Joe and I went to Peru in June 2012 along with his brother, Matt. We hiked the Inca Trial and spent 3 days in the Amazon. We also had one day touring the city in Lima – which was plenty. Lima is a bustling city with lots to see, but it was a little overwhelming. Below is a picture from the coast. Shortly after this, Joe and Matt decided to sample the local ceviche – a decision which would come back to haunt them.
The next day we took a short flight to Cuzco. Cuzco is AMAZING! We were there right before a big festival so there were groups of dancers and bands in the streets practicing before the celebration. Joe got altitude sickness the first night in Cuzco, but recovered the next day. We promptly gave him the nickname “Joe Ginger Belly” – a nickname that has stuck with him to this day. After spending a day touring the Sacred Valley and the surrounding area, we set out with our group to begin hiking Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.
Peru requires you to hire a guide to hike the Inca Trail. These guides come with porters and cooks who literally do all of the heavy lifting for you. I am not a huge fan of having someone else carry my things and cooking for me, but I assume that it is good for the local economy, so we’ll leave it at that.
After a pleasant first day on the trail while we were tucked comfortably away in our tents, Joe and his brother simultaneously started vomiting. This continued through the evening and into the next afternoon. Barf-o-rama anyone? Yikes! In a normal situation, food poisoning is highly unpleasant.
In a hiking situation, especially on a day where you are hiking over a mountain pass, it is downright dangerous. The guide offered to hire a porter to carry Joe and Matt’s backpacks, but the boys stubbornly refused and continued to hike over the pass stopping to clear themselves of any fluids every 30 minutes. I began wondering how a medical evacuation would work in this situation and started eyeing the llamas and donkeys we passed trying to think of ways I could wrangle one of them to carry my husband back to safety. Fortunately for all involved, I did not have to employ my Kansas-earned cowgirl skills. Both Joe and Matt began improving, and eventually, we made it to the next camp. The guide said he had never taken this long with any group to get over the pass, but enjoyed seeing the trail at a different time of day. . . riiight.
The rest of the hike was phenomenal. We finally made it to the Sun Gate where we caught our first glimpse of Machu Picchu. There were people crying. I was not one of those people, but it was amazing to finally see the ancient ruins after days of hiking.
We spent the day walking around Machu Picchu and elected to hike up Huayna Picchu, the mountain behind Machu Picchu. I am afraid of heights and I heard rumors that the path had quite a bit of exposure – so I wasn’t super excited to do this. However, with a little bit of encouragement from my husband and brother-in-law, I soon discovered that the rumors were mostly exaggerated. Sure, there are a couple of vertigo-inducing drop-offs (see below), but nothing unmanageable if you take it slow. I highly recommend the Huayna Picchu option for those looking for a thrill.
We also spent 3 days at the remote Inotawa Lodge in the Tambopata Reserve in the Amazon. On the last day of our trip in the Amazon, a friaje (cold front) bringing cold air from the Andes brought a phenomenal sunrise and cooling rains. After the heat and humidity all week, the change was certainly welcome!
Peru is full of history, mountains, and wonderfully kind people. I look forward to visiting again soon and exploring other parts of the country.
If you want to see more pictures from our trip to Peru, check out our photo gallery here. Questions and comments are always welcome!