One year ago… 

Today it’s exactly one year ago that we changed our status to unemployed and homeless. Our few possessions were stored in the attic of Cléments parents, we were packing our backpacks for the Chemin de St. Jacques, and said our final goodbyes to family and friends in France. 

One of the biggest adventure of our lives was about to start. We were full of hopes and fears, full of wanderlust and excitement to finally get started as well as some reluctance to leave our comfortable life, full of confidence in our relationship and full of worry about the challenges that we might have to face on our journey. 

We received full support from the people that really mattered as well as some irritating questions from the people that didn’t. It wasn’t easy to say goodbye and there were many people we’ve missed dearly during our trip. There were events we couldn’t attend, developments we couldn’t witness, hugs we couldn’t give… We knew from the start that those things would be the hardest for us. But nothing amazing ever happens without sacrifices. And our route was planned, plane tickets booked, and the equipment bought. Our minds were set on doing this. Now. Cause now or never, right? 

Ten months of traveling and two months of settling back in later. We are packing our bags again. Finding things we had forgotten about. Things we were happy to use again as well as things we looked at and wondered why we’d bought them on the first place. And why we still possess them. I feel really sorry for Cléments parents who stored the majority of our stuff and now we go through it and throw out a good amount of it. I guess it’s a sign that we have changed. That this past year did something to us, especially our mindset of what we truly need. Let’s hope it stays like that when facing our plainly furnished apartment in a few days. 

We’ll start packing the car tomorrow (fingers crossed that everything will fit in) and leave on Monday in the morning to get to Heidelberg to receive the keys to our new apartment on Tuesday. We are excited to have our own place again, although we’ll have to say that it has been so nice to stay with family and friends for the last ten weeks!! We want to thank everyone who hosted us – it has been really awesome! 

Let’s hope the nice weather we are currently enjoying on Ile d’Oleron will not only follow us to Heidelberg but stay with us for a few more weeks… We are already dreading the arrival of winter!! 

Lots of love and sunshine to all you lovely people!! 

Wiebke & Clément ♥️


Six weeks back in Germany 

It’s absolutely crazy to think that it has been already six weeks since our return to Germany. So far, our adjustment has been really smooth. I guess it’s because we chose the moment of our return ourselves. It wasn’t determined by things such as the end of a semester, a flight that we’d booked months ago, or the end of the money. We had been truly ready to come home! 

It’s still a few weeks until I’ll start my new job so we have time to see our families and friends. We don’t have to rush. We can take our time. Really hang out. Notice all the things that didn’t change and all the things that did. Not only around us but also within us. And of course stuff ourselves with bread and cheese and all the other jummy things we missed! 

It’s been six weeks but we still appreciate sitting on comfortable couches in the well-equipped houses (with insulation and stuff), surfing the internet (high speed!), drinking a glass of water (from the tap), and feeling a carpet beneath our feet (soft and fluffy). It took us some time to simply throw the toilet paper into the toilet without frantically looking around for a trash can, though. But already we complain loudly about slow computers and an uncooperative mobile phone.

The main challenge will be to keep the appreciative positive-thinking mindset that we acquired during our trip. We smile when people complain about the five minute delay of the bus. We roll our eyes when people brag about their new car and the draining but awesome jetsettting they have to do for work. We laugh when people apologize for not having a spotless apartment. We try really hard to stop at a red pedestrian light even when there is no car in sight. And we try not to go completely crazy when people throw away food for no valid reason. 

We feel so thankful for the warm welcome we received everywhere we showed up so far! It will take us some more time to visit all the people we want to see given our slowness. We have been showered with love by our families, former neighbors and colleagues, and our friends!! It’s just awesome to come back after ten months and just start a conversation where you left it! 

Three weeks in France lay ahead of us before we’ll move into our tiny apartment in Heidelberg. We’ll have to see that might trigger some longing for being on the road again. Right now I’m just really excited about unpacking this backpack for more than seven days! 

Lots of love ❤️ 

Wiebke & Clément

284 days of travelling – what does it cost?

