Hey everyone! My name is Steffani Girard I'm a 26 year old student who currently resides in the Fraser valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia. If I am not working I am usually hiking or spending time with my friends checking out new areas. I have always wanted to travel and have always wanted to combine my love for the outdoors within my travels. This is when I came across the company Free and Easy travel which is a Canadian based company out of Alberta. I researched their 20 day wander the Incan tour in Peru and I was instantly sold. It combined adventure, culture, outdoor activities, and way more! I had set expectations but they were far exceeded. May 11th I embarked on my one more journey, first stopping in Colorado Springs where I ran in a Spartan race at the Ft Carson military base. After this short weekend I was on my way to Peru where I was there for 25 days.
Colca Canyon, Arequipa Peru
This is the 3rd deepest canyon in the world and twice as deep as the Grand Canyon at its core. We woke up at 1:30am to take a 3hr bus ride into a small local village where we had the traditional Peruvian breakfast which consists of: buns, butter or jam, a plate of scrambled eggs and cup of coca tea (which helps with altitude sickness) After a quick stop at condors point (which we didn't see any) we reached our starting point of the decent. Our guide Maria had a little ritual to begin which she said " was to protect you throughout the hike" while waving something in our faces. A group of 4 of us broke away from the pack early on heading down the side of the canyon which was made up of loose gravel and lots of sand. After a couple tumbles and a couple hours we made it down to the bottom of the canyon where we waited at a bridge for the rest of our group. After we had a break we started a little incline while walking through jungle type environment to our lunch stop, which was this beautiful outside sitting area where we got served soup, a big plate of rice and veggies with alpaca meat, also served with a beer! After lunch they took us on a 45-60 minute hike, which after eating was not to enjoyable. We then were on a long flat patch where we could see the other side of the canyon that we had just hiked down. This went through a remote village where the amount of stray dogs out numbered the people. After a couple km of walking you start your final decent into the oasis where you spend the night. That day we ended up hiking 19km, when we got to the oasis it was celebratory beer time! In the morning you could wake up at 430am and hike the last 5km up the canyon or you could sleep till 6am and rent a mule for 60 soles ( $20 Canadian). I personally opted to rent the mule as I have a bad knee that was starting to become irritated and with all the other treks we were doing did not want to risk an injury. Reaching the top was a surreal feeling, and a great accomplishment !
Machu Picchu, Peru
We woke up at 4:30 am to get in line for the bus up Machu Picchu, when we got there at 5 am their was already a huge line of tourists some who get there as early as 1 am to be the first up the mountain. We took the bus up and got in the park gate and had our guide Julian explain how the day was going to work. Our guide was incredible he made it such a unique and spiritual experience for each of us. After about a 5-10 min walk we got to the first view point, Julian got us to all turn around keep our eyes closed and walk hand in hand up to the first point, at the same time we all turned around and experience the view together. This was absolutely breath taking. Following the we walked over to the side of the ruins where we have a coca leaf ceremony while we watched the sun rise from behind the mountains. We then started the hike up Machu Picchu mountain, the unique thing about this is our hike was a complete SILENT hike meaning you could soak in the environment feel everything in your body and really connect with the mountains. This was a 3hr straight up hike. I honestly can't describe the feelings you get when your in this place. When you reach the top the view was indescribable. You see mountain landscapes in every direction, you see over top of Machu Picchu, and over mountains into where the Amazon jungle starts. We had lunch up their and spent some time just enjoying everything. After our decent down the mountain we got to walk around the ruins and spend time doing out own thing and really reflecting on how the Incans lived at one point.
Rainbow Mountain- Cusco, Peru
Another 1:30 am wake up followed by an extremely bumpy and sketchy 3 hr bus ride to the start of rainbow mountain. This trek has only been opened to tourist since November 2015. After gaining some warmth and some breakfast we gathered to start our hike and talk about the day. Some people rented horses they could take if they were suffering from altitude sickness, or if they didn't feel like walking. I opted to hike the whole thing as the hike was not hard just the altitude made it hard to breath. We looked like a heard of alpacas with all the other tourists starting around the same time as us. We walked slowly up the path and then people could eventually get on their horses. Along the way we had bathrooms, which consisted of a tarp around some sticks to make a make shift porta-potty with a hole in the ground, and if we were lucky their was planks over the whole for some support. The path was wide open range with views of hidden villages and the Andea's mountains all around you. We all eventually broke apart as everyone had different tolerance to the altitude. Each time you took a step you could feel a your breath getting shorter with each gain in elevation. Slowly but surely we made it to the top which is a staggering 17,000 ft above sea level! Our guides who hike this 2-3 times per week!! bring out oxygen tanks for those who can't breath very well. At the top you can see all the layers of sedimentary rock that make up the sides of rainbow mountain and all around is nothing but breathtaking views of all the surrounding mountains from active volcano to snow capped peaks!
Just wanted to take a moment and say thank you for taking some time to read my post about my adventure to South America! Before this trip I honestly did not think I would ever be able to travel like this. The company Free & Easy made everything to easily accessible from the travel aspect, to day to day when travelling, and the most important to be was the financial flexibility! I honestly had the most amazing and life changing experience. I would recommend doing something like this at some point in your life it doesn't matter your age, anyone can do it !
If you would like some more information on what I experienced or on Free and Easy shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org I have now become a rep for FNEZ for if your thinking of booking a trip with them contact me and I can give you a promo code to receive money off your next trip!