The Andes are incredible. In and around Cusco, there are an endless number of absolutely stunning hikes just a few hours drive from the main plaza, many of which end up at Machu Picchu itself. To date, we have done 4 of these hikes – Inka Trail, Salkantay, Huanca, and now Lares. Each hike has been different and magnificent in its own way from the last.
This time, as we get more and more savvy in our traveling and money saving habits, we did the trek on our own without the help of an expensive tour agency. Organized through our spanish school, Dan and I paid for our own food, rented a stove, tent and sleeping bags, and paid the local prices for cheap bus transport to and from the destination. What usually cost tourists $450 US cost us each around $60 total, for 2.5 days of some of the best views we have seen thus far. With our school coordinator Esther as guide, and 3 other students accompanying us, our small band hiked through fields, ruins, a tangled wood, all en route to ascending a pass 4970 meters high (16,300 ft) and then back down into a sunlit valley that literally took our breaths away. Sweet Moses do I love the Andes. Continue reading
A few years ago, Dan found out that we do in fact have some Irish blood in us. Ever since, it’s been obligatory to celebrate St. Paddy’s like a true ginger, and celebrate even harder to make up for all the past St. Paddy’s days that we celebrated thinking we weren’t Irish! So, we are finally making up for lost time. No better way than to bartend at the Wild Rover, an Irish hostel, here in Cusco. Continue reading
Cooking class from spanish school, with our teacher, ‘La Capitana’ – Aji de Gallena! Con muchas Papas!
It’s very easy, while traveling in South America, to be lazy. Yeah, sure, you can be lazy and sit in hammocks all day and not do a lot for very cheap – that much is true. But what I’m referring to is learning spanish. Travelers down here stay in hostels with other travelers, and whether you like it or not, 90% of the time the common language is English. We’ve even met a bunch of people (usually Aussies and Kiwis) who speak about 5 words of spanish, and they can get along OK on this continent. So unless you go out of your way, as a backpacker it is very common to only have your spanish barely improve over a long period of time. Continue reading
In our travels, we have developed (read: stolen and adapted) a rating system for classifying the different activities that we embark on. While some people refer to what Dan and I are doing as ‘vacation,’ ‘holiday,’ or ‘joy-riding,’ it really is not all that simple. Of course, we both have our own personal goals and intentions for this unique time in our lives, but even more simple than that, is that everything we do cannot be labeled under the uniform umbrella of ‘Fun.’ So, in order to make it simpler and more entertaining for ourselves, and for the people who embark on these activities with us, we have made a classification system. Continue reading