The final stop on my whirlwind adventure turned out to be one of my favorite locations of the summer. After a wonderful time in Chile I crossed the border into Peru, eventually settling in a small southern town called Moquegua. Since the tiny city is not known for any kind tourism, I stuck out like a sore thumb when walking around outside. Rather than catcall like in other Latin American towns, people were just so shocked to see me that they would actually stop in the middle of the street and stare. There is no high volume of young individuals visiting the town, which translated to no hostels at which I could stay. I booked a hotel room for the same price that I have paid for a hostel room in another city and was overjoyed to have my own space for the first time in two and a half months. That joy only lasted about a day though, as hostels were the reason I was never lonely when traveling to so many countries by myself. I ended up finishing my work at the Museo Contisuyo in Moquegua earlier than expected, so I packed up my things and continued my journey north.
My next city was the beautiful metropolis of Arequipa, though I hardly spent any time inside the city limits. Immediately upon my arrival I booked a two-day hiking trek into the Colca Canyon, the world’s second deepest canyon (over twice as deep as the Grand Canyon). We started at an elevation of 10,760 ft to hike down into the ravine, stayed overnight in the riverside oasis at the bottom, then began hiking by moonlight at 5:00am the next morning to start the trek back up. It was an unforgettable experience that pushed me farther than I ever thought I could go and at its completion left me feeling invincible.
Following my brief stint in Arequipa I took a quick flight up to Cusco, my final destination of the summer. I spent my time in the city with friends I had met on my Colca Canyon trek before taking a day trip to Machu Picchu. It was one of the absolute highlights of the summer; an iconic location I had previously only dreamed of visiting.