Summer 2018

Day 4

Our morning started at 3:30 AM, where we took an hour bus ride to the train station in Ollantaytambo. Even this early in the morning, 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 through the mountains. The tracks followed the Urubamba River within the valley of the huge mountain ranges, making for incredible views. We then reached Km104, where we met our porters and chef. They took our duffel bags, and we began our two day hike to Machu Picchu along the Inca trail.

The first archeological site we visited was Chachabamba, which was one of the first Inca checkpoints along the Inca trail. We continued along WiƱay Wayna to reach a small waterfall. It had cold water, which was a refreshing surprise after hiking for hours in the burning sun. A neat trick our guide taught us was to wet our hat in the water and then wear it to cool down quicker.

After, we stopped for an amazing lunch which our chef prepared. It had a few different Peruvian dishes, along with Chicha Morada. We ate this while enjoying an amazing view of the Andes Mountains.

We got our first glimpse of Machu Picchu when we reached the Sun Gate. It was a sublime experience to see one of the Wonders of the World after hiking through the mountains for a day.

From here it was only an hour walk to Machu Picchu. But instead of going in, we first ran to see the Inca Bridge, where we found the guard not at his post at the entry. 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. Although it is now closed to actually go on, it is an amazing spectacle. Given the drop below, the path seemed so narrow along the straight cliff rock. I couldn't imagine Incas walking along it. On the trail back, there was an amazing view of the river, and we watched the sun disappear behind the mountains.

The line to get back to our camp base, Aguas Calientes, was around two hours long. When we reached our site, our chef had prepared an amazing dinner. After the exhausting day, we went straight to our tents to sleep.

Day 5

Roosters woke us up at 4 AM, which was a great alarm for us to get out of our cozy sleeping bags. With a cup of hot coca tea, we packed up our stuff and went to breakfast. We had plantains, quinoa porridge, croissants, and pancakes. After our breakfast, we said our final goodbyes to our porters and chef.

After that, we walked to Aguas Calientes to wait in line for the bus. Same as last night, the bus line was horrendously long. Because of this, we barely missed the sunrise over Machu Picchu. Instead, we went on a two-hour tour of Machu Picchu. It was super interesting to learn about the history and unknowns of the site. Along the way, there were amazing views of the Andes. There are also llamas roaming the pasture along some parts, but it's not actually possible to see them up close.

We spent the rest of the morning exploring, until it was time for us to head back. Luckily, the line for the bus ride down was short. When we reached Aguas Calientes, we ate our lunch and then began our journey back to Cusco.