Published On: 25 Oct
When I think of Peru a few things immediately spring to mind - ancient Inca ruins, Llamas, and deep, dark rainforest.
This is no doubt owing to somewhat dubious social references in my life - the first being Paddington bear who hailed from 'deepest darkest Peru, Cities of Gold, (a bizarre 80's cartoon from my childhood), and most recently the movie Apocalypto (although I have since found out this is set in Brazil)! So when I got the chance to experience this country first-hand I jumped at the chance!
Our first stop was Lima where we enjoyed lunch at the El Kapallaq Restaurant and met Luis Larrabure - a bright-eyed, charismatic chef and surfing enthusiast. My first experience of Peruvian cuisine was not disappointing. We sampled his exquisite 'Cerviche' (My favourite - a white fish marinated in lime juice). He informed us that the surfing in Lima is better than in Bali (a very big claim). The walls of his restaurant were littered with pictures of him surfing, but we didn't quite believe him until we saw Lima beach for ourselves where there were dozens of surfers scattered along the coast catching waves.
Another high point was our visit to Aliaga House, a colonial mansion handed down through seventeen generations, making it the oldest single family-owned and occupied home in South America. Travelling with The Ultimate Travel Company certainly opens lots of doors! We were able to explore the varying décor of the house - including the lavish French parlour room where we saw family portraits spanning hundreds of years.
Next we flew to Iquitos, for our Amazon cruise. Being a bit of a city-girl I had my reservations about exploring the depths of the Amazon. My fears were allayed as soon as I set eyes on the M/V Aqua, which would be our home for three nights. Bathrobes, panoramic windows, a waterfall shower and not a bug in sight - they were talking my language.
With the help of our fantastic guide Daniel, who knew every sound and sight on the river, and in the jungle, I soon got into the swing of things. Before long I was touching crocodiles, putting my hand in a termite nest and holding an anaconda! Sloths, pink dolphins, piranhas and many other species crossed our path as we took our bi-daily excursions. We finished the trip with a dramatic sunset at the birthplace of The Amazon, sipping champagne and eating plantain in awe of the scenery.
Although we were sad to leave the Aqua we had a surprise in store - a visit to a Manatee rescue centre. I was privileged to interact with these extremely rare animals and bottle-feed a calf. So after a fantastic cruise I survived the Amazon with only one mosquito bite and a whole lot of beautiful memories.
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