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Travel Adventure - Backpacking Latin America's Gringo Trail Backpacking Latin America starting in Cuba, then travelling from East to the west coast of Mexico before making our through Central and finishing in South America.

4 day sacred Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

PERU | Monday, 31 August 2015 | Views [355]

Day 1

We woke at 4:10am to brush teeth, get changed, collect our things, check out and wait for our tour company bus to come pick us up between 4:30 and 5:20. It came at 5:10 as we waited on bean bags in the common area in the dark and early morning chill. The two guides Percy and Janet seemed quite chirpy for so early in the morning, which was a good sign, they must like what they do. We had researched online about Machu Picchu and there were many different ways to get there - train, bus, jungle trek which include white water rafting, zip lining and bike riding, a few different hikes and the classic 4 day Inca Trail.  The inca Trail is the path the person walked who first discovered Machu Picchu. It is considered sacred to the Peruvians and at first you had to be chosen to walk the trail, now it's open to locals and tourists alike. Apparently the original trail is from Cusco nut this one starts in a closer village. I didn't realise that Macchu Picchu was such a recent discovery, only found in the 1910s! Matt really wanted to trek so decided to do the Inca Trail and once googling, reading blogs and our bible - TripAdvisor there were many tour companies offering this tour. Some were very expensive, some a bit cheaper but apparently the cheaper ones were not well run. I found a local, family run company called Peru Treks. It had really good reviews saying the tour guides were good, great food, well run and treated their porters (local Peruvians who carry all the equipment for campsites and cook all the food etc.) fairly and were paid a decent wage (unlike many other companies). The price was a bit more expensive than the really cheap ones but not over priced. You can also hire personal porters to carry 6kg of your belongings which I decided to do as I have never done a trek like this before and didn't really know what to expect. I'd rather enjoy my experience if that means lightening the load a bit for me plus I'm giving someone a wage for four days. I think it was an extra $60-70 for a personal porter. So anyway we had booked the dates of this trek 6 months ago as they only allow a certain amount of people (500 including porters and guides)  on the trail each day so we needed to purchases our trail passes 6 months in advance. 

We have 16 people in our group and were all on the bus ready to start our 4 day journey. We drove through towns and mountainside and I looked out the window for the 2 hour bus ride amazed by the scenery of snow capped peaks, farms and towns situated in valleys surrounded by mountains. We arrived at a gorgeous small town in the mountains called Ollyantambo which reminded me of lodging in the snow. We ate breakfast here at one of the cafes and purchased any more supplies that we might need. For Matt and I, that was Peruvian trekking poles (wooden sticks with a cute woven coloured hand grip), lipgloss (our other one was running out and our lips were becoming very dry in the new altitude and chill factor compared to Peru's Central American neighbouring countries) and coca leaves (chewing these or brewing them in tea is supposed to help with altitude sickness). After our stop we drove another hour to the start of the Inca Trail. 
A few bus loads were already there, it was a clear sunny day so everyone was putting on sun screen and de layering for the heat which it would get once you start walking. We took a group photo at the Welcome to the Inca Trail sign, then went to the first check point where they mark off your name for purchasing a trail pass and you even get your passport stamped! We started walking as a group over the train tracks (how the lazy people get to Machu Picchu - just kidding) over a bridge which a running river ran under and witnessed incredible views of mountains surrounding us and snow peaks in the distance. This is Peru! This is so incredible! I was thinking to myself when I'd stop to take a look around. I was not expecting such amazing scenery on the trail and also ruins! We stopped twice to view two ancient city ruins which the guide explained to us. We also walked past small villages and houses where local Andes people lived. We stopped at one for a rest and they had lots of animals like dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, pigs etc. As we walked along the trail the porters, each carrying huge bags of 20kg of all the food, cooking utensils, tents and people's plus their own personal belongings on their back were overtaking us and running ahead. Most wearing light shoes and some even sandals. I as baffled by how big their bags and how much they were carrying, it wouldn't be light, plus Peruvians aren't big people and they were zooming past us. They were machines! We also had to walk mountain side to let horses and donkeys past. There were also a couple of local women carrying things in their colourful blankets on their backs along the trail.
