I’m going to start off by saying that this is the first tour i’ve ever done as a group like this.
This trip was also planned way more in advance than anything I’ve done in the past 3 years or so. I’m talking about 6 months in advance of the trip happening, we booked this trip.
To me, that still boggles my mind…
but let’s get right into the review of visiting Machu Picchu and exploring Peru with the Under 30 Experiences team.
I’m going to include a pros in cons list at the bottom so you’ll have a better idea of what I really liked and what I didn’t like about this trip.
My first trip to South America
I’m guessing you know how to read, since you’re reading this… and with that, this was my first trip to South America. I spend a lot of time in Central America and have spent a decent amount of time hopping around the Caribbean, but this was a first.
My girlfriend, Sam, and I arrived a day before the actual trip began with the group, well actually, we arrived at around 12am so we had a full day of just chilling at the hotel before the real “planned” adventures began.
We wandered around the Central business district in the city of Lima and had no real agenda. We were supposed to meet up with some people who were with the group and had already arrived but we hadn’t met anyone and I didn’t get a local SIM card for my phone so we just wandered by ourselves.
That was pretty fun, it was interesting to walk around and see the city. Here’s some shots from that day..
We saw a pretty amazing looking church and wandered in, only to find out that there was a mass in session. Turns out it was Sunday, so that makes perfect sense.
The churches here are very impressive and it’s a super catholic country.
The next day we spent with the actual Under 30 Experiences group. We had 14 people with our group, plus Matt, who is one of the co-founders of the company.
Side note: Matt and I have been Twitter/Facebook friends for like 4 or 5 years? and have both lived in Costa Rica, but hadn’t met up until this trip.
The first day of the planned trip involved heading to Miraflores and for me, surfing.
I hadn’t gone surfing in over 3 weeks because of visiting Spain (no waves) and visiting Sam’s family in Chicago and I really needed some time with the ocean and a board.
We had to have some wet suits, even though the water temp was around 70. The air temperature was around 66?
Only 4 of us went surfing and everyone else explored Miraflores and saw a bunch of pretty odd stuff, like a statue of people making out and exercise equipment randomly on the street?
MAKE OUT STATUE PIC
(Maybe it’s going to become a future Muscle Beach)
After surfing we took a flight to Cuzco.
That night, we ended up grabbed dinner at the hotel and then went out to have a few drinks and see some of Cuzco at night.
This was when the real fun had started, when the group started to bond a little more. Having a few drinks seems to always loosen people up and help people warm up to one another. (Although at the high altitude, you gotta be careful because you’ll get drunk on around 1/3 of the drinks you’ll normally have)
The next morning we all woke up in a bit of a funk, even though we all had 1-2 drinks in total over the course of a few hours…. damn the altitude is a killer on the body down there. (I got really messed up at Machu Picchu from altitude)
That day, we wandered all around the city of Cuzco and saw the Cristo Blanco statue and Sacsayhuaman where we got to see some Alpacas and some of the girls held them. (I took pics)
After this, we went into town and had a planned lunch that was pretty delicious. I tried alpaca for the first time… who woulda thought, you go from petting/holding one to eating it… ahh the cycle of life!
The next step was freedom to explore Cuzco…
This is one area where I feel the Under 30 Experiences team could improve on (I’ve got a few suggestions for them that i’ll include here, but it’s still early in their Peru tour experience at the time I went, so I’m sure it will improve each trip)
We basically had free reign over the city, but none of us seemed to know anything about the city and it would have been nice to have a sort of “Possible options” type piece of paper or guide.
This could be a great add-on for the #u30x team that would give us a sort of “stuff to do” list. We wandered and asked a bunch of people what to do, explored another church that was built on an incan temple and then another museum that was built on an incan temple.
Damn, walking around that day was exhausting. The city is at 11,000ft+ above sea level and I’m used to living by the beach AT sea level… really messes with you.
After this we took the train to Machu Picchu and I had some terrible altitude sickness which caused me to really struggle the whole day we were there…
This wasn’t the best experience for me because of feeling nauseous the whole day, but it was cool to be able to check off Machu Picchu on my “to visit” list.
While most people consider Machu Picchu to be an extremely spiritual site and something that is life changing in some people’s eyes, it didn’t do much for me.
When I got to the top and looked over at it, it was super crowded and it looked like just a bunch of rocks on a hill.
This could possibly have been because I wasn’t feeling 100%, but even then it was kind of a disappointment from what everyone had said it was like. Maybe I had my hopes up too high or was expecting some type of God or alien to come down and be like “what up Chris” and high five me.
Who knows, that could happen for you.
After Machu Picchu, we had quite the adventure getting back to Cuzco because of train issues and we were sitting on the train for a few hours longer than we’re supposed to. This of course happens a lot when you travel so you learn to live with it.
All in all, I’ve gotta say that my favorite part of the whole trip was just hanging out with the people who were on the trip with us.
We had a great group of people who were from all over and I feel like if we were in an area that wasn’t so high up, we could have had an even better time. (The altitude really messes with ya, so be prepared)
If you can arrive in Cuzco and just take it super easy for 2-3 days before going to Machu Picchu I’m guessing you’ll have a lot better experience and minimize the chance of altitude sickness while you’re seeing it.
Will I go back to Peru?
Yes. I still need to surf at Chicama. (the wave breaks for over a mile and you get to surf on 1 wave for around 3 minutes)
Sadly this trip I couldn’t book a hotel at Chicama because of the big wave surfers coming in and booking everything first. Apparently they were getting 30-40 foot waves which is pretty enormous.
Will I go back to Machu Picchu? Probably not. That is, unless I book the Hiram Bingham train that was overbooked when we tried to buy it. (It’s real luxury based but I’ve heard amazing reviews)