It's about time to write another blog post about my adventures in Peru...
I'm currently sitting at Dragonfly Hostel in Arequipa after a 16 hour bus ride from Lima.
I crossed the border from Ecuador to Peru about 3 weeks ago. No passport stamp. More on that later. Please continue reading...
I started my hero's journey in Chachapoyas where I explored the city for a few days.
I met a friend named Mike from Malta during an epic challenging hike to Gocta Watefall.
At just over 2,500 feet high, it's the 16th tallest waterfall in the world! See photo.
A few days later, I made the long journey via collectivo southeast to a town called Tarapoto.
This place was known for its beautiful array of waterfalls near the Amazon Rainforest.
I stayed at a dingy hostel for the night and then met up with my friend Mike the next day.
The plan was to take a cargo ship via a tributary of the Amazon River from Yurimaguas all the way to Iquitos, the largest city in the world not accessible by road.
After a few days of deliberation, I decided this opportunity was too interesting to pass up.
Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone! That line is constantly growing thinner.
Upon reaching our destination, we learned that the Eduardo ship had already left.
However, the next best option was a speed boat to Iquitos.
It was more expensive and only took 12 hours instead of over 2 days. See photo.
How many people can say they've taken a speed boat along the Amazon River? Not many. And that's exactly what makes it truly noteworthy!
After cruising through the night and minor engine troubles, we arrived in a small town and piled into a small collectivo for about 2 hours on the only connecting road to Iquitos.
Then it was a crazy ride through traffic on a tuk-tuk to the Amazon House Hostel.
The main objective of visiting Iquitos was to go on a 3-day tour of the Amazon Rainforest.
I was considering an Ayahuasca ceremony but thought better of it in light of disturbing stories from friends. Nature is my drug of choice!
Unfortunately, I couldn't afford the full cost of the tour even after discussing a partial exchange.
Luckily, my generous and supportive father offered to cover the expense. I'm so grateful to have someone in my corner during rough financial times. Especially since I rarely get by with a little help from my friends.
The next day, we caught a boat from the harbor in Iquitos to a small village on the Amazon River.
Our tour guide's name was also Mike. We had the entire place to ourselves for three days!
Here's a beautiful aerial photo taken with my trusty DJI Spark drone. Still haven't crashed it yet...
This was the authentic jungle tour all the while staying at a rustic lodge in the Amazon Rainforest.
We hiked in the jungle at night, fished for piranhas, went swimming in the Amazon River (note: piranhas don't eat humans), spotted pink dolphins, visited an indigenous tribe and wildlife refuge, and drank alcohol made from local ingredients.
My only regret was not bringing mosquito repellant. No one contracted malaria so it's all good.
After the jungle tour, I spent two more days exploring Iquitos, hopped on a tuk-tuk to the airport, waited for a few hours, walked on the tarmac and boarded my plane to Lima (only 150 soules, 45 minutes).
The taxi ride took me safely from the airport to Kokopelli Hostel in Miraflores. They were sold out for the night so I opted for another hostel called Loki. Checked out the next day and moved to Flying Dog Hostel located in the middle of the city right next to John F. Kennedy Park.
I really enjoyed exploring beautiful Miraflores for a few days. It's one of the most affluent areas in Latin America. I'm determined to own real estate in Miraflores within a few years!
My next destination was Huaraz about 8 hours north of Lima by bus.
The city itself is nothing special. It was often difficult to sleep due to all the road noise and open soliciting on the streets.
The main tourist attraction is all the nearby hiking expeditions in Huascaran National Park.
The next day after my arrival, I booked a day tour on the Paramount Trail, named after the iconic mountain featured in the Paramount Pictures logo.
Here's a photo of the whole adventure crew from around the world...
The next day was another epic challenging 2.5 hour hike to Laguna 69, easily the most beautiful lake I've ever seen! Your eyes do not deceive you, that's the actual turquoise blue color of the water!
You weren't allowed to jump in the water but I did anyway. Duh. It was significantly colder than Barton Springs Pool in Austin, Texas.
After arriving back in Huaraz, I grabbed Chinese food and caught the night bus back to Lima.
I grew more in love with Miraflores, went on a full-day free walking tour around downtown Lima and the artistic town of Barranco, watched beautiful sunsets over the Pacific Ocean in quiet solitude, and drank pisco sours with new friends from the hostel.
However, it's not all butterflies and rainbows. Traveling on a shoestring budget is often quite stressful.
I was still determined to finally get a passport stamp. This will likely cause problems when entering Chile later next month (apparently Bolivia will accept me, no questions asked).
Better safe than sorry. Plus, every hostel is charging me 18% extra tax without it.
So I caught an Uber to the United States Embassy. They directed me to Immigration Services.
The guy behind the desk refused to give it without a prerequisite exit stamp from Ecuador.
Right now I'm just happy to be in Arequipa, widely considered to be the most picturesque city in Peru. I'll probably stay here for a week before continuing my journey to Cusco.
I'm excited to do a full day hike to Colca Canyon. It is Peru's third most-visited tourist destination with about 120,000 visitors annually. With a depth of 10,730 ft, it is one of the deepest in the world.
I will hike to the top of Misti Volcano if I'm feeling extra adventurous. I need to give my body a few days to acclimate to the altitude change before summiting. Just to put it into perspective, the starting point is the same altitude of base camp at Mount Everest!
At 19, 101 ft above sea level, it's significantly taller than the other 3 volcanoes I've hiked during my travels so far.
Acatenango in Guatamala (13, 045 ft)
Volcán Barú in Panama (11, 401 ft)
Santa Ana in El Salvador (7, 812 ft)