Travel

Peru 8 Day Itinerary

Hello again, all!

I have been asked a few times for my Peru itinerary so below I have included all I could: costs, times, and some extra information for anyone that may not travel as often. When Analeise and I planned this trip, and as we went through it, we balanced out the cheaper “backpacking” lifestyle while allowing ourselves the occasional splurge for enjoyment. I included as close to the exact costs and conversions in soles as possible, but remember currency is constantly changing and, of course, often negotiable while traveling.

 

For starters, the biggest monetary savings that we accomplished was booking our round-trip tickets with United miles. It cost me 30K miles and $95 to go from Houston to Cusco (with a connection in Bogota) and back to Houston from Lima. Therefore, it was necessary to purchase an extra commuter flight from Cusco to Lima, which thankfully are frequent and affordable ($90).

Day One: Cusco

  • Arranged pick up with the hostel ahead of arriving ($6/20 sol)
  • Stayed at Pariwana Hostel ($15 a night/48.6 sols),
  • Purchased Machu Picchu and Montaña hike tickets at the Ministero de Cultura (the guy we got only spoke spanish) ($65/210 sols)
  • Ate the yummiest (and largest) empanadas at La Valernia ($6/19.5 sols)
  • Then we just enjoyed the nightlife at Pariwana (which was incredible)

Day Two: Humantay Lale

  • 4 AM show for the van to Humantay lake ($40/130 sols) (signed up through our hostel’s excursion desk). It was about a 4 hour (relatively bumpy) drive to the base of the mountain. They provided breakfast and dinner in a small town halfway through.
  • 1 1/2 hour hike to top (45 minutes without any stops, which of course didn’t happen)

I would suggest the walking stick the guide will suggest, gloves, and if you get altitude sickness, the necessary precautions as the altitude may affect you.

Day Three: Hidroelectrica Trek

Now there are several ways of getting to Machu Picchu/Aguascalientes (the base).

  1. Peru Rail and Inca Rail $$
  2. Taking a shuttle to Hidroelectrica and then hiking $
  3. Taking collectivos and hiking the entire way to AguasCalientes (half a dollar sign)
  • Bus to Hidroelectrica (signed up again through hostel excursion desk) ($15/50 sols). We left our packs at Pariwana to save ourselves the trouble of the weight.
  • It’s a pretty long drive: about 7 hours. You do stop for bathroom and snack breaks, of course. This was when we met a group of Mexican female travelers that we ended up doing the hike with and meeting up on Montana. (and now we follow each other on Instagram!)
  • Lunch at hidroelectrica ($3/10 sols) before the hike. You will also need to sign in at this booth before starting the hike. You’ll need your passport number. Also be aware the hike is open for certain hours during the day so make sure you start with enough time.
  • ~3 hour hike and yes, there is the occasional bathroom stop if you need it.
  • There’s a tunnel that you’ll reach before Aguascalientes. It was starting to get dark by this point so we used our flashlights and lights on our phones for help.
    *Please please please be aware that it is an active train track so be extra careful and vigilant. *
  • We stayed at Ecopackers Hostel ($14 a night/45.4 sols)
  • After dinner we ended up purchasing our train tickets to Ollyantambo ($70/227 sols) and the bus tickets to Machu Picchu ($25 roundtrip/ 81 sols.) You will need your passport again for both)

Day Four: Machu Picchu

There are two ways to get up to Machu Picchu.

  1. Walking up and down
  2. Taking the bus

It was drizzly that morning and we were tired after the previous day so we decided to take the bus.

  • 5AM breakfast
  • The line was the longest line I have ever been in. It looks daunting as you continue to walk to the end of it. Overall, it went at an okay speed. We probably waited about an hour and a half. It was also very long to go back down to Aguascalientes.
  • Bus up the mountain (30 minutes)
  • Remember you will need your passport and the entry ticket
  • Hike up mountain hike (2-3 hours long and you will need to sign in before)
  • After walking around the main grounds of Machu Picchu, we went back to town and purchased llama sweaters, ate dinner, and enjoyed happy hour (it seems to always be happy hour there) with our hostel roommate Daniel.

