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Packing for Adventure: What I Packed for Peru

I’m going to let you in on a little secret with this post on what I packed for Peru in July. Not only do I make regular packing lists before I travel, I also make a visual packing list of my clothing. Behold:

I know. So dorky, right?! And I know what some of you are probably thinking: this takes more time than normal people are willing to spend on a packing list. Though I usually whip these up in about 15 minutes or less. What can I say? I’m a visual person, and this is the perfect way for me to see if I’m going to have everything I need before I drag it all out of the closet and dresser.

My visual packing list also shows me if there’s anything repetitive, if I’ll be able to mix-and-match, or if I planned more than I need to take. To make the visual packing list, I simply right-click and copy the images of my clothes from online stores, and then I paste the copied images onto a blank document in Photoshop. I scoot the picture layers around to fit, and add/delete as needed. Easy breezy!

For this trip to Peru, Chris and I spent a couple of days each in Lima and Peru, but the majority of time we were trekking through the Sacred Valley on the Lares Adventure with Mountain Lodges of Peru. So I mainly needed hiking-appropriate outfits, and a few things I could wear around the lodges in the evenings. And also mountain-themed socks, of course.

Because we had some early mornings, we needed to be prepared for the low temperatures as well as the highs. The range for our trip mostly ended up being between 35-75 degrees F. We lucked out with a long string of sunny or partly cloudy days, and even though I bought a cute new rain jacket, I never needed it. So in addition to the visual list above, here’s the checklist of what I packed for fifteen days in July:

  • 3 quick-drying short-sleeve shirts
  • 3 casual short-sleeve shirts
  • 2 long-sleeve shirts
  • 1 1/4-zip technical fleece
  • 1 pullover hoodie
  • 1 tank top (not pictured; for sleeping)
  • 2 pairs of lightweight hiking pants
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • casual jacket
  • waterproof rain jacket
  • waterproof hiking shoes
  • Vans casual shoes
  • bras, undies, and socks (I love Exofficio for travel – they dry quickly after washing!)
  • baseball cap
  • knit beanie
  • small Ona camera bag to hold my SLR and a point-and-shoot
  • swimsuit (not pictured above)

My hiking outfits were the hardest part for me to decide on because my pre-trip research found photos of people hiking the Sacred Valley trails in tank tops and shorts, but also in puffy jackets, gloves, and scarves (same people on the same trip). Elevations on our trek ranged from 6,232’/1,900 m to 14,646’/4,464m. Most of our days we needed long sleeves and layers that we could peel off as the day got warmer, but I never ended up in short-sleeves except for at Machu Picchu where it felt much warmer than the rest of the trip.

All of our stuff was neatly organized into our trusty Eagle Creek packing cubes and into our suitcases. It’s worth mentioning that while Chris and I tend to only bring one carry-on suitcase each (plus a personal item/backpack), our plan was foiled this time around because of my hiking poles.

I bought a really great new pair of poles to use on the trip specifically because they folded down into a compact size, only to find out that hiking poles are not allowed in the airplane main cabin and we had to check our bags! Womp womp. MLP provided poles, too, so I probably didn’t even need to bring mine. Oh well.

I ended up wearing everything I brought except for the rain jacket and the knit beanie. Generally I don’t think anything was missing from what I packed, although I did feel like I kept repeating my warmest hoodie every night around the lodge. I easily could have bought an extra sweater though. We had plenty of opportunities to buy beautiful alpaca sweaters at almost every turn!

So that’s my packing list for two weeks of mainly doing outdoors-y stuff in Peru. I hope it helps you prepare for your own adventure! Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about packing for either of these places.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through one of my links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much for reading and for your support!

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2017 in Review

And just like that, we’re over half-way into the first month of 2018. I don’t know about you, but my days are flying by faster and faster as of late! 2017 was a big year for Chris and me in the travel goals department. We crossed off two more continents! Oddly enough we had yet to visit Asia, and we also set foot in South America for the first time. We tallied three new countries – UAE, the Maldives, and Peru. Instead of another overseas adventure, we spent the fall stateside by heading to New York to see Hamilton and to eat everything we could find. And earlier in the year, I flew out to Colorado to surprise my dad for a milestone birthday celebration.

When we weren’t traveling, we filled our free time with concerts (twelve of them!) including 311, Foo Fighters, and my all-time favorite, Depeche Mode. I also jumped into the world of unmanned aerial systems this year and delighted in the technical challenge and wonder that comes from taking pictures with a drone. Speaking of hobbies, I finally picked up my guitar again and started to make some progress after feeling intimidated by it over the past couple of years. I won’t be playing any gigs anytime soon (or ever), but I have added several chords to my repertoire and I’m enjoying the learning process.

