Jungle trekking to Machu Picchu; the big finale ⛰

I awoke before our alarms went at 3:15 due to the noise outside our window. I lay there thinking it was absolutely bucketing down and dreading the thoughts of walking in the rain, only to discover it was actually the river outside! We had quick showers then made our way downstairs to offload our luggage and start on our way.

We walked in the dark with our flashlights to guide us. Some people more eager than others to be the first in the queue at the bridge. We passed the bus line queue which was already forming even though it did not start until 6am. It was now 4am.

We waited at the bridge, eating rolls and sharing them with the stray dogs that loitered around. Eventually the gates opened and we were allowed cross. We had been told that it should take us an hour, though for locals it takes 40 minutes.

It took us 1 hr 30 minutes!! It was so so tough. 2000 steps! Don’t get me wrong, some people over took us. Others we over took. We were catching our breaths for the billionth time when a girl had to get sick from exertion. We stayed together and pushed each other up, the only way we knew we were near is when we heard voices above us. It was a killer! But my ass felt amazing 😂.

We made it up just before 6.30 am to be told by our Dutch friends that our tour guide wanted to leave without us. This annoyed us because we were told to meet at 6.30 plus the fact we were then left waiting for him once we got through the gates. We felt a bit like cattle as we shuffled towards the entrance.

I have to say I did feel a bit emotional as I got my first glimpse at the historical site. Sun was coming up & it was covered in cloud. Though I didn’t do the Classic Inca Trail the trek I chose took a lot out of me. Obviously this was partly due to sickness but even in good health I reckon I still would have struggled at parts. However despite all my grumbles I did make it. I didn’t appreciate it until a few months later but I finally gave myself a bit of credit. I met a few people who gave in & got the bus or the train because the same sickness knocked it out of them, however I persevered. It has to count for something!

Our tour guide had gathered a lot of people & talked us through the different parts of the site. Honestly though I didn’t take anything in about what he was saying. Apart from the fact that he wasn’t the best guide, it was easy to be distracted by the sure awe of the place & how it was built.

You are looking around at the architecture & seriously overwhelmed by how it was constructed. There’s a wall built into the mountain that I still don’t understand how it was made. Just when you are getting your head around it all you then spot Huayna Picchu mountain & spot building up there at a higher point. It is unbelievable.

We spent time wandering through the different parts. It seriously is crowded, full of people trying to get the perfect photo for their Instagram/Tinder profile. We overhear other tourists complain at their guide as they have been up since 7 am & they are tired of walking! We think ‘try walking up 2000 steps at 5 am missus!!’

What I did love about it was we seemed to meet a lot of people we had interacted with over the previous week. It was great catching up especially at the place which was probably our main reason of visiting Peru in the first place.

Due to the different weather conditions in Peru I had brought a onesie as I read Cusco gets very cold at night (which is very true). My friend dared me to wear it at the top of Machu Picchu. So I did, at lunch time when the sun was scalding us! She left shortly after to wait in the coffee shop as the tiredness suddenly hit her. I wandered about talking to different friends I had made. I also made it my mission to get the obligatory Lama photo.

We decided to make our way back for the bus. I have a problem with my knee & I knew descending those steps would cause me issues. I’m happy I did after recent problems I have had with it.

We had some food in Agues Calientes then went back to grab our stuff. We were all lethargic & couldn’t wait to rest our heads on the train back. About 5.20 pm we made our way to the train station for our 6 pm departure. Walking through the train station we thought it strange for it to be so busy, bodies lying about everywhere. We soon found out that there were delays. Communication in the station was a nightmare. No updates at all.

We eventually discovered there had been a train crash and that was what was causing delays. We only found out through talking to people, staff were unhelpful. For a few hours we lay on the concrete inside the station. We met up with Mary and her boyfriend who ended up joining our group when we eventually got seats outside. Some of the lads got alcohol and in spite of being exhausted we had a laugh for the most part. Our train company eventually gave us snacks to appease us, though we were annoyed it was mainly at the lack of information being given & the fact we were tired. Sitting outside was also cold so I put my onesie on over my clothes, I didn’t care at this stage. A group of Asian tourist had gotten drunk and were dancing around a smart phone to Barbie Girl, that amused us for a while.

