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We then visited Isla Amantaní (not man-made) and stayed the night—along with our new Canadian friends Ashley and Whitney—with a very nice family who made us some delicious food and lent us some of their traditional clothing for these sweet photo ops. Really memorable experience.

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The Islas Uros in Lake Titicaca are a collection of man-made islands constructed entirely out of reeds (yes, indigenous people just BUILT islands to live on…) They’re a bit of a tourist spectacle now, but it was still pretty cool to visit one and stand on reeds in the middle of a huge body of water. The bottom photo is of Antonio, the “president” of the island we visited, where he governs 10 families.

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Lake Titicaca—South America’s largest lake, shared by Perú and Bolivia, and the highest navigable lake in the world: more than 12,500 feet above sea level.

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Because I visited Perú, I now know how to distinguish llamas from alpacas. Do you?

Because I visited Perú, I now know how to distinguish llamas from alpacas. Do you?

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Caroline, sitting on the Andes.

Caroline, sitting on the Andes.

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Machu Picchu. No matter how many times you’ve seen the photo, nothing prepares you for how breathtaking it is to see with your own eyes. For me, it’s all about the setting in the jungle, nestled between Andean peaks cut by the Urubamba River. We hiked up to the top of Machu Picchu mountain to get these stunning aerial views.

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The area around Cuzco is filled with incredible Incan ruins, like Sacsahuaman (think “sexy woman”) towering above Cuzco to Ollantaytambo (can’t help you here) a little ways north in the Sacred Valley. And of course, there’s that other set of ruins that is fairly well known…

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[9.24.14] Cuzco, Perú - A wonderful introduction to Perú. Beautifully preserved colonial architecture next to Inca walls that have stood for centuries.

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And last but certainly not least for this excerpt: penguins. That’s right, penguins in tropical weather near the Equator. These guys swam here from Antarctica. Just further evidence of how special and strange a place the Galápagos are. What an unforgettable experience.

Next up, Peru…

#galapagos

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Hooray for boobies!! Red-footed ones and (most famously) blue-footed ones. What you see here is the dance a male blue-footed booby does to impress a female. Woulda worked on me…

#galapagos