Just back from Peru: Dawn’s three-week Peru adventure

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I went on an unforgettable journey back to my beloved Peru! It’s a country that never ceases to amaze me with its rich culture, breathtaking landscapes, and warm-hearted people.

I think I did Peru in a completely different way than I’ve ever done Peru before. I got into the bones of the country this time and took the path less followed, less travelled. It wasn’t about doing things the way they’re normally done. This time, it was about connecting with the local people, local tribes, and finding the Inca ruins that weren’t as famous.

But of course, not forgetting those famous ones too! Because, wow, Machu Picchu is truly breathtaking.

From Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley, to the Amazon and Lake Titicaca, read on for all of the highlights of my 3-weeks in Peru.



My adventure began in the vibrant capital city of Lima. From the moment I landed, the city’s dynamic atmosphere charmed me. I wandered around the artsy district of Barranco, explored the fancy Miraflores (of course sampling some of its fantastic gourmet restaurants) and took in the sunset with a walk along the Malecon.

I stayed at a wonderful, small boutique property, Fausto. The staff there were just beyond wonderful.  The Manager asked me if I’d like to visit the local market on my first morning – so I jumped at the chance!  We went for a wander and ended up talking to everybody on the stalls about the different herbs and vegetables and where they were from. I had a slight cold from the flight, and one seller bundled me up a selection of herbs that worked wonders!

If you think Lima is just a quick stopover, think again – you could easily spend three days here and not see it all.



The Sacred Valley of the Incas

After soaking up the sights and sounds of Lima, I took a short flight to Cusco, the historic heart of the Inca Empire. The altitude in Cusco is a challenge, so I quickly headed down into the Sacred Valley to acclimatise. The ancient valley is a realm of awe-inspiring landscapes, vibrant local communities, and preserved Incan ruins.

My stay with the Huilloc community, perched high in the Andes at 3,500 meters above sea level, was a real highlight of my entire trip. You can only reach the village by private car (and a special invitation!), so it was such an honour to visit. This village and its wonderful people in their colourful dress offered an authentic glimpse into traditional Andean life. These authentic moments of magic are what make travel so special. I learned all about their traditions, shared food with them, and even tried my hand at weaving! I’ll never forget it.

What’s more, when you visit you’ll see first hand the difference you’re making. Your visit directly helps fund the building of a school for the local children – that was the cherry on the cake for me. I can’t wait to go back again and see it finished!




Machu Picchu

Of course, no visit to Peru would be complete without a trip to the incredible Machu Picchu. Hopping on the train and taking in the views as it meandered through the lush mountains, sent my excitement into overdrive. I hiked the Inca Trail last time (beyond special if you’re up to it!), but the train journey was a real treat, with the views getting better around every corner.

I struck gold with my guide, Percy, he was brilliant. In his younger days he used to be a porter on the Inca Trail, so he was able to expertly navigate us to the quietest viewpoints away from the crowds and was full of stories and insider knowledge. It was so special soaking it all up away from the hustle and bustle. Words simply can’t capture the magic of Machu Picchu – I’ll let my photos do the talking here!

In short, it may be a top tourist highlight, but there are ways to experience this wonder that get you away from the madding crowds. Plus, if hiking isn’t for you, don’t be put off. The train ride is just as beautiful! Do reach out to chat to me more about it if Machu Picchu is on your bucket list. I’ll try my best to get you the legend that is Percy if I can!




Returning to Cusco (via one of the most lively train journeys of my life!), I spent a few days indulging in its culinary delights, cobbled streets, vibrant nightlife, and historic monuments. Each corner of this city holds a story, from its grand cathedrals to the bustling markets. I love it.

I spent a brilliant afternoon just outside of Cusco at the family-run Sulca Textile Farm. Surrounded by incredible views, I got to learn all about the Incan tradition of weaving, watching the process from start to finish. And the best bit? The farm is packed full of llamas you can feed! There’s a wonderful museum and shop, too. It would make a brilliant addition to a Peru family holiday, kids would love it.

I was also lucky enough to visit the ancient site of Sacsayhuamán, just outside the city. Machu Picchu gets all the press, but this is another incredible example of Incan architecture and engineering. Built between the 14th and 15th centuries, the sacred structures have become an integral part of the landscape around them. Visiting its massive stone walls and breathtaking panoramic views is a must if you’re a history enthusiast!




The Amazon

My next adventure took me deep into the Amazon basin. A short flight transported me to a world of lush rainforests, exotic wildlife and serious heat! It was hot hot hot, but just breathtaking. The temperature shift was unbelievable, but with bug spray and sunscreen in hand, I set off on an unforgettable few days. Here, nature reigns supreme. When I arrived at the lodge, I was greeted by a troop of monkeys swinging through the trees, and it didn’t end there!

