Monday, 24 May 2010

Inka Jungle trail to Machu Picchu

I took some time off school to do the Inka Jungle trail to Machu Picchu, a four day trip, which is a mix of mountain biking and hiking. The first day we took a bus to Abra Malaga at 4350m above sea level, took our mountain bikes off the roof and sailed down the winding mountain path to Santa Maria, about a 3 hour bike ride, all down hill, mainly on tarmac except the last half an hour, which was a very bumpy dirt track. The rainforest scenery was absolutley breath taking, and mountain biking was a great way of seeing it. The bus picked us up and drove us into Santa Maria for lunch... meat, rice and chips just for a change...

On day two we had a 6am breakfast and then started the hike to Santa Teresa. It was a 6 hour hike to the restaurant for lunch. The first 3 hours were uphill, a very steep jungle path. I struggled with the climb as catching my breath was difficult. After resting for an hour and eating lunch we hiked another 3 hours to Santa Teresa, luckily this was much flatter and I found it much easier. We arrived in Santa Teresa at 5.15pm, having been on the road for 10 hours...phew what a relief...the longest and most difficult hike I have ever done. I am really pleased I made it!

On day three, our hike started at 7am, we walked along a dried up river bed for about an hour and then had to cross the river on a zip line with a small basket that could carry three people. Further on, after another 2 hours we had to cross the river again by zip line. This time there was a queue of other tour groups and somne locals and we had to wait one hour to cross. We followed the river and stopped for lunch just after the hydro electric plant, about 11.30am. We then followed the train tracks into Aguas Calientes. It wasn´t a difficult hike like the day before, and once we follwed the train tracks it was fairly level. It was just very tiring, especially after the day befores steep climb. We arrived in Aguas Calientes at 3pm, only an 8 hour hiking day! After dinner it was early to bed for a 4.30am start the next day.

The first bus to Machu Picchu leaves at 5.30am and when we got there at 4.45am there was already a big queue. It´s a 3,000 step climb up to Machu Picchu so I elected to get the bus knowing I would struggle with all those steps and I wanted to be able to enjoy it once I was there. We were some of the last people to get tickets to be able to climb Waynapicchu too. Machu Picchu was pretty impressive, and the setting was absolutely spectacular. The guided tour lasted 2 and an half hours and was very interesting. Machu Picchu means Old Mountain in Quechua. The Inca´s called it Picchu and Hiram Bingham, an American, who discovered the ruins in 1911 added the Machu bit. We then climbed Waynapicchu, oh my god! how many steps!? It´s the tall mountain you can see in the background of all the pictures of Machu Picchu. It´s really steep, at some points you had to hold a rope to climb up, and right near the top you had to crawk between a gap in the rocks and up`a wooden ladder to reach the top. The view was worth it though. I then made the mistake of decidong to visit the Grande Caverna. A 40 minute walk, all downhill, down a few wooded ladders, which was fine, but the cave wasn´t really worth it, nothing special and then I saw a sign that it was an hour and half back to Machu Picchu and it was all uphill! Millions of steps to climb again. I seriously considered making my home there....
I made it back eventually after much huffing and puffing. Some of our group also climbed Machu Picchu and to the Sungate but it would have been too much for me. We spent 8 hours there in total before hiking back down the 3,000 steps to Aguas Calientes. The last uphill bit into Aguas Calientes was a killer and I was glad when we got back to the hostel to collect our bags and discovered we could take a shower for 5 soles... a bargain! We caught the train back to Cusco at 9.45pm, arriving back in Cusco at 2am. A really tiring but fantastic trip!

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