Rescheduled: My Second Post, Originally posted Dec 14, 2017
I have always been an avid picture taker. Though, mostly on my iPhone, I still take tons of them. Heck, I even bought a 2 TB hard drive and pay for iCloud storage every month. I knew all these pictures of careful sequential documentation of adventures, food, and places would make themselves useful one way or another. Today I would like to take you on an adventure to Alpacas, through my experience and some selective pictures so you can be on the same page. Ready for it?
My husband and I usually opt for a fridge-magnet or two to fondly remember new places we visit. These are inexpensive and doesn’t take up too much space when traveling. We made it a tradition to visit at least one or two new places every year together. Helps us bond well, understand each other better and create memories. I also love traveling solo sometimes which gives me the freedom to just BE. Going to Peru and seeing Machu-Picchu had always been a dream of mine. Anywhere I lived, a wall was dedicated to this dream — in the form of a poster, a friend had gifted me this poster, knowing my dream: thank you friend!:) — so I could see it everyday and realize it one day.
Last year, July of 2016, we decided was the year to make it happen. It took some careful planning and budgeting to make the most out of this trip. My husband and I planned this together, he supported this dream I had and came along with me fully on board – on this crazy-once in a lifetime-let’s trek for 5 days with no cell-phone reception-sleep in tents-walk through Amazon basin-adventure with me. I am forever grateful for that! Thanks hun, we made some great memories!
It seems like there is this perception that traveling and seeing new countries or states get expensive. That perception IS true if you don’t like planning a little ahead:P Otherwise, there is always an option to plan (at least a few months in advance) to make your dreams come true and still be able to not completely drain your wallet. If you have the patience and willingness, why not right?:) So, we did three things and I will briefly explain why we did that:
1. Got this book called “Lonely Planet – Peru” to do some research.
2. Got a travel credit card, got us 50k points when we spent $2k in the first two months.
3. We booked a 5 day trek to Macchu Picchu via. Salcantay Trail.
1 – BOOK – I find the “Lonely Planet” books to be a very good investment for traveling, because you cannot always rely on having reliable cell – service when you plan to go to on trekking adventures or anywhere internationally. I usually buy the most recent version of the book as it has maps, restaurant suggestions and places you need to avoid listed well. So, even if you don’t have cell service, or don’t speak the language of the country (Bonus – they have some useful phrases too!), you can rely on these books to have recommendations for all sorts of things you may need when traveling.
2 – CREDIT CARD POINTS – The credit card points helped knock down a few hundred $$ on our flight tickets – which means more $$ for new adventures 🙂 You spend on your monthly bills anyway so why not just use these credit cards to pay them off. We made sure to pay off the credit cards right away so as to not carry a huge balance.
3 – BOOKING THE TREK – We booked 4 months in advance for this 5 day trek. I will let you all in on a little secret – we really wanted to do a 3 day trek, but we were already late as they were all booked up. They only let a certain number of people in Macchu Picchu everyday and we didn’t make the cut for the time frame that we had in mind.
In hindsight, we ARE really glad we went for the 5 day trek as we got to fully experience remote parts of Peru in its rawest form. I am so excited to share some highlights from the trip with you and will also share some ‘Tips for you/Lessons for me’ at the end of the post for those of you adventurers that may find it helpful. We were in Peru for a total of 7 days.
Let me show you some of the things I packed for this trip. Some of you may find it useful:
Day 1 – We landed in Lima, Peru which was a beautiful city at sea-level. Saw some amazing sites and discovered a whole mall hidden tucked under a big rock! Yes, a shopping mall tucked inside a big rock overlooking South Pacific Ocean! 😀 We had some great tasting ceviche and discovered they serve fresh squeezed juice at most restaurants (fresh and delicious! – just remember to ask them not to add additional sugar.). The concept of fusion-foods actually originated from Peru, this was new to me! We decided to stay in the Miraflores district of Lima Province. Also, decided to splurge a bit and stay in a nice comfy hotel before we embarked onto our 5 day trekking expedition.
Day 2 – We landed in Cuzco, our trekking company picked us up at the airport and took us to our hotel accommodation. Cuzco is at an elevation of approx. 11,000 ft. so it was good for us to acclimate to this altitude for at least a day. That evening, we met our trek guide and two other amazing women who were our travel companions for the next 5 days. We still keep in touch and glad to have met them.