Around 12.30 am we boarded the train. I think we all conked out as soon as we lay our heads down. The train doesn’t go all the way to Cusco so we had to get out at the final stop where we were to be brought back to Cusco by bus. It was near 3am and we were exhausted so what we disembarked to was absolute madness. Lots of people screaming at us for taxi’s & buses. After pushing our way through the crowd we finally found our group on a placard. We thought we could rest easy, instead we kept getting moved from bus to bus being told each one couldn’t take us. One of our companions got irate & snapped at the person in charge. A man came up and guided us towards a taxi, telling us he would take us. The lady in charge told us to go with him but we were on edge. We didn’t need to be as he brought us to our destination safely, we just were unnerved that early hour of the morning. Near 5 am we eventually crawled into bed in our hostel room, desperate to get heat in our bones and some rest after a very long day!!


Jungle trekking to Machu Picchu; Day 3 a short hike

After breakfast we got transported to the zip lines which I chose not to do. Two reasons; Firstly I was still unwell (great excuse). Secondly I unfortunately had read reviews before I left & a lot of them had mentioned about how unsafe they could be, tourists dying as a result of not being shown how to strap themselves properly. I had already zip-lined at home a few times so I didn’t feel it was an experience I was missing out on.

Instead I got to chill in the sun watching eagles soar in the sky & listen to the squeals in the background. It also gave me time to let my stomach settle a bit more & force feed myself. The scenery was pretty too. It turns out that there are quite a few of these zip-lining places & by talking to others later on, the one we were taken to was quite a good one.

After this place we shared a bus with another group to Hidrolectica station where we split up. Our group made our way to a large restaurant where hammocks awaited us! We were early so we got to lie in the sun before our lunch was served & for a short period after. Amazingly enough I found myself able to try lunch. I managed a couple of spoons of soup then a few bites of the beef & rice dish. Both were lovely I would have liked to eat more than what my stomach allowed!

We then began our trek. Our bag-packs were heavy but as we were only to trek for a few hours it was manageable. We offloaded some of our goodies to local children once their parents approved. We walked along gravel & railway tracks, passing people with a lot heavier loads on their backs. Whilst it wasn’t as taxing as the previous day it was still a long journey. We avoided a few trains along the way too, giving us time to rest.

As we neared our destination of Agues Calientes we stopped for a short break. Another group came along & I was delighted to find that Mary, who I spoke to on the bus after white water rafting, was part of it. We had quick chat, comparing insect bites (some of her group were destroyed!) and giving advice about where to eat when back in Cusco.

As we walked towards the town, our guide pointed out the bridge where we would begin our final trek to Machu Picchu. He told us we would have to be up at 4am to make the opening at 5am. It should take an hour to make it to the top or that we could get a bus. We scoffed at this, stating that we would be cheating if we did that (in hindsight we should have!). 

Agues Calientes is a very pretty town. It reminds me of ski resorts that I’ve seen in movies. We passed the five star hotel and made it to our lodgings above a Chinese restaurant. Out of our three nights this was the nicest stay that was offered. The wifi was great, beds were comfortable and the bathroom was the nicest we had seen since our arrival to Peru. I managed to eat dinner which was also a bonus as I needed my energy for the next day, the final day of the trek ….Machu Picchu 


Jungle trekking to Machu Picchu; Day 2 a long hike

Day two started with me in good enough form, though I was still unable to eat breakfast. I managed a banana & some water to give myself energy. My friend had organized for our bag-pack to be sent on so we only had to share the weight of one. We were transported to the foot of the mountain so we skipped a long enough walk at the start.

I personally had spent the summer hill walking constantly to prepare myself for inclines on this trip but nothing could have prepared me for how much I struggled on this day. It was constant inclines & the heat even in the morning was zapping any energy I had. I held the group back as I had to stop a lot & to be honest the very first hour I was so close to tears. I felt guilt over slowing the others on their journey & I had hit a mental block of where I just wanted to give up.

In the mountains many locals have shops set up for tourists to rest & purchase refreshments. I took this opportunity to rest a lot & drink water. The others dressed up in local garments for fun & took pictures with the monkey that was tied to a post. We spent longer than planned here, probably due to my obvious struggle. In this time I discovered another reason as to why I found it so tough & was so emotional, lets say although it didn’t help matters physically it made me feel more normal!