Day Five: Ollantaytambo

  • Peru Rail to Ollantaytambo for 90 minutes with complimentary snacks and beverages ($70/227 sols)
  • Don’t lose your phone like I did (reference previous posts)
  • Found a collectivo bus to Cusco in center (~ $4/12 sols)
  • Stayed in Cuscopackers on the hill ($24/78 sols)

Day Six: Salineras de Maras

Forgive me for not remember exactly how much we paid for the collectivos, but just know they were all less than 20 sols, which is about $6. As we bartered for cheaper prices we realized in reality we were actually arguing over cents.

  • Collectivo to Maras (~ $2/6 sols) Ask your receptionist where to pick it up.
  • We probably gave the taxi driver about $15/50 sols plus tip to drive us around for the afternoon and wait for us at the Salineras. Entry to Salineras ($3/10 sols)
  • Collectivos back to Maras turnoff and then to Cusco.
  • Once we were back in the center we explored Mercado Central de San Pedro

Day Seven: Free Day in Cusco

As I wrote in the previous post we gave ourselves a free day to recuperate from excursions and further explore Cusco.

  • Free two hour walking tour of Cusco (you can find the tours in the center advertising)
  • Splurged on a fancy dinner (definitely the most expensive of the entire trip) at Chicha Por Gaston Acurio ($28/90 sols)

Day Eight: Lima

We always arranged our taxis through the hostel. Normally they were a little cheaper and a lot more trustworthy. Unfortunately, once we arrived in Lima, we struggled to connect to Ubers outside of the airport. Wearily, we got into a- pretty sketchy- one hour taxi ride ($18.5/60 sols; $15/50 sols return) to the Point Hostel on the coast. ($10/33 sols). I made sure to follow the path on my Google Maps, just in case (you never know)

I actually wish we had more time in Barranco. The Point Hostel definitely seemed like a pretty chill spot. Unfortunately we did only spend a couple hours here as we relaxed before our taxi back to the airport that late evening. As soon as we dropped off our packs we asked the front desk where the nearest, cheapest, best place for ceviche was ($13/42 sols).

Again, the free walking tours would prove how important and worthwile they are when first exploring a city. As Analeise first walked along the Coast, we weren’t sure what we were looking at or what we were supposed to be looking for. The group consisted of a good looking Italian couple and was led by a young Peruvian college student studying in the U.S. and one of the founders of the tour (as there weren’t any in Barranco), a Eastern European lanky guy with long blonde hair and a “hippie” vibe.

I’m glad we accidentally chose Barranco to explore instead of downtown Lima. It is such a fun, quiet, artistic town with legal graffiti, the Coast, and its own colorful story.Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

Unfortunately, time was up and our 8 day trip to Peru was coming to a quick end.

We landed back in IAH after a 6 hour 30 minute flight.

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Most expensive things:

  • Ticket to Machu Picchu $65
  • One way train ride to Ollantaytambo $70
  • Humantay lake excursion $40
  • Bus round trip ticket to Machu Picchu $25

What I plan on seeing next time

  • Rainbow Mountain
  • Floating Markets
  • Cusco museums
  • Etc. (It’s pretty much a never ending list I need to rewrite)

Tips:

  • Your passport will be extremely important while in Peru. I have never been asked for it as often as I was while there. You will need it to purchase any tickets and entry to Machu Picchu.
  • Carry extra 1 sols for restrooms
  • Anis Tea was my stomach’s lifesaver. Remember to try and avoid extremely heavy foods as you adjust to the altitude. Try to eat before your hungry to avoid nausea.
  • Take the collectivos!
  • Take the free walking tours- trust me!
  • Don’t push your body too hard. If you need to rest, you need to rest.

So I have tried my very best to include the details of our trip, including which hostels we stayed at, a rough estimation on how much we paid for everything, and some quick tips on what I would recommend. I hope this helps inspire you to plan your trip to Peru! I just know I will get myself back there someday soon. If anything, with all the other travelers that we encountered, I am even more driven to continue exploring South America. The word “beautiful” does not even begin to describe what I saw. It was inspiring. It was awing. It was beyond memorable. The people. The kindness. The faith.

I will forever carry with me the faith that it takes to continue walking up mountains, along train tracks, and around silent villages. I’ll see you again, Peru, I’m sure of it.

