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Gary tombs Colca Canyon

What country/countries did you visit?

Peru

How did you get there?

We flew with Iberia via Madrid

Whereabouts did you go?

We started in the capital Lima, before flying down to Arequipa and travelling to the Colca Canyon. After returning to Arequipa, we crossed to the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Cusco. We then delved into the rainforest near Puerto Maldonado and returned home via another short stay in Lima.

Had you been before?

Yes. I had travelled there back in 2014, but I had not visited the rainforest on that occasion, so it was great to get a chance to experience that.

If so, any notable differences?

Gastronomy has really taken off in Peru in the last ten years or so and it was really noticeable how much the quality of restaurants has risen in that time. Food now forms an important part of any visit to the country and visitors should try to incorporate at least one culinary activity into their itinerary. Also, the last few years have been tough on the people of Peru and I think the lack of international tourists has made them even more welcoming and determined to help make every visitor feel at home.

Which was your favourite:

Place: I loved everywhere, but for me, the magnificent mountain scapes of Colca Canyon are difficult to beat.

Hotel: I have to give a special mention to Sol y Luna in the Sacred Valley as that is a superb hotel which also runs a foundation that directly benefits children in the local area in a variety of ways, but in terms of pure wow factor, the Colca Lodge just about pips it.

Excursion: Our day exploring the Sacred Valley sites of Moray, Maras and Chinchero will live long in the memory, not just because they are visually stunning, but because of the ingenuity involved in their creation.

What was your most memorable moment?

That first glimpse of the citadel emerging through the mist as we walked over the brow of the mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu was just as magical as I remembered it being in 2014.

Were there any surprises along the way?

Although we had travelled to Peru knowing that the recent protests had all but ended, I had still expected to encounter some remnants of slight unrest, however there was no sign at all of anything even approaching a disturbance. Indeed, everyone we met was incredibly grateful for our visit and could not have been more welcoming.

What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destinations?

- Peru is just about to enter its high season, but due to recent events which have now thankfully passed, there is still a lot of availability for the best hotels and excursions and you are able to visit some of the world’s most iconic attractions with relatively few other people around. Therefore, I would highly recommend getting there before the crowds come back.

- Having stayed at, or visited a huge range of hotels in each region, I would always advise asking your travel specialist to recommend a hotel with character. It may cost a little more, but there are some really special properties out there which can often add some special memories of their own to your holiday.

- There are too many ‘not to be missed’ spots to mention in Peru, but Colca Canyon, because it is perhaps less famous than the others, is not always on that list… it undoubtedly should be however!

Is there anything indispensible to pack or prepare for?

Many of the main sites in Peru are located at fairly high altitudes. This means that you should take time to acclimatise slowly (to avoid the effects of altitude sickness) and also pack several layers to ensure you are well prepared for colder temperatures.

Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?

No trip to Peru would be complete without sampling a few Pisco sours, the signature cocktail named after the city on the west coast where the drink was first devised.
Equally, visitors must be sure to try some of the many varieties of potato on offer in the country where scientists have traced the vegetable’s origins.

Any restaurant or bar recommendations?

The Cirqa hotel in Arequipa served up some of the most delicious food I think I have ever tasted.

Sum up your trip in a sentence?

It was an enlightening adventure, filled with wonder, during which I learnt a huge amount about Peru, its people and its history.

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