[DAY 12] From Peru to Bolivia

The bus … even the downstair ones wasn’t that comfortable. However, I still managed to pass out for a bit. A lot of places complained about the smell from the bathroom on the 1st floor but there was a door that separated the bathroom from the main area so I didn’t smell a thing.

Also, before taking off, a staff member took breakfast orders for when we arrive at Puno. It was 9 sol and optional and I ended up opting out and slept in more. After breakfast, we were taken to the pier and took a motor boat to the Uros Island. The guide gave us a quick history lesson about the Titikaka lake and how the Islands formed.

Once we were out in the lake, we were able to see several islands. These islands were all manmade with weed from the lake. It was amazing to see this plant-weaved island just floating. We visited Isla Los Uros Suma Chaulla and the people there were very welcoming. They also gave us a history lesson on their Island, how to weave the island, and how they stay afloat. It was facinating.

The people of Uros Islands made their living from tourism mostly. So their income was based on people like us visiting their islands and they also sold handmade souvenirs. The souvenirs are cheaper on mainland but they do have some unique Uros items. To get to the next location, you had the option of taking the motor boat or taking the Uros boat (weed boat in the picture above) for 10 sol. I opted for the Uros boat since it looked interesting.

Once we were on the other side, we got back to our bus and headed for the border. At the border, there were several money exchange booths and I exchanged all the sol to bol. The rate when I went was $1 = 6.9 bol.

Once you are done exchanging currency, you head up the road with your luggage and cross the border. They don’t do luggage checks or anything. And the last thing of Peru you see is the red Peru sign. A lot of people were in line taking pictures with it.

I also wanted to take a picture but I wasn’t able to get my Bolivian Visa before my trip so I had to get it here.

There is a Visa office at the entrance of Bolivia and there are stores here that have internet and printing for a fee if you didn’t bring all the documents. I forgot to bring a copy of my passport so I made a copy here for 1 bol. The Visa was $160 US dollars and you have the option to pay with cash or credit card. They don’t take cash that is damaged so be aware.

It took about 15 minutes to get my Visa and the Peru Hop bus had to wait for me. The officers here are not fast workers and they do make you wait. So if you think time might be an issue, make sure to get your visa in your country before coming.

Also, people were telling me that I might need to get some shots before to apply for the Visa but the office did not ask for any sort of document. However, I have heard from others that they do check for shots and if you don’t have them at the border, you might be out of luck. So again, get your Visa before coming.

Once we were all cleared, we got on a different bus (this one said Bolivia Hop) and headed to Copacabana. This was a beautiful lake city. It was the same lake that bordered Puno, Lake Titikaka. We were now seeing it from the Bolivian side. It seemed like a resort town. With lots of small boats all around.

I was super hungry since I didn’t get to eat breakfast. So we headed to the waters. When you walk towards the lake, on the left side, you see a lot of tents. These tents were all individual Kiosk for Trucha, Trout. They are caught in Lake titikaka and are famous “must have” for this region. We visited Kiosk #12. My companion told me that #12 was famous and the chef has been featured on different shows and such. When we got to the kiosk, it smelled so good and made me even more hungry!

We ordered the garlic trout and the Diablo. With a name like that, I thought maybe it might be spicy. Wrong guess. But it was still really good! The fish was cooked to perfection. The outside was crispy and in the inside was juicy. And the flavors were on point! And both of the trouts came with yuka fries and was very filling. We must have came during the workers lunch time because right after cooking our food, the staff and chef all came out to eat. They were very generous and gave us some of their foods (different things from the menu) and they were also really good. I think one of them was the pork rind and it was really juicy! They also gave us 1 soda for free! So for 2 trucha, 1 soda, and some other tasty foods, it cost us 50 bol.

After lunch, we decided to walk to the top of the trail “El Calvario” to get a better view of the city. The hike was pretty hard. Lots of rocks. Also, there is no bathroom up top so make sure to use the down at the bottom of the trail. The trail itself only took about 50 minutes and we were able to spend some time at the top just enjoying the view, taking in fresh air, and laying about.

There are no signs that point to the trail but since there is only one trail, all the locals know where it is. Also, google map works pretty well here and I used it to find the entrance. There is plenty of time to do the hike so I highly recommend it! I mean, look at that view!

After the hike, we headed to the local bar/restaurant to relax before getting on the bus again. With the Peru/Bolivia Hop bus, you get a wrist band that gives you some discount at local places. This KM Zero Pub was one of them. I ordered Pineapple Juice which was 10 bol but I got a 15% discount! Score. It was so refreshing to just sit, relax, and drink.

The bus was supposed to come at 6pm so we walked back to the lake side but the bus was nowhere to be found. So I walked around the pier area and took some pictures as the sun was setting. There was a couple playing some music by the lake and it was just beautiful. If I had an extra day, I would have visited the Isla del Sol but I have been told that there were some violent incidents recently. So I opted out. Maybe next time.

Once we got back on the bus, I thought this was it. That we were heading to La Paz. Yes, we were heading to La Paz but we had one more major stop. We got off at this lake and we had a take a smaller boat across the lake and they also had to ferry the bus. It was fascinating! Once we were on the other side, there was a bathroom (1 bol) and some food stalls. Use the bathroom here since the new bus doesn’t have a bathroom in them. And if you needed dinner, this is the spot. The 2 stalls I took a look at were both sandwich places and the prices ranged from 7 ~ 15 bol. They don’t really have a menu and I believe you pick the meat and if you want fried egg or not. If you are feeling adventurous, go for it!

Once we were back on the bus, they played a movie for us (Major Payne) and gave us popcorn. If you are interested in seeing the movie, sit up front! And with almost perfect timing, we arrived in La Paz as the movie was ending. The guide took everyone’s accommodation so we were being dropped off one by one. Most of us were not dropped off right in front of the hotels but our guide told us which way to walk. Overall, the bus ride was good and I would recommend it to people who are traveling between Cusco and La Paz and have time to spare.

Our accommdation for the night was at Loki Boutique. We were only staying 1 night since we were going to Uyuni the next morning but it was a good place. The room was a bit chilly even with the space heater but the shower had plenty of hot water. I mean.. really HOT. And the blankets were thick enough.

[Day 11] Pisac and Peru Hop to Bolivia

Last day in Cusco! This was a buffer day I gave myself for recovery but if you are in a hurry, I think this would be the day you could cut out.

