How you can make a lasting impact to children in Peru

I want to share a project with you which is very close to my heart. Join me to make a lasting impact to children of poor families in the Peruvian Andes.

While travelling through Peru I realised how wealthy and privileged we are even if we think we are not. Most of the families and kids I have seen live in very simple conditions. Kids are helping their parents to earn a small amount of money to contribute to feed their family. Besides working, kids also have to go to school if the parents can afford it. This is, unfortunately, a normal life for the children in the small villages in Peru. Travelling made me realise that I want to make a lasting impact and support the children in Peru. I just had no idea how.

simple life
The simple life of Peruvian children in the Andes.

When I was taking photos in Lima, I met Javier Gamboa. He is an amazing photographer and we are in contact since. I always believe you meet people in your life for a reason.

A while ago I noticed a post from him on facebook about his project to support children of poor families in the Peruvian Andes. At this moment I knew I want to be part of his project and fulfil my mission close to my heart.

Javier’s project to support children of poor families in Peru

Javier’s project started 3 years ago when he realised that lots of the indigenous population lack school equipment, such as pens, pencil, notepads, books, you name it. Many children have nothing to write on; some siblings have to share one notepad between each other. In case the parents cannot afford to buy a sketchbook, they cannot send the children to school, especially if it is a girl. These are unfortunately normal circumstances in the smaller villages in Peru and hard to imagine for us.

This gave Javier the urge to help and his project was born. Javier started to collect books and school supplies from people he knew and was able to bring more than 50,000 books and school material to the people in the small villages of the Andes Mountains in Peru. The smile he brought to children’s eyes was an incredible rewarding gift.

The school year in Peru starts in March and the children need our help. Javier is going back to the small villages on the 25 March to bring more books and school supplies. Each child needs approximately 10 notepads, pencils, erasers, pens, sketchbooks, colour pencils, rulers, etc.  All the children of Ccolccabamba, a small town in the Andes, will need their school equipment and books. However, there are so many more children in nine other communities over 4,000 m high in the mountains who need our help. There are roughly 500 children affected. Watch more here. Check out Javier’s post and photos of the children here.

How can you make a lasting impact to children in Peru?

Are you like me who loves to make an impact and bring a big smile into children’s eyes? If you answered this question with yes, I ask you to help Javier and me to be able to complete the project to bring school supplies and books to the poor children in the Andes mountains.

A donation will be much appreciated. If you want to make an impact, please donate using the Paypal button below. Even a small $5 amount will make a huge difference for the kids.

When you transfer money to my PayPal account, don’t forget to email me your email address or home address. You will receive a handwritten personal letter from the child you have supported.

I guarantee you from the bottom of my heart that each cent you send to my PhotographybyalexK – PayPal account will be transferred to Javier’s project account and only used for the school supply, books and to cover the costs of transport. Thank you so much for your help. Watch another video here.


Javier’s background story and why he became involved in helping kids in Peru

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Chauchilla cemetery near Nazca in Peru

desert Nazca

When I was in Peru, we visited the Chauchilla cemetery near Nazca.

desert Nazca
Chauchilla cemetery

This discovery of the cemetery was in 1920s and covers a period of 600- 700 years. Unfortunately this cemetery had been plundered by grave robbers who have left human bones and pottery scattered around. Since 1997 the Peruvian law protects this place. Nowadays tourists can take a tour to this ancient cemetery and see the mummies.

The bodies are preserved due to the dry climate in the Peruvian desert. They were clothed in cotton, then painted with a resin and kept in tombs made from mud bricks. The mummies still have their hair and skin.

I found this pretty amazing but also ‘creepy’.

mummification
Mummy in the Cemetery of Chauchilla

 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Creepy.”

Why should you visit Lake Titicaca – photos from Uros, the floating island

Uros island

You made it to Lake Titicaca, great. Once you visited Taquile Island, another must to see are the floating islands. I have been to Uros Island, but before you actually go I recommend to have some local lunch. Since I was on a gadvanture trip, we were lucky to be invited at a family’s place who cooked just for us.

The entree was a home baked bread which you can see in the bowl on the top of the photo, together with a tomato and chilli salsa, followed by a yummi quinoa soup and as main a fresh trout from Lake Titicaca. It can’t be any better than that.

Peruvian trout
fresh trout from lake titicaca

The family who cooked for us were dressed up in traditional clothes and very friendly. The Peruvian cuisine is seriously the best I know. It uses lots of fresh produce, vegetables and the super seed ‘quinoa’. If you love eating healthy like me, you will be in paradise.

Peruvian lady from Lake TIticaca
This Peruvian lady cooked the most amazing trout fresh from Lake Titicaca. We had quinoa soup as a starter, some homemade amazing bread with tomatoe salsa and fresh trout from the lake.

