01 August, 2012

Peru in Pictures

Back in May, Patrick and I headed to South America on a Peruvian adventure!  Things have been crazy since I got back so I never really had time to go through my photos and post about the trip.  I didn't get into too much detail with the specifics of the trip but tried to give some highlights!

We went with Active South America and they were awesome to travel with!  I'd definitely recommend them to everyone!  Our guide, the staff, and porters on the hike were amazing.  The food that the porters were able to whip up for us while on the 3 day hike blew my mind and we were SO well fed!

So out of the 600 or 700 photos from the trip... here's some of the highlights :)  I was nice though and left out the photos of dead animals for purchase at the markets.  You're welcome.

Obviously the highlight of the trip was seeing Maccu Picchu (we still can't figure out how to spell it, we saw a million different ways) and it was just as breathtaking and amazing as I thought it would be.  The altitude definitely kicked my butt but I toughed it out and made it to the top!  We knew it was going to be rough when we were walking around the airport when we landed and were already out of breath just walking towards baggage claim!

Since our flight from the States landed in Lima around 10pm, and our flight the next morning to Cuzco was at 5am, we decided to tough it out and camp out at Lima Airport.  It honestly wasn't THAT horrible.  Lucky for us (and all other travelers to Lima and Peru), the airport and all of the shops are open pretty much 24 hours.  So you can sit at Starbucks, get free wifi, and hang out until your hearts content.  I've NEVER seen a 24 hour airport back home.  We were definitely not the only ones that were hanging around until a morning flight either!

The view of the mountains heading into Cuzco
Sleeping in airports are always an adventure

When we landed in Cuzco, we had the whole day to ourselves before meeting up with the group the next day.  Just wandered around Cuzco a bit and tried to get acclimated to the altitude.  Our hotel offered unlimited free Coca Tea so we pretty much drowned ourselves in tea, which helped.  Yes, same plant that cocaine is made from but I swear it just took the edge off the altitude sickness.  :)

The architecture around town was simply beautiful.  After wandering a bit, we decided to grab an early dinner, which was amazing.  I had to obviously try the alpaca since it's a local dish, and I really enjoyed it.  We decided to head back to the room to relax for a bit before hitting the town again but instead ended up passing out until about midnight.  So much for that!  But it was seriously the best nap EVER!

Coca Tea before heading out to explore!

Beautiful architecture
View from our hostel patio!
Doorknob details

We met up with the group the next day and headed out to lunch to get to know everyone.  Wandered a market and then headed up to Sacsayhuaman (you'll see it spelled a million different ways) for our first adventure.  It's an archaeological ruin that people are still trying to figure out it's main purpose.  Some say it was a sanctuary and temple of the Sun, others say it was a granary, and some just say it was the place where the old Inca King would play football using the heads of enemies.  :)

Wandering the markets
Saqsaywaman - or "Sexy Woman"
The next day we did some mountain biking around the Sacred Valley.  I guess you would call it mountain biking, but it was all on roads, and all downhill...which was SWEET!  :)  The views of the mountains around us was stunning and we stopped a few times to just enjoy the view.  We then headed into the town of Pisac and wandered the market there and hiked up to the Pisac ruins.   It was one of the hardest hikes of the trip and I feel like it took FOREVER!  But the views were worth it.  

Enjoying the view on a break from mountain biking
Baby alpacas (or were they llamas????)
Our first of many hikes, beautiful! 

The next day our trek towards Machu Piccu started with a trip to a market to get some toys for many of the children that we'll meet along the route.  Instead of giving the kids money or candy, the toys were a perfect idea.  We hiked the Lares Trail (and not the famous Inca Trail) since we registered so late and all of the permits given out by the government were already gone.  However I LOVED the Lares trail.  It allowed us to walk through some villages and see more of the countryside.  

Getting supplies at the market

We had 5 or 6 porters with us that helped carry all of our hiking belongings (our big suitcases were left at the hotel).  To say these guys were impressive is an understatement!  They also had to carry their personal items, all of the food, propane tanks for the food, tents, blankets, etc.  CRAZY!  

