Peru

by: Brianne

Our big trip this off season is Peru, mainly because we've gotten into hiking and wanted to do Machu Picchu. But first on the list: Lima, the Amazon, Cusco and the Sacred Valley.

Happily landed in Lima, going through customs, and ready to get to the hotel and hit the sac after a long day of travel.

The next day was pretty relaxed. In the morning we walked around Lima before meeting up with a lady who gave us a tour of the city, complete with museums, churches, catacombs, pisco sours and appetizers. 

The next day was when the real adventure began. We headed to the airport at 6:45am for our flight to Puerto Maldonado, which is in the Amazon Rainforest. We walked off the plane, it was HOT!!!! I don't know what we expected, but clearly it wasn't that. Good thing I packed my sweatshirt. 

We were then transported to a bus that drove us down to the river to get on a boat. 

And for some reason, Ashton just couldn't help himself and kept touching the water. 

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It was a 3 hour boat ride to our lodge, which was in the middle of nowhere, literally.

Some of the things we saw along the way:

                 Capybara, basically a big guinea pig rodent.

                 Capybara, basically a big guinea pig rodent.

       A local "peke peke" boat. The name comes from the sound the tiny motor makes. I would have never got in that boat.

       A local "peke peke" boat. The name comes from the sound the tiny motor makes. I would have never got in that boat.

                                                                      A white caiman.

                                                                      A white caiman.

The lodge was amazing and totally 5-stars for being in the middle of nowhere jungle. However, it was all completely exposed to the outside; no air conditioning, therefore hot as hell and bugs all over your stuff at night, therefore terrifying for people who don't like bugs (a scary fact, they have over 60 million different species of insects. UGHHH!!!)

I don't think we ever really got used to it. At night we'd shake out all of our clothes before changing and then quickly slip into our mosquito nets as not to let any bugs in. Then we'd sweat our asses off in bed and wake up in the morning to damp clothes from the humidity. 

Mornings started at 4:45am with hikes to different places.

Oxbow Lake was CRAZY! We paddled out, in this rickety canoe, into the middle of this little lake, which was plump full with black caiman, anacondas, piranhas, and electric eels. 

Of course Ash couldn't keep his hands out of the water so I said, "Why don't you try splashing them around like a dying animal." At the same time our guide threw pieces of bread in the water and literally half a second later, hundreds of piranha were at the surface and Mr. Tough Guy ripped his hand out of the water pretty fast. This was the highlight of my trip in the Amazon.

As we pulled our canoe up to the bank, there was a black caiman sitting there and instantly came swimming up to us. As we got off it continued to follow us all the way up the bank. Apparently they're really territorial. We also saw an electric eel, so 3 of the 4 lake inhabitants.

Another morning we went to see the macaws. It required us to sit in a blind and wait. We waited for 3.5 hours. It was hot. Naps and iPhone games took place. Apparently we aren't superb bird watchers.

But eventually they came. We got to take a picture, and then we left.

We also did some night hikes, which I thought were eerie and sometimes terrifying. It was so pitch black in the jungle and night time is especially dangerous because the poisonous snakes, frogs, scorpions and tarantulas come out at this time. Not to mention all the bugs constantly flying at you. One night we went it was raining, like amazon raining, which is a whole other level of rain.

We pretty much got to see everything cool in the amazon except for the snakes/anacondas. It was an awesome experience, but I don't think either of us could stay there for an extended amount of time. It was time to leave when we were both covered in bug bits, and sick. It made that 3 hour boat ride even more terrifying than the night hikes in the jungle when you're not sure if you're going to make it the whole time without having to go to the bathroom.

Next we flew to Cusco where we learned that altitude sickness is a real thing. Ashton was pretty much out of commission for 24 hours. Felt like a nasty hangover; headache, upset stomach, tired. I managed to have a semi-normal day despite feeling like crap, but I think on top of the altitude sickness, Ashton had a case of the Man Flu (see definition here). 

The next day we headed out to the Sacred Valley to climb 400m up the face of a mountain, sleep in a glass eco-pod, and zip line down the next day. 

They had these rebar ladders built into the side of the cliff. At first I was thinking, "Ahhh! It would have been so much more awesome if we actually had to rock climb." But after about 10 meters I was thinking, "Thank God they have these rebar!" You also had two clips that you attached to cables. Every 3-5 meters there would be a bolt and you'd have to switch your clips to cable on the other side of the bolt. This ensured that if you did slip, you'd only fall 3-5 meters. There were 200 bolts. Our fingers were raw by the end.

At one point you have to shimmy across this cable bridge, and then basically keep going up vertical and inverted rock wall for about 2 hours.

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When we finally reached the top, we got to relax in our pod before dinner which was served in the main pod, so we had to climb back over to that one... in the PITCH DARK. We had headlamps, but during dinner they served you wine. Perfect combo! Drunk, climbing on the side of a rock wall, 400m in the air.

We literally slept under the stars and woke up like this...

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To get down we took 6 zip lines. This was all good until the second and longest one. They let us go tandem. Ash in the front, me in the back with my legs wrapped around his waist. Well we were picking up some SERIOUS speed, the guide didn't give us the signal to brake in time so we came BARRELING in, smashed into the stopper, bodies went everywhere, my leg clipped the guide, he fell flat on his back, and my knee got screwed up. Good thing we start 4 days of hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu tomorrow. I'll be popping those ibuprofen like gum. Wish me luck!

We're going to try to video our whole trek to Machu Picchu with the GoPro's, so stayed tuned here for the video.