As a current intern for isango! part of my job allows me to review my previous travel experiences through writing. The posters on the wall in the office serve as an inspiration for where I want to travel next, such as the Great Barrier Reef, and the world map on the wall across from me always leads me right back to Peru. I visited this past January and would go back in a heartbeat. There is nothing like the world famous Machu Picchu hike and boating through Lake Titicaca. I would recommend taking a visit to anyone. A piece of my heart will always lie in Peru.
Q: Why did you choose to visit Peru?
A: At my university in North Carolina, U.S.A., they encourage sophomores, (or second year students) to take our winter term class for the month of January to study abroad in a foreign country. I, who have been traveling all my life across the states and throughout Europe, took it upon myself to apply for the Peru trip. I’d never been to South America before, and knowing that they spoke Spanish, I figured I’d get the chance to immerse myself in an entirely new culture while working on another language. I couldn’t have been happier to have chosen and been accepted into this trip, as it was one of the best experiences of my life.
Q: Which places did you visit?
A: Peru is divided into three, distinct different sections: the desert, the mountains and the amazon. Over the course of the month, our class was able to travel the desert section and the mountain section. Main city stopping points were in Lima, Arequipa and Cusco. Both the desert and mountain sections were different but equally beautiful in their own light. One day, I’m hoping to go back and see the amazon!
Q: Which experiences were the best?
A: Machu Picchu was definitely the top destination of the whole trip. I always tell people, you can do as much research as you want, see countless pictures and think you know everything there is to know, but until you actually arrive on site, you don’t fully know what it’s like. Taking a four-hour tour through the ruins is so informational. The best part is when the alpacas randomly come past you! Normally, they’re not the friendliest, but since they are so used to humans here, they come much closer. The next day, when we took the Machu Picchu hike, we did 4,000 ft. climbing up, and then 2,000 down (and then were too exhausted to do the final leg, which is completely optional), so we had the bus take us home. You can take the first 2,000 ft. up via bus as well, we just wanted a challenge. Another great experience was to stay at a homestay on the islands of Lake Titicaca. These people don’t normally speak Spanish, they have their own language they use, so it was much harder to communicate, but totally worth the experience. I got to help with the work that these people do on a daily basis. These chores included plowing a field, taking the corn off the cob to be crushed, feeding the animals, etc. On Lake Titicaca, they live a traditional, simple way of life. We actually were there for one of their top celebrated ceremonies, so we dressed up in costume as they did and danced to their music, respected their traditions and ate the food grown right in their backyards.
Q: What tips would you give to other travelers?
A: When you are up in the mountains, you travel up to a much higher level above sea level. Our highest elevation was 16,000 ft.. Chances are, especially if you’re jumping up numbers at a fast pace, that you are going to get altitude sickness. The answer to all of your problems, is Pepto Bismal. You experience just about every symptom it treats for unfortunately. Luckily Pepto Bismal does help, so make sure to bring a lot of it. Another tip for other travelers is to try out your Spanish! Everyone is willing to help and they will be happy that you’re attempting to fit in with their culture. Not once did I experience someone who walked away or gave up on me when I was trying to communicate with them. Finally, my last tip is to try new foods. Peru is actually quite famous for their food. I did an entire research paper on it, actually. Alpaca is something to try, especially if you are a steak lover and guinea pig, although as far as food goes this one is pretty far out there but is something definitely worth trying as well. In Peru it is known to be a delicacy. You will have fun no matter where you go in Peru. My whole class absolutely loved it and you will too!