these are just ornamental fountains.
The gorgeous gardens behind the monastery.
342 The gorgeous gardens behind the monastery.
Another one of the many large kitchens.
343 Another one of the many large kitchens.
Like everywhere else in Peru, the main culinary protein is guinea pig.  The monastery still has a pen to raise its guinea pigs!
344 Like everywhere else in Peru, the main culinary protein is guinea pig. The monastery still has a pen to raise its guinea pigs!
This is the very end of the monastery, after all the windy passageways and courtyards.
345 This is the very end of the monastery, after all the windy passageways and courtyards.
At the end of all the passageways was an alcove with a fountain and a lookout viewpoint.
346 At the end of all the passageways was an alcove with a fountain and a lookout viewpoint.
The courtyard...like the rest of the monastery, it was beautifully kept.
347 The courtyard...like the rest of the monastery, it was beautifully kept.
The courtyard fountain.
348 The courtyard fountain.
Walking up to the viewpoint!
349 Walking up to the viewpoint!
Another shot of the fountain.
350 Another shot of the fountain.
The view over the monastery "city," and Arequipa.
351 The view over the monastery "city," and Arequipa.
The monastery exits into a museum of religious art.
352 The monastery exits into a museum of religious art.
We're not sure what this huge shiny gold this was...
353 We're not sure what this huge shiny gold this was...
But wow was it shiny and golden. :)
354 But wow was it shiny and golden. :)
You have definitely earned a plate of Peruvian deliciousness!
355 You have definitely earned a plate of Peruvian deliciousness!
Lunch at Arequipa's Foray Fay, a very famous cevicheria...behold aji a gallina, rice, and octopus ceviche!!!
356 Lunch at Arequipa's Foray Fay, a very famous cevicheria...behold aji a gallina, rice, and octopus ceviche!!!
Arequipa's Plaza de Armas at night.
357 Arequipa's Plaza de Armas at night.
The Cathedral by night.
358 The Cathedral by night.
The Peruvians definitely know how to make a town square gorgeous at nighttime.
359 The Peruvians definitely know how to make a town square gorgeous at nighttime.
For dinner, Matt partook in the national dish of Peru: cuy, or guinea pig. Tastes like chicken!!
360 For dinner, Matt partook in the national dish of Peru: cuy, or guinea pig. Tastes like chicken!!
The next morning, we set off on an overnight trip Colca Canyon. En route, we saw alpacas!!
361 The next morning, we set off on an overnight trip Colca Canyon. En route, we saw alpacas!!
Adorable wild alpacas.
362 Adorable wild alpacas.
The canyon terrain couldn't have gotten more different than the lovely cityscape of Arequipa.
363 The canyon terrain couldn't have gotten more different than the lovely cityscape of Arequipa.
A Quechua woman herds sheep near the canyon.
364 A Quechua woman herds sheep near the canyon.
Sheep! Lots of 'em!
365 Sheep! Lots of 'em!
To get to Colca Canyon country, you have to drive over a pass that is the highest point in Peru- Mirador de los Andes, 3 miles in the air!
366 To get to Colca Canyon country, you have to drive over a pass that is the highest point in Peru- Mirador de los Andes, 3 miles in the air!
It was about 60F when we left Arequipa that morning; at the top of Mirador de los Andes, it was 28F and SNOWING. My nose actually bled.
367 It was about 60F when we left Arequipa that morning; at the top of Mirador de los Andes, it was 28F and SNOWING. My nose actually bled.
At the viewpoint of Mirador de los Andes, there are rocks signposting each mountain on the horizon. Volcan Misti is an active volcano.
368 At the viewpoint of Mirador de los Andes, there are rocks signposting each mountain on the horizon. Volcan Misti is an active volcano.
In Quechua culture, a prayer is represented by a rock, and the rocks are stacked up in "cairns."
369 In Quechua culture, a prayer is represented by a rock, and the rocks are stacked up in "cairns."
Cairns!
370 Cairns!
At noon, we reached the Colca Canyon town of Chivay.
371 At noon, we reached the Colca Canyon town of Chivay.
The crappy hostel we stayed at...I say "crappy" because they were good at promising a 5am wakeup call and breakfast, but not so good at PROVIDING the wakeup and breakfast...and it was absolutely freezing.
