I’ve spent the past week hanging out in Cusco, making new friends and enjoying this beautiful city filled with a combination of old Incan buildings and Spanish Colonial buildings. It really is a special place, this Incan Capital.
Machu Pichu is “close” to Cusco. So finally the time came for me to do a two day adventure to go and view the magical ruins. I went with four German friends who managed to find us a “cheap” package deal to get there and back in one piece. $125. The poor South African Rand really wasn’t built for us humans with travel in our blood.
On day one we were fetched from our hostel at 8:00am (Peruvian time means we were actually fetched at about 8:40am). I left all the planning up the Germans, so I actually had no idea what to expect. I definitely didn’t expect the 6 hour windy drive in a minivan squished full of people. So much for “close” to Cusco. The narrow road weaves and winds along mountain edges, making everyone’s hearts jolt, but it’s worth the thrill because it is just so breathtakingly beautiful.
6 hours later, with a quick lunch break inbetween, we were dropped off at a train station called Hidroelectrico. No train for us, we were sent on a 10km trek along the train tracks and through the valley to the town of Aguascalientes. So unprepared but so fun. 2.5 hours later, we arrived, sweaty but full of smiles.
The traditional 4 day Inca trail route to trek to Machu Pichu is apparently the most incredible experience of all time, but there are only a certain amount of passes per day to do the Inca trail and it needs to be booked months in advance. Unfortunately (in this case) I’m only planning my journey day by day, so no Inca Trail for me. But because I didn’t get that experience, I was still very appreciative that we were sent on an adventure of our own.
In the evening we went to the hot springs in Aguascalientes but it’s not really worth writing about. Think 15 year old Peruvian boys leering at all the female tourists in their little bikinis, and hot springs smelling distinctly like a combination of pee and chlorine. Not recommended.
Early to bed. Early to rise.
We woke at 4am and set off in the dark to trek up 1778 Incan stairs to get to the entrance of the ruins of Machu Pichu. As we walked up those stairs, sweat dripping and the sound of my own breath consuming me, my mind kept flicking to an inspirational family friend of ours, Lara Kruiskamp. Lara is currently on a journey to run 7 marathons on the 7 different continents. One of her marathons was running the Inca Trail. I could barely make it up the stairs to the entrance, never mind a marathon along the Incan trail at altitude. Heres a link to her blog, CLICK ME PLEASE! It is really inspiring, and if you feel like donating something to her cause, that’d be lovely too.
Machu Pichu is something else. It’s a real magical experience to be surrounded by the mystery of the incomplete ruins of this Incan civilisation. Words can’t describe it. Pictures can’t really either. But they’ll have to do. PRETTY PICTURES HERE.