Peruvian Tequila has a snake instead of a worm

My friend told me she was struggling with the hike too. At first I thought it was just to make me feel better, however as it went on I could see she wasn’t lying. What I found hard was due to altitude & shortness of breath as a result of the climb, I realised that no-one was talking. On my hikes at home with friends its the constant chatter & banter that takes your mind off the journey ahead. This hike however I was constantly in my own head, telling myself I wasn’t good enough, I was holding everyone back, how much I hated the walk etc. When I told my friend this she kindly took my mind off things by asking me trivia about the Kardashians! It was the only topic that came to mind at the time & it actually passed an hour easily enough. This in turn boosted my spirits somewhat so I wasn’t a constant moan-bag for the whole trek.

During this time we reached the part that I was dreading, the narrow part of the trail where you don’t want to look down. When we first arrived here I didn’t think it was as bad as I thought it would be, however I did freak out when I looked at what was in store. To descend from this cliff meant narrow steps, a tiny mistake could mean you plummeting down into the valley below. To help I looked down at my feet & clung to the rocks at the side. I was terrified but we kept conversation flowing to distract both of us from our fears.

You can’t see the drop from here but it’s a big one!!

We continued down hill which really helped my mood. I perked up a good bit & made conversation with the Dutch couple in our group. It was nice getting to know them & for them to get to know me, see that I wasn’t just being a pain for no reason.

The locals are really friendly & we were astounded how they could live so isolated from everything. At one point on our walk we came along a bundle hanging from a tree. We were informed by our tour guide that it was in fact a baby! When the locals need to do errands they leaved the child asleep in a swaddle hanging from the tree.

We stopped for lunch in this nice restaurant where other groups were. We got to rest before & after, in hammocks & on seats in the shade. Lunch was nice however I could only manage a couple of spoonfuls of soup. My main regret about being sick is that I missed out on a lot of good meals in Peru. I am a fussy eater but everything I ate was really nice & the smells of the meals on this trek were amazing.

We continued on our trek, in parts we mixed with the other group. There was a lot more of them but they were always ahead of us. Rain started which cooled us down. We crossed streams until we eventually came to an old Railway bridge. The gaps in the sleepers turned into a blur as I quickly stepped over them to get to the other side.

Not the railway bridge obviously!!

After a rest we moved on to more gravel & rocks that we had to make our way over. Soon enough we reached the cable car. This is pulled by locals on either side to get you over the Urabamba river. I never felt scared on this by the way, it was actually fun. From there we made our way through a tunnel & walked to Santa Theresa Hot Springs.

The trail to Saint Teresa was a gloomy one in this weather

The weather had changed to a drizzle & the sky was covered in grey. The hot springs were a lot nicer than I had imagined. There were numerous changing rooms, shops to buy refreshments & beer, along with sunbeds to chill out by the springs if you would rather that. I chose to get in as I am not sure when I would get the chance again. The temperature depended on which pool you chose, though I never found anything too hot. The smell wasn’t overwhelming either which was good. I enjoyed my time in the baths, talking to my new Dutch friends, taking in the different cultures around me. Thunder & lightening began which was nice for a period until it got closer. I chose to get out of the baths in case any electricity hit the water (which it didn’t but safety first etc).

We got transported to our lodgings for the night, which was like a shed. It wasn’t the most comfortable of surroundings but it beat sleeping in a tent in stormy weather! I went straight to bed without dinner hoping to enjoy the next day more than I did that day. I honestly was fed up of being sick & dragging the group along. I was praying to be better the following day!




New Year, same me

I don’t make New Years resolutions anymore, I never stick to them. However a long time ago, possibly even two years, I made the decision that I would try have as few regrets as possible and to travel more. I feel I am succeeding in keeping that promise to myself. It feels good to be honest. 

I know it doesn’t sound too hard, god love me having to travel right?!, but solo travel never occurred to me as an option so pushing myself towards that was a huge step. 

I have been lucky to travel to a few countries this year. First trip was a cruise from Abu Dhabi stopping in Oman and Dubai. There I got to ride a camel and visit a beautiful mosque. 

My next trip was to Amsterdam for a weekend break where I experienced gay pride, saw Anne Frank’s home and got my first tattoo. 

Peru was my big test. I planned this trip for ten months, took five of those months to get the courage to book it! I spent the summer hill walking to try and prepare for it but nothing could have. It pushed me to my limits with illness and altitude but I survived and managed to do everything I set out to. 