372 The crappy hostel we stayed at...I say "crappy" because they were good at promising a 5am wakeup call and breakfast, but not so good at PROVIDING the wakeup and breakfast...and it was absolutely freezing.
Our hostel's crappily colorful room.
373 Our hostel's crappily colorful room.
After lunch, we checked out the town of Chivay. This is it. One town square and a few random shops.
374 After lunch, we checked out the town of Chivay. This is it. One town square and a few random shops.
Chivay does have one great feature: Natural hot springs!
375 Chivay does have one great feature: Natural hot springs!
Set up against the canyon's mountains, the naturally hot mineral springs were a wonderful respite from the chill.
376 Set up against the canyon's mountains, the naturally hot mineral springs were a wonderful respite from the chill.
This is Chivay at night. Very little is open, not even restaurants.
377 This is Chivay at night. Very little is open, not even restaurants.
But they do have one main street lined with very creepy life-size statues...
378 But they do have one main street lined with very creepy life-size statues...
And, if nothing else, there's always beer.
379 And, if nothing else, there's always beer.
The next morning, we set off to see Colca Canyon. Chivay's bellringer welcomed the day.
380 The next morning, we set off to see Colca Canyon. Chivay's bellringer welcomed the day.
One of the many lovely churches in Colca Canyon country.
381 One of the many lovely churches in Colca Canyon country.
Our first glimpse of canyon country.
382 Our first glimpse of canyon country.
Again, the terrain changed from the previous day...
383 Again, the terrain changed from the previous day...
Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
384 Colca Canyon is twice as deep as the Grand Canyon.
Colca's landscape.
385 Colca's landscape.
Another church in a small canyon town.
386 Another church in a small canyon town.
The mountain mist makes everything extremely picturesque :)
387 The mountain mist makes everything extremely picturesque :)
A glimpse up the canyon walls as we drive the windy roads...
388 A glimpse up the canyon walls as we drive the windy roads...
There is a paved walkway along the canyon ridge with astounding views.
389 There is a paved walkway along the canyon ridge with astounding views.
A view from the canyon ridge walkway.
390 A view from the canyon ridge walkway.
Even though we were far in the south of Peru, this landscape was weirdly similar to central Peru's Sacred Valley.
391 Even though we were far in the south of Peru, this landscape was weirdly similar to central Peru's Sacred Valley.
I made a cairn!
392 I made a cairn!
My teeny cairn.
393 My teeny cairn.
Art. Very nice :)
394 Art. Very nice :)
We arrived at the Canyon before 8am to see the canyon condors making their morning flights.
395 We arrived at the Canyon before 8am to see the canyon condors making their morning flights.
The Andean Condors are huge, with wingspans of about 10 feet!!
396 The Andean Condors are huge, with wingspans of about 10 feet!!
The ancient Peruvians worshipped the condors. They're pretty impressive, I can see how they were seen as mystical.
397 The ancient Peruvians worshipped the condors. They're pretty impressive, I can see how they were seen as mystical.
Close-up!
398 Close-up!
I loved how the entire canyon walkway had no railing or warning signs. Feel free to fall into the deepest canyon on earth!!
399 I loved how the entire canyon walkway had no railing or warning signs. Feel free to fall into the deepest canyon on earth!!
The Joneses conquer canyon country!
400 The Joneses conquer canyon country!
Taking full advantage of that lack of railings and safety apparatus :)
401 Taking full advantage of that lack of railings and safety apparatus :)
Matt conquers Colca Canyon!
402 Matt conquers Colca Canyon!
Us on the lookout ridge.
403 Us on the lookout ridge.
Whee! I'm on Colca Canyon!!
404 Whee! I'm on Colca Canyon!!
It's really one of the prettiest walks I've ever done.
405 It's really one of the prettiest walks I've ever done.
Me at Colca Canyon!
406 Me at Colca Canyon!
The hike up to the Cruz del Condor lookout point.
407 The hike up to the Cruz del Condor lookout point.
Enjoying the view!
408 Enjoying the view!
Almost to the lookout point!
409 Almost to the lookout point!
The Cruz del Condor (Condor Cross) viewpoint.
