Amy’s T1D Adventure: My Birthday at Machu Picchu

Birthday Luck

Machu Picchu was the most incredible place I’ve seen. Words cannot do it justice but I will try.
Amy's T1D Adventure: Machu Picchu Ruins with Clouds

I woke at 4:30am to the sound of rain. Damn. I checked my BG – 120. Perfect. Breakfast was 2 bananas, 2 passion fruit, puffed quinoa and a lemongrass tea. 100gms of carbs, 3 units of insulin. As the rain let up I walked to catch the 35 minute bus to the entrance of Machu Picchu.

Amy's T1D Adventure: Amy with Machu Picchu Sign

So much excitement and adrenaline was running through my veins. I could already sense the magic that was about to shine on my 28th birthday. I stepped foot into the sacred grounds of Machu Picchu just after 6am. Not many people had arrived yet and it was perfect!

I walked around the ruins in the lower part of the mountain while the rain fell at a constant pace. I waited for the clouds to clear. As I slowly started to make my way up the mountain, I saw some llamas wandering the grassy areas. I took a moment to take in the incredible Incan ruins. They were built by hand for the purpose of farming and agriculture.

The thought that labor was Amy's T1D Adventure: Llama done on such a large mountain is mind-blowing. The views, even with the clouds, were out of this world. My heart rate was definitely higher than usual as I walked along stony, slippery paths. 2-hours in and its time to test my BG — 90! Yes! I snacked on some dehydrated bananas and figs with no additional insulin (about 40gms) and I continued to climb the mountain and follow the pathway leading to La Puente, which means “The Bridge.”

Along many of the paths I was totally alone. The silence was perfect and added to the magic of the mountains. I made it to the bridge which was on the sheer edge of the cliff! How the Inca’s crossed it, I have no idea! 

Another BG test before I walk to the “Gate of the Sun” up the other side of the mountain, and I’m sitting at 127!! Thank you diabetes gods for blessing me on my birthday. I set my pump on a 2-hour reduced temp basal of 50%, throw in some more dried figs and an apple, and set off again!

Breathtaking Views

The 40-minute cliff scaling walk was worth it. To look down upon the Machu Picchu ruins minutes before the clouds blocked my view – I had found heaven!

I take the steep, slippery walk back down and thankfully manage to keep my balance — else I’d be off the edge! The sky had cleared just before I was ready to finish my 4-hour adventure and I got some photos of me with the famous ruins in the background!

Amy's T1D Adventure: Amy with Ruins
As I get back to the entrance to empty my bladder and rehydrate, I’m sitting with a BG of 100 so I eat a banana and some more dried fruit. I decide to run the 5+ miles back down the road to Machu Picchu pueblo!
Amy's T1D Adventure: Running trail
It felt so good to run at Machu Picchu, with the sun finally shining and the local butterflies putting on a show just for me! Thank you universe!!!

A Meal Fit for a Queen….Or a Tourist

Okay, I made it! Sweaty, exhausted, sore legs and super hungry I’m back in my hotel!

A hot shower was in order followed by a breakfast/lunch combination of banana, quinoa cereal, dried figs, soy milk and a few sneaky vegan gluten-free cookies crumbled on top! With a lot of carbs in my tummy and some relaxation in bed my BGs crept up a little to 250ish….some extra insulin and they shot back down to 120 by the time I was ready to head out to dinner. The only restaurant in this tiny town with decent vegetarian options was a French/Peruvian fusion restaurant. So I headed there for a very tourist priced set menu!
Amy's T1D Adventure: Meal pt 1

But,  it was so so delicious. I skipped the avocado and the oil based dressings and carbed up with the delicious fresh pasta, veggies and fruit and dairy free ice cream for dessert! It was a nice treat meal!

Reflections on T1D & Exercise

Today was an incredible, magical, and quiet start to my 28th year. My diabetes control today reinforced good eating and exercise is the way to get best control and I’m excited to continue my journey of getting better results and continuous stable management, especially when my travel comes to an end. Tomorrow morning I’m back on the tourist train to Cusco! Another week in Cusco to explore the Sacred Valley!


This is a guest post series from Amy McKinnon, a One Drop user and 27-year-old ex-advertising executive who recently swapped her NYC apartment for an oversized backpack to explore the streets of Latin America for six months. Amy has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years and tries her best to balance blood glucose levels,marathon training and a high-carb raw vegan diet. Now she has thrown travel into the mix. EDITOR’S NOTE: Amy is a performance athlete and consumes a high-carb diet. At One Drop, we believe that a low-carb approach to food reduces the risk of high and low blood glucose incidents and can effectively reduce blood glucose levels overall. However, we want to share a variety of personal experiences so we can all learn how other people live their lives with diabetes. Always consult your doctor before making changes to a prescribed regimen.

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Amy McKinnon
Amy McKinnon

Amy McKinnon is a One Drop user, marathoner, ex-advertising executive, and has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years. Amy is currently exploring the streets of Latin America for six months.