Oh my what a trip this was! We were in the jungle, the dessert, summited 15,200 on the mountain. We rode horses through the Andes mountains, rode dune buggies, went zip lining, and even white water rafting! It was quite and adventure! Peru is a fascinating place. Different than I expected. I will tell you a few things about our journey, give you some advice, and let you ask as many questions as you want. Here we go…… First of all knowing a very large amount of Spanish will be very helpful on your journey to Peru. Most people speak some English but it can be frustrating in some places, especially restaurants. Signs, drivers, hotels, airports, etc. are all in Spanish. I suggest you brush up on your Spanish before you arrive.
Peru is very dirty. You cannot drink the water, or even let the water touch your lips in the shower. All water consumption must be bottled. Some high end hotels will have filtered water and ice, but be cautious, always ask before you just start drinking from the tap or order ice in your drink.
Be sure to bring all the emergency medicine you will need on your trip. (after bite, epipen, Cipro, Benadryl, band-aids, Neosporin, Z-pack, etc.) There is an abundance of bees and wasps there, so make sure if you are allergic to stings you are prepared. I was stung by a wasp and not only did it hurt like a MoFo, I was lucky that I was not allergic to the sting but some people are and you must be prepared. There is not place for emergencies in Peru.
Be careful where you eat. If you have a guide let the guide recommend some good restaurants, safe restaurants for tourists to eat at. Refrigeration is a problem in Peru so sometimes the meats will not be as cared for as you are used too. We travel a lot and we are very careful about what we eat and where we eat and we were sick more times on this trip than anywhere else in the world. Do not eat the salad, or the vegetables or fruits that have not been peeled, or cooked. They wash these things with their filthy water, and just like my advice in Egypt, you will get sick if you are not cautious about that.
You will need to have your yellow fever shot and you will need to take Malaria meds while on this trip. There are TONS of bugs, we were bit several times. And these bugs are nasty! Huge welts, blood, itching, like no bugs I have ever seen. Make sure all your vaccinations and meds are up to date before you travel here.
*ALTITUDE: This is NO joke! When you arrive in Cusco you will begin to feel the difference as your breathing slows down and you are having trouble taking a breath. While we did not get Altitude sickness, we did have a few nites and days where we struggled with the altitude. We took some medication with us that was prescribed by our doctor, Acetazolamide, it really works! Also drink the Coca tea. It is very helpful as well. I suggest you drink it in the morning and before retiring in the evening, or right after dinner. Your first nite in the high altitude, you should eat a light meal, and have Coca tea, and then take a sleeping pill and go right to bed. Keep yourself hydrated, plenty of water and electrolyte tablets as well. Do not do any activities your first nite or day. Your body needs time to acclimate to the altitude. Relax and think carefully about your breathing. Some people get very sick, nauseated, light headed etc. You will find even the smallest activities, eating, walking, showering to be difficult at first. Take your meds, take things slow and eventually your body will acclimate. Be very cautious about your alcohol intake, you will find that even a small drink, or one beer will quickly go to your head in that high altitude.
*COCA TEA It is NOT Cocaine. It comes from the Coca plant. It would take you chewing on a thousand Coca leaves to get the Cocaine effect from them. The tea is very helpful for the altitude. It has a bland hay taste to it. Most hotels and restaurants serve it as a local and regular drink.
*TOILETS There are very very few public toilets in all of Peru. Even if there is one, you will end up paying 1 solace for the privilege of its use. People literally just pee in the streets, or in the bushes. The country smells very much like urine and fecies. Even at monuments and ruin sites like Machu Picchu, there is only ONE public toilet at the beginning of the site entrance. If you have to use the restroom while you are there, you will either have to go all the way back to the front or you will have to just pee in the bushes that are there on site. Its all very odd. Also carry your own TP and hand cleaner. If you do end up finding a toilet it will not have the necessities like TP. We spent many long hours in cars, and on boats and if you have to pee you either have to pee off the side of a boat or ask them to stop so you can pee in the woods.
*HORSE BACK RIDING We used Mountain Lodges of Peru as our source for this trip. They were a great company and the lodges were wonderful. I will post that in the next paragraph: I know many people hike these trails, and some take bikes and some do Horses. We decided to take the horses through the Andes mountains. I cannot emphasize enough that horseback riding is NOT, NOT, NOT for beginners. You must have advanced knowledge of horses and horse back riding before you do this trek. The trails are STEEP and narrow and muddy and filled with large rocks, boulders, water, debris, etc. The drop offs are very deep and the horses are not very well behaved. The horses do not like to listen to commands, they only like to follow the front horse or the horse in front of them. They are not trained very well in commands. There are NO smooth trails to ride on, you will be on super rocky passes for many hours and many days. The horses seem to know the trails but because they are not very well behaved it can be scary for some.
They also are not very well footed so sometimes they will walk very close to the edge without even caring since all they do is watch the horse in front. AND if the horse in front starts to run, trust me, your horse is now running. All things you need to be aware of. The saddles are not the kind you might be used to. They have no “knob” on the front. They are flat and some are very small. If you are not steady in your core and on a saddle this might be more than difficult for you. I suggest good hiking/riding boots. You will also need a good water bottle, I suggest a soft one, it will be banging against you leg for hours, as they suggest you hook it to the saddle, so a soft water bottle is less abrasive on your legs. You will need a small day pack that can hold extras, like toilet paper, hand wipes, sunscreen, hats, gloves, scarves. You can put your rain gear and heavy coat and camera gear in the saddle bags. Their size is sufficient for those items. The company will provide you with a helmet that they strongly suggest you wear. I also strongly suggest it. If you were to fall off this horse, you will want your head protected. They will provide you lunch and snacks along the way, but carrying a few snacks of your own is not a bad idea. Peanuts, cookies, crackers, fruit, are all good ideas.
*LODGES Mountain Lodges of Peru: Each evening after long days in the saddle we stopped at these lodges for hot tubing, and dinner and sleep. These lodges are beautiful, well maintained and clean. I suggest highly that you use the hot tub every night after you hike or ride, it will help soften the muscles and help you relax and sleep. The lodges have big beautiful rooms with full bathrooms and large comfortable beds. The food in Peru is always good and these lodges were no exception. Full breakfasts, large lunches, (unless u get a paper lunch on the trek) lovely dinners, with desserts. They have full bars, (though with the altitude you might not drink too much) In the mornings you get coffee, tea, juices, eggs, bacon, whatever you want. They always have snacks out, like crackers, cookies, fruit. If its chilly they will have a nice fire going. Most everyone speaks English and the hospitality is really wonderful. You wont be disappointed.