About Perú: Perú is a fascinating country with a variety of marvelous landscapes, interesting people and ethnic groups, and unique history.  I hope that when I’ve completed this thing I’ll have managed to portray at least a bit of that in an accurate and interesting way.  

About Peter [kojin]:  I’ve been a New York cabdriver, a newspaperman, a trial lawyer, a photographer, and various other things, and was fortunate enough to spend a little more than six months (from April 11 to October 18, 2008) in Perú, mostly wandering around in a four-wheel-drive car.   Early on, I resolved to create some sort of memorialization of the journey, discussing at least briefly all the places we went and illustrating it with photographs, and this is it — though not quite finished yet.    

I’m interested in people’s reactions — positive, negative, questioning, correcting, whatever.

One of the other things I sometimes do is poetry.   Therefore in a few cases I’ve put some of my observations into that form.  (Dawn Among the Vicuna, above, includes several tanka matched with photographs.) https://kojin.wordpress.com/dawn-among-the-vicuna-11-tanka/

The slide show should present itself at www.kojin.wordpress.com



21 responses to “About

  1. Hi Kojin,
    I just was able to glance at your awesome photos… the internet is slow and intermittently working but will read everything later this week. I am happy that you are having this amazing journey through Peru… you have an eye for the photograph… the moment with the sun, the local faces, and the story behind the face. Best Wishes for the rest of your adventure in Peru.


  2. You seem to have had a great time. As you may see from my blog I was in peru last year but a different experience. Going back there after Christmas and basing myself in Piura which you mention briefly but I haven’t sifted out that experience from your pages. Thanks for great photos and descriptions – have a good thanksgiving, Alan

  3. Dear Peter and Ragna:

    I have been reading your travel blog about Peru with great interest and it seems to me that you may be about the best people to answer some questions, if you have the time and inclination.

    My wife (also with an Icelandic background) and I want to travel to Peru in the dry season, probably October, 9009. We have done a lot of independent travel and self-driving in many parts of the world, so we consider ourselves relatively experienced (although getting on in age). We want to rent an appropriate car in Lima and then drive around as much of Peru as we have time for. Of course, we will go to the usual tourist attractions, but we we also want to drive through the central highlands into the northern parts. Your descriptions of many of the places you went to in the North already answer many of our questions explicitly or implicitly. However, there some other things that you might be able to help us with:
    -Do you think a 4 x 4 is the best kind of car to drive? And with all your experience, do you know a company that rents the kind you are driving? (All that my web surfing turns up is relatively large vehicles such as Toyota Hilux.)
    -Now that you are in Cusco, have you any information about driving further in the direction of Abancy, Andahuaylas, Ayacucho? There have been recent reports of Sendero Luminoso activity in that area and I wonder how seriously to take this as a potential risk.
    -I could see only one minor incident of petty theft in your blog, involving a snatched radio . Is your experience that travel in Peru is relatively safe, given normal sensible precautions?

    Many thanks for any advice you have time to give us.

    Cheers, Jim Friesen

    • Jim –
      Thanks for your comment.
      Very generally: I would urge you and everyone planning a journey through Peru to join http://www.livinginperu.com. It has a very useful forum, and you and others can put questions such as yours to a wider group with varied experience of Peru. Some members are expats, some are Peruvian, and at least one’s an Icelander. [I’m PeterG on there, should you join.]
      Here are some answers:
      “I could see only one minor incident of petty theft in your blog, involving a snatched radio . Is your experience that travel in Peru is relatively safe, given normal sensible precautions?” Yes. That was my experience. Particularly in the more remote areas, it was generally smooth. However, in addition to the one minor incident of petty theft I did get connec by an auto-parts scam in Tacna [see that post, XXXIX, and avoid being as foolish as I was], though we in no way felt in danger there. There are a few areas, mostly in jungle, not recommended — I think near Pucallpa, for one — but we had a very good experience. (I should note that most Peruvians and expats are full of warnings and horror stories about thievery and muggings in cities, so we may have been fortunate. Sample opinion on livinginperu.com — but I sure did find rural areas both delightful and safe. [As made famous by Graham Greene, the sign in Mexico said it best: “Bad Roads Make for Good People”])
      “Do you think a 4 x 4 is the best kind of car to drive? And with all your experience, do you know a company that rents the kind you are driving? (All that my web surfing turns up is relatively large vehicles such as Toyota Hilux.)” I did think a 4 x4 was best, although quite frankly we could have done just about everything we did without a 4×4. The road from Huancabamba over the mountain toward Jaen would have been dicey, and we’d have picked a different route up to Caraz-Huaraz than the one we took, though; and if we’d driven to Puerto Maldonado as I wanted to, I’d have wanted a 4×4 for that, I’m sure. I guess the answer is that even if you rarely need the 4×4, it’s reassuring to have it. I bought, and lack good information about renting a 4×4, but put that question to the folks on livinginperu.com — splaktar may know. Too, e-mail me if you want the e-mail address of the fellow from whom I bought the car. He’s a good guy, and: (a) if you’re going for a few months, you may decide that buying and then selling beats renting economically, and (b) he may know about rental vehicles in Lima.
      “we consider ourselves relatively experienced (although getting on in age).” Well, I’m fairly old too. The one thing I’d suggest you be ready for is the traffic in cities. Many would choose to leave their car in the garage while in Lima. [I didn’t.] Cabs are cheap. Driving can be aggravating. Getting lost can be aggravating.
      btw, Ragna and I broke up near Macchu Picchu — but I still hope to get back to Iceland some day. [See http://www.cafepress.com/pgoodmanphoto for some of my pix from there if you’re interested.] Posts regarding Cusco, Macchu Picchu, and the jungle will be added here within the next couple of weeks.