410 The Cruz del Condor (Condor Cross) viewpoint.
Matt welcomes us to the lookout point.
411 Matt welcomes us to the lookout point.
The Cruz del Condor sign. Llike everything else in Colca Canyon, it's handpainted on a rock slab.
412 The Cruz del Condor sign. Llike everything else in Colca Canyon, it's handpainted on a rock slab.
Matt poses with the sign...
413 Matt poses with the sign...
The park built a  very cool rock outcropping to climb over and sit on to watch the condors fly.
414 The park built a very cool rock outcropping to climb over and sit on to watch the condors fly.
The "Cross" in the "Cross of the Condors."
415 The "Cross" in the "Cross of the Condors."
We snagged a cool photo on top of the cross.
416 We snagged a cool photo on top of the cross.
Despite the cold, it became a lovely day. Apparently this weather is not typical for the canyon- we got very lucky.
417 Despite the cold, it became a lovely day. Apparently this weather is not typical for the canyon- we got very lucky.
And of course, the landscape was dotted with cairns.
418 And of course, the landscape was dotted with cairns.
More Canyon cairns.
419 More Canyon cairns.
Posing on the walkway.
420 Posing on the walkway.
The grassy canyon gives way to snowy mountains in the distance.
421 The grassy canyon gives way to snowy mountains in the distance.
A stunning view over the Colca River.
422 A stunning view over the Colca River.
With the stepped terraces, the canyon is really a very unique landscape.
423 With the stepped terraces, the canyon is really a very unique landscape.
Welcome to Colca Canyon!
424 Welcome to Colca Canyon!
One last landscape shot over Colca Canyon.
425 One last landscape shot over Colca Canyon.
Enjoying an extremely amazing morning in the canyon.
426 Enjoying an extremely amazing morning in the canyon.
I conquer Colca Canyon!
427 I conquer Colca Canyon!
The Joneses enjoy the view...
428 The Joneses enjoy the view...
Enjoying the view as we prepare to head back to Arequipa.
429 Enjoying the view as we prepare to head back to Arequipa.
Matt waits for the shuttle to take us back to Arequipa.
430 Matt waits for the shuttle to take us back to Arequipa.
We got back to Arequipa in time for happy hour, and ordered a pitcher of our favorite Peruvian beverage: Housemade lemonade. We also snagged a rooftop balcony seat to watch the sun go down over the Plaza de Armas.
431 We got back to Arequipa in time for happy hour, and ordered a pitcher of our favorite Peruvian beverage: Housemade lemonade. We also snagged a rooftop balcony seat to watch the sun go down over the Plaza de Armas.
You know what we didn't order? Personal gas.
432 You know what we didn't order? Personal gas.
Arequipa is simply stunning at sunset.
433 Arequipa is simply stunning at sunset.
As the sun set, the snowy mountains glowed, and the Plaza's lights illuminated the white stone buildings.
434 As the sun set, the snowy mountains glowed, and the Plaza's lights illuminated the white stone buildings.
Volcan Misti looms in the background...
435 Volcan Misti looms in the background...
...and the sun continued to set...
436 ...and the sun continued to set...
The Cathedral at sunset.
437 The Cathedral at sunset.
The entire Plaza absolutely glows at sunset.
438 The entire Plaza absolutely glows at sunset.
With the mountains and the chill, the palm trees seemed weirdly out of place.
439 With the mountains and the chill, the palm trees seemed weirdly out of place.
Sunset!
440 Sunset!
Full dark over Arequipa.
441 Full dark over Arequipa.
And now, we are off to dinner!
442 And now, we are off to dinner!
For dinner, we went to Paladar 1900. We were on our way to catch an overnight bus, and we'd been in the Canyon all day, so we weren't dressed for how nice this place was. Luckily, they seated us in our own wing. :)
443 For dinner, we went to Paladar 1900. We were on our way to catch an overnight bus, and we'd been in the Canyon all day, so we weren't dressed for how nice this place was. Luckily, they seated us in our own wing. :)
Some of the uniquely named menu items..."aphrodisiac croaker" is a hell of a name for a rock band.
444 Some of the uniquely named menu items..."aphrodisiac croaker" is a hell of a name for a rock band.
The restaurant simply installed chandeliers into the silar volcanic walls, and put furniture in (including those awesome chairs). It really highlighted the beauty of this very old building.
