Inca Jungle Trek – Day 3 – Santa Teresa to Aguas Calientes
Day 3 began bright and early once again. This time we headed to go zip lining through the jungle and over rivers in 5 different zip lines. We had a blast. Gabe and I captured some awesome videos on his Go Pro which we will have to show you all once we are back in America. We even had a suspension bridge we had to walk across which I thought was much scarier than the zip line. The zip line was really fun since we got to go over beautiful landscapes and it felt like you were flying. I think a big takeaway for me is that I prefer secure bridges in countries like America with all of their planks in tact!!
Following zip lining, we ate lunch then starting hiking again to Aguas Calientes. Our lunch spot was at this place on the way called Cabana de Gabriel – what a coincidence! I had to take a picture:
Here are some photos from our hike to Aguas Calientes:
Aguas Calientes is a tourist town that is right down the mountain from Machu Picchu. It is the gateway to enter the city and has tons of nice hotels, restaurants and tourist stops. We got to this town around 3pm and had some free time to explore. We went to a restaurant with wifi, drank some Cusquena local beer and enjoyed the mountain scenery. This day ended very early because the next day was the highlight and reason for our entire trip to Peru – MACHU PICCHU!
Inca Jungle Trek – Day 4 – Machu Picchu
Our alarm went off at 4:00am for us to begin getting ready for our day of hiking and exploration. We finally made it to the big day. For those who don’t know, we planned our entire trip around going to Machu Picchu. Visiting this Incan city in the mountains was on both of our bucket lists and we were dying to go see it for ourselves. We left the hostal and started our climb all the way from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu city. This hike began at 4:45am and consistented of around 1,300 steps up the side of the mountain. Some of our group opted to take the bus up instead but Gabe and I wanted to accomplish this difficult feat and see the sunrise over the mountain. This climb was one of the hardest hikes I have ever done. Each step was harder than the one before. Initially, it was so dark that we had to use my iPhone light to illuminate the path. (We accidentally left my head lamp in Cusco with our luggage – big mistake!) As the sun rose over the mountain peaks, we were all dripping in sweat and gasping for breathe but we stopped to take in some of the breathtaking views. Finally after about an hour and a half we finally reached the top! I have never been so happy to sit down.
Here are some photos from the climb up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Calientes during sunrise including a map of the path we hiked up:
We arrived to the entrance of Machu Picchu with huge long lines of tourists waiting to get inside when the gates open. We met our tour guide who then took us through the gates to Machu Picchu city. This city that was built around 1450 as a religious and political center for the Incans and thought of as a link between the Amazon and the Andes was unbelieve to see in person. After climing all those steps up it was unimaginable how these people brought all the soil, stones and everything up the mountain to build this entire city. Luckily, the Spanish during their colonization never found Machu Picchu because they would have probably would have destroyed it. We learned about some of the history of the city and walked around with our group taking in the gorgeous city.
Some of my favorite photos that I took of Macchu Picchu:
We had to leave our group behind a few minutes early to go to the most spectacular part of our journey, the hike to Waynapicchu (also known as Huyana Picchu). This is one of the two mountains that overlooks Machu Picchu that is available for tourists to hike. Waynapicchu is closer than its counterpart, Machu Picchu mountain, and gets booked up in advance because only 400 people are allowed to climb it each day. It also offers closer views, a more steep and rigorous climb and its own ruins, caves and rocks at the summit. We had to begin our hike up between 7:00 – 8:00am. We arrived at 7:58am to begin but sat down just past the ticket checkpoint to rest our legs and have a snack. We were still exhausted from the hike up earlier but knew we had to do this. We were happy to finally be on our own and away from the group and decided to go at our own pace. This time ended up being perfect because the trail up was relatively uncrowded. They definitely were not kidding about the steep climb! The steps consisted of rocks that were smaller than our feet and made us focus on our balance in addition to being out of breath. The views from this mountain were unlike anything I have ever seen before. Not only did it feel amazing to accomplish such a difficult task, the aerial views of Machu Picchu and the 360 degree views of green mountains and snow capped mountains made us feel like we were on top of the world. We took our time climbing around the top of the mountain which had big boulders, some smaller caves and unforgettable views. The pictures speak for themselves…
We thought the tough part was over then we realized that we actualy had to descend down the mountain on these same tiny steps. I may have been less out of breath but the balancing and the stress on our knees definitely took a toll on us on the way down. The sun had also come up and it was starting to get hot. We were thrilled to have done this hike early in the morning and not in the heat. We made it down around 10:45am and both felt like we could barely walk but felt so accomplished. We finished walking around Machu Picchu and then took the bus down because the thought of 1,300 steps down sounded like torture.
Saying we were exhausted was an understatement. Each step we took was like climbing another mountain and we had to wait until our train left Aguas Calientes at 4:20pm. We grabbed lunch in our sweaty, smelly hiking clothes and discovered this nice hotel called El Mapi. I found the hotel bar that had wifi and comfy couches and we pretended to be guests and got comfortable. We then treated ourselves to hour long massages for $12 – I am going to miss Peruvian Soles! The next part of the day felt like another day itself. We both kept saying that hiking to Machu Picchu felt like yesterday. Finally we boarded our train to Ollyentambo. After arriving, we took a bus to Cusco and arrived at our hostel around 8:15pm completely drained and ready for bed. We grabbed a quick dinner at the hostel and went right to sleep. The next day we had to wake up early again for our flight to Iguasu Falls, Brazil. Our trip to Peru was incredible and flew by! I am so happy to have experienced all that we did and with such a great travel partner! (Don’t worry Auntie Missy you still take the prize!)