Adventure

Field Notes: Peru

Man walking horse in Andes Peru

Words and photos by Abigail Demyanek.

My friend Rachel and I started out our trip to Peru in a rush: I booked our tickets incorrectly and we were forced to leave an entire day earlier than expected. I geared up in a hurry, passport clutched in hand, my Teva Original Universal Premier sandals and Arrowood sneakerboots in my bag, ready for this new experience.

The first stop in Peru was Lima. As we drove into the center of Lima (Plaza de Armas), we stumbled onto a Peruvian celebration, where decorated dancers celebrated on the streets for hours. Bright, vibrant colors and loud song and dance — it felt as if though the streets were pulsing with life. When visiting Lima, be sure to check out Plaza de Armas and tour the Parque del Amor by bike. Feet resting van seat

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Festival dancers Peru

Woman wearing shawl street corner in Peru

Woman walking by tiled pillars Peru

Dog sitting by street sign Peru

Next, we hopped in a van with a guide who took us to a little town above 11,000 feet named Chinchero. After learning how the women there color alpaca wool with all-natural dyes, we were guided to the adobe church in Chinchero, Perú.

Peru’s historical and architecturally stunning buildings can be explored for hours. Another must-see are the mountainside ruins, Ollantaytambo. We hiked all over this ancient fortress, exploring the large stone terraces on a hillside. As we walked among the huge Sun Temple in our Teva Original Universal Premier sandals and Arrowood sneakerboots, we marveled at the craftsmanship of the ancient Peruvian people and their respect of the earth.

Then it was off to Machu Picchu. I’d seen this place so, so many times before in photographs and textbooks, but I didn’t realize how much I had subconsciously downplayed its significance until that very moment. As we hiked around with our guide, he passionately taught us the history behind this mystery. Llama standing in front of Machu Picchu Abigail Demyanek sitting Machu Picchu

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Abigail Demyanek standing by ruins Peru

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Llama in pen in Peru

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The Andes are some of the most diverse mountain landscapes I’ve seen with my own eyes. One minute, in front of me are mountains brightly colored by their unique sediments, the next I’m staring at a glacier; this mountain range is expanse, breathtaking, and intimidating.

We were guided by our friends at FlashPacker Connect towards Rainbow Mountain.Our first day of hiking started at 16,000 feet as we hiked to a nearby glacier and spent our morning soaking it all in. At noon, we began our trek back to our campsite for a snooze, dinner, and some fire time. Spending that night with our trekking group, our guides taught us words in their native language, Quechua. That night we created friendships that transcended both language and culture.

On our way out of the Andes, one of our guides parked the horse and had us hop on the back of a motorbike. We drove down a small dirt path through a tiny village, honking at alpacas who strayed too close to the road, and passing a huge waterfall pouring out of the side of a mountain.

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Man walking horse in Andes Peru

woman and guide on motorcycle Andes, Peru

Puppy running by pair of legs wearing sandals

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Abigail Demyanek standing in Peru There are green mountains and hills that surround the valley village of Cusco. We stayed in an Airbnb near Plaza San Blas, venturing out to find nooks and crannies holding small musical performances and the perfect dinner spot serving “cuy” (guinea pig).

This where you find that perfect alpaca shawl or hat and shake the hand of the person who made it. Nothing about our time in Perú was how I expected it to be, and was not long enough, but I’m thankful for how it unfolded. That’s what travel is all about, right?

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