From Latin America

Machu Picchu Hotels – 4 Options For Different Budgets

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 27, 2010

There's only a couple of things left to organize for your long awaited Peru vacation, and hotels is one of them. Naturally, you'll be visiting Machu Picchu, so what are your options? Luckily there is a variety from which to choose to suit any budget, ranging from business class hotels to affordable hostels.

For the luxury front-row Machu Picchu experience
A deluxe hotel is the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, which is on the top of the mountain and the only hotel that is situated inside the sanctuary of the Machu Picchu citadel. Being only a few seconds away from the actual ruins, it has a one-of-a-kind position at the gate to the sanctuary. You need to take a train ride of several hours from Cusco to the town of Aguas Calientes and then a bus for a 25 minute drive up the mountain to the hotel and the ruins. The Machu Picchu Sanctuary Hotel has a casual, intimate atmosphere with 29 rooms and two suites. Some of the rooms offer partial views of the Sacred Mountain and the ruins of Machu Picchu. The hotel also has an interior garden with a selection of orchids and various flowers.

Not right next to Machu Picchu, but tip-top quality
A hotel that is considered to be of first class quality is the Hatuchay Tower Machu Picchu. It started servicing customers in December 1999, offering different services than its competitors such as satellite television, a panoramic elevator, 24-hour room service, suites with Jacuzzis, rooms with Internet coverage and international quality cuisine. High quality is demonstrated in the design of the hotel, comfortable rooms for guests, security and personalized attention.

Quirky with all the trimmings
A hotel of the superior tourist class is the La Cabaña Boutique Hotel. It is located in the middle of Aguas Calientes and offers customers a pleasant and comfortable stay. By being in the upper village close to the curative baths of Aguas Calientes, the hotel is very safe and offers privileged views. It has 20 rooms which are either small suites, double rooms or triple rooms, all of which have a common resting area at each level.

Something nice for the emptier pocket
A B&B Class hotel is the Hotel Plaza Andina Machupicchu. The hotel offers comfortable rooms, fax and Internet service, room service, a cafeteria, bazaar and laundry. The management has designed a hotel that will make your stay pleasant and unforgettable.

Good news; whatever your budget for a hotel, you will be able to find something that is suitable around Machu Picchu for your Peru vacation.

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

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Wine In Chile – 4 Recommendations For Your Chile Wine Tour

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 25, 2010

Searching for a cultured and relaxing way to visit a country, a wine tour is an excellent option. Unfortunately, few places in the world offer growing conditions suitable to sustain a wine industry extensive enough that you can tour.

With the exception of Chile, that is.

The 5th largest exporter of wine in the world, one of the best ways to get to know the country is through its wineries. Oh, and did I mention that Chilean wines cleaned up at the 2009 Decanter World Wine Awards with some 370 prizes? Judges were quoted describing Chilean wines as “some of the finest Sauvignon, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Cabernet blends in the world.” For once, it seems quality and quantity can co-exist. And if you’re a potential wine tourist, that puts Chile very firmly on your map. So where should you visit? You are at liberty to 'drop in' at the winery of your favourite label, but if you are looking for suggestions, try the following.

The Colchagua Valley

Possibly Chile’s most famous wine region, Colchagua Valley enjoys a balmy, Mediterranean climate matched in only a few other places on earth and the air is clear and clean. Feeding the vines, the deep sedimentary soil of the Colchagua Valley contains a mixture of fine-textured loam clay and loam silt, bordered by medium-textured volcanic soil in the foothills. The 14,038-foot Tinguiririca Volcano melt water feeds the Tinguiririca River, carrying pure water to the valley below. These conditions combine to provide a long, warm and dry growing season that produce very, very good wines.

One of the many options is a visit to the Viña Casa Silva winery, famous for its award-winning Carmenere wines. You’ll get a chance to see their unique approach to the art of wine making; all wines must be approved unanimously by a tasting panel of 5 members before any product is sent into the global wine community, including the Company’s president, his two sons and the two leading members of the Vineyard’s enological committee (wine technicians).