The little cheeky boy was playing hiding with us. What a cutie.

Peruvian boy
a little peruvian boy on Taquile Island

…the little boy with his grandpa. A traditional Peruvian family living in simple conditions and seem to be the most happiest people you can imagine.

happy family from Taquile Island, Peru
happy family from Taquile Island, Peru

Once you have a happy tummy, go and visit one of the floating islands. I have never seen something like this before and couldn’t imagine you can live like this. As you can see on the photo, a storm was approaching.

Floating island, peru
Uros the floating island on Lake Titicaca, Peru

Once you arrive at this little island you will be welcomed by singing locals in their colourful traditional clothes:

Uros island
the women from Uros the floating island in Peru, Lake Titicaca

A little girl was happily jumping around, being very excited about the visitors:

traditional floating island
little girl from Uros Island, Lake Titicaca

…a bit curious too:

little girl from Uros Island, Lake Titicaca
little girl from Uros Island, Lake Titicaca

…now being exhausted after running around:

playing little girl on Taquile Island, Peru
playing little girl on Taquile Island, Peru

The locals selling their handcrafted art:

Life on Uros Island, Peru
Life on Uros Island, Peru

Lake Titicaca was the last place in Peru before I travelled further to Patagonia. I fell in love with Peru, the friendly people who live happily in their simplicity. The Peruvian cuisine is one of the best I know, it has an influence of the asian cuisine but uses the Peruvian natural ingredients.

I definitely will come back to Peru. I am currently thinking of doing some volunteer work in Cusco in the next year. If anybody of you had some great experiences to share, I would be more than happy to hear about it. Please feel free to comment.

More travel stories from Patagonia will follow soon. Stay tuned.

Have a lovely day.

Alex

Why you should visit Lake Titicaca – photos of Taquile Island

You are in Peru, fell in love with that country and don’t want to leave yet? I fully understand. Why don’t you take a bus and travel from Cusco to Puno, Lake Titicaca. More details on that trip here: Photos that make you want to travel from Cusco to Puno.

Puno itself is not a very interesting town in my opinion but it is great for an overnight stay before heading to the islands in the morning.

I recommend to take a boat to Taquile Island and experience the traditional culture of Peru. The island is 45km offshore from Puno and about 2,200 people live here. Taquile is approximately 5.5 square km big with its highest point being 4,050m above sea level.

So what can you expect to see? Enjoy the photos:

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Does money makes you happy?

happy smile

Have you ever noticed when travelling that people and kids in third world countries appear to be happier than people in the westernised world? Why is that? So, money does not make you happy?

Most of the westernised people seem to be too focussed on the material things they own and cannot get enough from money. The driver for lots of people is money. Kids are growing up with ipads and smart phones, watching TV and have plenty of toys. I wonder how kids nowadays will learn to appreciate the things they own. They get used to the habit of getting everything they want. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of people out there who are not like this, however, the majority are unfortunately focussed on money. Surely you need it to survive, to pay your rent and to buy food, I get this but when people make money to be an important driver for their actions in life and thinking that more money makes them happier there is something wrong. Money might make life easier but you can’t buy happiness and love with it.

Travelling to Peru opened my eyes. On our way from Machu Picchu to Cusco we stopped to see the beautiful scenery and approaching sunset but when I saw the little kids in their traditional clothes with their donkey I immediately was drawn to them. Most of the kids in Peru don’t have all the fancy toys the westernised children have. They are poor but happy. Those kids don’t need an ipad and a phone to play with. The little cute girl had the most beautiful smile I have ever seen. Observing this makes you think. Most of the people in that country don’t have a hot shower or just a small little shelter to live in but they are friendly and happy because they consider their family and friends the most valued assets in their lives.

Happiness comes from the inside out and not from the material things you own. Declutter your life and appreciate the little things you see and have around you every day. You cannot buy friends and family, you cannot buy love and you cannot buy health. Yes you can buy medicine but you cannot buy a healthy and happy body because this starts with your mindset. Love yourself, your family and friends, be healthy, smile every day and be grateful for the little things in life. Did you wake up being healthy? That is already a reason to be appreciative. Happiness comes from your mindset and not the assets you own.

People are just as HAPPY as they make up their minds to be

happy kids
People are just as happy as they make up their minds to be.

Look at this photo and imagine you are there…can you see the happy smile and the simplicity?

happy smile
the most beautiful smile in the world

I hope this post will make you think and reflect on your life. Being grateful and smiling every day is a huge step forward in finding true happiness.

Have a happy day.

10 photos that make you want to travel from Cusco to Puno via bus

grassland

You just returned from Machu Picchu but you don’t want to leave Peru yet? Great choice. I recommend you take the tourist bus (there is a train option too) from Cusco to Puno which stops on some interesting points all the way to Puno. I couldn’t believe how beautiful the landscape from Cusco to Puno actually is. There is also a public bus option which is the budget version but it doesn’t stop for you to explore the scenery.

