Ever since I did a report on Peru in the sixth grade I've wanted to visit this remarkable Andean country. My love of Andean music, interest in the Incas and in the rainforest also fed my desire, over the years, to go there myself. This summer, for my 50th birthday, I gave myself that gift with the help of Adventure Life.
I'd never been out of the USA before, and as a woman traveling alone, I wanted to make sure I had a reputable tour company to work with. Yet, I didn't want to be part of a large group descending on the local people like locusts. I wanted to be able to mingle and get an authentic Peruvian experience as much as possible. Also, my Spanish is very rusty and my finances were limited, so I wanted to have things arranged beforehand well enough that I knew in detail how my trip was going to work and what the costs would be.
I had read a lot about Peru over the years and had definite ideas about where I wanted to go. Mary put together the perfect custom tour for me to get exactly what I wanted from the experience.
I started my 2 weeks in Peru with a trip to Lake Titicaca, where I stayed with a family on Amantani Island. I had been a bit leery about this portion of the trip, but it turned out to be one of the best parts. I knew I was seeing the authentic Peru, not a prefabricated show for clueless tourists. I practiced my bumbling Spanish with the family and amused the children with my video camera. I joined the women in their kitchen preparing delicious meals which we all ate-no Gringo substitutions-and played with the guinea pigs scampering around my feet.
The overland trip to Cuzco from Puno gave me a look at the rugged life of the people of the high altiplano. Several stops for sightseeing and lunch along the way made the drive very comfortable and gave me an opportunity to do some shopping and mingling in small villages.
The Sacred Valley, Cuzco, the markets and ruins in the area, and the incomparable Machu Pichu were the next portion of my adventure. I joined a small group of other travelers for this portion, with an excellent guide-Ayul. He not only took care of all our needs and wants, he enriched the whole week with his abundant knowledge and enthusiasm. I could hardly believe being at Machu Picchu after wanting for years to see it! We were able to spend two days there-the first with Ayul guiding and educating us about the ruin's history and significance, and a second day on our own. I used the second day to wander in silence and contemplation. I even saw a condor flying in the canyon below!
The last part-the jungle-was my favorite. The thrill of being in "the forest primeval" and seeing all the animals in their natural habitat was the perfect finale for my time in Peru. I especially enjoyed the visit to Monkey Island. It was hot and humid, but I swam in the Madre de Dios river, lolled in a hammock with a cool drink, and took cool showers in my private hut during the days. After each gorgeous sunset, which comes early in the tropics, the air cooled significantly. One evening we floated silently down the river watching for caymans' eyes in the guide's spotlight. We spotted several and would watch them watch us float by. I hated to leave, and can't wait to go back.
Throughout the trip, I was free of any worries about where to go, where to stay, what to eat, where to get my money changed, etc. Adventure life had arranged all my lodging and transport, and each guide for each segment of the trip helped me get any other details taken care of with no problems at all. I felt safe and secure with all parts of my travel, and was very happy with the accommodations. I highly recommend both Peru and Adventure Life to everyone, for the trip of a lifetime!