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The Amazing Machu Picchu & Huayna Picchu

PERU | Monday, 14 September 2009 | Views [1601] | Comments [1]

Talk about one of the most incredible experiences of a lifetime! That would be my yesterday. On Thursday, I began my day around 5 AM. Met up with the bus and my group for hiking the Lares Valley Trek. There were nine of us in the group with two guides, three cooks, and three horse-llama-men. Three Germans, two other Americans, two Londoners, and one French-Canadian. All spoke English, and many had some level of Spanish down, too. It made for an easy, enjoyable group.

The first day, we started hiking just before lunch. The llamas carried some of our stuff, and we carried some. We hiked for a little while, then stopped for lunch. We did not have to worry about not having enough food on this trip. Even with all the hiking, I´m afraid I may have actually gained weight! So, the first day, we hiked about 12 kilometers before stopping to camp for the night. The second day was again overcast and a bit chilly, but nice as long as we kept moving. We hiked around 15 kilometers, and it was quite difficult. Our highest altitude was today...somewhere around 4500 m (14,000 ft). Even with being in Cusco for a few days and drinking lots of the ¨special¨ tea, I was still feeling it. A bit of a headache at random points throughout the day. As we were approaching the third pass of the trip, it started to hail. Definitely added a bit of something different, especially when we reached the top and the sun was shining on the other side of the mountain. The clouds started to disappear and the views were amazing. Day 3 was around a 5 km hike in the morning before stopping in Patacancha for lunch and saying goodbye to our horsemen and cooks. We then took a bus to a train station in Ollantaytambo and the train to Aguas Calientes. Of course, we did have an opportunity to try cuy before we left. That´s a local dish of roasted guinnea pig. It was really yummy, as was the rocoto relleno (stuffed spicy pepper) and the camote (sweet potato) that are traditionally served with it. We had dinner in Aguas Calientes, also known as Machu Picchu Pueblo, and had nice warm showers at the hostel.

Sunday morning, we woke up at 3.44 AM for a quick breakfast of bread and tea, then walked to the bus station to wait in line for the first buses up the mountain to Machu Picchu. The alternative was walking, but we were there early enough that I think we did good by taking the bus. Our group got on the 3rd bus up the mountain at 6 AM, which took about 30 minutes. Once there, we stood in line again, and were very lucky to get tickets to Huayna Picchu. Only 400 people are allowed to climb that mountain each day, and I had ticket 310! Roberto, our guide, gave us a good two hour tour around Machu Picchu, and we were there early enough to get some great postcard-quality photos without people in them! Afterwards, we hung out for a bit in the ruins, and then started the hike to Huaynu Picchu at 10.40 am.

As tired and sore as we were, we all made it to the summit in about 45 minutes. (average is 1 hour.) We hung out there and explored and took pictures for a while, and then our group of 9 separated a bit. Jakob and Alex and I went down the backside of the mountain to go see the Gran Caverna (big cave). It was basically a long hike down steep Incan steps, and by the time we got there we´d all run out of water and food. Little did we know that we had to turn around and walk right back up the mountain again to get back to the gate. It was up a different path, but it was still up. It was incredible difficult, and incredibly worth all the pain! I loved it! Luckily, the altitude wasn´t a problem because we were almost 2000 m lower than we had been the day before. The steps were all very steep though, and the ladders were scarily steep and long. I can´t wait to share my pictures though. This side of the mountain was more jungle-like than the other, so we were able to see different plants and birds and lizards. I think we did the trek in record time, too. We needed to be back to meet the rest of our group and not miss our train, so will-power worked wonders and kept us moving. We also ran into an Israeli guy that we hiked with back to the beginning. We made the whole thing in just under 3 hours, which is a miracle because just going out to the cave should have taken 2.5!

After visiting a couple more places around Machu Picchu, we met up with the rest of the group and caught a bus back down the mountain to town where we had dinner and got our stuff for the trip back to Cusco. We got in around 9.30 pm, and I was also able to call Darcy and let him know my train ticket had gotten messed up and that I would be back a day earlier than expected. Luckily, he´s able to understand my Spanish without too much difficulty, so that´s good...especially over the phone!

Today, our group of 9 met for brunch, and then I met Darcy for a few hours this afternoon in between his work. I´m heading out to meet up with Michael, the Israeli guy, to visit a museum or something before dinnertime. Amazingly, my muscles aren´t too sore; however, I can say I officially hate escaleras (steps) right now! I am seriously contemplating one of those massages that they keep pushing here in town!

I do have to say that I thoroughly recommend visiting Machu Picchu and getting up early enough to get one of those 400 tickets to Huayna Picchu because it´s totally worth it. I literally have run out of adjectives to describe the beauty, engineering, incredible amazingness of it all.

Hasta luego!

Tags: machu picchu, trekking

 

Comments

1

You are not gaining weight you are building muscles. This happened when I walked two miles a day. Have fun love Granny

  Granny Sep 24, 2009 5:53 AM

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