Category Archives: Peru

3 Ghoulish Alternatives to Halloween around the World

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Happy Halloween! So how do other cultures celebrate this time of year? Here are five of our favorite devilish celebrations come November: 

La Diabalada, Peru. Early November. 

In the week leading up to November 5, the village of Puno in Peru celebrates La Diablada, a devilish sort of festival where men dress up as demons and hit the streets in a horned parade. Some say that it was to herald the departure of the conquistadors in the late 19th century—others claim that it’s a much older tradition, a way to pay home to ancient spirits of Lake Titicaca that gradually took on the trappings of Christianity. Set against the backdrop of the Cordillera Real mountains, there’s hardly a more dramatic setting. Before the night is over, don’t forget to try a glass of La Diablada Pisco (Peruvian brandy).

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Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), Mexico. Nov 1-2. 

Nobody does death quite like Mexico, who adopts a kind of upbeat discussion of mortality and immortality. Mexicans believe that the dead wait in Mictlan, a spiritual limbo, and can return to their homes just once a year, the Day of the Dead. Families erect an altar piled high with flowers, candles, ribbons, a bowl of water, and bread, and the house is strewn about with candy skulls, papier-mâché skeletons, banners of colored paper, and miniature coffins. Festivities include cooking, singing, dancing, culminating in a family visit to the cemetery.

Festa del Cornuto (Festival of the Horned One), Italy. Mid-November. 

With famed Mediterranean lust comes also its fair share of broken hearts. The Festival of the Horned One is a tribute to anyone who’s been made a cuckold in love. The small village of Rocca Canterano throws a party each November to remember those unlucky ones spurned by their partners. Actors dress up and recite their misfortunes on the streets, bearing helmets with horns, some adopting a more commercial devil’s garb.

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Filed under Europe, Italy, Mexico, Peru, South America

Travel News: State Dept says Renew your US Passport Now

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State Dept. Says Renew Your Expiring US Passport Now!

In general, for regular applications, the State Department lists the turnaround time as 6-8 weeks (although wait times usually end up shorter than that), and by paying an extra fee you can have that cut down to 2-3 weeks. In urgent circumstances, travelers can get a same-day passport renewal at a local passport office, if they can prove they are traveling sooner than the normal wait time. While the State Department promises to do a better job of staying on top of the flood of applications than they did ten years ago, if your expiration date ends in a seven, better to get on it early–specially because applications tend to spike in spring and summer as people gear up for vacation. And remember, some countries require you to have six months of validity left to enter, not something you want to find out the hard way. On average, the State Department processes around 13 million passport applications a year–last year, it saw 16.8 applications-so while 20.5 million is out of the norm, the State Department has seemingly learned to expect major increases of this magnitude every ten years when that initial flood of passports is up for renewal.

machu picchu peru 

Goway lays out Peru’s new rules for visiting Machu Picchu

New admission rules for Machu Picchu, which (as of now) go into effect January 2018. Ticket sales will be divided into a morning ticket 8am to 12pm and an afternoon ticket 12pm to 5:30pm. Change in cost for a ticket has not been announced. Travelers can buy both to spend a full day at the site. “Initially this change was to begin mid-2017, but after consultations with tour operators locally and internationally the date has been unofficially moved to Jan 2018,” says Goway. The number of visitors has grown annually, from low hundred thousands in 1980s to a peak of 1.4 million tourists in 2014. The ticket changes are an attempt to ease the stress on the fragile ruins, and keep it in good shape and accessibility for future travelers.  

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Holland America Adds Cuba Calls

Holland America Line has received approval to begin sailing to Cuba from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, starting with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday cruise aboard the Veendam, according to a statement from the company. The addition of Veendam itineraries will help meet the growing demand for premium cruise experiences to Cuba, the company said. Nine seven-day itineraries will feature the capital city Havana, and three of these will add another Cuba call at Cienfuegos. Depending on the departure day, cruises include the Cuba ports, as well as a combination of Caribbean ports, including Amber Cove, Dominican Republic; Belize City, Belize; Costa Maya and Cozumel, Mexico; George Town, Grand Cayman; Grand Turk, Turks and Caicos; Key West, Florida; and Montego Bay, Jamaica. The series of Cuban cruises will debut with the Dec. 22, 2017, 12-day holiday sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale. In addition to the seven-day cruises, an 11-day spring cruise sails March 17, 2018, and also features the Cuban ports of Havana and Cienfuegos, as well as Key West, Cozumel, Montego Bay and Georgetown. The final seven-day Cuba sailing departs on April 18, 2018.

