My trip to Peru (Machu Picchu!) with pics! + Ask the girl who just went to Peru!

I posted a few months ago asking for advice on what to do on a trip to Peru and thanks to everyone’s lovely advice, I had an awesome trip. I promised I’d post pictures and stories here, so here I am!

I went at the beginning of this month, flying from LA to El Salvador, El Salvador to Lima, Lima to Cusco. In all, we had about 8 days in Peru itself, which ended up being enough time to see a lot.

The links below go to Flickr albums for each destination.
Lima We had a 15 hour layover in Lima and went to explore. Beautiful in the main Plaza, but the whole city seemed very run down otherwise. Also, tons of soldiers/ police with guns, dogs, and riot shields in the main plaza-- that made me raise an eyebrow. [/ul]
Cusco is where we spent the majority of our time during the trip. Beautiful city, even full of a bunch of tourists. Tons of kids trying to get you to buy their crap or take a picture with their baby llama (they would fake cry and everything if you said no :eek:), even more so than the “chicle” kids in Mexico’s tourist places. Tons of great churches, shopping, and food. A great place to visit.[/ul]
[li]The road to Machu Picchu Ollatambo, the train, Aguas Calientes, the bus. So, to get to Machu Picchu from Cusco, we had to take an hour and a half long, 5 am taxi ride through the top of the Andes mountains. Gorgeous, but scary since the guy was going 80 down these tiny, winding roads and there were horrible pockets of fog (that did not slow him down). Oh, and the cliffs. Giant cliffs to one side. Then, when you get to the next city, you get on a train and ride for an hour and a half to a city called Aguas Calientes. From there, you take a 20 minute bus ride straight up a mountain and BLAM. . .[/li][/ul]
[li]Machu Picchu! By far the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Breathtakingly gorgeous, spiritual, and moving. Just amazing. Even if it weren’t for the ruins, the mountain top and surrounding mountains are gorgeous enough, the ruins just add to it.[/li][/ul]

My favorite memory? There are lots, but I’m still laughing about the early morning cab ride to the train. Like I said, swirving, honking, almost hitting multiple people, almost falling off of cliffs and. . . the sound track to it all? Early 90s dance music. One thing I learned: Peruvians love early 90s dance music. It’s played freakin’ EVERYWHERE. Anyway, it’s dead silent in the cab because we are scared for our dear lives, when the driver hits a button on the radio. What do I hear booming from the speakers? “WHAT IS LOVE? BABY DON’T HURT ME, DON’T HURT ME…” I thought I was going to pee myself I was laughing so hard. Anyway, I did take video to show why I can live my whole life without ever again riding in a Peruvian cab, which you can see here. This video is also excellent if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to speed through the Andes mountains in a 15 year old car with no seatbelts.

Oh, I also saw someone get hit by a bus at Machu Picchu. Epic trip was epic, yes it was.
So, in addition to the pictures, I thought maybe I could answer any questions you may have about Peru. This was the first time I traveled 1: out of North America and 2: out of the country without family. I booked everything myself (no agent) and didn’t use a tour group at all. Ask away! :smiley:

Oh man, that looks like a cool trip. What an amazing landscape! And I love the colours there… the clothing, the buildings.

Am I imagining things or does the Peruvian flag look like the Canadian flag? I couldn’t quite tell.

Did the people who lived at Machu Picchu grow their own food there? I’m wonderering whether those terraces were farming areas or what.

How do you say Machu Picchu? That extra C in Picchu is confusing me. “Mah-choo Peek-choo”? (Can you speak Spanish?)

I have a cousin who lived in Peru for a few years, and he loved it—Said the people were warm and welcoming, and there was a lot of love for an American living there…

This was several years ago, so I wonder if Americans are still made to feel welcome?

How much (in US Dollars) was a hotel room for the night in Cusco?

How much for a beer in a bar?

Did you meet lots of trekkers from other western countries in Machu Picchu?

It sounds like you had a grand time; I am glad it was such a wonderful experience for you!!!

Welcome Back, Matthew

Peruvian flag. Looks like the main difference is the middle part. . . er, only difference heh.

My understanding is that those terraces were all farming areas. Their irrigation system is amazing- it still works today (500 years later, even after being abandoned completely and overgrown for who knows how long!).

“Mah-chew Pee-chew” is how I say it. . . I hope that’s right. I mean, if it’s not, I looked like a total asshole any time I spoke during my whole trip :D. And yes, I speak Spanish, but “Machu Picchu” is in the Incan language, which I certainly do not speak. I gave up on trying to say the names of various Incan landmarks real fast.

Man, I miss Peru. It is number one on the list of places we’ve travelled. We did the Salkantay hike to MP.

I agree, most amazing place I have ever, ever been in my life. It will be hard to top it.

Ah, it’s bringing tears to my eyes. I should go back.