We packed all our bags and stored them at the hostel and began our last adventure in Cusco. Of all the places, we did not get to see Pisac so we decided to head over. We called an Uber and our driver was really nice. He did not speak much English but he stopped from time to time and let us take pictures of the valley and pointed out the ruins on the way. And in no time, we were in Pisac.

I’m not sure what I was expecting but wow! This was a huge market. There were rows after rows of stalls of all kinds of goods. If you couldn’t find something you liked in Cusco, you could probably find something in Pisac. My friends purchased some art pieces and coasters and I got some baby alpaca yarn.

They also had lots of produce vendors and food stalls as well. Many of the places were selling fruits, veggies, and seafood, and you could hear a lot of bargaining happening. As for foods, a lot of the stalls were selling similar things such as fried chicken, chicken soup, and fried rice.

While walking around, we found an empanada place that had a huge outdoor oven and ended up filling ourselves with empanadas. They had 3 flavors, chicken, beef, and mushroom, and they were all very good. Once you pick a flavor, they reheat it in the oven, and it gets all nice and toasty.

We did not get to see the Pisac ruins but we had a lot of fun exploring the market. It had a ton of things to offer so take time browsing. Also, don’t buy things until you’ve walked in a bit. The stalls right at the beginning on the street tend to be more pricey. Still, things are definitely cheaper here compared to Cusco but you need to haggle for it. A lot of the vendors are willing to listen to your offer but don’t lowball them! Have fun and be reasonable 🙂

Once we were done shopping in Pisac, we headed back to Cusco. We had time for one more meal and this one had to be the anticuchos. We didn’t really get to try authentic anticuchos so this was our last chance. I asked several different locals and the answer I got the most of Don Miguelito so we had a winner!

It wasn’t very closed to the center of the city so we had to uber. When our driver dropped us off, I thought maybe we were at a wrong place. The area seemed very old and even though there was a sign, when we walked in, it was dark and the things on display were ice cream and beauty products.

The restaurant itself was only on the 2nd floor and when we got there, there was already one table eating. They didn’t have any English menus and we had to go off of pictures (Thank goodness they had pictures!)

This place was most definitely a hole in the wall kind of place. It was a bit out of our way but it was so worth it. The place is very small with about 6 tables. We got there early and there wasn’t a lot of people but when we left, the tables were filling up. For 3 people, it was about 15 sol each and for the price, you leave very full.

After our meal, we headed straight to the Peru Hop Bus Station. One thing to note is that there were several bus terminals in Cusco and you have to find the right one! Peru Hop has their own station so make sure you find the one for your bus.

We got to the Station at 7:30pm and we weren’t the first one there! There was already a family here waiting for the bus and the cleaning crew. People can come wait at the station but staff is not available until 30 minutes before departure. The cleaning crew left around 8pm, leaving the passengers all alone. You have to wait outside but they close the gate so it feels a bit safe.

30 minutes before, two staff members came and checked us in and gave us wrist bands. Once you had the band, you were allowed to board the bus. No one monitors the lines for the bus but I think the people were being civil and lined up accordingly. The Peru Hop bus was a double decked but the lower floor chairs reclined more. It is all first come, first served. So after getting the band, we lined up so we could get seats on the 1st floor.

And luckily! We got the very front seats on the 1st floor! Peru Hop also gives out thick blankets for the ride and I definitely needed it. After getting settled in, I tried my best to fall asleep so I could enjoy the day ahead.

[Day 10] Cusco City Tour and Cooking Class

We’ve been in Cusco since day 5 but didn’t get to explore all of the city yet! So we dedicated the morning to just wandering around town. This was also the first day I got to sleep in a little. The weather was perfect for a city tour. We decided to walk around some major parts of the town and just sightsee and shop around.

Our first stop was at the Plaza de Armas. We’ve seen it in passing so it was just nice to walk through it and take in the beautiful architecture. The two major buildings that stand out is the Cusco Cathedral and the Natural History Museum. During our visit, the City started to renovate(?) the Plaza’s central sculpture piece but the Plaza was just bustling with people.

Right next to the Museum, there was a Starbucks. One thing I like to do is to try different frapps from different country’s Starbucks. And Peru had one unique one called Lucuma frapp. I just had to try it. So we headed to Starbucks and was quite amazed at their courtyard and their view of the plaza. If you want to grab some coffee and get a nice view, I recommend this place! (Of course, you might be able to find a nice local cafe nearby too).

So Lucuma. I’m not sure if I would say I liked it but it definitely was interesting. The explanation the staff gave me was that it would be close to a butterscotch flavor? But to me, it was just a tad bit too sweet and I wasn’t sure how to distinguish the lucuma flavor 😦 If anyone else has tried this in Peru, please let me know what you thought!

After grabbing the drink and enjoying the view, we were getting a bit hungry so we headed to Plaza San Blas area to find some cafe. From the guide book, it said that the San Blas area was like the “art-sy” area and was up and coming. There was an outdoor market here as well (mostly handmade goods) but also a lot of cafes and smaller restaurants. It was definitely less crowded but you still got the beauty of Cusco.

One thing. San Blas is on the hillside so from Plaza de Armas, it is going to be an upward walk. Be prepared. (But most of Cusco is this way)

While walking around, we found a nice cafe named Pantastico and bought several empanadas and a pie maracuya to go. I’ve heard of the maracuya fruit and I wanted to try it. They packed everything neatly and we headed back to the Plaza to eat while taking in the view. The empanadas were amazing and filled our stomach but the pie was too sour. If you like sour things, try maracuya!

As I said earlier, there was a small open marketing happening here. While looking around, we found ladies who had alpacas for photos! I’m not a big fan of paying for photos, the baby alpaca just got to me. The ladies are very nice and they let you take pictures with the baby on your lap or you holding him. After several pictures and 5 sol later, we were off exploring again.

From San Blas, we started to talk towards Mirador de Plaza San Cristobal. It was a bit of a hike but the road there was full of things to see. Lots of cafes with great views, colorful drawings on the street walls, and just the view of the city from up top! 3 combo! At first, walking up the hill was so hard! I felt like it was never ending (similar to Machu Picchu) but the interesting surrounding area made the hike more enjoyable.

And Mirador! 100% recommend if you want to see Plaza de Armas from above. The view of the city here is spectacular!

You can see things that are only visible when you are up top, such as the EL PERU written on the mountain. Here is a video of the view from San Cristobal.

Once we were done walking around the city, we headed to our cooking class. It’s always fun to take local cooking classes to learn about the history of the food culture and also to learn some new recipes. You never know what you might learn.

