A Taste of Lima, Peru

Instead of taking a long bus ride to our next destination, we opted for a short flight to Lima instead. This way we were able to fly with our parents and see them off to their connecting flight back home.

After a bit of research, we decided to stay in the Miraflores district of Lima. Here we could get a bit of ocean action as we hadn’t had any since Valparaíso, Chile. The other most important reason for going to Lima is the food! Peru is ranked among the top cuisines in the world. We had to find out for ourselves (our favorite sport is eating, we’re especially good at it).

Before hitting up the restaurants, a bike and free walking tour was needed just to familiarize ourselves with the area. The walking tour was centered around historical downtown Lima where you would find major points of interest like Plaza de Armas, the Palacio de Gobierno (where the president lives) and the Basílica de San Francisco, just to name a few. While we were walking around the plaza, loud trumpet playing was coming from the palace and we actually witnessed the changing of the guards!

Bike tour around Barranco and Miraflores neighborhoods

Plaza de Armas pano

During our bike tour we rode through the neighborhoods Miraflores and Barranco, where we rode alongside the cliff side for most of the tour. Here, you could see many parasailers floating right above the Larcomar shopping center. This huge shopping complex with a movie theatre and multiple restaurants is actually built into the cliff side and has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

Coastal parasailer

While we were in Lima, we decided again to use Airbnb and rent a room. Our hosts, David (who’s a DJ) and Eugenia were awesome! They invited us to a house party with some of their friends and even took us to a non-touristic place in Chorrillos to have some delicious ceviche! Speaking of ceviche (best ever!), check out the food pics below as Peru did indeed deliver on it’s exquisite food.

The black crew with Eugenia and David

Delicious ceviche in Chorillos

The Famous Inka Trail to Machu Picchu

Although many of our trips and tours are done with little planning ahead, there was one adventure that required advance planning – the well known four day trek along some of the original Inka Trail to Machu Picchu. The trail starts at km 82 in Ollantaytambo which is located in the Sacred Valley. Over the course of 4 days, we trekked through valleys, multiple ruins and over mountains for 43 kms! We endured cold temperatures at night, reached the height of Dead Woman’s Pass (a staggering 4,750 meters!), and hiked up uneven stone steps that never ended. All of this to get to the final destination, Machu Picchu.

The experience was only enhanced by the awesome group of people we met at the briefing (11 total) that would partake in this journey with us. We were told that since we were a larger group, we would have two guides and 18 porters, totaling 20 people that made our trip possible.

We spent the next 4 days getting to know each other over this moderately difficult stone path trail. For most of the trail we trekked as one unit. Along the way we could see that other groups had been separated by time and distance due to their drastic difference in fitness levels. We were lucky that our group maintained a relatively steady pace and there was certainly no hurry. What was important was to enjoy the natural beauty of the trail.

Love this picture of our crew!

As I said before, the trek was made possible by our 2 guides Roger and Rosalio (Rosita) and 18 porters. If Roger and Rosita were the brains of the operation, the porters could be considered the braun. These men showed incredible strength by not only doing the trail as well, but with an added pack twice their size. They physically carried everything until we reached our destination. These things included tents, sleeping bags, mattresses, food, cookware, most of our personal belongings and, not to mention, their personal items as well!

Red army

The porters literally ran ahead of us as if they were taking a casual jog and were able to get to lunch spots and campsites at least an hour ahead of us. When we would reach camp, there would be “happy hour” waiting for us. We were served coffee, coca tea, popcorn and my new love…Milo. It’s a chocolate and malt powder combo (originally from Australia) that you mix with hot water. Roger was kind enough to give us his recipe of Milo, powdered milk and sugar! Mmm!! Lunch and dinner were nothing short of gourmet meals. We have never eaten so well on a camping trip before!

Along the trail we got to explore a number of different ruins, but ultimately when we arrived at Machu Picchu on the 4th day, it was exhilarating and made the tough trek worthwhile.

TwoGirls at Machu Picchu

Thanks again to our new friends Katya, Gavin, Geetha, Nelson, Ken, Charles, Daming, Davide and Lisa for making our trip absolutely fabulous!! Also thanks to our guides Roger and Rosita and our awesome porters that made it all possible!

Check out the galleries below for all the pics! Scroll all the way to the bottom of this post for the video.

Day 1-2

Day 3-4

San Pedro de Atacama (Part 2… Finally!)

