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Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

Toronto
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Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

Hi everyone,

I'm leaving for my first extensive (well, 18 day) trip to South America this Monday. I'm a 23-year old academic who needs some excitement and isolation at once, in order to recuperate mentally from school before embarking on a Master's degree...

I'm torn between taking the Gringo Trail, flying to Cusco, perhaps taking a 4-day hike to Machu Picchu, training it to Pino and the Lake, then to Arequipa, perhaps a hike into the Canyon, etc.

and...

Travelling into the North of Peru. This would include bussing to Huaraz, then further North to Trujillo and finally to Chiclayo, visiting the various ruins, Chan Chan, Kuelan, etc. etc. on the way. This might include a nice hike in Huaraz. If there is time, I may take a boat into the Iquitos Amazon and fly back to Lima from Iquitos.

The two paths seem to offer two distinct flavours...the South-East promises to be touristy, easy to meet other people, colourful and - what's best - a package which includes Machu Picchu and, of course, Inti Raymi which begins just as I arrive. The North, however, might offer greater solitude, a more authentic immersion into the native culture, some $$ savings (I'm not rich), more time to relax, and a bit of a slower pace...

Maybe I'm totally wrong about all this, but the philosopher in me is drawn to the North, while the tourist in me wants to take the Gringo trail.

...I could always come back for a second trip. Any advice? I would really appreciate it!

Some suggestions as to what to see/do on either trek would also be helpful.

Lima, Peru
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for Cusco, Lima, Arequipa, Peru
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1. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

Go north. Its now the high tourist season and probably you do not have reservations to go to most places in Cusco anyway, so it could prove to be difficult to obtain things like train tickets to MP and of course their is no way you can get a permit to do the Inca trail.

You need to plan in advance to be able to do this part of Peru.

On the other hand, going north -Esat will be easier to get reservations and you will be more on yr own, which is what you are looking for anyway.

In Toronto now you can see an exhibit of the Lord of Sican at the ROM which will give you a good idea what you will find around the Chiclayo area.

new york
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2. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

Interesting that you write this because I, too, am drawn to the north. Other than MP I find the north (chiclayo, Huaraz, Iqitos, Trujilo, Cajamarca etc) more appealing. I will probably be in Peru in October and do have time to plan and make reservations for the Gringo Trail if I decide to do that. It would be for about 20 days.

I would be very interested in reading from some of the experts about the north route instead of the south. I know that I would be missing MP but feel that the overall experience would be more authentic and more memorable. Thoughts please. Thanks.

Lima, Peru
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3. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

Going to Peru and not visiting MP, its like going to Egypt and not visiting the piramids.

Having said that, the northern part of Peru is also very interesting but has less tourist facilities.

I would start by visiting Caral, 200 kms North of Lima, on the coast. Its the oldest city in the Americas (5000 yrs BC)

Then go to Trujillo and visit Chan Chan and the Huaca of the Luna and la Huaca del Sol. Should also visit Huanchaco and surf if you like.Try their excellent seviches, aji de huevo and other typical dishes from the north.

Then go to Chiclayo and visit El Senor de Sipan museum and alsothe sites. Try arroz con Pato, their tipical dish.

Then go to Kuelap which is pre-Inca and quite far away, sitting at the beggining of the jungle.

If you want to do Huaraz, you will have to do it after Caral and before Trujillo. The road to Huaraz is just after, 50 kms, the Caral site.

When going to Kuelap you should visit Cajamarca and the Rescue rooms from Inca Atahualpa. They also have thermal baths from the Inca times.

Ottawa, Canada
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4. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

I agree with all of you. The north looks very interesting and getting away from the big tourist crowd makes it all the more appealing. We've made our reservations for MP/SV for the first week but then we're heading to the North to Trujillo, Chachapoyas and we'll end up in either Tarapoto or back in Chiclayo. We obviously won't have time to see all of the sites (or even all of the major sites) but we should be able to see some very interesting things that we can pick and choose.

In addition to the sites that xochitl mentioned you can also look at the mercado modelo, Tucume, Batan Grande in the Chiclayo area and Revash, Gocta Waterfall, Karajia and some interesting treks like Gran Vilaya in the Chachapoyas area.

The north gives you a wide variety of environments too. Chiclayo (coastal desert) to Chachapoyas (mountainous cloud forest) to Tarapoto (Amazon jungle). There is quite a bit of travel time between each area but to me it seems that way for almost every place in Peru.

Xochitl: If Pupil really wants to see MP then could he take the backpacker train?

Lima, Peru
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5. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

Wandering Hoser :

Pupil has already gone and even probably returned from Peru.

Yes, if he went to Cusco, he could have taken the backpacker to MP if he found available space.

Ottawa, Canada
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6. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

haha... yeah look at that date.

Ottawa, Canada
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7. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

That's wierd because this was at the top of the list this morning.

8. Re: Peru North or Peru East for a first-timer?

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