mP2

The JJ family’s travel saga started well before the seed for this blog was sown. We were fortunate enough to make an exciting foray into Peru in the spring of 2014. I had been involved in collecting miles and points avidly by then for about a year and a half and read travel blogs voraciously. Again and again, I came across trips to Peru and the mighty citadel of Macchu Picchu, so an outline for a trip started forming in my mind. Like an artist laying out a vision, I started mapping out our travel to this beautiful nation.

I had learnt several lessons in redeeming frequent flier miles by then. One of the biggest is that, miles are a commodity that devalue with time, so best to earn and burn them quickly. With that in mind and with a plan in hand, I went searching for the best possible way to get to Peru from Dallas. Most travelers fly into Lima and then to Cuzco and onward to Macchu Picchu. This allows time to visit Lima but also to acclimatize to the altitude in Cuzco and Macchu Picchu.

United Airlines had great redemption opportunities for South America. Of course, it meant a circuitous route from Dallas to Houston to San Salvador to Lima and then onward to Cuzco on United and TACA. The flights themselves would not be long individually, but the layover in San Salvador would consume most of the travel day. I was a little nervous about how the children (then 12 and 7) would react to the nearly 24 hours of travel. But being the hardy souls that they are, they handled the trip well.

Our plan for the week long stay was as follows:

Day 1: Taxi from Cuzco to Sacred Valley? Urubamba and settle into hotel, tour Pisac

Day 2: Ollantaytambo ruins, Maras, Moray, Salineras trip

Day 3: Take the Vistadome train to Aguas Calientes and spend the night there

Day 4: Visit Macchu Picchu, return to Urubamba and stay at the hotel overnight

Day 5: Taxi to Cuzco, sightsee Cuzco ruins, Sachsayhuaman, Puka Pukara, Qenqo and Tambomachay

Day 6: Cuzco to Lima, local sightseeing in Lima

Day 7: Lima city

Day 8: Return to Dallas

For the return trip, I booked on American Airlines with direct flights from Lima to Dallas. At that time, American would allow one forward journey from the home base to another city, even after a few months break. So the ticket read Lima to Dallas in March and onward journey to Denver in May. We were able to redeem a one way flight to Denver on the same ticket. Unfortunately, this rule has since been rescinded. But it was cool while it lasted.

The trip was an icaptivating journey for us in many ways. It was the first time we visited South America. We heard a lot of concerns about the security situation in Peru, the food and easy access to vegetarian meals, general safety, language barrier, etc. Traveling with young children, in general, poses a huge question of what acceptable risk is and whether its fair to force our children to assume the same risk when they are too young to decide for themselves. All the reading I had done did not raise red flags as far as risk  was concerned in my mind. Intuitively, I felt that sound planning and using a commonsensical approach to traveling should help. And thus it was, that with a little bit of trepidation and a lot of fervor, we pressed forward.

In the end, this trip gave us the courage to spread our travel wings, to discover new places, to be comfortable in a country whose language we didn’t speak and to realise that at the end of the day, we are not very different from each other, no matter how far apart we live. We found Peru to be a brilliant amalgam of old and new cultures, of color and character, steeped in history and timeless. We were enthralled by the skill and art of the ruins that lay all around us as we visited one important site after another. We were enchanted by the people who now walk the path of the Incas, happy, welcoming, hospitable and charming. We were entranced by the vividness of the nature that surrounded us. We were grateful we made the trip and were thoroughly delighted by all that we saw, heard, tasted, smelt and savored.

I have been asked many times in the last few years to write about Peru. In fact, one of the first suggestions for writing a blog came after this trip. While I cannot do justice to a day to day account of our trip, I hope to make this a useful resource for trip planning and to include some of our best photos for viewing pleasure.

Join us as we endeavor to recapture the marvel that is Peru!