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A Holiday To Peru – An Insider’s Guide

Peruvian village

Latin American expert Mark Rolfe of Latin Odyssey gives us his guide to making the most of a holiday in Peru.

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A holiday to Peru is an unforgettable journey into a mysterious and diverse world. It contains 28 of the world’s 31 climates, so any holiday here will involve a well-packed bag of clothes! Its land mass includes fertile valleys, Andean peaks, Amazon rainforest, coastal plains and a barren desert known as the Altiplano, which is home to indigenous Indians that still preserve their ancient tongue of Quechua and Aymara.

If that was not enough to entice you then it is also steeped in a fascinating history. Little is known of the pre-Inca civilisations that once ruled this land, though we do know the Incas incorporated these beliefs into their own and in doing so, they created the most powerful empire in Latin America.

Peruvian ladies in traditional dress

The Incas built an empire that stood the test of time and what now remains are monuments of the past, places where you are left in awe of their achievements. The best known site is of course Machu Picchu, but to understand the Incas you need to delve deeper and to visit sites such as Ollantaytambo, Phuyupatamarca and Pisac, each of which is a window into another world.

To help you plan a holiday in Peru, here is a brief guide on the best way to travel around the country as well as a brief synopsis on the main areas of the country…

The best way to travel around Peru is in an anti-clockwise direction from Lima – same as outlined below. The reason for this is that these destinations are lower, and hence allow you to acclimatise to the altitude gradually. It is also the best way to see the Inca world as the majority of the pre-Inca ruins are here as well, so you end with Machu Picchu which is an obvious highlight.

Lima
Not really worth any time, though if you get stuck here for a day then its colonial quarter is worth exploring, but it’s really an entrance and exit city.

Arequipa
A lovely colonial town overlooking two 6,000 metre volcanoes. Located at 2,300 metres so perfect for acclimatising – you only get altitude sickness (called Soroche in Peru) over 3,000m. Definitely worth two nights here and spending time visiting the main plaza as well as the Santa Catalina monastery and Juanita museum.

Peruvian stall selling handmade bags and hats

The Colca Canyon
The deepest canyon in the world. The area is littered with small adobe villages and hot springs. Good for short walks into the canyon, cultural interaction as well as a really good chance of seeing condors. You can be driven from here up through the Andes to Lake Titicaca.

Lake Titicaca
We feel this area has become very touristy in the past few years, though the island of Taquile in the centre of the lake is worth exploring as the inhabitants still live like they did in Incan times. The highlight is the 10 hour train journey to Cuzco which goes across the Peruvian Altiplano and has some spectacular scenery. The train is also brilliant, serving a three course lunch and with a viewing platform at the back as well as a perspex roof.

The Sacred Valley
A perfect place to stay put for three or four days. The area has some outstanding Inca ruins, colourful local markets and is also the heartland for activities such as walking, trekking, white water rafting, horse riding and bike riding.

Machu Picchu
Not much to say here as pretty self-explanatory!  The trick to seeing these magnificent ruins is timing and trying to avoid the busiest times of the day. You need to do this as a two day/one night trip, spending the night at the small town of Aguas Calientes located at the bottom of the ruins. There is also the four night Inca trail if you wish.

Machu Picchu

Cuzco
A beautiful colonial town with cobbled streets, artisan shops, stunning plazas dominated by colonial churches, museums, Inca ruins and excellent local restaurants – you will want to try the guinea pig here! I recommend at least three nights.

The Amazon
One of the easiest places in South America to access the Amazon as it is a short one hour flight from Cuzco followed by a 40 minute motorised canoe to your lodge. To give you an idea, if you went to the Amazon in Brazil you’d have a five hour flight from Rio followed by a four hour transfer by road and motorised canoe. Manage expectations here as due to the density of the foliage you will always hear more than you see.

Top tip: Travel at the beginning of a season. You may get a few days of rain but most places will be free of tourists, enabling you to interact more with the locals.

Young Peruvian girl, and a llama

A holiday to Peru is one that you will remember forever, so make sure you do it the right way.  We’ve been there, a lot, which means we can create holidays of a lifetime.

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Mark RolfeWritten by Mark Rolfe, founder of South American travel specialists Latin Odyssey.

Latin Odyssey was founded in 2002, created to fuse Mark’s extensive insider information with a desire to help others discover this breathtaking region.

It is one of the most varied, biodiverse parts of the planet – and Mark’s focus on smaller, intimate hotels and lodges ensures that you have full exposure to everything that each location has to offer.

