Travel

Peru

By on December 31, 2016

The last stop on my solo trek.  And boy, it was a toughie.

I spent a couple days in Lima.  My plan was to overcome any potential jet lag as I was coming from South Africa.  Turns out I’m amazing at traveling and did not get any jet lag.  What I also did not get is my checked bag.  But that’s another story that involves whining-so I will save it.

I only toured around a very small amount but I had my first Pisco Sour.   Pisco Sour is made with Pisco liquor and lime juice and egg white and simple syrup.  Think Peruvian Margarita.  And think delicious.

My very first Pisco Sour. It looked a lot like the other ones I had throughout my time in Peru. And yes, it looks a lot like the ones I’ve been making since I’ve returned.

I managed to grab my checked suitcase while at the Lima airport on my way to Cuzco.  Cuzco is the city in the mountains- located at an elevation of 3400 meters(11,200 ft)  above sea level.  So this means a lot of people get sick while in Cuzco while adjusting.  I felt a bit out of breath and headachey for the first couple days.  But otherwise I was doing ok.

I just loved Cuzco and would love to spend more time there.  Its a very safe and cute city.

One of the main squares in Cuzco.

I mostly just toured around Cuzco settling into the altitude.   I also did a Peruvian Cooking course where I learned how to make a Pisco Sour and some other food.

I don’t usually dress like this to cook, but when in Peru I do.

The narrow cobblestone streets of Cuzco filled with shops and people asking if I would like a massage (yes)

After a few days of acclimating, I met up with my group and we headed out.  We didn’t actually start the Inca Trail until a couple days into the tour, so we toured around the Peruvian countryside a bit and saw more ruins and experienced some more culture.

These terraces were farmed by the Incas back in the day.

One of the Inca sites we checked out as a warm up to the big hike. Does that look super high up? Because it was.

We went to a village community that is sponsored by G Adventures.  We learned how they make scarfs, gloves, hats and other knitted products from the shearing of the alpaca to the dying of the wool to the actual knitting.

Dying the wool with organic plants and herbs.

The original knitting circle.

This little girl reminded me of Maddie. She hated wearing her traditional clothes and wanted to play with the boys instead.

I bought this hat to support those cute little ladies. It was 3x the cost of the hats in the shops of Cuzco-but worth it to see the smile on their faces.

The Inca Trail

So after the tours it was time to prepare for the big hike.  We would be hiking for 3.5 days.  Its a 45 km hike and has a lot of ups and downs.  We go up to 4200m elevation, but Macchu Picchu is at 3200m.  And we started at 2700.  Ups and downs.  I’m not sure what was worse.  Just kidding.

 

The BEFORE we get hiking selfie.

I’ve marked the end of each day. You can see day 2 was hell up and hell down. The rest was also not heaven to be honest.

We only carry a small day pack with some water and snacks and maybe a jacket.  The porters in the group carry a bag limited to the 6kg of our personal items and sleeping bag.  They also carry our tents and all the food and the dining tents.  They pass us on the trail, set up for lunch/dinner, then cook for us, then we leave and they take everything down and pass us again and get ready for dinner.  All while wearing sandals and being quite nice to us.  At first I felt bad, but then I just felt really tired.

That does not look ergonomically correct. And yes, those are sandals.

This is where we ate all of our meals. It arrived before us and left after us every meal. This is on our first lunch. The other pictures are not so fresh looking.

We made it on our first day and imagine our surprise when we found an enterprising lady willing to sell us a beer at camp.

The beer was expensive, but she easily sold all of them to our group. The baby was a nice touch.

During the hike we had to share the trail with other groups of hikers and donkeys, horses and llamas.  You cannot ride any of these on the trail- I heard someone ask someone at some point.

Cute donkeys-probably wishing they were taking people for a ride in Egypt instead.

I realized I did not take a selfie with the donkeys so made sure I took one with the llama. I was scared.

So turns out Peru only has 2 seasons.  Rainy and Dry.  So lets say you book a trip in December and you think, “Oh, its December and Peru is in the southern hemisphere so it must be summer there”, you would be wrong.  Its summer in Lima but its RAINY in Cuzco.  And cold.  We had rain every day but the 2nd day it rained hard all day-and that was the hard hiking day.  I also did not bring my waterproof hiking boots.  Just these cute hiking sneakers that would look good in Europe when exploring things and hopefully would work for the Inca Trail.  I did not get blisters, but I did not keep my feet dry.

Pouring rain but not yet wearing my other layer of rain protection.

When you reach the 4200m point, its at the Dead Womans Pass.  I think they call it that because as a woman, I wish I was dead when I reached it.  I took this great photo to commemorate arriving.  I had to take it myself because there was a couple behind me and I didn’t wait for them to arrive to take one of me.  I was so cold.

