After our two days in the Sacred Valley, we took the Peru Rail train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Caliantes. Aguas Caliantes is the town below Machu Picchu and literally means “hot waters.”
The ride on the train was along the Urubamba River – one of the rivers leading to the Amazon. The river itself is kindaaaa brown but the scenery is gorgeous. The train was also really nice and clean.
Since we traveled in February, the Inca Trail (the 3-4 day trek to Machu Picchu) is closed due to maintenance and the rainy season. We honestly did not know this when we booked the trip and this was our intention – just the more reason to come back and do the trek.
Anyways, after arriving in Aguas Caliantes we walked along the Urabamba River for a few hours (about 7km in total). We arrived at Mandor Gardens and walked through the gorgeous tropical vegetation.
We saw plenty of flowers (orchids especially), beautiful butterflies and lots of snails and caterpillars.
There were also banana trees!
We saw two wonderful waterfalls…
…which I seriously wanted to jump in because it got pretty hot mid-day. Like really hot. Sweaty and smelly status. So we thought: what better way to clean up than in a hot spring? Well that didn’t happen. We went. We saw. We passed. Everything can’t be amazing right? No worries though, we needed to rest because our alarm was set for 3:50am.
Now onto the day we were waiting for. Machu Picchu. Old mountain. The lost city of the Incas. The place that you’ve seen lots of pictures of. GO. THERE. It’s amazing. Okay let me back up a little.
The original plan was to take the bus up to Machu Picchu from Aguas Caliantes (a 20 minute ride) but I had heard about a trail that you can walk. So I convinced Lesley (okay forced her) to walk it. Thankfully Jorge was coming with us. So we woke up at 3:50, got our gear on (hiking boots, rain gear) and ate some breakfast. We left a bit after 5am and began walking out of town. In the dark. And the rain. It was really dark but by the time we crossed the bridge to begin our trek up, it got a bit lighter. Oh but it was still raining.
Soooo the trek up. It was hard. But so worth it. The altitude (2,100 meters above sea level), the rain (oh did I mention that, I kid), the steepness and the mental/physical fatigue made it a very challenging trek. Lesley wanted to kill me the entire time. She doubted herself but kept going. I am so proud that she did it. So proud.
We were a little wet by the end. Okay soaked. The whole walk was about 5km (seems like nothing right?) but 400 meters up, up, up. It took as an hour and a half and we were going at a good pace. We both felt so fulfilled and accomplished once we completed the trek up. Because really, it was so worth it.
Kind of a nice view. The first few hours we were really cold and it continued to rain. We were drenched (like our clothes underneath our rain gear were sopping wet) and I honestly found it hard to concentrate on what our tour guide was saying. I guess that’s why they call it rainy season. Even still, I learned a lot about this mystical ancient city – though so much is still unknown (the Incans did not leave much to learn from).
But then the skies cleared, which was amazing. We stayed longer exploring on our own and having quite the photo shoot. I kid you not – every spot we stopped at the photo opportunity was better.
Machu Picchu is amazing. I feel so lucky to have been there last week, especially with my best friend.
I wish I could put each of you on a plane to Peru right now. Or let’s all save up and do the Inca Trail next year. Who’s in?! Actually, I think I want to save up to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Oh the places to go and things to do!
Happy Friday friends, I promise to get back to the food, fitness and all that good stuff soon. Have a fabulous weekend :)
Questions of the day…
What is on your travel bucket list?
What are you up to this weekend?!
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