Iguazú Falls, Argentina

The Iguazú Falls, located in the middle of the rainforest, on the border between Argentina and Brazil, very close to the junction with Paraguay, is a UNESCO World Heritage natural wonder. In Guaraní, Iguazú means ‘great waters’. They are 17km north of Port Iguazú and 1350km from Buenos Aires. There is a national park on the Argentine side and another park on the Brazilian side. It is a set of 275 waterfalls of about 3 km, the best known is ‘The Garganta del diablo’ (Devil’s Throat) which is U-shaped and 700 meters long, 150m wide and 82 m high. The set of cascades pours up to 6 million liters of water per second. The majority of the falls are on the Argentine side and there are several tours that allow us to approach up to a few meters from the falls. The circuits were built in the middle of the forest and below the branches of the river (Paranà river whose Iguazú river is a tributary). A train takes you to different points of visit. In the parks there are over 2000 floral species, 400 bird species, and a wide variety of mammals, reptiles and insects. Many filmmakers from around the world have chosen this wonderful place to shoot their films.

Tips

It is a great place to visit in a long weekend but if you can not take several days, at least dedicated 2 full days to the falls to have the opportunity to visit both sides, it’s worth it! The bigger park is in Argentina since the falls are almost all in Argentina but the vision you can have of the whole Brazilian side is simply breathtaking.

Do not miss the boat trip to get even closer to the falls. Of course you are going to get wet but it is a beautiful feeling and the sound of the falls is sometimes deafening. You will not regret for a second this experience.

If you are allergic to insects, wear a long-sleeved shirt and pants but a cool fabric because it is almost always warm and it is quite humid. It’s best to wear sport shoes to better walk the circuits and not to slide in wet places.

It is not recommended to feed the animals. One of them; the coati, who is quite accustomed to the tourist and always approaches knowing that people always tend to give them something. Try not to change their natural habitat.

Chinchero, Peru

Chinchero is at 30 km from Cusco, at 3 760 m, is considered one of the most interesting villages in the region; located on an inca site. It controlled the access to the Sacred Valley. There are still important Inca traces like the walls made from blocks that are perfectly adjusted. Its streets are narrow and they are cut in the middle by a canal. Water is also present between the houses. The women of the village dressed in colourful costumes, were organized in a cooperative and demonstrate the staining of wool with natural products such as roots or spices. They wash the wool with roots, they show you the way to tint them and after that the older women show you how to work it to make their craft products. During the demonstration, you will be invited to drink coca tea.

Tips

You can go on an excursion, taking a bus at Cusco or by van or by car. Chinchero is included in a tourist ticket that includes visits to four cities in the region or in another ticket which includes 16 tourist attractions with museums. You can still visit it without a ticket even though they’ll ask you insistently for it.
It is true that the demonstration that women make to tourists is interesting but the true Chinchero is the one with the houses made with adobe and straw, with animals from the farm and the green valleys; you will discover it by yourself going without an excursion. It is worth venturing a bit and walk 1 km in the direction of Cusco to reach Piuray Lake.
If you walk along the road above the village you will find the ancient church of Chinchero abandoned today but much more authentic than the one which includes the tourist circuit. Its roof is totally destroyed but we can always see its front.
Talking about crafts, it’s not worth to go there to buy them cause they are the same items that you can find anywhere in the region.

The Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru

The Sacred Valley of the Incas or Urubamba Valley is located in the Andes of Peru, near the capital of the Inca Empire, Cuzco, and over the sacred city of Machu Picchu; it includes all that is between Pisac and Ollantaytambo, parallel to the Urubamba River (sacred river that runs through this valley). It is fed by numerous rivers that descend from the adjoining valleys and gorges and includes many archaeological sites and villages. The Incas had chosen this place for its geographical and climatic characteristics; it was one of the main points for the extraction of natural resources, and there they found the Peruvian corn increased production. “Little Cusco” overlooks the Sacred Valley above the village of Lamay and the town of Calca. It was a former residence of the Inca rulers that can be reached on foot. You can also visit the site of Yucay; summer residence of the Sapa Inca. There is a great system of terraces and irrigation canals. There are the remains of the palace of the last Inca, consisting of a ‘cancha’ (enclosure surrounded by a stone wall and adobe) and several individual houses separated by courtyards and interior partition walls, the traditional Inca palace may cover several hectares. In addition of Ollantaytambo, the communities of Huilloc and Patacancha are the most accessible and welcome some tourists each year. There are also other small communities that live in the mountains that lead to the path of the Incas.

Tips

The best way to visit the Sacred Valley is taking a tour with a guide in your language to also experience the rich history of the Incas. On the same day they will show you 3 or 4 sites depending on what you would like to see. You can also visit the sites taking public transport but at that time, you will do your best and take directions and go with a map. Taking a taxi is another option, a little more expensive but you can agree with the driver for a fixed price of return.
Wear comfortable shoes or sports ones, take water, sunglasses, sunscreen and of course your camera.