stacks_image_636Thanks to Mountain Equipment Co-op’s trip partners listing, Kirsten found nine women who happily left their boyfriends, partners, pets, families, a tuba, and one imaginary tortoise at home to go mountain biking for 17 days in Peru.

This mercury-mad adventure started in Lima, then headed down the Pacific coast to Nasca for sand boarding on the highest dunes in the world, a flight over the mysterious Nasca Lines and some accidental handling of 2000-year-old human remains.

Then over to Arequipa, up Misti Volcano, down into the Colca Canyon (where they ended up surprise guests inside a bullring with ten bulls and no matador. (Oh, he was there but he was boozing it up outside the bullring.)

Then they gasped and barfed their way up to Puno, Lake Titicaca, Cusco, through the Sacred valley of the Incas, Santa Maria Jungle, Ollantaytambo, Machu Picchu, through cloud forests and all the while frequently sampling the leaves of coca plantations.

Here’s the itinerary that their guide, Saul Ceron, designed for his favourite “chicas” at his Peruvian company Peru Adventures Tours.

Kirsten arrived home in Canada after an exhausting 3-week back-road trip through the Peruvian Andes and desert to discover an ATM in Lima continuing to make withdrawals from her bank account days after getting home.

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Back to Peru!

stacks_image_639Being a tiny bit of a risk-taker, Kirsten travelled to Peru for a second time with online strangers. Joining her was Geeta Nadkarni (you may know of Geeta from Montreal’s CBC News at Six, or from her radio column) and also Geeta’s sister, Namrata, from the UK.

Namrata is an editor for SeaTrade Magazine (by the way, Geeta calls Namu “Boy” and now Kirsten knows why — it’s a Tarzan thing — and not because Namu screams like a boy when sandboarding. Watch it and hear it to believe it — Kirsten’s 19-second video clip of Namu screaming down a dune in Haucachina Peru).

Speaking of boys, the girls had been looking for a 4th muchacha to join them but ended up saying “si” to a muchacho. Josef Seywerd is the director of Chilliwack Search & Rescue and is a school librarian (yup, it’s a Clark Kent/Superman kind of thing).

While, Kirsten hadn’t met any of her trip partners before, Geeta had written a very funny review of Kirsten’s book Lost in Moscow a couple of years previously.

On arrival at Lima’s airport, they rented “Christine”, a small Suzuki Jimmy with a psychotic alarm and Boston Strangler seatbelts. They immediately escaped Lima’s entanglement of writhing traffic and headed straight up (15,800 feet above sea level — way up) and over the Andes for ten days, finally arriving in Ollantaytambo, located between Cusco and Machu Picchu, where they stayed in welcomed serenity at the newly opened Apu Lodge.

There, in the Central Highlands they test drove a Mother Earth and Goliger’sTravel, Voluntourism-tour and swilled some chicha with Aly Ponce de Leon (it was not the chicha made from spit). They also tucked into Peru’s “other” national dish, cuy (guinea pig) that was marinated for days at Aly’s mom’s house.

From Ollantaytambo it was west to Nazca (gotta love that hooky pooky Nazca link) to see a lady about some mummies, then back north up the coast to Lima.

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Machu Picchu, Cusco Peru (photo by Kirsten Koza)

photo by Kirsten Koza, Writers' Expeditions


The Inca Tale Writing Workshop in Peru: a six-day writing workshop for women, hosted by award winning travel author and anthology editor, Lavinia Spalding, at the “living Inca town” of  Ollantaytambo. You’ll spend five nights at Apu Lodge (named the best Posada in South America by the Guardian.UK ), take a train ride through the jungle to explore Machu Picchu, and you’ll have a Peruvian concierge/guide/translator (the owner of Peru Breathtaking Trips) for the entire expedition to pamper, entertain, educate, and offer up hidden adventures and new sensations to inspire your writing. (read more…)


grub's on! screen capture“When women of the Amazon insult their husbands, they say their man has a penis like a suri.” Oscar Ramirez, my guide with Peru Amazon Bike, hands me a skewer of suri (palm weevil larvae) at an Iquitos market. His description isn’t helping me take my first bite…(article first published in New York – full article to be posted here soon)

Bullfight in Peru photo by Kirsten Koza

My story about an unusual bullfight held annually in Huambo, Peru was published this week in NYC in The Blot magazine. On social networking sites I became aware of how many people comment without reading the material that they are commenting upon because many just jumped to the conclusion (flinging f-bombs) that the bulls are killed, proving the point in my story regarding vegans and animal activists sometimes being scarier than Al-Qaeda. Read to find out what happens to the bulls and bullfighters in Huambo…
Bullfighting story by Kirsten Koza in The Blot Magazine


Peru: August 2-15, 2013From Kirsten Koza: I am a professional adventure travel writer, author, and humorist. You can read about other trips I’ve organized with trip partners in articles posted on my website.CLOSED/SOLD/PACKING OUR BAGS (though feel free to beg, or check out FEAST our photography and eating expedition across Jordan in March. There will be more Peru trips next year as well.)
This August you can dance centre bullring with a matador in a remote village, enjoy local delicacies, go sandboarding, relax at an oasis or try to climb the tallest dune in the world (2,070 metres), take a spiralling flight over the Nazca lines, sample Pisco’s pisco and chicha too (but not the kind made with spit), devour local chocolate, spot condors, stargaze and hike in the Colca Canyon, see spooky mummies and ancient sex pottery, take a walk through a stone forest, explore the ecological curiosities of the Islas Ballestas (dubbed Peru’s Galapagos) by boat, stay at unique and boutique hotels and experience one local homestay as well, and then take a flight to either Cusco for Machu Picchu, back to LIma and home, or another Peruvian destination. (group size just 8-12) Basic Itinerary, Prices and Contacts: August 2 -15, 2013 (read more…)

Imagine spending two whole weeks with a publishing house editor who is going to read your writing and make suggestions. Imagine doing that while crossing Peru, and the editor works for Travelers’ Tales (dubbed “the travel publishing giant” by Matador). You can make this a reality in August.

I was going through my filing cabinet and in it are hundreds and hundreds of travel stories that were written by writers from around the world and entered into a competition that I ran for a responsible tourism  organization in the UK. There’s some beautiful and finely crafted writing in that drawer but I knew when I received those pieces that the judging panel (editors, authors, journalists and travel writers) would dismiss them because they were missing a key ingredient that an editor is looking for when they select a story for a book, anthology, or as a competition winner.

And I know some writers who entered the competition were hurt because rejections suck (I know—I’m a writer) and some writers became angry and I received the angry and confused emails.

If you’re a writer (creative non-fiction or fiction) you can save yourself a lot of unnecessary pain and wasted time by spending time with Lavinia Spalding, a publishing house editor, this summer.

Details and Prices: Cell phone users:

And just because it is highly amusing. Here’s my favourite book rejection scene of all time from Black Books.