If I could pick one word to describe Peru, it would be diverse. Throughout our nine day journey we biked down mountains, trekked through the rainforest, visited a desert oasis, and tried our hand at surfing.
The charming city of Cusco was our first stop in Peru. We arrived on what was Thanksgiving (here in the U.S.). After getting settled in our hostel, we quickly found a cute little restaurant and had a little Thanksgiving meal which featured Alpaca instead of Turkey. We only had one full day in Cusco before departing on our trek to Machu Picchu. I truly wished that we had allotted more time in Cusco as it is probably one of my favorite cities I’ve been to.
Machu Picchu Treck
Before setting off on our trip, we had booked a four day three night trek from Cusco to Machu Picchu. There are certainly longer treks that give you a more rugged hiking experience, but we were very pleased with the one we chose given our time constraints and activities it offered. You can also book these treks when you get there, often for cheaper pricing. Also, beware of the time of year you go. Going from May to October pretty much guarantees you access to the hiking trails, but outside of those months are fairly rainy and parts of the trail may close.
We booked the Jungle Inca Trail trek through Karikuy Tours. We paid around 0 per person for this. It included all meals, all lodging, transportation, and activities. Below I’ve broken down a more detailed itinerary then is found on their website.
On the first day we were picked up in a van and started off into the mountains. This ride was a little sketchy as we were going very fast, zigzagging through the mountains. Once we got to the top, we were each given a mountain bike, helmet, and padding. Then they told us to start off down the mountain. I was a little scared, but oh my goodness this was probably one of the coolest things of my life. Zooming down the mountain, not able to talk to anyone or take any pictures was such a special experience. The view of the mountains and valley was breathtaking. After we reached the bottom, we packed up back in our van and headed for Santa Maria. Here we went white water rafting before heading to our hostel for dinner and bed. Our lodgings were less then ideal, but we didn’t care because we had such a beautiful day.
This was the first day of hiking along part of the Inca trail. They gave us the option of keeping our bags in the van that would meet us at the end of our hike, but we chose to keep ours to get the full “backpacking” experience. But boy was I regretting that decision after the first half hour. We hiked up into the mountains for I don’t even know how long. We stopped at a little hut that had some animals we got to play with, but continued on. After a full day of hiking we finally arrived at the hot springs that our van was waiting for us at. We had to pay a bit extra if we wanted to go into the springs, but after a long day of vigorous activity we all treated ourselves. Afterwards, we drove to Santa Theresa, a small town where we ate dinner. Our group was really fun and we all decided to go out that night to the local discoteca.
Our third day started off with our zip lining excursion, which was really fun. The lines ran from one side of the river to the over. After zip lining we began the final leg of our trek. We mostly walked along railroad tracks on our own into the town of Aguas Calientes where we would be staying the night before waking up very early to head up to Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu day!!! We got up very early, like 4 am I think to get started. Zack woke up early to start hiking with one of the other guys from our group. I unfortunately had severely swollen ankles from hiking with my backpack, so I opted to take the bus. When we finally got up to the ruins, it was unreal. It looked just like I had imagined it. We had a guided tour included with our tour and then time to explore afterwards. We were really glad that our tour guide told us to get there early because the place filled up very quickly and we were able to get some good photos without too many people crowding the ruins. We actually didn’t stay too long, and hiked back down the mountain.
We chose not to spend another night in Aguas Calientes, and instead we took the train back to Cusco. The next morning we flew back to Lima to explore the coast.
The capital of Peru has different districts that have their own personality. We chose two to visit: Barranco and Miraflores. We stayed at the Barranco’s Backpackers Inn and The Healing Dog Hostel. While in Lima we tried surfing for the first time! And we also did a day trip with Peru Hop. This was a very long day, but we thoroughly enjoyed it. Our bus picked us up and first brought us to the Ballestas Islands, which is also known as the “Poor Man’s Galapagos”. This was a speed boat tour where we saw lots of sea birds and sea lions. After this, we drove to Huacachina, a desert oasis. Here we had lunch and then got to ride on the dune buggy and went sandboarding. I did not expect to be doing this in Peru, but it was so much fun!
Although each country we have visited has taught me so much and provided unforgettable experiences, Peru, as of now, has to be my favorite. It was such an unexpected surprise how diverse the landscapes we visited were and we really got out of our comfort zone with a lot of the activities we did. If you are looking for adventure and amazing sights, please make your next destination Peru!