Berlin was my final stop for a weekend trip. Decorated very prettily for Christmas it’s another place ticked off my list. 

In the past I normally try to lose weight as my New Years resolution, however like everyone else it normally goes nowhere after a while! When I decided on Peru I also decided to try lose 14lbs so there would be less weight to carry on my trek. I didn’t diet I just made better decisions regarding takeaways (not having as many), staying away from bread as much as possible and eating speed foods when possible. I also hill walked throughout the summer which helped. The weight was extremely slow coming off but as I wasnt depriving myself it wasn’t too bad. I succeeded in having 9lbs off by the time I left and due to illness over there I had 14lbs gone by the time I came back. (However Christmas has messed that up!) Hopefully I will continue to make better decisions. 

I have succeeded in not having regrets this year, well at least ones that I have control over. Obviously there are times other people’s choices affect you and make you sad but I’ve learned to only worry about the things I can control. My fear of solo travel for instance. Though I didn’t go solo in the end I had intended to go and when I booked the flights I was extremely nervous, excited and scared at the same time! I knew though if I didn’t go that I would always wonder what if? When I came back from Peru I was depressed for a few days. I don’t use the words depressed lightly. A lot of things affected me, especially being very sick and I cried for days. I didn’t think I would be able to solo travel as I was so dependent when I was sick, however I picked myself up and I now have Thailand booked for April. I can’t let my fears rule my life.

I have spent the year spending time with friends and family. I feel that the only thing you take with you when your time is up is your memories. These can be from nights out, weekends away, concerts, meals at home or walks in the fresh air. 

This year has been sad for many people but for me it has been one of my happiest in a long time. That’s not to say everything has been wonderful but the good has definitely outweighed the bad. I have grown stronger, faced some fears, tried new things and lost some weight! 

If you are looking to make a resolution make it one that you will live by in years to come. Something you can achieve without too much effort and that will make you happier. 

Happy New Year everyone xxx 

Jungle trekking to Machu Picchu : Day 1 biking 🚴 

Ok so once the doctor told me I was ok for the trek I started looking forward to it again. I was still unable to eat and let the guide know that, however I don’t think he grasped how bad I was. In fairness I didn’t either. There was only four of us in our group, the other couple being from the Netherlands. The first day of the jungle trek involved mountain biking downhill and optional white water rafting. The rafting was a part of the reason for booking Peru. I was so looking forward to it. 

We travelled for over an hour to get to the beginning of the biking trail. We had a stopover where we made friends with an Irish guy and his French girlfriend. They booked through another company but our paths would cross a couple of times over the next few days.

We were given our protective clothing and helmets. I felt a bit like Darth Vader in my helmet. We started our descent I was a bit slow at first. My gears weren’t great and I got stuck behind someone for ten minutes. The views weee amazing though. Our group pulled in, to see what our hold up was, so I was able to get a bit further ahead. There were a few groups on the same journey so I was getting over taken and at times over taking people myself. At one point it was raining and I loved it. You could see the heat rising and yet it was raining. Going around the bends I took it easy as I wasn’t taking any chances of hitting on coming traffic. 

It was great taking in the scenery on the bike. We passed multiple farms and random shops at the sides of the road. Dogs are everywhere in Peru so whilst cycling I had to avoid a few in my path. 

I really enjoyed cycling however after not being able to eat for a few days my energy started to sag. The gears weren’t great on the bike also at times. The hills had evened out and we were now cycling on flat surfaces. I was wrecked by the time I arrived at where the groups had gathered. I sat down and rested for five minutes before we set on our way to our hostel. At this stage I started to feel sick and was worrying about whether I would be able to raft or not.

We went to a lovely restaurant where the meals looked lovely and I was told they tasted good too. I had the joys of just water. We were then shown to our hostel which gave us private double rooms. This was such a relief for me as the parasite has accompanied me on this trek and I would need a private wc. 

The white water rafting was optional and I decided to do it as I would have regretted it a lot if I hadn’t. We don’t have the rapids in Ireland to try this and I had opted for this trek instead of the classic Inca trail for that purpose. It also helped that the jungle is a lot cheaper than the classic and had more fun options. 

