Inca Roads: My journey to a life-changing experience

On the 28th April, 2017 my life changed forever. Before leaving to Peru with 20 clients from Activ8 a lot of people asked me ‘how excited are you to go to Peru soon?’ I always answered “I’m not sure it hasn’t sunk in yet”-and it hadn’t, but little did I know it was going to be the best experience and journey of my life.

We were all entering the unknown as 98% of us have never even been to South America, so we didn’t know what to expect other than what people who had done the normal 4-day Inca Trail had told us. As soon as we had arrived one of our guides- Julio, told us we are in for something truly special and nothing like the 4-day trail, and he was overwhelmingly correct in so many ways.

The first thing you notice when arriving at our place of departure, for our hike during the whole journey all the way up to Machu Picchu is the outstanding scenery. NZ is known for amazing scenery, but what Peru has is NZ scenery on steroids. The scale of the place is just indescribably massive, and we even said throughout the trip that photos will not do this place justice-and we were right, they can’t. We saw and did things that the majority of the public are not allowed to see and do, so we are incredibly grateful to Julio for doing all the things he did-what an outstanding guide. Seeing and experiencing Choquequirao (similar to Machu Picchu), staying on remote terraces on the top of a mountain and Machu Picchu were all truly amazing and something we all will never forget, but this trip was so much more than this.

The group from Activ8, Mavis (Dream It), our guides- Julio and Rob, and the Peruvian people made this trip something I will never forget- the scenery is just a bonus. The 20 of us from Activ8 gelled straight away and there was only amazing times together throughout the whole trip. Ages ranged from 30-65 but that didn’t matter -we were family without the fighting pretty much. The knowledge of our guides and what they did for us were just so thorough it was excellent. Ask anyone from our trip about the food- it was out of this world, without modern means of cooking they definitely were not cooks- they were chefs and if anyone knows how Matt and I eat they definitely made enough. The horsemen were special, especially with us males on the trip we really got on well. They would wake us up in the morning with a coffee, pack down our tent, pack up and take our gear and have our tents all ready at next destination – was 5 star service the whole way.

We had walked 8 days and spent 10 days altogether with one of our guides Rob Harsh. Now this guy has done it all- every adventure race you can think of but what he told us next put everything into perspective for everyone. At Machu Picchu, in a small ceremony for the group, he told us he was living with and suffering from stage 4 lung cancer. This guy basically was dying, but was he giving up on life and ready to go – hell no! He was giving 23 people from NZ the experience of a lifetime with a smile on his face the whole time. This guy was hurting but never made it show, he demonstrated what it’s like to fight for ones life and dedicate it to helping others achieve amazing things. We can all learn something from this- and he has found a new lease of life from coming on this trip. (Your the man Rob, and made the trip special for everyone, I hope we get to meet up again soon).

Irene McPherson, what can I say about this lady. Shes 65, put in more hours training than anyone, and achieved Greatness. She trekked 8 days, ascended and descended the equivalent of Mt. Everest TWICE. Now this is awesome but this is not why she achieved greatness. Irene achieved greatness because she has opened the door for so many people her age who feel things like this are way too hard and they are way too old to do anything like this. This stops now, Irene is the ambassador for greatness regardless of age – Irene your my idol and so so so proud of you.

One thing that I’m very proud of is the way we displayed and engraved our New Zealand Culture on Peru. The no fuss, easily pleased and ‘just get on with it’ attitude was on display the whole trip. Throughout the trip things were tough- did anyone bitch and moan out-loud and quit? Noway. The big one is how we treated and appreciated what the Peruvian people did for us especially our horsemen and chefs/waiters/tentmen. The guides told us after that no other group did what we did, no other group spent a whole night socialising with them (yes there were a lot of beers involved but they deserved it) we didn’t speak Spanish and they didn’t speak English but we made it work. Seeing the looks on the kids faces when we showed up with $500 of school supplies for them and playing soccer with them was so rewarding in itself.

So would I recommend Peru, Inca Trails, Machu Picchu? Definitely. Would I go back? No I wouldn’t-because I know we wouldn’t be on the same trail and with the same extraordinary Kiwi and Peruvian people that made the experience what it is…Unless it was with Dream It again!

Also a massive thank you to Mike Davis (Mavis) from Dream It  who organised the whole thing- without him, none of us would have had this life changing experience.