I just can’t let a year go by without an international adventure as a highlight. 2016 was the year to cross a big one off the bucket list – one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu!
I know no more perfect partner for this kind of adventure than my dear friend Lara – a bubbly, vivacious girl who hails from Cologne, Germany and often acts as my better half in international escapades.
Isn’t Planning Half the Fun?
We started planning in March for a trip in October. With recommendations from friends, we booked tour permits for the Salkantay Trek, the lesser known route to the mount. The route’s reputation for strenuous altitude gain did give us pause, but the images of the scenery were too incredible to pass up. We decided to go for broke and throw in a permit to Huanayapicchu Mountain as well.
Setting a week aside for the trek – including two days in Cusco, the four day trek, and a day to recover, we had an extra five days to explore the country. Reading up on some of the other amazing sights that Peru has to offer, we decided to check out the famous floating Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca. Truly unique to Peru, these islands host a tribe of natives that have chosen to pursue their unusual way of life despite the changing world around them. Leaving a couple of days to explore the grand city of Lima seemed like a good way to round out the trip.
The Long Wait
After booking flights and hostels and reserving our tour permits (a good idea to do well in advance of your trip) there was nothing left to do but wait. Oh, the anticipation! While many people would binge on travel blogs prior to a big trip, I really wanted to be surprised every step of the way, so I refused to look at photos that would ruin the novelty of the adventure.
Forewarned is Forearmed
Even though I am not prone to many bodily aches and pains – no headaches, stomachaches, motion sickness, or sea sickness – we heard from all sides that altitude sickness could ruin the most carefully planned trip. Although I dwell at sea level year-round, I did my best to get strenuous hikes in during the weeks prior to leaving, and began mixing chlorophyll drops in my water. It turns teeth green and tastes a bit like grass, but I really think it helped prevent sickness since I was the only one in my group that didn’t fall ill during the hike.
As far as gear, this was my first trip with my Osprey Aura pack. Loved it! A bit too large for a carry on but extremely hardy and great storage organization. Other essential items for this trip:
- Camelback bladder
- Rain gear
- Solid water-proof hiking boots (love my Salewas!)
- Layers, layers, layers
- Toilet paper (bring it everywhere with you)
- Warm beanie
- Rudimentary Spanish skills
- A go-with-the-flow attitude. People will surprise you, let it happen!
A few pics of the beginning of the trip. My face after being on a flight for 18 hours = :/!