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Latin America

How To Spend 4 Days In Lima

Lima, the capital of Peru, is often the starting point for many travelers aiming to see the epic and mountainous Machu Picchu. But don’t overlook this magical city! Here is a guide for spending four days in Peru’s beautiful capital.

When To Go

Year-round: A mild and dry climate means comfortable capital visits year-round.

Dec–Mar: (Summertime) The hottest, blue-sky months ideal for surf and sun on the coast.

Arriving In Lima

The Lima international airport is only about 20 minutes from one of Lima’s most populated touristic neighborhood – Miraflores. There are many taxis that you can take from the airport and around the city, but I highly recommend using Uber.

Many taxis don’t use a meter, which means that they can negotiate any price up or down as they see fit.

Uber has a fixed price, and a lot of the time, I found it to be cheaper than what taxis would charge from one neighborhood to another. It’s also nice to not have to rely on exact change, or carrying much cash on you at all for that matter – especially at night.

The Districts of Lima

Miraflores

Miraflores is a large district near the airport that runs along the waterfront and has a boardwalk that runs for miles above the ocean. The Malecón itself is six miles of bike lanes, walking trails, parks, and eateries, including Larcomar, a popular open-air food and shopping center. Be sure to visit the famous Parque del Amor – an oceanfront park with a giant statue of two lovers that you can’t miss.

The Malecón will take you to Barranco a couple miles down, which is another district you won’t want to miss full of museums, a major art scene, and a ton of nightlife. You’ll hit many other beaches and parks if you follow the Malecón all the way down the coastline.

Barranco

Barranco offers a little bit of a different scene – cool cobblestone streets to stroll down, a strip of nightlife, a terraced village of souvenir shops, markets, bars, and restaurants makes this bohemian quarter one of a kind.

Don’t miss El Puente de Los Suspiros (The Bridge of Sighs), a quaint wooden bridge located at the top of the stone steps that wind down to the beaches below Barranco.

There is a Barranco By Night tour, where a guide takes you around to a few of Barranco’s iconic bars and restaurant, dating back to the 1920’s!

I appreciated staying in a quieter neighborhood, Miraflores, and having the freedom to explore Barranco by Uber or by renting bikes and riding the short distance down the Malecón.

Things To Do In Lima

Stroll Around Kennedy Park

There may be one thing you’ll notice about this park that’s a little abnormal – it’s full of cats! Not mangy, stray cats – but looked after, fed cats that are free to roam about as they please and are ready for adoption. It’s a truly brilliant idea, and everyone seems to love it; especially the cats. Getting pets and free food all day doesn’t sound like the worst life, does it?

Historical Walking Tour

We booked a historical walking tour in Quito and it was awesome. There are so many different companies online to choose from, and many of them are free!

The guides will take you through the highlights of the Center of Lima, or Old Town District. The tour takes about 3 hours and usually ends with a few recommendations for lunch or dinner in the area.

I usually don’t like organized tour groups, but it was really fascinating to hear about the history of the city. Having questions answered by a knowledgeable professional made the experience worthwhile. Those personalized moments are the type of things you can’t experience by merely tracing the steps on your own. My favorite stop on the tour was visiting the San Francisco Monastery.

Lima is home to many fine religious buildings, but the San Francisco Monastery is one of the best. Providing an oasis of calm in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city, and sitting atop the catacombs underneath the monastery where more than 50,000 skulls and bones are neatly arranged in. This is a must see attraction when visiting Lima, Peru.

Circuito Magico Del Agua

AKA The Magic Circuit of Water We had heard of a dazzling water and lights show about 20 minutes away from Miraflores that occurs every night. So, following the historical tour we hopped in a cab from Old Town to check out this novelty. The entrance fee was extremely cheap, less than a dollar per person. The park was bustling with people, tourists and locals alike.

The only thing comparable to this experience is what I remember of seeing Fantasia. Whether or not you’ve seen the movie, you are guaranteed to appreciate this show. There are 13 fountains, some of which are interactive, provide plenty of entertainment, especially at night with the illuminated shows.

This show is dazzling with a display of lasers and music all coordinating with the lights.

The light display is about an hour long. Adults and kids alike will love it, but be prepared to get wet; take a plastic bag or two to keep your cash and camera dry.

Jump Off A Cliff

Yes – you read that correctly! Grab one of the many professional guides and soar through the sky on a tandem paragliding flight.

The hotspot for paragliding in Lima is Parque Raimondi, along the Miraflores stretch of El Malecón, where highly skilled paragliding instructors can take you for a 10-minute tandem glide.

