Backpacking in Peru

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A month of backpacking in Peru has passed, and is time for some reflections. This will be a little ethnographic account, therefore I am the filter through which the story is told. Of cause there are many ways of being a Backpacker in Peru, but I will give you my impression.
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I have dreamt of exploring Inca ruins since I as a little girl saw a show about the Incas on Discovery Chanel. Through Peru has been on the top of my list of places to go for years, I always ended up in other places. Last winter I made the decision that it was time to fullfill my dream. My boyfriend and I booked the Inca Trail in january, and from that day I knew for sure that I was going. My life in Denmark is characterized by rutine, and what keeps me going is dreaming, planning, and looking forward to my next journey. Ever since I was an exchange student in Texas at the age of 16, I have felt a constant erge to get out of Denmark. Don’t get me wrong, I have good times in Denmark as well. But I constantly long for inspiration, adventure, new experiences, challenges, and seeing different ways of living and different landscapes. This erge was the very reason why I began studying social anthropology four years ago.

Within the last year I have changed a lot as a person. I have developed a much stronger sense of who I am and what is important to me. I have started to question things that I so far have tanken forgiven. People in my surroundings might think I am getting a bit crazy, but the truth is that I have never felt more at home in myself that I have done this year. I have become a vegetarian, I have developed a daily yoga practice, began to recite a mantra each time I cook, I have sunk into anthropological litterature, I have made some amazing friendships, and two month ago the five year relationship with my boyfriend ended. I spent my last month in Denmark feeling lost. I did not know what to do with myself. The only thing that kept me going was this trip.
From the day I left Denmark I have felt great. Each day has been an adventure. Many Peruvians have asked my why I travel alone. The though of being away from friends and family seems remote to them. I tell them that I am free to do exactly what I want, and that I have nobody to fight with. The truth is that I feel more alone in my daily life in Denmark. Here I meet new fellow travellers almost every day. Twize it happened that I sat next to another backpacker on a Cruz del Sur nightbus and we ended up hanging out for a day or two at the destination. Going on guided tours has also been a great way of meeting people.

Generally Backpackers in Peru are currious about cultures, enjoy nature, are sporty, and hike rather than party. We generally trust each other enough to leave electronic devises in common areas for charging. If you ask what countries we have been to, you better have a lot of time. The number of good travelstories are endless. Opening a backpacker’s pack means hours of searching and rearranging, so it is better not to do so.
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I have generally felt safe in Peru. I got nervous the first time I took a taxi because the distance was farther than I had though and because it was an industrial area and night. I also felt nervous the morning I walked about in Arequipa for two hours looking for a hostal. Otherwise it has been good. The macho culture is not as aggressive as it is in Costa Rica and Nicaragua.

I feel a constant need to move. I do not like to waste time or too miss out on experiences. Each day is a gift of sensual impressions, people and places. The more I move the more I get.

I have not sleapt a full night since I was in Denmark. I have become used to cold showers in cold weather, to always carry extra toiletpaper and to have dry skin (lotion ends up in the whole back). When I was in a park in Cusco a little girl came up to me. She played with my hair, and pretended to give me makeup on. She asked me why I did not wear makeup and why the skin around my nails was dry. I told her that I had been hiking. I clearly did not fit into her image of a real woman.

The other solo travellers I have met remind me of myself. Many have either quit their jobs or ended a long time relationship. They search for themselves or a deeper purpose in life. Travelling on your own enables you to think and reflect on who you are, whom you want to be, and what is important to you. You get to know yourself. Solo travellers will open up to you a for a while, but if you come too close they close like an oister. Solo travellers have developed the ability to cope with short term friendships. There is something interesting about this kind of friendships. It can go two ways. You either poor out all of your secrets because you know that you will most likely never see the other person again, or you simply enjoy being quit and thoughfull together. Solo travellers are strong and independent. They are the kind of persons I admire and that inspires me. They do not give a shit about what other people think, they just follow their dreams and instant desires.

I have never before hiked so much as I have done on this trip. I have blisters and a black toenail, but if I had the opportunity I would have kept hiking. Downward facing dog is my favorite strech after a hike. The sacred valley, the Inka trail and the area around Huaraz offers endless posibilities. I am definetely a mountain girl. Colca cañon and Paracas are too dry for my taste. I like to be challenged by distance, inclination and altitude and the fertility of the Andes is breathtaking. I love how my heart beats fast if I walk fast in the altitude. This offen happens to me in the beginning of a trek, and right before I reach a peek. Vinyassa must have been good prep for hiking, because I feel like I am flying when the majority of people are out of breath. I am going too miss hiking.
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I might look and smell like a vagabond, but my heart is beating and my mind is open. I feel alive!

Next stop: I am settling down on the Caribbean Coast of Mexico for 3 months.

Keep following YOUR dreams and desires!

Lima

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I have spend a night and a day in Lima. The city is overwhelming and I do not really like it. My hostel is in Miraflores so I spent the morning here. It is very commercial. There are American restaurants and shops everywhere.
I walked to parque de amor where i got a nice view of the coast.

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Then I took a bus to Barranco where the buildings are more in a Colonial style.

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From barranco I took the metro (bus) to the city center. In Plaza de armas I met a German girl who told me there would be a free walking tour at 3 pm. I did the tour with her. We saw the gastronomic museum which was ok, but a bit borring. It cost 3 soles. Then we went to San Domingo church, where the relics of San Martin and santa rosario are located. We got a view of the poor and “dangerous” neighbourhood which is cut off from the city center by a river.

