Bags packed, lives sorted and alarm set for 5:30am. We woke up with an unusual amount of energy for 2 human beings who had been ill and promptly made our way to find our group and tour guide (Loki Travel). Our 3 day Jungle Trek adventure towards Machu Picchu, sprinkled with bike rides, water rafting, zip lining and hiking, was about to begin!
After a 2 hour bus drive we stopped for breakfast with our new friends: 2 guys who lived in Dubai and a British couple on their honeymoney (there were also 4 young Belgian girls but they were a bit too wingey for our liking).
With scrambled eggs and fresh orange juice in our bellies we set off towards the highest point of our journey, reaching 4,600mt. It was shortly after this that our bus stopped in an area called ‘el aeroplano’ which is where we set off on our first challenge: biking down the mountain for 65km. So after a quick ‘pipi nature’ not far from a bunch of alpaccas we put on our helmets and terminator gear and were ready for the 2h downhill ride.
It was pretty amazing and we reached some fairly high speeds (unfortunately a bit too high to casually take our phones out to take a photo of the amazing scenery of the Sacred Valley).
Once at the bottom of the hill our guides packed our bikes and gear up and lead us to our lunch spot in a beautiful valley in the jungle quite casually located near a river rafting complex. After 4 days of crackers and apples I happily attacked a plate of rice and vegetables, just enough at least to give me the energy to ride along the river. We paddled, we splashed, got soaked, nearly fell into the river (multiple times), and Annalie even dived in from a rock (not sure if 100% voluntarily though, I think having 8 people go before her might have peer pressured her a bit).
Our next stop was our hostel for the night, which was lifted straight from a horror film. Dark as doom, nobody in sight, a weird looking empty swimming pool, disco lights shining left and right despite the place being completely empty. Our room’s lights didn’t work and the sink smelled of dead fish so we were moved to another one which only smelled of wee. Nice. We were however so shattered we managed to sleep like logs and woke up bright an early for the first activity of the day: zip lining! We went down 5 zip lines across mountains and across the valley and enjoyed some of the most stunning views (even if the harness was a teeny bit invasive and the bloody mosquitos wouldn’t stop devouring us). We ended our morning by walking across a terrifyingly small and very unstable suspension bridge, arguably the scariest of our activities!
The rest of the day consisted of an excellent lunch in the jungle (veggie and quinoa soup, chicken and rice), a quick rest on a hammock, followed by a 3h trek towards Aguas Calientes, the town at the base of Machu Picchu mountain. The trek was super easy with a backdrop of luscious mountains and flowing rivers, and by mid afternoon we arrived to our hostel.
The next morning saw us waking up at 3:40am in order to reach Machu Picchu’s entrance by 6am. The walk was obviously 80% uphill and ended with a huge stairway of 2,000 steps, so pretty hardcore, but also very rewarding, especially as we were one of the first to enter the lost village.
Machu Picchu (meaning Old Mountain in Quechua) was discovered just over 100 years ago by an American professor, Bingham. At the time only 2 families were living there and he apparently bought them off with a menial amount of food and goods so he could claim the land and relics found (95% of which not yet returned to the country). The site is believed to have been built in the early XVI century by the Inka community and was intended to become a self sufficient village that would hold a couple thousand people. Legend has it that it took over 45 years to be built and that around 15,000 people worked on its erection at any given time. Unfortunately, the arrival of the Spanish conquerors eventually halted the build which is why it’s incomplete. 25% of the site has been restored in recent years, and it’s still the biggest relic found to date in the continent.
We’ve all seen this classic Machu Picchu postcard snap, but it really doesn’t do it any justice; its size in particular really can’t be conveyed through photography. You could easily spend an entire day up there and miss bits. It’s huge, breathtakingly huge, and majestically wrapped up by a never ending array of green green mountains (a couple of which you can hike too).
All in all it was very tiring, so much so we had to take a cheeky nap on Machu Picchu to recover some strength, but it was also epic and definitely one of our highlights. And cherry on the cake we were greeted by a bunch of friendly lamas who weren’t shy of sharing our carrot 🙂
Ciao for now! X