 

 

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Filed under Cuba, Europe, Goway, holland america, News, Peru

The Conscientious Traveler Series: Inka Terra Asociación

Welcome to The Conscientious Traveler!our blog series focusing on vendors with projects that support the environment, wildlife and local communities. Did you know that there are tons of opportunities to combine your love of travel with a good cause? In our series we highlight tour operators, hotels and tour guides who play such active roles in their community. 

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Today’s Highlight: the Inka Terra Asociación

Inka Terra is a Peru-based partner of Willamette Intl Travel and a pioneer in ecological research and conservation funded by tourism. They have a number of quality hotels in Cusco and Madre de Dios, which together host more than 200,000 travelers every year. 

Inka Terra’s nonprofit offshoot Inka Terra Asociación (ITA) is a far-reaching foundation that supports scientific research for the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable development of the community. Since its establishment in 1978, ITA has devoted its efforts to the conservation of Peru’s biodiversity, encouraging scientific research in the Amazon rainforest, the Sacred Valley of the Incas, and many more locales across the country. ITA believes that learning about ecosystem dynamics and key species leads to better conservation strategies and education. 

Principal among their projects are: 

  • The Andean Bear Rescue Center, which studies the only bear species native to the Southern Hemisphere. 
  • The Inkaterra Canopy Walkway, a hanging bridge system to study wildlife in the rainforest canopy.
  • The Cabo Blanco Technical Study to justify the creation of Peru’s first marine reserve in the tropical sea off Cabo Blanco. 

For more info, check out their website: http://www.inkaterra.com/inkaterra-asociacion-org/

Support by Spending a Night in Luxury at an Inka Terra Hotel

Willamette Intl Travel has had a lot of success for clients staying at one of Inka Terra’s five hotels. We’ve received rave reviews of their cabins and eco-guides. Patrons of the hotels really feel like they are contributing to ecological efforts. On their blog they keep a journal for wildlife sightings at their hotels: Sunbittern bird, Andean Spectacled Bears, Jaguar, Harpy Eagles, Puma, Tapir, Deer. Last year, legendary filmmaker Werner Herzog visited three of the properties as part of Inka Terra’s 40th Anniversary. Send us a message to learn more: info@wittravel.com or 503-224-0180. 

From the desk of our client Julie V., who stayed at Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel in 2014:

“…we were treated as royalty. What an incredible place. After our little orientation with nice, cool tea we were told that we were being upgraded to a suite. And…it was spectacular. The room was huge, the bathroom included an indoor or outdoor shower, and we had our own garden Jacuzzi. We checked into all the activities and signed up for the orchid tour, the evening tour with lanterns, and the spectacled bear visit. The first two we had that afternoon and evening and they were excellent. We enjoyed time just relaxing in our suite and tasting the Pisco that was included. Dinner at the restaurant that evening was one of the best ever. We had a delightful server that we are staying in contact with, as we want to follow her career. She is outstanding. 

The next morning we had arranged to take the Andean bear tour. These are endangered bears that are being kept on a part of the Inkaterra property to ultimately prepare them for returning to their habitat. While it wasn’t quite what we expected we were glad we had taken the tour and learned a great deal about these bears. Breakfast was next and it was delicious and I even got the recipe for their quinua (English quinoa) pancakes.

Suggestion: Anyone going to MP must stay at least one night at Inkaterra. It is almost indescribably wonderful, relaxing, and beautiful. Truly a must do.”

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Filed under Conscientious Traveler, Peru, South America, Travel by Holiday

Embark on an Incredible Voyage on the West Coast of South America

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Looking for that adventure of a lifetime? In 2016, Canadian-based G Adventures is sending its MS Expedition to the West Coast of South America. The ship will voyage from Ushuaia up the Chilean coast to Peru, and onward to Panama and Colombia.

The Expedition carries a maximum of 134 guest passengers, not including crew, so you can expect a personalized, one-of-a-kind voyage. Trips often include pre/post nights in hotels, guided tours, land excursions, transfers, and educational programs onboard. Meals are international and provided by professional chefs.

The trip is comprised of 3 core legs. You can join any of them for a two-week expedition or embark on a longer adventure by combining two or all three.