Machu Picchu means ‘Old Mountain’, and Wayna Picchu (which is the mountain right next to MP that you can hike up) means ‘Young Mountain’.

Yeah, I didn’t feel any ill will toward Americans at all. I heard the Peruvians (in Spanish) constantly making snarky remarks about the Europeans, though never Americans. As you can see in the pictures, I look sort of brown myself, so a few times a Peruvian would remark to me in Spanish about how rude a lot of the European backpackers were. shrug I don’t know anything about that, but just reporting what I heard.

The people did seem to have a bit of a thing against the tourists, but nothing awful- they just tried to charge more. My friend, as you can see in the pictures, is very white and if we would walk in stores separately, they’d quote him one price in English, then quote me something 75% less in Spanish. In Lima, my friend tried to get a cab to the Plaza, in English, and was told it would be $50 (USD). I walked over to another group of cab drivers and asked in Spanish and it ended up being about $7 (USD).

In all, I’d say the Peruvian people were by far the nicest folks I’ve had the pleasure of traveling around in a long time. Very accommodating and helpful- of course, I speak Spanish, so I had a bit of an advantage over- say- my friend.

We stayed at a hotel that is also a school for Peruvian street children, so the money goes to that. We had our own room and bathroom- small, but comfy and clean. In the end, I think they charged us a little under $40 USD a night.

Maybe a dollar. Just to put it in perspective: I had a huuuuuge porterhouse steak, mashed potatoes, veggies, and a glass of wine for dinner one night. The cost? About $6 USD.

We did and they were all very nice. I’d say the Aussies were the nicest and had the funniest stories :D. Though, I am not a backpacker and have no intention of being one- I had a big suitcase, earrings, and makeup the whole time. So, I definitely stuck out like a sore thumb. I suppose I didn’t realize that literally everyone everywhere would be walking around unshaven with a huge pack on their back! Oops.

My friend’s guide book said hiking up Wayna Picchu would only take an hour. I refuse to believe it. That was so much higher than we already were!

Plus, I’d have died. Altitude sickness meant I already couldn’t breath.

It actually was only an hour and the view is amazing! I’ll try and find a picture when I get home (if I remember).

I had altitude sickness too, but on the hike, and it was to the point of throwing up and severe headache. It sucked. But I don’t blame you, it IS really hard to breathe up there!

You know that little trail you take as soon as you walk in the front gate of MP- the one off to the left that zig zags up and takes you to the post card view of the place?

It took FOREVER for me to walk up that because I had to stop on every “zag” (so, what? 10 feet?) and catch my breath. Luckily, I didn’t throw up ever or anything, but man, I felt like an elephant was laying on my chest!

You said the cab had no seatbelts, but in the video it appears the maniacal cab driver is indeed wearing one! I guess you meant for you guys in the back seat!

Awesome pics, awesome story, and a memory you’ll cherish. I am jealous. I’d love to go there (and to Argentina, too, for the wine tour and all that succulent beef!).

Haha, I agree, it is very thin air up there! No wonder the sherpas are crazy fit!

By the way, that’s the entrance to MP from the Inca Trail. It’s called the Sun Gate.

Did you eat any cuy?

Or any cow heart? :slight_smile:

Did you eat any ceveche?

I ate none of those things, though I did eat an alpaca steak. I don’t like food with little bones, so cuy is out. I don’t eat seafood, so ceviche is out. And while I have nothing against cow heart, I didn’t see any that ever looked tasty.

Frankly, all the traditional Peruvian food I had (couldn’t tell you what it was- but a few things here and there) was just. . . not so good. I hate to generalize, but it seemed like everything had this background flavor that I was just not fond of. Some spice or something.

That said, I had some awesome steaks and probably the best pasta of my life on this trip, so I wont complain.

Awwww… I’ve always wanted to go to Machu Pichu, but now that I moved from Uruguay to Thailand I’m more farther away than ever. :frowning:

It’s quite amazing, isn’t it? I had to study the architecture and wall construction techniques for a job I did and it completely blows my mind how they managed to make such perfect and enduring structures by practically nothing else than smashing rocks together.

By the way, what happend to the guy hit by a bus???

I’ve always wanted to go to MP, long before yuppie swarms and stuff. I blame Indiana Jones. (I’m not a history buff. I just really want to go to the really hard to get to places.)
Your pictures are wonderful! You don’t take a bad picture in any of them, so that makes me doubly jealous!
When I win the lottery, can I hire you as our private interpreter?

That’s a great set of pictures. Thanks for posting them.

I look at that place and think some of the same things I thought at Mesa Verde. Who had the idea to start building that? What motivated them? What were their long term visions for their people? What was the average day like for the average Joe totin’ rocks all day? Did he get to kick back in the evening with a cold glass of water and enjoy the view or was he too tired to care?