My adventures have resumed! This time, I got the opportunity to travel to the incredible country, Peru! When an incredible opportunity like this is presented to you, you ALWAYS take it. I have heard wonderful things from this place from my family, and being a country of adventure, I was ready to pack my bags the moment the trip was booked. During my travels, I visited the iconic places but also got to experience some truly hidden gems. During most of our stay, we booked our excursions through Peru Jamuy, and I highly highly HIGHLY recommend this travel agency. They were super professional and treated my mom and I like royalty. Our tour guides were extremely knowledgeable and the sweetest people I have met.
We began our adventures in Cusco, which is located 3,399 meters above sea level... so be ready to feel a little light headed! Luckily for us, every place you go to offers the magical tea, Mate de Coca, which helps you with the altitude and gives you energy. Our tour began within the city of Cusco, where we learned everything about the Inca Empire. We learned about their mythology, rituals and traditions, and their architecture - their city was literally built in the shape of a puma... genius! As the tour progressed, we kept getting higher and higher in the city until we reached the highest point of Cusco. At the top of the city, you can find the Water Temple or The Fountain of Youth - which you are forbidden from drinking from (sad).
The next day we went to The Sacred Valley of the Incas. I have seen mountains, but never as beautiful as these. I honestly could not stop staring at them. During our journey, we met the famous llama, Chulo, which knows many languages and even knows how to kiss on the cheek... or in my case she wanted to kiss my mouth! During one of our stops, we performed a ritual to give thanks to the Pachamama, Mother Earth, and that has been one of my favorite experiences ever. Small and simple, but with a powerful meaning. We reached the village of Ollantaytambo, where we would climb 200 steps to reach the Temple of the Sun. In the mountain directly in front of the Temple of the Sun, you could see a face in the middle of the mountain. It was said that the craving was their main God, Apu Qun Tiqsi Wiraqutra (I did not attempt to even say that out loud, I knew I would completely butcher it), truly magical. By the end of the day, my mom and I waited in the main plaza where we enjoyed our very first Pisco Sour while we waited for our train that would take us to... Machu Picchu!
We arrived to Aguas Calientes, Machu Picchu late at night so I did not get to really see much of the village until the next morning. I was obsessed. The entire place looks like something out of a story book - HUGE mountains surrounding the village, bridges connecting the two sides of land separated by a river, and an overall incredible atmosphere. Being named "Aguas Calientes" I was obviously curious if there were any thermal waters around... and there were! They are located high up in the village and they are a series of naturally heated pools. It is said that these water have healing powers, so I am excited to never get sick again. I highly recommend going to the pools at the end of your excursion to the ruins, it is the perfect way to end a highly active day. Also, make sure to book your train tickets far in advanced because it is the ONLY way to get to Machu Picchu and they sell out and are very expensive.
Considered one of the new Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, is a place not to be missed. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing, pack very light, bring your passport so you can get a free Machu Picchu stamp on it, and go to the bathroom beforehand because you will not be able to go for about 3 hours. The ruins are truly something to behold with the Andes in plain sight as well. The creation of it baffles me and the fact that it was discovered just recently, means that the ancient civilization knew what it was doing in building it at the top of the highest mountains. Something that I really found interesting was the fact that nobody knows the real name of this area, Machu Picchu was the name given to the mountains so the real name remains unknown. If you ever get the chance to travel to Peru, add this to the "MUST" list.
Our adventures in Cusco and Machu Picchu had come to an end, but that was not the end of our journey! It was time to head back to Lima. Our flight was very early in the morning, and because I failed to pack accordingly for the DRASTIC weather changes... I was freezing. Literally the weather in Peru goes from freezing to very hot in a matter of hours. Once in Lima, we drove to the area we were going to stay at, Miraflores. This area is super modern and definitely very Americanized. I recommend going to Larcomar, which is a really cute mall overlooking the ocean. You will find many shops and restaurants to satisfy your every craving. We took a city tour bus that took us through all of historic and modern Lima, a definite must if you want to learn more about the capital of Peru.
Our final stop was Huacachina, the oasis! I cannot tell you enough how much I fell in love with this place. First of all, I have NEVER been to the desert, and much less an oasis... so this was such an incredible experience. Huacachina is located 4 hours away from Lima and you can get there by booking a bus in advance. I recommend staying a night or two here, it is the perfect way to end an action-packed trip. We took a city tour, where one of our stops was a wine and liquor tasting... we might have gotten a little drunk here. To end our adventures, we went on a buggy ride and sandboarding in the desert! If you like rollercoasters, then the buggy ride is definitely for you. The sandboarding scared me a little because the sand dunes were VERY high, but our instructor was very professional an eased my worries.
Our final day was a well-deserved relaxing one, we stayed in our hotel at Huacachina and explored the village for a bit. It is a very small place with a handful of restaurants and hotels, so you will see the entire place in maybe 30 minutes. But, you can always go for a boat ride, or relax poolside at your hotel. A truly hidden gem, I highly recommend experiencing this beautiful place.
A truly unforgettable experience. I am eternally grateful for every opportunity I get to explore our world a little more. And, even more grateful to do it with my Wonder Woman of a mother. I love you mom.