I fell in love with Peru on a recent visit, it was always somewhere I wanted to visit and the country offers such a variety of experiences and destinations.
My trip started in Cusco. I had a few days to see the city before embarking on the trek to Machu Picchu. We started with the Saksaywaman ruins overlooking the city. In one direction we could see the fascinating ruins from the Inca Empire, and in the opposite direction were stunning views over Cusco. It was a truly breathtaking way to start my travels.
Cusco is a gorgeous city, with bustling markets, beautiful churches, and even a chocolate museum to visit. It was the perfect introduction to Peru and allowed some time to explore, while also giving us some down time before we set off on the Salkantay Trail.
Our hike took five days, and took us through all different landscapes. The first few days were the toughest as it was mostly uphill in the lead up to Mount Salkantay. The next part of the trail was luscious and green; the footpath had phenomenal views of the rainforests and waterfalls.
The next morning we left before sunrise for Machu Picchu. We climbed the 1900 stone slab steps, and reached the top about an hour and a half later, just as the sun began to come out over the beautiful site.
It is hard to describe the feeling of seeing Machu Picchu for the first time. Everyone has seen the iconic image of Huayna Picchu (the peak) with the ancient settlement set out before it. But to see it in person was breathtaking. It is vital to take a knowledgeable guide in order to really understand the history of Machu Picchu and how it began. Taking the extra walk up to the sun gate is also a must, to get an even more spectacular view.
Next on our itinerary was some time in the Amazon Rainforest. I chose to volunteer at an Animal Rescue Centre, deep in the jungle. We spent our days feeding monkeys, ocelots, tortoises, macaws and a very friendly peccary! Breakfast was eaten on the outdoor deck, and we often found ourselves being watched by a troop of spider monkeys, begging for some of our fresh, Amazonian fruit.
After our jungle adventure we headed for a weekend filled with activities, including canyoning in some of the stunning waterfalls, white water rafting and zip-lining through the Sacred Valley.
After a few very active days, our time in Peru was coming to an end. For our final few days, we spent some well-deserved time in Mancora, a small beach town in the very North of Peru. Mancora has endless stretches of white sandy beaches and beautiful blue seas. Days can be spent surfing and splashing in the sea, or simply laying by the beach with a cocktail in hand. After an exhausting couple of weeks exploring everything Peru had to offer, it was the perfect end to a wonderful country and unforgettable trip.