Summer 2018

Day 4

Our morning began at 3:30 AM, when we took an hour bus ride to the train station in Ollantaytambo. Even at this early hour, people were up and lively in the streets. Or maybe they didn't sleep. The next leg of our journey was a two-hour train ride along the Urubamba River that offered stunning views of the river and the surrounding mountain ranges. When we arrived at Km104, we met our porters and chef who took our bags and led us on a two-day hike along the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.

The first archeological site we visited was Chachabamba, one of the first Inca checkpoints on the trail. We continued on to WiƱay Wayna and reached a small waterfall where we were able to cool off in the cold water. It was a refreshing stop after hiking for hours in the burning sun. Our guide taught us a trick to help us cool down faster: wet our hat in the water and then wear it to cool down quicker.

Afterwards, we enjoyed a hearty lunch of a few different Peruvian dishes and Chicha Morada while enjoying an amazing view of the Andes Mountains. We then caught our first glimpse of Machu Picchu as we reached the Sun Gate. It was an awe-inspiring moment to see one of the Wonders of the World after hiking through the mountains for a day.

From the Sun Gate, it was only an hour's walk to Machu Picchu itself. When we reached the sun was setting, meaning that the Inca Bridge would be closing soon. We ran there, finding that the guard was not at his post. We decided to forge ahead, where we found him clearing the trail. We begged him to let us see it, and he grudgingly let us look. I've heard now it is closed to visitors, which is unfortunate because it's an incredible site. An incredibly narrow path along the steep cliff face, I cannot imagine how people would walk across it. On our way back, we enjoyed a beautiful view of the river and watched the sun disappear behind the mountains.

When we returned to our camp base in Aguas Calientes, we were met with a two hour line to get in. After a long and exhausting day, we were grateful to finally reach our campsite where our chef had prepared another delicious dinner. Afterwards, we went straight to our tents to rest and sleep.

Day 5

Roosters woke us up at 4 AM, giving us a gentle nudge to get out of our sleeping bags and start the day. We had a cup of hot cocoa tea and packed our things before heading to breakfast. The meal included plantains, quinoa porridge, croissants, and pancakes. After saying our goodbyes to our porters and chef, we walked to Aguas Calientes to wait in line for the bus. Unfortunately, the line was incredibly long, and we barely missed the sunrise over Machu Picchu.

Instead, we took a two-hour tour of the site and learned about its history and the many unknowns surrounding it. Along the way, we enjoyed stunning views of the Andes and saw llamas grazing in the pastures, though it was not possible to get close to them. We spent the rest of the morning exploring before it was time to head back. Thankfully, the line for the bus ride down was much shorter than the one we had experienced earlier. When we reached Aguas Calientes, we ate our lunch and began our journey back to Cusco.