So after some research, we decided to take a class with Peruvian Cooking Class. The classes were small but offered various types of dishes. The location was very easy to find and was about 10 minute walking distance from Plaza de Armas. The first floor of the building was the cooking station and the second floor was the waiting room/dining room area.

When you make the booking, you have the option to choose which menu you want to make. The choice of menu is decided by the person who made the first booking for that day. So if you have something you really want to make, make the reservation first! We decided on menu #2 : Pisco Sour/Chicha Morada, Palta Rellena, Lomo Saltado, and chocolate.

Once we checked in, we found out that we were the only 2 people taking the class. Score! A private class. It was awesome! They even let us change the menu a bit. So we picked Chicha Morada as our drink, Palta Rellena, Lomo Saltado, and Arroz con Leche!

With the chef of the day, Yuli, we first got to try some local fruit: Granadilla, Tumbo, Lucuma, Perito Abuel, Lima, Pacay, and Golden Berry. I hope I got all the spelling right 🙂 Granadilla was my favorite and it tasted like passionfruit but much sweeter. Tumbo was also good. It used to be used in ceviche back in the days but when the Spanish brought Lemon, it was replaced. I got a real taste of Lucuma here and it was closer to a persimmon. Perito Abuel was small and tasted like sour apple. Lima looked like a small citrus but actually it didn’t taste like a citrus. It can actually replace lemongrass. Pacay looked like cotton balls. Very furry. And Golden Berry looked like a cherry tomato but very super sour.

After tasting several fruits, we made our grocery list and walked to San Pedro Market to buy our ingredients. What we didn’t know was that the Market was CLOSED until Monday! They were doing a massive cleanup for the festival.

So we went to a smaller market behind it. It was more local and less clean but we were still able to get everything. While shopping, Yuli continued to talk to us about Peruvian food and culture. She even helped us get some Granadilla for later.

Once we had everything, we headed back to the shop and started cooking. It was so much fun. Yuli explained everything, step by step, and demonstrated just a little and we had to do most of the actual work. She showed us how to cook the meal as well as plating it just right. The Palta Rellena was a chicken and potato salad and Lomo Saltado was stir fried beef with rice (one of my favorite Peruvian dish) and Arroz con Leche was sweet rice pudding. The meal was extremely satisfying. The fact that I made the food made it even better 😉 After cooking, we took our food upstairs and got to enjoy it as dinner. It was delicious.

And satisfied, we went shopping. I wanted to get some alpaca scarves for my family members so I visited SOL ALPACA. I wanted to get them something that was more authentic and trustworthy when they claimed 100% alpaca. SOL was considered a luxury brand and everything gave it a high rating so I gave it a try. Everything here was really soft and it did not give any scratchy feeling what-so-ever. Everything was really pretty and I wanted to buy everything but I stuck to my plan and purchased different colored scarves. Next time, I want to buy more!

[Day 9] Humantay Lake

Is it really a vacation if you are waking up at 4 am every morning? A question I was asking myself on this day. Our tour guide came to pick us up at 5 am at the hostel. We walked a bit to the main street and had to meet our ride there. This time, it was a tour bus (not a van). The walk to the bus was a bit hard since we had just woken up and the steps were really steep. Again, when you are making accommodation booking, read the reviews to see if there are any mention of steps or high hills.

We took the bus for about 2 hours to Mollepata Village and purchased our tourist ticket there. It was 10 sols but ours was included in the price so we did not have to pay extra. If your tour package did not include ticket prices, the tour guide will collect them later. Make sure you talk with your tour agency to see if ticket prices are included.

After purchasing our tickets, we continued to Soraypampa. Once at the foot of the mountain, we walked to the entrance of the trail and had breakfast there. The walk was beautiful! The snow capped mountains with all the greens was just a sight to see. It was also quite chilly here. I’m not sure if it was due to the mountain air or the morning chill but make sure to layer up!

We were served breakfast before the hike but this was worst than the breakfast at Rainbow Mountain. There really wasn’t a lot to eat so if you need some energy before a hike, bring your own meal!

After breakfast, we were all on our way. There was no official guide with us so we were all on our own. If you wanted to take a horse up, you would have to ask the guide before leaving. From the start of the trail, we could see Humantay Mountain and Salkantay. There were a lot of people taking the Salkantay trail but that would have to wait for another time.

The guide said the hike would take roughly 1 hour so we hurried along. This hike was even harder than Rainbow Mountain. The road was very rocky and steep. And a lot of the rocks were loose so watch your step here. When our guide said 1 hour, it didn’t seem so bad but I was wrong. It took us 1 hour and 15 minutes to get to the top and I had to take a lot of breaks in the middle. I’m glad a lot of the hikers were encouraging each other and with everyone’s help, I made it.

And I’m so glad I hiked it because the view was 100% worth it! The mountain and the lake, a harmonious marriage. And the perfect weather made everything here extra wonderful. It was serene. There were lots of people at the top but I was still able to get some photos without anyone in them.

After taking in all the nature and all the photos, we started to walk back down. There is no horse for the downward hike because of all the loose rocks so make sure you get the timing right. The downward hike was just as hard as the upward because of how slippery the trail was. I even slipped a couple times even with hiking boots.

Once we were back at the start of the trail, they served us lunch. Lunch was better than breakfast, having things like soup, fried chicken, fried rice, pasta, and veggies. It wasn’t the best tasting food but after the hike, I needed it. We ate as much as we wanted and enjoyed the scenery before getting back on the bus. I thought it would be the same amount of time to get back to Cusco but the traffic didn’t agree with us and we arrived at 7 pm. I guess that is what you get for trying to enter the city on a Friday night.

We quickly dropped off our belong at the hostel and took an Uber to Mercado Molino. I needed a bigger bag for all the stuff and my companion needed to get a sim card. We were told that Mercado Molino would have everything and they were right! If you are thinking about doing shopping (not touristy), this place has it all! From clothing to electronics, you probably could find everything here. It was closer to what I would consider a mall. They even had a small food court at the front.

While waiting for my companion to register her sim card, I got some picarones, which are like peruvian fried donuts. They fried them as the orders came in so it was super fresh and so good. It was a great pick me up for 3 sol. Once my companion had internet, we roamed around the market. We found several stores that sold luggage and suitcases but vast majority of them did not take card. I didn’t have a lot of cash on me and the ATM machine at the market was not working. Luckily, my companion had some cash and she was also really good at bargaining so we were able to make a purchase. Mine (the purple one) went from 160 sol to 120 sol and hers from 150 sol to 100 sol. I think we did pretty good, right?