  4. Wow — this is really fabulous! I have not had time to read everything, but look forward to returning again and again. The photos are breathtaking. I will show this to Ron and of course Catherine. Did I tell you she’s into photography? She’s in her third year of it at school, studying with a guy who is about 70, makes the kids use black and white and develop and print their own pictures, and grades hard. She loves it.

    Thanks also for the card. It sounds like life is good. Is the picture of your bike?

    Warmest regards from the chilly north.

  5. Hi kojin !

    You run a great blog, makes absolutely fun reading it ! We’re planning doing a part of the trip (the south of Peru) later this year in October (who knows, we might bump in with James Friesen who is a bit higher in the posts…).
    The idea is also to rent a car and drive around ourselves. I have expercience driving the high Andes in Chile and Argentina and know the rough roads from Costa Rica; the only thing is that we always get warned by Peruvians that the roads in Peru are very very dangerous and that no foreigner should drive ther themselve. From what I read in your blog you didn’t seem to have had a real problem doing so though..
    Did I get that right ? What would you generally recommend? Go for it ? I can also add that both me and my wife are fluent in Spanish, so language is no issue.

    Thanks for your help and best regards from Belgium

  6. Enjoy your trip!
    You’re correct. We had no problems with the roads — but do avoid falling for the scam we fell for in Tacna, described in that post in the blog. We drove in many remote areas. Almost everywhere, we did not actually need a four-wheel-drive car, although it’s prudent to have one.
    1. As in some other countries, people leave little piles of rocks out to warn you when they’ve stopped for a flat tire or something, then sometimes forget to remove them, a potential danger particularly at night.
    2. There are stretches, although maybe not where you’re going, where higher-quality gasoline is not available, and you must put 84 in a car that wants 95 or 98. Our car plugged along without any major problem.
    3. In the major cities — Lima, central Trujillo, perhaps Arequipa — traffic can be a hassle. Crowded, fast, often a game of chicken without apparent rules, and little chance to read a road sign, if there is one, particularly at night.
    4. Generally, though, it was a delight. We even picked up hitch-hikers, as you’ll note mentioned occasionally in the blog.
    1. Get gas early and often, because sometimes there’s a long stretch without a gas station or without high-test gas.
    2. Always park in parking lot; although in some small towns we didn’t, and had no problem, I recommend it.
    3. It would be prudent, I suspect, not to stop on the road to help anyone — although I did stop on each of the few occasions when the situation arose, and never had any problem.
    4. Read discussion of the hammer in the Piura section. If it sounds sensible, do as I did — though I felt silly about it, and certainly never had to use it, I suspect I would carry a hammer if I made a long drive through Peru again. It’s ridiculous, I’m sure. But.
    As to recommondations for places, the blog is full of them. (Sections of Puerto Maldonado and my return to Arequipa will be added soon.) Two from the sections not yet added are: if you have time, and sense of adventure, consider driving down to Puerto Maldonado, or to Manu; and when driving from Cusco to Juliaca, consider a stopping around . . . well, I don’t have my map or notes with me this morning, but the area was something like Five Lakes or Six Lakes or Four Lakes, and it was just nice countryside off the main road for awhile. So if you are not in a hurry, drive around in there for a couple of hours.
    One other thought, though I mention it in the Macchu Picchu post: consider, if you have time, leaving car in Cusco on trip to Macchu Picchu and taking tour-bus to Ollatatambo, seeing highlights of Sacred Valley without worry, then returning to Sacred Valley with your car afterward to explore further.

  7. Great reply Kojin – many thanks !

    We’ll be following the rest of your adventures too obviously 🙂

  8. Peter,

    Thank you for so generously sharing your trip and pictures- they are beautiful and an inspiration for my up coming trip to Peru, even though I am on a much shorter time frame.

    If you have time, I have 2 questions relating to the photography. My favourite pictures out of the lot were the ones of llamas/alpacas grazing almost at dark, but sort of back lit so the edge of their coat was like a halo- did you do anything special to acheive this? And also, possibly an even stupider question- you mention “zapping” the tourists out of your shots with photoshop. What is the simplest way to do this.

