Machu Picchu, Peru

A trip to Macchu Picchu…planned only two weeks in advance. I remember reading about Macchu Picchu in World History but never imagined I’d have an opportunity to visit.

It was great to read about all these wonderful places and see pictures but the excitement died out quickly. Growing up we didn’t have much. My parents moved here for a better life and despite how hard it was they always made sure we were well provided for. So as a preteen I never imagined I could have the opportunity to visit any of the places we read about weekly.

Finally, this summer I decided to go to Peru with my brother. It was an amazing experience but there are a few things I wish I had known in advance before booking my non-refundable flight!

  1. Do your own research! I love my big brother but dear god when he said he booked his trip for 10 days and it would be ok if I booked a shorter trip in between and listed all the steps he thought I need to take to join his tour I didn’t realize it was all an assumption. So I booked my trip for four days and it almost seemed impossible to make it happen. With airline schedules and tour start times and durations it seemed as though I wouldn’t be able to get to Macchu Picchu. What’s the point of going right? After several hours of searching the web and calling tour agencies I finally had a travel plan that worked. It involved booking an additional Peru based flight to get to Cusco and hiring a personal tour guide.
    • Depart Houston by 5:40pm on Tuesday (United Airlines)
    • Arrive in Lima by Midnight on Wednesday
    • Depart Lima airport by 5:00am on Wednesday (Avianca Air – Peru based airline)
    • Arrive in Cusco by 8:00am on Wendesday
    • Meet Tour Guide at the airport.
    • Travel by Car to Textile Market
    • Travel by Car to Pisaq to see the first Inca Ruins (2 Hour tour)
    • Travel by Car to the Sacred Valley
    • Travel by Car to the Urubamba river for lunch
    • Travel by Car to Ollantaytambo (the Inca Palace)
    • Travel by Train (Peru Rail) to Aguas Calientes (2 hour train ride) – Overnight stay
    • Travel by foot to the bus station to catch a 30 minute bus ride to Macchu Picchu
    • Trek through the lost city of the Incas (3 hours)
    • Travel by bus back to Aguas Calientes (4 hours of downtime to explore the city)
    • Travel by Train (Peru Rail) to Ollantaytambo
    • Travel by Public transport back to Cusco
    • Over night stay in Cusco (Wayqey Hotel)
    • Full day to explore Cusco before 5pm flight back to Lima
    • 6 hours of downtime to explore Lima before midnight flight back to Houston 
  2. Plan in advance – You’re probably like Duh!!! I planned this trip two weeks in advance. Although it came together, there is a strong possibility I would not have been able to pull it off. Macchu Picchu and Huaynapicchu all require permits to visit and the permits are limited. Some of them are gone months in advance. So I definitely lucked up here. One thing to consider is that Huaynapicchu looks beautiful and I would have loved to hike it but after seeing it in person I know that I am not strong enough health wise to even attempt it. So if you don’t workout regularly you may want to reconsider or plan far enough in advance so as to allow you time to prepare yourself not only physically but mentally. Our tour guide said that for some of those who choose to hike the entire inca trail they tend to not be able to finish more so to emotional and mental readiness rather than just physical readiness.
  3. Bring your own toilet paper! I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to many places but even in my own home country of Nigeria and all the times I have gone to-and-fro, this was never an issue. Finding a toilet posed more of a problem but when you did there was paper. Then again I’ve mostly visited the more developed areas so it may not always be the case. I quickly learned after my first day touring Peru that not everywhere had toilet paper 😬. Matter of fact many of the restrooms did not even have a receptacle to place it if they wanted to. It seemed that only the popular tourist spots atleast had napkins. Luckily for me I had baby wipes which really came in handy. Oh and some of the nicer public restrooms will charge you one Soles to use the restroom so have some coins handy!
  4. Altitude sickness – This is real. I read about it and wasn’t too sure how it was going to affect me. Since I didn’t spend much time in Cusco at the start of my trip I wasn’t too affected by this but noticed that even on the shortest hike I had severe difficulty breathing which was further intensified by my anemia. On the last leg of the trip when I spent the night in Cusco I found that I couldn’t sleep for more than 30 – 45 mintues at a time. I was constantly waking up gasping for air. It was a very scary feeling and I am glad I only stayed one night.
  5. Learn a little spanish – At least learn a few numbers and the currency. I took some Spanish in college which although it isn’t great and I can’t carry a conversation the little I did know was somewhat helpful. When trying to make a purchase at the local corner stores you’ll find that some of the locals do not speak any english at all whatsoever. The good thing is that most places do have english speakers and may signs are translated in english so over all this is not a big issue but is helpful when you want a bottle of water and Inka Kola but the cashier gives you the price of each and not a total in Soles.
  6. Sunscreen
  7. Bug Spray – I managed to make the entire trip and only got bit once. Not sure by what but what I do know is that I am a brown person and my arm literally turned red and itched and burned for days. In the end I lived 🙂
  8. Sunglasses
  9. Water
  10. Snacks – The food is pretty good there. But having snacks during the day is a great help. I would suggest packing some energy bars as well.
  11. Leggings – I traveled with mostly leggings and shorts. Although, I only ever used my leggings. They were great because I was able to pack a lot and only traveled with my backpack.
  12. Long sleeve thermal and a medium jacket – The temperature differences can be so drastic going from mid 30s to 90 degrees and back.

           

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