Im wearing my rain jacket and a plastic poncho on top of it. My hands are freezing and I can barely run my camera. This is the best picture I could get at the highest point on the trail.

The Inca Trail is also made of stone.  Which does not get muddy, but it gets slippery.  And the stairs are uneven.  Some are high, some are narrow, some are short.  I had a lot of words with the Incas in my head while struggling up and down some of their trail.  I will say, no wonder the Spanish didn’t find Maccu Picchu…

I took this picture at the point where I said, “I hate the Inca Trail”

And then I turned, and saw I just had to do this…..

We got to camp and our tents were set up for us every night.  We had absolutely stunning views at each campsite.

Camping in the clouds.

Our group was great.  We had one couple who were on their honeymoon and had all brand new hiking gear.  I watched them closely for signs of disaster-like who’s idea was it to come on the Inca Trail-but no cracks.  The only thing I heard them say, “I thought it was summer in December in Peru”

On their honeymoon and our chef even baked them a cake. 

Overall, the trail was really hard but it was also beautiful.  I am so glad I was able to do it and I highly recommend it.

This is called the Gringo Killer. Agreed.

A beautiful spiral staircase in the middle of the trail somewhere.

The last day meant we were up at 3am to wait in line to hike the final 6km to the Sun Gate.  We were hoping the cloud would be gone when we got there.

A pretty good cross section of our feelings on the last day.

Pretty much what we saw at the Sun Gate.

After hanging out at the Sun Gate we made our way down to Macchu Picchu to get the views.  I will say you could tell the people that hiked to Macchu Picchu versus the people who arrived by train.  All of us stinky, wet people looked in disdain at the clean, dry people.

Still smiling after all those steps and getting to see what we came for.

This is the crew of people that kept us fed and carried all of our stuff.  The guy I’m standing beside is 64. 

An amazing site.

 

So that completes my epic adventure.  It took me a bit to get motivated to get back at the ol’ blog and finish what I started.

I learned a lot of things.  Some deep, some not so much.  Maybe I will sort out the learnings and write them down.

Happy New Year!

 

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9 Comments
  1. Reply

    Kim (Lolita)

    December 31, 2016

    Amazing!!! Happy New Year my friend! I wish you all the blessings for 2017 ?❤

  2. Reply

    Auntie Sheila

    December 31, 2016

    WOW – is all I can say. You did it all the hard way and you completed your ardorous journey with a smile on your face. It’s sure not it’s for everybody and you will have new friendships and memories for a lifetime.
    Thank you for sharing your wonderful adventurous with us all and, like a good book, I really didn’t want the blog to end!

    Welcome Home!
    And, Happy New Year!

  3. Reply

    Aunty Sheryl

    December 31, 2016

    Such an amazing adventure Kerri – we’re so proud of you for doing this – and it’s been so much fun following along with you every step of the way. Thank you for sharing all your experiences – I have to say I was always excited to read each and everyone of your new blogs – sometimes more than once ? God only knows what’s in store for you next – looking forward to seeing you soon ? Happy New Year to you, Tom and the girls ??

  4. Reply

    Melissa

    January 1, 2017

    It’s been fun to follow your adventure and I will miss your posts. Happy New Year Kerri & Family!

  5. Reply

    Auntie Donna

    January 1, 2017

    I’ve heard so much about hiking the Inca Trail, but not in the detail you tell. Gee, that’s quite an arduous adventure! Thanks for telling it like it is. So disappointing that the Sun Gate was full of clouds.

    All your blogs have been so entertaining and informative. Thanks for allowing me to follow you on this lifetime experience.

  6. Reply

    Mom

    January 1, 2017

    So proud of you Kerri – you did such a great job of planning this trip and I’ve so enjoyed all your posts. This certainly sounds like a difficult leg of the journey but you made the best of it and it makes for such a great story. And, I can only imagine the feeling of accomplishment. I too will miss all your posts, but I’m so grateful that you are back home safe and sound and in calling distance. Good luck on figuring the rest out. Love you!

  7. Reply

    Maritha Wassermann

    January 1, 2017

    Jy is ‘n inspirasie vir my en vir Martin! Na die Tankwa-Camino, is Peru volgende op die lys!! Deel van Younger next Year!!
    (Google translate?)

    • Reply

      Kerri

      January 2, 2017

      That is fantastic! I look forward to hearing all about Tankwa-Camino too. Happy New Year to you and Martin!

  8. Reply

    Jennie Wild

    January 2, 2017

    There was a TRAIN?!

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