The Curico Valley

A good base from which to explore the fruits of the Valley is the city of Curicó. Despite destruction by an earthquake in 1928, is considered one of Chile´s most cultured and provincial towns, perfect for any discerning wine-hunter. A short distance outside of the city is Alta Cima – a family-run winery that produces some of the region´s greatest fine wine. With decades of experience in wine-making, importing and exporting, you’ll get to see the result of years’ work meticulously refining quality.

The Casablanca Valley

A relatively cool and largely coastal region, Casablanca is known for producing classy Chardonnay and world class Sauvignon Blanc. It is also being planted with Pinot Noir in an attempt to exploit its cool climate conditions with one of the hottest grape varieties amongst knowledgeable wine consumers.

To get a sneaky behind-the-scenes peek at the some of the top wines coming out of Chile, do what you can to pay a visit to the vines of Casa Lapostolle, or sample the work of winemaker Ignacio Recabarren at the Casablanca vineyards.

The Chilean wine scene unfolds over 5 principal regions, all of which contain a selection of valleys with enviable growing conditions. With the assistance of a tour company, you can pick and choose visits to your favourite spots, and link them all together as you like; flying, horseback riding, bicycle…it’s your Chilean wine vacation, so its your decision.

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Four Incredible Peru Travel Experiences

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 24, 2010

There are innumerable travel experiences that one can have visiting Peru from the dry coastal regions to the towering Andes containing Machu Picchu, all offering a unique, unforgettable vacation. This article will describe four fantastic travel experiences that you can have in Peru.

Exploring the legacy of the Incas
Your first experience is a tour of the heart of Inca territory. It starts in the city of Cusco, which is considered an impressive city with its mix of Spanish colonial and Inca architecture. It was once the center of the Inca Empire that covered what is now Peru, Ecuador, Chile, Bolivia and the southern part of Colombia. You take a tour of this city before heading to the depths of the Sacred Valley of the Incas. While in the Sacred Valley, you will ascend the ruins of the military outpost of Ollantaytambo and meander through the market of Pisac. Once done exploring the Sacred Valley, the next stop is Aguas Calientas and the wonders of Machu Picchu. Due to its almost impossible location, Machu Picchu was protected from Spanish conquest. It remains as one of the best-preserved and impressive reflections of the Inca Empire.

Riding high in the Mountain ranges Of Peru
A trip to the Peruvian Andes has many awe-inspiring and magical sites. This trip starts in Arequipa, known as “the White City” and then travels to Colca Canyon to enjoy the hot springs and witness the flying condors and incredible panoramas. Then it is off to Puno to tour the wonderful and magnificent Lake Titicaca, a sacred place for the Inca civilization; Incan mythology tell us that Manco Capac, the first Incan king, was born here. According to Incan legend, this is the place from which the world was created, when the god Viracocha came out of the lake and created the sun, the stars and the first people. You will have many places to discover on the shores of Lake Titicaca, as well as on the islands that lie within the lake.

Jungle boogie
The Peruvian Amazon is also a place not to miss. The Amazon is a beautiful rainforest displaying an intricate balance of life with a lush ecosystem. When you visit the Amazon, you will encounter some of the thousands of species of flora and fauna that live there.

Ancient culture and impressive wildlife; the coast of Peru
Another incredible tour is to visit the Nazca Lines, Paracas National Park and the Ballestas Islands. Starting from Paracas, it is one of the best marine reserves in the world with the highest concentration of marine birds. This is followed by a motorboat excursion to the Ballestas Islands which have numerous arches and caves created by erosion that provide shelter for thousands of seabirds and sea lions. The islands have been called the “Galapagos of Peru”. Once you have visited the islands, you can travel by air over the famous Nazca lines, huge parallel and geometric line figures, as well as designs such as an enormous monkey, a dog, a bird with a wing span of over 100 meters, a spider and a tree cut into the stony desert. It is thought that these lines are representative of a vast astronomical pre-Inca calendar.

