Prep101: Machu Picchu

I traveled to Peru from December 14th to January 9th for my winter holiday and it was hands down the most epic trip of my life. I had never been to Peru before, let alone South America, so this was all new for me. I’m really lucky since my boyfriend is Peruvian, so I was able to stay with him and his family the entire trip.

Travel tip: Plan to take trips to places where you have friends! It’s always way more fun to see how people really live somewhere as opposed to the mass marketed tourist side of things. Plus, free accommodation ;)

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I went to Machu Picchu (of course) and there were some things you should watch out for that nobody told me about. Everyone terrified me into thinking I’d die from altitude sickness, but there were four other things I wish I had been warned about:

  1. The sun. Holy crap – the sun there is strong. I took my sweater off for a few hours while hiking up Huayna Picchu and ended up getting the worst sunburn of my life. I grew up in Bermuda and have spent my life in the sun, so this was a shock to me. The altitude really strengthens the sun’s rays. Be sure to wear sunblock! 
  2. Be there early – especially if you’re going around busy season and especially if you’re doing Huayna Picchu (they stop letting people up after 11am). This is one of the seven wonders of the world so it will be busy. My boyfriend and I waited hours just to get on the bus up the mountain. Be prepared, come early, and enjoy!
  3. Good shoes – you don’t need crazy hiking shoes, you really don’t. But make sure you have some decent sneakers on with some good grip. My boyfriend and I hiked to the top of Huayna Picchu in our Nike’s and had no problems. I can imagine if it’s a rainy day that you might need something with a little more grip. Just be smart because you’ll be on your feet all day!
  4. Water, water, water.  This is a tourist trap so EVERYTHING around you is overpriced, including the water and you will get thirsty. Come prepared with things you don’t want to spend money on – snacks, sunblock, lip balm, bandaids, water, sunglasses, hats. Go ahead and be that prepared soccer mom – you’ll be the cool one when everyone is dying and broke and you’re loving life with money to spare. Bring a lightweight backpack to put your things in!

Besides the sunburn and the crowd, Machu Picchu was definetly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It’s not hard to see why the Inca’s lived there.

I will be posting more in the future about my trip to Peru. I somehow lost the high-rez photos so I’m in the process of trying to get them all back. Stay tuned :)

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