Matt was not feeling very well on the bus and still not feeling well as we started to hike, he thought it might have been the eggs he ate for breakfast. He was sick at one of the rest points. We thought he felt better after being sick but as we started hiking again he was sick again. Definitely not you want starting the Inca Trail. I knew exactly how he felt when I was sick hiking Acatanango volcano in Guatemala. Hiking is last last thing you want to be doing but at the same time you want to make it to the top so you push on through, mind like a zombie but somehow dragging one foot in front of the other and no energy at all. The guides at least for this trek were really good  ( Janet doing the inca trail for 4 years, Percy for 10). Janet asked all the right questions to Matt, ruling out altitude sickness and suggesting it could be from last nights meal. Matt had pork belly and she said they suggest you have something light the light before as something heavy would take a long time to digest and with the early morning and hiking your body wouldn't have time to digest it all and make you sick... unless it's food poisoning. Janet made Matt breathe something to clear his head and said for him to drink water and Gatorade to replenish everything he threw up. 
When we got to our lunch spot the porters had set up the tent with tables and chairs and were ready to serve us lunch. They clapped each of us as we walked through, which was a really nice feeling. Gave us each a drink, which I found out later was made from purple corn. Matt wasn't up for eating so he just rested. We sat down for lunch and what they made was so good! To start was a yummy guacamole with corn chips, followed by a vegetable soup with bread. Me and another vegetarian were looked after with a veggie slice/frittata and everyone else was served trout with potatoes and whole lot of mixed veggies, potatoes and rice were in the middle for everyone to share. It was amazing! I don't know how they made such good food from just the pots and pans and food they carried up with them. This was then followed by wild mint tea which I'm pretty sure was picked along the trail. Matt unfortunately missed out on the trout but they gave him a tea which was supposed to help him feel better and gave him a bit of rice and potatoes to eat. He seemed a bit better after that. Well hopefully he feels better coz I'm carrying his bag to lighten the load with his sleeping bag etc and he's got my day pack. Tomorrow is supposed to be the hardest day so I want my light bag back for then! Haha We continued walking to our next rest stop then further along to our campsite for the night. All the tents we were sleeping in were already set up by the porters and dinner was cooking.
Matt wasn't feeling well again so he rested in our tent. He started getting a headache and feeling fever so Percy recommended he take Panadol and they gave him more of the stuff to breathe in. Dinner was another three course meal plus dessert. Which was a traditional chocolate sauce over cooked banana. Matt had soup and a little bit of rice and after dinner felt really crampy. He took a tablet to stop diarrhoea. It was a clear night so the stars were absolutely breathtaking. Two mountain silhouettes overlapped each other and the Milky Way stretched down between them. There was no city lights around so it looked like there were millions of stars out and the night sky seemed super close. Even though it was a super clear night there was lighting flashing in the distance. A magnificent site. After everyone said goodnight Matt and I rugged up for a cold night and makeshift pillows out of rolled up jackets. I can hear the creek running below us as I finish up this blog for today. Fingers crossed Matts feeling better for tomorrow so he can actually enjoy this experience coz he must be feeling like shit, especially when tomorrow is the steepest and highest altitude of the trail. Anyway I better get some sleep, good night x
 
Day 2  
I was surprised it was not as cold in the tent as I thought it would be and had a better sleep than expected. Woke up a couple of times but we went to bed at 8:30pm and woke at 5:40am to the porters and guide offering us tea in our tents. The guide checked how Matt was feeling and although his stomach didn't feel 100%, he did say he felt better, he looked better too. 
We all had breakfast which consisted on pancakes filled with an apple purée, bread and butter/jam, fruit salad and a yummy oatmeal/porridge with banana and cinnamon. It was all delicious! We packed up our things as the porters packed down all the tents and washed up everything from breakfast etc. 
