I have been so busy over the last few weeks it seems hard to find the time to catch up on my blogs! Only a week to go hence I´m trying frantically to finish them now so I´m not writing them a month after I get back home haha.
When I was in Cusco, I thought I was just going to get the train to Machu Picchu. When I heard how much it would be, I just thought it would be a waste of money to spend so much for just one day. I decided instead to find a trek. I knew the Inka Trail would be sold out as you have to book it months in advance so I started looking at other options. I talked to some people in my hostel and they told me they had booked on the Inka Jungle Trail with Lorenzo Expeditions. I had a look at their website and Trip Advisor and it seemed like they were going to be a very good company to go with. I went in and booked for the next day...no time to waste!
The trek didn´t come with my return train home so,before I
booked the trek, I wanted to make sure that there was availability on the train. There was hooray! BUT, when I got back from booking my tour the seats had gone and the only available one left would cost $450!!!! I didn´t know what to do so I did some research on the internet. I found out that there are actually two train companies and I managed to bag a seat on the Inka Train for much less. This train, however, only took me half way to Ollataytambo! I asked the hostel owner about how I would get back to Cusco and they explained I could get a bus outside the train station back. Phew.
The first day of my trek : I was picked up at 6am from my hostel, which I wasn´t too happy about as I had gone to bed later that night due to going out for guinea pig AND having to pack my bag before bed! In the morning,I felt so cold because I was so tired, I really struggled to warm up! They brought us to a place to have breakfast and I just thought I would eat as much as possible so
that I could wake up and hopefully warm up! We then set off again to reach the start day 1 of our 55km (mostly) downhill cycle. We had to reach 4500metres high to get to the start, where it was super cold and there were clouds passing us by! We were given our full face helmets, clothing and then our bikes. We were asked to just ride around for a while to get used to the bikes and then we set off. After about 15 minutes of cycling, I could really feel that my fingers and toes were really getting cold. I tried to wiggle them while I was cycling but it didn´t seem to work. Five more minutes down the road, we stopped to take in the breath taking scenery. Absolutely beautiful. I said to our leader I was really cold and then I started to feel really sick and light headed. I have bad circulation in my hands and it has happened to me a couple of time of the last few years where the cold has really got to me. I asked if I could ride in the van for a while so that I could warm
up. I felt stupid as everyone else carried on but the sick feeling and extreme pins and needles in my hands were telling me that it was a good idea I was in the van. Whilst in the van, I could really take a good look outside and see all the beautiful mountains and waterfalls that surrounded the road.
At the next stop, I had warmed up enough to carry on. It was a really nice bike ride and started to get warmer as we started to decline down the hill. In some parts, we got wet from small streams that ran across the road from waterfalls (not great when I had only brought one pair of shoes for 4 days!!)
Finally, we made it about 2000metres lower at Santa Maria. We stayed there for the night and had some great food at a local restaurant, including one of my new favourite dishes- quinoa soup!
The next day, we started on our fist day of walking to Santa Teresa for 23km...8 hours of walking up and down hills 😞 I quite like walking back home but when you are at altitude you feel like the most unfit
person ever huffing and puffing! Was really hard and everyone was out of breath! Our guide, Wilbert, was really good and we made stops along the way looking at coffee beans and how they are picked, dried then sold to the UK. If only I drank coffee I would´ve felt more impressed haha. Along our walk, we also came across a coca plantation and was very lucky to walk part of an actual Inka Trail. The steps are quite narrow but the the view was the most beautiful I had seen in the whole walk, especially when we were at the the top! Towards the end of our walk, we made it to some hot springs which was a lovely way to end the full day of walking.
In Santa Teresa, in my hostel room, I had a television. We were given an hour of free time before dinner and I was just so happy watch TV!! Yes, a lot of you will think that is sad but I han´t watched TV in so long!! Dinner again was really good and I went straight to bed afterwards like the party animal that I am as I was so tired!
The next morning, we woke up early to go zip lining before we started our next day of walking. I have done zip lining quite a few times on my trip now that its actually lost its novelty! We carried on with our walk and came across a train line. We were told that the old train to Cusco was no longer in use so I presumed this was the old one. We came off the train track to a small place where we had lunch. Whilst eating, a train went past, honking its horn! I knew then that I was wrong, it was actually the new line!
When we set off again on our walk, I made sure I was a little bit more aware that a train could come down any minute! When a train did pass it was actually moving quite slowly and there was plenty of room to move to the side. Phew! Along the way, some dogs shot past me. I grabbed on to the girl I was with, Claire, and from no where a dog then slammed right into my legs, knocking me to the ground! So embarrassing! Why does everything seem
to happen to me! My ankle felt a bit sore but I carried on walking and stayed well clear of any more dogs in my path!
Finally, we made it to out last destination, Aguas Calientes at the base of Machu Picchu. It was a really lovely little town, full with tourists. I really liked the vibe there and wished in a way I had decided to stay a bit longer...maybe next time! We were taken for a really posh meal for our last supper together. Bed early again as this time we were up at 4am to start our trek up the 1800 steps to Machu Picchu, one of the most strenuous, yet overwhelmingly nostalgic,walks. It felt like christmas! We got to the gate for 5am to have our passports and tickets checked then set off up the steps. I stopped every now and again to get my breath back and gulp down some water to replenish all the water I was losing through the sweat pouring out of me!
At about 6am, one hour later, we made it to the top and entered the long line of people waiting to catch their first glimpse of Machu
Picchu. The long walk up was all worth it as the ancient Inka City is absolutely beautiful, perched at the top of a mountain. We were really lucky that it wasn´t a really cloudy day and got to see the ruins in all their beauty.
I had bought an extra ticket to trek up the actual Machu Picchu mountain but as my train was at 1430 that day and I still wanted to have a look around at all of the ruins I decided not to. So when I bring Stu with me next time we can have a go at climbing that also.
As the rest of my group was heading up to Machu Picchu mountain (their train was later than mine), I said my goodbyes and had a walk around the ruins. Afterwards, I made my way back down the 1800 steps - my calves really didn´t thank me the next day!
I had a walk around Aguas Caliente and went to catch my train to Olletaytambo to then catch my bus to Cusco. I was sat with two lovely Americans and their guide that had taken them on a 5 day trek. They told
me all about their charity, Action for the Rights of Child (ARC) -http://arcpune.blogspot.in/- . They told me how they help schools in the Phillipines help themselves. The schools come up with an action plan of how they want to improve and how much money they want to spend and the charity will match it. I really like this idea of not just handing over money or sending people in to take over and run the schools, but to actually make the people owners of their own improvement with a kind helping hand and guidance.
We stopped at Olletaytambo and they asked if they could give me a lift back to Cusco as they had a private shuttle as part of their tour. It was so, so kind of them to ask me. I felt like royalty going back to Cusco in a private shuttle, with a massive, warm seat instead of going in a packed-out old bus. The kindness of strangers is the most heart warming thing I have felt on my trip! Always makes me think, do I do enough for other people? I am definitely wanting to try my best when I get home!
was absolutely fantastic and I would recommend Lorenzo Expeditions to anybody. They were well organised, prepared for our safety, the food was fantastic and the views simply amazing! I think I would like to do the real Inka Trail just to see what it is like in comparison, although I´m not sure about the camping in the cold part. One day!
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