In this-is-real-life fashion, I can’t report the good without also reporting the bad. My beloved car of eleven years finally started to give out on me in the spring. I survived a terrifying incident driving on the highway, driving at 65 mph when my steering wheel locked up and my brakes started shuddering. I couldn’t change lanes, and the brakes weren’t responding normally. Thankfully I was able to take my foot off the gas and pull over without getting into an accident. It turned out to be a faulty alternator (so all of my electrical functions like power steering and ABS brakes were going haywire).

I ended up getting a new car just to be on the safe side and I absolutely LOVE it, but oddly enough, I keep cracking the windshield! I took a big rock to the window three times, including once just days after I had to have the whole windshield was replaced. It was not my year for vehicles.

2017 also ended on a bit of a down note with Marty getting sick and having to go in for an emergency vet visit, but as of this post he’s fully recovered! So on the whole, still not too bad. I recognize that I am privileged to be able to replace my car, and we lucked out with catching Marty’s illness early enough to treat it. Happy 2018 to you all, and I hope your year ahead is filled with health and joy!

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Photo Friday – First Snow

A few weeks ago we had our first snow of the winter season, and I immediately knew I had to fly the drone and see what my neck of the woods (literally) looked like from the sky. Peaceful.

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Peru Snapshot

I am long overdue for a snapshot post about our Peru trip! Better late than never, and I’m always happy to look back on the memories and relive the adventure a little through these highlights (and lowlights) posts. I suspect because I had so many posts lined up about Peru that maybe I Peru-ed myself out a bit, hence the delayed snapshot. But I love writing these entries, and even more, I love looking back on them years later.

Trip Details

Chris and I traveled to Lima, Cusco, and the Sacred Valley region of Peru. We flew round-trip from IAD to LIM, and round-trip domestic from LIM to CUZ (on LATAM). Our two-week itinerary from July 1-15 included two days in Lima, two days in Cusco to acclimate, a week with Mountain Lodges of Peru on their Lares Adventure trek, two nights in Cusco after the trek, and two more nights after we returned to Lima.

Best Moment

I mean, I don’t know if one can go to Machu Picchu and not name that as the best moment of the whole trip. I’ll admit that I didn’t have the overwhelming feeling of a magical connection like some visitors are said to have experienced, but I definitely understood the significance of where I was, and I was in awe.

Worst Moment

Even taking into consideration the situation with the protests in Cusco and nearly missing our opportunity to see Machu Picchu, I’m still going to say the worst moment was my stomach issue on Day 2 of our Lares Adventure. Thankfully I recovered quickly and in time to continue on without missing much.

Funniest Moment

If I had a dollar for every time we were solicited to purchase a llama keychain in Cusco I think we could have paid for our entire trip. I generally don’t mind the solicitations and in fact, I’m impressed by the hustle of tireless street vendors, but the llama keychain pressure was intense and overly frequent! Every time we left our hotel to explore the streets of Cusco, we were offered street art, sunglasses, hats, and most of all, llama keychains. And I’m all for supporting local artists, but I’m selective and purposeful about purchasing something that will have a purpose or a prominent place in our home. I’m not a big fan of buying stuff just for the sake of buying stuff. I’m not a tchotchke collecting kind of person.

Days later in the peaceful calm and quiet of the Sacred Valley, Chris and I received the key to our accommodations at the K’uychi Rumi Lodges. We dissolved into giggles to see lo and behold the key was attached to…a llama keychain, of course. I actually do kind of wish I had purchased one after all.

Best Meal

We ate so many great things on this trip and I ended up dedicating a whole post to good eats in Lima. It was indeed in Lima where we ate our best meal. ámaZ in Miraflores came recommended to us from a friend, and we ended up there on our last night in Peru for a huge Amazonian-Peruvian feast. Wild boar empanadas, a charcuterie board, lomo saltado, fried rice, and pork-stuffed plantains – I’ve never been so full in my life. I didn’t even have room for dessert! And that’s saying something.

Something We Learned

All the Inca (or Inka) history! I thoroughly enjoyed having such knowledgeable guides for the duration of our time in the Sacred Valley. Eddie and Admil educated us on the region’s ancient origins, the agriculture, architecture, religion, lifestyle, and beyond.

I also learned the difference between a llama and an alpaca. Llamas are bigger, and have long faces with banana-shaped ears, while alpacas are smaller with smaller faces, and they have short ears. Alpaca fleece produces a soft fiber used for fine wool garments. These are alpacas pictured below. (And maybe a few of them are llamas?! Even knowing the differences, it’s still hard to tell!)

We’re Thankful We Packed

Good hiking shoes!

We Didn’t Need To Bring

Rain jackets or ponchos. We brought both, but lucked out with amazing weather and didn’t use them once (although I would always recommend having proper rain gear on hand).