It was a 73 Kilometers hike (~45 miles) total through some very gravel-ly/ rocky terrain all the way up to the Salcantay Peak which was about 15000ft. We were only allowed to stay there for a total of upto 15 minutes as it was at a very high altitude so people don’t risk getting altitude sickness. It was worth the hike up there for the gorgeous peak view and the lovely mid-morning. Then, it all went downhill from here, pun not intended;) We trekked all the way down, through the Amazon basin where we got to our final day of camping. There were a lot of trekking groups that completed their expedition the same day as us. So, we all congregated at the same spot, had an amazing meal and danced by the bonfire to celebrate.
Trek Day 1 – We got off our tour bus and were asked to hike a vertical hill for 10 minutes. Not my favorite day. At which point I was totally out of breath when we reached some level ground and said to husband
Me (all out of breath): “Ok, I think I am DONE!”
Husband: “We JUST started!”
Me: Yes, I KNOW!! It WAS MY idea to do this, wasn’t it? SMH *Rolls eyes*
Trek Day 2 – Just a normal day where I hike 9 hours straight and get to see some pretty fantastic views!
Full Disclosure: I took a horse uphill for about an hour, because my toe nails came off from my feet being swollen from altitude sickness and constant rubbing against the boot. Was in some pain, ‘some pain’ would be an understatement. Needed some self pep-talk so told myself: “I *expletive* CAN and I *expletive* WILL!” plus “Just one foot in front of another” for about a million times and kept going. In my head, I had already reached Macchu Picchu. That night, I put some band-aid on my toes, wrapped it with some duct-tape and called it good. Chose not to focus on the pain anymore (wasn’t easy but too stubborn to give up that easy.) At this point I realized, your body is capable of a LOT more than you can IMAGINE. It IS up to your mind to decide if you CAN or if you CAN’T. I did this trek without training, still made it, and YES, I am proud of this!
Trek Day 3 – Navigated some gorgeous landscapes and got to the Amazon Basin to set camp. Walked about 6 hours this day. Got used to walking everyday for hours by this point.
Trek Day 4 – My favorite-st day of the whole trip! The cute little shops, art, good vibes and again, delicious food and mountain views.
It really WAS about the journey and NOT the destination. Sorry Macchu Picchu, i still love you!!
The next morning, we took a bus up to Macchu Picchu from Aguas Calientes to the peak at 5 AM. There was an option for us to climb the steep stairs straight up (a few hours hike) to get to Macchu Picchu, but we decided we just wanted to reach up top by that point 😀 I think after a grueling but awesome trek of 4 days, anyone would take that option. Wouldn’t you?;)
Trek Day 5 – MACHHU PICCHU @ 7 AM. MADE IT!!!!
We reached up top, stayed in line and got to Macchu Picchu at 7 AM in the morning. Our trek guide did an amazing job getting us up there before tons of people showed up around 8 AM. We got to take some pictures, and enjoy the view before people started flocking in. That was the day my 8 year long dream finally came true. I was actually at Macchu Picchu instead of just looking at a poster of it on my wall. It was actually surreal but couldn’t be more real for me. It was the most difficult thing I have ever done, 73 KM on foot, yes, really! and No, I won’t do it again:) I have plenty of other adventures in mind.
It most definitely was the trip of a lifetime for us. My curiosity to explore Macchu Picchu led us to some of the world’s cutest ALPACAS! Check’em out here, aren’t they gorgeous and picture perfect?:
My wish for you – yes YOU, the one reading this, is that you are able to take a step toward accomplishing whatever goal you have set for yourself. Take a step towards it, just one small step to start it should be enough and thats where it begins. The hardest part is starting, so once you have that down, you just keep going. Keywords: Start, begin, do. If you want something bad enough, you will make it happen. Even though it may take some time, persevere through it and it WILL work out. From what you saw above, this was a trip that I took a year ago and still remember it like yesterday. I found out through experience it was worth it for me. Won’t you take a first step towards your goal and find out? 🙂
Tips for you/ Lessons learnt for me:
1. When hiking at a higher altitude, remember to clip your toe nails and get a pair of good hiking boots – at least half a size bigger because your feet swell up. (Learnt this a bit of a hard way, by experience of-course, after loosing two of my toe-nails two days into my hike, sorry, TMI! but, please learn from my painful experience 🙂
2. Pack light, take travel size items and pack clothing that can be layered, and always take an emergency blanket with you – just in case!
3. Take a few days to acclimate if you fly in at a higher altitude before embarking on an uphill trek.
4. Create memories and have tons of fun!
If you liked what you read, please Follow my blog, Like and Comment on this post. I will be sharing more experiences soon.
Also, thank you so much for the support you showed me on my first blog post, so many views! It was very encouraging. Have a peaceful day!