Between Cusco, Mach Picchu, the Andes, the Amazon, the Nazca lines and the Ballestas Islands, you will have found some incredible Peruvian travel experiences that will be long remembered.

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Inspiring Chile Vacation Ideas

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 21, 2010

You have your reasons, but you want to be truly inspired by your next vacation. Not just returning home with a camera full of photos, this trip should leave you feeling different to when you went away. A Chile vacation is the thing that you are looking for. 4300 kilometres from top to bottom and averaging 175 kilometres wide, Chile gives the appearance of being squeezed into the sea by Argentina. Don’t let the dimensions fool you; depending on where you go, the territories of Chile present a range of options from arid deserts in the North to the outer reaches of Polynesian islands to the grey-white walls of glaciers in Antarctica. Try any of the following three options for a Chile tour to be inspired.

1) Atacama – The driest place on Earth
Long, bone-dry valleys running into the middle-distance of nowhere, the Atacama desert will inspire you with its long expansive stretches of nothingness. Blocked from moisture on both sides by the Andes mountains and by the Chilean Coast Range, Atacama is virtually sterile and the sense of remoteness that this gives the visitor inspires a pause for thought. Rich in minerals, the desert is covered with approximately 170 abandoned nitrate mining towns, almost all of which have been shut down. Industry still continues however, demonstrated by the Copiapó mining accident on August 5th 2010, which left 33 miners trapped 700 metres underground. Industry in conflict with barren landscapes at thousands of metres above sea level; worth a look, no?

2) Colchagua Valley – The source of superb wine
Brought over by Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and welcoming French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in the 18th century, the Chilean wine scene entered a renaissance in the 1980’s with the introduction of stainless steel tanks for fermentation and oak barrels for aging. With the scientific advances of the wine industry, wineries such as Viña La Playa are making the most of the conditions about 80 miles southwest of Santiago in the Colchagua Valley.

The Valley enjoys a balmy, Mediterranean climate matched in only a few other places on earth and the air is clear and clean. Feeding the vines, the deep sedimentary soil of the Colchagua Valley contains a mixture of fine-textured loam clay and loam silt, bordered by medium-textured volcanic soil in the foothills. The 14,038-foot Tinguiririca Volcano melt water feeds the Tinguiririca River, carrying pure water to the valley below. These conditions combine to provide a long, warm and dry growing season that produce very, very good wines. If you want evidence, try this; in Wine Spectator's annual Top 100 list, Colchagua wines were #3 in the world in 2003, and #2 in 2004. In search of an inspiring wine, how does Colchagua sound for delivering the goods?

3) Rapa Nui – Life lessons from the ‘Navel of the World’
Most of us are aware of the tall, slender grey faces of the moai statues of Easter Island, the southeastern most point of the Polynesian triangle. The 887 statues that litter the island serve as the basis for a tragic history of fierce tribal war that brought a civilization to an end. The imposing gallery of stone statues only form a moment of Rapa Nui’s history, which also tells of famines, epidemics, civil war, slave raids and colonialism. Despite a tiny population, Rapa Nui will give you a thought-provoking look at the rise, fall and clashes of civilizations through the landmarks and people that you see and meet on your vacation.

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Places in Peru You Have Never Heard of

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 19, 2010

You are planning a Peru vacation, but you don't want to go where everybody else does. Yes, Machu Picchu is an obvious choice, yes you can visit Colca Canyon to see Condors and yes, the Nazca lines are fantastic. But what about the lesser-known parts of Peru, the unique places where you'll have some real stories to tell when you get back from your adventures? Try these three Peru vacation spots for size.

The Northern Coastline of Peru – Plenty Of Options
Incredible, but true; hardly anyone goes up from Lima. One place in Peru that remains unknown is the northernmost part of the country near Ecuador where there are some of the finest beach resorts in the world. The accommodation ranges from quaint bed and breakfast places to first class hotels close to the beach with all the modern facilities. These provide access to the twenty-six northern pyramids of Tucume, built of adobe (earth bricks). Although time has taken its toll on the pyramids, the site still retains a sense of its original glory and it can be seen from numerous viewpoints for many miles. A small museum is also on-site.

