Everyone knows someone who has traveled through Peru and experienced Machu Picchu. You hear about how cool it is and the history and just like anything that is “amazing”, it tends to produce such high expectations, that the reality can’t possibly compete. HOWEVER, I have to say Machu Picchu did live up to the hype. Maybe it was the trek we took to get there, or the perfect weather, or the fact that I’m easily blown away by historic elements….but Peru was one of my favorite countries by far!
My time in Peru stared in Lima for a few days, and just like most cities, it tends to get a bit overwhelming with cars and people, but the architecture and the parks made for quite a fun experience. I was even able to book a boat ride from the bay that took us out to swim with the sea lions in the wild, and THAT was one of the most entertaining experiences I’ve had. They were so curious and barking at us and not really understanding what/who we were. It was kind of priceless.
After Lima, I headed to Cusco which was one of my favorites. What I didn’t realize was that it was located at such high elevation. Sitting at more than 11,000 ft people were actually getting altitude sickness just landing there. I felt incredibly fortunate to have acclimatized pretty quickly, taking a few day hikes up to the Temple of the Moon and just climbing up the 8000 steps to get the perfect sunset shot. Which was a good thing since a few days later I was starting my assent on a 5-day trek up the Salkantay Route to Machu Picchu.
I booked my 5 day/4 Night Salkantay Trek through Alpaca Expeditions and they were amazing! It was pretty much a girls trip with 4 of us girls heading up the mountain plus our awesome crew. On the first day we made it up an over the highest peak at 15,400ft. At that elevation you start feeling the lack of air and are working extra hard for every step, but the magnificent surroundings make it so worth it! (I couldn’t help but have flashbacks to Kilimanjaro.) The mountain ranges also start to create their own weather patterns, so one minute it’s pouring rain, the next the fog is rolling in and then out of nowhere it clears up and the sun is shining. It’s quite a spectacle.
Over the course of the next 4 days we made our way through the beautiful countryside and trekked up and over mountainous ranges and then down into rain forest climates for 54 km. Saw countless waterfalls, made friends with heaps of adorable stray dogs and slept under epic starry skies. On our last night we trekked into Aguas Calientes and got a hot shower and a soft bed which was the perfect way to rest before our sunrise departure to Machu Picchu at 5:00am, which did not disappoint! We were incredibly lucky and got perfect weather and got to witness the light beaming over the mountains and on to Machu Picchu as the day began. It was breathtaking! I then departed for the Huayna Picchu Peak that overlooks the ruins and gives you a bird’s eye view of the mountain ranges. I highly recommend it. After learning about the history and discovery of Machu Picchu (the fact it was only discovered in 1911 after being abandoned for more than 400 years is incredible to me!) we headed back down the hill to Aguas Calientes, before making our way back to Cusco.
I have to say Peru as a country didn’t disappoint and I could see myself heading back there again in the future.