Some of you already asked, the others maybe wonder: How much did our trip cost?
(answer at the bottom of the article)

We wanted to be open about this because it’s part of the experience and maybe there is someone reading this who can learn about it for his/her future travels.

What we planned:

We first booked our 3 international flights (France-South Africa-New Zealand-Argentina) with the travel agency STA. It cost for the both of us: 4.351€

Then we booked a 12 months travel-health-insurance by Hanselmerkur for 766€ (for both)

And finally we left with the idea that we could travel for about 1.000€ per person and per month. It means a daily budget of 33€ per person, and at the beginning, I actually kept track of our daily average!

1.000€ per person per month for a one-year trip makes a budget of 24.000€.
So we saved that up and we were ready to go! Of course we ignored on purpose the fact that at some point we had to come back and that we didn’t have a plane ticket.

33€ per person and per day is I think kind of the average cost for a trip over several months (6 months and +) for backpackers. We met quite some people who were more or less on a similar budget, often even less.

What we tried to do – How to stay in budget:

-don’t go to tourist restaurants => go to local places
-don’t eat&drink too much outside => cook, make sandwiches, have a thermos flask for tea/coffee during the day
-ask locals for the cheapest place to buy => it’s often the fruit&vegetables market
-alcohol and sodas are often expensive => prefer water or tea

-the cheapest place to sleep is often a bunk bed in a hostel => learn to like it! (we didn’t…)
-Ask your fellow travelers => to share a Airbnb can be great value if you make friends on the way
-travel off season for reduction

– Walk a lot, sometimes with all your stuff => not when it’s dangerous like in South Africa)
– share airport taxis with fellow travelers
– take your time to travel and don’t move all the time => Transportation is number 1 of our expenses.
– if you buy a car, make sure to know the market and the price you can sell it for => in NZ we lost 2.000€ because at the end of the summer everybody sells and nobody buys

-buy clothes second hand => you will loose or destroy most of it on the way anyway, high quality stuff doesn’t necessarily pay off on a long backpacking trip
-don’t do expensive tours and activities => obvious isn’t it? ask locals, do it on your own when possible
-do volunteering => volunteering is awesome! We did a bit more than 5 weeks altogether during our trip. It’s not that much and it could easily have been more. Volunteering is great because you stop moving for a while, so it gives you some kind of traveling break => trust me, you need breaks when you travel! It’s often a cultural exchange, a human experience, a way to learn things and to make new friends. And it’s good for budget! Accommodation and food are normally paid by the host.

How to travel cheaper:

We didn’t travel very expensively but we had our comfort zone and it’s possible to spend much less going out of it. For that you need to:
– choose your countries wisely: for example traveling through Asia (we didn’t) is much cheaper than let’s say New Zealand or Patagonia.
– hitchhike
– go to very cheap hostels (if you don’t mind dirty and human proximity)
– have a tent. In some National Parks camping is free
– find free accommodation like for example on
– Work from time to time
– don’t eat or drink out
– look for free or cheap activities: free walking tours, free museums, hikes or viewpoints in the proximity

Maybe fellow travelers and readers have more tips?

Which country was the cheapest?

It might come as a surprised but actually we spend less money (per day) back in Europe!
Walking the Camino de Santiago happened to be the cheapest part of our trip, less than our budget of 66€ per day.
On the chart Peru appears being the cheapest, but the data is a slightly cheated (10 to 20%) due to the visit of my parents, who took over some of our costs.
Argentina happens to be the most expensive country for us, mostly because of the plane Buenos Aires – Ushuaia (300$ each!) and because Patagonia is just really expensive…
New Zealand was also way over budget. Like I said we lost 2.000€ on the sale of our car and we also enjoyed some amazing outdoor adventures like a helicopter flight or a 2 days kayak trip in the fjords.
In South Africa we have been over budget as well. Even though the rental car was cheap (600€ for 5.000 km) we often had to stick to the “touristic program” for safety reason and this was more expensive than we wished. Safaris are also expensive, but it was well invested money!

Expenses days spent average per day
Camino 3.942 € 64 61,6 €
South Africa 4.657 € 49 95,0 €
New Zealand 7.654 € 68 112,6 €
Argentina 2.495 € 21 118,8 €
Chile 1.878 € 27 69,6 €
Bolivia 1.383 € 22 62,9 €
Peru 1.939 € 33 58,7 €

So, how much did we really spend?

