The next day saw us sleep in and then get up in time to grab breakfast before they quit serving it. We stayed in the hostel most of the day just resting and relaxing after an exhausting Salkantay Trek. The Salkantay Trek was spectacular and certainly was the highlight of our trip to Peru. We highly recommend it to anyone that wants an adventure trip. It certainly did not feel like a normal backpacking trip to me, since we had mules carrying gear for us and guides setting up camp and cooking, but it was fun nonetheless.
We headed out to lunch at 14:00 after lots of downtime. We went to Fuego’s, a very American restaurant known for its burgers. I had an Alpaca burger while Cara enjoyed a regular American Cheeseburger. They were some of the best burgers we had ever had, and with the lunch special, it came out pretty cheap for a fancy meal like we had. It came with a dessert as well where we had carrot cake and crème brule. After lunch we walked around town some and ordered up a horseback tour for the next day. After a short day out on the town we headed back to the hostel and went to sleep again. This rest day was necessary and well deserved after the trek.
10/4 Horseback Riding and Changing of Plans
We got up and had breakfast in the morning before heading out for our horseback tour at 9:30. We were informed that we would have a complimentary cab ride up the mountain to the tour location, but we would have to walk back on our own. I paid attention to the way up, to make sure we would not get lost coming back, but it was really simple since we were on the mountain above town and we could still see Cuzco. The horses were really short and stocky and definitely did not move too fast. They looked as if they did this hike everyday and weren’t overly excited about it, but it was kind of interesting to see the countryside in a new fashion for me. The saddle was about the most uncomfortable thing I have ever sat on, and Cara agreed, that the saddles were super terrible. We rode the horses up to 2 Inca ruins one of which was the Temple of the Moon. We got a guided tour through one in Spanish, but we understood enough to get the gist of the tour. It was pretty cool that they had designed one spot to catch the sun just right on the summer solstice. The views during the tour were great since there are no trees up on top and it was a clear hot day. After riding for about 2 hours, we returned to the starting point and walked down the mountain. It took longer than expected to make it down the mountain since we were running out of energy from lack of food. Eventually, we made it down and wound our way around town for 45 minutes before we eventually found the highly rated La Boheme Creperia. We both had the special which was a ham, cheese, and egg crepe, a chocolate crepe (dark and white), and a glass of some kind of local juice. These crepes were fantastic and very, very large. I was suspicious that they would not fill me up, but Cara and I were stuffed after finishing lunch.
At this point, we were wondering what we were going to do for the rest of our trip in Cuzco since we were supposed to fly out in 2 days. We walked around to the various travel agencies (800+ in Cuzco) inquiring about trips. There was a one day rafting trip we could do, but it was 4+ hours of bus rides and less than 2 hours on the river. That just didn’t sound good to me. There was also a Jungle tour of the Amazon, but it wasn’t going to work out to do that since it didn’t leave until Wednesday when we were leaving Peru. Eventually we came across a 3 day white water rafting trip that sounded pretty good, and we returned to the hostel to mull it over. It took some convincing to get Cara to agree to it, since she had a traumatic experience on an inflatable kayak when she was 5 but we decided to do it and went back to book it. We made sure it was still available, then rescheduled our flight to leave late on Wednesday from Cuzco to Lima just in time to catch our flight back to the US. After rescheduling the flight, we went back to the whitewater rafting agency and sat around for an hour as the owner called a million people to find another guide for the overbooked trip. Eventually it all worked out, and we were in for our 3 day rafting trip. Stoked about that we went to Pacha Mama’s for dinner where we had the traditional Peruvian delicacy, Kuy (guinea pig) for dinner. It was actually pretty good considering all of the bones in it, and it came with a papa rellena, which is a meat-stuffed fried pastry. Our kuy was prepared with a non-traditional prep as well. The head was left attached and the whole pig was on the plate, while usually it is served butterflied open with no head. After presenting it to us, they take it back to the kitchen to cut it up before we eat it. The head was super fun to play with as a puppet. After a successful day, we went to sleep in anticipation of our upcoming whitewater rafting trip.
10/5 Whitewater Rafting Day 1 – The Short Day
We arrived at the whitewater rafting location for pickup at 9:30 as we were told, and no one was there. We walked around the Plaza for a bit and then arrived back at 10:00 and still no one was there. We were wondering if we had heard correctly, were definitely getting worried as it approached 10:30 and still no one had showed up. Alas, at 10:25 our guide showed up and took us from the shop over to where the bus was waiting. We got on the bus with 40 Israelis and headed on out to the Apurimac River at 11:00. Apparently, South America in general, is where all of the Israelis go after their stint in the military that is required. All males are required to do 3 years and females to do 2 years. The bus ride to the river was very long, taking almost 5 hours total before we arrived to the river at 16:00. The ride was another sketchy ride on the edge of the mountain way away from civilization for hours on end. Arriving to the Apurimac River we had a lunch prepared for us and waited as the guides got all the boats ready and gear out for us. We all got a sleeveless wetsuit, and a green water jacket that was super flattering on all of us! We got on the river at about 17:00 in time to raft for a grand total of maybe 15 minutes before arriving to camp for the night. It was okay, since the trip was the same distance total regardless of distance per day. Camping was not so comfortable on the sandy beach, but I was able to scoop out a butt hole in the sand, making it more comfortable. We had dinner at 21:00 and then turned in for the night.
