machu-picchuOur member bigpetebrown recently returned from an exciting trip to South America! Machu Picchu was the highlight of this trip through Argentina, Peru and Bolivia.

There are two ways to get to Machu Picchu – by train or by foot. For adventurous tourists with a few days to spare, the walk to Machu Picchu along the famous Inca Trail is a great way to do it. In fact, the Inca Trail is so popular that the limited spaces sell out months in advance! Traversing the Inca Trail is not easy, especially considering the high altitude. But as our member discovered, it’s incredibly rewarding.

No matter how you get to Machu Picchu, you’ll first need to fly to the charming touristic city of Cusco on one of the many daily flights from Peru’s capital. From Cusco, a bus trip to “KM82” completes the journey to the beginning of the Camino Inka trail.

In total, the trek would take four days. The first day was difficult, but it was just a taste of things to come…

Day one is about 12km. I was in shorts and a t-shirt and within 15 minutes was sweating like a pig. Gee it was hot. Not at all what any of us expected. But it was an easy walk. Five kilometres in and we reached Llaqtapapa. Sadly we only got to see it from above but boy, what a sight and what a site!

It was a tough trek, but the group of 16 had an excellent support team and guide. The food was also surprisingly good, and the overnight rest camps were comfortable.

Considering that everything was being carried in giant packs on the porters and cooks backs, dinner was pretty amazing. Just like lunch, three courses with hot and cold drinks.

After countless steps and a lot of hard work, our member reached Machu Picchu. It had been an incredible journey!

I stood there looking down on Machu Picchu and I teared up big time and even now I’m still affected by the experience. It was and will be the hardest thing that I ever physically do. I did do it though, and I’m still surprised that I did.

On this trip, our member also visited Iguassu Falls, Lake Titicaca, La Paz and Buenos Aires. Having flown to South America on Air New Zealand, our member was able to take advantage of the “status match challenge” offered by United, Air New Zealand’s Star Alliance partner. This resulted in Star Alliance Gold benefits, including lounge access.

A few weeks before we left I read about the trial status match that United was offering. I applied and was approved within a day. When we checked in for our flight I mentioned it and the CSR added the UA number to the booking and gave us new boarding passes with UA gold and access to the NZ lounges in Brisbane and Auckland.

Read the full trip report HERE.


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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]