One Of The Best Archeological Finds In The Americas, Still Unknown
In the area around Lambayeque is the 'Lord of Sipan' Museum, which was discovered in the late 1980s when a robber was arrested by the police as he was trying to sell gold from the tomb of the Lord of Sipan. The exhibits at the museum include the most important archeological remains of the Moche Culture as well as the amazing gold, silver and pottery artifacts that were discovered during the excavation of the Tombs of the Lord of Sipan, who was thought to have been a Moche government leader. As one of the most magnificent archeological finds in the Americas, this exhibit can take two to three days to see in its entirety.

Beach Living In The North
Among the resorts in the area to see are the Las Arenas de Mancora hotel in Mancora and the Punta Sal Club Resort in Tumbes. Situated on the warm northern Peruvian coast, the Las Arenas de Mancora hotel is surrounded by massive palm trees and gardens. It offers a five-star restaurant that serves traditional Peruvian gourmet dishes with an extensive international menu. In addition to accommodation, the Punta Sal Club include suites, bungalows and rooms right on the beach. One of the main activities to indulge in at the hotel is deep-sea fishing. Their fishing vessel is fully equipped with a GPS fish finder system, full fishing equipment and a highly-trained crew. The fish which can be caught in this area include striped and black marlin, big eye, dorado and grouper.

Far-Away Jungle Paradise
The last place that is little heard of and among the least visited in Peru is the largest natural reserve of Peru, the Pacaya-Samiria, located in the wilderness north of the Amazon jungle. Although it is remote, it is extremely beautiful with endless waterways. It is named by the two rivers, Pacaya and Samiria, which flow through it. The waterways are designed for riverboat cruises and wetlands make it a lesser-known jungle spot for nature tourism. Visitors to the area can also observe nature, camp and make fishing tours as well as explore the jungle which covers the area. Watching birds and animal life in the early morning or at dusk when the jungle is its liveliest is made possible by canopy walkways. Viewing from the highest possible level also reveals the layers of the Amazon eco-system.

Take advantage of the quieter and lesser-known spots for your upcoming Peru vacation, and book a tour that will take you away from the crowds of the south

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Tamarindo – 5 Things To Do At The Most Popular Beach – Town For A Costa Rica Vacation

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 17, 2010

You’re searching for a white-sand beach for your Costa Rica vacation where you are spoiled for choice with activities. A place where you can be surrounded by nature in all its forms, and fill your day doing things that justify putting your feet up and relaxing at the end of it. If this sounds like your idea of a good break, you will probably enjoy Tamarindo to the point where you don’t want to leave. Here are some suggestions for ways to pass your vacation time in Tamarindo’s tropical paradise.

1) Sport fishing in Tamarindo
The Marlin, Saltfish and Giant Tuna catches from the beaches of Tamarindo are legendary, and deep blue-water, reef and shoreline fishing are all readily available from a variety of local fleets for the eager fisherman. If a dedicated sport-fishing holiday is not what you are after, hand-line fishing in front of your beach-side hotel is also popular if you want to pass a lazy day at the end of a line. Owing to the successes of fishermen over the years thanks to the impressive quantity of fish in the water, you’ll almost certainly be enjoying your catch in one of the beach-front restaurants, who are happy to grill your fish for you to enjoy on request.

2) Surfing in Tamarindo
Wobbly beginner or wave-carving expert, the beaches of Tamarindo have something for you. Playa Tamarindo is a long beach with waves that form near the river-estuary. The majority of the beach is great for learning, but options exist for advanced surfers at Pico Pequeño, a rocky point, and El Estero near the river-mouth. Currents can be strong, especially on a falling tide, so keep an eye on the shore to check your position and avoid a long board-carrying walk. the big swells roll in around Novermber and December and can produce waves up to 12 feet; an opportunity for most of us to get out of the water and watch the professionals do their thing…