Whatever way you end up hitting the skies, pick a day that’s not too overcast, and you can expect views of the coast southwards towards Barranco, as well as far out to sea. If paragliding doesn’t appeal to you, be sure to catch a sunset one night from the park.

Sample The Cocktail Of Peru

A refreshing aperitif served before a plate of ceviche, the pisco sour is a staple cocktail in its own right. Whipped up from a mixture of pisco, lemon juice, bitters, sugar and egg white and whizzed in a blender over crushed ice, it’s impossible to visit Lima without trying a glass or three.

Learn To Surf

Lima’s Costa Verde has some surprisingly good spots for surfing. La Herradura, south of Barranco, is considered one of the best, with its powerful swell reaching up to 10-feet, making it only for those with experience. Waikiki, in Miraflores, is a good option for beginners, particularly as there are surf schools where you can learn the ropes.

Grab A Brewski

If you’re into craft artisanal beers, Lima is the place for you. There are a number of breweries in Miraflores and Barranco offering a number of local beers.

Barbarian was my favorite brewery in Miraflores, offering 20 beers on tap in a number of different sizes. There is a 10 oz size which is the perfect sampler size for those who can’t commit. This place is a must visit for any connoisseur.

Barranco Brew Company is a smaller brewery with a variety of their own craft beers, boasting great food and a chill atmosphere in the bohemian Barranco district.


While you’re at it, check out these posts for more itinerary suggestions (like why you absolutely MUST see Laguna 69), our top five can’t miss locations, our favorite hotel and inspiration for your trip to Peru and Machu Piccu!

Airlines Guides Hotels Latin America

The Journey to Machu Picchu By Train

As I began to plan my trip to Machu Picchu, I quickly realized that getting there was definitely not going to be a walk in the park.  But let’s face it, anything worth seeing is not going to be easy to get to, especially a world wonder like Machu Picchu.

Many trains depart from the Poroy train station which is located about 20 mins from downtown Cusco. The train stops in it town of Aguas Calientes where you will then take a 15 minute (heart stopping) bus ride up to Machu Picchu. Bear in mind that the buses to Machu Picchu and back down operate from 6am to 4:00pm. So be sure to catch that last bus or you’ll have to walk all the way down!

 

The town of Aguas Calientes
There’s too much to explore in Machu Picchu to only make a day trip. I suggest spending one or night in the town just below the ruins known as Aguas Calientes. This will leave you a full day open to explore Machu Picchu and another day to try out the mini hikes.

Note: Aguas Calientes, is about 8,000 feet above sea level as opposed to Cusco which is over 11,000 feet above sea level. I was affected by altitude sickness in Cusco more so than Machu Picchu so I suggest starting your trip off in Machu Picchu initially and then spending 2 or 3 nights in Cusco afterwards.

 

Alas, the glorious Machu Picchu! To make the most of your experience, I’ve rounded up a few quick tips for you to keep in mind.

1.) Bring rain protection. Be prepared for the weather to fluctuate unexpectedly. It could be clear and dry one minute and pouring rain the next.

2.) Bus. The only way to the citadel is to take the bus, unless you want to do the steep, 90-minute walk from Aguas Calientes and back! Lines can be long and boarding the bus is on a first come, first serve basis.

3.) Coins. You’ll need them to use the bathroom and there is only one bathroom at the entrance.

4.) Passport. Don’t forget to stamp your passport with the official Machu Picchu stamp!  It little station is just outside the entrance gates where you can stamp your own passport. It’s possibly the coolest passport stamp I have 🙂

5.) Alternative hikes
If you’re not into the idea of hiking the Inca trail, there are mini hike alternatives

Huayna Picchu. Purchase tickets in advance as entry is limited to about 400 people per day.  The peak is about 1,180 ft higher than Machu Picchu, offering stunning views and a nice alternative hike to the Inca trail. note: if you have a fear of heights, this hike is not for you. The path is very narrow and steep.

The Sun Gate. This is the hike we chose to do, it took about 3 hour round trip and it’s free! This is also where the hikers from the Inca trail enter the citadel.

The Inca Bridge. 1 hour hike round trip and free.

6.) Aggressive mosquitos. Let’s just say I am STILL suffering (2 weeks later) from the bug bites I got in Machu Picchu! Avoid open toe shoes and wear long light clothing to protects yourself from bites. A quick tip a local gave us was to use lime juice to prevent bugs from attacking.


