There's nothing better than traveling as a couple and now is the time to grab your better half, your best mate, your sibling or to treat your parents that worked so hard to raise you to be the person you are today and send them to:
Machu Picchu, Peru
I know there are a lot of solo blogs out there that share the value of going it alone, but we are here to tell you that yes you can enjoy a vacation alone with your spouse! Gasp! When witnessing a great sunset or experiencing the thrill of a lifetime, there is nothing better than having someone there at dinner to re-live the memory.
Peru was one of those destinations that completely astounded Dave and I.
We never thought we'd get there but one summer we had a bunch of extra travel points that needed using. We didn't want to just take off to a cottage up north, we wanted to go somewhere exotic. Scouring the Internet to see what countries were available for us to use our aeroplan points, Peru came to the top of the list. We had never thought of Peru before. We were originally considering Spain or Greece, but this trip was taking us to South America, a continent we had never been to before. We were going to explore the great Inca Ruins of the world and it was going to be a magnificent adventure.
We flew into Peru without a plan
Instead of hanging around the capital city, we literally walked straight to the ticket counter at the airport and bought tickets to Cusco. There was no way we were going to miss seeing Machu Picchu and since we only had two weeks in the country, we made a beeline to the star attraction.
Flying over the Andes took our breath away and we couldn't wait to explore them further. We landed at 3300 meters and immediately felt the altitude. Lucky Peru's natural remedy, the coca plant took care of our symptoms as we sipped coca tea while overlooking the Plaza.
We wanted to trek the Inca Trail but unfortunately everything was booked. It was August and that is the busiest time of the year for tourism in Peru. Even booking the train to the ruins was proving to be difficult. We ended up splurging on the first class Vista Dome train. At $100 bucks a ticket, it was painful to our pocket books, but how often do you get to see one of the New Wonders of the World?
Exploring the Sacred Valley
While we waited for the days to pass until our departure, we took a tour of the other Incan ruins found in this part of the world. While we couldn't make our trek on the Inca Trail work out, we did have the chance to trek along the Sacred Valley, another part of the Inca Trail and probably far less travelled.
We may not have been able to hike the Inca Trail. But I certainly enjoyed my time at Machu Picchu. We explored Aguas Calientes and shopped a lot at the market. We took advantage of happy hour with pitchers of Sangria, we loved our room since we were paying $100 and it was nice for a change to know that we wouldn't be having to get up and have to trek or cycle or climb some mountain.
Sometimes an adventure can just simply be the experience in itself. Hiking around sacred ruins, enjoying the sunshine and view and actually being in Peru. Wow, that is exciting, I never thought that I would get to Peru.
Machu Picchu Bound
The train trip turned out to be worth the money. The glass windows on the ceiling allowed for us to witness the surrounding panorama of the Andes Mountains as we enjoyed a light lunch and tea.
t was a slow ride, but relaxing and we were fed a hot meal. Once we arrived in Aguas Callientas, we had the task of finding yet another hotel. As usual, everything was sold out, so this time we had to settle on an expensive room at $100 US. We didn't mind though, at least we had flown there for free!
The lesson here is to book in advance before traveling to Peru anytime between June-August.
We arrived at the picturesque town of Agua Callientas (Hot Water) where as per usual during our Peruvian adventure, we didn't have any plans. We lugged our packs up and down the steep streets searching for a place to lay our heads. Everything was sold out and once again we were forced to splurge on a $100 per night hotel. No worries though. We were about walk upon the mythical ruins of Machu Picchu.
Once we were settled in we went directly to the cultural centre in Aguas Callientas to buy our entry tickets to Machu Picchu. I highly recommend this because we were able to walk right into the complex upon our arrival instead of waiting in the long line of people still needing to purchase their entry.
A Rainy Day
We caught our bus at 4:30 am on a rainy morning. It was dark and it was cold and we were worried that our day at the ruins was going to be ruined itself!
We entered a foggy trail littered with a few alpacas waiting to greet their latest guests. Several alpacas have free run of the place and are just about the cutest guardians of any monument we have ever visited.
Arriving so early has its pros because we had beaten the crowd and we had plenty of time to explore in peace and quiet, plus they restrict how many people can visit Machu Picchu each day, so I wouldn't want to chance going later and being denied access.
Dave was disheartened due to the weather thinking that he'd never be able to capture his dream shot. As the morning progressed, the clouds never lifted and we could barely see in front of us, let alone view the spectacular display that awaited us beneath the shroud of grey. We sulked as we walked through the lost city feeling lost ourselves when suddenly the most miraculous thing happened.
The skies decided to open up and let the warm rays of sun shine through.
To understand how the Incan empire built this city clinging to the side of a mountain, with terraces falling into the valley is incomprehensible. The back drop is absolutely stunning. It is even a bit of a thrill to be there.
From high on a hill, we were introduced to the spectacle that is known as Machu Picchu and it was an incredible sight.
The terraced steps of the complex plunge into the deep valley below. It's hard to believe that something like this could be built in the 1400's. How on earth did the Incas build a complex so high in altitude clinging to the side of the steep mountains.
There are many places where you feel that you could step over the edge and plunge into the deep valley below, never to be seen again.
The authorities allow 2500 people on Machu Picchu each day, but we didn't feel like it was crowded at all. We even managed to snap quite a few “people free” shots.\
I think it was due to arriving early. As more people arrived in the afternoon, we took that as our cue to head on out.
After exploring for a few hours and making sure to witness it from all angles and elevations, we felt satisfied that yes indeed we had explored it to the fullest.
We checked off item after item on the old life list and came away with memories to last a lifetime.
Traveling Peru at high season
It took a while to find a place since we were traveling at high season. We didn't book our Inca Trail hike or accommodation in advance and we paid for it. We couldn't get on a trek and found out that many were booked out a year in advance! And because we didn't book a hotel, we ended up paying premium rates.