If there is ever anything you want to know, please feel free to ask!

Lastly, I hope you have the best time on your trip. This world is so remarkable; it is our duty to learn as much as we can from it.

Until next time, friends! (Whenever I get this cast off, of course!)

-Mary Anna

 

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Alas, everyone! The third post of my Peru series. I would like to blame this ridiculous delay on my current one hand situation I seem to be in. About two weeks ago I fell and broke my wrist in two places and have been on the mend ever since. Pretty much that means I’m slow to accomplish anything from things like washing my fair to typing on the computer. I apologize for any typos I don’t catch, as typing with one hand isn’t very easy and I keep making tons of mistakes.

But here I am! Alive and intact (for the most part) and ready to share with you the last huge chuck of my Peru trip. Warning: this post is very long

After our fears of a rainy Machu Picchu came true we stayed one more night at EcoPackers ($14). What I forgot to mention on my last post of Aguascalientes is that both Analeise and I found our llama sweaters here! Success! It is so cozy and I will always cherish it! The next morning we gathered our small packs and made our way to the train station. Somehow in the process of getting to the station I managed to lose my phone without my knowledge until I was sitting at the station. After checking the restrooms and asking around I stormed off back to the only stop we made: a small currency exchange that Analeise bought water and I bought a magnet in. Would you believe it but right on the counter where I left it was my phone, in plain daylight, with no one around. Grabbing it, I bolted off once again in fear of missing my train. The thing is, I’m already out of shape and running at that altitude (Google says it’s 6,693 feet) was no easy task. I arrived huffing and puffing but successfully holding my phone with time to spare.

Analeise and I both feel we had the perfect amount of both money-pinching and splurging on this trip. After the hydroelectrica trek and mountain hike, we were so excited to sit comfortably on Peru Rail for a couple of hours. The train ride was remarkable: free snacks and beverages and the beautiful Peruvian countryside. My favorite part of the journey was seeing this very old lady standing outside the train tracks waving to us as it went by. It helped me be reminded that simple friendliness goes a long, long way.

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For money and time efficiency we chose to stop in Ollantaytambo (9,160 feet) in the Sacred Valley and I am so glad that we did. Here we sat on the outdoor patio of the restaurant with the best view of the square. I wish I had jotted down the name but if you visit the center, look for the second floor outside table with this view. I had risotto and it was the creamiest filling food I could have asked for. Fast forward a bit: Although delicious, this I learned was not what I should have been eating. Later that day I would begin to have stomach aches. Our extremely helpful hostel manager, Dan from Austria, would later inform me that at that altitude our stomachs do not digest heavy foods as quickly as they normally would. So this was my form of altitude sickness. Avoiding the cocoa tea, as we didn’t know if Googles web searches on positively showing on a drug test (remember we’re flight attendants) were true, I instead opted to religiously drink Anise tea, which helped soothe all my stomach aches. Dan informed me to eat lighter foods such as soups and salmon, which I did for the rest of the trip except my last night in Lima (sometimes you just need a burger).

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Now let’s back up again, after our calm, scenic lunch with the occasional moment of “we’re eating lunch in a small town in PERU!” flabbergasting us, we jumped into a collectivo to Cusco. Grabbing our packs and saying goodbye to Pariwana (the best hostel we stayed at), we walked (though it felt like a trek with our packs) up to CuscoPackers ($24 for two nights). The hostel certainly had its own perks: for starters the view. A free simple breakfast, coffee and tea always ready, a living room, a bar, the lobby which normally had a few stragglers hanging out using the free WiFi and bonding. Dan, the reception manager, was definitely a highlight of this place. From the very start (seriously before we could even get comfortable) he shared with us knowledge on a map on everything we didn’t know about Cusco and its excursions. He showed us which ATM’s didn’t have a charging fee, where to eat for 5 soles, where to avoid food poisoning, which coffee shops we should try, etc. Everything we needed to know he graciously shared the information with us. Out of every hotel/hostel I’ve ever stayed at, he is undoubtedly the only person that has made me feel like he was genuinely concerned about us not only as a guest but as a friend. He even learns everyone’s names!

The main problem with CuscoPackers is where it’s situated. It was about a 20 minute walk from the center, which does not sound bad, but with its steep incline and in a less touristic area, we were warned not to walk back after 10PM and instead to call a taxi.