After the Camino I started keeping track of the money we spent, putting it in different categories.

Technology (phone, camera…) 167 €
Small things (postcards, present…) 183 €
Culture (museums, movies…) 584 €
Clothes 661 €
Health&Wellness (Insurance, doctor, spa…) 1.019 €
Food Groceries 2.002 €
Restaurants/bars/cafés 2.015 €
Outdooring (kayak, heli-flight, national parks…) 2.746 €
Camino de Santiago 3.682 €
Accommodation 4.941 €
4x international flights 5.651 €
Transportation 6.714 €

It’s astonishing how much it costs to move around. Exclusive the international flights we still spent over 6.700€ for transportation!!! Maybe it’s not that much of a surprise thinking that we covered over 20.000 km on land and over 2.000 km on boat, but still.
A crazy hitchhiker, or bike rider would spend much less 🙂

Flights are also expensive, but this, everybody knows. It’s just incredible that a one way ticket from Peru to Germany costs as much as round trip!

So at the end we did go OVER budget. Our trip lasted “only” 9 months, so 3 months less than we first planned but we still spent our 24.000€ (23.948€ exactly) and even an extra 1.300€ for our flight home. But still, we wouldn’t have it otherwise, it was every penny worth!

With the money invested before hand: 4.351€ for the flights and 766€ for the health insurance, the total expenses of 23.948€ and the 1.300€ to come home, the total cost of the trip was: 30.365€
or 107€/day
or 3.265€/month

A hell lot of money, but so many encounters, memories and experiences, it was definitely worth it. Anytime again!

from Clément the nerd accountant

Last stop: Lima, the Grey

We spent the last four days of our trip in Lima. We took a tiny plane from Andahuaylas (40 seats, 7 occupied) and it was probably one of the most spectacular flights we have ever been on! Snowcaped mountains, rivers, hills in all colors ofcthe rainbow… absolutely breathtaking! We were changing seats every five minutes to get the view down both sides of the plane. 

For Lima, we somehow expected sunshine, surfers, and bikinis, but learned pretty fast that the city is called “Lima, the grey” for a reason. In the dry period the sky is usually covered in thick clouds. So when we got close with our plane, we lost all sense of direction flying in this thick greyness that surrounds the city. 

On most days, we got some minutes and sometimes even hours of sunshine when the sun managed to break through the grey clouds. The first day, we just walked around Miraflores, the part of the city where most tourists chose to stay. Lima is really modern compared to the rest of the cities we have visited in Peru. Every  quarter has it’s own personality and it was a lot of fun to visit different areas and see the differences in architecture, people’s clothes, and atmosphere. 

We started our second day with a FREE WALKING TOUR. It started in Miraflores but was actually about the downtown Lima, which meant that all 38 people that joined the tour had to travel in two different busses to get there. It took us quite long and I imagine it to be much easier to just meet up directly in the old town. 

The tour itself was quite nice! Informative, entertaining, not too long, and with lots of free trials! We tasted some Peruvian coffee, craft beer, and three types of Pisco, which is the national liquor here in Peru. As always, the tour gave us some information about what else to see in Lima as well as the confidence to move around by ourselves. We can only recommend to take a little tour like that early after arriving in a new place! 

After the tour, we had lunch in China Town (very unexpected to find that in Lima) and then strolled through several market mazes that are scattered all over the city. In the evening, we went to the Parque de la Reserva to see the Circuito Magico de las Aguas. It’s basically lots of illuminated fountains but it’s really nicely done. In the evenings, there are three light shows (19:15, 20:15, and 21:30) which are nice but we liked walking around the park ourselves better. That might be due to the fact that during the show there was a little boy with a gigantic laser sword (featuring a real laser pointer) standing next to us, commenting very loudly everything he could see. He was basically a live commentator shouting out things like: “Lights! Dance! I like to dance! Bird! Laser! Lights! Lights! Lights!”. It was super cute but also very distracting… I was kind of scared being hit by his overly excited laser sword. 

