WANDERLUST: Breathtaking vistas

Travel to Peru was on superyacht chef Jamie Neben’s bucket list. When he didn’t get a spot in MIQ lottery to return to New Zealand he instead travelled to Peru’s capital city of Lima.

“I then flew to Cusco, a city in the Peruvian Andes which was once capital of the Inca Empire, and is now known for its archaeological remains and Spanish colonial architecture.

It’s only a short flight but being up in the mountains, I had altitude sickness as my body had not acclimatised to it.

I initially freaked out thinking I had Covid, but later realised it was the altitude that was playing tricks with my body,” says Jamie Neben, the travel buff.

After a motorcycle tour to the salt mines, with a guide who spoke little English, they boarded a train from Cusco to the town of Machu Picchu, set high in the Andes Mountains.

It was a 4am start, the next morning with guide Carlos. “He challenged me to climb Wayna Pikchu (the peak you can see in the pictures of Machu Picchu). Not wanting to pass up a challenge (his fastest time was 30min), we pushed on. I tell you never try and beat a Peruvian hiking guide to the top of a hill even if he is 20 years older than you. We made it in 47min. I was exhausted. (See picture of me using the sign to hold myself up).

Rainbow Mountain. Photo: Jamie Neben

“The view from the top— a different perspective of Machu Picchu was beautiful (see photo). We then headed back to the city for a much-needed beer. The following day I walked around the city to check out the local market. Being a chef, I enjoy visiting local markets in every country. To my horror I found that guinea pig was a national dish. I had to try it. The taste wasn’t bad but because it was served whole, with all parts intact, it did get to me a bit.

Salineras De Maras (salt mines) Photo:Jamie Neben

“The next day I did another motorcycle tour to Rainbow Mountain. After two hours on the bikes we made it to the top car park. My guide told me it was about an hour and a half on foot to the summit. Not thinking much, off I went. The first 30minutes were easy but the last 400m of altitude (5200m all up) got very hard.

I couldn’t take deep breaths and started to regret the weight of my camera and drone on my back. My steps got very small from then on. After taking in the sites and getting a few photographs, just as I was I was on my way back, a thunderstorm came out of nowhere, and everything got a dusting of snow.

“Safe to say I made it down to hike another day.”