As it was, our first night there we ate a simple meal (sopita) and went back to the room. The only other main complaint I had of this hostel was the rooms: it smelled so much of sewage it was almost unbearable. Thankfully we weren’t there during the following afternoon as we made our way to the Salineras of Maras.IMG_4984IMG_4995IMG_4998

In the center we caught another collectivo (which was becoming my favorite form of transportation!) to Maras Moray. Then when we arrived there was only one car offering rides to the salt pools. Although it appeared a little sketchy it seemed that was also our only option. Trust is a beautiful thing and soon enough we arrived at the Salineras de Maras in the Sacred Valley (10 soles entry).

There are thousands of individual pools, all owned by families from the local community. and often you can see an owner harvesting their pool. I know I will butcher the background and process of the salt pools so I’ll let Atlas Obscura explain it.

“Salt is harvested from the patchwork of shallow pools via a process of evaporation. A natural spring feeds a salt-rich stream that flows down into the pools, which are then opened and dammed individually as needed. Once one of the pools is filled, the water is allowed to evaporate, and then the salt crystals are scraped off the ground with simple instruments. Then the whole process begins again. (For more information: https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/salt-pans-of-maras)

The vastness of this natural, historic (it goes back to Incan times) process is outstanding. Here is a cycle of harvesting salt that has adjusted to modern times and opened its doors to tourism while maintaining its cultural hold. Go ahead and purchase the packaged salt sold here and support the local community!IMG_5023-2IMG_5025-2IMG_5028-2IMG_5030-2IMG_5032IMG_5038IMG_5039IMG_5041

IMG_5042IMG_5024-RecoveredIMG_5043IMG_5048IMG_5054IMG_5060After the salt pools, we asked our driver (Who wait for you if you pay them a little extra) where we could go for lunch. “¿Turistico o local?” “Local!” Unfortunately the little restaurant on the second floor of a relatively abandoned building in the center of Moray was closed for lunch. Being the cheap travelers we were trying to be, we turned down the offer of another ride to other food and opted confidently to walk. Well…we walked. And we walked along empty streets. Finally after no signs of any food and very empty stomachs we went back to the center and who would we find but our taxi driver speaking to a woman cooking something. Honestly, we didn’t really care what she was cooking or where we ate it- we were that fatigued. Her restaurant appeared to be located in what once was her living room now converted to eating area and shop. Now, y’all, on this entire journey my Spanish came through successfully but the minute this very, very old Peruvian grandmother began talking to me I started to believe I didn’t speak any Spanish at all. Thankfully our chef, who was only selling potatoes and chicharrones (fried pork belly), alerted me of the different dialects they speak up in the mountains. Watching my new olden friend, I noticed the way to eat the food was with our hands and when they offered us silverware, Analeise and I decided to turn them down and follow suit. “It tastes better when you eat it with your hands,” they told us in Spanish. This must have either been a popular hidden spot or the only place open because soon there were 10 other tourists in this small self made restaurant. Finishing with our meal, which was very difficult to chew through, we jumped in a collectivo towards Maras Moray and then into another towards Cusco.

I’ll hurry through the next couple of days because, unfortunately, I don’t have any more photos to share with them (and my one typing hand hurts). Once we arrived back in Cusco it was time to do a bit of shopping. We went towards the huge, well-known San Pedro market and purchased colorful scarves claiming to be “real alpaca hair”. Now, if you want the real stuff you will need to cough up a lot more sols. If you’re content with the cheaper quality like I am then make sure you try your hand at bartering down the price as much as possible. The sellers know you have money and they will take full advantage of it. I hope you have more luck than Analeise and I did! Though I will say, my two lama sweaters, five scarves (perfect gifts!), and blanket (all certainly for less than $100) were all worth it.