3) Eco-touring in Tamarindo
Sitting in an incredible location between mangroves and the beaches of Playa Tamarindo, Playa Grande and Playa Langosta that forms part of the national park network of Costa Rica, visitors will not be short of opportunities to get back to nature. Beaches Grande and Langosta are host to Giant Leather-back Turtle nesting sites, and if you are lucky enough to arrive between October and March you can take a special tour to see these huge creatures as they arrive under the cover of darkness to lay and bury their eggs. If the sound of exploring mangroves on locally built skiffs sounds good to you, you’ll have the opportunity to see a huge range of creatures, including monkeys, Cayman and exotic birds as you motor around the network of waterways.

4) Diving in Tamarindo
It doesn’t matter if you are a dive virgin or spend most of your time underwater; Tamarindo has options for everyone, offering dive courses and tours to open a window into a part of the marine-world of the Pacific teeming with life. Dive spots such as the Catalina Islands offer a stunning variety of sea life such as giant manta rays, spotted eagle rays, moray eels, and white-tip reef sharks. If diving is your reason for a trip abroad, cruises to the Bat Islands or to the famous Coco Island will put a stop to your compressed-air cravings.

5) Watching the sunset in Tamarindo
Everyday during the wet season between May and October, showers build up onshore and then head out to sea, creating some of the most spectacular sunsets that you are likely to witness. What better way to end a day’s surfing, fishing, diving or eco-touring then watching the sky catch fire with a drink in hand?

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Peru Vacations – How To Get Into A Conversation About Sports In Peru

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 16, 2010

As with many countries, Peru holds its top atheletes in high esteem. Every major bank wants them to endorse their products, and you'll frequently see a toned athelete sitting uncomfortably in the spotlight on television, being interviewed by a selection of cheery presenters. If you're heading to Peru for a vaction, here are some well known atheletes that you can discuss with a proud Peruvian, who will probably be delighted that you know about some of their greatest achievers.

The Swimmer
Juan Carlos Bello is more popularly known as Johnny Bello for his expertise in swimming. He learned how to swim at the age of seven and from 1965 to 1973 dominated the four major styles of swimming, winning many medals in South American and Pan-American swimming contests. He participated in the Olympics in Mexico in 1968 and in Munich in 1972. He was also a sports leader, being president of the Peruvian Sports Federation Swimming Club and is currently Vice-President of the Peruvian Sports Swimming Federation, in charge of the Committee on Open Water Swimming. He ran for the presidency of the Peruvian Olympic Committee in 2009.

The Footballer
Teofilo Cubillas, a former player of football (or soccer) is widely regarded as one of South America’s best football players of all time. Having excellent technical ability, Cubillas played midfield and had a powerful shot with which he used to terrify goalkeepers. He was known as a free kick specialist, and scored 515 goals in his entire career, placing him seventh in the ranking of the World Cup all-time scorers with ten World Cup goals. A poll by the IFFFHS voted him the 48th best football player of the twentieth century and Pele named him as one of the 125 greatest living football players in his 2004 FIFA list. In February 2008 the All Star First team of South America selected him as a member of the previous 50 years.

The Volleyball Player
Volleyball is a big deal in Peru, and Cecilia Tait is known as Peru’s most talented volleyball player and one of the best players in the history of volleyball. She made her debut in the sport at the age of 18 at the Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She also participated with the Peruvian national team in three Summer Olympics, finishing fourth in 1984 and won a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. At the World Championship in 1982 she won a silver medal and added a bronze to her trophy cabinet in 1986. In 2005, she was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame and in 2000, she was elected to Congress in Peru.

The Surfer
Peru's location as a world class surfing destination was confirmed when it produced a surfing World Champion. Sofía Mulánovich Aljovín, born in Lima, is the first Peruvian surfer ever to win an ASP event, let alone the World Title. On 27th July 2007, she was inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame for it's 10th Anniversary Celebrations, the first South American to have achieved this goal.

With a few of these famous names under your belt, you should be able to relate to the majority of sports aficionados and get into some interesting conversations, giving you a great opportunity to get a unique, insiders point of view on your Peru Vacation.