1. Let’s start with the first stop at Gate Rumicolca, an Inca site:

Inca site
Gate of Rumicolca; 30 km from Cusco, Peru

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Open your heart and let the sunshine in

park of love

When you open your heart and let the sunshine in, you will live your life to its fullest potential.

The park of love in Lima, Peru, has some interesting and fascinating mosaics designed by Peruvian artist Victor Delfin which were inspired by Antoni Gaudi’s Parque Guell in Barcelona. The photo of the mosaic below is showing the sun overlooking the Pacific Ocean in the Miraflores suburb in Lima.

What comes to my mind when looking at the sunshine mosaic is to open up your heart and let the sunshine in. Your heart is connected to your feelings. Have you ever been in situations where you trusted your gut, you made a decision based on your feelings because it simply felt right to go a certain way? Your heart was telling you what to do. Or did you make decisions in life which came from your brain and in the end you tell yourself ‘oh, i just should have listened to my gut’ then I wouldn’t have ended up in that situation?

Sometimes our brain is telling us to go a different directions in life. That doesnt’ mean it is a bad thing but mostly our brain considers fears, being comfortable in doing things we know and in the end enforces us to make safe decisions. Have you ever wondered if you missed out in life? I am pretty sure we all have experienced this. However, I hope you are one of them who learned from it and started to trust your instinct.

Once you listen to your feelings and stop worrying about how other people think about you and your decisions, you will realise how good life feels. When you open your heart, take some risks and follow your instinct, you will be able to live your life to its fullest potential. Get out of your comfort zone and experience life. It is fun and makes you feel being alive. Don’t let your fears bring you down and step back in life. Trust your gut as it is mostly the right feeling from your heart.

Open your heart and let the sunshine in.

park of love
Let us get lost in the sun and it will shine in our hearts

Do you have any experiences and stories you want to share about trusting your instinct? Feel free to comment below.

I wish you a happy day.

Alex

 

Survival guide for Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu site

Hello Machu Picchu Fans. When I was about to book my trip to Machu Picchu last year, I had a lot of questions and tried to google all the information I needed. I thought I will help you and summarise the major ones and share some practical tips I found very helpful:

How to get there:

There are a few options available.

1. If you are keen on trekking and want the whole experience of slowly reaching Machu Picchu and accessing the magic place through the sungate, then do the 4-day Inca trail to Machu Picchu. You will be camping in the magnificant nature.

2. If you are not keen on camping but still want to hike, there is the option of a one-day machu picchu hike. Please refer to my previous post: one day Inca trail hike.

3. Another option is to catch the train from either Cusco or Ollantaytambo to Agua Calientes. The link for the Peru rail: Peru-rail. The train was very comfortable, they serve drinks and snacks. The roof of the train is made of glass, which let’s you enjoy the great scenery. The train ride from Ollantaytambo was approximately 3 hours.

Agua Calientes
the train station from Agua Calientes

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The sunrise and animals calling Machu Picchu their home

sunrise Machu Picchu

You want to make sure you don’t miss anything when going to Machu Picchu? If you have not seen my previous post about Machu Picchu please click on the following link: why is machu picchu such a magical place and photos you haven’t seen before.

Here are some more insights of what to expect followed by a quick survival guide.

Expect the sunrise to be slightly different

In my opinion the best times to see a place is either at sunrise or sunset. Places turn into this beautiful golden colour. For photographers definitely a must. So it was absolutely clear to me to get up very early to see the sunrise at 5:30am. However, our group decided to be there slightly after the sunrise which confused me but I trusted our tour guide. In the end it was perfect. What we have to remember that Machu Picchu is mostly covered in fog and clouds in the early mornings and you won’t see any sunrise. We could see the beautiful scenery of clouds coming in and moving out, so Machu Picchu played ‘hiding’ with us. A magical theatre to watch: A panorama shot taken early in the morning.

Machu Picchu in fog
Machu Picchu early in the morning covered in the clouds.

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Why is Machu Picchu such a magical place and photos you haven’t seen before

Machu Picchu is arguably the most magical place in the world. Everyone knows it, has been there or it is still on your bucket list to visit. But why?

Machu Picchu is the lost city of the Incas located in the High Andes of Peru in the Urubamba Valley approximately 6 hours drive from Cusco and 2,453m above sea level. Luckily the spanish conquerer have never found that magic place. The Machu Picchu ruin had capacity for around 1000 residents and is known as the most sacred Inca site. It was forgotten after the collapse of the Inca empire and rediscovered in 1911 by the explorer Hiram Bingham.

Machu Picchu is hiding behind the clouds
Machu Picchu is hiding behind the clouds

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