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Unbelievable Peru

Author: John Rybczyk
Date of Trip: February 2012

I guess I should start on how we ended up with Intrepid on this tour. We have been wanting to go to Peru for quite awhile. But in all honesty most the tours have been a little expensive. That is until Intrepid came up with the 2 for 1 price for a trip to Majestic Peru. But wait its Intrepid, you know them, its really for a younger crowd, people who like to hike, ride bikes, roll in the mud, live in tents, was that us, absolutely not. This trip however was listed as a Comfort trip and it also said that no preparation was needed for this tour, whatever that meant.

OK, so we took a chance. I called to make the reservation and the young lady I talked to assured me that this was going to be a Comfort trip and yes, we stayed in hotels. Sign us up.

The flight went well and the hotel in Lima was really nice and just a few blocks from the center of town. The first meeting with our tour guide, Ollie Holger, was a little different. First he gave us a cloth bag to take with us when we buy stuff so we would not need a plastic bag. Then he talked a little about we really didn’t need new towels everyday or the bed made every day with new sheets and you may want to carry a water canteen instead of plastic bottles. WOW, reduce plastic bag waste, watch consumption of water and detergent and no plastic bottles. We travel often and never have we heard this type of introduction. But Ollie was a bit different. He really cared.

Well we were ready, I was concerned about the altitude, how high were in going to go, and walking, I knew we were not going to hike but we would be walking to a variety of places. But Ollie again came thru, “take it slow, easy, stop, rest, start up again. Hey did we have the pick of the litter. You bet, and it just got better and better.

Our first night, our first get together dinner. We went to a very nice restaurant just down the street from the hotel. Great food, and we got to try a Pisco Sour. It was terrific and did I mention that it was free. Well we really got off to a great start.

I am not going to go over every little bit of our trip but I would like to just hit the highlights, that is the highlights to us.

The Chaucilla cemetery was different, we had seen mummy’s before but these were out in the open, not behind glass cases like in Mexico. The boat ride on Lake Titicaca was long. Ollie did say, bring something to do, or read or write. It was long. We heard about the Floating Island, sure a floating island where people live and work and eat and sleep, sounded good, but a floating island. Well seeing is believing. I think the first thing that struck me was the colorful clothing the people were wearing and when they explained how they made the “floating island”, its unbelievable. They crafts they made were really colorful and unique.

Then off to Taquille Island. Now that really unbelievable, how these family live and work was something else. The walk from the boat to where we were to have lunch was not an easy walk. But there was Ollie, “take it slow, stop rest”.

I know I keep mentioning the concern we had about walking and altitude, did I mention that I am 75 and my wife turned 73 on the trip. We are in pretty good shape, but we were concerned. The group of 12 we were with was a mixed bag of people, ages ran from 21 to 75 and yes we were the oldest.

The lunch was very good and we ate outside on a large table. The weather was great.

Cusco was next on the trip and it was a beautiful town. The museums, the square, the church, the shops, the restaurants, all just made the trip better and better.

The trip to the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo was beautiful. We had lunch with a local family, we visited with a women who made chocolate and went a place where they made the local beer. It just kept getting better and better. I carry a Polaroid camera with us on trips and usually take pictures of local people who work in shops, restaurant or just kids along the way. I took several pictures of the people in this segment of the trip. They were delighted.

The train to Machu Picchu was a surprise. I don’t know what I expected, but I didn’t expect a modern train, with a glass top, and food and drinks. The town was really more than what I expected. Its large, a great hotel right next to the water, restaurants, shops and a huge Market.

It had rained everyday the week before in Machu Picchu and we were quite concerned. Ollie told us that we should just wait and see, well we waited and sure enough, the day we arrived, it stopped raining. I can’t explain Machu Picchu, its unbelievable, it beautiful, its a work of art.

We left early in the morning for the bus ride to Machu Picchu, we were among the first people there. It was cloudy and you really could not see much. But as the clouds started to disappear you saw first a little, then a little more, than a little more and finally the clouds were gone. It was breathtaking. The cloud coverage in the early morning and the clearing little by little just added to the mystery of Machu Picchu. The walk, it was not easy, but there was Ollie again, “take it slow, stop, rest” and we made to the top. The view is unbelievable.

We tried to do everything on the trip, we ate guinea pig, alpaca, had a pisco sour, ate at a variety of restaurants, went to museums, churches,visited with locals, took a number of photos and gave a number of polaroid pictures to people.

One night we went to a little pizza restaurants near our hotel. I mean little, there were 4 people who worked and there was a huge oven. Taking pictures of them with the polaroid camera and seeing their faces when I gave them the picture was special. We even went down the sand dunes on the “sand board”. I will admit I had not desire to do this, but once my wife went down I really had no choice.

In was an unbelievable trip, that just kept getting better and better. Would we travel with Intrepid again, you bet. The itinerary they give you says that its just a planned itinerary, and there may be changes. Well if there were changes, the changes were always for the better and Ollie made it happen.

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