This blog follows on from my last blog post about the first few days trekking on the Salkantay Trek – apologies for the delay!
Our third day of trekking was the hardest. I think, for some reason, we all thought the two hardest days trekking were over, but, boy, were we wrong.
This day we had to a walk for around five hours uphill in the blazing sun. We passed waterfalls, rickety bridges, followed a large, winding river and enjoyed the beautiful flowers and scenery. Although it was difficult and I was sweating from places I didn’t know it was possible to sweat from I enjoyed every minute of it.
At about 2pm we reached our destination, a beautiful ancient Inca site with views of Machu Picchu, Huayna Picchu Mountain and Machu Picchu Mountain (which we would climb the next day) across the valley.
To top off the scene a white horse, non-pulsed by our arrival, was casually grazing at the edge of the mountain.
Joel invited us all to rest our heads on our backpacks and enjoy the view while he told us the history of the Incas. Unfortunately, I managed to stay awake for all of about two minutes of his speech before I was
Unfortunately, I managed to stay awake for all of about two minutes of his speech before I was happily dozing undercover of my sunglasses. When the talk ended and we all rose to our feet, dusting off the grass from our sticky skin and clothes, my husband said ‘you slept right through that, didn’t you?’ Acting insulted I said, ‘No, of course not!’
When the talk ended and we all rose to our feet, dusting off the grass from our sticky skin and clothes, my husband said ‘you slept right through that, didn’t you?’ Acting insulted I said, ‘No, of course not!’
‘Oh right, ok’ he replied apologetically. Phew, got away with that one!
That night we stayed in the most beautiful camp overlooking the mountains that were separated from us by a vast valley. We had time to relax and take in the scenery. There were only two-other people staying in the entire camp.
The next morning we rose early to watch the sunrise over Machu Picchu then we headed off in the sun again for a long walk to Aguas Calienties, the stop-off town before Machu Picchu. Here we had a hotel and hot shower waiting. Apart from the blazing sun the walk was easy enough, mostly flat, following the Peru Rail line.
We reached Aguas Calientes at about four. The town is much more built-up and modern than I expected, or perhaps it was just such a vast contrast from the scenery of the last four days. Set with a river running through It, there are restaurants, bars, nice hotels and a souvenir market.
Our accommodation was lovely – a hairdryer, thick fluffy towels and a TV! – but then I guess that is what you pay the extra for.
The final day: Machu Picchu
Some people complain about too many tourists at Mach Picchu, but perhaps they just lack the imagination to look past the crowds and envisage what it once was like when it was a fully functioning citadel in the 15th Century.
Machu Picchu was the heart of the famous Incan Empire. It was home to the Empire’s most important folk that were ingeniously hidden for protection amongst the Peruvian rainforest and Andean mountain range. Machu Picchu was hidden so well it wasn’t discovered for centuries later and this is why it is preserved so well.
To get to Machu Picchu everyone has to queue to get one of the many busses that leave from the centre of town. It takes 25 minutes to Machu Picchu. The idea is to get on the first bus so that you are in Machu Picchu alone or with the least amount of tourists.
The fist bus leaves at 5:30 am and then every five minutes thereafter. We got to the bus stop at 4:30am, after shoving food in our faces from the hotel buffet, and the queue was already quite long. I think we got on the fifth bus, maybe.
I’ve since learned you can walk up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Caliente if you want to, but it’s apparently quite a tough walk.
As I said before, Machu Picchu exceeded my expectations. It’s setting between Machu Picchu Mountain and Huayna Picchu Mountain, is breathtaking.
Joel gave us a two-hour tour of Machu Picchu and then we had free time to either relax and enjoy the citadel itself or walk to the Sun Gate. Or, if you’d paid extra, climb either Machu Picchu Mountain or Huayna Picchu Mountain.
We had paid to climb Machu Picchu Mountain, as had the other English guy and gal. After the tour we headed straight to the mountain, but there was a long queue to start the ascent to its peak. We were not expecting this and so deliberated whether to just give it a miss and enjoy Machu Picchu some more or wait and race up the mountain. We were going to be pushed for time to get up the mountain and down by 2pm to have lunch with the others in town.
It was a one out, one in queue. In the end we decided to go for it and got onto the path at 10:30am. It was a hard slog up to the top, giant uneven stone step after giant uneven stone step in the blazing midday sun. In true indie-girl style I was wearing black skinny jeans with a rip just under my right bum cheek (don’t worry, it wasn’t obscene!) that seemed to grow bigger with every step.
In the end it took me about 1 hour 25 minutes to the peak and the others a little less. The view was spectacular.But as soon as we got there we were told we only had 20 minutes, so we had to quickly take pictures while trying to recuperate from the gruelling climb.
On the way down it took us half an hour (literally running down) and we managed to get our passport stamped with the Mach Picchu symbol and meet the others for the bus on time. Did we make the right decision to climb the mountain? Although I would have been just as happy relaxing and taking in Machu Picchu, I think it was worth it.
My biggest regret about the trip was not having enough time to in Machu Picchu itself, it was all a bit of a whirlwind.
Preferably, I would have liked to be able to go back the next day, see it all again and climb the Huayna Picchu Mountain and visit the Sun Gate.
Obviously, this means I simply have to go back!
If you enjoy reading my blogs or find them useful please like and share! 🙂 You can also follow me on Twitter @Heidivel or Instagram @heidihihohi.
Also, please feel free to ask me any travel questions you may have or to share your own travel experiences.