The Coatigan – The On-Trend Choice For Warmth And Elegance

As the winter chill really begins to set in, there’s a new style trend on the high street that will give your wardrobe an immediate seasonal lift: The Coatigan.

You might have heard of it referred to as the Sweater Coat; the Coatigan is a cross between a coat and a cardigan and is currently the must-buy fashion item in the UK. They’re stylish, cosy and crucially, they’re designed to suit all shapes and sizes.

Coatigans are great for layering on extremely cold days and are ideal for those ‘it’s-cold-but-not-cold-enough-for-a-jacket’ days. If you have a city break planned, coatigans will add warmth and elegance to even the most modest of packing and they’re perfect for day-to-night outfit transitioning.

I’ve searched the high street to bring you my favorite selection of Coatigans on the market. They’ll keep you warm, streamline your figure and add a style statement to any outfit. You can wear all of them with anything from jeans and flats to a maxi dress and heels.

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Alfani Colorblocked Open-Front Cargidan by Macy'sAlfani Colorblocked Open-Front Cargidan by Macy’s

This beautiful black waterfall-effect coatigan with statement lapels will add immediate glamour to any outfit.

Selected Darla Knitted Coatigan with Belt by ASOSSelected Darla Knitted Coatigan with Belt by ASOS

We love this rust colored merino wool coatigan. The perfect way to stay stylish and warm.

Kimono Coatigan by New York & CompanyKimono Coatigan by New York & Company

This elegant grey kimono coatigan is extremely flattering and would look good worn day or night.

Arrowhunt Women's Solid Lapel Sweater Coat by Amazon UKArrowhunt Women’s Solid Lapel Sweater Coat by Amazon UK

A chic camel shawl coatigan to up-style your wardrobe.

Selected Siva Knitted Coatigan by ASOSSelected Siva Knitted Coatigan by ASOS or
Amazon UK

This geometic block color coatigan is a modern and stylish choice.

French Connection 3D Knitted Coatigan by ASOS French Connection 3D Knitted Coatigan by ASOS

This 3D knitted Aztec-design coatigan is a real statement piece.

Style & Co. Faux-Sherpa-Collar Coatigan by Macy'sStyle & Co. Faux-Sherpa-Collar Coatigan by Macy’s

I love this sheep-skin effect coatigan with its feature collar.

Colour Block Print Cardigan by Marks & SpencerColour Block Print Cardigan by Marks & Spencer

A beautiful block print option from the British high street.

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Anna ShawWritten by our resident style expert Anna Shaw, founder of Dress Yourself Well.

Anna is a London-based Image Consultant who specializes in promoting confidence through looking your best. Having traveled the world extensively she can advise on how to build a stylish travel capsule wardrobe that suits your body shape and coloring.

If you would like Anna’s help with selecting your own pesonal travel wardrobe please contact us with details of your trip.

Product Review – MaddaFella Men’s Balao Sweater

MaddaFella

Since we tried out the Ernest Linen Shirt, we’ve been firm fans of the MaddaFella brand of contemporary menswear. Their look is relaxed and comfortable, but with enough style for smarter occasions too.

The Balao Sweater is one of their outerwear bestsellers, and we can see why.

We chose the crew neck India Ink option to try (a dark blue, not quite navy), which is available in a brighter Ocean Blue and Mineral Red too. There is also a funnel neck version of the sweater which has a quarter zip fastening at the neck.

The sweater fit nicely, sized as expected, the sleeves are a little long but the secure cuffs ensure this isn’t a problem. It’s fairly fitted without being restrictive – so it looks smart but is comfy and easy to move around in too.

Balao sweater - fabric texture

The knit itself is actually a two-tone in this shade – a dark blue background with alternate paler stitches in relief which gives both an interesting texture and overall color effect. In the picture I thought it looked a little strange… but it is much, much nicer in person and looks really smart. The inside is flat and soft against the skin – the texture is just on the outside.

It does crease a little when packed, but these soon drop out once it’s worn or hung up for a short while.

The sweater is surprisingly warm, as it doesn’t feel heavyweight at all. Being 100% cotton though, we know it will be breathable and comfortable to wear in a range of temperatures – so perfect for chilly evenings as the sun goes down.

The Balao pairs perfectly with jeans, Chinos, shorts or beachwear. And it would look equally at home cosied up round a campfire or in a smart-casual dinner venue. As a travel piece this makes it ideal, as it’s versatile enough to see you through almost all occasions; unless you’re heading somewhere formal it could be the only sweater you need to pack.

