Updated: Jan 5
In 2018 I turned 21. I've never been one for clubs or parties, but boy am I a sucker for far away places.
My friend at the time worked with Delta Airlines and with his travel benefits, I got gifted a year of being his "travel companion" which means 365 days of free flights (yes, I said "free"). As long as Delta flew there, I could go there.
Although I didn't take advantage of the benefits as much as I would have liked to, I DID celebrate my 21st birthday by spending seven entire days in Peru. Which was an absolutely unforgettable, tiring, beautiful, magical trip.
We stayed at an airbnb in Lima the first night. And the next day before sunrise we started day 1 of our tour with Peru Hop.
Over six days we visited Paracas, Huacachina, Nazca, Arequipa, Puno, Cuzco, and then finally, Machu Picchu. I have to say, Huacachina was probably my favorite with the exception of the obvious (all mighty Machu Picchu). It was beyond picturesque. Never in a million years did I think I would spend a birthday in a desert oasis. Some actually call it "the everest of the desert", and the tallest sand dune there is almost 7,000 feet tall.
During our twenty four hours there, we rode eight-seater ATV's, and sand boarded nearly a mile down sand dunes (I kind of just watched for the most part but was still an experience, haha). And of course, I celebrated the day I was born with peruvian "pancakes" at a local resturant near our hostel.
GETTING TO MACHU PICCHU
I was told you could also take a 3 day hike to get through Sacred Valley to the top of Machu Picchu, but my group opted for a train ride through the valley instead.
I felt like I was in a Chronicles Of Narnia simulator the entire ride.
After our train ride, we took one last 10 minute bus ride to the top of Machu Picchu. It might have been a little more interesting to back-pack it from the town outside, but I think we were all already exhausted from our five days of bus rides before hand.
Not gonna lie, I thought I was going to get sucked out of the bus by lack of gravity when we passed through a layer of clouds on our way to the top--the locals told us the tallest mountain surrounding Machu Picchu was 16,000 feet tall. The closer we got to South Peru the more I got offered Coca Tea (a tea native to South America made from the leaves of the Coca Plant, known to cure or prevent symptoms of altitude sickness).
There were parts of my time in Peru that felt fictional. And parts of the memories that didn't even seem real. Turns out you can fit a lot into one week. Peru Hop was an absolutely great experience for someone who doesn't tend to like guided tours. Peru Hop did a really good job of changing my mind and giving me the experience of a lifetime.