On our last few days in San Pedro de Atacama, we booked a couple more tours of the surrounding area. One of the tours we ended up doing was el Valle de la Luna tour, which means valley of the moon. The reason it’s called that? You guessed it, it looks similar to the surface of the moon! It was just a couple kilometers away from town.

The rough terrain, sand dunes and multiple colors of the rock give the impression that you are actually on the moon. The only reason you know you are not on the moon is due to the hoards of people and tour buses all around you. Nonetheless it had some of the most interesting landscapes we had ever seen.

Salt mine equipment

Old salt mine equipment from back in the day

Close up of sand/salt/calcium deposits forming the Valle de la Luna

Close up of sand/salt/calcium deposits forming the Valle de la Luna

Moon valley landscapes

Crazy, cool, funky landscapes

Beautiful moon valley landscape!

Beautiful moon valley landscape!

It’s incredible how the earth almost designs itself over time. What we see now are as a result of earthquakes, volcanoes, shifting plates and even just wind! Check out these formations!

Tres Marias Valle de la Luna

This formation, the Tres Marias, was carved out over time by strong winds

Amphitheater Rock in Valle de la Luna

Amphitheater Rock in Valle de la Luna

largest sand dune in the region

Posing in front of the largest sand dune in the Valle de la Luna

Valle de la Luna terrain

Martian-like terrain

We stopped at the famous Coyote Rock to watch the sunset and get some great pics. It was both breathtaking and scary sitting on the tip of the rock overlooking the deep gorge below. It was the perfect finish to the day!

Coyote rock

Here we are, teetering on the tip Coyote Rock. Yes, that’s a giant fracture line in the rock.

Valley under Coyote Rock

Valley under Coyote Rock

The next day we had an early morning tour booked. We were told to be outside of our hostel and dressed warmly by 4:30 am. The company didn’t put enough emphasis on “dress warmly” (I’ll get back to that). Our van picked us up and there were a few people inside, half asleep. We eventually picked up a few more people and started the ascent to the Geysers del Tatio.

This geyser field is located at a staggering 4320 meters above sea level, amongst the highest in the world. It also has over 80 active geysers, some just tiny little boiling spurts of water coming from the ground and others up to 18 ft tall. These boiling temperatures can reach up to 185 degrees F – water boils at much lower temperatures at these high altitudes! There were rocks strategically placed around the geysers forming a path that we needed to follow. Around some of the larger geysers, a rock wall had been built for protection of the tourists. Sadly, within the last 6 months, a tourist accidentally fell into one of the larger ones (before the rock wall went up) and didn’t survive.



Tatio geysers

Geysers everywhere

Water spewing from one of the geysers

Water spewing from one of the geysers

We made sure we were really careful walking around the geysers, especially since it was just below freezing and we could not feel our extremities! We were ill prepared in our clothing choice but we had to ignore the cold and enjoy the experience. We were only freezing until the sun came up and when it did, we almost instantly felt better.

Freezing cold geysers

It was so cold, our lips turned blue

Jen warming up her hands over a boiling geyser

Jen warming up her hands over a boiling geyser

Hillside geysers

Hillside geysers

Giant sized geysers!

Giant sized steam towers

Gringo Eater, Tatio Geysers

Posing in front of the “Gringo Eater” geyser – gringos are known to jump in!

Check out the rest of our pics and vids and see the variety of wildlife at these altitudes. There were also some hot springs, which by the way we did not go in… We just couldn’t brave the cold!!

People in the hot springs

People braving the -5 degree celsius weather

Giant coots

Giant coots

Flamingos AND llamas?!

Flamingos AND llamas?!


Vicuñas that we saw along the way

Llama skewers... Delicious!!

Llama skewers… Delicious!! Does this count as wildlife?


Bahía Inglesa/Caldera, Chile

We took another bus even further north in Chile to visit a small town called Bahía Inglesa. We stayed in the nearby town of Caldera (it was cheaper) for a couple days so we could get a glimpse of the turquoise waters that Bahía Inglesa is known for. Just a short 7 min drive south of Caldera, it was the first beach we had hung out on since Rio!

The first thing we saw stepping out of the car was the beautiful bright blue waters with lots of different rock formations creating little coves for people to swim in. The sand was very white and there was not a shortage of seashells at all!

Bahía Inglesa, Chile

Bahía Inglesa, Chile

Bahía Inglesa, Chile

Chile’s version of the Caribbean?

