I thought it was time again for me to share a new story of my travel journey.. It’s been a while! I have to admit that things are changing when you’re traveling longer. It’s almost 8 months now and while posting this story, which I wrote a long time ago, I’m living a very nice and happy life in Chile. However, my story of this time goes back two months ago.. Yes, 2 months! Can you imagine? Something inside of me says, why sharing a story of 2 months ago?! But you know what, its not just for you I’m keeping my blog. It’s also for myself to look back, remember all the great and sometimes difficult things I’ve experienced while I was on my journey. So my dear people, sit back and travel together with me, back to the time I was in Arequipa, Peru, just before my dear best friend would come and visit me 😉
Thinking back on that time, figuring out what to do in between the time she was coming.. Gosh, I felt so unease! But as you know, I made the decision to visit my American friend Nate I was in Huaraz & Lima with? He invited me to come over to Cusco and relax together as we both did a hike for a couple of days. So I went.. We got ourselves a nice airbnb and it was great to see him again. We had a really nice weekend, met another Dutch friend of him and explored Cusco together. He took me out for dinner to celebrate my 6 months traveling anniversary! So nice of him 😊 Besides that we had an authentic Peruvian Carnaval experience in Pisac, a small village an hour away from Cusco. They celebrate Carnaval here in such a different way than we do.. There are traditional dances, music and the kids/adults play with some kind of foam spray. Everybody is covered with this foam! Its hilarious 😂
After this fun and nice weekend, Nate and I rented a scooter to cruise round the Secret Valley for 4 days. This was absolutely a highlight of my whole trip!! Our scooter, which I drove mostly, wasn’t as fast as I was use too when I drove one on Bali in 2010. No, this little moped went with 20 km/h up the mountain.. Haha. We had quite a lot of fun because of this, tuftuftuf 😅 We visited a lot of Inka Ruins in the Secret Valley, learned a lot about the Inca culture which is pretty fascinating and we stayed in little villages. We were very lucky with the weather so we could enjoy the Secret Valley to the fullest! 😍 It’s such a beautiful landscape, green mountains everywhere and those Inka ruins are very impressive. We visited as well an Inka Agrocultural Laboratorium. No, this is not a kind of Lab we normally know, this is an area in the mountains with different terraces where they harvest their vegetables and fruits. Here they experimented with to create different kind of species etc. Its was so remarkable to see this place! The Inka’s were so extremely intelligent. Within the Inka Culture, the fact is that every tribe of the Pre-Inca’s until the wellknown Inka’s were sharing their knowledge together and build onto it. So, at the end the Inka’s were seen as such knowledgeable people, fighting the Spanish as well, but in fact they were just the last tribe who were able to take on all the knowledge there already was an build onto it. Interseting he? 😉 The Inka’s believed in 3 Gods and the indiginos people here are still honoring these Gods – The Condor = the upper world and stands for Spirituality. The Puma = the earth, mother nature, and stands for Strenght. The last one is the Snake which represents the underworld. First I thought this stands for the devil/demons etc, but no this is not true. The snake stands for Knowledge. As I felt very connected with the Inka’s I’m now wearing their cross, the Chakana. It represents their believes and the Gods 😊
When we came back, it was time for me to prepare myself for Ginger’s arrival. We are friends for over more than 15 years and shared many important moments of our lives together. As this is quite a big moment in my life now, it wasn’t a surprise for me that she wanted to come and join me for a while 😉 How amazing is it, that while you are walking on a new path in your life, your best friend comes over and walks right next to you to support you and share the new experiences with you.. ❤😊 I had to wait quite a while at the airport to pick her up, but when she was finally there I was literally jumping like a kid. I wanted to run to her, but I was not allowed to cross the line.. Ginger had to laugh pretty hard when she saw me jumping like a bunny wanting to hug her so badly 😂 haha. The feeling of holding someone so dear to you after 6 months is indescribable! 😍 I felt so happy…
Cusco is quite on an altitude, 3500m, so Ginger had to first acclimatize to the altitude before we were able to do big tours or whatsoever in the mountains. To let her adjust as quickly as possible, we took it very slow. We visited the ruins of Cusco, had a very nice Peruvian cooking class and one day I went on a hike with another friend of mine to visit my highest elevation point, Rainbow Mountain (5100m). This was way too high yet for Gin so she stayed at the hostel to have a day for her own. Unfortunately my Rainbow Mountain experience wasn’t the one I hoped for as it was more Rain mountain than that I could see the rainbow of colors when I was on the top. I enjoyed the hike a lot though, I had a lot of fun with my friend and some other people we met along the way. Those kind of altitudes are really making me feel alive as I can’t breath in the way I normally do. I have to take it slow, very slow but then when I am on the top, which was freezing cold btw, I just feel a sensation which is so pure.. 😊 That day it was International Woman’s Day so my friend and I looked as warriors with lipstick stripes on our cheeks. It was something on social media, representing #LograrNosHaceBellas
When I came back from the Rain(bow) Mountain, Ginger and I had to make ourselves ready to go on another hiking experience, this time together, for 5 days. The Salkantay Trek its called and it ends up at Machu Picchu.. This trek is a kind of brother from the world famous Inca Trail. Its a 5 day hike where you pass the Salkantay mountain of 4630m and after that you go all the way down again in the Secret Valley to reach Machu Picchu. Everything was organized, our big bag was carried by some mules and we slept in tents. We had a nice group of 8 people. Unfortunately, our guide wasn’t as we hoped for. He barely explained things about the flora and fauna or information of the Inka’s. Besides that he sometimes left us walking all alone for quite some time which can be pretty dangerous! What is that with me, mostly ending up with crappy guides.. 😕 Well at least the food was delicious.