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Costa Rica – What Is Pura Vida And How Will It Affect Your Vacation?

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 14, 2010

You’re probably very excited. You’ve got your trip to Costa Rica planned, and images of white sand beaches, national reserves stuffed with stunning wildlife and waterfalls deep in tropical jungles are keeping you awake at night. There’s just one thing nagging at you; every time you mention to someone who has been to Costa Rica about your vacation plans, they mention “Pura Vida”. What does it mean, and how will it affect your trip?

“Pura vida” is a popular slang term that literally means “Pure life” and it pops up everywhere in Costa-Rican conversation. Its applications and meanings are diverse; it can be used as a greeting, expression of polite indifference, statement of thanks, or a farewell. It is a strong representation of a philosophy that is not easily explained, but here are some of the effects that you’ll probably see on your Costa Rica vacation; draw your own conclusions as to if it is a good thing or not…

Enjoying life slowly
If you were hoping for a punctual bus service, or a country running efficiently like a well oiled machine, Costa Rica will be a grave disappointment. While many foreigners interpret the pace of life in Costa Rica as a culture steeped in leisure or idleness, the difference is simply that the locals (or Ticos) have concluded that life is best appreciated lived at a slower pace. After a couple of weeks in Costa Rica away from the break-neck pace of life back at home, you’ll start to see their point of view!

Overcoming difficulties with good spirits
They may live slow, but the people of Costa-Rica very rarely give up. When faced with a problem, they will steadily search for a solution. The most inspiring part of it is their attitude, a blend of optimism and positivity, that perseveres for the duration of their difficulties, no matter how long they last. Underneath this inspiring approach is the fundamental desire for the people of Costa Rica to appreciate what they have, as opposed to lamenting what they lack.

Celebrating good fortune of all shapes and sizes
An integral part of enjoying each day and moment as it comes, the people of Costa-Rica are quick to appreciate those moments when life throws them something special. It could be when a fish bites the end of their line or when a close relative or friend recovers from illness, but each time fate smiles, a tico is quick to smile back.

Spreading good cheer
The mindset and attitude of pura vida is infectious; you’ll hear it everywhere you go, used in almost any situation, and it is accompanied with a smile, friendly nod, or gesture that sells you the joy of the moment and the desire to share it with others.

If you go to Costa Rica a sceptic, you’ll probably leave wondering why the rest of the World can’t accept the Tico mindset a little more easily. Who know; after a Costa Rica vacation, maybe you could find yourself spreading a little joy to friends and family back home. Pura vida!

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Choquequirao – The Secret Alternative to Machu Picchu

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 11, 2010

As the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu shakes under the footsteps of thousands of tourists daily, another equally impressive Inca ruin is lying silently in wait for hoardes of tourists to descend. Choquequirao is a Quecha word for “cradle of gold” and is located on a leveled hilltop 1,750 meters above the Apurimac River, surrounded by the towering snow-capped peaks of Yanama, Ampay, Choquetacarpo, Pumasillo and Panta. It consists of ruins of buildings and terraces from the ancient Inca civilization. It is over 4,000 acres in size and 30 to 40 percent of it is excavated. It can only be reached by foot and is a two-day hike from the trailhead, several hours by bus from Cusco.

Discovery of the site
Juan Arias Diaz first visited Choquequirao in 1710 but its existence was not revealed to the world until 1768 by Cosme Bueno. The revelation of Choquequirao was ignored at the time and then rediscovered in 1834 by Eugene de Santiges. The site was mapped for the first time in 1837 by Leonce Agrand but his maps were also ignored. It was not until 1909 when Hiram Bingham, the discoverer of Machu Picchu, sought out Choquequirao that the site got the attention of the world. The 1970s saw the first excavations of the site.

An overview of the site
The site consists of a central square around which are some administrative buildings, a temple and the living quarters of aristocrats. A small village surrounds the central square where the living quarters of the lower classes are grouped together. Water channels, aqueducts and water springs also fill the site. Most of the buildings have been well preserved and restored with care and the careful restoration of the site is an ongoing process.

