After two and a half months shooting around Chile from the very top to the very bottom, it was time to say our good byes and take one last trip before heading back to the lovely United States of America. Not gonna lie, at this point I was all for hopping on a plane headed straight for the U.S. instead of taking this little pit stop in Peru. But, I am quite glad that I decided to stick with the plan and head to Peru. This trip was so much fun! We all got one final chance to hang out, laugh and just have fun together before we had to go our separate ways for the summer.
Our first stop in Peru was Ollantaytambo. Quick little pronunciation guide: Oh-yawn-tie-Tom-bow…I think. This is a really cool, kind of small town where I got my first taste of Alpaca. Not quite as good as a llama kabob, but still pretty darn tasty. We went on a couple tours while we were there one to see the terraces in the town and another that explored the old streets and buildings of the natives.
Some of the people keep guinea pigs in their house where they raise them to eat. Did I eat guinea pig? Yes. Did I like it? Not even a little bit. Would I eat it again? Certainly not. Do I regret eating it? Smidge bit. But, I guess I can say that I ate it…yay.
We were promised throughout the whole trip that Peru would be the place to do all of our shopping. Throughout the entire trip, we would see something that we absolutely loved and “needed” to have, but have to convince ourselves to wait until Peru. Ollantaytambo did no disappoint. Because, why wouldn’t you want to buy a blanket made from Alpaca fur or a bag made from Alpaca or a sweater made from Alpaca or a necklace to hold your water bottle? The options were endless. And, boy oh boy, did I take advantage of all of my options.
After a couple of days, we had to bid goodbye to Ollantaytambo. So, we woke up super early one morning so that we could catch a train to Aguas Calientes…the city right next door to the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu. The train ride was a ton of fun. We drove through small towns in Peru and were able to see ruins, mountains and tons of animals. It was an awesome train ride made ten times better by the unique view.
We arrived in Aguas Calientes and immediately hopped on a bus to drive up to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, it was raining and cold. Not ideal conditions to go stare at some ruins, but it is Machu Picchu, so you gotta be excited. Clouds were everywhere and we had a view of the ruins surrounded by clouds. It was gorgeous. Not quite what you picture when you think of Machu Picchu and not quite the same view that you see in all the pictures, but still incredible.
Day 2 in Aguas Calientes sent us back to Machu Picchu this time to visit the Sun Gate and the Incan bridge. Our second day was much nicer and even let us see the ruins with a little bit of sunshine. We hiked all the way to the Sun Gate first which is a spot that offers the first view of Machu Picchu for people that have been hiking the Inca Trail. It was really cool to hike all the way out there and, on the rare occasion that the clouds cleared, you got an awesome view of Machu Picchu.
The next day, we hopped back on the train and headed toward Cusco. I fully believe that the main purpose of our trip to Cusco was to make sure that we all had no money and overweight bags on our way home. We spent two of our three days there shopping around in the markets and just exploring the town. On our last night there, a group of us went to go see some cultural dancing. The dancing consisted of bright costumes, strange hats and very high pitched girls. It was really cool…really strange, but really cool.
After Cusco, we had one last place to go, the Amazon. I was really not looking forward to this adventure. I did not see how hanging out in a rain forest full of snakes, spiders and bot flies would be a good idea. Fun fact, bot flies are little bugs and when they bite you, they leave a little worm like creature inside of your body. If you are in the mood to be completely grossed out, just go to YouTube, type in bot flies and wait for some life-changingly disgusting videos. Thankfully, all of us escaped the Amazon bot fly free.
After we got off our plane in the Amazon, we had to get in a boat and ride 30 minutes down the river to get to our hotel. The place we stayed was incredible. We were paired off and each pair got their own cabin. The cabin was completely open to the outside with just a screen between the inside and the forest. This meant that every morning, bright and early, we would get to hear birds chirping and monkeys howling. The cabin only had two lights above the sink and the rest was completely dark at night. The hotel staff would light lanterns for us each night so that we could at least have some source of light while we were getting ready.
Our days in the Amazon were booked solid. The first day there, we woke up at 5 and when on a 2 mile long hike through deep mud so that we could eventually reach a lake and get the chance to see some different animals. We were completely exhausted after the hike, but we had another right afterwards where we hiked through the trees to see different monkeys. Right after that we played soccer and then right after that we hopped on a boat and searched for caiman on a night tour.
The next day, we woke up at six for a tour of the hanging bridges. Afterwards, we went fishing for piranha. We were unsuccessful and covered in mud, but it was a ton of fun.
That night, we went on another night hike in which we looked for snakes and more caiman. We found caiman, we didn’t find snakes. I’m still undecided if the our inability to spot snakes was a good thing or a bad thing.
The next day we had to leave the Amazon and say goodbye to all of the amazing times that we had had together in South America. I loved every second our trip and I am so glad that I decided to go when I did. The group that I had was amazing and even more fun and encouraging than I ever could have hoped for. Without a doubt, the best group of people possible.
Now, a quick highlight reel of how awesome we are and how awesome our semester was.
Flight Count: 15