Today is supposedly the hardest but of the trek. We were going to hike for about 12km and it took us 9hours. We were also hiking a mountain which ascended to 4200m above sea level! Percy taught us how to chew our coca leaves, he said it would help with altitude, increasing blood and oxygen flow. It had a slight cocaine taste and I even felt the top of my mouth go slightly numb (these are the leaves you use to make cocaine). I thought it tasted pretty grose, mainly coz you had chewed up bits of leaves in your mouth. I spat it out as we started walking and thought if I start feeling the altitude, I'll chew some again then. 
So we were ready and started to climb. It was a lot more uphill than yesterday. We soon passed through nice jungle area of the trail and waited at our first rest stop for everyone. Matt was feeling a lot better which was great! Especially on he hardest day. Plus I got to carry my little bag again hehe :) we then continued walking and you could definitely feel it was harder to breathe as we ascended and the air got thinner. Whenever I stopped for water or to de layer etc. I took in the magnificent views of the mountains surrounding us. I have never in my life witnessed such breathtaking scenery. We stopped for our second breakfast in a flat area and the porters had the table and chairs set up with cheese sandwiches, crackers, popcorn, tea and the views of the mountains surrounding us. It was pretty special. Although the sun was hidden by the clouds so it did get quite freezing and had to layer up with gloves and beanies etc. We were very close to a snow capped peak and apparently two weeks ago there was snow where we were sitting and people were trekking through it. I'm glad it had melted before we got there.
We then continued our mission to our next meeting point which was the top of the mountain and what is called Dead Woman's Pass. This part was the steepest and highest altitude, making breathing very difficult. You just had to keep going up one step at a time. It's definitely one of the hardest, most challenging  things I've ever done. This and also Volcano Acatanango (mainly coz I was sick). But after an hour and a half of slow and exhausting steps since our last meeting place, we made it! People in our group who were there before clapped us in. We came in at about half way and I was pretty proud of our efforts, considering Matt was sick yesterday, it was the first time we'd both done any sort of hiking like this and that I had no altitude sickness at all! Usually I get altitude sick just going to the snow in Australia! It was definitely worth it, for accomplishing such a challenge and the incredible view at the top. We looked back down at the trail we just walked and couldn't believe that where we were this morning was tucked away right at the bottom of the mountain. You also had a mountain with a snow capped peak to the left and the mountain we just climbed to the right with another snow capped mountain in front of us and last nights campsite right in the valley below. It was definitely a sight and accomplishment to remember. We rested in the sun, took a few photos and waited for the rest of the group to get to the top as we clapped each person in. 
After a group photo Matt and I started our way down the other side. After the challenge up we kind of thought going down would be easy. Although the breathing was easier it was still quite steep and the paths had rocks laid out on it which were really slippery, especially in runners and not grippy hiking boots with good ankle support like what everyone else was wearing. There were still great views coming down this side but it took about 2 hours and it just seemed to drag and I wS going just as slow coz I didn't want to slip. I didn't realist in was 3:30 when we were nearing our campsite and I guess coz we hadn't eaten since 11am, it was part,y coz I was so hungry I wanted to get to the bottom. I was a little delirious and elated at the start of the descent down I started singing aloud Fergie - My Humps, American Boy (don't know why they were pop songs that came to my head) and Ain't No Mountain High Enough, which I thought was quite fitting for what we were doing but Matt seemed to disagree ;) 
As we neared our campsite you could see a small waterfall and then hear the creek which ran through our campsite. I also saw a bumble bee which looked like a dog it was so big and furry and also had a bit of a moment with a hummingbird which flew in front of us and perched in a tree very close to us. I made bird whistling noises at it and it just seemed to be sitting there watching me as I got closer. I was so close I wanted to take a photo of him but when I dropped my back to pull out my camera he flew away. Apparently they have foxes and small brown bears out here too!
