It was impossible to take all of Machu Picchu in at once; the ancient buildings, the magnificent stonework, the giant green terraces, the mountain views all around us – it was all breathtaking. Before we could fully absorb the scene in its entirety, we had to hurry to the trail to Huayna Picchu, the mountain overlooking Machu Picchu. It was a challenging hike, but the views at the top were more than worth it. After having seen it all from the bird’s eye view, we hiked back down to explore the ruins closer up.
Our last stop took us to the town of Cusco, my favorite place on the trip. Cusco is an amazing city, with cobblestone streets, beautiful churches, and gigantic markets. Much of our time was simply spent exploring the amazing sites of the city. We visited old churches, shopped at farmers markets, learned from professionals at a local photography gallery and taste-tested at a chocolate museum. We stopped in a salsa dancing club, explored a gigantic pre-Inca archaeology site, and wandered through the Sacsayhuaman, an Inca citadel overlooking the city. All this made for a very action-packed stay.
Throughout the trip I was amazed at all I was able to see and do. The friends I made and local people I met, the challenges I overcame, and the opportunities that were presented to me will stick with me forever. I am grateful to have been given this amazing opportunity from Nat Geo Mundo and AT&T, and hope that many other students will be able to have a similar experience. And if they do, I have one piece of advice to offer: be open-minded! You never know how much you will truly enjoy something until you try it. Whether it was swimming in a frigid lake, climbing a mountain I thought was way too high or eating something I would never normally touch, every aspect of the trip offered a new learning and an incredible experience.
Thank you, Nat Geo Mundo & AT&T for giving me this experience. I cannot wait to visit Peru again!