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Finally we had a pisco tasting

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After the tour the German girl and I went to have a typical Lima dessert: half arroz zambito half mazamorra morrada. It was ok to try but not amazing 🙂

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I had the most amazing dinner at vegan restaurant AlmaZen in Miraflores. It was a timballe de quinoa with avocado cream.
Directions: Recavarren 298, Miraflores (corner of Recavarren and Jose Galvez. Close to the chocolate museum in calle berlin)

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Parque national huancaini: Laguna 69 and Nevado Pastoruri

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Yesterday I hiked to laguna 69.
Before the hike the bus made a quick stop at Llanganuco
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The trail began 3900m above sea level and the laguna is located in an altitude of 4600 meter. I found it rather easy, but the majority of the group I was in did not manage to go all the way because they troubled with the altitude. I spend two hours going up, and went down a bit faster. The area is beautiful. Along the trail you see waterfalls, glaciers and several lagunes. The color of laguna 69 is incredible. It was a quite good spot for a lunch break.
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I can definetely recommend this hike if you are not afraid of altitude! It is a trip where you are surrounded by the beauty, and where you get to feel that your heart is beating.
During the walk you have a view of Peru’s highest mountain mount huascaran.
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Today I was supposed to have been to the chavín ruins, but last night I was told that the your was cancel. They are restoring the ruins…
Instead I did a tour to Nevado Pastoruri, which is a glaciers in the altitude of 5.240.
The tour was borring. I spent way too much time waiting. I got picked up at 8 am. It took one hour to leave huaraz, maybe 30 in the bus to Catac where we had 30 minutes at a restaurant. In the park we stopped to see water with gas that bobbled, agua de 7 colores, and some cactuses called Puya Ramundi. The stops in the park were ok.
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The glacier was beautiful, and it was an easy walk to get there.

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We left the glacier at 2 pm, had 40 minutes in the same restaurant as in the morning, and reached huaraz at 5. I would have loved some more walking, instead of bus travel and restaurant stops.

Huaraz

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I left paracas at 4 pm, and reached Lima at 8.30 pm. The cruz del sur station was really borring. I did manage to get an omelet for dinner, though they did not have vegetarian food on the menu. I am soooo tired of eggs and white bread…. But food is food…
My bus to Huaraz left at 10.30 pm, and arrived about 8am. My hostel offered continental breakfast (bread, marmelade, hot drink, banana and juice) though I had not sleapt there. It is a really lovely hostel called Alpes Huaraz.
After breakfast I walked to Pinar. I had no idea of what Pinar was, and only an alternative map. People were nevertheless friendly to guide me. My trip ended on top of a hill with magnificent views of the glaciers that surround the city.
For lunch I found chuchu (a salat) for 2 soles on the street. It was very tasty!

The mountain peeks look like Toblerone chocolate, I guess that is why Huaraz is called Peru’s Switzerland.

The town is not too touristy. Several elderly smiled to me and say “gringa” in a happy voice. When I walked to Pinar, a woman told me to buy a hat to protect me from the sun. I told her that I already have one, and then I followed her advice and put it on.
It is also one of the cheapest places I have been in Peru.

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Paracas

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Having traveled the Peruvian roads quite a bit, I realize that the landscapes of the country are something which keep surprising. I feel like I have seen heaven (the Andes) and that I have been on the moon (arequipa volcanic area). I have seen one of the worlds deepest canyons, and I have ridden for hours in a big sandbox.

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Today I visited the ballestas. I have never seen that many birds before. They covered the Cliffs of the Islands, and they created black lines chasing waves. I saw sealions, pinguins, pelicans and seaguls on Ballestas. In the afternoon, I bicycled for hours in the dessert of the Paracas reserve. In the reserve I saw flamingos.

The first night I decided to give in to ceviche, though I do not eat fish. It is Peru’s national dish, and people speak highly of it. It is raw fish in lime and onion. It tasted nice and fresh.
There were generally no vegetarian options in town besides from borring sandwiches, but when I asked for options the restaurant owners made up dishes and it turned out ok. A young man had pancakes on his sign. I asked him if he could make me a crepe with avocado, lettuce cheese and tomatoes, and after a quick run to a store he did. Afterwards I had to evaluate because he had never made it before. I told him to add it to his menucard 🙂 it was very tasty and only 6 soles.

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Paracas is a very laid back place to be. Most people are just here on day tours, so it is rather quit at night. The locals are eager to speak English.
When I took a taxi to the station, the driver did not have change so he told me not to pay. I did, however, make him take the 1,5 I had.

Colca cañon

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Originally, I planned to hike the cañon on my own. However, in Arequipa I discovered that a guided tour did not cost much and included stops such as cruz del condor, thermal baths and volcano viewpoints that would be time consuming to do with public transport.

At cruz del condor the condors gave a show. They flew right over our heads.

When the group arrived in cobanaconde we were told that there had been several earthquakes and that the original hike therefore would be to dangerous to fullfill. Throughout the day, the guide, nevertheless, decided to follow the original plan. During the first night there were two small shakes. I am, however, still alive 😉

It was nice to be in a group. I met some amazing girls who invited me to teach them vinyassa in Oasis de Sangalle. I feel priveledged to have taught my first class in one of the deepest canyons of the world. And I feel gratefull for the support the girls gave me.

The Colca cañon trek was a piece of cake compared to the Inca Trail. Nature in Colca is much more dry, and it is super hot. In my opinion the Inca Trail is much more beautiful, but I am still thankfull to have walked the canyon.