On our last day in Cusco, we started out slowly by perching up on a second floor coffee shop that offered free Wi-Fi and enormous fruit smoothies (not free) and overlooked the Center. There we sat and people watched while planning our next trip (which I had to miss because of my broken wrist). If you take anything out of my Peru posts let it be this: do the free walking tours! I was skeptical at first because group activities make me anxious, but trust me, it is so incredibly worth it! That afternoon we participated in one and I wish we had down it on our first day. There was so much information I missed and I’m ashamed I would have continued to walk around blindly if Analeise hadn’t mentioned it (she’s the social one between us two). If you’re still interested in alpaca hair items, the tour will take you to Artesanias Asunta, which offers the softest, best quality items for the lowest prices. Plus she gives you a discount if you mention the walking tours! After the tour, I wish I had even more time to explore Cusco and its museums. Next time! (Because I’m definitely, without a single doubt, going back.

I’ll go over our quick afternoon in Lima along with the complete, simplified itinerary of our 8 day backpacking trip to Cusco and Lima, Peru with prices and tips. If you got through all of this ridiculously long post, just know I appreciate you so, so much. Thank you for supporting my blog and my (sometimes silly) blog posts. I hope to continue doing this for a long time to come. For anyone that asked for my complete Peru itinerary, don’t worry- it’s next, I promise! (Don’t forget I only have one working hand so it might take  a little time).

Until next time, friends!

-Mary Anna

 

 

 

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Peru- Peru Rail and Salineras de Maras

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Hello, all!

After the difficult hike up to Humantay Lake, we had to make the decision on how we would reach AguasCalientes. Originally we were determined to complete the entire process on our own with only means of transportation being collectivos and a lot of walking. After the first hike kicked our bus we settled on a decision to compromise: we would take a bus to Hydroelectica and then hike to AguasCalientes. Through our hostel (Pariwana Hostel) we booked the shuttle ($15), rode for 5 hours over the steep cliffs along the Urubamba river, ate lunch, and then began the hike along the train track and river for 3 hours with a group of Mexican girls and one French girl. Remember it is an active train track so don’t get too close to it as it passes by (as Analeise learned when she tried taking a photo of the train and it briefly missed her). By the end of it, Analeise, Ana (the French girl), and myself were the only ones left after taking our time, stopping for snack and water breaks, and taking so many photos.

 

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When you begin Googling, you will see a blog post about the “reality” of Machu Picchu: long lines, crowds, and rain. Unfortunately, this was exactly what we got. We got in line for the bus to Machu Picchu (which I would recommend purchasing the night before- $25 roundtrip) at around 5:15AM and…oh. my. goodness. the line seemed never ending. It was difficult to not get discouraged as we headed towards the end of the- what felt like- mile long line. Thankfully the line went faster than we anticipated. It was probably about an hour later that we were on the buses up the mountain to the entrance of the Machu Pacchu.

We completed the Mountain Hike ($65 with entrance into Machu Picchu) within the 7AM to 10AM slots. Although we stayed much later at the very top in hope that the view would clear up. The hike was definitely bad, but it wasn’t terrible. Its countless steps, slippery when wet, but if you keep a slow and steady pace eventually you will reach the top- which I pray is a clear and remarkable view for you. Unfortunately we were among the clouds, getting drizzled on, and phenomenally cold.

The day wasn’t a loss though, as when we arrived back down we got to witness the Machu Picchu everyone raves about. I’ll let the photos of the remarkable landscape with its constantly rolling clouds and lush greenery do the explaining. Of course I met up with my new llama friend and took some photos of him/her. I think they are some of my favorite photos ever taken!

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(Iphone)

In AguasCalientes we stayed at EcoPackers ($14 a night) right next to the station we finished our trek at.  It was a 6 person coed dorm. Although a little loud due to being right next to the track, it was definitely one of those hostels that you make as fun as you want. There is a bar on the rooftop where breakfast is also served. One of the best nights of our trip was hanging out with Phoebe and George again and our roommates Daniel, a German medical student, and Ahem, an Argentinian father and teacher. We ended up chatting into the early hours, switching between French, Spanish, and English, from everything about how plastic is destroying our environment to following our dreams. Ahem shared with us it had always been his dream to ride a bike throughout South America. “If I don’t follow my dream how can I teach my young students to follow theirs?” That is when I realized how lucky I was to be living one of my dreams at that exact moment: being able to meet people from all over because we share a mutual fascination on exploring the beautiful world we live in.

And man, what a beautiful world we live in.

Until next time, friends!