SUMAQ Hotel

The SUMAQ hotel is one of the best places to stay in Aguas Calientes. It’s located right along the Vilcanota River  where you can hear the sound of raging river right outside of your window. It’s soothing and the best way to fall asleep after a long day of exploring the citadel. Tip: ask for a room on the street side of the hotel to face the river. The hotel also offers a complimentary cooking class where guests can learn how to make ceviche and a pisco sour. The rooms are very clean and comfortable with all of the perks you’d expect from a 5 star hotel and the service was exceptional, making guests feel right at home.

Getting there
LAN Airlines is the airline with the most domestic flights with a dozen per day to Cusco. You can catch a short 1 1/2 hour flight from Lima to Cusco en route to Machu Picchu. Tip: grab a window seat! This was one of the most scenic flights I’ve ever taken. The mountains of Peru are simply breathtaking. Flying with LAN is an efficient and smooth way to get around South America, as the airline is timely, the service is great and all of the planes we boarded felt fresh and new.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. All opinions are my own.

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Hotels Latin America Reviews

Hotels We Love: JW Marriott El Convento Cusco, Peru + Cusco Tips

A place where history meets modern, the JW Marriott El Covento Cusco is as fascinating as it is beautiful. Rich in history, the hotel has been built on ancient Incan ruins and the building was once a 16th-century convent. Staying here is like staying inside of a museum. The original Incan walls comprise the lower levels of the hotel and some of the rooms even have views of the original Incan wall from the window. The hotel also offers daily group tours of the San Agustín Convent and the two hallways that feature Peruvian artifacts!

The service was unlike anywhere else I’ve ever stayed. Every person we encountered was super friendly, genuine and helpful. They went above and beyond to search and find a power adapter for my laptop after mine blew up!

Chandelier with 65,000 Swarovski crystals symbolizing the sun hangs at the front desk area upon arrival.

 

The original floor of the San Agustín Convent is located in the lobby area.

Rooms
Rooms featured cozy and warm earth tones with modern elements throughout, as well as stunning views of Cusco rooftops from all of the windows.

Huge perk: All of the rooms are equipped with a supplementary oxygen system available upon request for only $20 USD per room, per day. It’s well worth it as you will surely experience the effects of high altitude sickness upon arrival. The oxygen in our room made all the difference and provided us with a good night’s sleep.

 

 

 

 

Who needs a spa when you have one in your hotel room?! The bathrooms made quite an impression with marble and granite touches and powerful rain showers. But they do also have a gorgeous spa on the property.

 

Food
The hotel features Piraq restaurant for fine dining and Qespi Bar for drinks and breakfast.

 

 

The breakfast bar was one of the best I’ve encountered in South American hotels with tons of choices of juices, cold and warm dishes with cold cuts meat/cheeses, fresh baked breads and yummy pastries. My favorite was the Egg Station, where you can order eggs any which way you like.

 

Pirqa restaurant
We dined at the hotel’s elegant fine dining restaurant which featured excellent food and service. The ingredients were fresh, and every dish had a local touch. Michael, our server was so warm and friendly as well as knowledgable. He even helped us visualize the ingredients in our meals by bringing out a sample of the corns and spices used. Pictured below is the lamb dish slow cooked over 48 hours and the Peruvian drink, Chicha morada, a sweet beverage made from purple corn along with a kernel for good luck!

 

 

Located just a 5 minute walk from the historic Plaza de Armas square, the JW Marriott is situated in an ideal location.

 

Getting there:
The best way to get to Cusco is with LAN Airlines via the city of Lima. Tip: grab a window seat! This was one of the most scenic flights I’ve ever taken. The mountains of Peru are simply breathtaking. Flying with LAN is an efficient and smooth way to get around South America, as the airline is timely, the service is great and all of the planes we boarded felt fresh and new.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

Dame Traveler was invited as a guest by LAN Airlines and JW Marriott Cusco. All opinions are my own.

Food Hotels Latin America Reviews

Why It’s Worth Spending Time in Lima Before Heading to Machu Picchu

When it comes to Peru, Lima is often overlooked as simply the gateway city to get to Cusco and Machu Picchu but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Lima is a wonderful city with many things to offer. From checking into the chic Royal Park Boutique Hotel in San Isidro, to spending the day exploring the historic El Centro area and eating the most delicious meals I’ve ever had, Lima was delightful and memorable. Thus, here are some reasons why you should spend more time in Lima.

Boutique Hotels in Chic Neighborhoods such as San Isidro and Barranco.
We stayed at the Royal Park Hotel, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The rooms were spacious, the beds, oh so comfortable and the welcome was warm. The hotel is located in the chic neighborhood of San Isidro, not far from Miraflores and Barranco and it is within walking distance from Parque El Olivar, a grove of interesting looking olive trees that you can easily get lost in.