We were given our helmets, mine came with a go-pro attachment. Unfortunately I still have yet to go through a lot of my footage! We put our life jackets on and made our way to the river. There they divided us into English and Spanish speaking groups. I can’t remember the name of our leader but he seemed to be in charge of all four rafts. He was very strict but when you take water safety into account you can understand why. He went through everything a few times and then we set out. I have to say I tried really hard with paddling but for some reason when it came to back paddle I constantly got confused! I did put every ounce of energy I had into it though. 

I enjoyed it I have to say. The times when the water is quiet you get to take in your surroundings and listen to the birds above. Our leader relaxed a bit and asked us questions about where we were from. All four groups pulled in halfway through the trip and we were able to jump in the river if we like. I opted out as I still wasn’t 100% and I’m not a strong swimmer anyway. My friend jumped in however she wasn’t aware that you have to swim to the side and got a fright as the river carried her a distance. She eventually made it back into the raft but she was shook. It also turns out whilst in the river she was attacked by numerous mosquito’s so she had no luck on this adventure!

After a couple more rapids our journey came to an end. However one of the minibus had engine problems so the men had to stay behind with the women going back to our hostels. I made a friend on the way back, a girl from Donegal called Claire who was travelling home from Oz via South America. I enjoyed hearing some of her stories of places they had been. Later on I opted out of joining the groups for dinner as I still wasn’t right and stayed in my room. This was to be the case for the next few meals unfortunately. The only way I could get energy was by sleeping and with that I was asleep by 9pm that night. Hardly the experience I had thought I would have when booking this trip! The next day was our long trek day…

Cusco: before and after Machu Picchu 

We arrived in Cusco on a rainy cold Thursday evening. Peru Hop organised taxi’s to take us to our hostels. We had a private ensuite room booked in Millhouse Hostel and they booked us in quickly, setting up a tab for the room. The room was damp but we hadn’t expected luxury. After sorting through our bags we headed upstairs to the bar for food and drinks. It was freezing up there! Food was good though and drinks were two for one. 

After a while we grabbed a cab to Wildrover Hostel as we were told the hill was quite steep and didn’t fancy the walk. The bar in there was warm and welcoming, though we were stuck for a bit as they don’t accept dollars in there which is unusual for Cusco. We got our money exchanged in Loki down the road and headed back to Wildrover. We made friends with two guys from Liverpool, spent the night laughing and dancing on the bar. 

I got back to my room about 2am and that’s when things went wrong for me in Cusco. I became very sick and it wasn’t from alcohol. I didn’t get a bit of sleep and spent the next day in bed. I couldn’t face leaving it. I couldn’t really eat but forced myself to eat bananas and water. I got chills and hot flushes. Wasn’t the way I expected my first day in Cusco to be.

The next morning after very little sleep again I decided to call a Doctor. My chest was tight and with the trek to Machu Picchu the next day I didn’t want to take a chance. The doctor arrived within 30 minutes and told me that I had caught a parasite. My heart was beating fast to make up for being sick but everything else was ok. She said I was good for my trek and gave me a prescription for antibiotics. 

With no sleep and no fuel in my system I struggled to the pharmacy for my prescription. That was about all I did that day! My time in Cusco was spent in Millhouse courtyard or my room. Not the way I wanted it to go.

After the trek (that will be another blog) we returned to Millhouse in the early hours of the morning. We were given a different room which was actually a 4 bed dorm so it was nicer than our last. We heard that Jacks Place was a good cafe for breakfast so we headed there. The portion was huge. At this stage my appetite was returning however I couldn’t finish it. Great food though and orange juice was amazing. We returned the next two days for breakfast in fact. 

Four of us headed to get a massage which are offered everywhere, prices vary. We ended up picking one of the more expensive so bartered them down to 50 sol which is still very little! Later on we headed to Papacho’s just at the square. It reminded me of TGI’s. I got a burger with onion rings on the side. My god I hadn’t had a burger that nice in soooo long!! Still unable to finish it but I really wanted to. 

The next day, we headed off to a horseriding trip that we had booked. My energy levels were still low and I could have skipped it. We were collected at the hostel and took a 15 min drive to the ranch. At the start I was frightened about the horses as I saw some horses with their ribs showing. Luckily they weren’t part of the ranch we booked. A beautiful puppy greeted us and after a short play with him we got introduced to our horses.  We were taken through the countryside and got to take in some beautiful views of the Andes. Our tour guide had great English and was extremely patient with us as we had little experience. We spent a little bit of time looking at Devils Balcony which was beautiful with the different colours running through it. Our guide ran through the history of Peru in great detail with us. We really enjoyed every minute of our tour. You would know by the horses how well they are treated. He explained how they take longer to train them as they don’t use violence. They follow instructions very well as a result. 