To read more about the Balao Sweater or the rest of the MaddaFella range, visit their website maddafella.com.

MaddaFella offer a wide range of men’s shirts, t-shirts, outerwear, shorts and swimwear. Shipping is free within the US and Canada. Customs or sales taxes may apply depending on your location.

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Posted by Emma – WhatToWearOnHoliday.com

Disclaimer: The Balao Sweater was supplied to us by MaddaFella for the purposes of review. There were no conditions attached and the above is a true account of our experience.

Product Review – MaddaFella Men’s Ernest Linen Shirt

MaddaFella

It can be hard to find good quality menswear for the mid- to mature age range which has a modern feel and is that little bit different. So when we were introduced to the MaddaFella brand we were really interested to find out more.

Taking an initial look, their range is stylish, contemporary and has something to suit all age groups. Designed to complement an outdoor lifestyle, the fabrics used are comfy and practical – so perfect for travel.

Ernest Linen ShirtWe were delighted to try out one of their shirts for ourselves, to see if they really were as good as they looked online. We chose the Ernest Linen Shirt in Solid Blue (it also comes in Marlin Blue, India Ink, Crabapple, White, and a Blue/White stripe).

Linen is often one of our recommended fabrics for travel, being natural and therefore breathable which helps keep you comfortable whatever the weather. The Ernest feels lovely to touch, very soft, and our reviewer felt warm and cosy on a chilly evening.

The style is classic and bridges that gap between smart and casual; you could dress it up with chinos and brogues, dress down with jeans or wear to the beach with shorts. We wore it with smart jeans and canvas shoes for a meal/evening out.

The full button-up means you can choose to wear it fastened or open over a t-shirt, and the sleeves look good rolled up or down. All this versatility makes it perfect for a travel capsule wardrobe; it would suit so many occasions without needing to know in advance what the day may bring.

Packing-wise we rolled it up and wedged it in a suitcase. It looked great on arrival – and after a quick shake and short time on a hanger it soon looked as good as new. On return it washed nicely on a warm machine cycle, and though it then looked pretty creased it ironed up really well. Plus, linen is one of those forgiving fabrics where a few wrinkles just add to the texture and character of the  garment.

It feels really good quality and well made – the seams are neat and straight with no loose threads. Time will tell but the fabric feels durable and that it would last and look good for a long time.

We were really pleased with our choice and it looks set to become a ‘must pack’ on future trips, as well as a favourite at home.

To read more about the Ernest Linen Shirt or the rest of the MaddaFella range, visit their website maddafella.com.

MaddaFella offer a wide range of shirts, t-shirts, outerwear, shorts and swimwear. Shipping is free within the US and Canada. Customs or sales taxes may apply depending on your location.

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Posted by Emma – WhatToWearOnHoliday.com

Disclaimer: The Ernest Linen Shirt was supplied to us by MaddaFella for the purposes of review. There were no conditions attached and the above is a true account of our experience.

A Relaxing Autumn Week In Jersey, The Channel Islands

Jersey - Gorey

I’d contemplated visiting Jersey (or one of the other Channel Islands) a few times in the past, but somehow never got round to it. The beaches look glorious, there are stunning coastlines to explore, and with a flight time of just half an hour or so from the UK it’s really easy to get to.

With a baby on the way in just a few months time, it became the perfect choice for our last holiday as a couple; far enough to feel like a break away, but with hassle-free travel and the security of English speaking healthcare should any emergencies occur.

We didn’t plan to do anything too strenuous, but knew there were lots of options and places to visit if we wished. And we did do a real mixture during the week, choosing each day based on the weather and what time we’d got up.

We decided against hiring a car – it seemed expensive (especially when adding on the daily excess waivers), parking is limited in busy times and not free – and we could always change our minds when we got there. For us though, there was no need – the buses worked out perfectly and really do connect all the major sights door-to-door. A car would give you more freedom and you’d perhaps see more of the island if that is your preference, but we quite like being car-free in contrast to being at home.

On Arrival

After checking in to the Hotel de France in St Helier late on a Sunday afternoon, we explored the grounds and facilities and decided to ‘eat in’ as it was getting dark and we didn’t yet know our way around town, which was a 15-20 minute walk away.

The hotel’s Garden View bistro restaurant was nice, certainly convenient, and although initially we thought the menu was limited we ended up eating there 4 times during the week.

Monday – St Helier

Exploring St Helier on the first day allowed us to get our bearings, and we caught the amphibious bus (which looked fun!) across the causeway to Elizabeth Castle. At low tide you can walk across, but otherwise the bus travels across the beach and then into the water to ‘sail’ the remaining journey (takes about 10 minutes).

