The country that broke us
Physically, mentally, spiritually and financially. Although, we have to say, not in a bad way; with loads of amazing hiking and partying, we had so much fun being broken in Peru.
From the Inca ruins around the city, to Laguna Humantay and finally doing the Lares Trek to Machu Picchu. We loved each of them in different ways.
The Inca ruins around Cusco were impressive because of the sheer number of them, the views they offered over the city, as well as the ease of accessing them (an hour walk from the center and you were already on a trail to at least four of them). They also gave a great insight into how Cusco was established as the capital of the Inca empire back before the Spanish arrived.
Cusco (Click on picture to enlarge)
Lake Humantay demonstrated to us how much of a bitch the weather can be. We’d spoken with people who’d done the trek on the days before we did and got spectacular views across the lake and of the mountain glaciers. Our trek was somewhat different, with pouring rain and almost zero visibility when we got to the top. That’s the thing with the weather during rain season – it changes at the drop of a hat. What we loved about this experience though, was local people’s response to such weather. Rather than complain about it (which both the British and Dutch are inclined to do), they take a much more philosophical view. To quote our guide: “remember, we might not have seen the sun today, but it is always there.” If we can attain such an outlook following this trip, we’ll of done something right.
Lake Humantay Trek (click on picture to enlarge)
Hands down, our favorite trek has to of been the Lares Trek. 4 days spent with local Indigenous guides and their families as they took us on a 35km hike ascending to 4,650m (including stops via the Lares Hot Springs, lunch with the local Quiswarani community, camping near the Blue Lagoon, a visit to the salt mines and local towns of Calca and Huaran), culminating with the train to Aguas Calientes and of course a day spent roaming the ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu. One of the most intense trekking tours we’ve ever done. Unfortunately the intensity proved too much for Jeroen’s body as he suffered badly again from altitude sickness; this time affecting his sight and balance really badly. Not the best thing when climbing a mountain. As a result, we only made it to 3,900m before having to take a bit of a detour to lower ground before continuing the rest of the tour. In the end, it was so worth it though. Spending time with local mountain folk and getting a small glimpse into their lives was truly humbling. And Machu Picchu… well, it’s difficult to put into words. Awesome (in the truest sense of the word), majestic, beautiful, inspiring. This imposing ancient city, hidden away in the mountains, deserted by the Incas when the Spanish took over. It’s too much for the brain to comprehend how such a place could have even been built, let alone how people could have lived there or how it could be preserved so beautifully after all this time (a testament to the skills of the Inca people). One of the best days we have had on the trip so far, finished off with the grueling 1,000m climb up Machu Picchu mountain to sit above the clouds and take it all in). Insane.
Lares Trek & Machu Picchu (click on pictures to enlarge )
We did this more than in any other country we’ve been to so far. Now, we’d love to be able to say that this was the (bad) influence of Su and Dave. Two wonderful people we met in Bariloche with whom we traveled around Peru. But on reflection we realize that we are just as bad influences as they are. Perfect partners in crime.
Cusco; with bars galore on the main square (our favorites being Mushroom Bar with it’s surprise techno party and Mama Africa which gave us a dose of more mainstream backpacker parties), and an abundance of party hostels (we loved our stay at Pariwana). Huacachina; a serene oasis in the middle of nowhere with even more party hostels and fun activities (we stayed at Banana Adventures which included BBQ night, sand surfing and a pisco tasting tour in the price). Lima; with so many amazing restaurants, bars and clubs (we loved the ValeTodo gay club so much we kept going back). Even in the slightly more relaxed beach towns of Paracas and Mancora we managed managed to throw some of our own little house parties. It’s fair to say Peru definitely offers some great partying opportunities. And boy did we take advantage of them.
To be fair, we’ve been relatively reserved on the trip so far so we were bound to have a blow out at some point (and our challenges with Bolivia probably expedited the need for this). Aside from the dent to our budget and our livers, we don’t regret a moment.
Huacachina, Lima & Mancora (click picture to enlarge)
It wouldn’t be fair not to mention some of the other parts of Peru that we liked (it wasn’t all about the trekking and partying). So here they are: great bus journeys throughout the country (experiencing our first lie flat bed overnighter), great organization of tours, amazing food (although Carl chickened out of trying roasted guiena pig), sweet people (not on the food menu of course) and tons of interesting Inca history.
A really (surprisingly for us) amazing country. Peru, you broke us in the best way possible! And have definitely made it difficult to choose where we will go back to later in the trip.
Until next time.
- Countries visited: 6
- Cities visited: 36
- Distance travelled: 29.463 km
- Modes of transport:
- Plane (8),
- Night-bus (10),
- Day bus (22),
- Boat (2), 4×4 (1),
- Trekking (2),
- Taxi (1)