I just got back from my first trip to Peru. I spent the majority of the time at Andean altitude in the southern mountains around the regions of Cusco, Machu Pichhu, and Urubamba. And while I’ll have lots more to say in future posts, here are a few of my first impressions of this beautiful country:
1. Southern Peru is mountainous and very green (even in the winter).
2. The air really is a lot thinner up here. You’ll feel it.
3. Altitude sickness is real.
4. Like it causes dizziness, headaches, nausea, and sometimes worse.
5. But your body gets used to it, which is good because the food in Peru is incredible!
6. Lots of quinoa, fava beans, and juicy yellow corn with crazy giant kernels.
7. The outdoor food markets are the best. You can even sample local lake algae, which is used in salads and is surprisingly refreshing.
8. There’s also a ton of exotic fruits like papaya, lucuma, and passion fruit. We ate it all!
9. You can also get guinea pig on a stick. It’s legit.
10. Even though the altitude really affected me, the food did not. I ate adventurously with no side effects.
11. The 3 to 1 exchange rate (US dollars to Peruvian Soles) is a-maz-ing.
12. It makes Peru very affordable.
13. It makes doing a multi-day trek through the mountains with a private guide, porters, and other extravagances nbd (at least financially). The hike itself is another story.
14. Machu Pichhu is very crowded, but the Inca trail hike to get there is not.
15. On the trail we had whole Inca sites to ourselves, sharing only with the mists and llamas.
16. Mist makes everything feel magical.
17. So do llamas.
18. Weather changes quickly.
19. In a 24 hour period I got rained on and sunburned; wore a down jacket in below freezing temperatures and just a tank top in the 70s.
20. The climate also changes.
21. We hiked through four different climates in four days.
22. In just a few hours, we walked from mountain deserts filled with prickly pear cacti to lush green cloud forests filled with spongy moss and wild orchids.
23. The moss is intense.
24. In some spots it grows more than ten inches deep from the rock surface.
25. The Inca staircases are also intense.
26. Like over 2,000 steps between 18″-24″ high intense.
27. But the llamas don’t seem to mind.
28. There are llamas everywhere, which is probably one of the reasons why Peru is such a great place to find quality wool products.
29. And don’t forget about the alpacas!