Photo Credit: Courtney Alexis Wilson
Inside My Peru Bucket List Trip: Paragliding, Machu Picchu & Rainbow Mountain
Courtney Alexis Wilson hails from Long Island, NY. The 28-year-old works as a flight attendant for a major airline while simultaneously pursuing a master’s degree in midwifery. She has always had a love for travel. Her latest adventure allowed her to live out her Peru bucket list.
When she was younger, she would take several vacations a year with her family. Having visited 38 countries and six of the world’s seven continents, Courtney enjoys embarking on exciting journeys and creating inspiring travel content.
A country that had long been on her bucket list, in Peru, Courtney visited the cities of Cusco, Lima, Paracas, and Huacachina, a tiny village west of the city of Ica. She also toured Paracas and the Ballestas Islands, home to sea lions and penguins. Throughout Peru, Courtney experienced what felt like the weather of four different seasons, all within one country.
She went from needing a heavy jacket in Cusco, which was cold due to its high elevation, to sweating in Huacahina’s 90 degree desert environment.
“That’s right, Peru has a desert!” said Courtney. “I had no idea until I was planning my trip and trying to figure out what to add to my itinerary. Huacahina had the best weather I experienced in Peru. In Lima, it was more so spring weather where it can’t make up its mind; one minute it’s nice out and the next it’s not. It was crazy how the weather was different in each area.”
Courtney’s Peru bucket list included the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World. With photos unable to do proper justice to its refreshing and breathtaking architectural beauty, Courtney believes it is a place that everyone should personally visit at least once in their lives. Having always wanted to go paragliding, she found Peru an ideal place to finally take the leap. After such an amazing experience soaring through the sky, she was glad she did.
“I always do some wild things on vacation, but I think paragliding tops it all. It really gave me a reason to keep wanting to be adventurous. While I was up there, I was able to see the other side of the mountain, a view of the city, llamas, goats, cows, everything!”
Ever the adventurer, in Huacachina, Courtney drank the wine produced there and even tried alpaca in Cusco. Considered a delicacy in Peru, Courtney said it was actually pretty good, and that since it tasted just like lamb chops, she wouldn’t mind eating it again.
But the highlight of Courtney’s Peru bucket list trip was hiking up Cusco’s Vinicuna AKA Rainbow Mountain. Situated 17,000 feet above sea level, Courtney conducted extensive research to plan for the challenging hike, so she would know what to expect and how to adequately prepare for it.
“From my research, I knew to expect the weather to change a lot during the hike up. A lot of people blogged about getting sick from the change in altitude. I decided to prepare by exercising and walking on the treadmill at a high incline. I started to take chlorophyll drops every morning, and when I arrived in Cusco I started taking altitude pills. Another tip I learned was to have chocolate or some kind of candy when you do the hike to help give you energy throughout it. You also have to drink lots of water and get plenty of rest beforehand. Hiking boots and hiking poles are definitely necessary, as well.”
One of the main things that stuck out to Courtney during her trip was how much Peruvians take pride in their country and also in their jobs. She found everyone she met incredibly nice and pleasant. There was not a single rude or questionable encounter, and everyone seemed to love and have a great deal of passion for what they did for a living.
As a seasoned traveler, some of Courtney’s best travel tips include learning a few basic phrases in the native language. Things like “hello”, “thank you”, and “where is…” are sure to come in handy. She also places heavy emphasis on the importance of research, planning, and preparation.
“I rarely do spur of the moment type of things. I like to go knowing where I will stay, what I will do, where I will eat, and where the Instagrammable spots are. I also like to find areas that no one else has yet posted and kind of make it my own Instagrammable spot. I read other travel bloggers’ posts, watch YouTube videos, and read reviews. I like to have my outfit, location, and pose planned prior to arriving to the place, because that is how you get the perfect picture.”
As she continues traveling and exploring new places, Courtney remembers her uncle, Larry Edgeworth, an NBC audio technician that passed away from COVID-19 in March 2019. Having traveled for his work with The Today Show, he himself had and seen and experienced so much. He used to share his travel stories with Courtney and encourage her to be adventurous and pursue her ambitions of seeing the world.
“There’s a saying he’d always say to me every time he’d see me or when I would shoot him a text to let him know I was out of the country. It was ‘Do the damn thing sweet pea, and do it the best!’ That right there sticks with me every time I go away, do something new, or do something out of the ordinary. That’s what keeps me going and fuels me to be the best and to make a name for myself. So with that, I say, don’t be afraid. Do what you want. You only have one life to live, and it’s yours to make your own. Use that PTO, go and see the world, make memories, and do what makes you happy!”
Courtney is currently researching to pinpoint the location she’d like to visit next, however, she says it may be in Africa or the Middle East. Before the year’s end, she will be launching her website, so follow her on Instagram or Facebook to stay tuned.