5 Places to Visit in Peru Besides Machu Picchu

The following is an extended version of the tips I published in the Edmonton Journal’s Passport Post feature for the week of May 16, 2015.  Check the newsletter out and if you’re based in Edmonton, consider attending one of their meet-up events to exchange travel advice in a local community!

Most people visit Peru to see the legendary Machu Picchu, either by train or the Inca Trail hike, and you certainly can’t plan a visit to Peru without seeing it.  But there is so much to the country than the UNESCO World Heritage Site.  These are some of the most notable places to visit in the southern half of the country that I visited and recommend.

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Modern Inconveniences – Expecting the Unexpected in Peru

Originally published on GoAbroad.com.

There’s a lot the guidebooks won’t tell you about a visit to Peru.  Sure, Lonely Planet will make mention of top sites to see, best hostels for your money, over-touristy things to avoid, and best places to eat.  They may advise about the weather and water conditions, and ideal sundries to pack.  Language guidebooks may even go into the extreme difference between “Mi papá tiene 47 años” and “Mi papa tiene 47 anos” (Hint: one is about age, the other about potato assholes).  But, in addition to the popular advice of generalized travel guides, here are some tips on how to happily and effectively navigate Peru with your humility intact.

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Photo Friday – Eruption at Holuhraun

My life has felt like a volcano about to burst these past few weeks, which is why I’ve abstained from blogging or posting pictures.  I return now after the ash has settled – the eruption at the Holuhraun lava field has ended, and so have at least some of my stressors.

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Photo Friday – Rock Isle Lake, Banff, Alberta

After enduring a particularly gruelling day hike the day before with tough winds and pelting rain, we decided to spend day two of our Banff hiking trip in Sunshine Meadows, known during the winter time as the Sunshine Ski Resort.

You take a shuttle bus up what is the ski-out in winter (and a particularly painful ski-out, since it’s quite flat and boring), and arrive at a landing of inoperative chairlifts, swinging softly in the gentle autumn breeze.  There’s not a cloud in the sky today, the sun is shining, and the larches are proudly wearing their new colours.

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Photo Friday – Strokkur Erupts in Iceland

Every ten minutes or so, this geyser erupts up to 30 feet in the air.  The very term “geyser” comes from the Icelandic word “Geysir”, which is the name of the inactive geothermal explosion near the site of Strokkur.

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France’s Hidden Gem: Why You Should Visit Lille

“Quand un étranger vient dans ch’Nord, il brait deux fois, quand il arrive et quand il repart.” – Ch’ti Proverb Before I embarked on my study abroad in Lille, France, I was told the above proverb. Translated into English, it means: “When a stranger visits the North of France, he cries two times: when he arrives, and when he leaves.” Continue reading France’s Hidden Gem: Why You Should Visit Lille

Photo Friday – Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Iceland

It’s been almost a year since I left for my first trip to Iceland, so my next few Photo Fridays may be dedicated specifically to the place that holds my heart.

After about the fourth time I saw a double rainbow in Iceland, it became less and less notable to repeat “Double rainbow, what does it mean?” to my new French and German friends on our tour of the south coast .  But the rainbow never loses its magic or power, and neither do the miles and miles of cracking ice, resting on a frigid lagoon nestled between glaciers, mountains, and ocean waves.

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Photo Friday: Desert Oasis in Huacachina, Peru

“I guess you could say I’m dreaming of summer.”

A travel writing professor spoke to us about the idea of a “pseudo-place”, the place that exists only for the tourist, that would have no place in reality if it weren’t for the visitors; a place that operates solely on expected visitation.  He named Las Vegas as an example, or Disneyworld – the place itself is based only on the income of tourism.  He postulated that even Banff, Alberta is a place that only breathes because of its guests.

Huacachina, Peru could be seen as such a place.  A random oasis in the middle of the Peruvian desert, probably once served as a place of trade or refuge.  Now, it’s a place for the people of Ica to escape for the weekend, and for thrill-seeking tourists to sand board through the dunes and drink copious amounts of alcohol.

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Photo Friday – Bourgeau Lake Trail, Alberta

After a thousand metre elevation gain on the Bourgeau Lake trail, which consists of an upwards walk through dense forests before a wet and/or gravelly scramble, you reach Harvey Pass and the small Harvey Lake.  If conditions permit, you can make the ascent to the top of Mount Bourgeau to unbelievable views. Or just go a bit further from Harvey Pass, and if you’re lucky and it’s autumn, get an incredible view of the larches in their full fall colours.

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Photo Friday – Mount Esja, Reykjavik

I took this photo while I was sprinting between venues at Iceland Airwaves in 2014, from KEX Hostel to Slippbarinn,  and an inebriated sprint at that.  Following the coastal boardwalk takes you on a direct line from KEX to the Marina Hotel, and even though my mind was focused on getting to the venue in time to see Low Roar, I’m so thankful to have kept my gaze wandering to the ocean as often as was safely possible.  For the view of Mount Esja from the shores of Reykjavik is one view I could never tire of.

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