The first 2 days were the longest.. It was not easy for Ginger as she never hiked like this before and she suffered a bit with the altitude. However, she did it so I could’t be more proud that she was by my side. The best medicine for altitude sickness here is Coca leaves. No, you don’t get high from it 😅 Gin already started chewing on them when we were in Cusco. The trick is well to put a pile in your mouth when you’re hiking and keep this inside your mouth for a period of time. Also drinking a lot of Coca Tea helps, but Gin rather preferred chewing on the leaves in her mouth than drinking the tea. For me it was just the opposite. Those leaves in your mouth is just so weird!! Blegh..
On the 1st day after we arrived at our 1st campsite, we went for another small hike up to a beautiful glacier lake. Ginger really wanted to go there, but she was already tired and the headache of the altitude was just too much. So she stayed at our camp. I was surprised of how quickly I was at the lake as my body was really good adjusted to the altitude. I was almost running up that mountain 😉 We were very lucky when we got to the lake as it cleared up and the pictures looked amazing! 😍
The 2nd day was thé day of the mountain pass.. 4630m. We started at about 3800m so quite a climb up. I had to think back about my adventure with Rop and doing a pass like that with 15kg on my back, so I thought this would be easy.. However, I was wrong! The trail was really steep for about 600m. I was lucky I found a kind of short cut, but damnnn it was tough 😯 Ginger went by horse to the top as the altitude was really getting her. She hoped to do at least a bit, give it a try, but the guide kind of forced her to go on the horse. She felt a bit let down because of this, but I think it really was for the best. As I said, it wasn’t easy at all! As soon as she was on the horse, she was at the top within 30/45 mins which meant that she had to wait 2hrs there before I got there with the rest of the group.. While I was climbing up, I was constantly thinking of her wondering if she would be okay there, on such a high altitude! Luckily, when I finally got there, faster than I expected of myself, I found her with a big smile on her face and telling me how proud she was of me 😃 I was pretty proud of myself too! It was just so beautiful hiking there. I really am in love with the mountains now 😍
The way down though wasn’t something I enjoyed much. The view was very beautiful, but the path wasn’t easy. It hurted my knees very much. We had to walk 5hrs down to get to our 2nd campsite. My knees definately didn’t like that at all! 😔 After cooling down them down and some pills they felt better. The 3rd day was a flat and easy day so I still continued walking. It was such a different landscape as we were walking at the beginning of the Amazon area of Peru. Lots of different insects we saw and Gin and I really took our time for the hike, enjoying our surrounding, listening to music and taking lots of pictures 😊 We ended that day at some thermal baths! Ohhh how nice was that..
Day 4 was a pretty cool one as we started that day ziplining!! 5 ziplines of 300m high and one was even 1km long. At every zipline you could do a different style. One of them I did upside down like a monkey! Still can’t believe I did that and another I did as I was flying like a condor 😍 being literally free like a bird. So cool! Unfortunately I couldn’t walk anymore as my knees were pretty swollen so when the group was doing their last 3/4 hour walk that day to the Machu Picchu village after all the thrilling ziplines, I took the expensive tourist train. I felt a bit annoyed that I had so much troubles with my knees.. 6 months I was traveling, did lots of hikes, no problems and then there it was, so bad again that I couldn’t walk anymore 😔 It made me a bit sad. However, I had one more thing to do and that was getting to Machu Picchu!! As I already took the tourist train, I decided to take also the tourist bus up to MP. Gin joined the group in walking 2500 steps up the mountain! Incredible… 😮 We got there around sunrise, but it was so cloudy that you could barely see a thing. Luckily it became more clear during the day so we could see everything. Our guide started a tour around the ruin to explain what we saw, but what he said was mostly all nonsense! I knew already so much more about the Inka’s that basic things he told us were completely different from what I learned from very knowledgable people when I was touring around with Nate. So bad! Luckily after our guide took off, we found a different guy who told us the truth. It was such an incredible place! Really beautiful and inspiring 😊
The way back to Cusco was a long and thrilling busride through the mountains in the dark.. But we made it safe home and took some time to relax. Especially me as my knees were horrible. Luckily after 2 days doing nothing my knees were a bit better. We planned to go to the Amazon to have a nice adventure there. After a 12hr busride as we had to wait 4hrs because of a landslide, we arrived at Puerto Maldonado. This is a place I got recommended by a Nike colleague who said that there the Amazon is really beautiful! And it was… we ended up having a very unique 3 day experience at the Sandoval Lake in the middle of the Amazon. We were lucky that a local man approached us and offered his tour instead of going with a tour agency, being stuffed into a canoe with lots of other people and just doing the tourist route. No, our guide gave us a private tour, just with the 2 of us and went off the beaten track sometimes so we could experience the real Peruvian jungle! We saw lots of animals, were chased by so many mosquitos, bitten by red ants, amazed by the beautiful milky way at night and saw the sky being on fire at sunset.. It was incredible!! But. 3 days there was enough, haha. Gin and I got crazy because of all the mosquitos!! They were literally following us while we were walking. It was a super authentic experience, but the heat was also just too much. It soaked up all our energy. So, after the Amazon we made our way to a colder region again and left Peru to enter Bolivia.
Our adventures in Bolivia I will post another time. This post is already quite a long one 😉 Meanwhile, Gin and I split again. She went up north to go back to Peru and catch her flight from Lima back to Amsterdam and as I said before, I’m in Chile now. How I got here I will share soon with you. I promise, the wifi is so much better here and I have lots of free time 😉
Hasta la vista amigos!!
Hope all is well at your sides xxxx 😘❤