Construction of the site began during the reign of the Inca king Pachacuti Inca Yupanqui, and he transformed the site into the empire Tawantinsuyu, or the Inca Empire. When Cusco was under siege in 1535, the site was the last fortress of refuge and resistance of the Sons of the Sun who fled Cusco. They decided to take refuge in Choquequirao, led by Manco Inca Yupanqui.

Choquequirao was most likely one of the entrance check points to the Vilcabamba region and served political, social and economic functions as an important administrative hub. Its urban design is very much like the layout of an imperial capital, with ceremonial buildings dedicated to the sun, water, earth and other divinities, small houses for artisans and larger and grander ones for administrators, and large buildings and warehouses with farming terraces for the local people. The ceremonial area, which is 700 meters in size, is 65 meters below the elevated area of the main square. Not only was it used as an entrance check point to the Vilcabamba area, but also as a religious and cultural center. That the ruins have many double jamb niches doorways demonstrates that the region was held in high status. It also served as an important link between the city of Cusco and the Amazon region.

Access to Choquequirao
Because of the remoteness and inaccessibility of the site relatively few visitors had been to it until recent years when COPESCO built a bridge for foot traffic across the Apurimac River, which is below Choquequirao. It remains rarely visited in comparison to the thousands of people a month that visit Machu Picchu, although with new regulations designed for the Inca Trail, Choquequirao is becoming a great alternative for the serious hiker. Ensure that Choquequirao is on your list of places to visit on your next trip to Peru so that you get there ahead of the crowds!

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

Brazilian Soccer – 4 Reasons Why Their National Team Is Better Than Yours

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on September 9, 2010

If you know anything about football, or soccer as it is often known in North America, you’ll know that the national team to beat is Brazil. Known for its fast flowing nature, trickery and attacking style, the Brazilian squad has been terrifying oppositions in World Cup matches for decades. If you were in any doubt about the chances of your national squad beating Brazil, these 4 points should put you straight.

1) Brazilians want to win more than your team
Football in Brazil is close to a religion, and everyone from players to managers to spectators take it very, very seriously. To illustrate, three hours before an international match, you’ll be out of options to deposit a cheque because all the banks close, allowing their employees to prepare for the game. Brazilians also accept nothing less than a win as a result, viewing a draw as a loss. Up against that attitude, you won’t stand much of a chance on the pitch or supporting from the sidelines.

2) Brazilians have the best players in the World
The ultra-rich European leagues are widely regarded as the best in the World, and they are flooded with Brazilians; 600 players to be exact. Superstars such as Robinho, Ronaldinho and Kaka dominate the English, Italian and Spanish leagues, commanding huge salaries and advertising contracts with big name sporting brands. To crown it all, the best player in the history of soccer is a Brazilian. Pele (Also known as the slightly less memorable Edison Arantes do Nascimento) was voted number one in the 2000 FIFA “Player of the Century” poll, amongst numerous other player and fan awards. Scoring an incredible 1281 goals in 1363 games, his talent is qualified by more than just opinion.

3) The Brazilian national team is a priority
As salaries for European teams climb higher, league teams are frequently accused of prioritising “club over country”, with players encouraged by their coaches to focus on international competitions such as the UEFA cup more than those of the national squad, such as the World Cup. Not so in Brazil. Brazilian players have the tendency to view competing in the higher standard of the European leagues as an opportunity to develop and refine their skills in order to stand a better chance for national selection.

4) The Brazilian team is the most successful in the World
The statistics speak for themselves; with 5 World cup wins, Brazil are the most prolific national team on the planet. They are the only team to have qualified for every single World Cup, and their dominance of Latin American football is demonstrated by their successful retention of the Copa America in 2007.

Next time you jog out onto a pitch to play against the Brazilian team (hey, it could happen!) or sit down to watch an international match, be sparing on the optimism; you’ll be betting against some of the most competent and accomplished players on the planet.

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America