-Mary Anna

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Peru- Hidroelectrica Trek

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Peru, Peru, Peru. I am not sure how I’m going to explain this trip. Sure, I can write out the details: the places we went, the things I saw, so on, so forth. But how do I begin to explain what it meant to me? I’ve decided to break this trip up to several parts- trying to cram it all into one post would get extremely lengthy and we would all lose focus halfway through. Somehow I’ll try to fit into words how awing this time was for me. And if in the scenario I do not fulfill that duty then I hope my photos will.

As flight attendants we normally stay in pretty okay hotels. Everything is clean, wake-ups are made, its relatively quiet (for the most part). So when Analeise and I decided to backpack I wanted nothing else than to stay in hostels with other backpackers. Honestly, for me, I needed to remember why it was that I started traveling in the first place. It wasn’t for timed layovers and having to feel rushed all the time when I’m somewhere new. Don’t get me wrong, I love being a flight attendant. I’m constantly seeing something different. However, in this job, as much as everyone knows the airline world is a chaotic mess, on layovers there is no room for error. So with eight days to explore, we made a general list of things we wanted to see, but no concrete plans so that in any unexpected scenario occurred we could just say, “No prob-llama!”

Backpacks fully packed and tickets in hand, we headed off at 11:50PM to Bogota and then on to Cusco.

Day One: Exploring Cusco, Peru

After dropping off our packs at the hostel, we made our way to the city center to begin our wandering. It is true what they say that the altitude will certainly affect everyone differently. Although I didn’t notice a difference besides a bit more heavy breathing, Analeise did feel light headed as we walked around. Later on we discovered that it is best to eat before you are hungry to combat any lightheaded feelings that may occur due to the high elevation. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the delicious and decently sized empanadas that we ate for lunch. I wish I had though, I would certainly go back for another one.

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We stayed at Pariwana Hostel for the first two nights of our trip. I was originally planning on taking photos of the entire place, but we quickly became occupied with the activities taking place in the evening. I would highly recommend this hostel to any traveler that wants to meet people. It hosts different activities every night and the staff is remarkably friendly and good at getting people involved! We ended up playing some sort of soccer-volleyball game with this great British couple, Phoebe and George. Little did we know we would end up hanging out with them a lot and running into them in another hostel in AguasCalientes later that week! After a ridiculous game (which we lost), we went up to the bar for dinner and after a beer-pong tournament (sorry, Mom!).

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The room we stayed in was an 8 female dorm. Each bed had a shelf on the wall, a light, and a locker with outlets inside (though you had to bring your own lock). Pariwana really did have it all: a yummy restaurant, activities, a movie room, a kitchen, etc. The only problem we ran into was an extremely drunk roommate that decided to have a little too much fun with someone in the shared bathroom. Though, I guess this only allows me to now have an interesting hostel travel story.

Day Two: Humantay Lake

Originally we had planned on taking it easy on the first full day in Cusco. This idea quickly disappeared as we saw that the excursion desk had a trip the next day to hike to Humantay Lake. I’m truly thankful that Analeise had heard of it before and really wanted to see it. If not then I don’t think I would have experienced the breathtaking (because that altitude really does take it out of you!) views on this day.

The Humantay Lake was originally part of the starting point of the Salkantay Hike which finishes in Machu Picchu. Up to recent only those participating in the hike would have seen it. Thankfully for those of us that aren’t able to do a multi-day hike there are excursions that now make it possible. The process begins with a 4:30AM showtime, a 2-3 hour bus ride, breakfast in a small town, and then a couple more hours of driving up extremely bumpy, slightly dangerous, winding dirt roads up to Soraypampa. Here is where it gets really fun. The hour and a half trek proved a lot harder than I would have originally thought. At first I was confident…then every few steps became a bit more challenging… Still, with views like these (photos below), it was easy to become mesmerized as the ice-capped mountain became closer and closer.

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The Vilcabamba mountain range that surround Humantay Lake were  sacred to the Incas. According to our guide, sacrifices of a young child, who was considered the most pure, would be made when grand natural disasters would occur that, at the time, could not be explained. As we sat in a circle and listened to our guide, he directed us to take three cocoa leaves and place them within the rocks that were piled high as offerings and make one heartfelt wish. Of course I can’t say what I wished for, but I sure hope someone heard me.