Our first hiking day was pretty long.  Our guide wanted to get a little further than what was planned so that the second day could be easier for us.  We were hiking for so long that we had to bust out our handy dandy headlamps!  After dinner we piled on a few more layers of clothing and zipped ourselves into our mummy sleeping bags.  I think the temperature that night dropped to 40 degrees or so (I think??) but with all the layers, I was nice and toasty!  

Giving out toys to the kids
Start of the trek to Machu Picchu

We didn't appreciate where our campsite was until we woke up the next morning.  When I unzipped the tent and looked out, I was stunned.  We were in a tiny little valley with mountains all around us.  I could have sat there all day just taking it all in.  I think I said that a million times on this trip.  

Every morning on the hike we were awoken by the porters with hot coca tea (which I sadly spilled ALLL over me and the tent the first morning!) and then breakfast was served a little while later.  

The view we woke up to when we stepped out of our tents!

Today's hike was rough too, and of course I felt like I was dragging behind.  I'd walk a few hundred yards and need a rest break b/c I couldn't catch my breath!  When I finally made it to the peak, which was about 15,500 feet, I was yet again blown away by the view!  Ipsaycocha Lake was on the other side of the pass that we had climbed and it was gorgeous!  We all hung around there for awhile, took a ton of pictures, and then started our trek into the valley to get to our lunch site.

15,500 feet... even without the lack of oxygen, it was breathtaking!! 
Our lunch camp that day, what a view!
We then hiked to the town of Ollytantambo and some of the group wandered the ruins there while myself and a few others did some shopping and relaxed in a cafe.  Patrick and I added to our empanada gorging on the trip and each had to try different ones.  I definitely enjoyed all of the food on the whole entire trip.  And the avocados!  OMG, so good.  

We took a train to the town of Aguas Calientes, where we would be sleeping that night.  It's a complete tourist town since that's the jump off point for anyone that wants to go to Macchu Piccu without hiking the Inca Trail.  It was a cute town but not too much character since it was all built for tourism.

Train tracks going through Aguas Calientes
The next morning was an early one!  We woke up and were on line for the busses by 4:30am.  The gates to Macchu Piccu opened at 5 so we wanted to be one of the first ones there.  After a 20-30 minute hike up, we turned a corner and there it was.  AMAZING!!!! 

We hung around for a few hours wandering through the ruins before heading back to town.

What the trip was all about!  Machu Picchu! 
Taking it all in :) 
Sadly I had to head home the next day so I was totally bummed.  The rest of the gang hung out for another week and I'm so jealous of the rest of their trip!  But the week I did have in Peru was absolutely awesome.  If you guys have a chance to go, I'd definitely recommend it!  


  1. Jenn, this trip looks amazing, I'd love to visit Machu Picchu one day!

  2. Jenn,

    Fabulous trip report! You were very lucky to have such a beautiful sunny day at the ruins. We visited Machu Picchu a few years ago with National Geographic and loved Peru.....the people are fabulous and the country really appreciates the tourists. Did you get a chance to climb Huayna Picchu next to the ruins? That was really fun getting to look down on the all of Machu Picchu.

  3. Wow, great shots! Looks like it was a fun trip!

  4. Wow! Those pictures of Machu Picchu are the most beautiful I've seen! What a gorgeous day. I need to get there soon. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Amazing pictures!! Sounds like an incredible trip! Machu Picchu has been on my list to visit for awhile and after seeing your pictures it is moving up the list! :)

  6. Your photos are breathtaking! My family and I had the chance to visit there a few years ago, and seeing your photos brought back amazing memories. Machu Picchu is seriously one of the most amazing and beautiful places I've ever been. I'm so glad you were able to experience it. And I love the photo of the baby alpacas!

  7. I just found your blog and I would love to see Machu Picchu some day. It would be amazing!

  8. Thank you, everyone! Such an awesome trip!

    @WeRunDisney... sadly we didn't get up to Huayna Picchu. They now require a pre-purchased ticket to get up there so we didn't get a chance. :(