One of our ambassadors, Carre, just came to our very first Peru Adventure trip. Carre has now been to every trip we have offered and is gearing up for the Coastal Challenge in February. Here is her experience in Peru!
I am home from Peru and just finished washing all my trekking clothes and unpacking. I wanted to sit down and share my thoughts with you while they are fresh in my mind. In full disclosure, I am an RLAG ambassador. I have been to their Costa Rica Retreat and also the Squamish weekend retreats, not because I am an ambassador but because these girls put out a product that I stand behind.
I am going to break down the last week and a little of the process leading up to it.
When you sign up for an RLAG retreat they send you everything you need to know. They send you a detailed itinerary a detailed gear list and you will know what meals and nights are covered in your cost and what you are responsible for. Also, they are readily available to answer questions about anything. They also create a private Facebook group where you can meet the other members of your group and ask questions.
I arrived in Peru a day early and met up with several fellow RLAG travelers at the airport. We had a group meeting and went off to learn how to make chocolate from bean to roaster to mouth. It was a tasty and fun way to get to know everyone in the group.
There was plenty of time in the days before the hike to explore the city, shop and eat at wonderful restaurants. We went on an optional hike together and explored some amazing ruins within walking distance of the hostel. We had plenty of time to explore and visit with each other and learn the history of the ancient Inca civilizations.
The guides chose the area of Cusco wisely giving each of us time to acclimate to the altitude. They were sensitive to everyone reacting differently to the altitude and offered many different solutions to alleviate symptoms.
As, the time to start our hike approached we were given our duffels and directions about what to pack and the allowed weight of the pack. I was getting excited, the Inca Trail experience was about to start. We spent the night before our hike at the cutest hostel with beautiful gardens surrounded by mountains. We had completed a few hikes of stunningly beautiful ruins the sacred valley prior to starting the Inca Trail and I was feeling ready.
We loaded up on the bus with our duffels packed and day packs ready. We arrived at the Inca trail. Our porters passed us at the check point carrying our gear and tents and food for the next four days. It was shocking the strength, stamina, and heart of the men guiding, cooking, and porting our gear. The first climb was a breath stealer. It was about to get real. Everywhere you look there is a view. I felt so small amidst the grandeur of the Andes Mountains and the history of the people who lived here hundreds of years before. There is a lot of elevation and climbing and this was not easy for anyone in our group. Some struggled more than others but everyone was allowed to go at a pace that was comfortable for them and had a guide with them supporting them and teaching us about the history of the region. Everyone would gather together for tea time before dinner and compare experiences each day. The support for each other was incredible. As a team, we embraced each other and our individual journeys with shared hugs, tears and laughs.
OK, let’s talk about the food. I do not have any diet restrictions. So, I can only tell you what I experienced and observed. The RLAG team and the adventure guides, in my opinion, seemed very sensitive and caring to the dietary needs of others. They provided tasty vegetarian, gluten-free, and dairy free meals for team members. Honestly, some meals I was jealous and wished I had picked a vegetarian option. We had wonderful soups, pancakes, popcorn, fried cheese, quinoa, chicken, trout, breads, jams and desserts. We were camping but the food was well beyond anything I would prepare on a camping trip.
It was fun hiking with different people each day and catching up at night. I loved meeting people and learning about their lives and journeys. It is wonderful when people with different views and perspectives come together with a similar love of nature, history and adventure and forge friendships that will last a lifetime. It is amazing how a shared struggle and journey brings a group together.
I wish I could describe the euphoria of finishing the highest climb or the shock and amazement when you see your first ruins in the mountains. I don’t know how to put into words how those moments touched my heart and soul. I can tell you that there was an RLAG staff or adventure guide there each time to congratulate me and celebrate with me.
The guides taught me so much. I gained knowledge and appreciation of the culture and region while pushing my mind and body to new limits. Thank you RLAG for creating another amazing adventure to a stunning location and allowing me to experience it in a way that respects nature, the environment and people.