I cannot really describe how majestic the environment was to witness. However, I need to explain the unfortunate reality of such a beautiful landscape. Picture this remarkable lake even grander and the mountains even more snow-capped. 60% of the ice has disappeared and it only continues to vanish every year. The lake once greatly surpassed where I stood to take these photos. It is receding every single year. Climate change is real. These landscapes, ecosystems, key landmarks of cultural significance are all disappearing. It is finally time for everyone to open their eyes. I don’t know about you, but I desperately wish my grandchildren (and so on) to witness the amazing sights I’ve gotten the chance to, but that won’t happen at the rate things are going. Protect Mother Earth, y’all.

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The hike down from the lake was not as challenging, except for the cold drizzle that fell upon us. Once all the way back to where we started, we hopped on the bus, and all fell asleep until we arrived back in the same small town for a delicious small buffet of hot soup, pasta, and other much needed filling food.

I would highly recommend anyone visiting Peru to complete the hike to Humantay Lake. Take a waterproof jacket, gloves, and of course layers that you can easy strip off with the ever changing weather. The guide insisted on walking sticks and I am so glad that he did. They really did help navigate our way over the loose terrain.

Most importantly, be ready to be amazed because it truly is a miraculous, significant, and serene place. Trust me, it is worth the huffing and puffing.

Until next time, friends!

Mary AnnaIMG_4692

(IPhone)

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Peru (1)

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Malaysia!

Hello, all!

As I am preparing for my backpacking trip that officially begins tonight (!!!!), I decided to finally post the photos from my surprising layover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia! Another stamp in the passport (two more pages until its full!)! This layover left me with renewed invigoration, refocused determination to explore this world further, and a whole ton of money photos on my IPhone.

The crew and I, of course, visited the Batu Caves. The world’s tallest statue of Murugan was phenomenal to witness on the journey up the stairs (which honestly winded me) to the entrance of the caves. However, honestly, the interior was a bit disappointing as there was quite  a bit of construction going on. I understand all about making a tourist destination more tourist-friendly (and profit-making), but I am concerned about the impact it will all have on the limestone and bats that live among it. I suppose, as with many things, time will tell.

Next we ventured out to the waterfalls, which I unfortunately cannot remember the name off currently. Little did I know that the entire park was overrun by monkeys! And when I state overrun, I mean, truly overrun. They were everywhere. My favorite part was watching them sneak snacks out of unobservant tourist’s backpacks and then scurrying off with them. I even witnessed one steal a orange fanta type of soda out of someone’s purse and proceed to punch a hole on the bottom and begin drinking it! Impressive!

I took a ton of photos- of monkeys specifically- on my film camera so as soon as I get back from this trip I’m about to embark on I need to find somewhere to develop them! I can’t wait to show y’all if any of them turn out decent

Until next time!

Let the backpacking journey begin!

Mary Anna

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Personal, Writing

A Personal Post

I have always aimed to be a truthful writer. For the most part, I’m a pretty open book in general. So lately I have been forced to face some hard, true facts about myself and where I am in life currently. As much as I enjoy this blog being focused on travel and my adventures, (un)fortunately that isn’t all my life is. So below is probably one of the most personal posts I have ever written. I have opened up my heart to you, including my fears and including the heartache.

Mainly, I have finally opened up my heart to myself again- it was about time.

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My mother has always said that I am too trusting for my own good.

-Hell yes, I’ll do that spontaneous thing with you even though I don’t know you well (or at all).

-I would love to visit you, even though we only met briefly that one time.

-Why, yes, let me tell you my life story because I trust you already.

I still proudly claim to be as (smartly) trusting of others because I want to believe in the good of the world so incredibly badly. So then why is it that suddenly I assume the worst out of others before I see the good?

It is an overly-used, still truthful, thing to say that you “have trust issues now” because of that one thing, or that thing, or all those things accumulated over years of learning, being disappointed, and then relearning. It only takes one moment for doubt to take hold of your nerves secretly, like a hidden bomb waiting to ignite. Then suddenly, it happens. In your car, at your home, or even among a crowd- anytime, anyplace. It hits you with the force of a bullet train that you could not have seen coming.