After all the shopping, we headed back to the hotel. The laundry was done and all the items were neatly folded and in a plastic bag. Our laundry at the hostel was 12 sol per kilo and I know this wasn’t cheap but I guess I was paying for the connivance. You can find laundry mats all around Cusco and the average price would be around 4~7 sol per kilo.

With the new luggage and clean clothes, I reorganized all my things. And it was so nice to see empty space in my bag for souvenirs! Next time, never take a full suitcase on a trip because you will definitely buy things.

[Day 8] Machu Picchu

Another early day. We woke up early and ate breakfast provided by the B&B. It was basic things like cereal, fruit, ham, bread, and lots of coca tea. We had to pack everything and store it at the B&B since we did not want to take everything on our hike. (Double check if your accommodation has storage!)

We headed to our tour agency’s hostel to meet with our guide but he did not show up on time. When he did show up, we had to wait even longer because a group did not show up and the guide had to make sure everyone was present. I knew waiting would mean that we will have to spend less time up at Machu Picchu so I asked if we could go ahead by ourselves. Luckily, the guide told us to go ahead and get in line. When we headed to the bus station at around 7:10am, there was already a long line. But no worries! The bus comes fairly regularly so we were on the bus in no time. The staff checked our bus tickets and stamped them.

The bus was very comfortable! It looked and felt like a new bus. And thank goodness for that since the road was rough and full of hairpin turns. The view going up was also beautiful so try to get a window seat on the right side of the bus.

Once we got off the bus, there was a huge line by the entrance. Before heading, make sure to use the bathroom (2 sol). There is also a luggage storage here if your accommodation couldn’t store your things. It was 5 sols and lots of people were using it.

The entrance did not have a clear line and a lot of groups were all trying to stay together, making it a bit of a mess. Once at the entrance, you show them the stamped ticket and they scan the barcode and you are in! We saw our guide but he disappeared again to find other tour members. We decided to just venture on our own and take in the views. And really… WHAT A VIEW!

It was just like the photos. Not a fog in sight. There were lots of greens and blues all around. A lot of people were present but I was still able to take photos without any obstacles. And we took a ton of photos. Photos everywhere. Each viewpoint gave us a different perspective of Machu Picchu.

There were several photo points at the top of the mountain and we did spend some time there to just sit and relax and to take in the view. However, our guide did mention the hike back down was going to take about 2 hours to the exit. So we slowly headed out of Machu Picchu.

Even on our way down, we stopped several times for different photos. Each corner had something unique and interesting. As we were leaving, there were still a lot of tourist coming in. I really wish we could have stayed inside Machu Picchu for longer but we had to catch the train. We only stopped for quick pictures and ended up getting back to the exit in about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

And once we were at the exit, we had 2 options: purchase a bus ticket back to Aguas Calientes or to walk down. Since we took the bus up, we decided to walk down. *Please do not walk down if you are not 100% sure you can do it. It was really tough and hard on my knees.* Walking down meant going straight through the mountain. Just by looking at the map, it didn’t seem so bad.

Boy, was I wrong. The stone staircases were not even and some of them were really steep! Also, we had to close the main road at times and you had to watch out for the buses. There were lots of people hiking up and we all encouraged each other.

It took about 1 hour and 30 minutes to get to the bottom and we celebrated! We took pictures of the signs, thinking we were done. But nope! We still had to walk back to the city which took another 30 minutes.

We did not have a lot of time so we headed back to our B&B, grabbed our luggage and looked for a place to grab lunch. A friend of mine recommended Amazonas, a Chinese Peruvian restaurant. We had their lomo saltado and chaufa and they were pretty good and relatively cheap. We ordered 2 main dishes and 1 soup and it was about 40 sol ($12 USD). Not bad for 3 people. One thing. You have to tell them you are in a hurry because they are a bit slow with their service.

Our train was at 2:30 so after lunch, we headed to the station. The snack was different going down (I liked the north bound snack more) but because of the hike, I think everyone must have been tired because one by one, people were all passing out, including myself.

Once we were back at Ollantaytambo Station, Fabian Agency had someone with a sign and we were all herded to a tour bus and we headed back to Cusco. A lot of the people on the bus were Korean, which was not surprising since Fabian Agency deals with lots of Korean. We talked about the tour and mingled and in no time, we were back in Cusco. We picked up our bags from the Agency and took the Uber to our hostel.

We had some issues with our hostel. First, our driver could not find the place because there was no sign on the door or the building. Second, when we did find it, the place was not what was described on the website. My companion told me that she would rather pay more at a different place than to stay at this location. So we ended up moving. Lucky for us, Cusco is a tourism city so every corner , every street had a hostel. We walked down the street a bit and found another hostel, Tunqui, and ended up staying here. We stayed in the double with a private bathroom and it was great. The room was spacious and hot water was available all day.

Once we settled in, we gave the front desk our laundry, and we walked to the plaza to find a place to eat dinner. I really wanted to try Pollo a la Brasa so we headed to Los Toldos Chicken. This restaurant seemed famous and was on top of the list for Pollo a la Brasa. And it was super delicious. The chicken was very juicy and had lots of flavors. Their french fries were crispy and their salad bar was decent too. I highly recommend!

[Day 7] Sacred Valley Tour

Since we were going on a 1 night, 2 day trip, we had to packed everything. I had already purchased several things and could not fit everything into my luggage. So I put them in bags, shoved in backpack, asked my companions to store things for me…. It was a mess. (Tip for next trip, bring a bigger luggage!)

Once we checked out, we called an Uber and got to Fabian Tour and left our luggage there. Fabian had a lot of tour groups that did the 2 day trip and come back to Cusco. So his office had a luggage storage space. Also, he had a lot of Korean tourist who came to his office so he had a small food mart setup. He sold Korean ramyeon and soju. If you needed something spicy for the road, you could check out his mart.

Mini Korean Mart at Fabian Tour Office

While at the office, we met up with the group. Again, I didn’t want to travel by myself so I found more solo travelers to travel with me. We had to pay extra because we had 5 people in our group. So they gave us a 3 row SUV, 2 person per row and 1 at the front. I originally was only looking for 3 more people to do the tour with to fit into 1 vehicle but they do say, more the merrier, right? Plus, the SUV was very spacious and comfortable for 5 tourist and the driver.

The 2 day trip started with the first day being the Sacred Valley Tour. They had several small stops for us to see.

