It all began when I saw my first picture of Machu Picchu a couple of years back on some travel website. Most of my newsfeed is spattered with travel photos from bloggers I’ve liked, news articles I’ve clicked on– the majority of my Instagram followers are travellers.
With all of these “smart advertisements” and targeted demographics, I see even more travel related items. My point is, I read a lot about travel, and so most of the far away places that come through my feed I’ve already read about or been to.
But the first time I laid eyes on Machu Picchu, it was not previously a place that had been on my list. Then, I saw a National Geographic photo of Machu Picchu as the sun was rising, and I’m pretty sure my eyes grew big and I smiled– just that one photo put Machu Picchu in the top 10 immediate places I wanted to travel to if I could.
Fast forward to spring of 2016 and I’d just moved from Naples Italy to Monterey California to go to grad school. What’s the beauty of being a student again? Those 3 precious weeks in between each semester where you can go out and gallivant the world. Dream big right?!
When I caught wind that we would have almost 3 weeks off at the end of the semester I immediately started scheming. It was time to plan a solo trip and this time I was going to to do things even more differently. I only booked 2 things before leaving. My plane tickets and the Machu Picchu hike. Everything else, all of those other minute details like where am I going to sleep at night, what am I going to do when I’m not climbing Machu Picchu, I decided to leave those details for after I arrived. That’s right, I decided to go out solo traveling as a female without any plans except for how to get there and how to get home, and guess what? It was exhilarating and so much fun!
Everything else, all of those other minute details like where am I going to sleep at night, what am I going to do when I’m not climbing Machu Picchu, I decided to leave those details for after I arrived. That’s right, I decided to go out solo traveling as a female without any plans except for how to get there and how to get home, and guess what? It was exhilarating and so much fun and I’m writing this so obviously, I survived. 🙂
My Trips Loose Itinerary: First I flew from San Fransisco to Lima Peru where I spent a couple of days, and then I flew from Lima to Cusco (do-able by bus but that takes 26 hours) where the trek to Machu Picchu begins. My trek was 5 days but I stayed in Cusco for almost 10 days. Afterwards, I flew to Panama City, Panama and stayed there for a few days before heading back to San Fransisco and finally home.
On the night I arrived in Lima, the taxi driver at the airport was a kind old fella and a crazy driver who didn’t speak a lick of English. He became convinced he could take me to his mother’s hotel which I politely declined and told him which hostel I wanted to be dropped off at in Miraflores. He apparently decided not to listen to that plan and took me to his mother’s hotel anyway, which wasn’t near anything. I had to put my foot down and eventually he took me to the place I wanted to go. It was almost an hour detour after traveling from California and at one point, I told them I was going to leave on foot. Don’t worry, I was driven.
Everything in South America is SO CHEAP. Seriously it cost 35 soles ($9) per day for a hostel (includes a decent breakfast), and for 15 soles ($4.25) you can get a good meal with plenty to eat for one person.
In my hostel room, I met an Australian who had just got back from Cusco and the same Machu Picchu trek I’d be doing in a week. We talked for over an hour about the trek and he gave me all kinds of tips. There were a couple of tourists at my hostel who had been stranded because of stolen passports and Jane the Brit was one of them, also one of the ladies staying in my room.
Jane was at the hostel waiting for her passport in the mail and by the time it arrived she had landed a job working at the hostel as a receptionist and bartender and she was a truly lovely person to talk to. I enjoyed running around all day and coming back for drinks on the roof with Jane and all the other tourists each night.
Unfortunately, the Australian guy was just getting over food poisoning and was staying in bed for the night so I locked my bag up and headed out for some food. Our hostel was right next to the main road so I didn’t have to walk far before I found a restaurant packed with people watching football (Euro 2016 Tournament) so I squeezed in at the bar with ceviche and a gin. Maybe there was a lil icecream too. 🙂
Not long after, a couple arrived and sat down next to me. They spoke both Spanish and English and helped me with the menu. Within minutes we were fully engaged in conversation. They were originally from Costa Rica and planning to marry in the fall. By the time I was heading back to the hostel I had their business card, contact info, and a place to stay in Costa Rica if I ever want to visit.
Meanwhile, back at the hostel, everyone was quite lively up on the roof so I headed up there for a couple of drinks, which is where I met Ben, an Anesthesiologist from Manchester. We had a few beers and chatted at which point I decided to join him for the free walking tour the next morning.
In the morning we met at Kennedy Park at 10:00, a park overrun with stray cats (vomit), and set off. Somehow by the end of the tour I ended up attracting 2 of the weirdest people (Ben blames me) but I was honestly just being nice, so Ben, a german girl, a Welsh guy, and me went to lunch together in downtown.
After lunch we lost the German girl but decided not to head back to Milaflores right away so we started bar hopping.
It was extremely fun because both Ben and the Welsh guy were very into politics and held strong world opinions (especially about America), so we just moved from bar to bar throughout the afternoon changing up the debates. It was extremely interesting. I love meeting people that have very strong opinions and hold ideas about things I have never previously heard of. For example, have you heard about the debate in England over a contract
For example, have you heard about the debate in England over a contract signed concerning doctors, which they don’t agree with? Which has led to recent strikes by the doctors in the U.K. When you read the agreement there are a lot of concern about the future of doctors in the U.K. I would have never known that if it weren’t for Ben.
We eventually found ourselves at a pisco show (Peru is very known for their pisco) and after buying 2 bottles we headed to this fountain display, which is apparently in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Right next to the Football stadium, the Magic Water Circuit costs $4 to enter and holds the Guinness World Record for largest fountain complex.
There are lasers, lights, and more and its fun to walk around.
Some of the fountains you can even walk around on.
Needless to say, we were a bit intoxicated from the pisco and went to get dinner afterwards, which was very interesting. Let’s just say the Welsh guy got really awkward so we politely excused ourselves and headed back to our hostel for drinks on the roof (Thank God he wasn’t staying at the same place as us!)
The next day we went to an all you can eat sushi bar and meandered around town. The city is engrossed in a bed of thick clouds, which rarely let the sun shine through. We found a really cool outdoor mall by the walking path and I went to pick up a few more clothes for my trek.
As a last minute decision from tourists at the hostel, I decided to book a $9 bus ticket to Ica leaving at 3am the next morning so I could go sand boarding and dune-buggeying in the desert. More about that soon! That night Ben and I went do dinner with another Brit named Emily who was really nice and then we came back and had one last drink together, he was headed to Equador the next day and I wouldn’t see him since I was leaving so early.
This article appeared first on The Cassey Excursion.