10/6 Whitewater Rafting Day 2 – Long Day on the River
Awaking in the morning we packed up camp and put it all on the boats and got on the river by 8:30. It was a nice morning to be on the water, though it was not too warm. Getting on our boat, our guide, Victor (aka Bacteria) went through the safety one more time and we were off. We paddled pretty much all day long and went through lots of rapids. The rapids on this river were of all classes, from class 1 all the way up to class 6. We did not go through the class 6 crazy rapids. Instead the guides took the boats through as all of the passengers walked around. It looked absolutely insane taking the boats through those big rapids. The ones we were traversing were hard enough. I am so happy that our guide was as good as he was because he showed us a great time without ever tipping us over. I was worried that Cara might not enjoy the experience, but with Victor piloting the raft, we stayed upright and I caught lots of big smiles on her face. We had a chance to jump out of the boat and do a swimming rapid at one point and it was pretty awesome, even with water running up my nose. Cara wasn’t about to have any of jumping in the cold river. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to jump in a raging river even if it was cold. We rafted for 6+ hours on this day and it was awesome. We were so tired at the end of the day and were happy to get to the campsite where we setup our own tents. We got shafted tonight with a crappy tent that the wind blew the sides into. I could have set it up better, but without stakes it was not possible. We were on the beach for about 5 hours before dinner and the sand and rocks were really starting to hurt our butts after sitting on the raft all day. Meals were not memorable on the this trip compared to the Salkantay Trek. Sitting here, 2 weeks later writing this, I cannot come up with what we had for dinner, so it certainly was nothing to write home about. We went to sleep right after dinner and dessert.
10/7 Whitewater Rafting Day 3 – Final Day of Fun
We got 3 hour on the river today after packing up the camp in the morning. The rafting was pretty good again we got wet pretty early in the morning, going through a rapid that came right over top of the raft. Luckily, the sun came out about 9:00 and warmed up quickly to be really nice outside. On the way down the river, we saw a lot of good rapids, but they seemed to be getting farther and farther apart. My arms were getting really tired of paddling towards the end of the trip especially since we stayed in the same seats the entire trip, which meant we never got to switch our arms doing all of the work. Towards the end of the rafting trip we went down a super soaker of a rapid to get us all nice and wet at the end of the trip. The last one might be the most memorable as the kayaker went ahead to make sure it was safe, gave the thumbs up, and then we plunged over the 2m high waterfall down to the flat river where we pulled out. We had a great trip and we are both excited to have more rafting in our future. I was very appreciative that Victor kept us upright and showed Cara a good time in the water. After packing up and lunch, we headed out and got back to Cuzco around 16:00. We headed back to the hostel, showered up, and went out to dinner. After a lot of mediocre Peruvian food on the trip, we were excited to come back and have some Pizza. We knew we liked Pacha Mama’s, so we went there again for dinner and split a pizza that was of true light Italian style. After dinner, we enjoyed dining on 2 dessert places as well as doing our duty as good tourists and buying souvenirs for seemingly everyone you know or kind of know. After our last dessert, we were tired and went back to the hostel for more sleep.
10/8 Final Day in Peru
We awoke not having a schedule, packed up and left our bags at the hostel until we were ready to start our trip home at 17:00. We toured the Choco Museo today and enjoyed some cacao tea made out of the shells of the cacao beans. It was pretty cool to see how chocolate is made and we definitely enjoyed our time during that tour. We checked out some more stalls at markets looking for the one souvenir that I had seen that I really liked. I wanted a fancy knife that had the 3 animals important to the Inca on it, the Puma, the Condor, and the Snake. We eventually found one that I liked and bought it, which concluded our souvenir buying time in Peru. We enjoyed the lunch at Fuego’s so much from before our whitewater rafting trip, that we visited again and got some more superb burgers and onion rings. After lunch, our food babies made, we walked around town some, relaxed in a park and got ready to go.
We were sad to leave Peru after such a fun trip, but we left with the knowledge that we had done as much as we possibly could in our time there. We shall return to South America some day to do an Amazon Jungle trek/tour and look forward to that day. We will not be short on traveling in the coming months and years as we move to China and start our new lives together. Overall, I cannot think of a more fun honeymoon, even if it was atypical. Atypical is what we do, and it is what makes our lives so much fun.