Well this will be the first of a couple updates. Maren and I went traveling for about three weeks. Our first stop was the journey to Cusco. Surprisingly we only got into Cusco three hours late not so bad for a Peruvian bus. We got dropped off in the Plaza de Armas and it was very pretty and with flags waving in the breeze. Cusco lived up to it’s reputation of being very touristy, but nice none the less. That night we tried the Peruvian specialty of Alpaca. I (even as a vegetarian) tried a bite of it. I suppose if you like meat it was pretty good, it basically tasted like beef. The following morning we awoke early to begin our jungle trek, where we met up with former volunteer Jenny.
The Jungle Trek
• The First day we were bused up to a top of a mountain, were given mountain bikes, then headed downhill on the road on our bikes for three hours. The view was beautiful and kept changing as we headed from freezing mountain top towards the jungle. As we headed down the road there were fresh mountain streams that splashed us as we crossed. The bike ride ended at a small set of ruins and a surprise of a bottle of refreshing beer.
• The second day we began our trek. This was our first day hiking in the Jungle. We were offered to send our bags in the taxi to our next hostel. An offer which Jenny and I split because we had too much in our packs. A note to those considering this trek–You don’t need a backpack of warm clothes! I assumed it would be really cold that night like everywhere else in Peru, but it was shorts weather. The hike was definitely structured for tourists , allowing people of varying athletic levels to partake. We had very frequent stops and there were always places along the way (even in what seemed like the middle of no where) to buy snacks and water. The Jungle was very new to me and was very exciting and picaresque. There were banana leaves and bright green plats scattered with vibrant flowers. We even ate fresh oranges off the tree!. Our trek followed along the river up and down the mountains of the scared valley. At one point our guide led us down to river so we could soak our feet in the fresh, cold water. The day ended with a trip to the hot spring baths. Over all a pretty amazing day of new experiences and a huge variety of scenery.
• Day three started out a little iffy. A group of Brazilian boys shared the hostel with us and were up until four in the morning partying ( it probably would have been later, but the hostel cut the power on them) The walls were paper thin so there was not much sleep for us. Though, in the morning we got our revenge but banging on the walls and yelling at 5 while the boys were sleeping. Despite the rough start and the really two hour wait for lunch the day was another good one. The hiking was much easier this time, it was about 6 hours of walking along the train tracks. The environment was still the Jungle, so it was captivating for the eyes. The tracks became a little dizzying, but it was not so bad. After the long walk, we were given the option of climbing Putu Cusi. Putu Cusi is a mountain with a summit that gives you a side view of Machu Picchu. Maren, Jenny and I being three strong women decided we were up for the challenge. It was rough climb (especially after all day of walking with our packs) but worth it. It was about an hour of steep up hill. The hike was mostly stairs with a few sections of ladders. The view from the top and the satisfaction of success was rejuvenating. The day ended with our nicest meal of the trip and an early bed time.
• Day four – Machu Picchu. Finally the day had come to see the famous Inca city. We had two options for the day 1.- wake up at 3, scramble up the mountain in the dark to get a ticket to climb the mountain of Wayna Picchu (they only give ticket to the first 400) 2. Wake up at 5:30, take the bus up, and after our tour climb the more challenge mt Machu Picchu (not to be confused with the city). We chose the less traveled route of Mt. Machu Picchu. The tour of city was very crowed and felt a little like an amusement park line, but the city itself was incredible. The skill of the architects of the Inca society never fails to impress me. As Josh said the city is something you need to see for yourself.
The climb to Mt. Machu Picchu was rough. It consisted of an hour and a half of steep stairs. Living up to our name of Chica’s Fuertes, we conquered the challenge. Once again the view was incredible. It was a 365 view of the sacred Valley and an aerial view of the City. It was probably one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I would recommend it 2000 percent for those up for the challenge. I also really appreciated the fact there were not hundreds of people climbing with us. I felt it was quiet enough to really absorb the beauty. We took the train down reflecting on our exhausting day of adventures. Overall, (minus a few minor annoyances) the trip was pretty incredible and I would recommend it. I felt I got the rich opportunity to see much more than just the city.
PS. I also got reminded what a small world we really live in. I ran into a family at Machu Picchu that lives right down the street from me!