On our third day, we wanted to visit a museum that’s highly recommended. But when we read that it’s mostly about ceramics our motivation decreased immensely. So instead, we found a hairdresser and I got my hair cut. About time! She was very nice and talked to me in a way that I managed to understand about 45 % (?) of what she said. She praised my Spanish but I think it was only to motivate me to study a little harder! 

Afterwards, we went for a stroll to the sea side and then to the neighborhood Barranco, which is very charming! Lots of colorful houses, cute cafés and stylish restaurant! And really close to the sea! We went to a place called Barra Mar (our dear friend Nicole recommended lunch here!) and ate some Cervice, a dish made with raw or shortly cooked fish. It was really good, although quite spicy! Afterwards, we had desert and coffee in a cute french bakery called La Panetteria Barranco. They make the breads and cakes in the back of the café so the whole place smelled sooo delicious! 

We walked back along the beach and spotted a small pelican and lots of gigantic crabs. There were quite some surfers in the water and surf schools offer lessons on Playa Makaha and Waikiki. We just lay down lazily on the pebbles and watched the surfers competing for the best waves. 

There are not only tons of surfers, there are also millions of skateboarders. Most of them hang out in front of the shopping center Larcomar to practice their tricks, flips, and jumps. They organize small competitions such as stacking up several boards and trying to jump over them. Pretty cool to watch! 

We spent the evening looking for souvenirs for my family (Cléments family had been covered by his parents), cursing because everything seemed a lot more expensive than in Bolivia and Cusco. As most of the stuff is probably made in Bolivia anyway, we really haggled about prices, with reasonable success. In the end, we got what we wanted! 

On our last day, we went to a small market in Surquillo and bought a football jersey for my nephew and two tshirts for Clément. The seller tried to convince us that a tshirt in size L is more expensive than a tshirt in size M because its bigger and needs more fabric. 25 instead of 20 soles! We argued with her and tried to bargain to get a better price for all three pieces but she was like the iron lady. In the end, we payed the price she asked for… We really wanted the tshirts! And we were really hungry! 

Then, during our last lunch in Lima, we received a message from Cléments brother asking if we could buy him a football jersey of the national team if Peru. Shame on me, as I talked Clément out of it when he wanted to by one from that lady art he market! By then, we had about 25 minutes left to get back to the hostel to catch the bus to the airport. So of course, Clément ran back to the market to get the jersey! 

Then off to the airport! We spent our last 13 soles on ingredients for Pisco Sour before we boarded the plane at 8 pm. The 12 hours that it took us to get to Amsterdam just flew by. No surprise as I slept for about seven hours! And before we knew it we were in Frankfurt hugging my family who came to pick us up from the airport! With a balloon 🎈!! 

We’re currently enjoying the company of our family and friends and the warm summer weather in Germany! 

Again, many thanks for following and supporting us during our adventures and for making this experience so special! 

Lots of love ❤️ 

Wiebke & Clément

Things we want to eat & drink once we are back 

We have been eating quite well during our trip and especially South America has come as a positive surprise  food wise! I probably got about a hundred comments that I’ll have to starve in South America if I don’t start eating meat. I was really concerned that it might be indeed difficult to find places with vegetarian options or at least places that are willing to keep the meat off my plate. Well, here I am! Well fed, still going strong! I have to say that I’m not the strictest vegetarian in the world. So I didn’t always ask whether the soup was made with chicken stock. Or the pudding with gelatin. And I would fish out pieces of meat hiding in my noodles. And I would eat fish from time to time.

Still, there are a whole bunch of things we can’t wait to stuff into our mouths once we get back! And the list keeps growing! We would actually have to two separate ones for Germany and France but we’re too lazy. And separate ones for Clément and me. But yeah, we’re also too lazy for that. You could turn this into a little game and guess who of us misses what and from which country?!