We were all starving and lunch was even better than yesterday and this time Matt could enjoy it. We had cream corn soup then mains was a typical Peruvian dish consisting of beef (a really nice tofu which had soft chewy texture of meat for me and another vegetarian plus a couple of people who didn't eat red meat) in a stir fried vegetable dish of capsicum, onions and potato wedges, rice, potato stew type thing which had a mix of a few different varieties of potatoes (I think I read that Peru had around 300 different types of potatoes) and a delicious salad of beans, onions, potato wedges and some sort of dressing/seasoning which I loved I went back for thirds! We were also treated with a chocolate custard for dessert. Percy then introduced us to our amazing cook (I didn't realise there was only one since there were about 20 porters in total I thought there would be a couple of cooks). He wore a white chef uniform and stood very modestly as we all cheered him. I don't know how he makes 3 course meals for 16 people plus two guides plus I'm assuming all the porters(?) 3 times a day by himself in the middle of the Andes mountains plus they were all delicious meals. He introduced himself in Spanish and Percy translated his name Milton (not sure how to spell), he's from a small village near a town called Pisa in Peru, he is 33 years old and has worked as a chef on Machu Picchu for 9 years. Before that he was a porter! Percy informed us that he is currently writing a book of Peruvian cooking and it will be published next year. We definitely want a copy of that! Percy said he will give us his email address at the end if we are interested. 
We were all pretty tired from a full days hike so rested in our tents before dinner time. 
 
Day 3
We woke with our tents facing over the mountains and waterfall running down to the creek behind and alongside our campsite. Our guide and one of the porters offered us tea or hot chocolate in our tents. 1st class service! After breakfast we started on our longest day of trekking of 15km. Percy said to collect three stones - one representing yourself, one representing your life partner (could be husband, girlfriend, friend, mum, sister whoever) and one representing your community/family from the creek (we had to get the stones from the creek and not the ground because they were pure from the water from the mountains) as we would do a traditional ritual at the top of the first mountain. Our first stop was at a ruin shaped like an egg shape and had an amazing view back over our campsite. After Percy gave an explanation and we took a few photos we continued uphill to the second largest peak we would reach on our trek. Apparently there are Deers around the Andes and we past two waterholes on the way up we thought we might see some grazing nearby, but we didn't. We were entering in to cloud forest and clouds started to roll in where we just came from. Once we reached the pass at the top we waited for the rest of the group so we could do the ritual together. A couple of us climbed the peak to see the view over the other side and take a few cool photos. When we were all there, we all stood around a rock which had offerings of stacked stones and leaves already on it and was considered a sacred ritual place as you could see the four main glaciers surrounding from this spot. Those of us who had coca leaves had to choose three of the prettiest we could find. Each leaf would represent what the Inca's believed as the three main elements of life and an animal which also represent each. First is the serpent which represents your inner body/mind. Second is the Puma which represents your physical body and last is the condor which represents your spirit/soul. Percy explained a lot about what the Inca's believed in and their traditions and history. He told us about Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) and how most people think the earth belongs to us but we actually belong to the earth and also told us a story about a hummingbird which had a lot of meaning. He also went in to more depth about the sacred Inca Trail which we were trekking and explained how only selected people used to be only allowed to follow its path to Machu Picchu which was an extremely holy city back in the Incan times. He reiterated how so many people each year want to trek the Inca Trail (hence why we had to book this 6 months in advance) but believes that we were supposed to be on this path and that we were selected to walk and experience this sacred trail. He believed that our spirit had already been to this place and that our physical form was now supposed to be here. I was getting quite emotional and was holding back tears as he spoke. I seriously felt the energies of my stones I was holding in my hands as well. It was quite a spiritual experience being there at that moment standing on this sacred inca trail in the middle of the Andes mountains listening to a local and Andean descendant do this ritual for us. They believe that the mountains of the Andes have all the knowledge and are their guardians. Percy said it wasn't a religious thing but a traditional ritual that he wanted to do for us because we were on the Inca Trail with him. It would be for love, health and abundance. We had to blow on the coca leaves which the energy would go off to the