Trip Regrets

I initially wanted to tack on some time in the Amazon or maybe even a week in the Galapagos Islands, but we just couldn’t make it work logistically. We ended up being happy with our itinerary and I think it would have been too much if we tried to squeeze anything else in, especially in hindsight with the protests and transportation issues. It would have been nice though to consolidate some of the things we know we want to see in South America. We will hopefully get to do those other bits soon!

Reasons To Go Back

I really really wanted the postcard shot of Machu Picchu which I did get, but I also really wanted a photo of a llama with the ruins in the background, which I didn’t get. I was completely overwhelmed at the Inca citadel, and I actually didn’t end up taking as many photos as you might think. I soaked much of it up through my mind’s own lens, so hopefully those images in my memory will last. But I’d love to go back someday to take some additional photos, and to hike Huayna Picchu, which we didn’t have time for on this trip.

Favorite Photos

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  • Sam - Love your snapshot posts.  You guys went through some difficult moments on this one but I’m so glad you scored great weather. That loom shot is so beautiful.  (And you totally should’ve gotten a llama keychain ). ReplyCancel

    • Susan - I agree. Next time I’ll take the plunge and buy the keychain. (And thank you re: the loom photo!)

Hotel Love: El Mercado

Following all of the recommendations to acclimate to the higher altitude in Cusco before moving on to our seven-day adventure to Machu Picchu, Chris and I decided to book two pre-trekking nights in the Inca Empire capital as well as two additional nights post-trip. Situated in the heart of Cusco, but just right outside of the main hustle and bustle, the El Mercado sounded like the perfect location for a little acclimating.

Chris and I arrived to the El Mercado feeling slightly woozy from the altitude change and a lack of breakfast or lunch, but we were instantly soothed by genuinely warm hospitality, beautiful surroundings, and cups of coca leaf hot tea. The hotel courtyard hosted a huge collection of plants that would have impressed my garden-loving mom, as well as cozy benches equipped with wool blankets surrounding a fire pit. Not pictured: my delicious super late-afternoon lunch at their restaurant La Taberna that I ate way too quickly to photograph.

After filling out some guest forms, we were escorted to our rooms on the top floor and I instantly fell in love with our home for the next two nights. This is one of those hotels you’ll want to stay in as long as possible. The cleanliness, comfort, service, and amenities were all top-notch. Not to mention, look how cute that room is! The unbelievably comfortable bed did make it somewhat difficult to get up for our early morning departures so perhaps that’s one downside, but it was heavenly for the days we were able to sleep in a bit.

Luckily I had the foresight to book the El Mercado for our post-trek stay in Cusco as well, so we could look forward to returning. And on that note, the hotel staff graciously held onto our extra luggage during the week of our trek and kept our belongings safe so that we didn’t have to lug extra items around the Sacred Valley.

The large bathroom was perfectly appointed with fluffy towels and upscale toiletries as well as plenty of bottled drinking water which was replenished the next day. And something I truly appreciate in the bathroom but don’t always have: so much counter space!

This was the view from our window! We could spot the Plaza de Armas a few blocks away, but the area surrounding the hotel was blissfully quiet.

We especially enjoyed making use of the courtyard in the evenings when the fire pit was ablaze and the happy hour menu was open for orders. We loved the street food snacks, pisco sours, and a Peruvian treat similar to a donut called picarones. Chris and I curled up with alpaca wool blankets and relaxed to the sounds of local musicians performing for the happy hour crowd. And just in case you’re wondering if you’ll get a quiet night’s sleep here – the fiesta ended at 7pm each night.

I missed snapping a photo of the entire breakfast spread, but El Mercado had every breakfast option imaginable in their El Desayunador breakfast lounge including a long list of made-to-order crepes, as well as something we couldn’t have imagined: the Emoliente drink! Feeling adventurous, we tried this therapeutic herbal cocktail (non-alcoholic) one morning. It’s said to have medicinal properties good for liver support, digestion, and general health, so I figured it couldn’t hurt. It reminded me of warm beet juice, even though I don’t think it had beets in it. Or maybe it did? There were a lot of natural ingredients! I can report that while it wasn’t my most favorite drink ever (it’s probably one of those flavors that has to grow on you), I did feel a good boost of healthy energy. Try it and let me know how you like it!

We loved everything about El Mercado and would highly recommend it as the perfect spot to begin or end your Inca adventure around the Sacred Valley. We easily walked to all of the Cusco sights and restaurants mentioned in this post. I love that next time we’re in Cusco, we definitely already know exactly where to stay!

Note:  This post is not sponsored by El Mercado and I did not receive anything in exchange for this post. We just loved our stay with them!

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