Hey there friends! You may have noticed that I missed out on last week’s Think and Make Thursday party and was quiet when it came to responding to comments – there’s a good reason for that – we were on vacation in Peru!
It’s been on my husband’s and my bucket lists to go to Peru and see Machu Picchu ever since both of us were little. I learned about the Incan ruins when I was in elementary school and became fascinated with how they were built and the natural beauty surrounding them. You can imagine my delight when I found out it was one of my husband’s dream to go too! My husband speaks fluent Spanish (I understand basically everything, but speaking is a bit harder) and I had lived in Ecuador for a summer in college while he had lived and studied abroad in Spain, Argentina, and the Dominican Republic. We were excited to go somewhere where we knew the language and were familiar with the culture!
So we decided to make plans to go along with a few of our friends from San Diego for an adventure of a lifetime 🙂
We spent most of our time in Cuzco, Peru, which is a city that is a little over 11,000 feet in elevation. Since the oxygen is so thin up that high it’s really easy to get breathless and dizzy. Stairs were definitely not our friends! Even the shortest set of stairs sent us wheezing. Phew! But it was a beautiful city full of culture and great architecture (and there was even the nicest Starbucks I’ve ever seen!). It was fun winding through the cobblestone streets and seeing buildings that had been around for hundreds of years.
For sightseeing and adventuring we came for Machu Picchu (more on that in a sec) and the Via Ferrata. The Via Ferrata (or the ‘Iron Way’ in Spanish) is crazy insane but crazy cool. It’s comprised of little re-bar ladder steps that are mounted directly into a cliff face. For 1200 feet. So we hooked into our carabiners and rock climbing gear and spent 2 hours climbing highhhh above the ground with nothing but some rope and a couple of metal clips to keep us from falling. (That’s all we had, but I seriously always felt safe). The views were incredible and we all tested our wills when we had to side step across a metal cable bridge over a chasm! In the pic below I’m sitting in the foreground and my hubby, Nate is completing is trek across the bridge!
It was definitely a big adrenaline rush! I’m not usually one for extreme activities (I’m more of a walk around town and eat delicious food kind of gal) but I’m glad that our friends pushed us to do this. It was really cool to be up so high! To get down we went through a series of ziplines which were much easier and much more fun than climbing!
And finally, after a day of traveling by bus, train, and foot, the pièce de résistance – Machu Picchu! This is what we went there for and it was so crazy cool to finally see it in real life and not in pictures. We got up around 4:30 am to catch the bus up to the top before everyone else got there. So. Worth. It. Seriously.
It was just mind blowing to think that people built these structures hundreds of years ago. And we found out that they didn’t even use the wheel to transport all that stone – they pushed it up and around the mountain by hand! Yowzah! There was just so much history there and you could feel it seeping from every rock. Machu Picchu was just truly incredible. The site wasn’t discovered by the Conquistadors so people lived there peacefully and then died off before the area was discovered in 1911 and opened to the public in the 1960s.
And you know that big iconic mountain in the background of Machu Picchu? Like the really big tall intimidating one? Yeah, we climbed that. (Lots of climbing this trip). It’s called Huayna Picchu and to get to the top you have to climb roughly hewn stone steps/ladder stairs that were put there by the Incas. It’s a super tough 1,100ft hike/climb but the views at the top are insane!
We were definitely tired and sweaty after that! But man, what a trip. After Machu Picchu we spent a little more time in Cuzco before making the 36+ hour, 2 taxi and 4 plane ride home. It was definitely the adventure of a lifetime and I’m so glad I could experience it with the love of my life!
Some tips if you decide to head to Peru:
- The currency is the Sol/Sole so be prepared to exchange your cash. We ordered some to be sent to our home bank so we could pick them up before we went! Everything is super cheap in Peru, so you don’t need to get a lot.
- Take it easy the first few days – the elevation change and reduced oxygen can really throw you for a loop and make you sick, so keep activities to a minimum the first little bit and you’ll acclimate just fine.
- Be careful about what you eat – health standards aren’t the same as the US/Canada/Europe, so don’t eat food from street vendors or fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked or you can peel them.
- When shopping for souvenirs, bargaining is expected. Negotiate with the seller to get a fair price, but remember too that they probably need the money more than you do in the end.
- Be sure to try the Inca Kola (Peru’s very own soda that tastes like bubble gum) and Cuy (roasted guinea pig) as a couple of local eats. Otherwise the food is very similar to most places you’d find in the world. They actually make amazingly good pizza!
- At Machu Picchu, dress in layers (since it can go from scorching hot to rainy in the length of the afternoon) and WEAR BUGSPRAY. I did not and got sand fly bites all around my ankles that turned into blisters and made my feet swell. (Don’t worry, I got better!)
- If you want to climb Huayna Picchu, you have to buy tickets way in advance – they only let 400 people up a day!
- Relax, have fun, and enjoy the culture. Try things you wouldn’t normally do and get out of your comfort zone – it’s worth it, I promise! The people there are all really nice and there are plenty of adorable alpacas and goats to coo over 😉
And that was our awesome trip to Peru! What a cool experience and it’s a fantastic feeling to check something off our bucket lists that had been there for so long. What’s next for us, you ask? We’re thinking a trip to England (I’m a HUGE anglophile – and no, that’s not a dirty word, it just means I love all things British 😉 ) and Scotland (the land of my ancestors) sometime in the next couple years. On to the next adventure with my love by my side!
Would you ever go to Peru? What’s the next place on your to-travel-to list?
This looks like the adventure of a lifetime! I LOVE that you pushed yourself to do some things that were a bit out of your comfort zone (I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie)! What an amazing experience!!!
It was totally an amazing experience and I’m glad I pushed myself! Peru is definitely the place for adrenaline junkies haha 🙂
Great photos! We also made that climb and we still say that is the best hike we have ever done. Congratulations.
Thanks so much, Lisa! Isn’t that hike amazingly cool? Definitely a lot of work and sweat but worth it 🙂 Was that your favorite part of your trip there?
Thank you for sharing all the beauty of Peru and Machu Picchu! I would never be able to go there…I have never been able to tolerate high altitudes, even as a kid. Looks like you all had the best time – always fun to travel with friends!! Now it’s time to start the planning for your England trip – don’t forget Wales and Ireland along with England and Scotland – they are so close together it would be a shame to pass them by!! I love the rural northeast of England – the wolds and villages are so beautiful!!!
Aw, I’m so sorry that high altitudes are no good for you – it definitely didn’t agree with me the best either! Hopefully my photos could help you feel like you were there, though 🙂 We went to Ireland/Northern Ireland a couple years ago and absolutely LOVED it. I will have to add Wales to our itinerary though – we met a few Welsh people in Ireland and they were so wonderful! I’ll definitely do a post of our Europe trip once we get to go!
Yay! So excited to read about your adventure. Can’t wait to hear about more in person. Love that you guys spent the time and money for this adventure of a lifetime!
It was really a crazy and amazing experience, Karisa! Let’s get together soon and catch up 🙂