Travel to Peru
My husband turned 40 a few years ago. When I asked him how he wanted to celebrate, he said absolutely no parties. He wanted to go somewhere. The only catch was, that he didn’t want to go to anywhere that he had been before, he wanted to go somewhere different. We had friends who had hiked the 26 mile Inka Trail to Machu Picchu the year before and had just told him how awesome it was. He was sold. We were going to Peru for his birthday.
Honestly, at first I wasn’t very excited when he told me. I had grand plans of going to Bora Bora, Costa Rica or Australia…not Peru. We had been to Mexico but never to South America, and didn’t really have any desire to go. I just didn’t think it would be very interesting. However, it was his birthday so if Peru was what he wanted, Peru was what he was going to get.
Planning Our Trip…
Being the crazy planner that I am, I got to work right away, (which was July and we were planning to go at the end of April the following year.). I had 9 months to plan. I was a backpacking guide in college so hiking the trail didn’t bother me at all. Our friends had also give me the name of the trekking company that they used and loved, so that part was easy too. My husband really wanted to go with his siblings, their spouses and a few close friends. In the end, most people thought Peru didn’t sound like much fun either and we ended up with a group of 8; the two of us, 4 of his brothers, 1 awesome sister in law and one of his best friends from high school.
We knew that we wanted to hike the trail, which would take 4 days. It was going to take a day to travel both ways and then we knew we wanted to stay a little longer and see more of the country. The question was; what else did we want to see? In the end, Nate and I flew into Lima, then got a connecting flight to Cusco. His brothers flew to Puno to see Lake Titikaka. We opted to just see more of Cusco. They really enjoyed Lake Titikaka, but wished they would have spent more time in Cusco too.
Cusco is the ancient capital of the Inca Empire. It is beautiful. Cusco is located in the middle of the Andes Mountains and is now home to about 435,000 people and it is high. It sits at about 11,000 feet. Due to its proximity to Machu Picchu, tourism is a big part of its economy. They city center has been well persevered and there are many Inca as well as Spanish Colonial buildings all over town. I was really surprised by just how beautiful the city is. There are lots of things to do, great places to eat and awesome hotels. We stayed in one of the most beautiful hotels we have ever stayed in, in Cusco. Even if you have no interest at all in Machu Picchu; Cusco is still a great destination on its own. Be prepared to feel some effects of the altitude while you are there. Nate and I tried to rest, and drink lots of water the first 24 hours that we were there. We were also glad that we gave ourselves 3 days to acclimate before we started hiking.
Machu Picchu; How to Get There
Nate and I were there for Machu Picchu. Most of the trekking companies and tour companies that take people to Machu Picchu are located in Cusco. If you are planning on hiking any of the routes to Machu Picchu it is likely that you will start in Cusco. There are several different routes that end in Machu Picchu. We opted to do the Inka Trail which is original way that the Inka’s traveled from the capitol to that sacred site. I have heard great things about the other routes as well and we look forward to doing several of them in the future. If you are not interested in hiking to Machu Picchu, there are several other ways to see the site. You can take a train or bus from Cusco or any of the hotels in the Sacred Valley into Agua’s Calientes and then take a bus up to Machu Picchu itself. Another option would be to a rent or hire a car to get there. You will need a half of a day at a minimum to explore Machu Picchu. I would also recommend doing a guided tour. It is definitely worth it.
I will cover the details of our hike in my next post…but for now, I will say it was one of the most awesome things that we have done to date. I would do it again and again.
We will be back…
At the end of the trek, we took the train back to Cusco tired and happy. It is common that the hotels in Cusco hold luggage for trekkers and ours was no different. Due to our Starwood Gold Status we were upgraded to a suite when we got back to the hotel for our final two days which was SO nice. It pays to be member of rewards programs because those little perks really are worth it.
After a big dinner, hot shower and good nights rest; Nate and I spent our final day in Cusco exploring the city. We learned how to make chocolate from the Cacao plant and ventured outside of tourist center and into the real Cusco, which we loved. We also learned about weaving traditional Inca rugs and bought some things to take home for our kids.
Peru was an amazing country that we absolutely fell in love with. We hope to return many times and look forward to seeing more of this beautiful country.
*I will be posting all of the details from our Trek, as well as our Cusco favorites in the next two posts this week.