Inca Jungle Trek – Day 1 – Cusco to Santa Maria
Our 4-day journey to Machu Picchu began bright and early with a 6:30am group meeting time at the Loki Hostel.
Here is a photo outside of the hostel during sunrise:
At Loki travel, there is an option to do 3 or 4 day treks and when we met our group, it appeared most people did the 3 day trek so they were seperating from our group that evening. This seemed a bit strange to us since the day they miss is the big hiking day through the mountains and part of the original Inca trail. Our group on the first day consisted of Germans, Dutch, English, Brazillian, Swiss and French people. We instantly became friends with this adorable Dutch couple that seemed to be around our age but unfortunately, they too would be leaving us that evening.
I already knew that this day would be my least favorite because today’s main activity was biking down a windy mountain road. For those who do not know, I can barely ride a bike in a driveway let alone down a mountain with other people, cars and trucks in a foreign country. Gabe on the other hand has a bike in New York City and absolutely loves it. I was deemed photographer and van-rider for the majority of the day. We rode up to the top of a beautiful snow-capped mountain called Abra Malaga which has an elevation of approx 14,160 ft. above sea level. When we got out of the van we were freezing. We were literally in the clouds on top of this mountain! I hugged Gabe and wished him luck on his trek down the mountain while I watched from the van. The bikers went down windy roads down the mountain, initally nearly getting frost bite on their fingers and by the time an hour passed, it was hot outside. Gabe had a blast and I enjoyed broken Spanish conversation from the front seat of the van with a driver that did not speak one word of English.
Here are some photos from Abra Malaga and Gabe’s bike trip:
After we stopped at lunch in the tiny town of Santa Maria where we would be spending the night. We checked into our hostel which has way too many mosquitos for our liking! This area was extremely buggy and everyone in the group had bites all over! The 3 day people left our group at this point which left us with one Brazillian, five French people and two English girls. We were the only ones not in College which made us feel very old. The Brazillian spoke little English leaving us outnumbered by the French in terms of the spoken language in the group.
Following lunch, we went white water rafting down the Olleyantambo River. We had a blast going down Class 1, 2, 3 and 3+ rapids. By the end, we were soaked and eaten alive by mosquitos but it was definitely worth it. Gabe took some pictures on his Go Pro which I will add later since my camera is not waterproof! After rafting we took freezing cold showers, had dinner with the group then went to bed early! We have somehow become early birds on this trip.
Inca Jungle Trek – Day 2 – Santa Maria to Santa Teresa
Day 2 of our trek began with another 6:30am wake up. Following breakfast, we all jumped into the back of this open air truck to head to the starting point for our day of hiking. The views were gorgeous and it was really fun sitting on the back of the truck.
Here is a photo of us and some of our fellow group members in the back of the truck:
We began our hike through the mountains. It was absolutely gorgeous. Although our hiking lasted all day, our tour guide gave us lots of breaks to give us some Peruvian history and teach us about making coffee, the use of coca leaves and about the native language before the Spanish colonized Peru called Quechua. Some of the places we stopped also had animals like monkeys and chinchillas. I was obviously terrified of touching these creatures but Gabe was brave enough to hold the monkeys. One was a bit more aggressive and even tried to grab my camera out of my hands!
Here is a photo of our group on the hike:
Photos of some of the views from our hike and the animals along the way:
Eventually, we reached our lunch spot and got to take naps in nice hammocks. We then continued the hike along the Urubamba river. Eventually we got to this bridge that we had to cross to continue the hike. I am usually fairly brave when it comes to things like this but this bridge was swinging across the river. It was even missing wooden planks at certain parts. I held onto Gabe’s backpack screaming the entire time – which he captured on his Go Pro and I am sure will be hilarious once we review the videos back in New York.
Here is the terrifying bridge:
Luckily, we made it across in one piece and finished our hike in Santa Teresa. The night concluded at these hot springs which sounded amazing but ended up just being this tourist trap and essencially like large swimming pools of hot water. We were exhausted so we went in anyway and it felt great but we were expecting more natural hot springs. The bugs that night were horrible and my legs were covered in bug bites! We went to bed early again but did not feel very well rested due to our severly bitten legs! One of the French girls in our group had so many bug bites on her leg it looked like she had chicken pox. Her entire leg swelled up and she had to go to la farmacia to get some medicine because clearly she had a bad allergic reaction – atleast ours weren’t that bad!