El Centro’s gorgeous architecture and churches
The bulk of the attractions are located in the historic El Centro area. Here, you will find tons of restaurants, street food, churches and shopping.

Tip: If you plan on visiting El Centro during dusk and into the evening, have your hotel call a cab to drive you to El Centro and accompany you while you walk around. For around $10 an hour, you will have a local roaming the historic center along with you. This is an efficient and safe way to see the city center in a short period of time. We even befriended ours and he joined us for dinner!

Monastery of San Francisco, Lima
The convent and church are close to the city square and it made the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1991. Aside from the church, it also contains catacombs which you can roam through.

Plaza de Armas
The heart of the city and the spectacular main square is the most popular area in El Centro. Here, you will find beautiful architecture and shades of yellow, great people watching and churches.

Markets
Markets galore, hundreds of vendors line the streets with tons of goodies to buy.

Colorful streets and kind locals
I couldn’t put my camera down! Tip: look up! El centro’s balconies are stunning and unique in their own way.

Amazing food
From fresh ceviche to delicious Peruvian dishes such as my favorite, Lomo Saltado (combination of strips of sirloin, fried potatoes and rice), Lima lives up to its award by World Travel Awards as being recognized as the World’s Leading Culinary Destination.

Huaca Pucllana
The fact that this restaurant is situated on 1,500 year old ruins is reason enough to dine at this gorgeous restaurant. The best tables are outside which overlook the ruins. But a reservation far in advance is in order to snag one of these highly sought after tables. Perk: if you dine at the restaurant from 7:30pm to 10:30pm, a 20 minute partial tour of the ruins is available.

Royal Park Lima’s Le Molière restaurant
Le Molière offers gourmet Peruvian and French dishes as well as delicious home baked bread. We tried their shrimp and prawn colonial style causa (Peruvian layered mashed potatoes), ceviche and 
lomo saltado. Not to mention their decadent and gorgeous dessert! The hotel’s restaurant is an excellent choice for dinner.

 

Miraflores oceanfront
While we didn’t make it to the Miraflores area, it is known to be a popular area on the oceanfront, full of restaurants, hotels and views of the ocean. But if you prefer to hang with the locals, the San Isidro and Barranco neighborhoods are the places to be.

Getting there
LAN Airlines is the airline with the most domestic flights with a dozen per day to Cusco. You can catch a short 1 1/2 hour flight from Lima to Cusco en route to Machu Picchu. Tip: grab a window seat! This was one of the most scenic flights I’ve ever taken. The mountains of Peru are simply breathtaking. Flying with LAN is an efficient and smooth way to get around South America, as the airline is timely, the service is great and all of the planes we boarded felt fresh and new.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. The owner of this blog makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site.

Nastasia was invited to tour the cities of South America with LAN Airlines. All opinions are my own.

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Insider Tips Latin America Photography

5 Must See Places In Peru

Hola beautiful travellers! My name is Jaharn Giles and I’m the creative behind the travel, adventure and nature blog Mister Weekender. I’ll be taking you on a Dame Traveler adventure following my recent trip to Peru. First up – Maras des Salinas, the beautiful ancient salt flats! These alt flats are harvested by families living in the local community. Definitely add this destination to your Peru bucket list.

A trip to Peru isn’t complete without a day trip to Machu Picchu. One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu is by far one of the most grandest places I’ve explored. If you get the chance, make sure you catch the Hiram Bingham train to and from Machu Picchu!

When I travel I like to pick up souvenirs from each destination to take home with me. I travelled around Peru for two weeks and it wasn’t until my last day in Cusco when I finally found what I was looking for; these two bright pink rugs. I picked these up at a local market and needless to say they look brilliant on my floor and couch back home in Sydney, Australia.Welcome to Huacachina, an incredibly beautiful natural oasis in the middle of the desert. This wanderlust-worthy destination deserves top place on your Peruvian bucket list. And it’s not hard to see why! So when is the best time to visit? Sunset of course!

If you get to visit Huacachina in Peru, make sure you don’t get too distracted by the oasis because all around it are some of the most beautiful sand dunes in the world. Jump on a buggy and cruise around – just make sure you wear sunglasses and be prepared to eat sand, these buggy’s go super fast!

This is my final and favourite photo taken on my recent trip to Peru. They say to save the best till last, and that’s what I’ve done for my photo diary. This photo was taken in the middle of the Paracas sand dunes. The desert, the wind, the vista – these are the very moments which make travelling the world worth it. It’s been great meeting you all and I hope one day our paths will cross. Love Jaharn xo.

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