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The QALO Team: Peru with Nicole

Nicole, QALO’s Marketing Content Coordinator, took a chance on an adventure and wound up spending two weeks in Peru. It wasn’t an involved planning process, more like an opportunity that she was simply brave enough to take.

One of my friends from college one day asked me, ‘Want to go with me to Peru?’ and I said “sure” and the rest is history. Truly, it was that simple,” said Nicole.

Since Peru is so huge, the ladies tried to spend a bit of time in each area of interest. A desert oasis for some sand boarding and dune buggy riding in the south, the hot and humid rainforest along the Amazon River in the north, the cold (but beautiful) Sacred Valley near Cusco, and the piece de resistance… Machu Picchu!

For Nicole, the Inca Trail was one of the standout experiences of the trip. It’s a large elevation gain, however, and she does admit to feeling some altitude sickness while spending three days in Cusco before making the big climb. Luckily, by the time the climb happened, both girls felt fine and had a wonderful time.

“The Inca Trail was 100% the highlight of this trip. Four days and three nights spent in the Andes Mountains? There is nothing like it! Each day we were blown away… by the sights, the wildlife, the food … I have never been on such a glamorous camping trip in my whole life!”

For Nicole, the pinnacle of the trip was the moment that she arrived in Machu Picchu. It was an early morning that started with a 2:50 am hike, a 2-hour nap on the ground outside the gates of the park, and culminated with a flat out run to the Sun Gate. The result though? It all paid off. Nicole says, “We were the first ones there and managed to get a breathtaking view of the city of Machu Picchu and the beautiful Huayna Picchu Mountain before the fog and the crowds rolled in. Truly, an unforgettable memory and an unforgettable view.”

So, what advice does Nicole have for others looking for a great adventure? It’s pretty simple, actually.

“Listen to the advice that is given by your guides and tour companies. We both opted to get altitude sickness medication from our doctors beforehand, and took them during our time in high elevation, even after being told by many here in the states, ‘You’re young, you won’t need them.’”

Nicole goes on to say that enjoying downtime added to her overall experience. Be sure to strike up conversations with locals, something else she highly recommends doing.

“While we were in the Amazon jungle, we were able to get to know our guides who had been raised along the river. They had so many wonderful stories to share, they taught us the tricks to catching piranhas (I CAUGHT A PIRANHA - IT WAS SO COOL!), and I now feel like I could survive if I ever ended up on that TV show “Naked & Afraid.”

Nicole says she was fortunate to be raised by parents who love the outdoors. She spent a lot of time camping, traveling, and hiking as a kid and the adventurous spirit never left her. Despite all of that early travel, this was the first year that Nicole really attempted international travel. But now she has the bug!

“I already find myself being drawn to areas that allow for more exploration than they do just the classic tourist sightseeing.” She says that she’s looking for camping and climbing as opposed to just sunbathing at resorts.