For me, it happened after watching the newest Spider-man (seriously, another one?!) by myself as I came home to an empty apartment. I never believed in baggage until I was left alone to carry it. Why, suddenly, was every single bad experience streaming into my head? Why now? I had just been fine an hour ago. But like I said, that bullet train charges ahead on its own time out of nowhere.

So what do you do?

You face it head on, of course.

I had a vision in my head for over a year. It was a magnificent, attainable vision of how I pictured my life to be one day. Then it became only a dream. Then it disappeared with the speed of that train that just hit me.

Breakups aren’t easy- we all know that. And as I became consumed with work travels, a constant flood of questions from co-workers, and the process of moving on, that secret time bomb was still awaiting me- I just didn’t know it.

So it was in the process of moving on that I was forced to face my most recent truth: that I am still hurt and because of that I am wholly afraid of someone else hurting me. So my biggest fear right now is this: I am afraid of you disappearing on me. I am afraid of feeling dispensable again. I am afraid of someone coming into my life, filling my world with beauty, and then disappearing without any word or trace. People use the term “ghosting” nowadays. I call it disappearing.

So I have admitted my biggest fear and insecurity to the world. Because as I’ve said, at the root of it, I am a trusting person. I want to see the good in the world again, in you, in me. On top of that, I am a full-pledged romantic. I want to go in a hot air balloon with the love of my life. I want to see the northern lights under those globe hotels in Finland. Travel and romance are a package deal for me.

None of that is possible until I conquer today’s struggle. Trusting again. Until I do, that ugly doubt that hides behind my heart will always control me. Because suddenly, this world is not as vivid as it used to be when my heart was whole and my trust was intact. I am afraid of you hurting me more than my heart can take.

I write this, partly selfishly, as a way to finally get these emotions I have been hiding out. Though as easily as I could have posted this privately, for you dear reader, not to see, another reason is because I have come to a realization I wanted to address. That realization is that we need to be kind to one another. I’m speaking to myself especially. Heartache has made me unkind- bitter towards the world’s beauty and your own. I have not seen you for the kind person I know that you are but as someone that I am afraid you can be. So as we meet that person that seems to have their life in order, or see another “perfect” Instagram profile, remember, there is a lot more that we are not witnessing. We don’t see if there is doubt in their chest or fear in their heart. So I wanted to share that with you because it’s the truth and it is real. Finally, the last partial reasoning behind writing this is because I know others may be struggling, too, and I want them to know that it is okay to speak (or write) about it, whenever they are ready.

As I face another work trip ahead of me and as I work on having a (kind of) normal life, I wanted to admit to myself my biggest current weakness because once you admit it to yourself, no one can use it against you. Once you admit it to yourself, you can only choose to grow from it, or let it consume you. So I am choosing growth. I know the process of growing trust back is not an easy one. It starts within myself. I will have to relearn how to trust the person I am and want to be, trust that the universe knows what it is doing, and finally trust that these moments that cause heartache are only moments that lead to growth, too.

The one thing I can say, however, is that through these self-igniting moments is when you truly discover what you will accept and what you won’t. I know now what I want and what I refuse to accept out of others and life. There is an enlightening power in finally discovering that.

So what happens now?

Truthfully, I’m not sure.

I will work on relearning how to live courageously and wholeheartedly again. And then, I guess we’ll see.

Until next time.

-Mary Anna

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Travel

Taormina, Italy

Hello, all!

When fellow flight attendant and friend Mary-Kate told me I was going to need water shoes to get into the water I thought she was kidding. Alas, I quickly became thankful that I purchased a pair of awesome see-through booties (check them out at the bottom of this post!) when I witnessed how extremely rocky the beach is in Taormina. If you are planning on visiting soon, heads up! Still, I am content with every beach I get to touch down on. There was a moment when I was floating on my back led by the rhythm of the waves as I watched birds fly high above me. It was serene and everything I needed it to be. Below are tons of photos of this quick layover destination! I’m excited to continue exploring Italy’s coasts. This day was remarkable, from the perfectly sunny weather to snagging beach recliners right in front of the water, I wouldn’t change a thing about it!

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(IPhone photos)

Anyone have any other recommendations on places to visit?

Cheers, all! Until next time!

-Mary Reyes

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