We were able to squeeze in a trip to Peru this year. We had just enough vacation time to see Cusco and Machu Picchu. Our trip started out pretty rough. As our flight was departing for Atlanta, the pilot aborted the takeoff. We have been on quite a few flights and have never experienced something like this. As the plane powered up and began accelerating down the runway, we were getting excited to be on our way. But then the plane began to brake hard and the engine whine disappeared. It was a pretty abrupt stop. The pilot came on the radio and said that he aborted the takeoff and we were headed back to the gate. This was just the beginning of some of the travel problems we experienced.

After about an hour of sitting with mechanics on and off the plane, we were ready to go again. The pilot said we would fix the problem in Atlanta which was quite concerning. After all, it was enough to abort a takeoff but now we are good to go? Fingers crossed and we were off to Atlanta. No problems in Atlanta and we boarded the flight to Lima and connected to Cusco.

Flight into Peru

We knew we were in Peru when we saw the sign in the Lima Airport about the famous drink, the Pisco Sour.

Pisco Sour Sign
Pisco Sour Sign

The flight into Cusco was something to see. We flew through the snow capped mountains and landed on top of one at 11,152 feet.

Cusco Airport
Cusco Airport

We stayed at the JW Marriott El Convento Cusco. In our opinion, it is in the perfect location to walk to sites, including Plaza de Armas. A local woman brought an Alpaca into the hotel for pictures. We named him Frank and got to pet him. He was amazingly soft and very friendly.

We walked around Cusco for the day, having breakfast and lunch at local restaurants

Prior to departing, a ceremony is held to bless the train and passengers. Each of us were given a cocoa leaf to offer into a small bowl with a fire lit. Of course my leaf extinguished the fire when I dropped it in. I quickly fled back to my seat on the train. I’m typing this post so it must not have cursed the journey thankfully.

It’s a 4.5 hour ride to Sacred Valley. The sites along the way are breathtaking. High mountains, rivers, waterfalls, such variety.

We pulled into our destination and gathered in the lounge, prior to being escorted to our buses to take us to the top of the mountain. We thought we would only be entering Machu Picchu once, but we we surprised to learn that we could enter on our own at arrival to explore. We would have time in Machu Picchu with our guide on the next day. The bus ride to the top is scary! Narrow winding roads lead to the top with buses going every 5-10 minutes. The edge of the bus dangles over the sheer drops and other buses coming down the hill fly by. Many nauseating 180 degree turns later, we arrived safely at the top.

We grabbed our bags and checked into our room at the Sanctuary Lodge. We were informed that we would be upgraded to the one bedroom suite which overlooks Machu Picchu. We were extremely happy as we rarely get any upgrades. We also felt very lucky as we were later told this is the most expensive room/hotel in all of Peru!

We dropped off our stuff and made our way to the entrance. It was drizzling and cloudy, but we expected such weather. Our plan was to go straight to the top of Sun Gate to look back down onto Machu Picchu. About 300 yards into the hike, we gave up. Cusco’s altitude and the lack of sleep did us in. I consider myself in very good shape, but I was out of breath and sweating like a beast. We stopped the ascent and decided to tour the ruins.

Once done, we headed back to clean up for dinner. As an appetizer, they presented a small chicken bite, which I referred to as a chicken nugget. It was a fantastic, perfectly fried, piece of chicken. I told the waiter this and he offered me another. I was pretty excited at the offering and asked “Can I really?” He said absolutely and brought me another. I could have made a meal of just these little bites, but exercised some self control.

There is a short walking path on the property we explored. They have several hummingbird feeders setup which attracted many beautiful birds.

The next morning, we woke up early to meet our guide and explore the site. We were happy to see the sun was out which should lead to some good photos.

Before we had time to relax, it was time to catch the train back to Cusco. This ride would not be as smooth. There is only one train track going between Cusco and Sacred Valley. There are points along the way that trains can switch off to pass each other. About 2 hours into our late night trip, we came to a stop. An announcement was made that a train ahead of us was having engine trouble and blocking the track. As we asked the staff what this meant, we got varying answers. We finally found a staff member who gave an honest answer saying that realistically it would take at least four hours to get the track cleared. 4 hours!!! And that is an optimistic time. We later researched this issue at home, and found that sometimes it was delayed over 12 hours. Luckily we got moving again sooner than the 4 hour estimate, arriving in Cusco about 3 hours late. The nice thing was that the train staff called our driver to inform him of the delay.

The next travel issue was our flight home. The incoming flight was delayed for several hours for equipment issues. We ended up having to switch airlines to get home since we had to make it back for work. It was a real nightmare and my wife and I were on separate tickets for this trip and I almost forgot to change her flights too. We ended up making it back in time for work, but were wiped out from this trip’s itinerary.

Photos from my trip to Peru in 2019