^ I haven't aged a bit, huh?
I came back this week from my 10-day solo trip to Peru and Panama, and of course I have been dying to share all of my adventures with you! Don't worry, I'm going to split it all up into a few different parts and throw some food blog posts in between so I don't completely lose you.
This post is going to be focused on the apex of my trip, the main reason for my travels, the torture of all tortures and beauty of all beauties: The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. So without further adieu...
Day 1 of the Inca Trail:
(AKA: "What in God's Name Did I Get Myself Into?")
(AKA: "The Awful Bathroom Incident of 2014")
Aww, look how happy and clean and excited and naive and not at all out of breath I look!
And, yay puppies!
My tour group consisted of a husband and wife from the UK in their 60s (who were unbelievably incredible and inspirational) and our amazing guide Ludwig. We were definitely one of the smallest groups on the trail, compared to others that sometimes had up to 12 people, and I really like the dynamic it created. It almost seemed like we had our own private tour! The tour group I used is called Enigma, and I cannot recommend them enough.
Day one of the Inca trail was by far the most challenging day for me. We hiked pretty much all day long, and the final few hours of the day were spent hiking uphill on steep uneven Incan stone steps. I was really struggling to catch my breath in this new world up in the clouds. The words of motivation I muttered under my breath ranged from "You can do this" to "Get it together Ogonosky" to "My butt better look amazing after this" to a string of very strong words that would make my mother rinse my mouth out with soap.
Oh, what is this bathroom incident I mentioned in the subtitle, you ask? During our lunch break I used one of the bathrooms along the trail, which was a hole in the ground of a little shack. The floor was covered in what I can only describe as growing cultures in a petri dish. I was super nervous and stressed out about it, and as I --er-- repositioned myself my sunglasses slid off my head and, you guessed it…….fell onto the petri dish ground.
I quickly weighed my options: I could throw the sunglasses away and not have them for the rest of the trip, or I could douse them in copious amounts of hand sanitizer, suck it up, and go. It was a desperate moment, and I'm not proud of the decision I made. I won't tell you what I did, but let's just say I told my boyfriend Jon the story, and I'm pretty sure I'm never going to hear from him again.
Day 2 of the Inca Trail:
(AKA: "Peaking the Tallest Point")
(AKA: "What in God's Name Did I Get Myself Into? Part 2")
Yeah, I woke up to this view. It was rough.
And I also peaked the highest point of the entire trail, at almost 14,000 feet! Fortunately I finally caught my breath on this day, and there were far less expletives coming out of my mouth on the hike. I also had a lot of quiet contemplative solo time, which I really cherished. Day two was another full day of hiking. The beginning of the hike was all uphill to this peak, followed by a few hours of sharp downhill climbing. My knees were singing, but again, I was happy to just be able to breathe and not die.
As much as I may try to convince you that I was really "roughing it" and the bathrooms were terrifying (well except for, you know...the one...), we had a team of porters who were total Herculean ninjas and a chef who cooked us a m a z i n g three-course meals. The picture above depicts the third course of lunch that day. It's stupid how good it was.
I got to my tent that night, shins throbbing, covered in bites from "midges," starting to smell myself a little, and still questioning my sanity, but I was pretty excited from all the events from the day.
And I had some really bizarre dreams.
Day 3 of the Inca Trail:
(AKA: "That One Time I had a Photo Shoot with some Llamas on a Peruvian Hillside")
Day three was by far my favorite day on the trail. And not just because of the llamas!
(Okay, that's a lie.)
Day three was only a half a day of hiking, and the views were absolutely stunning. Like the previous days, we stopped at a few archeological sites and were given some very interesting Incan history lessons from Ludwig (see above).
I cannot stress just how downright magical this place is. The mystery, the culture, the beautiful world up in the clouds....
Oh, hey guys.
(My best friend from high school's name is Erica, and we must have watched Emporer's New Groove together 692 times, and she's literally going to need CPR after she sees this.)
Promise not to spit on me?
Really promise me Erica?
How about a little kiss?
Llama = #OverIt
But seriously, that view.
Then we visited another archeological site, and it rained a little, but I put on my "sexy pants" and was good to go!
Day three rocked my socks off.
Day three rocked my socks off.
Day 4 of the Inca Trail:
(AKA: "Arriving at Machu Picchu")
(AKA: "That Magical Moment When I Encountered a Running Toilet Again")
(AKA: "I Need a Beer or Four")
On the last day, we woke up at 3:45 am to get ready for our morning hike to Machu Picchu. We arrived at the Sun Gate around 8:00 to be greeted with our first view of MP, shown above.
And of course I ugly cried like an idiot.
Our fearless group!
(please ignore the puffy faced girl on the left).
It really was as spectacular as it looks. Also, take a mental note of Waynapicchu - the tall, steep, scary mountain behind Machu Picchu there.
Huh. Where did those sunglasses come from…?
Remember how I said to take a mental note of that tall, steep, scary mountain behind Machu Picchu? Yeah, I decided to peak it. Because 4 days on the Inca Trail wasn't enough.
I literally had to crab walk up and down the thing.
But I did some yoga above Machu Picchu and almost fell off the side of a mountain, so that was cool.
But seriously, the views.
Oh, and did I mention the running toilets at the entrance to Machu Picchu? I didn't even care that it cost me 1 Peruvian sole to get in! I actually almost kissed a toilet, it was such a special moment!
Here's another picture of a llama to help you help you forget what I just said.
After we were done touring Machu Picchu and learning all about the history/mystery behind it, we took a bus down to a little town called Aguas Calientes, where we toasted to an amazing trip!
Hiking the Inca Trail was by far the most challenging and most incredible experience of my life. The Enigma crew of Ludwig, our porters, and chef was outstanding, and I couldn't have asked for better hiking buddies. If you've never taken a solo trip before, I say carpe diem! And if you want to push your mental and physical abilities to the limit, while learning more about yourself and expanding yourself spiritually, hike the Inca trail. You absolutely will not regret it.
And you'll probably make a few friends along the way.
*All photos were taken with my Nikon D60 and my iPhone.