Do you think it’s safe to say, that most traveller or adventurer’s wish list or bucket list includes Machu Picchu?
I know that this ancient Incan city hidden in the Peruvian Andes was always on the top of mine!! I also knew that I wanted to do some kind of trek to get there. As getting there is half the fun right? Even though I walk everywhere I wasn’t too keen on the standard Inca trail/trek where you just hike days on end. Don’t get me wrong I’m sure it would still be an amazing way to get there. I was just after something a little more fun and exciting!
So when I found an option to do a four day adventure trek that included downhill mountain biking, white water rafting, zip-lining and of course the obligatory hiking I knew I had found the Machu Picchu trek for me! This is how I was going to do my pilgrimage and I couldn’t wait!
Most tours/treks depart from Cusco and ours was no different. We took our friend’s and the internet’s advice to arrive a couple of days before our tour started to acclimatize to the altitude. Which I highly recommend to do as well!
Flying into the city is amazing! As you start to descend you see all the mountainous terrain amongst the clouds. Then all of a sudden you have landed. You walk out onto the tarmac to see those mountains and clouds still around you at pretty much the same height that you saw whilst in the plane! Another thing you notice straight away is the altitude. So glad we arrived early! This also gave us the opportunity to have a couple of days to check out this beautiful city and the awesome Megaliths that surround. Which to be honest I wish we could of arrived even earlier because there really is so much to see and do in Cusco!
Our first day begins by getting picked up at 5.30 am. After picking the rest of our group up – six fellow adventurers and our guide, Oscar. We drive up the mountains and eventually stop for breakfast at this little place.
After breakfast we continue further up to the top of the mountain. It’s so cold. All the surrounding mountain tops are covered in snow!
We downhill mountain bike for 50 kms through cloud, rain, shine and streams. One of our group crashed his bike in the first 10 mins and ends up completing the rest of the trek with his arm in a sling. His poor mates have to take turns in carrying his bag! Ride all the way down these winding roads.
It is dramatically warmer as we near the bottom. At one point we have to pull over to get rid of some layers of clothing. Once we arrive in the town and meeting point, we have a well earnt buffet lunch. After that it is off to white water rafting! No one else is keen to go rafting. So three experienced guides, Gerard and I, head off to battle the rapids.
Rafting is so much fun and we even stop and steal mangoes from a mango tree along the way! After rafting it’s time to hike to our family stay in the jungle. We hike for about an hour and half and I start to struggle with the altitude finally catching up with me. Somehow power through and eventually make it to the top with this view awaiting our arrival.
Have a cold shower (not by choice ha ha), traditional Peruvian dinner and then relax for a bit before crashing out around 9 pm.
Get to have a sleep in as breakfast is at 8.30 am.
After breakfast we have a demo on local plants, berries and nuts. To give us strength for our 15 km walk into the jungle, Incan symbols are painted on our faces, using one of the types of berries.
Our walk takes us on some of the original Inca trail as well as to the highest point, for a good lookout spot, before descending back down into the jungle. We stop for lunch at a place along the river and have some down time in the hammocks before setting off on the second leg of our walk.
Cross a wooden rope bridge that has planks missing. Then ride in a pulley type cable car across the raging river.
Eventually make it to the hot springs where we get to enjoy a cold beverage whilst submerged in the warm water.
Now we are super relaxed but we still have to get to our hostel in Santa Teresa which is still quite a walk away. Eventually make it into town just as it is getting dark. Chill for an hour or so in our room admiring the sweet wall art. This photo doesn’t do it justice, but just picture a holographic masterpiece that morphs from a hot, sexy bikini babe into the king of the jungle!
After our art appreciation, we head out for dinner and a few drinks. As it turns out Santa Teresa is quite the party town but we restrain ourselves and don’t have too much Incan tequila or stay out too long… Return to our hostel and have another cold shower before going to bed. Only to be woken not long after because of a hostel robbery!
We hear someone running through the hallway and jump down a flight of stairs. “We have been robbed” echoes through the little window above our door. Gerard gets up quickly to make sure the door is locked. Which luckily it is. Hear a few more people chase down after the robbers, the sound of fighting follows, but the robbers get away. A girl can be heard crying hysterically, saying her passport was one of the things stolen.
The police are called but take over an hour to arrive. From the safety of our locked room, we learn the girl’s name is Laura and that she has a douchebag boyfriend who doesn’t help the situation at all. His aggressive behaviour toward the hostel staff and the police, gets him taken off to jail. With him now out of the equation, the commotion slowly dies down and we can finally get a couple of hours sleep.
Survive the rest of the night unscathed albeit very tired. After an early breakfast we head off to zip line above the treetops and across the mountains. We can even choose how we fly through the sky – forwards, backwards, upside down or like superman/woman!
We are then driven to the hydro electric plant. Walk for a little bit more. Have lunch and some hammock time before our long walk to Agua Calientis. Walk for a few hours following the train line around the base of Machu Picchu mountain.
Arrive with a few hours spare before dinner so have a look around town and get some snacks for tomorrow. Over dinner, we get our tickets and briefed for our big day. Finally get to have a hot shower and then it’s off to bed.
Wake up at 4 am and walk to the check point. Already quite a line but it moves fairly quickly once the gates open. As well as your ticket, you need to show your passport to gain entry, we have ours ready as we approach the entry point. Off to the side we see a crying Laura again, trying to plead her way in. It appears she never recovered her passport. Or her boyfriend as he was nowhere to be seen.
It’s super cloudy and we won’t be able to see the sunrise so we take our time. It takes us about an hour and half to reach the top. The struggling to breathe from the altitude and the three adventure filled days we had prior, have definitely caught up with us. But we find some new found energy and excitement once we make it through the gates. Spend a few hours exploring this ancient wonder.
We were also lucky enough to get a ticket to Huyana Picchu. Plan ahead if you want to visit this mountain, as only a certain amount get released each day. Explore that section for a few hours as well. As it starts to rain we decide to head back down into town via the bus. Have celebratory drinks with the rest of our group before our train and then bus takes us back to Cusco.
The cold showers, lack of sleep, altitude symptoms, physical and mental exhaustion definitely tested me at times but I felt so much accomplishment after completing my trek! Which I think just made the whole experience so much better than I could of ever expected.