mountains then place the leaves on to the Rock and stack the stones on top of the leaves and make a wish. He said that Machu Picchu is such a significant, powerful and special place to many. Which is why thousands of people from all over the world come to visit every year. He said that the Inca Trail changes people. He said how we started the trail heavy with fears, doubts and worries but as we walk they have been lifted, that we are free and that any questions we may have had have been answered by the knowledge of the mountains. Percy did the ritual for us and hoped that the Inca Trail would bring freedom, love and clarity to us and that its a special experience and brings everything that we wished for. I was hoping to get some inspiration on this trip for a new business name and new direction and if it's what I should be doing and to continue following with (as you can tell I'm an extreme self doubter haha). It all came to me at once and I decided on a new name - Hummingbird Designs - mainly from the moment I had with that hummingbird yesterday seemed like it was meant to be
I was not expecting the ritual to be so powerful and emotional to me and I feel very privileged to be able to be there and take part and to be able to trek this sacred Inca Trail that so many people wish to do. Once we started to trek again and walk back down the mountain, a hummingbird flew in front of me and was hovering around a flower close on the trail. Wow! If that's not synchronicity I don't know what is.  It gave me huge clarity and I felt like I was definitely on the right path. Maybe whatever will be, will be and I should learn not to worry or overthink the future because my path is already laid out for me and whatever journey I take it will all be ok and how it's supposed to be.
Sorry for that long winded spiritual talk, I know it's not everyone's thing and I do tend to get a bit deep but I thought it was pretty powerful I had to include... Plus this blog is partly for me to look back on in years to come
We continued along the path to another ruin which was quite big and perched on the side of the mountain. Percy explained what it was built for, who lived there etc. We then continued on to our lunch spot. Again the porters had the tents and all our food ready for a three course meal and we sat surrounded by spectacular views of the mountains. The next leg of our trek was quite long but it was easy because it was along Peruvian flats (not quite flat but a lot flatter than what we had been walking) this part was cloud forest which in the wet season is usually covered in cloud but another perfect day for us today we saw breathtaking panoramic view of all the Andean mountain range surrounding us and glaziers in the distance. The cloud forest is kind of like rainforest climate so we walked through lush greenery, Arial (climbing) plants and coloured orchids and flowers. Each corner we turned we were taken aback by the incredible mountainous views and WOW was the word that escaped our mouths taking in each one. Everyone walked at their own pace (some faster than us, some slower than us) so Matt and I felt as though we were the only ones walking the Inca trail and every time we stopped we were comforted by the silence of the mountains all around us.
We walked to the last bit of the Peruvian flat section and were at the top of a hill with wild llamas grazing around the area. From here we could see Machu Picchu mountain which had the indigenous Incan flag on top. We were so close! Machu Picchu was just around that mountain! Below the hill was another ruin which Janet explained about being a resting point for the Inca's before reaching Machu Picchu. There were  also two platforms which they used for astronomical viewings. After a quick break here we started on the next section called 'The Gringo Killer'. This part consisted of stone steps going down hill for about 2 hours and got its name because all the gringos had sore knees etc by the end of it. This part was long but not as bad as I thought. Probably coz we were prepared it was coming and the stones weren't as slippery as that second day we were going downhill. We also passed through two tunnels which were formed by landslides and a tunnel formed through the middle. At the end of this part if we arrived before sunset we go take the path left and go to an optional ruins and it apparently had a pretty nice view. Matt and I were keen to get there and made it just before sunset. This ruin was pretty impressive and pretty big and consisted of terraces sectioning off down the hill. It also had a great view of the river passing through the mountains which runs the surroundings of Machu Picchu. The train line also ran beside the river and we saw the train go past and toot it horn with people coming back from Machu Picchu. After being one with the mountains for three days, we were nearing closer to civilisation. It felt quite special and peaceful to be with the mountains and not have so many people around. It did feel like they were watching over us and they held all the answers and knowledge to the world and especially the Incan history. After taking a couple of pics and before the sun set Matt and I climbed down the last hill to our campsite. The porters had our tents ready and dinner ready. We sat down and had our last dinner