1st stop: Small weaving shop to learn of natural dying process and to shop to support the tradition. The ladies at this location demonstrated the dying process and talked about which materials make what color. The natural dyes were beautiful! I didn’t realize you could get so many vibrant colors from plants and other natural ingredients. After the dying process, they also talked about the weaving process. It was very educational. However, the items were more pricy here.

Dying ingredients and colorful yarn

2nd stop: Chinchero: Before we headed into Chinchero, we bought our tour pass. This pass includes 4 tourist sites: Pisaq, Ollantaytambo, Moray, and Chinchero. The cost was 70 sol. Since we were planning on going to 3 of these sites, the pass was the way to go. There was a student option but not for the cheaper pass. Or at least when one of our companion tried, they only gave her the option for the more extensive (and expensive) pass. Maybe it is only for locals?

My tour site pass

After purchasing the pass, we walked for 5 minutes up steps and found an open market on the ruins. They were selling all kinds of souvenirs from handmade bracelets to musical instruments. And the vendors were willing to negotiate so you need to work on your haggling skills.

The ruins were located on top of a hill so it had a good view of the valley. While we were here, we saw the building that was on the pass, and also the step ruins on the side. It was a lot bigger than I expected. The stone walls were impressive! I don’t know how they made them all fit so perfectly. We were only given 30 minutes here so we had to quickly look around and get back to the van.

Once again, we were back on the road to our 3rd stop: Salineras de Maras. Salt Flats. This was the main event and since it was not included in the pass, we paid 10 sol extra. I can honestly say this was the best place out of all the places we visited today. We were given 40 minutes to tour the place but wasn’t nearly enough time. If you are on a tour, negotiate with your driver to see if you can stay here longer.

Once inside, we took some pictures by the salt beds. The pools were all different sizes and different colors; all on plateaus, featuring a good view. I tried the running water and it was really salty (also don’t do this because because it’s not very clean, according to the guide. He told me after I did it). We didn’t get to explore all of the flats due to time and just saw what they had at the entrance. Once we turned around and started to head out, we stopped by the stands here that sold salt goods like bath salts, salt chocolate, and more. They even had a musician playing a traditional instrument. We looked around for a bit and purchased a salt chocolate. I mean, chocolate and salt is a thing, right? But it was way too salty! How can you mess up chocolate?

A musician playing a traditional flute

Afterward, we had lunch. Our driver took us to a restaurant on the way to our next stop. Inka Sal was the name and it had variety of foods, mostly Peruvian. They also had sandwiches and spaghetti and such. I got Chicharron de pollo (fried chicken) with yuka fries and papaya juice. The food was good but the juice was lukewarm! If you want it cold, you have to let them know beforehand. The sodas were fresh out of the fridge so they were cold but I’m guessing the fruit wasn’t. The spaghetti was a bit salty so ask for less salt!

Chicharron de pollo

Once we filled out belly, it was time for our 4th stop: Morray. Not sure what the purpose of this was but many believe it was a testing place for agriculture. A tour group passed us while we were talking photos so I got a 2 second spiel on the ruins. We had about 25 minutes to walk around. From the picture, you cannot tell how enormous this place is but it was unbelievable. And it wasn’t just one, which made this even more impressive. Tourist are not allowed to go into the ruins so you have to view it from the top and even then, it is impressive.

Morray

After a quick lookaround, we had to continue. 5th stop? I wouldn’t call this a stop but a passby. We passed by Urubamba, a small town. The road from Morray to Urubamba was crazy! It had a lot of hairpin turns, 1 car only roads, unpaved roads. Even our car engine stopped once on the road. It was quite scary and caused several of us in the car to get motion sickness.

And once we were back on the paved road, we headed to our last stop. Ollantaytambo. We had 45 minutes to see the ruins here. We had a bit of a scare here when one of our companion said that she might have lost her pass. If you lost it, that is it for the pass since they don’t keep a record of it. It took her a minute but luckily, she found her pass and we were in. A stone fortress with large stone terraces. The city was surrounded by mountains and it provided a good cover. On the other side, there were also carving of sort that probably was for protecting the city. Again, the walls were way too high for us and not enough time. We only climbed 1/3 of the way and had to make our way down to meet with the driver again.

Once we met with our driver, we headed to the train station. The road to the station was jam packed so we decided to get off early and walk to the station. The reason why it was so packed was because there was a train that just arrived and many were waiting taxis.

Train Station at Ollantaytambo

We waited for our train to be called. We were on the Voyager through the Inca Rail. The other option is with PeruRail. People were starting to line up by their train car letters. We were going to Aguas Calientes, a city at the entrance to Machu Picchu. The view on the way was beautiful. The windows were large and offered a great view of the mountains and the river. While on the train, we were offered a free drink, a cookie, and chocolate for the ride. Both side of the train had a good view of the mountains but if you want the river view, sit on the left side.

FREE train snack

At Aguas Calientes, we met with Fabian’s tour guide but walked separately to our hotel. We booked a separate accommodation from the tour because of the reviews they had. Also, do not book accommodation without reading the reviews. Just looking at the google map, you will not know what you are getting into. Aguas Calientes is all hills (a bit steep) and you might end up booking a place that is way up the hill. We stayed at a place called Perupunta B & B and it was half way up the hill, much higher than the place our tour was staying at.

The B&B seemed rather new. There were a lot of building being built and renovated when we were there. It was also on the main street, surrounded by restaurants and other shops. Right after we checked in, we ventured around the shopping district and checked out what they had. Even though this was a small town, they had everything, even a bookshop. I ended up exchanging some more money here at a slightly higher rate but not by much. However, if you do want to save money, exchanged at Cusco for a better deal. Once we got back to our B&B, we grabbed some local ice cream from the shop next door. They had popular flavors like chocolate and vanilla but also had original flavors like Andes Mint and Chicha Morada. I wanted something local so I tried the Andes Mint and it was so good!! It wasn’t super sweet and the mint was very refreshing.

We did not want to stay up too late since we knew we had a full day ahead. We were all very excited for Machu Picchu and we wanted to be in our best condition so we headed to bed, dreaming about what’s next.

[Day 6] Vinicunca

We had a 5am pickup so woke up at 4am to get ready. When I woke up, my body was feeling heavy. And when I was moving around in my room, my heart was beating fasting than normal. Is this altitude sickness? So just in case, I took some pills.

