The Galapagos. The name of these islands conjures images of another world, a place where exotic animals live without fear of human contact. Pristine beaches are home to swimming iguanas and impossibly colorful crabs, and sea lions surf in the turquoise waves.
Mashpi Lodge is magical. Traveling to Ecuador’s cloud forest, I’m amazed at the changes in landscape. From urban chaos in Quito to dry desolation at the equator, the road winds into the mountains and reveals a misty forest full of birds and butterflies.
I thought Quito would be an afterthought. Just another Andean capital. Ecuador has long been on my list of countries to travel to, but the Galapagos Islands were the main reason. But now that I have two days in Quito, I’ve started to realize that the city has a lot more to offer than I imagined.
Throughout my recent trip to Peru, I took a lot of video footage. Here is the final product, from the Peruvian Amazon to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley, from Machu Picchu to the floating islands on Lake Titicaca. Enjoy!
Not many people like Lima. When I told my friends that I was traveling to Peru, they all advised me to skip the capital. From what they said, Lima sounded like a dangerous place with nothing to do and see. But I’ve heard the same thing about other cities, and I’ve never found it to be true. I had a feeling that Lima would impress me. And it did.
The drive from Lake Titicaca to La Paz, Bolivia is one of the most adventurous I’ve ever experienced. Leaving the town of Copacabana, the road winds through thick green hills and along sapphire waters until it reaches a point where there should be a bridge. But there isn’t. There is only a wide stretch of water with no way to get across. So what did I do?
It was cold in Bolivia. As my bus wound its way around Lake Titicaca, rain spat at the windows and wind whipped across the roof. Gone was my sunny day on the floating islands in Peru. I was entering a new country en route to the famous Isla del Sol, and I was beginning to think that that when the Incas named the Island of the Sun they were playing a cruel joke on the world.
I wasn’t feeling well when I arrived in Puno. Food poisoning rendered me useless when I got off the plane in Juliaca, which was the nearest airport to the Peruvian city on Lake Titicaca. But I was in Puno for one reason, and not even illness could stop me from seeing what I traveled all the way there to see: the fabled floating islands.
After two lovely days in Machu Picchu, it was time to head back to Cuzco. But when my train arrived at Ollantaytambo station in the heart of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, I still had one thing left to do: meet one of the town’s most important organizations.
Most visitors to Machu Picchu don’t see much beyond the famous Inca site. But the town itself has some hidden gems, and after an excellent day of exploring the ruins of Machu Picchu, I set out to discover what else the small Peruvian town had to offer.
I know exactly how long I’ve wanted to travel to Machu Picchu. One of my childhood Spanish teachers was from Peru, and in addition to teaching us his country’s language, he awed us with stories about its culture. When I was in 6th grade, he showed us a video about the Inca Empire that inspired me to travel to the famous ruins in Peru someday. That day came on Saturday.
Cuzco isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Most people that travel in Peru use the city as a quick stopover point on their way to Machu Picchu. Admittedly, I may have been one of those people. But when I arrived in the former capital of the Inca empire, I discovered that there is much more to Cuzco than I ever imagined.