I’ve never been out of the country before, and it had been a dream of mine for years and years to venture out and experience something completely different. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in this life, it’s that I’ve come to appreciate, wholeheartedly, the very rare and special combination that is required to take on such adventures. To have both the time and funds to make it happen is just plain difficult and not something I take for granted. So I saved, I blocked off time, and with my main squeeze by my side, we set out to do something big. There were talks of Costa Rica, Belize, the West Coast of the US (not international, I realize, but cool all the same), but it wasn’t until we stumbled upon a Groupon Deal that Peru suddenly became IT.
Peru was never on the table, never fantasized about as it seemed so far, so foreign, and so complicated. How do you even get to Machu Picchu? Peru was only ever a bucket-list location. A, “one day we will” local. Then one weeknight, while perusing trips online, the 10-day special appeared, and that was it. We were on a mission to book this trip and within 48 hours it was done.
We flew down over Christmas and explored several of the countries largest cities and toured many of it’s most notable Inca ruins. Beginning in Lima, we toured the city and explored the coasts. We quickly made our way to Cusco, trekking out to a smaller city called Urubamba. Located just a short drive from Urubamba is Ollantaytambo, a massive collection of terraced Inca ruins carved into the side of a mountain. Also located a short drive from Urubamba is the town of Maras and the Inca site known as Moray. Rather than work into the side of a mountain, Moray spirals down into the ground. An Inca experiment with temperature variants and crops, Moray is massive and by far one of our favorite sites.
Next up, Machu Picchu. The reason so many visit Peru. The reason we visited Peru. A thirty minute drive to the train station, a 1.5hr train ride, a 30 minute bus ride. That’s how you get to Machu Piccu. It’s every bit as impressive as the photos make it out to be. However when we arrived, it was raining, foggy and cold. You couldn’t make out the space two feet behind our guide, let alone take in the views of the ruins and mountains. Everything was white. Once every 30 or so minutes we would be treated to a brief clearing, in which all the tourists, including ourselves, would whip out our photo gear and go to town capturing the largely indiscernible view below. To put it plainly, it sucked. Neither myself nor my boyfriend wanted to speak those words, but I know we both felt it. But we moved on and explored on into the labyrinth that is Machu Picchu. Weaving through ruins, up hillsides, and down narrow paths. It really was spectacular, despite the low visibility. Slowly but surely though, the clouds began to dissipate. SLOWLY being the key. It really wasn’t until the end of our three hours that we both realized we needed to get our butts back to the top. So we scurried off as quickly as we could. And holy smokes. It was EXACTLY what we’d envisioned. The clouds had cleared, leaving only a small stripe of fog at the top of the big mountain, the ruins below crystal clear. There were so many moments that made our trip, from the people, to the food, to sites that made this trip incredible. But very little can compare to the enormity of Machu Piccu. Icing on the cake: llamas. The fabulous, hilarious, how is that a real animal, llamas. I love them.
Our final stop in Peru was Puno, a city located on the banks of Lake Titicaca. Which, by the way, does not mean BoobPoop. According to our guide, Titicaca is derived from one of the local languages, Aymara, and roughly translates to “grey mountain lion” because of its shape. We visited the floating islands and I photographed the death out of the landscape. It was a beautiful finish to our trip.
For those curious, we nabbed a Groupon deal for the trip, and officially booked through a company called Gate1 Travel. They were outstanding, and our guide specifically exceeded all expectations. Can’t recommend them enough.
For you photo geeks out there, all of these images were shot on my Fuji X-Pro1 camera with the assistance of my Fuji 35mm f/1.4 and Fuji 18mm f/2.0 lenses. Processed in Lightroom.