After a day and a half of acclimating in Cusco we woke up at 4am and loaded up on a small bus with our tour group. The bus ride was a couple hours and dropped us off at a train station. The train was really cool- the ceiling was made up of windows so we could see the breathtaking views as the train meandered through the Andes. On either side we were surrounded by peaks thousands of feet high- it made me feel very small! We were on the train for about an hour when it suddenly stopped in the middle of nowhere and the conductor announced that those on the tour were to exit. Outside there was a small sign indicating we were at the mouth of the Inca trail. Our group for the shortened Inca Trail hike was about 20 people, a mix of ages and backgrounds. Everyone was really friendly and we even met some other Los Angeles folds- sucg a small world. We ended up hanging out with them during the trek and just recently had dinner with them in LA!
The hike was intense. We were scaling full on mountains, and the incline was super steep. The trails were very narrow and there was no railing or protection from the thousand plus feet drop right next to us. The good news is that it didn’t rain on us. We had a few sprinkles but for the wet season we got very lucky. I was hiking and concentrating on not slipping on the already wet trail I was super thankful that it wasn’t pouring on us- it would have been miserable! The scenery was gorgeous. Throughout the day we passed by different Inca ruins, each progressively more impressive. We stopped for lunch at Winay wayna which looked like a mini Machu Picchu. Everything was so green and lush and I took way too many pictures. Somehow photos can never capture the immensity of nature, but I tried!
After a full day of hiking we made it to the Sun Gate, the entry the Incas used to get to Machu Picchu. As you climb the stairs and turn the corner you are confronted with the magical sight of Machu Picchu laying out below you in the distance. We enjoyed the view and then continued on our way down the mountain to the site itself. As we descend the view was obstructed and our guide made us close our eyes and led us hand in hand for the last few steps. When we were allowed to open our eyes Machu Picchu was laying in front of us. We had time to sit and look at everything and then headed down the mountain for the night. We stayed in Agua Calientes, a small town at the base of the mountain. As the name implies, there are hot springs in town which we excitedly headed to after dinner. Turns out the “hot springs” were giant baths of natural spring water that looked and smelled super gross! We rallied though and enjoyed a beer to “kill the germs”. The next day we got to spend the full day on Machu Picchu. Our tour guide led us around for the first hour or so. It was neat to learn what historians thought about everything, but I was surprised that a majority of the information was just speculation. In reality there are very few facts known about the place. After the tour we had free time to walk around and check everything out. After a few hours Steve and I found an empty terrace and just sat there taking it all in. Definitely a sight we will remember for years to come!
love and candy,