  1. Bread. Real bread. That’s not sweet, yellow, really soft or really dry.
  2. Salty butter.
  3. Cheese. And lots of it.
  4. Weißbier.
  5. Latte Macchiato.
  6. Bratwurst.
  7. Käsespätzle.
  8. Croissant. No, croissant isn’t the same as bread.
  9. Any food from MoshMosh.
  10. Nutella.
  11. Veggie BBQ.
  12. Raclette. No. We don’t care that we come back in summer.
  13. CRISPY french fries.
  14. Balsamico chips.
  15. Falafel Döner.
  16. Radler.
  17. Peanut butter.

Uhhh, really looking forward to indulging in all of those things again!! Although we’ll probably miss some really yummy things like Sues homemade BBQ bread, fried fish, and Sublime Chocolates! And of course the good prices…

Lots of love ❤️ from the two Heimkehrer

Wiebke & Clément

When it’s time to go home… 

Almost ten months of being homeless and unemployed. Instead of working, earning money, and building a house, we traveled. We spent most of our money, made tons of memories, and cherished life on the road.

But eventually, at some point, sometimes sooner and sometimes later than expected, comes the time to go home. And we both feel like the time has come now. We thought about going home a lot during our volunteering at Munay Wasi, and finally decided that yes, it’s time. So today in Lima we booked our tickets back to Germany, where we’ll land end of THIS week!

We feel very grateful that we had this opportunity to see a small part of the Southern hemisphere. We are happy that we had the courage to leave our old (pretty decent!) lives behind. And we are very thankful for the support that we had from our families and friends. Some people say they could travel forever. I might have felt like that some years ago but after ten months I can say that we’re really looking forward to go home!

But why now? Why not yesterday and why not spend two more weeks here in Peru or in Ecuador while in the area? For us, it’s several reasons that the time feels right to book a flight now. Here are, well, most of them.

  1. Our nieces and nephews don’t know what we look like anymore. One of them might have forgotten we ever existed.
  2. Money is running low. Kind of a no brainer that travel time is up when your bank account is blank.
  3. There is an appartement to find and a job to start. Yes, there is a very high chance that I’ll be working at the University of Heidelberg starting 15th of September!
  4. There are several important family members present or close the day we arrive by plane. And that’s important of course because someone has to hold all the balloons when we arrive at the airport!
  5. But most of all: We were getting a little unimpressed with really impressive things. Going on a camping trip and waking up above the clouds? Meh… Feeling this unappreciative of cool and/or beautiful things might be the biggest indicator that time is up.

We hope you understand our decision! Don’t be too sad that this awesome blog post will be coming to an end now! We still have a few drafts to refine and publish after our return. We’re definitely looking forward to TEN WEEKS of travel around both our home countries and visiting many lovely people on the way!

Lots, lots, and lots of love ❤️

W & C

Strange stories: Peru edition Part II 🇵🇪

The second part of “Strange stories Peru”! Not all of them are strange, some are funny, some enraging, some heartwarming, and some informative. Hope you enjoy all seven of them! 

1. Most Peruvians think that most people working for the government or the municipalities are lazy. That includes the people cleaning the streets. Therefore, some smart Peruvians throw their trash onto the streets to make those people work harder. 

2. We are strolling over the big market in Andahuaylas. There is a woman sitting behind a table. On the table is a blender and an aquarium full of frogs. What on earth did I just see??? (No, the picture below was taken while making nata from the Alfa-Alfa plant, which is full of iron and used as medicine here.)

3. If you draw some pictures with preschool children in Peru, you get the usual stuff: people, trees, houses… However, you also get potatoes and lots of them in various shapes and sizes. 

4. Peru is a machoist country. We learned that when we met up with some Peruvians to play football and they refused to play with or against girls. I for sure wanted to kick their balls! 

5. Yes, you can breastfeed your child while laying in the dentist’s chair and having your teeth checked. Peruvians are awesome!

6. The pre-Inkan and Inkan cultures worshipped mountains and volcanoes. It was common to bring those giants offerings in the form of food, animals, and fine clothes. When the Spanish and their Catholicism arrived, they must have found those habits to die hard. So one of the Catholics saw Jesus appear in front of the volcano that the locals would worship. What a coincidence! And BAM, worshipping it was legit! 

