The Best of Peru

Last year a fantastic movie with Jack Nickolson and Morgan Freeman came out, and everyone jumped on the band wagon of making a “.”  I am glad that this started getting people to finally get out there and start living their lives.

Sand Dunes in Huacachina, Peru

You must visit the Sand dunes of Peru

Dave and I made our first Bucket List way back in 1996.  We had all of these things that we wanted to try.  Scuba Diving, Rock Climbing, Tai Kwon Do, Yoga… this list goes on and on.  Since that time, we have checked off the original list and added to it extensively.  Every year, as we check off a few finished tasks we add ten more!  It keeps life exciting and it is a feeling of great accomplishment to say that one day we are going to do something and then a couple of years later, we follow through and do it.

Couple Toasting Bucket List in Peru

Toasting our Bucket List in Pisco Peru

Now that we have crazy and more extreme ambitions it is nice to visit places like Victoria Falls or Egypt, where we can tick a bunch items on our “bucket list”  in one destination.  That was what it was like when we visited Peru.
It was a whirlwind 2-week adventure and we made the most of it by making specific plans of what we wanted to see and do.

Peru is an adventure lovers dream and there are so many things to do there that you could spend months exploring this vast South American Country.

Couple Checks off bucket list at Machu Picchu

Finally making it to Machu Picchu

1. See Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu is the number one thing for anyone to do in Peru. In our last post What to do with 2 Weeks in Peru, we talked about visiting Machu Picchu one of the great ruins of the world.  Seeing all of the great ruins on the Planet is a big bucket list item for us. And Machu Picchu is one of the best.  After finally walking on the grounds of Machu Picchu, we feel worthy in saying that we have explored almost all of them by now.  We talk about our favorites in the world in our Top Ruins Post. Travel Bucket List Number 9-check.

Paragliding in Lima Peru

Dave Paragliding in Peru, High on the Bucket List

2. Paragliding high in the sky. The next bucket list goal was for Dave.  He has always wanted to parachute. Preferably jumping out of an airplane, but Paragliding over Lima was a close second.  We walked down to the waterfront, asked around on how we could go about booking a Paragliding excursion and next thing we know, he was being harnessed up and getting a crash course on how to jump off of its great cliffs towering over the ocean.  All for $20!.
I take a little more coaxing and need to go through safety and training in more depth, but Dave jumped right in with no fear.  It was an adventure of a lifetime and he loved flying over the skyscrapers, doing maneuvers over the surf and floating  high into the sky. To see Dave take flight go to our video of Peru in the top right corner of this page.  Bucket List number 24-check.

Sand boarding in Huacachina Peru

Dave and Deb Sand Boarding at Sand Dunes of Peru

3. Sand board in the Desert. We are avid snowboarders and have been on the slopes all over British Columbia, Switzerland, Quebec and Vermont.  Naturally, when we visited some of the highest sand dunes in the world we had to try sandboarding. Before visiting Peru, I didn’t even know that they had a desert, let alone a giant desert occupying 188,700 square km.  It is one of the most stunning deserts I have ever seen and riding its slopes was a blast.
We weren’t as good at it as snow boarding. It is a little harder to carve out edges, but once we got the hang of it, it was a thrill.  We found it was easier to ride high on the sand and point the board down not turning too much.  I like the snow better though because that sand gets everywhere; but what a thrill it was, to stand atop a dune and see nothing but desert as we plunged into its deep valleys. Breathtaking. Bucket list Number 36-check

man standing at oasis in peru desert

See and Oasis in Peru

4. Visit and Oasis. At the same time as sand-boarding, we ticked off yet another life list dream, to visit a desert Oasis.  Huacachina is a village built around a natural lake in the middle of the desert called the Oasis of America.  It is an incredibly beautiful location.  We stayed at a great backpacking hotel with a swimming pool and the giant dunes in our back yard.  The sand dunes tower over the entire Oasis and you can spend days here just chilling out.  You can even get your daily exercise in as you grab a board from your hotel and drag it up the tough hike to the top of the sand dunes.  It is a hard walk up sand dunes and it can really take your breath away, but the views are worth it and the run and tumble down is a blast.  Bucket list number 51-check

Dune Buggie in Peru Desert

High on anyones list-dune buggy in the desert

5. Go on a Crazy Dune Buggy Ride.  I have see stunt men riding dune buggies on TV, I have see crazy adventurers ride through deserts on the discovery channel and I have always wanted to be strapped into one myself and tumble my way through hills and valleys.  And yet again Huacachina in the Ica Provence, we checked off yet another item on our bucket list. As usual, Dave and I go big or go home, so why not make our first dune buggy excersion on the biggest sand dunes on the planet?  I didn’t realize just how scary it would be, but when we were climbing to the top of one of these giants, my heart was racing.  You could see the peak coming at you and as we drove closer, I thought to myself, “We aren’t actually going over that thing are we?” Sure enough, we zipped over the edge and plunged in a near vertical nosedive.  It was exhilarating and terrifying, and this went on for hours!   We nearly rolled a couple of times, we got stuck, we raced and swerved and then we stopped and watched the sun go down behind the dunes. I will never forget that experience in my life. Check out the video on the right of our webpage to see our hairy ride. Life List number 31-check


6. Go to the Galapagos Islands. Ok, this didn’t happen, but we did get to go to Peru’s version of the Galapagos Island’s at Isla Ballestas. Near the town of Pisco, you can catch a boat out to the islands to see Sea Lions and Penguins frolic around in their natural habitat.  It was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  I could spend hours watching wild life. The only problem with these tours is that they really disrupt the lives of the animals.
Destinations like this are a bit tricky. If conservation and standards are put in place for the best interest of the wildlife than it is a winning experience for everyone. I was hoping that this would be the case, and disappointed when our boat approached the sea lions way too close for my comfort.  Their motors are loud and their exhaust is strong causing discomfort to the animals I am sure.

Penguins, Isla Ballestas, Peru

Penguins, Isla Ballestas, Peru

It is a double-edged sword.  Without tourists going to see the wildlife, there is no need for conservation in the eyes of governments but then it is the tourists that disrupt the lives of the wildlife that they are going to see.  But we all know that this planet is ruled by money, and if people can’t make money off of preserving their natural resources, they will find another way to either destroy them or use them up. It is a pessimistic view, but in my eyes, I see it as being true.
I am still glad that I went though, I know that as time goes on, Peru will learn from its mistakes at Isla Ballestas and soon, restrictions will be put in place.  At least the seals are protected and not being clubbed over their heads for fur. (Ooh, did I just slam my country?)  Life list number 5? It deserves a portion of a check. I still need to see the Galapagos Islands, but Isla Ballestas gave me the glimpse of wildlife that will tie me over for a while.

See Peruvian Boobies at Isla Ballestas

Peruvian Boobie, Isla Ballestas

What are some of your goals for the future.  We are thinking of posting a page of our remaining Bucket List Items and checking them off as we go.  Some of our biggest items that we are most proud of following through on are…Competing in an extreme adventure race by cycling the continent of Africa, Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, Seeing All of the Worlds biggest and most extraordinary ruins and taking our scuba diving to the level of being certified rescue divers. We have hundreds of other bucket list items that we have reached like riding an elephant, riding a camel, seeing the Sahara Desert and Bungee Jumping in Victoria Falls.
And we still have hundreds more to fulfill. Like hiking the Great Wall of China, Going to Everest Base Camp, Horseback riding accross Mongolia, riding the Trans Siberia Railway and making it to the Galapagos Islands once and for all.  Life isn’t fun to us unless we have a list.

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