An Amazon highlight for me was when I was at the top of the canopy viewpoint, Scarlet Macaws flying ahead as I watched the magical sunset sink lower in the sky. Then, the massive Amazonian moon rose at the same time – I was one big pile of goosebumps. That moment sparked something phenomenal in me.

The next morning, I was lucky enough to watch as the Amazonian sun lit up the clay cliff and before I knew it – it was breakfast time. Suddenly, the air was filled with the sounds of colourful birds swooping down to feed. Parakeets, parrots, and brilliant macaws perched and preened on the cliffs. The vibrant colours and lively calls were amazing. Seeing them gather and feast on the clay was a unique experience.

Top Tip: If you’re heading to the Amazon (and I highly recommend it!), make sure you factor in enough time to take things slowly. With the heat and the humidity, having time to relax in a hammock between all of the wildlife wandering is a must!




Lake Titicaca

Back in Cusco, I boarded the luxurious Andean Explorer train for an 11-hour journey through some of the most stunning scenery I’ve ever witnessed.

I took this journey a few years ago, but this time I made sure I soaked up every moment as it wound through the ever-changing landscapes of the Andean Plains. The colours and contrasts were truly captivating. At times it looked a bit like we were flying through the moon, and then at times it was so sparse and barren. Then the next moment you’re passing big packs of llamas grazing. This was real Peru.

This scenic ride brought me to Puno and the serene Lake Titicaca, the highest navigational lake in the world, and so so beautiful.

When I got to Lake Tititcaca, I stayed at a lodge called ‘’Titilaka’’ located on the south-eastern shore of Lake Titicaca on a tranquil private peninsula shared only with the local Aymara community. Surrounded on three sides by the pristine lake and with four acres of grounds, a perfect base to explore this undiscovered corner of the earth.

The lodge had these incredible panoramic windows looking out over Lake Titicaca. It was dark when I arrived, but the next morning I set my alarm for 5.30am to watch the sun rise. It was pinch-myself incredible. I sat in glorious peace and watched the sun rising over the water, and just llamas, birds, the sun, the colours for company. It was fabulous.

One of the main draws of going to visit this part of Peru, is to meet some of the local tribes that live on these floating islands. Some of the options can get a little touristy these days, and again, I wanted to do something a little bit different. So, I took off to visit some homestays on the islands. I spent so much time sitting and talking with these tribes, people from Tequil and Uros, all about what they do for a living and how they spend their days. I got to meet their children and share lunch at their home. This was so special, it felt like I was part of the family for a day. I was seeing the real, authentic Peru. There were a couple of absolutely beautiful spots, hosted by the most special people. I’m adding them to my Peru holiday itineraries from now on for sure!




Colca Canyon

From Puno, a 6-hour land transfer through the majestic Andes found me perched at the edge of the massive Colca Canyon, the second-deepest canyon in the world.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit this incredible part of the world before, but this time I did it a little differently. This time, I glamped!

Picture me, camping (very comfortably) under the stars at the edge of the magnificent Colca Canyon. There was a smoking volcano to one side and snow-capped mountains on the other. Peruvian wildlife is everywhere, with horses and llamas dotted around the landscape. I’ll never forget waking up to the birdsong, I felt so grounded and in tune with the Earth.

I was lucky enough to have another incredible guide here: Mauricio (a.k.a. Condor Man). He found us a secret spot away from any crowds to sit and watch so many majestic condors in flight. His knowledge was phenomenal, he knew how the birds would move on the thermals, so he told us exactly where to look, stand, and even pose for photos with them. Their wingspans are immense – putting away my camera and quietly watching them soar through the canyon was a humbling experience.





My final destination was the White City of Arequipa. This city, with its beautiful colonial architecture, rich cultural heritage, and delicious cuisine, was the perfect conclusion to my Peruvian adventure.

Again, my guide was top-notch. I wasn’t being shown around the way everybody else was. First, we sat down together, had a coffee, and watched the world go by whilst he told me about the history of the city, little snippets about the culture and all about the different kinds of architecture that can be seen around the streets. Then we explored.

Arequipa is his home, and with every single word he said you could tell how passionate he was about his city, his country and his job. He also had a wicked sense of humour, which anyone who knows me, will know went down well!




Phew! What a trip. I didn’t want to leave and I’m already dreaming of my next visit to this incredible country.

If you think Peru might be for you, do get in touch on 01242 253 073, or email me at [email protected] I’m still on such a high from the trip, and having an excuse to share my stories with you ear to ear would make my day!