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Leg A: 15 Days Chilean Fjords, Ushuaia to Santiago. Ushuaia – Punta Arenas – Puerto Natales – Angostura Guia – Laguna San Rafael – Puerto Chacabuco – Ancud, Isla de Chiloe – Talcahuano – Santiago/Valparaiso.

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Leg B: 15 Days Santiago to Guayaquil. Santiago – Valparaiso – Caldera – Arica – San Juan de Marcona – Callao/Lima – Trujillo – Salinas/Guayaquil. Between Lima and Trujillo, your guides take you on a 3-day included trip overland to the Sacred Valley and explore Cusco, Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu (local flights are additional).

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Leg C: 12 Days Guayaquil to Cartagena. Guayaquil/Salinas – Isla de La Plata – Bahia Solano – Punta Alegre – Pearl Islands – Panama Canal & Panama City – San Blas Islands – Capurgana – Cartagena.

Combos:

28 Days Ushuaia to Guayaquil. Combination of the first two trips.

25 Days Santiago to Cartagena. Combination of the last two trips.

38 Days Ushuaia to Cartagena. Combination of all three trips.

Solo Adventurers: Traveling solo but want to bunk with a fellow voyager? G Adventures will guarantee a shared cabin with one of the other guests. If you’d rather have a private cabin, G Adventures can offer one at a supplement.

Read about G Adventures in Antarctica here: https://wittravel.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/g-adventures-in-antarctica/

Departures are in March and April 2016. Call your Willamette agent at 503-224-0180 to discuss options!

In the Portland area this Fall? Drop by our office on Wednesday September 9 at 6:30pm. Join staff from Willamette Intl Travel and G Adventures for an evening of adventure travel! We’ll highlight Galapagos and Antarctica as well as G Adv’s special Arctic Cruise.

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Filed under Chile, Colombia, Panama, Peru, South America, Travel by Ship

Day Trips Outside of Lima, Peru

Planning a Trip to Peru? Only have a few days in the capital of Lima? Lima is a gorgeous city, but there’s a plethora of activities to do just outside the Peruvian capital. Here are some day trips to add on to your tour or independent travel in Lima.  

Museo Del Ejercito “Real Felipe” © Aleks J Clark, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license

  • Islands of Lima Sightseeing Cruise

Duration: 4 Hours

Enjoy a relaxing morning boat ride to the isles off of Lima—Palomino, Cabinzas and El Fronton. You’ll explore archaeological sites and spot marine and aviary wildlife. On Palomino you can view the historic Fort of Real Felipe, a Spanish defensive barricade against pirates and indigenous Peruvians.  Passing by El Fronton, you’ll hear the story of this prison island and its most famous resident, President Fernando Belaunde Terry.

“Paracas Bay and Ballestas Islands” © lisa_aw, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license

  • Nazca Lines Air Tour and Ballestas Islands

Duration: 16 Hours

From Lima, you’ll board a ferry and visit the famous Ballestas Islands and their sea lion residents. On the Paracas you can view the Candelabra of the Andes, a 600-foot painting carved into the mountain side. Then, you’ll board a small Cesna plane for a scenic air tour over the mysterious Nazca Lines. Learn about the folklore of the Nazca people and the symbolic meanings behind the monkey, spider, hummingbird, lizard and other gigantic drawings.

“Lima” © spersper, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license

  • Lima Culinary Tour

Duration: 6 Hours

Learn about and sample delicious Peruvian cuisine. Wander around markets with your local guide, smell mini avocados, cherimoya fruit and sample the indigenous lucuma. Next, visit a seafood restaurant where a top chef will instruct you how to make the perfect ceviche, a chilled dish of fish and shrimp marinated in seasonings. Enjoy a buffet lunch that features traditional Peruvian dishes. Then head to a Lima tavern to concoct a pisco sour, the national drink of Peru.

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“Views from the top of Temple Del Sol – Pachacamac” © kthypryn, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license

  • Temple of Pachacamac

Duration: 3 Hours

Take half a day to drive along the Pan-American highway to the famous Pachacamac Temple. Built between 200 and 1450 ce by various kings, this incredible religious compound houses giant pyramids of the sun and moon. It is composed of an estimated 50 million sundried bricks. Walk with an informed guide and learn all about the Moche and Huari cultures.

You can book these and more incredible day trips and tours with Willamette Intl Travel. Let us advise you on your trip! WIT Agents Pam and Barb have both traveled to Peru and would love to share their insider scoops with you. Did you know that there are nonstop flights from LAX to Lima? Call today to reserve your seat on a tour in Peru! 800-821-0401 or email info@wittravel.com to find out more.