Bahía Inglesa, Chile

Pelican poop covered rock

Bahía Inglesa, Chile

Lizard sunbathing

Bahía Inglesa, Chile

Beautiful day on the beach

Bahía Inglesa seashells

Thousands of awesome seashells!

We pitched our umbrella, read books, practiced our Spanish, and had fun collecting seashells to make “abstract art”. Give us a break, we were bored! The shells were incredible though.

Bahía Inglesa, Chile

Shannon’s creation

Back near our hostel in Caldera, there was not too much going on. It’s a quiet little port town, with a lot of stray dogs. We walked around and were able to snag a few pictures of some pretty old machinery. Maybe something to load or unload boat cargo? In any case, it was very interesting to imagine what it looked like back in its hay day.

Caldera, Chile

Our gang of dogs came with us wherever we went

Caldera, Chile

Huge structures falling apart

Casa Mariela Hostel Caldera

Our hostel, Casa Mariela

Later on that night, we went out to dinner and made a few friends, listened to some live music and danced a little, too!

Caldera, Chile

New friends, they are from Viña del Mar

It was a nice few days, but we had enough of the beach and were definitely ready for some real adventure! On to the most visited destination of northern Chile, San Pedro de Atacama!

Vicuña/Pisco Elqui, Chile

After filling our minds and eyeballs with lots of art and port culture, it was time to escape to a more rural area. Abundant with vineyards and located in the Valle de Elqui, Vicuña seemed like the ideal environment we were looking for.

So, we finally did it – after 50+ days of traveling, we actually missed our bus to Vicuña! Literally sprinting towards the bus terminal (following a couple of different metro lines to make our 1:00 pm bus), much to our dismay the bus had already left. It was only 1:06pm….!

Thank goodness there was another bus going to the next closest city, La Serena, and we were able to catch a ride with them. Interesting enough, our bus actually caught up with our original bus and we were able to hop on and continue directly to Vicuña, phew!!

Our Airbnb host, Carlos, surprised us by picking us up from the bus terminal and taking us to his home a few minutes away. Him and his wife were very accommodating! They owned a small shop in town where they sold children’s clothing but we didn’t know it until we stumbled upon it while walking downtown. They welcomed us out of the hot sun, into their shop and gave us some juice. While hanging out, we showed them our blog and they were excited to read about our adventures.

Jen showing our blog to our hosts

Jen showing our blog to our hosts!

Vicuña is the place of birth to the other Chilean poet and educator, Gabriela Mistral, who, 26 years before Pablo Neruda (one of her students!), also won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was the first Spanish-American woman to ever receive this honor.

During our stay, one of the things we did was take a bike tour. This time there was no guide – just us, our bikes, and a map! The map led us through a couple pisqueras (or pisquerias), a Hare Krishna retreat, some small villages, a cervecería, solar kitchens, several vineyards and most of all some of the most beautiful scenery we’ve ever laid our eyes on. The whole trip was a total of about 18k, in the blazing hot sun!

Vicuña bike tour

Vicuña bike tour

Vicuña vineyards

Vicuña vineyards

Hare Krishna retreat called EcoTruly

Hare Krishna retreat called EcoTruly

EcoTruly, Vicuña


Aba Pisquera, Vicuña

Aba Pisquera

Aba Pisquera, Vicuña

Distillation area

Cerveceria, Vicuña

Cerveceria Guayacan

Pisco vineyards, Vicuña

Pisco vineyards


More beautiful Vicuña scenery

Vicuña donkey

We stopped to say hello to this little guy

The following day, we visited the neighboring town of Pisco Elqui, which is known as the heart of Chilean pisco production. You can’t come here without trying a few pisco sours, yum!! We also walked around the small town and admired some of the street art and quirky restaurants.

Pisco sours, Pisco Elqui

Pisco sours, trying different flavors

Mistral Pisqueria Pisco Elqui

Pisco Mistral

Pisco Elqui

Salad in Pisco Elqui, so good!

Pisco Elqui restaurant

Pisco Elqui restaurant

Pisco Elqui street art

Pisco Elqui street art

Church in Pisco Elqui

Church in Pisco Elqui

Selfie :-)

Selfie 🙂

Vicuña was a great scenic, relaxing place to hang out for a few days and pickle ourselves in pisco. Next up, the coastal town of Caldera!