together. We were all quite chatty tonight, I guess the excitement of finally reaching Machu Picchu tomorrow and what it will be like and fingers crossed for a clear day. At the end of dinner, we had to close our eyes as the guides had a surprise for us. When we were told to open our eyes, our cook had made a huge, iced chocolate cake which had a written message on it about the Inca Trail being a piece of cake. We all clapped the cook and were gobsmacked on how he could bake a cake in the middle of the Andes, which apparently took him 4 hours to make that afternoon. After dessert we were then introduced to all the porters which was like a footy team. We went over the one side of the tent and they all fit in the other. Percy explained that most of the porters come from villages near Pisa in Peru. They are farmers and are porters on the Inca Trail to earn extra money for their families. These men are hard workers! They went around and told us their names, it was good to see their faces up close and see the people who had been carrying all this equipment and food and setting everything up for us. They seemed happy and whenever we were at campsite they were all mucking around with each other and laughing. They had very little but were honoured to serve us. I felt honoured to be served by them. One by one they then went around to shake each of our hands saying goodbye in their native Quechuan language which meant more  - see you again (if not in this life then in the after life). We were then briefed by Percy and Janet for our last day on the Inca Trail and our wake up time of 3:30 to pass through a check point and reach the Sun Gate for sunrise. It was an early night and we were excited for our last leg of the trek and finally reaching Machu Picchu!
 
Day 4
It wasn't too hard getting up at 3:30 this morning since we knew what it was for! We packed up our stuff and had our last meal on the Inca Trail. All the groups at the campsite wanted to be the first at the Sun Gate and first to see Machu Picchu. Everyone was rushing and there was a real buzz as everyone started trekking off in the pitch black and head torches to get to the first check point. I think we were around the third last group to reach the check point which was only two minutes away. Percy didn't seem too worried to get there first and as soon as we walked around the corner we joined the line with everyone else waiting for the checkpoint to open. It was about 4:30am and it wasn't opening until 5:30am so we had to wait for an hour. This process didn't really make much sense but everyone was in the same boat. It was chilly at this time of the morning but we sat and watched the brilliant starry night sky with shooting stars and satellites. It was a clear night which meant a clear day for us again! We've been so lucky! The Stars slowly disappeared as the first light of the morning shone through and the sun woke up and began to rise. The checkpoint opened and it was very quick to move everyone through. The race was now on the get to the Sun Gate before the sun rose and finally get a glimpse at the long awaited Machu Picchu. The pace was on. It got hot as light spilled through and we were walking so fast, so we stopped to de layer but would we make it in time before sunrise? We slowed the pace briefly to glance at the coloured sky rise above the mountain tops as it grew lighter. But didn't want to stop in case it missed our chances of seeing sun rise. After 4 long hard days of getting here, it had to be worth it right!? We started rounding around Machu Picchu mountain, it couldn't be far off now. As we kept going our pace slowed. What we thought was a quick dash to the sacred ruins, ended up being another 2 hour hike. We reached a really really steep set of stairs, this has to be the entrance of the Sun Gate. As we climbed and climbed and anticipated Machu Picchu we got to the top and it was just more path. Matt, a couple of others we were near in our group and I laughed and continued at a slower pace and decided to relax and we would get there when we got there. We got there and Percy was waiting at the entrance of the stone pillar which was part of the ruins of the Sun Gate. He gave us a high five as we walked the last steps of the Inca Trail and finally made it to Machu Picchu. There were a few people standing around and I moved through them to get my first glimpse of the long awaited sacred ruins of Machu Picchu. Entering from the Sun Gate, we were quite far from the ruins and definitely could only catch a glimpse. But there it was, a lost city nestled in between surrounding mountains. It was quite a sight and a surreal moment to finally be in the presence of this ancient holy city. Matt and I got a few snaps and paused to look over Machu Picchu. There was apparently a proposal just before we got there, which would have been nice to see. I was glad we got there at the time we did. It was actually quite dark over the ruins as the sun had still not risen above the mountains yet. Most people had left the Sun Gate but we witnessed the sun pour through the gap and slowly give light to the ancient city below. It was beautiful. We started to walk down from the Sun Gate and you could see the line of light shine straight through the Sun Gate directly on to Machu Picchu. It was quite magical. 