7. To find out whether a scarf or sweater or headband is really made out of alpaca fiber, just take a little part and light it on fire. If it smells of sheep and it turns to ash, it’s natural fiber. If it’s smells of plastic and melts, than its acrylic fiber. I don’t take any responsibility for shops accidentally being set on fire! 

Hope you are all doing well!! 

Hugs and kisses 

Wiebke & Clément 


Volunteering part 4: Munay Wasi 

After Cléments parents had left for Lima, we took the night bus to Andahuaylas. It’s a little city about 9 hours from Cusco. We arrived there early the next morning, much earlier than we expected at 4:30 am! We had agreed with Valentin, the french coordinator in Andahuaylas, that we will arrive around 6:30 at Munay Wasi. So we spent two hours at a cold bus station! The dream!!

Unlike our volunteering before, this time we didn’t find the project on the platform helpX. We heard about this place from a french couple we met in the Salt Desert of Uyuni about 2 months ago. They spent about a month at Munay Wasi as volunteers and really enjoyed it! So Clément wrote a message to the founder in Nante asking whether it’s possible for us to stay for a week or two. She gave her okay and the next day we were on our way!

Munay Wasi is Quechua and means something similar to “House which is loved”. It’s quite a big premise with several buildings with a small store, accommodation for the volunteers, a big common room, a library, a sewing workshop, and a preschool in the backyard. There is a big vegetable garden, an orchard, and a greenhouse. The project was started to serve the community here as well as several small communities in the rural areas.

Usually, the volunteers plan their project that they want to realize here in Andahuaylas at home. They gather information, work out the different steps needed to complete their project, and might raise some money. There are for example a group of dentists here that gathered money for 35 sets of new teeth for elderly people. Two other volunteers are building dry toilets for people in the community that otherwise won’t have access to a toilet. In July, more than 70 volunteers will arrive to help with several construction projects in various communities around Andahuaylas. We on the other hand arrived without any plan or money. By now we know pretty well which jobs we enjoy more and which less, so we decided to just come and see what’s available and what’s needed and lend a hand.

So far, we did some gardening, some serious cleaning of the kitchen and common areas, and helped out in the library and the little store. Clément is in charge of feeding the animals (chickens, ducks, two alpacas, some bunnies and Guinea pigs) and cleaning their houses. I spent the mornings at the preschool and the afternoons with various other activities. Three times a week some women receive sewing classes in the little workshop here. They learn some basic pattern making so they can sew for example skirts and tshirts. Some of the more advanced students sew tshirts for Munay Wasi’s very own label. I could try out an industrial sewing machine for the first time and was a little overwhelmed by its force… much to the amusement of the other students!

Joining a project like this works a little differently than staying with people that you found on helpX. On helpX the deal is usually to exchange about four to five hours of work against food and accommodation. Here, we pay about 3 € per day for accommodation and buy and prepare our own food. It’s not a lot and it won’t ruin us for sure. In the end, the money is spent on maintaining and improving the facilities – and there is definitely room for improvement! The facilities are very basic and I have some serious doubts that all the people coming in July can live here comfortably. Sometimes it’s hard to make an effort to keep things clean and in order when everything is old and worn. And it can get a little frustrating to share a kitchen and bathroom when not everybody is willing to put in some effort to keep things in order. Gosh, I feel my age now! I really have little patience for people who don’t clean up after themselves!

Oh yeah, since Munay Wasi was found by a french person, all volunteers here are french. That’s makes it a little difficult for me as I now like to mix French and Spanish to an extent that I’m understood neither by the French nor by the Peruvians. Also, as the French all speak or learn Spanish, having to speak English with me really confuses them. I understand that and really appreciate the ones that try anyway!

We will stay until Monday and then catch a flight to Lima! This week there is a huge strike against corruption which means the schools are closed, people don’t go to work, and there is little transportation. Let’s hope we’ll make it to the airport!