The cold had set into us on our trek so when we got dropped back we asked about a nice cafe. He recommended La Bondiet and dropped us off there. This cafe was a great recommendation. The cakes on display looked amazing and all very tempting. I don’t drink coffee so I chose a hot chocolate as unfortunately they do not offer Lyons tea outside of Ireland! I also picked a luscious chocolate cake which I couldn’t finish. It was a cosey atmosphere and made me excited to get back home to winter!

My stay in Cusco wasn’t what I imagined at all due to the parasite that I caught. It zapped all my energy levels, took any enthusiasm I had to tour the city and I became emotional as a result. The sickness ended up returning the morning I was to travel nearly 30 hours to get home. So for the first time ever I was looking forward to going home. 

I apologise for the content in this blog as it doesn’t give a proper insight into what I am sure is a marvellous city. I wish I could have explored it more!

Day 2 of Peru Hop

I woke up very early the next morning in Paracas and while texting home I found the sound of the waves calling me outside. It was 6am and I was in South America looking out at the waves, drinking it all in. I was proud of myself for going through with my plans even if they weren’t solo. I stayed for a little while until I spotted a man walking up the beach alone. I didn’t feel unsafe however common sense kicked in. I made my way back into the hostel for tea n bread with jam. 

A little while later our group met for the optional tour to Ballestas Islands. We boarded the speed boat and I swear I had the biggest smile on my face. Three days into the trip and it was everything I wanted. Our first stop was to show us the imprint of a candelabra in one of the islands. 

We then made our way to the other islands where we were filled in on all the wildlife that inhabits it. So many different types of birds. We had the pleasure of seeing some penguins and as the tour continued we got to see some sea lions up close. It was a great tour that I would recommend. My only issue was my motion sickness kicked in after a while so my smile faded to me becoming very quiet trying not to get sick!! 😷

After we got back on shore I got myself back to normal in time for our trip to the national reserve. It’s not far from Paracas and it was included in the tour. It was beautiful to see and I’m glad I went. 

We went back and grabbed our bags from Kokopelli and boarded the bus to Huacachina. It wasn’t too long a drive. I was very tired so I didn’t take in much of the scenery along the way. Huacachina is an oasis in the middle of the desert and I was excited to go there. We checked into Bananas Hostel and got shown to our 3 bed dorm that we shared with a lovely Canadian called Jason. Bananas has a pool so the outdoor area was packed and a great place to chat to new people. We got some food from the bar and we both thought it was pretty good. We met up with the rest of the group for our sand boarding tour. For $15 it was a bargain. our group was a good one and we got told our driver was one of the bests he definitely didn’t disappoint! The buggy was exhilarating, like being on a rollercoaster in the sand! I did a similar tour in Dubai for €100 and it didn’t even compare to how much I enjoyed this one. 

Before sandboarding we stopped to take photos with the sand dunes. One of our group wanted to do a pyramid so she gathered a few of us to attempt it. I felt so sorry for the guy underneath me!!

We were taken to our first sand dune to board down. The drivers gave us wax to rub over our boards and talked us through how to go down safely on it. He gave me a push and I loved it! It was only a short ride but it was fun. We had four more to do and I couldn’t wait!

The first three were the easy ones with the last two becoming steeper! What I loved about this tour was everyone bonded together. When anyone needed a physical push down the dune we helped each other. We encouraged everyone to try it even if they were scared. The last dune was pretty scarey so that took a lot of guts. When I got myself ready on the board I knew I wasn’t 100% comfortable but I asked Carol to push me anyway. As the board made its way down, the nuts attached to the straps tore into my hand. By the time I made it to the bottom my hand was bloody and throbbing! However I can’t stress how much I LOVED it!!

After sunset we headed to a barbecue, arranged by Maurice. I was so tired and my hand was really sore so I didn’t stay long. The food wasn’t great anyway but I tried to stay as long as possible as I really enjoyed the company of our tour group. 