As we neared we witnessed the classic Macchu Picchu you know from all the photos take its form. I also noticed all the tourists and people which slightly took away from the magic. This was amplified due to the fact that we had been on the Inca Trail with only mountains and not many people around for 3 days and the fact that we had walked all this way to get to this sacred site and final destination on our trek that it was filled with thousands of other people who had just taken the train up. We kind of felt entitled to have Machu Picchu all to ourselves but knew this was not the case and that was kind of selfish. I could tell Percy was getting ancy about this too. He took a group photo of us at the typical place people get photos from, before rushing us along to the entrance as we had to leave the entrance before getting in a line and entering with a ticket like everyone else. Apparently they have around 4000 tourist visitors per day come to Machu Picchu. This does not include Peruvian visitors as they can come for free so are not counted but it is expected that there is approximately 7000 visitors per day! That's a lot, no wonder there seemed to be so many people about. Once we all got back in Percy began his tour. It was extremely interesting but it was so hot and we were all so exhausted after trekking fro 4 days it was hard to keep up, especially with the extremely sore calf muscles! He explained more of the history, how it was found, why and how it was built using ancient methods to cut and fit the stones and described what each part was such as the wind, sun and water temples. There were even water fountains and drains running the water off. It was quite incredible that this used to be a fully functioning city and so much was still remained. There were even wild llamas walking around the grass. It was pretty cool and surreal to be walking around Machu Picchu. It has been on my bucket list for ages and has been one of the ultimate things for me to do and I was finally here. I felt like I had stepped in to a photograph and was walking around. It was also huge! This used to be a city where people lived and now it was this incredible ruins, still remaining in tact after being lost for so many years. It was only discovered in 1911, which is a lot more recent that I thought. The fact that it was only recently discovered and that they are finding more and more ruins in the past years makes the whole concept mind blowing. We might only being the start of what is still to be uncovered. I felt very special to be able to set foot on this magical place and witness it first hand. Percy mentioned that because of the influx of tourists he's not sure whether they will start putting restrictions on visitors to keep it preserved. It was also incredible that the city was built where is was, in the middle of the mountains. It did seem well protected from invaders with mountains 360 degrees surrounding it which provided breathtaking scenery. From Machu Picchu you could also see the four glaziers around it and it seemed to have been built in a precisely straight line from the then capital Cusco to a couple of other different ruins to Machu Picchu. The journey along the Inca Trail and the challenge of completing it, the stories behind these magnificent ruins and the history and beliefs of the Incan people and the sheer spectacular sight of them and the sacred Machu Picchu and the possibility of what is still to be uncovered has definitely made this the highlight of our our trip and one of the best things I have ever done in my life. And I don't exaggerate! Peru Treks - the guides, porters and cooks definitely made the experience and something I'll never forget and will stay with me forever. 
After Percy's 2 hour tour we had free time to explore Machu Picchu ourselves and take some photos. We then got the bus down a 20minute steep windy road to the town of Machu Picchu. It was actually a cute little town - catered for tourists with the river and train tracks running straight through the middle of town. Our group all met for lunch at a restaurant and as we talked, ate and drunk a few celebratory Pisco Sours the train rolled past the windows outside. We were each given a certificate and a congratulations from Percy and Janet and a cheer from the rest of the group for completing the Inca Trail. We then said our goodbyes as some people were staying in Machu Picchu and a couple of us went to check out the hot springs at the top of the hill before catching the late train back to Cusco at 6:30pm. When we got to the top of the hill we realised that the hot springs resembled more of a public swimming pool so we decided to hit the bar instead and order a couple more rounds of beers and Pisco Sours. We all laughed and reminisced on the amazing experience we all just had! 

 

Tags: andes, high altitude, inca trail, incans, machu picchu, mountains, peru, ruins, trek

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