Lots of love



Et finalement: Machu Picchu ❤️

We arrived by train the night before. The train ride to Aguas Calientes (Machu Picchu Pueblo) is very picturesque but as it was dark we would have to wait for the ride back to Ollantaytambo to be sure. We had bought some snacks for the train so once we arrived, all we needed to do was find the way to our accommodation (which was quite hard) and fall asleep (which was even harder). Aguas Calientes must be one of the least attractive cities I’ve ever visited. The only good thing about it, is it’s proximity to MaPi. There are millions of hotels, hostels, pubs, and restaurants (with waiters that can be really aggressive in their advances to convince you to eat at their place), fluorescent advertisements, loud music… Nothing there to build up our excitement for the magical place we were about to see! 

Our hotel was located on the busiest streets, with music playing until midnight and people shouting. In the end, we got some hours of sleep and woke up ready to catch the first bus to Mach Picchu. Too bad though, that about 200 others had the same idea! So we got in line, dreading the potential waiting time, while Clément went to buy our tickets. The busses started to move not long after, filling up with excited tourist to make their way up the mountain to the famous ruins. The queue moved astonishingly fast and after only about 30 minutes we were on board of bus #16! We went up the narrow windy road and enjoyed the amazing view over the beautiful mountains and valleys. 

Of course, once we arrived we had to join another queue to enter the premises but we were lucky and got into a fast moving line. The people working at the entrance at supposed to check the bags for forbidden substances which is basically everything except for water (in a glass bottle) and fruits. We had left most of our stuff in one of the lockers next to the entrance but we shouldn’t have bothered. The lady in our line didn’t check a single bag as far as we could see. 

So at about 7:15 am we were making our first steps onto Machu Picchu! I had to keep myself from overtaking people or pushing them out of the way on the first narrow path towards the site! That’s how excited I was! We went straight up to the caretakers hut (as recommended in every guidebook and travel blog ever written on Machu Picchu) to catch a first glimpse of the Inka capital before it’s swarming with tourists. 

It was simply spectacular! The sun was shining through the misty clouds, making everything glow. We heard that people break down in tears at first sight of MaPi – well, I can understand that although it didn’t happen to us. This city in the middle of nowhere, all those remains of a once powerful empire! The thought that all this has been built from nothing and is still here for us to see and admire… absolutely overwhelming! 

We took our time, sat down on a little wall (a guard whistled at us because apparently you can sit in the wall but not have your feet dangling down) to wait for the sun to break through the clouds. At that point we were really happy that we didn’t get a guide at the entrance. All around we heard people being reminded to walk on, that they were in a hurry, that they had to move on. No times for a moment of admiration or a picture. Finally, the masses moved on and the sun broke through creating a whole new Machu Picchu. Again, absolutely beautiful! 

From the caretakers hut, we walked towards the Inka Bridge. It’s a 20 minute walk to the bridge along a narrow but easy path. There are not a lot of people in the morning so it’s calm and quiet! The path offers a view over a different part of the valleys surrounding Machu Picchu, down on the river, the railway, and Hydroelectrica. It’s not possible to access the bridge (stupid me thought we could walk across) but I guess few people would like to anyway. It looks like an ancient access or escape route from the city with a collapsible bridge to keep enemies away. From the end of the path you can catch a glimpse on how the path continues or used to continue. It looks absolutely mad!! Only an absolute emergency would make you take this road! 

To stay away from the crowds roaming the ruins and to take advantage of the cooler morning, we aimed for the Sun Gate next. To get up there took us about 45 minutes, including several breaks to catch our breaths. There are two lookouts on the way that already offer quite spectacular views over MaPi and the surrounding mountains. Some people turned around here but we continued our quest to the Sun Gate. It’s were the people hiking the Inka Trail arrive so – since we didn’t do any hike to earn Machu Picchu – in a way we felt like we had to walk at least this small part of the trail. 

After exhausting ourselves on the two hikes, we headed for the exit to eat and to use the bathroom. We learned that most pathways are one way streets so to reach the exit, we had to take quite a detour. You have to know that there are no toilets on the premises so if you happen to have to go, you better hurry. And pray to not encounter any group of asian tourists blocking the narrow pathways trying to get the perfect shot. 

For lunch, there are three options: First, eat in a restaurant that offers a lunch buffet for 30 US$. Second, buy a sandwich for prices (and quality) common in german theme parks. Third, bring your own. That’s what we did. We brought some bread, avocados, cream cheese, and chips, and enjoyed lunch in the sun surrounded by some stray dogs. The money we saved, we spent right away for coffee though, because, well, we really needed one!