I also packed too light. My big mistake. So I had no actual winter clothes. Luckily, one of my companion gave me her padded vest and extra sweat pants. It was nice and warm and I really needed it. It was about 39 degrees in the morning and the van picked up several people. The van was pretty big, about 18 seater? and it got full. It was too early for me and I knocked out. 1 1/2 hr later, we stopped for breakfast. The area where we were for breakfast was higher than cusco so I was starting to feel the pressure a bit. But it still was bearable.

The breakfast was meh. They provided bread, sausage, fruits, soup, and tea. Lots of coca tea. I drank as much as I could since they said it was good for the altitude sickness. After breakfast, we drove for another hour and we arrived at rainbow mountain.

Provided breakfast

And goodness. The pressure was on. Even at the bottom I was dead. After walking like 20 steps, I was breathing hard. I wanted to walk up but I knew I wasn’t going to make it so I asked for a horse. You could pay for one way but round trip was cheaper (in case I need a ride down) and I’m so glad I did. One thing to remember. The horse does not go all the way to the top. There is a stopping point and from there, you have to walk up.

Riding my horse up!

I really wanted to walk up to the top. at least try. So I slowly walked. While walking, there were other tour guides saying that the easiest way to walk with altitude sickness was take 10 steps and take a 10 min break. I didn’t have that kind of time and I wanted to scream LOL But after taking small steps, I made it to the view point. I was at Rainbow Mountain!

The area was beautiful. Green colors with snowy tops and as we got higher, more colors. Red, yellow, green. It was spectacular. The guide said that the weather on this particular day was just perfect and I totally agreed. Pictures don’t do it justice. some of the colors were very vivid. But personally, I was miserable. The alltitute sickness here was hitting me hard.

Right at the view point

I was about 100 meters away from the top when my guide said we have to go back down. So I didn’t get to the top but I was up high enough to get some amazing photos. The weather was just perfect. No filter necessary. I was proud of myself for walking up to the point.

Colors of Vinicunca

I had to walk back down to the drop off area, find my horse person and ride back down. I passed out on the bus back. I was so tired.

After the tour, we got back to cusco. Once at Cusco, I didn’t feel sick any more. I walked around and shopped a bit or a nice pancho and ate Korean food at Sarangche. Not that I like eating Korean food while traveling but my travel companions really wanted it. We ordered some KBBQ pork belly and Kimchi Stew. It was pretty good. The warm soup really made me feel at home and comforted me.

Dinner from Saranche

Once we got back to our accommodation, we had to pack. The next 2 days, we were going to be on the road. When I packed for this trip, I told myself I wouldn’t shop so I packed a smaller suitcase. I brought a 17 inch luggage so I could carry it onboard. But who was I kidding. I needed a bigger luggage!

[Day 5] Off to Cusco

I love being on schedule and planning everything accordingly. But what is a vacation without sleeping in? I purposefully booked a flight flight to Cusco so I get catch up on some zzz’s. And it was so worth it.

The hotel did not provide free breakfast but my travel companion, Nina, brought cup noodles with her. We asked the hotel staff if we can get some hot water and they were extremely hospitable. They let us use the breakfast area, provided us with hot water and drinking water.

After brunch, we headed to the airport. The hotel had an airport shuttle every 30 minutes and it was very convenient. The airport was less than 10 minutes away from the hotel and we were promptly dropped off. The shuttle was first come, first serve, so come early.

The check-in line was relatively long but moved quickly. And the security line was really fast, like 5 minutes fast. I didn’t think it was going to be so quick so that gave me more time in the lounge. I have the Priority Pass so I was able to use one of the lounge and relax before the flight.

10 minutes before the boarding time, Nina and I moved to the gate. The agents made 3 lines and had the passengers line up according to their boarding pass. I believe they were done by seats (window first, middle seat second, and aisle last) to make the boarding process faster. Personally, I couldn’t tell if the seating went faster. One downside of the lines was that friends and family couldn’t wait in line together since they were separated by seats.

The flight was short and uneventful. The airline provided drinks and snack. One tip I can give you for the flight is to make sure to get the left window seat to get a great view of the Andes Mountain. The snowy tops of the Andes is a sight you don’t want to miss.

View from my left side window

Cusco airport is small. Once you are at the baggage claim, you will see all the tourism booth and some taxi drivers holding signage. Some people were starting to feel the altitude sickness and luckily, the tourism booths were giving away coca tea, leaves, and candy. I took pills 12 hours before landing in Cusco so I didn’t feel any different.

From the airport, we headed to our tour agency, Fabian Tour. It was about 20 minutes from the aiport to the heart of Cusco, where Fabian Tour was located. It was right next to Plaza Mayor del Cusco, very easy to find. It was also right next to Inca Rail’s office, in case you wanted to book your trip to Machu Picchu separately. We wanted to book 3 tours with them: Rainbow Mountain/Vinicunca, Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, and Humantay Lake. However, Fabian recommended that we only book two tours for now and see if have enough energy to do three. So we booked the first two: Rainbow Mountain/Vinicunca (45 sol) and Sacred Valley + Machu Picchu ($189)

After booking our tour, we checked into my acommodation, Danna Inn. It was about 10-15 minute walk from the Plaza but our tours included pick ups so we were ok with being a bit far from the Plaza. However, the Plaza is on a slight hill and Danna Inn is on the lower end so getting to the Plaza required a bit of a hike.

The room itself wasn’t too big for a triple. We couldn’t all have our luggage open at the same time. But luckily, the beds were a nice size so we made it work. The window was facing the street but the noise level wasn’t too bad.

We got a triple at Danna Inn

Also, Cusco was very cold compared to Lima. Asked for a radiator to heat up the room but it was still very cold. I was glad I brought extra thick pajamas. We left the radiator running and headed out to grab dinner. We made reservation at Chicha and since we had some time before our reservation, we decided to roam around the city a bit. Even at night time, Cusco felt safe. Cusco had a lot of alley ways but since it was a tourist town, there were a lot of people in each of the streets.

While walking around, we saw the 12 Angled Stones. There were a lot of people waiting to take pictures with it. It wasn’t blown away by this but it was quite interesting to see how the walls were made to fit so perfectly. That was pretty impressive. This area also had a lot of shops so there were a lot of “We have the best price. Come see!” action happening.

After seeing the area, we headed to Chicha por Gaston Acurio for dinner. Inside the restaurant had a very home-y feel to it, with on side of the wall having a semi-open kitchen. We had made a group reservation but since the other party was going to be late, we ended up being split. 3 of us shared a table and we wanted to do a family style. So we ordered Chicha Snack, Alpaca Curry, and Timpu. Chicha Snack was a sampler plate that had Alpacha anticucho, stuffed potatoes, lomo saltado, and native potatoes with cream. We had to try Timpu just because we didn’t know what it was. The discription was “Cusquenian sancochoado with beef, bacon, lamb ribs, potatoes, and other veggies, all cooked in stock.”

