21 DAYS IN PERU

In April I travelled across Peru for 21 days with four friends, making manyunforgettable memories. People often ask, "Why Peru?", but the answer is simple.

We brainstormed about things that we wanted from a trip, and Peru just happened to fit all of the requirements. We wanted to go somewhere that would offer opportunity for beautiful landscape photography, good hiking, extreme adventure, not too expensive and somewhere just a bit different. Our plans changed from wanting to go to New Zealand, Morocco and then finally Peru. If those are some things you would want in a trip, then I would 'hands down' recommend this beautiful country to you!

We first flew into Lima, the capital, and stayed there for two nights. This was the first time I stayed in a hostel, and boy was it an experience. At first it was weird having to share rooms with strangers, but after a while you just got used to it. Hostels were also an awesome place to meet young people doing exactly what you were doing, chasing passions and travelling.  I also quickly caught on to the common hostel breakfast: white buns with butter and jam... lol, we sure didn't miss out on our carbs.

From Lima, we ended up taking a bus all throughout the country called 'Peru Hop'. I really liked this company, as they brought you to the major cities and stopped at other highlights on the way. People say travelling by road is very dangerous, but we did not have any bad experiences and it actually felt quite safe. It was also cool that you could just hop on and off the bus at any of their drop off locations in a months span, so you could spend as many nights as you wanted in each city, and make your own agenda. You would need to inform them of which hostel you were staying at and when you would like to be picked up. If you go and are tight for time, I would recommend travelling by plane to save you loads of time.

Our first stop was Paracas, which was such a relaxing place to start the trip. It was a beach town where we did some tanning by the ocean, tried new foods on the boardwalk (and had difficulty telling them my allergies, haha), went penguin and seal watching and had good times at the hostel, playing cards and enjoying good music by the visiting DJ. It was Easter weekend, which made this town much more busy than it typically was (said by the locals).

After Paracas, was Huacachina which was one of my favourite stops. Huacachina is called to be the "Oasis of America" with a population of only 115 people. This little community surrounds a small natural lake in the desert. The sand dunes were so cool too we got to go up them in a sand dune buggy and went sand boarding down them, which was seriously unreal and thrilling! 

From Huacachina, we stopped at Nazca for dinner, where we saw the famous Nazca lines. if you don't know what these are, they are ancient geoglyphs made between 500 BC and 500 AC. The lines make many cool pictures in the ground like monkeys, hummingbirds, lizards, etc. You could either see them by climbing up a tower, or better yet, go for a plane ride. After our pit stop, we had a red eye drive to the city of Arequipa. We got there just after 5am. This was a beautiful city to roam the streets full of business people, markets, and nice architecture. It is the second largest populated cities in Peru.

From Arequipa we went to Puno. Puno is on the shore of Lake Titicaca, which is the highest lake in the world. It reaches 3,830m above sea level. Here we kayaked to Uros floating islands (where people are actually still living today). The islands are made out of basically plants and mud. We also did a day of hiking up Isla de Taquile, and had a nice sit down meal with a local singing and playing.

After Puno was Cusco where we stayed there for 5 nights. There was so much to do and see in Cusco, and the surrounding area. One day we went to Pisac, sacred valley of the Incas, where they are known for their markets on Sundays— this is where I did the bulk of my shopping, filling my pack to the max with "hi I'm a tourist in my alpaca sweaters" and gifts for friends & fam. Another day we drove to Urubamba river where we did some serious white water rafting where, *cough* Moira ended up falling out, and I lost my paddle trying to save her with Matt. Luckily Matt caught it all on his GoPro. We also did some sketchy zip-lining through thunder, which is not recommended. 

The morning after our fifth night in Cusco, we started our 5 day trek to Machu Picchu. This trek was such an amazing experience, full of adventure and hard work leading to blistering toes — while being surrounded by constantly changing climates in outstanding beauty. Each day was also full of new challenges. We didn't hike on our own, but rather, joined a company called Salkantay Trekking. They were a really nice company that guided us each day, cooked our food and set up our tents! A girl from Ireland ended up joining us also, who turned out to be a perfect fit for our group and is now a friend. Our guide Freddie was pretty hilarious, but made things awkward sometime when he forced us to go around the dinner table singing in a capella, thinking it was fun.

On day 5 we were so anxious to finally get to Machu Picchu. It was an unbelievable experience, walking through one of the seven wonders of the world, and hearing the history of the place (eh Kara, ahaha).  We spent a good number of hours getting lost in the beauty, and doing an extra hike within Machu Picchu. Honestly, this extra hike was almost the death of me, as it was so steep and narrow with sizzling temps out. After we made it to the top it was definitely worth it, of course. We got to see Machu Picchu from a whole new angle, seeing it so high from the ground, making it look like a little spec filled with ants roaming.

Once we left Machu Picchu, we headed back to Cusco for one more night before heading back to Lima. When we got to Lima we stayed at a hostel that was very "home-like", small and clean which made us start to miss the comfort of our homes back in Canada. The next day (and last day of our trip), we caught some waves in the pacific.  That night we had to be at the airport, and departed back to Canada at 0215 in the morning. 

Check out some of my favourite shots. Pictures are taken with my Nikon D5200 DSLR, iPhone and GoPro.