445 The restaurant simply installed chandeliers into the silar volcanic walls, and put furniture in (including those awesome chairs). It really highlighted the beauty of this very old building.
Matt ordered 3 types of ceviche.
446 Matt ordered 3 types of ceviche.
And then, we boarded our 10pm bus from Arequipa to Ica on the west coast.
447 And then, we boarded our 10pm bus from Arequipa to Ica on the west coast.
These buses were very posh- reclining seats, snacks, and WI-FI! Look! I'm blogging!
448 These buses were very posh- reclining seats, snacks, and WI-FI! Look! I'm blogging!
We arrived in Ica, and took a taxi to Huacachina, an oasis whose 1940 heydey is long gone. This is our semi-crappy hostel, Casa de Arena.
449 We arrived in Ica, and took a taxi to Huacachina, an oasis whose 1940 heydey is long gone. This is our semi-crappy hostel, Casa de Arena.
Our hostel room...these days, Huacachina is overrun with noisy college backpackers, but in the offseason, it was fairly quiet.
450 Our hostel room...these days, Huacachina is overrun with noisy college backpackers, but in the offseason, it was fairly quiet.
Our hostel had a pool, and butted right up against the sand dunes. That's right, SAND DUNES. Once again, the terrain of Peru is completely changed.
451 Our hostel had a pool, and butted right up against the sand dunes. That's right, SAND DUNES. Once again, the terrain of Peru is completely changed.
So this is Huacachina. In its day, it was an oasis resort for Peru's elite. The tiny resort circles a lagoon that was known for its "curative properties."  Today, though, I can't recommend getting in that water. :)
452 So this is Huacachina. In its day, it was an oasis resort for Peru's elite. The tiny resort circles a lagoon that was known for its "curative properties." Today, though, I can't recommend getting in that water. :)
The resort was very quiet in the offseason, and most of the shops weren't even open.
453 The resort was very quiet in the offseason, and most of the shops weren't even open.
Mermaid statue!
454 Mermaid statue!
The whole place had a rundown, forgotten feel about it.
455 The whole place had a rundown, forgotten feel about it.
But its downtrodden state didn't make its remarkable natural setting any less amazing. Sand dunes! In Peru!!
456 But its downtrodden state didn't make its remarkable natural setting any less amazing. Sand dunes! In Peru!!
Beyond the oasis, the desert stretched out for miles.
457 Beyond the oasis, the desert stretched out for miles.
The big draw of Huacachina these days is riding sand buggies over the dunes, and sandboarding down the dunes.
458 The big draw of Huacachina these days is riding sand buggies over the dunes, and sandboarding down the dunes.
A sandboarder makes the very long trek to the top of the dunes.
459 A sandboarder makes the very long trek to the top of the dunes.
....and then sandboards down.
460 ....and then sandboards down.
We climbed the lagoon's surrounding sand dunes.
461 We climbed the lagoon's surrounding sand dunes.
That dune looked FAR easier to climb than it was. But! Cool shot!
462 That dune looked FAR easier to climb than it was. But! Cool shot!
The sand dunes would be far more attractive, except for the rampant litter left behind by the dune buggies and sandboarders. It was really depressing to see how Peru has just let this gorgeous site go to pot.
463 The sand dunes would be far more attractive, except for the rampant litter left behind by the dune buggies and sandboarders. It was really depressing to see how Peru has just let this gorgeous site go to pot.
The Oasis of Huacachina.
464 The Oasis of Huacachina.
The Ica and Huacachina region are famous for Pisco wineries (ironically, the nearby city of Pisco does NOT grow grapes). So we visited a few wineries, starting with El Catador.
465 The Ica and Huacachina region are famous for Pisco wineries (ironically, the nearby city of Pisco does NOT grow grapes). So we visited a few wineries, starting with El Catador.
Mmmm. Grape skins fermenting in the hot sun.
466 Mmmm. Grape skins fermenting in the hot sun.
Our guidebook had said that this week was the yearly grape harvest festival, and the best time of year to go. Our guidebook did NOT mention that they had the week wrong- the festival ended the day before we arrived. See all those jugs? They're filled with fermenting wine. That we missed harvesting.