    Thank you again,


    • Glad you enjoyed ’em — and I’m sure you’ll enjoy Peru.
      W regard to the back-lit llamas: I did nothing special, except be old-fashioned. You do need to turn off the automatic exposure feature on your camera. That way, instead of exposing for a proper view of the animal [or flower, or whatever], you underexpose that. It’s usually good to “bracket” exposures — that is, if it appears that the “right” exposure for actually getting a good conventional picture of the llama would be, say 1/100th of a second at 8, stop down a couple of stops to 16, but try 11, 16, and 22. Or with digital camera look in your monitor and adjust based on what you see. I’m not sure I articulated that very well, but basically use manual exposure and “under-expose” according to what the camera’s telling you. You could accomplish much the same with levels feature in Photoshop, I guess.
      Zapping the tourists: first of all, you need to zoom way in, with either the “View” drop-down or the magnifying glass icon, so that the little ant-people in your picture take up most of what you see on the screen. Then you can use the clone tool. [Either has a place above where you can set the size of the brush; then you “sample” a spot by clicking once on it while holding down the Alt key, then copy it onto somewhere else by clicking again without the Alt key.] Conceptualize what you are trying to do as repair the scene as it would exist if a person weren’t in the way. Thus, where there would be stone blocks and cracks and black shadow, click with Alt where there’s what you want to copy, then without Alt where you need it. Same with the grass below. The person disappears. If you’re lucky (it’s great when you’re covering them with a tree or something and can just create it and make it work, not having to follow a special geometric pattern) and patient, it works.
      Make sense?

  9. Many thanks- I’ll give both techniques a go

  10. Peter,

    Thank you for the detailed account of your travels and for sharing your beautiful photography. I’m currently writing a book in which the main character travels from Urcos to Puerto Maldonado by truck. Although I’ve visited Peru, I wasn’t able to visit Puerto Maldonado, so I’ve very much looking forward to your account. You do a beautiful job of bringing to life the places and people you encountered. Thank you!


  11. Hi Peter:
    I finally got around to reading your very detailed reply to my questions. Thanks very much. Your comments have made me all the more sure that my wife and I will make a self-drive trip to Peru, probably this Fall. And thanks for the website, which I will look up.

    Enjoy the rest of your travels.

    Cheers, Jim Friesen

  12. Hi there Kojin…

    Fantastic blog, I am currently here in Lima and interested in buying a car for a trip around… we are looking at one of the japanese station wagons in used around the city, I am told that we could pick one up for around US$2000. I would very much appreciate any knowledge you have of this… and the contact you used for purchasing the vehicle…

    Many thanks in advance…


  13. Hi,
    I was wondering about the driving times in Peru that google gives out. Can I go by it?

    1. Cuzco to Juliaca = 5 hours
    2. Juliaca to Desaguadero = 3 hours (Do you know if I can safely park my car in this town and then cross to Boliva for a day to see Tiwanaku?)
    3. Desaguadero to Tacna = 4 hours
    4. Tacna to Arequipa = 4 hours (taking Costanera)
    5. Arequipa to Nazca = 9 hours (taking 1S)
    6. Nazca to Paqulo > Abancay > Cuzco = 8 hours

    What type of vehicle should I rent?
    Do you have any suggestions to my route that I would like to take?
    What about gas stations?
    Do you think 10 days is enough sufficient for this driving trip with some stops and sightseeing excluding time in Cuzco?

    Thank you for your time,


  14. Peter I have yet to follow your entire journey but was caught up by your pictures in Kuelap which I used and credited you with on a facebook Note which sent me in search of pictures to use. “Copyright pgoodmanphotos” as well as the web address of your Weblog
    I am hoping this is acceptable and if not please let me know and I will gladly remove them.
    Thank you.

  15. Dear Kojin,
    My name is Meyla Bianco Johnston and I am the copy editor for Alpaca Culture Magazine. We saw your phenomenal photo of the vicuña looking at the volcano and wondered if it would be possible to use it in our magazine. Of course, we would credit you as you wish. Please reply back.

  16. Hey Kojin! Como va?
    Im from Argentina and im planning a trip of a month and a half. 15 day in Bolivia, 15 days in Peru, 15 days in Ecuador. This is obviously a first sketch to be reorganized as the trip goes. I must congratulate first on your 6 months on Peru, it takes balls to do, it probably was an amazing adventure to do, being part of a new culture for so long. Being so that my trip in Peru is only of 15 day I wanted to know what places would yo recommend? My plan for now is Titicaca-Cusco-Machu Picchu-Cusco-Lima-Mancora. I would like to have aprox. 5 north of peru/beach days, 5 days in Cusco and Machi Picchu and leave the other 5 days, probably 2 for Lima and 3 to get to know some off the path places. Any other places and ideas? What should i see in Cusco and Lima? Answering this is probably a pain but I would be very happy 🙂 if you could do at least just a short answer. Un abrazo! Hope you are still traveling or enjoying whatever you are doing!

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