Do you ever have a dream destination you want to visit? Going to Peru and hiking the Inca Trail had been a dream of mine for years and years. I imagined myself trekking along effortlessly marvelling at the Inca ruins. But it was always out of my reach price wise. Not to mention braveness and fitness wise.
So 5 years ago my life was coming together and I started making six figures. I was working on my fitness and had started running. Therefore, I could easily overcome two of my blockers, so I decided to go for it and booked.
Henceforth my dream trip became a reality. I was going to be hiking the Inca trail. In addition, I was also going to get to visit the Amazon jungle, Lake Titicaca and La Paz as well as seeing more ruins of the Inca empire. To say I was excited would be an understatement.
As the UK is far away from South America, I had to get connecting flights. So I had a really fun stopover in New York City. How much fun can you fit in 24 hours? I managed to run 7 miles around central park, wander down the Highline, walk over Brooklyn bridge and eat a lot of almond m&ms.
But luck was not with me, as my flight from New York to Peru was delayed. I had the most horrendous experience courtesy of American Airlines. They did put us in a hotel and rearranged the flight for the next day. However, they didn’t send enough buses to get all the people in the hotel back to the airport on time. And they didn’t reprint boarding cards or put the rearranged flight on the departure board leading to lots of hassle. Yes, I had the police called on me trying to get through security as they didn’t want to let me through.
Despite all that hassle, both my bag and I did eventually make it to Peru at 5 am and I only missed a tour of Lima. And a lot of sleep.
After the Inca Trail, the second place I really wanted to visit was the Amazon jungle and rainforest. I was minorly disappointed when I realised we were visiting the Amazon basin rather than the river itself but the experience easily redeemed itself.
The journey to our lodge was by (electric) canoe, which was a way to arrive in style. And we lucked out spotting these majestic beauties on our approach. They were just so big!
Staying in a lodge in the rainforest was certainly a unique experience. Mod cons were a thing of the past. Showering by candlelight was an interesting experience – and given the warm weather, the cold shower was a relief rather than something to suffer.
Moreover, relaxing in the jungle, napping on the hammocks and watching the birds was such a fun way to unwind. We also got to take many trips into the jungle. It’s the first time I’ve had a guide that carried a machete – just to cut back growth in the path he assured us.
There were picture postcard views all around and you really felt that you were in the wild. My only disappointment was on the parrot side – there were not any around when I was looking – a few people spotted them at a distance only.
When I FIRE I really want to revisit and spend much more time here, slow travelling and relaxing. I’d love to go back and spend longer kicking back in the jungle, but alas this was only a brief stop and we had many, many more sights to see.
The main event of the trip for me was the Inca trail itself. And it was every bit as exciting and adventurous as I hoped it would be.
There was altitude sickness, torrential rain and lots and lots of uphill walking to contend with.
But we were rewarded by the dozen for suffering these discomforts.
The views all around were stunning. The remains of all the Inca settlements were so interesting and made ideal stopping points on our trek. And the free-range Llamas took us by surprise, especially as they were not frightened of people and just barged past us as we were going too slow for them.
As we trekked the wonders just keep coming. The flora was awesome, so many pretty flowers just growing in vines. I seemed to be the only horticulturally minded one stopping to admire all the flowers, but they were well worth it.
The Inca ruins on the trek got less and less ruined as the trek went on. The majestic-ness and scale of these minor settlements was impressive. I did bring a book on the Inca empire to read with me, but I was so tired after all day trekking, and reading by torchlight is no fun.
Our camps themselves were in amazing locations amongst the clouds. And we had porters carrying our bags and putting up our tents – all we had to do was walk with our day bags.
I’m not going to lie, some of the walking was hard going – especially as it got very steep and we got to the highest point, dead woman’s pass. I could feel the altitude and needed to take it very slowly. Every day I was exhausted, and easily fell asleep in the tent.
However, I will say, the last night was not so restful, with a very early morning start, so we could queue at the Sun Gate. We were very perplexed as to why we got up at 2 am, to then spend 2 hours waiting and queuing.
We learned it was really so the porters could get the train home, as they were not allowed on later ones. This made us check our privilege immensely. And stop complaining.
Our final reward for our trek was getting to Machu Pichu early. Sharing with just the hundred or so other trekkers, before the non-trekkers were allowed in.
The weather was not cooperating with us, so we didn’t get any views at the Sun gate. All we could see was the cloud. But once we descended down into the town through the cloud, the scale of Machu Pichi was awe inspiring. This town was up in the clouds in the middle of nowhere and has been preserved for us to see. I was so grateful.
The floating homes on Lake Titicaca were so unique – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them. We got to visit a collection of homes and the locals were keen to show us around (for a fee).
Once you were onboard you could easily forget it was a floating village – they were all very steady and tied together. Very cool, but I wonder if people would still choose to live there if there was no tourist income? It did seem a hard way of life, having to take a boat everywhere – even to the bathroom.
Then we were lucky enough to spend a night in a homestay on Lake Titicaca. It was so interesting to see how people really lived – and how happy they were. Their lives and facilities were simple and tied to nature which made a refreshing change.
Then we were onwards to Bolivia. I lucked out on my bus seat. I was allocated upstairs at the front for the journey down to La Paz. Fabulous for gazing out the window, not ideal for nerves as we overtook and faced down oncoming traffic. And we trundled into Bolivia and stopped outside La Paz to snap this amazing vista of the bowl.
Even after Cusco and the Inca Trail, the altitude at La Paz hit us. Walking up the hilly streets was hard work. Moreover, alcohol also hit us – after one drink we were all very, very merry.
I’m always a sucker for baked goods. And the market in La Paz didn’t disappoint with these amazing and so pretty dolls.
Did the trip live up to my dreams?
Absolutely. The trip was amazing. And so unlike anything I had ever done before. It was challenging and eye-opening and gave me such an insight into the Inca civilisation.
Moreover, I am so glad I waited until I had the money saved for the trip. The anticipation and build up to fulfil a long-term dream was awesome and to be honest made it even more special.
Related Posts – Counting Countries Series
- Travels as a Child – Countries 1 to 6
- On my own dime – Countries 7 to 16
- Going East – Countries 17 to 22
- Europe and Beyond – Countries 23 to 27
- The Caribbean and yet more Europe – Countries 28 to 31
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Have you been to Peru and Bolivia?
- Does the Inca trail appeal to you?
- Where is the dream destination you have always wanted to visit?