Alpaca meat was good. It had more flavor than I expected. It was more on the dry side but had a good rub. We also go to try some interesting local specialties. I personally really enjoyed the dinner but it was on the more pricer side. But you got to try regional food by Gaston Acurio so it could be worth it for some travelers.

My meal at Chicha

After a great meal, we stopped by Mifarma for more sorochi pills, just in case. I didn’t feel any altitude in Cusco but you can never be too prepared. We had to get up early in the morning so we decided to go to bed early.

[Day 4] Last full day in Lima

I dubbed my last day in Lima, a eating day. This day was full of food and I travel to eat, so what a perfect day 🙂 My accommodation was nice enough to let me keep my luggage there so I packed up, placed my bags in the corner, and headed over to grab some breakfast.

While I was walking, I noticed a lot of the streets were closed off. Turns out, there was a marathon happening! I got to wave and cheer the runners, watch them get showered by locals, and see them push themselves to their limits. It was nice that the neighborhood got together to support the runners.

So for breakfast, Pan de la Chola was my choice. I found this place on several list for coffee and bread and I’m always down for some good bread. The cafe itself is spacious but on a Sunday morning, it was jammed packed with tourists and locals alike. The open concept made the space look large with all the natural lights and from the entrance, you had a good view of the kitchen. The aroma of coffee and bread alone made me hungry.

I grabbed a hot chocolate and croissant and they were delicious. The hot chocolate was rich but not too sweet and the croissant was buttery and super flaky. My type of croissant. I was able to get a seat by the bar and people watch while enjoying my breakfast. I could have gotten a sandwich but I wanted to leave room for other things.

At noon, I headed to La Mar to meet a friend. Luckily, Pan de la Chola and La Mar are really close to each other. About one block. And the line was just starting to form. I think I was about 10th group in line. And the line kept getting longer and longer. My friend got to the restaurant just as they were opening and we were seated at the bar. We both wanted to see the chef preparing the food and drinks. The restaurant was a good size with lots of natural light.

Inside La Mar

We came for ceviche so we ordered ceviche. We wanted to try something different so we ordered the Mixto and Leche de Tigre. The waiter asked how spicy we wanted the ceviche. We never thought there was a spice level to ceviche but since we were going for different, we ordered the regular Mixto and mild Leche de Tigre.

Left: Leche de Tigre – Right: Mixto Ceviche

It was definitely more fancier than the other ceviche places (and pricer too). But it was really good. Leche de Tigre was my favorite. The right amount of spice and the fresh seafood combo just captured my palette. It was also interesting that they used roasted corn. Unexpectedly, the crunchy corn was a great pair with the ceviche.

After lunch, we wanted some dessert and right across the street from La Mar was Amorelado, a gelato store. The store itself was small with only 2 tables but it had a very lovely atmosphere. I ended up with Pina con Albahaca (Pineapple with Basil?) and it was so refreshing. And the gelato was perfect for the 73 degree weather.

With our belly full, we decided to walk to Maido for our Nikkei Experience. We needed some exercise to become hungry again. With gelato in our hands, we happily walked about 2 hour to Maido. And it was so worth it.

Nikkei Experience at Maido

The course meal was at a good pace but still took about 2 hours and 30 minutes. They used local ingredients with lots of interesting flavors and twists. One example would be Cuy, the guinea pig. I wanted to try it and was glad I got it here. The flavor was close to turkey dark meat but extremely tender. It just melted in my mouth! Even though the portions were small, they were packed with intense flavors and I enjoyed the course immensely. And the dessert was also a sight to see! Using nitrogen, they create ice cream in front of you and also a wonderful sight to see.

what’s left of the nitrogen

And if you thought this was the end of the meal, think again. They give you a take home dessert as the final course and it perfectly sums up the meal: A present to myself. Overall, if you like Japanese food and want to try something unique, Maido is a great place. They have a la carte menu as well as the Nikkei Experience.

After the meal, we uber-ed to Lacomar Shopping Center. We were going to meet more people. While we waited, we enjoyed the view of the ocean. The shopping center was situated at the edge of a cliff, which gave us a panoramic view of the ocean. There were lots of food options here as well so if you wanted a place with a view, you could find something here.

Once we met up with everyone, we headed to Barranco. While at Barranco, we saw the biblioteca, crossed the La Puenete de Los Suspiros (Bridge of Sighs), saw street art, and more. When we got here, it was already around 6pm and was getting dark. But the area was lively with locals and tourists alike. It was full of colorful street art and beautiful architectures that you can spend hours wandering about.

Bridge of Sighs at night time

I wanted to stay longer but also wanted to see the Magic Water Circuit since it was our last day in Lima. So we quickly headed to see the show. The entrance was full of people but it moved quickly. The fee was 4 sol and it was worth it. The park itself was large with multiple water fountains. The main one for the show was long… I mean… LONG. The show was filled with lots of exciting music, lasers, and colors being displayed against the waters and it was a sight to see.

Colorful fountain (main fountain after the show)

After the show, we walked around to see the other fountains. Many of the smaller fountains were full of people taking pictures, including several wedding and quinceanera photos. They were beautiful. There were also a lot of kids jumping into the fountains, playfully running in and out of the water. The night’s cool air didn’t stop them from having fun.

After all the walking, we decided to grab a late dinner (more like a snack). We wanted to try anticucho but many of the restaurants were already closed. So we ended up at Huaca Pucllana. (What we didn’t see is that there were lots of street vendors in front of the park that had anticucho). Once we were seated, we ordered Stuffed Potatoes and Anticucho. This place wasn’t cheap but the food was good. It also offered a view of the pyramids. While enjoying the atmosphere of the restaurant, we filled our stomach with delicious food and some pisco sours.

View of the pyramid site from the restaurant

Once we were done, we headed to Holiday Inn Lima Airport, our hotel for the night. My friends were leaving early in the morning for Cusco and I was waiting for another friend to arrive from the airport.