The next morning it was really hot and as we didnt have to leave until lunch I took myself out to the bar to grab breakie and some rays!! My roommate was kind and organised our breakfast as I have not got a bit of Spanish. I love chatting to new people and hearing stories about their travels and their lives. After a while I grabbed a sunbed and took in the sunshine! 

I didn’t want to leave but we had to join the tour for our overnight trip where we eventually would arrive in Cusco. I was a little disappointed to find the bus we boarded wasn’t as nice as the one we enjoyed the previous two days. 

It wasn’t too bad a journey as we stopped to view the Nazca lines (I wasn’t a fan) and later for dinner. Once we got settled on board I took a sleeping tablet to help with the overnight journey! I was soon conked out so it worked 😊. I woke about 4 am however we were to stop at 5 to let people off in Arequipa and pick up new members. We were sad to see people go as in the two days we got close to some! 

There’s not a lot to write about the rest of the journey. We travelled through beautiful countryside and stopped for meals. We chatted to new people at lunch and then we all parted ways once we got to rainy Cusco! And that’s a story for another blog…

Peru hopping 

On the second day of our trip we were given a time of collection by Peru Hop and they were on time. I chose this way of travelling as a lady advised it as a safe way of travelling on tripadvisor. I chose the get to Cusco quick option as it only required 3 days minimum travel and I could choose to stay longer if I wanted.

When we boarded the bus the other travellers were resting in their seats as it was still early morning. I was extremely impressed by the coach itself. Big leather reclining seats with leg rests, TVs dotted around and plenty of rooms for luggage. 

Once all passengers were onboard we went through a roll call and then the rules of the bus were talked through. Basically just respect the other passengers, clean up after yourselves etc.

We were then given a newsletter from the owners of the business Will & Connor. This is the point I learned that they were Irish! They had a very good manifesto and spoke as if they were having a chat with you directly. I respected that as it didn’t come along like a marketing strategy, more of a heads up. 

Upon leaving Lima we had the first of our free tourist stops. We went to see one of the white Jesus that are in Peru. We also got a brief history of the war between Chile, Bolivia and Peru. 

We continued on our way to Paracas from Lima taking a quick stop for breakfast. I had filled up in the hotel so I decided to spend my time getting to know some of my fellow bus mates instead. I got speaking to an Australian man in his fifties who thought nothing of travelling around on his own for a few months. His next stop being Cuba. He was full of sarcasm which me and my travel companion appreciated. We were then joined by a US army guy from Texas who spoke to us about the upcoming election. When we boarded the bus we made friends with a Boston girl who was on a two week vacation solo. 

This is how I wanted my trip to be. Getting to know strangers, seeing different sides to Peru most people on a two week holiday don’t see. On board the bus I got to see countryside, local roadside shops, take in views. I couldn’t stop smiling!

Our next stop was an old stately mansion where slave tunnels run throughout. This was an extra bonus. The mansion was now an expensive boutique hotel but still retained the decor of days past. It was beautiful. Colourful flowers dotted the gardens, large wooden beams in the ceiling, hammocks and a pool in the back garden. Our tour guide Maurice brought us through the tunnels which were tight, dark and hard to believe that people were kept down there. He explained the history well and lead us toward a place where the shackles were still attached to show us how they were treated. Hard stuff to take in. We ended our tour in a beautiful church on site. 

By 3pm we arrived in Paracas. We had plenty of options of places to stay. I chose Kokopelli hostel and I wasn’t disappointed. For my first night in a hostel I was in a 6 bed dorm, with only one other occupant. Plenty of locker space, bright and airy with a curtain for privacy. 

I made my way to the bar which was beside the beach and had some wine with my fellow travellers. I ventured to the beach but only waded into the Pacific for a few minutes. We decided to check out Paracas so we went for some food and to test Pisco Sours (local cocktails). We got to witness a beautiful sunset.

Maurice had organised a dinner for any of the travellers who wanted to attend. We made our way to the restaurant where there were plenty in attendance. The food was good and the pisco sours were free. To say I got tipsy is a bit of an understatement. I was in my element getting to know my fellow bus mates and having a laugh. So much so I didn’t even realise when a candle synged my hair! 