467 Our guidebook had said that this week was the yearly grape harvest festival, and the best time of year to go. Our guidebook did NOT mention that they had the week wrong- the festival ended the day before we arrived. See all those jugs? They're filled with fermenting wine. That we missed harvesting.
The grapes are stored in clay pits that bear a strong resemblance to both chili AND porta-potties.
468 The grapes are stored in clay pits that bear a strong resemblance to both chili AND porta-potties.
Matt got a chance to actually stomp grapes!
469 Matt got a chance to actually stomp grapes!
Mmm...stinky feet in fruit...
470 Mmm...stinky feet in fruit...
What grape stomping looks like. Now you don't have to do it.
471 What grape stomping looks like. Now you don't have to do it.
After our vineyard tour, we were invited to taste the Pisco.
472 After our vineyard tour, we were invited to taste the Pisco.
Cheers! Pisco tasting!
473 Cheers! Pisco tasting!
Next stop: Bodego Lazo.
474 Next stop: Bodego Lazo.
Where El Catador was a large corporate winery, Bodega Lazo was an artisan, small winery.
475 Where El Catador was a large corporate winery, Bodega Lazo was an artisan, small winery.
That bamboo pole was used as a tasting server- the owner would dunk it in the vat, then pour out a tasting from a hole in the center of the pole.
476 That bamboo pole was used as a tasting server- the owner would dunk it in the vat, then pour out a tasting from a hole in the center of the pole.
The very strange, attic-like tasting room of Bodega Lazo.
477 The very strange, attic-like tasting room of Bodega Lazo.
Next vineyard: Bodegas Vista Alegre, where the grapes are actually grown.
478 Next vineyard: Bodegas Vista Alegre, where the grapes are actually grown.
The weird sculptures outside the Vista Alegre tasting room.
479 The weird sculptures outside the Vista Alegre tasting room.
Farm workers pour the grapes into a trough for de-stemming.
480 Farm workers pour the grapes into a trough for de-stemming.
Waiting for my Pisco in the tasting room!
481 Waiting for my Pisco in the tasting room!
After all the Pisco tasting, we decided that the preferable Peruvian beverage was Inca Cola. It's actually bubble-gum flavored, and EVERYONE in Peru drinks it.
482 After all the Pisco tasting, we decided that the preferable Peruvian beverage was Inca Cola. It's actually bubble-gum flavored, and EVERYONE in Peru drinks it.
For the last portion of our trip, we arrived in Lunahuana, a small town overlooking a rushing, whitewater rafting river.
483 For the last portion of our trip, we arrived in Lunahuana, a small town overlooking a rushing, whitewater rafting river.
Lunahuana was all dressed up for the wine harvest festival that we had JUST MISSED.
484 Lunahuana was all dressed up for the wine harvest festival that we had JUST MISSED.
To get to Lunahuana, we took a mototaxi that I ended up steering. Seriously.  We had a memorably inattentive driver who liked to text, talk to friends, and drive really freaking fast.
485 To get to Lunahuana, we took a mototaxi that I ended up steering. Seriously. We had a memorably inattentive driver who liked to text, talk to friends, and drive really freaking fast.
So few hostels or hotels were open in the offseason, so we decided to stay at the most expensive-looking place in town: Los Portales de Lunahuana.
486 So few hostels or hotels were open in the offseason, so we decided to stay at the most expensive-looking place in town: Los Portales de Lunahuana.
Imagine our surprise when the Portales was cheap...because there was only 1 room, which was a sample suite. Everything else- reception, the rooms, the grounds- were under construction! So we got a great deal. :)
487 Imagine our surprise when the Portales was cheap...because there was only 1 room, which was a sample suite. Everything else- reception, the rooms, the grounds- were under construction! So we got a great deal. :)
What our hostel looked like, everywhere BUT our room.
488 What our hostel looked like, everywhere BUT our room.
Lunahuana is also a pisco producing area, so we spent the afternoon walking the dusty roads to find wineries. We found Santa Maria!
489 Lunahuana is also a pisco producing area, so we spent the afternoon walking the dusty roads to find wineries. We found Santa Maria!
The very nice vintner gave us a pisco tasting. The pisco is OK, but I will honestly say that Peru's wine is vile beyond belief.
