Posted by David:
Peru has been incredible for us. We are on the tail end of our journey and are experiencing all the normal fatigue one would expect from a trip like this, but our experiences here have been so spectacular they have helped us continue our momentum. Highlights have included a four day trek in the Andes to Machu Pichu, a four day trip to an ecolodge in the Amazon jungle four hours from the nearest town, and an incredible few days in the Colca Canyon region of Peru. We are now in Arequipa and on our way to Lima and then onto Colombia for the last leg of our trip.
Here are some thoughts on our trek to Machu Pichu:
When we arrived in Cusco (HQ for the Incas), we were naïve enough to think that we could simply arrive in town and book an Inca Trail Trek. We were mistaken and it was a fortunate mistake as the Inca Trail would have brought us all to tears. It´s a tough trek for fully grown adult Tai Bow instructors. Thankfully, we were not nearly organized enough and were able to book an alternative trip instead, called the Lares Trek. Lares would take us higher than the other treks but was supposed to be a bit less strenuous. Next we had to decide if we should go with a group of up to 10 other people or do the trek alone as a family. We assumed, rightfully so, that the kids would do much better in a group than just with us so we signed up for the trip and headed straight back to the camping store to buy more long underwear as it gets pretty nippy at 15 thousand feet above sea level (that´s about 4,750 meters for those of you who have gone metric).
After three days acclimating to the altitude, we met our guide, Flavio, and the rest of the participants. It was a short informational meeting but it gave us a chance to ask questions and meet the others. There was a group of three 19 year old girls from England, a 23 year old woman from Vermont, a single Dutch woman, a 25 year old brother and his 16 year old sister from Cape Cod (their mother was planning to hike but decided not to at the last minute), and us. Along with us would be Flavio, our guide, a second guide, a chef (seriously) two porters, and two horsemen (the horses schlepped our backpacks, all the food, tents, and lots of other stuff through the mountains).
We met the group at 7AM and found that the three English girls were having trouble with their ATM card and were unable to get enough cash to check out of their hotel. The group wasn´t able to wait for them to deal with their bank. They were going to have to miss the trip. Amy and I offered to give them the money they needed to check out of the hotel so they could join us. They were very grateful to us. We loaded in the van, drove to their hotel where they paid their bill and checked out and were on our way to the trail head in Urubamba. These three girls ended up being great friends to us and to the girls that we couldn´t have imagined them not being part of the group.
Suffice it to say, the trek was challenging with high altitude, wildly varying temperatures, and difficult terrain. We walked through a very remote part of the Andes where we only encountered two other hikers on our first day. Passing through two villages, we got to see local people who speak Quechua instead of Spanish (Quechua is the language of the Incas) and live as subsistence farmers growing Quinoa, corn, and potatoes. Here are some pictures from our trek: