The boy is traipsing around in South America and embarking on an adventure of a lifetime with his pal for an incredible 6 months. So envious of this incredible trip he is on! So when he asked me to come and meet him Peru, I was absolutely delighted and jumped online to book a flight out of JFK and into Cusco as fast as I could.
The plan was well there really was no plan. We just knew that I would be arriving in Cusco and would need to be in Guayaquil, Ecuador in a month's time to head back to NYC and Machu Picchu was a must visit. It was the best approach, took everything as it came, lived in the now and just enjoyed every second with as little stress as possible. Unfortunately (or fortunately) this meant that we spent almost all our time in Peru and only a few days in Ecuador but honestly, I wouldn't change any of it because we got to see so much of Peru and I can't wait to go back to see more of it and to see more of South America.
The journey there took way longer than it should have. I had to transfer twice and had a layover in El Salvador for 7 hrs before having to get on another plane to Lima and had to wait there for another couple of hours to get another plane to Cusco. To cut a long story short, we were delayed, the plane had to turn back and we stood on the tarmac for 2 hours in Arequipa before it could take off to head to Cusco. It took me a total of 26 hrs to get from Brooklyn to Cusco. Wow. That was a treat…..
Before jetting off, I was warned of the possibility of experiencing altitude sickness as Cusco has an elevation of 3,400m or 11,200 ft. But to my surprise I didn't get sick at all and felt great. Did feel a little dizzy at times and was definitely out of breath sooner than usual but nothing that caused me to be bed ridden.
As mentioned we started in Cusco and did a free City tour (run by the City and based on donation), had a fantastic guide that grew up in the Amazon and who was both funny and knowledgable.
We had incredible jugs of super smoothies and juices at the local market almost everyday for only $3!!!! Chia, Maca, ginger, avocado, cucumber, alfalfa sprouts, papaya and mango was my favourite combination. Truly the best start to every morning! We went on an incredible sunset horse ride and had some of the best Vegan food I've ever had.
We then headed to Ollantaytambo, a beautiful town located in the Sacred Valley approximately 65km from Cusco. The plan was to get a public minibus but learnt that for a couple dollars more we could have a private car and it meant we would get to Ollantaytambo sooner. We visited Las Salineras and Moray and explored all the ruins in Ollantaytambo, we had a great couple of days.
Next destination was Aguas Calientes, a small town down in the valley beside the Vilcanota River. We took the one and a half hour train ride there and stayed in what may have been the dampest room in town. Thankfully it was only for a few hours as we got up at 3:30am to make our way to Machu Picchu. You can take a 20 min bus ride but you can also hike your way up. Of course we opted for the latter (as did about 80 other people) and got up at 3:30 to walk to the entrance of Machu Picchu and join the throng of people who were also queuing for the hike up. The hike is approximately 5kms and takes about 60-80 mins. It was raining and pitch black but such a great experience. Physically exhausting but such a great feeling being one of the first up there and seeing the sun rise. Amazing. Spent a few hours at Machu Picchu, it was so foggy but thankfully it all cleared up, the clouds dispersed and the rain stopped and turned out to be a warm, beautiful, sunny day.
After Machu Picchu we hiked back down and back into town to grab some lunch and then to Hidroelectrica. This involved walking along the train tracks for about 15km and then get a bus back to Cusco so we could head to Arequipa to check out the condors at Colca Canyon. When back in Cusco, we heard of this quaint little town called Pisac. The day we decided to visit both Dan and I had a terrible case of food poisoning but didn't want to miss out so we tried our absolute hardest to get through it. We ended up going but it was a struggle…
We also went to Huacachina to go sand boarding and then headed to Lima where we had amazing food and hired bikes to explore the city. After Lima we headed to Trujillo, really just a pit stop and to break up the long bus ride to get to Mancorra. We were dying for the beach and were excited to stay at Vichayito in our own beachfront bungalow away from the craziness of Mancorra. From there we headed into Ecuador where it was hotter and more humid. Trip was sadly coming to an end and it was time to head back to NYC. Wish it didn't have to come to an end and wish I was in a hammock with boy sipping on coconuts and listening to the waves of the ocean crash and fall…