A week along the Gringa Trail with Peru Hop
My travel blogs are going to be out of order because honestly I can only write when inspiration strikes and I had such a fun experience on Peru’s “gringo trail” I wanted to get it down before I forgot. I still owe you a blog about the amazing yoga retreat I led in the Sacred Valley of Peru, which I promise is coming soon.
After the retreat I was trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my time in Peru. I spent a wonderful three days in Cusco with my friend Chris, who was also on the retreat, relaxing after a whirlwind of deep spiritual activities and a life-changing day trip to Machu Picchu. We definitely needed time to decompress so I didn’t pack my schedule too much. Before the retreat I spent three days in Cusco (blog coming soon) so I took this opportunity to catch up on work (yes I work part time while I travel doing social media/marketing), plan my next couple of weeks, and whip out some awesome retreats in Ecuador. I had already set up a work exchange teaching yoga with a hostel in Quito but had 2 weeks to spare in Peru before heading there.
When researching things to do in Peru the gringo trail came up a lot. Basically it’s the path visitors take from Lima to Cusco or vice versa to explore all the hot spots in the south of Peru. I’m really not one for doing the usual tourist trip preferring slow travel and staying in one place for awhile to explore it more deeply. But after discovering Peru Hop, a travel service that takes you along this gringo trail with ease, I figured what the hell. I had the perfect amount of time left before I needed to go to Ecuador to see all the sights.
Over the next few blogs I’ll tell you all about my experience. It would be too long to do in one post so hang on for the ride along the gringo trail with a vegan yogi solo traveler who hates fast travel and is much older than the typical Peru Hop clientele. I tried to prepare myself for the two overnight buses I would have to take during this experience. This is the one part of the trip I wasn’t looking forward to because sleeping on a bus is hard. When thinking back, I hadn’t done an overnight bus since traveling in Asia in 2011. Granted the buses in Peru are very nice and have seats that lay almost flat. But still, I find it challenging to get a good night sleep during transit. I’m happy to say I survived the experience.
The first leg of the trip is to Puno, a city on the shores of Lake Titicaca known for the floating islands and not much else. I stayed in the Cozy Hostel, which wasn’t so cozy but at $9 for a shared room it did the trick. I booked three nights here but ended up taking the overnight bus on the third night because there really wasn’t much to do in Puno. It’s a bustling city with seriously high elevation (5th in the world!). Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and is between Peru and Bolivia. I could definitely feel the elevation when I climbed the many steps to Mirador El Condor, a look out point for the whole city.
The full-day boat tour of the floating islands of Uros and Taquile island was a highlight of this trip. The way they build the islands is interesting to learn about even though it’s a super touristy activity. It takes 15 years to make the islands and each year one president is nominated then they rotate. These people now survive off tourism so you kind of just go along with it. A part of me wonders in situations like this are the people better off now that tourism has taken over or before. It seems that they still live a very traditional life, it’s just now on show for everyone to see. The people spend their days making crafts, fishing, chilling, and welcoming tourists. The travel agencies have a system of rotating to different islands to make it fair.
After visiting the floating islands we take a 2 hour+ ride to Taquile island and learn about the people who live there. Many men and women still wear traditional dress including hats for men they show whether you are married or single (by the design and which side of your head the hat is). We have lunch at a local restaurant that has two choices; omelet or trout. I ended up eating a plate of rice, potatoes, and steamed carrots and beets. It’s better than starving! It was a long day but I highly recommend it. Just bring food and plenty of snacks to keep you belly happy.
Thankfully, there is a Loving Hut in Puno where I went for lunch twice and had their menu del dia for 13 soles (about $4 USD). You get salad, soup, main dish, dessert, and a drink. Lunch is always the best deal so if you plan to eat out do so at lunch time. The first visit I had a seitan veggie stir-fry and the second visit I had quinoa chifa, which is like fried rice. This dish is very common around Peru and thankfully quinoa has a lot of protein so don’t have to stress about that.
I stumbled upon a huge street market where I bought veggies to cook for dinner and fruits for breakfast. You will be in heaven with the fruits and veggies in Peru so try staying somewhere with a kitchen so you can cook. It was also nice to walk around the port where they had the little cartoon boats that you pedal yourself. I happened to stumble upon a music video being filmed around the area. I live for these little gems I find while traveling the world.
Last but not least, I went to a traditional dance performance at a restaurant called Balcones de Puno. The vegan choices were non-existent so I ordered a veggie pizza sin queso. This was a fun activity to do for an evening and the show was pretty entertaining. If you are looking for something to do I recommend it.
Next we head to Arequipa, the white city and the desert.
Have you been to Peru? Did you take the gringo trail? What was your favorite part?
(Peru Hop was gracious enough to give me a 50% discount on my ticket for my review of their services. Of course, thoughts are always my own and you’ll get my honest inside scoop throughout the trip! Any affiliate links you’ll find help me to continue writing this blog and giving you the best in vegan travel. Thx!)