Elizabeth Castle

The castle dates back to Tudor times and has been used in the defence of the island for over 300 years. Climbing the battlements affords some glorious views, whilst inside there is lots to see including old military uniforms and the history of life in the castle.

Wear flat, non-slip shoes if visiting the castle and carry a waterproof/jacket/hat in case you’re caught in the elements outside.

Tuesday – Durrell

The weather forecast didn’t look great (dull and showers) so we thought the underground WW2 war tunnels would be a good choice. We should have organised ourselves earlier though, as the bus for this particular attraction didn’t run too often (other routes are more frequent). We thought we could just about make it, but missed the bus by about a minute.

So we had a rethink, looked at the next buses leaving the central bus station (which links up all the routes on the island) and decided to head for Durrell, home of Gerald Durrell’s wildlife park. I haven’t visited a ‘zoo’ since I was a child, but Durrell is home solely to endangered species which looked interesting, and there are also spacious grounds to explore.

The bus ride gave us a taste of some of the countryside, and despite the 40mph speed limit some of the narrow and winding roads are a bit hairy, especially in a large vehicle! Have to say that all the bus drivers were incredibly friendly and helpful, and always went the extra mile to help any passangers who needed extra assistance.

Durrell Wildlife Park

We really enjoyed the park, seeing rare Andean bears, gorillas, orangutans, lemurs, monkeys, macaques, lots of tropical birds, enormous fruit bats and more. There was lots of information about them, supplemented with interesting talks by the keepers. The large enclosures looked natural and fun (as much as they can be in captivity) and it’s clear how important these places are to facilitate breeding programmes and hopefully the survival of the species.

Wednesday – Greve de Lecq

Wednesday looked like being gloriously sunny, so we headed for Greve de Lecq on the north coast of the island (again easily reached by bus). There we found a lovely beach, which is doubtless busier in the summer months.

We then took a walk up onto the clifftop paths for fabulous scenery and views across the ocean; it was bliss.

Greve de Lecq

Returning back down to the beach we treated ourselves to Jersey dairy ice-cream, and contemplated that this may well be the ‘last day of summer’ – there can’t be many better ways to spend it.

We didn’t take walking boots on this trip, and trainers were fine at this time of year although something sturdier would be recommended in winter/wet weather.

Thursday – Jersey War Tunnels

This was actually our wedding anniversary – where else would you go but a war tunnel?! But the weather forecast was miserable again, so going underground seemed a good option.

Jersey was occupied by the Germans during the war (as the local history reminds you at every turn) although saw very little active fighting as the island was surrendered without defence. The British didn’t see it as a key location and made no effort to re-capture it. However the locals did suffer the authority of German rule, severe curbs on their freedom and austere shortages during the time.

The Jersey War Tunnels were commissioned by the Germans, and built by prisoners of war to form a hospital to be used in the event of a British re-invasion (which never came). Now they are a museum detailing the events and struggles of the occupation, with lots of artefacts and local interest stories.

Friday – Mont Orgueil Castle, Gorey

For our final full day, we went eastwards to the small fishing village of Gorey which is dominated by the medieval Mont Orgueil Castle. This castle was another key defence point of the island for over 800 years, and offers lots of exploring through the network of towers, steps and secret rooms.

On a clear day the views from the top are breathtaking, with the French coast seemingly in touching distance.

Mont Orgueil

Comfy, flat, non-slip shoes are must here, as there lots of steps to climb (sometimes steep and winding). Waterproofs would also be useful on a wet day (though there is plenty to see indoors too).

Top tip: Both Mont Orgueil and Elizabeth Castles are run by Jersey Heritage, and if you buy a Heritage Pass you get admission to 4 attractions for the price of 3.

Saturday – Homeward Bound

We had some time to kill before our flight home so just pottered around St Helier, leaving our luggage in storage at the hotel where we returned for a Jersey cream tea in the afternoon.

We’d had a taxi from the airport on arrival – for speed and convenience – but now knowing the ropes and having plenty of time we caught the bus back; they leave the bus station every 10-15 minutes so it’s really easy.

Top tip: The bus fares are a standard £2 adult single for any route on the island. You can also buy daily, 3 day or weekly passes which are good value if you’re going to make several trips a day.

We found Jersey to be clean, safe and friendly – and highly recommended for a relaxing break.

Also read: What We Packed – Jersey, Channel Islands, in September

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Posted by Emma – WhatToWearOnHoliday.com