We decided to take the party back to the hostel where I danced and chatted and thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of hostel life. I put myself to bed and let the party continue. The next day we were travelling to Huacachina 😊

Not long now, adventure awaits

Soon enough I am heading off for my first ever adventure holiday!! I am no longer solo as a colleague heard about my trip and asked if she could join me. Whilst I said yes a part of me couldn’t help but feel dissapointed that I was no longer trying solo travel. However I remind myself that I had booked it with solo in mind and for nearly three months that was the intention. I feel the fact that I was willing was a big step in itself so I cannot beat myself up over it. Plus I am already planning solo trips for next year, the destination to be decided. 

My partner in crime for this trip also needs to be brought out of her comfort zone. A little older than me she realised she needed to start putting herself first and living her life so if I can help with that surely that exceeds my own need for going solo.

I’ve planned a lot of activities that I am normally too scared to try. Hopefully I don’t chicken out!! These include paragliding, ziplining, white water rafting. Other activities included sand surfing, trekking, mountain biking and horse riding. Very excited about it all and nervous at the same time.
I have a feeling this trip will change me so it will be interesting to see how!

First step towards solo travel

Solo travel is something I never considered until the start of this year. I’m pretty independant but to travel on your own is quite scarey. However as my priorities have changed over the years in comparison to my friends, it has become my only option. I came to realise I needed to accept my hand I had been dealt and try not let the things I can control in my life be pushed aside by my fears or others opinions. Travelling was always something I was interested in, I even studied travel and tourism for a while after school. I happily went to Spain, Portugal etc for many holidays, but after a while I wanted to go further. 

I would have loved to travel Australia but none of my friends wanted to so I saved for my apartment instead. Going alone never occurred to me as it was too far, I would be afraid to set up base alone and my parents would be in a constant nauseous state until I came home. 

What is actually funny about this was that at 22 I actually travelled to New York alone. My friend was living there and as I felt it would be a once in a lifetime trip, I booked my flight. It never felt solo as I was meeting someone over there. However she was working so I toured the city for a couple of days on my own. I LOVED IT!!  I wasn’t sure what eating alone would be like but it was grand, I took a book with me as this was before iPhone days! It was extremely freeing being able to go and do whatever I wanted without compromising with anyone. I took selfies before they got a name, laughing at my gigantor head as opposed to the Statue of Liberty. I also tried taking them whilst nobody was watching as I was embarrassed! Now that I am writing this, I never gave myself credit for that trip. I think I just didn’t feel I was alone as I had my friend there in the evenings and at the weekend. However I did wander around one of the most famous cities in the world on my own and encountered no issues. 

This year I decided I was writing a bucket list of places I wanted to see. I want to have no regrets in my life and by that I mean regrets that I have full control over. Certain things happen against your control so you can’t change them. Travel was something I could change. I put on it places I had never been before and when I book trips there I can cross them off. I have a fabulous godmother who also loves to travel so I have two city breaks booked for August and December. 

My main trip took me four months to get the courage to book. I had priced everything and came up with an itinerary that suited me, I got so excited. Then when I went to book the flights I froze. My heart raced and I let my fear win. So I didn’t book. I swore I would book it in a few weeks but prices went up so that gave me an excuse. I looked at going to another place where a friend of mine was interested too. I researched it for weeks but it just never had the same pull for me.  I think the thought of doing this on my own was something I actually wanted to prove to myself. If I can do it then the world is my oyster. I will no longer have any excuses to not see other cultures, apart from money of course!

A couple of weeks ago I finally pressed the book button for my ticket to Peru. My palms sweated and as the button was going around to confirm the booking part of me wanted it to not go through. I felt sick for an hour afterwards. Then I started to feel proud of myself and got butterflies of excitement. I can do this. Sure I am going to shit myself when it gets near but I think it will be the making of me. I head off in October and it’s only for two weeks so if I hate it I won’t be there long. I am booking onto a bus where I can meet bag packers and see different parts of Peru before going to Cusco. From there I hope to do a jungle trek instead of the inca trail. I left it too late to get the permit plus it was more expensive. The trek I want to do has biking, hiking, rafting and ziplining. Not to mention proper beds so no camping!! It has so much adventure and life experiences even if it’s only for a fortnight. 

To prepare for my trip I am reading so many blogs about solo travel. My favourite is Notwedordead as she overcame a hard time in her life and turned it into something amazing. I am also welcoming any advice people want to give me so feel free to leave comments here or on my Twitter @dgayson 👍🏼😊

If Nancy from 50 Ways To Kill Your Mammy can do everything in her 70’s then I can grow some balls and do this in my 30’s!!!