I say friend but actually it was our first time meeting. I had made travel plans with my college friend but the scheduling didn’t work out as planned so I was technically traveling alone. And I wasn’t too sure of traveling alone so I found a travel forum and put up my schedule and asked if anyone wanted to join me. And one person got in touch with me saying that her schedule was similar to mine and wouldn’t mind tagging along. So this was it. First time meeting. We shared our instagram and kakao to introduce ourselves and to talk about what we were excited about. It was my first time doing something like this and I’m very glad I did. We were a pretty compatible travel partner and I’m glad to have met her 🙂

[Day 3] Day trip to Huacachina

One of the reason why I picked Hola Peru as my accomodation was the fact that they offered a day trip to Huacachina from their hostel. This would include pick up and drop off. And of course, since it was a private tour, I was able to negotiate my schedule a bit. I looked at several options for tours to Huacachina. Many of the tours would include Ballestas Island as it was on the way to Huacachina. But I wanted more. I knew I couldn’t get Nazca Lines included but I wondered about a winery tour.

While looking at different books and websites, I found that the city of Ica, where Huacachina is located, is famous for its winery. It wasn’t just the wine but also pisco, Peru’s national drink. I looked at several options to see if I could include a winery tour but all the ones I found that included the winery were overnight tours. My time at Lima was limited so I did not want to do an overnight tour in Huacachina. So I asked my hostel about their tour packages and the owner suggested that I do a private tour with their driver.

I could have done the tour myself but what fun would that be? So I posted on a travel forum that I was looking for someone to do a day tour with me and I found 2 girls to do the tour with. The owner said the price would drop with more people. So with the private tour, including the winery tour (excluding the entrance fee), it was $170 per person. The tour included private car (SUV), a driver, Bellestas Island boat tour, and Huacachina buggy tour + sand boarding. What we ended up adding was a stop at the Winery. And it was perfect.

The owner said that the morning pick up can be done for other hotels/hostels if they were in Miraflores so I left my hostel at 6am and went to pick up the others. Once we picked up everyone, we headed to Paracas. The day we were on the tour, they had a storm and high sea level warning, so the owner told me that the boat tour might get cancelled. I prayed that the weather would change while we were driving out. I mean, it was a 4 hour drive. Things could change, right?

And it did! The weather cleared up and we were good to go! Our driver handed us off to the tour guide at the docks and we were on our way to see Ballestas Island. I thought it was close by but it was quite far. If you get motion sickness, I suggest you take pills before going on this trip.

On the way to Ballestas Island, we saw something similar to Nazca Lines. An image of a candelabra. It was extremely vision and even the tour guide said that they have no idea who made it or why it was made. History is so interesting.

Once we got to Ballestas Island, we saw a lot of activities. Pelicans and seagulls were everywhere and somewhere between them, there were penguins! They were so cute but there were only a few and they were very hard to see. Also, there were some sea lions lounging about and enjoying the sun. According to the tour guide, Ballestas Island has a nickname “poor man’s Galapagos” and I can sort of see it. There are a lot of wildlife here and I think you would be able to see more if you came at the right season.

Our boat driver and tour guide were fluent in English and the explanations were great. The boat bounces a bit but it’s not too rough. The sun… It hurts so make sure you rub on a ton of sunblock and a hat is a must.

Next stop, the Winery. I did not get to pick the winery but we ended up at the one I wanted to go to: Hacienda Bodega Tacama. The Winery is beautiful. I recommend it to anyone planning on doing a private tour.

And we arrived at the perfect time to do the English tour. The price of the tour was 15 soles and it took about 1 hour. The tour includes a wine tasting at the end. They have several tours that goes into the detail but since we didn’t have time, we did the most basic one.

While on the tour, they cover how wine is made and also how pisco is made. They have a small museum that has their old machines and gadgets on display. You can see the older barrels they used to use, as well as pots that stored pisco.

And at the end of the tour, your wines and pisco awaits you. I got to try 1 white, 1 red, 1 rose, and 1 pisco. The white and red were both really dry. The rose wine isn’t very sweet. And pisco…. The pisco was 43%! It was the strongest wine I’ve ever had! Too strong for me. If you like dry wine, I think you would like Peruvian wine.

I tried to fly my drone here because it was so spacious and beautiful. However, when I asked the general manager, he said that we needed to get permission beforehand. So no drone here… 😦 If I knew, I would have asked before coming! So drone owners! If you ask, you can fly here!

We also got to enjoy lunch here. The price is a bit high but the good was really great. The plates are rather large and can be shared. A lot of their food were shareable types so prepare to do a family style meal.

Finally, our last stop. Huacachina. I have been seeing this place on my instafeed since I started searching Peru on my phone. The small oasis in the middle of the desert. I’ve never seen an oasis before so I was really excited for it. Plus, sand boarding was something I’ve never done so this was all new. And I like new things 🙂

The sand dunes were filled with tourist and the buggies. The buggy was a 6 seater but since we were a private group, it ended up being just us and the driver. He took us to the top part of the dunes and took pictures of us. The desert was amazing to see. No one in sight, just all sand… It was so peaceful and even the wind felt nice. With no footsteps or tire tracks, the desert looked untouched and I was mesmerized by it. It felt as if it was somewhat out of this world…

Once we were done awing at the desert, the driver asked if we wanted to sand board. We all said yes. He took out the boards from the back of the buggy and applied wax to the bottom of 3 boards. With our tour, the sand boarding was only the laying down one. If you really want to board similar to snow boarding, you have to ask beforehand.

We started at a smaller hill and it was a blast! But too short. And after we were at the bottom, we had to walk back up and it was too much. Every step we took, we were sinking into the sand. It was pretty hard. So we asked if we have to keep walking up. Our driver said that if we go to a higher hill, he can drive us up. So we opted for that. The higher hill was a bit more scary and there were more people. I’ve heard of accidents were boarders collided with each other. But I think all the drivers were aware of that and made sure people had enough space between them and also time between when sliding down. We were able to board about 4 times and after that, my tour mates were done. So we decided to call it a night.

We asked our driver if we needed to head back right away or if we had time for dinner. He said we could grab something. So we headed back to town and ended up at the Desert Nights. This place has a rooftop and offers a great view of the sand dunes. Also, they have happy hour and has good food choices. We ended up getting ceviche and drinks.

If I had more time, I would have liked to stay at Huacachina overnight. It is really small but just being able to relax on the rooftop with a drink or even sitting at the sand dunes with a drink and watching the sunset sounds like sometime I would do. If you have time, making this a 2 day trip and including Nazca Lines wouldn’t be so bad.

With all the driving, it was a long day and I was glad we did a private tour. The car ride was good and I think we all passed out. And with all the flexibility we had, I think doing a private tour is definitely worth it.