A nice, short sum-up of the experience
Our trek on Machu Picchu. For more information, visit www.inquisitiveclaudia.com
The trek started at Ollantaytambo. After the usual pictures at the entrance of the park, we started heading up. This day was considered “easy” because the steepness was … gradual. We stopped a lot at different sites where we got to introduce ourselves to the group, see a few incan ruins and get a nice introduction by our guide. The weather was amazing, sunny and encouraging for the days to come.
The first camp site looked like in the back garden of a local. The pigs, sheep, dogs and even roosters around were promising an early rise. Included in the package was the most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen! A full moon and the whole Milky Way just a short arm’s away.
The roosters and dogs kept their promise and woke us up even before the 5 am “army” call. We were offered a nice coca tea at the “door” of our tent and were expected to pack up within 45 mins. Before we knew it, we were on our way to what was called the “challenging” day.
5 hours of steps were in store for us. Walking up seemed to never end. To be honest, after Rainbow Mountain, nothing seemed insurmountable anymore. The philosophy of one step after another worked like a charm. Dead Woman’s pass (4200 m) was our aim and, one after another, we conquered even this height. Afterwards, we headed down to the next camp site for another couple of hours.
This time, we were welcomed by a symphony of frog sounds (yuck!). It was also one of the coldest nights I’ve ever slept through in my life. We all literally froze in our sleeping bags, all dressed up and with caps and gloves on. The next morning couldn’t have come faster!
The third day was labeled “unforgettable”. We had a bit of what our guide called “inca flat” (alternating up and down) and then a lot of stairs down. The nice part was that we were going to go through another pass and also stop on some occasions for other ruins.
The first part was quite pleasant. The second part.. the going down, though? Let me just say my biggest concern for this whole trek had been my Achillean tendons – an injury I had in the past. Well, ladies and gentlemen, that didn’t bother me at all. Instead, my knees slowly started hurting, then they started hurting some more and eventually they failed on me. If I hadn’t had my hiking poles, I probably would have crawled my way into the camp. They even called me the “myriapod” (thanks, Ovi!). “Hang on! Make space! The myriapod is coming!” hahaha.
With this occasion, I feel like I need to thank all the people that had the patience to walk behind me, walk with me, friends, trek buddies, Americans, Canadians and other people I made friends with while I was walking down this super long day for me :D.
The “unique” day. Yeah, we woke up at 3 am, waited in line to enter the Machu Picchu site for 1.5 hrs, walked for another 5 k (in sticks for some of us) and eventually reached the site around 9 am.
The guide walked us for a couple of hours through the ruins, giving us so much interesting information. It was surreal even being there after a 40+ k hike. The funny bit is that you can reach the place by train and bus for a day. So you can imagine there were 2 types of people there: the cleanly dressed, nicely looking and smelling, lipstick-on kind of people. And us: the hobo looking, unwashed and uncombed for 4 days. Us, the ladies, were trying to move our hair from one side to the other, maybe, just maybe, we could look decent for a picture or two.
Eventually, on the account of 0 energy, we all decided to take the bus and head down to Aguas Caliente for the restaurant we were supposed to meet at. Let me just say the lunch there was anything and everything we missed after a hike through the wilderness.
We were also properly certified for our achievement and had the chance to have a warm goodbye from our guide and other members of the group who had the brilliance to book the night in that little mountain village.
The way back to Cusco was long and windy, but, man, can I not emphasize enough that feeling the warm water and the soft sheets over our skins was enough to make all the angels sing hahaha.
I would definitely recommend going through this experience to anyone. I can’t describe enough the landscape, the emotional charge of the places you see. Add on top of that all the amazing people you get to meet and know along the way. There is no comparison to any conventional vacation we have.. Just do it!