Exploring a new continent

Travel time: March - June 2010  |  by Dominik Weber

24 April - 1 May Cuzco: 25 - 28 April Maccu Picchu

For sure, the highlight of my entire tour was my trip to Maccu Picchu. Since I heard first time more details about it, that was about 1 1/2 years ago, I wanted to go there and wanted to see this UNESCO world heritage site. As I wrote, I already purchased my trip in Arequipa and they told me that I will get more information by a representative of the agency as soon as I arrive in the hostel. Well, of course, there was nobody and it took me a while before I found out who the agency in Cuzco is. Yes, not everything is perfect here in Peru.
If you want to go to Maccu Picchu, there are several options: the most standard is a four day trekking tour along the Inka Trail. You take a bus to Ollantaytambo and from there, you walk three days (with overnight camping) to Aquas Calientes which is right at the foot of Maccu Picchu. For those, who can't walk, of course, you can do this also in one day. But I was reading a lot of things about the Inka Jungle Trail, which sounded to me like a lot more fun. And it was.
I got picked up in the morning at 7.30 by a representative of the agency. I expected the van to be in the front of the hostel, but instead, we had to walk just a few blocks to the van. Four other people were already waiting and that was our entire group (funny enough, two of them were said that the pick up time is 6.30, means they were already waiting since one hour). But althought we were all there, it still took a while before we finally head off to Abra de Malaga Pass. From there, at 4230m, we got mountain bikes for our first day: we were heading 1200m downhill to (almost) Santa Maria. We were all concerned since it seems that noone had a bike with a functioning gear shift, but our guide said that we shouldn't be concerned at all. The breaks are more important. And indeed, we were only going downhill. For about 1 1/2 hours we were using asphalted road, but the last hour was a rugh, unpaved way. It was pretty dusty but a lot of fun and we all enjoyed the cold shower in Santa Maria.

The next day, we were walking all day long to Santa Teresa. Some parts were on old Inka steps, which are unbelievably placed into the mountains. Other parts were walking along old hang slides (the path was just about 30cm wide!), other parts were very steep behind residents houses. Our guide told us about Inka traditions, about the steps, about the landscape and about the flora and fauna. Our lunch was in the middle of the hill - there was suddently a house. Something, that I realized a few times here. Even if you think, this is the last and dead end, there is an other house. The evening in Santa Teresa was a little bit more lively - the town is larger and we had some drinks with other groups who did the same trek.
The third day was also trekking, but the highlight was for sure the crossing of the river. Since there was no bridge (they are, unfortunately, currently constructing one), there is a cable car: up to three people are sitting in a box and some men on the other side pulling you over. Quiet funny for us, but a regular mode of transportation for the locals. We enjoyed our ride in aproximately 30m over the river and the "pulling men" enjoyed it as well - they are always very happy to get a tip from the tourists.
In the evening, we arrived in Aquas Calientes which is a very touristy town right at Maccu Picchu. It seems that the entire city only consists of hostels and restaurants. It is for sure not the nicest town I have seen so far, but in our group, we enjoyed the evening (our group had grown in the meantime to 7 people - we were told that the guide of the other 2 had an accident and if we don't mind if they join us. The two told us that they were booked on a 3 days tour and there had never been an accident of the guide. Nobody understood that...).

But the highlight of the tour was of course, day no. 4. We woke up at 4am since we wanted to walk up to Maccu Picchu. In the darkness, we were taking steps after steps and more steps and an other step - until we arrived around 90min later at the entrance of Maccu Picchu. The main reason for a lot of people to get up to early is that they want to go up Huayna Pichu (see photo) but they only allow 400 people per day to get up there. We were lucky and got a ticket, but the people who took the first bus up the hill and arrived around 6am, they were not as lucky. But then it was 6am and the gates to Maccu Picchu opened: Uncredible! Stunning! A huge village on the top of the mountain and beside all earth quakes, most of it is absolutely intakt! You are walking in a city that still has its old shape and buidling and of course, the view is breathtaking. You don't know what you need to take a photo of next, there is so much to see.
We had a tour over the area, had a little time to explore everything by our own before we were walking up to Huayna Pichu (about 60min of steep way) from where you had an ever greater view over the entire area. Once back in Maccu Picchu, we were enjoying the moment a little bit longer, took some more photos and were finally walking back to Aquas Calientes. 8 hours on Maccu Picchu was enough; other tourists only stay there fore 3 hours.
We all had our last dinner together before we had to catch our trains. Most of us were sitting in the last train at 21:45 to Ollantaytambo. For this 30km ride, you almost need 1 1/2 hours. And since the last flooding destroyed some of the train tracks, the last kilometers are still under construction and so we had to take a shuttle bus instead. We arrived past midnight in Ollantaytambo; some of us took a shuttle bus to Cuzco (and arrived there are 2am in the night), I preferred to stay in the town from where I wanted to explore the area more the next day.

At the begin of our trip to Maccu Picchu.

At the begin of our trip to Maccu Picchu.

On the right side, the three serpentines, are the way down...

On the right side, the three serpentines, are the way down...

Yes, nobody had try feet at the end of the bycicling day...

Yes, nobody had try feet at the end of the bycicling day...

Perhaps the narrowest foot path of our trekking. Unfortunately, you don´t see how steep it goes down on the left. You only might see the former landslide further in the back...

Perhaps the narrowest foot path of our trekking. Unfortunately, you don´t see how steep it goes down on the left. You only might see the former landslide further in the back...

Tired Inka warriors, but in a good mood and relaxing!

Tired Inka warriors, but in a good mood and relaxing!

A nice view into the valley from a spot near the Inka terraces.

A nice view into the valley from a spot near the Inka terraces.

Across all kind of waters and bridges. At this point, there is normally a regular bridge, but the last landslide demolaged it.

Across all kind of waters and bridges. At this point, there is normally a regular bridge, but the last landslide demolaged it.

Tne cable car...

Tne cable car...

At this point, the water was only five meters below. Or perhaps six...

At this point, the water was only five meters below. Or perhaps six...

First photo of Maccu Picchu with Huayna Pichu in the back.

First photo of Maccu Picchu with Huayna Pichu in the back.

...at 6.45 in the morning!

...at 6.45 in the morning!

Perfect Inka architecture! And no earthquake was a problem!

Perfect Inka architecture! And no earthquake was a problem!

The terraces at Maccu Picchu.

The terraces at Maccu Picchu.

View from Huayna Pichu after one hour of steep steps up...

View from Huayna Pichu after one hour of steep steps up...

Back on Macchu Picchu with the view from the "Porter´s House".

Back on Macchu Picchu with the view from the "Porter´s House".

Enjoying the view together with a llama! He was a nice chap but didn´t say much!

Enjoying the view together with a llama! He was a nice chap but didn´t say much!

© Dominik Weber, 2010
You are here : Overview The Americas Peru 25 - 28 April Maccu Picchu
The trip
 
Description:
After working for too long without a real break, I decided to go on a long planned backpack trip. After changing the departure date and the destination several times, I decided to go to South America. Starting in Colombia, then Peru and finishing in Bolivia. At least, this was the plan but once on tour, you never know what to expect. This report is for all people asking how I am doing, but also for those who are thinking about doing something similar. I hope I can inspire them.
Details:
Start of journey: Mar 19, 2010
Duration: 13 weeks
End of journey: Jun 15, 2010
Travelled countries: Colombia
Peru
Bolivia
The Author
 
Dominik Weber is an active author on break-fresh-ground. since 11 years.
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