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Hello from Peru!

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Last Thursday I set off on my 101-day journey around the world. This will be the first in a series of weekly posts that tell you about my week in real-time. In addition, I will be sharing detailed location specific travel guides on Tuesdays.

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This blog post is intended to accompany the 101 Days Away podcast. My goal is to allow you to listen to the sounds of Peru while seeing photos that help to pull the story together.

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On Friday I arrived in Peru, and I went straight to the Sacred Valley. The altitude in Cuzco is extremely high (11,200 feet above sea level), so it’s best to get to lower ground to avoid altitude sickness.

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The flight from Lima to Cuzco and the drive from Cuzco to the Sacred Valley introduced me to landscapes with larger than life mountains covered in thick green forests and vegetation.

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Machu Picchu is the most famous site in the Sacred Valley, but there are several other Inca sites worth seeing. I hired a local driver to take me to three of the sites near my hotel: the Maras Salt Mines, Moray, and Ollantaytambo. We started at the Maras Salt Mines (pictured above).

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Ronald, the driver, then took me through the mountains to Moray, an Inca argicultural archaeological site.

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The Ollantaytambo ruins were our final destination. This Inca site was the last stronghold of the Inca empire.

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I spent Sunday at Machu Picchu and I was lucky to have clear sunny weather, perfect for photos.

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Per my sister’s suggestion, I hiked up Machu Picchu Mountain, a mountain beside Machu Picchu that offers wonderful views of the ruins. 

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Immediately after arriving at Machu Picchu I met a friendly couple from Australia and Germany named Malcolm and Simone. 

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They kindly let me join them and we hiked up the mountain together, huffing and puffing our way up steep steps as we tried to fill our lungs with oxygen from the thin air.

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My sister said the hike was hard. But she could have offered more details. The sun was hot, and I kept sweating off sunscreen, resulting in a sunburn. My legs were shaking on the way down, and my calves and thighs were sore for days.

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Originally, I wanted to hike Machu Picchu Trail but decided that it would take too long and that I would rather spend my time in Peru seeing more of the country.

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My next adventure was to go to the Amazon Rainforest. I’ve always been fascinated by this part of the world – I really paid attention to that lesson in first grade. For this part of the journey, I booked a tour through World Expeditions (they aren’t sponsoring this) but I want to share the info in case you want to book a similar trip.

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Getting to the Amazon isn’t easy, which is probably why you don’t hear of many people going there. First I flew to Puerto Maldonado where I was met by Carmen, my tour guide. Together we boarded a boat to take us 45 minutes to a port where we would access Tambopata, a wildlife reserve.

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Then we hiked for an hour to a very small port where a canoe took us to Lake Sandoval and the Lake Sandoval Lodge were I was staying.

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During the hike we saw three species of monkeys. It’s hard to get a good photo of a monkey, they like to stay high up in the trees and they move quickly.

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When I posted this photo on Instagram Stories, it got quite the reaction. It was from our night hike.

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I saw some more adorable animals on the hike too.

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When we canoed around the lake we saw lots of birds. The so-called stinky birds were the easiest to find because they are so loud.

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We saw three species of herons. Some of them eat baby caymans! 

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And here is an adult cayman lounging in the lake.

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Can you see the bats sleeping on this tree? We counted 18 of them!

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I had never seen such gigantic trees before. The jungle was so green and thick with leaves, when it was raining we barely got wet!

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The shapes and colors of the Amazon are unlike anything I had ever seen before. Some of the things I saw didn’t seem real, like these little flowers.

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The lodge itself was simple but comfortable. They had power available all day, but no WiFi. I liked being disconnected from the outside world, but my heart ached when I regained contact with the outside world and heard about the fire at Notre Dame. 

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Next week I will be checking in from New Zealand! Until then you can follow my adventures on Instagram. You can view video from the trip by watching my Peru highlight on Instagram

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