After lunch, we went into the ruins themselves to explore the buildings and temples that have been built there. It hit us again how amazing this place is! Someone a long time ago must have dreamed up and planned this whole endeavor! And to put the plan into reality took hundreds of helping hands and endless hours of work. We could have spent hours imagining how life must have looked like… for the kings, for the servants, for the children… 

After 3 pm most people had left and we were very thankful for the advice to book two nights and not just one in Aguas Calientes for not having to worry about taking the bus in time to get back to Cusco on the same day. How ever dreadful Aguas Calientes may be, it’s definitely worth to stay another night! We spent this time at our favorite spot: around the caretakers hut. The sun was shining warm from the sky and the llamas and alpacas came down from the upper terraces to enjoy the view over their Machu Picchu. We enjoyed the view of the llamas in front of Machu Picchu and took a thousand of the iconic llama-in-front-of-the-ruins-pictures. 

We really appreciated those last moments with magical light shining onto this magical place! A lot is about to change for the visitors of Machu Picchu (visit for 6 hours max. and only accompanied by a tour guide). I hope it doesn’t decrease the visitors experience and still let’s them appreciate the magic of this otherworldly place! 

We took the bus back to Aguas Calientes at 4:30 pm, exhausted from the long day but really happy! I don’t think we could’ve hoped for more! After this beautiful day, even the craziness of ugly Aguas Calientes could not bother us much… 

Lots of love 



The Sacred Valley (aka the place of the many beautifully arranged stones) 

The presence of Cléments parents is both good and bad for our budget. On the one hand, we do a lot more expensive stuff (and a lot more stuff in general). On the other hand – with them being the caring people that they are plus them being on total vacation mode – we do save a lot on lunch and dinner. So when discussing how to visit the Sacred Valley on our way to Machu Picchu, it was definitely the two of them who made the decision to hire a private driver and tour guide. Our guide Isaias was also the owner of our Airbnb-flat in Cusco. He speaks perfect English and even a little French. And he drives a Peugeot. So in many ways he was the perfect match for us. 

He picked us up at 9 am in the morning and drove us to Chinchero. It’s a little town known for its market, its textile manufacturing, and of course its beautifully arranged stones. We took our time wandering through the archeological site. Isaias directed our attention to the fantastic walls and enigmatic carvings. There is so much we don’t understand about the way the Inkas and pre-Inkas did things. The by far most appealing theory states that they might simply chewed up too many coca leaves. After this 90-minute walk, we went to eat in a cosy little restaurant to regain the strength for the next part of the tour. 

On the way to our next destination we stopped at two view points. At both of them camped some souvenir sellers and kids trying to convince you to get a picture with their llamas. They were really amazed by the phone and requested that I take a video of them which we then watched three times before I had to leave. Super cute! 

Next stop: the salt pans in Moray! The road to the Salineras was very windy and Alain and Dominique cringed every now and then when the car took turn of a 270 degree… The view over the many pools with the water having dried up to various degrees was quite amazing! A little stream of water provides the salt. The percentage of salt in the water is several times higher than the Pacific Ocean so when you put your hand into the lukewarm stream and let the water dry off, your hand in cover in a white layer of salt. The pools are only leased to people from the surrounding villages to provide a secure income in addition to what they make with farming. 

Time was flying so we only had a quick stop in Maras to see the terrraces. The terraces were built into three sinkholes of different sizes. There is some evidence that the indigenous tribes used the differences in temperature between the different terraces to find out under which conditions which crop grows best. 

We reached our final destination, Ollantaytambo, only st 5 pm, which is exactly the time the guards close to gates to the archeological site there. Isaias managed to convince the guards to let us in so we were able to catch a glimpse of this great place! We were not allowed to climb up the terraces (the guards had a hard time making sure everyone was on their way down) but the view from below was quite impressive as well. 

Last stop: train station! From Ollantaytambo, we caught the train to Aguas Calientes to visit Machu Picchu the next day!!! 

Lots of love ❤️ 

W. & the crew