490 The very nice vintner gave us a pisco tasting. The pisco is OK, but I will honestly say that Peru's wine is vile beyond belief.
This is what "Urban Zone" means in Lunahuana. :)
491 This is what "Urban Zone" means in Lunahuana. :)
After an hour of walking, we found the 2nd (and last) winery: Vina Los Reyes.
492 After an hour of walking, we found the 2nd (and last) winery: Vina Los Reyes.
Cheers! Even awful wine is OK if it's free, right?
493 Cheers! Even awful wine is OK if it's free, right?
The next day was our last full day in Peru. Our flight left at 1am, so we had to stuff as much fun as possible into the day. First up: a morning rafting trip in Lunahuana!
494 The next day was our last full day in Peru. Our flight left at 1am, so we had to stuff as much fun as possible into the day. First up: a morning rafting trip in Lunahuana!
This was the most amazing rafting scenery I've ever seen. Ancient Incan ruins actually lined the banks of the river. It was like rafting through a museum!!
495 This was the most amazing rafting scenery I've ever seen. Ancient Incan ruins actually lined the banks of the river. It was like rafting through a museum!!
Matt is geared up and ready!
496 Matt is geared up and ready!
They gave us a safety talk, but it was all in Spanish. They gave us helmets, and the boat seemed properly inflated, so what's the worst that could happen, right? :)
497 They gave us a safety talk, but it was all in Spanish. They gave us helmets, and the boat seemed properly inflated, so what's the worst that could happen, right? :)
The guides towed us into the river.
498 The guides towed us into the river.
We cleaned up, checked out of our Lunahuana floor model hostel, and took a bus up the coast to the Pacific Coast beach town of Cerro Azul.
499 We cleaned up, checked out of our Lunahuana floor model hostel, and took a bus up the coast to the Pacific Coast beach town of Cerro Azul.
Cerro Azul is famous for seafood, so for lunch, we found a beachside cafe and had pounds and POUNDS of ceviche!
500 Cerro Azul is famous for seafood, so for lunch, we found a beachside cafe and had pounds and POUNDS of ceviche!
The Peruvian Pacific coast.
501 The Peruvian Pacific coast.
We ran across the beach to dip our toes in the Pacific.
502 We ran across the beach to dip our toes in the Pacific.
Enjoying an hour of beach time on a holiday that has had everything else- mountains, ruins, sand dunes, jungle, city, and now beaches.
503 Enjoying an hour of beach time on a holiday that has had everything else- mountains, ruins, sand dunes, jungle, city, and now beaches.
Saying good-bye to coastal Peru.
504 Saying good-bye to coastal Peru.
After a way-too-freaking-long bus ride north to Lima (note to self: WAIT FOR THE EXPRESS BUS), we arrived in Lima in time for Pisco Cocktail Hour. We stopped at Lima's famous El Bolivarcito, a pisco house frequented by Clark Gable and other movie stars back in its 1940s heyday.
505 After a way-too-freaking-long bus ride north to Lima (note to self: WAIT FOR THE EXPRESS BUS), we arrived in Lima in time for Pisco Cocktail Hour. We stopped at Lima's famous El Bolivarcito, a pisco house frequented by Clark Gable and other movie stars back in its 1940s heyday.
Lima is not an attractive city, but its central Plaza de Armas is undeniably gorgeous at night.
506 Lima is not an attractive city, but its central Plaza de Armas is undeniably gorgeous at night.
We spent a few hours in the square, people-watching and having dinner before our flight home.
507 We spent a few hours in the square, people-watching and having dinner before our flight home.
The governmental seat of Peru, in Lima's Plaza de Armas.
508 The governmental seat of Peru, in Lima's Plaza de Armas.
Best of all: The Plaza de Armas is wired with free wi-fi!!
509 Best of all: The Plaza de Armas is wired with free wi-fi!!
Lima's Cathedral.
510 Lima's Cathedral.
One last blog before we fly home.
511 One last blog before we fly home.
...and the final Peruvian Soles purchase: Mentos (the freshmaker) and some chocolates. Peru is DONE!
512 ...and the final Peruvian Soles purchase: Mentos (the freshmaker) and some chocolates. Peru is DONE!