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Peru Feature: Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Incan archaeological site located in the Cusco Region of Peru. It perches about 7970 feet above sea level, towering over the Urubamba Valley. Though the purpose of the site is still disputed, many archaeologists believe that it was an imperial estate, and may even have been a royals’ resort. It was abandoned around the time of the Spanish Conquest, but has in the last century enjoyed popularity as a tourist attraction, and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. It has an undying appeal to tourists and locals alike—built in elegant Inca style, with polished stone walls. Several distinguished buildings are found on the grounds—including the Temple of the sun and the Room of the Three Windows.

Visitors typically visit the ruins with a tour guide on a day trip or longer hike. Overnighting in the small touristy town Aguas Calientes is recommended. Months to visit are March to November, after the wet season. Don’t miss riding the Vistadome train, a recently renovated transport with panoramic windows, tasty refreshments and spectacular views.

There are a variety of tours for every taste and type of traveler. Several of our vendors offer excursions, and typically include lunch, entrance fees, train and bus tickets, and accommodation. Book a day trip or a 2-day private tours wander and let yourself discover the wonders of an ancient empire. Expert guides will keep you informed of the history and culture. Afterwards, enjoy a respite at the Sanctuary Lodge, the only restaurant on the peak.

There are even chances to combine Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley with Quito and the Galapagos islands in one itinerary!

photo by audrey_sel

Ask your Willamette Intl Travel about arranging tours to Machu Picchu. We can arrange private, group, half day, and multiday adventures as part of a whole itinerary or an enhancement to your Latin American adventure. Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

 

 

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Filed under Peru, South America, Travel by Rail

Peru Feature: The Mountain City of Cuzco

photo by Agencia de Noticias do Acre

Cuzco (“Qosqo” in Quechua), situated in the Urubamba Valley of the Andes mountain range, was once the capital of the Inca Empire. Today, it’s a city renowned for its colonial architecture, controversial history, and countless ruins—the most famous of which is Sacsayhuaman, the fortress where Conquistador met Incan in 1536. The modest metropolis of Cuzco has a healthy nightlife, but also maintains a balanced sense of tradition through its indigenous population. Cuzco has many draws, including delicious Peruvian cuisine, markets, colorful textiles, and cobblestone streets. Sites not be missed are San Pedro Market, Plaza de Armas, and Plaza de San Francisco.

Visitors often fly from Lima or Arequipa, though be aware of the onset of altitude sickness. At 3400 m above sea level, it’s important to establish physical equilibrium before any heavy activity.

Photo By Agencia de Noticias do Acre

Day Trips and Tours.

There are plenty activities to enjoy during your stay in the ancient city. Within Cuzco are ample opportunities to participate in city tours, cooking classes, and folklore shows. Beyond the city limits, the traveler can take comfortable or adventurous day trips to the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the villages of Ollantaytambo and Chinchero. The villages that surround the city—and their remarkable agricultural terraces, stone canals and aqueducts—are still used as they were 500 years ago. Adventurous travelers can enjoy whitewater rafting, paragliding, canoeing, horseback riding, or rafting down the Rio Apurimac. You can even travel to Machu Picchu—but it’s best to stay overnight to fully enjoy the ruins there.

If you want to escape the city and learn about the real Quechua community, there are even chances to barter in local craft markets, speak with indigenous families, enjoy traditional a Quechua lunch, and participate in a community activity such as farming, fishing, painting houses or cooking.

If you have time, visit the Ccochahuasi Animal Sanctuary, a rehabilitation center for victims of poaching located between Cusco and Pisac. There are deer, pumas, macaws, alpalacas, llamas, condors, and a host of other incredible creatures.

photo by McKay Savage

Ask your Willamette Intl Travel about arranging day tours and transfers to Cuzco and Machu Picchu. We can arrange private, group, half day, and multiday adventures during your Latin American itinerary. Tune in next time, when we take a closer look at Machu Picchu! Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

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I made this in the kitchen over the weekend–delicious and great for a snack!

Peruvian Aji Salsa Verde Recipe

1 bundle of fresh cilantro, chopped

2-3 jalapenos (with seeds for spicy, seedless for mild)

1 large garlic clove

6 TB olive oil

¼ cup fresh lime juice (2 limes)

Salt to taste

Black pepper to taste

Pulse all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Add more hot peppers, black pepper or salt as needed.

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