Jungle trekking to Machu Picchu; Day 3 a short hike

After breakfast we got transported to the zip lines which I chose not to do. Two reasons; Firstly I was still unwell (great excuse). Secondly I unfortunately had read reviews before I left & a lot of them had mentioned about how unsafe they could be, tourists dying as a result of not being shown how to strap themselves properly. I had already zip-lined at home a few times so I didn’t feel it was an experience I was missing out on.

Instead I got to chill in the sun watching eagles soar in the sky & listen to the squeals in the background. It also gave me time to let my stomach settle a bit more & force feed myself. The scenery was pretty too. It turns out that there are quite a few of these zip-lining places & by talking to others later on, the one we were taken to was quite a good one.

After this place we shared a bus with another group to Hidrolectica station where we split up. Our group made our way to a large restaurant where hammocks awaited us! We were early so we got to lie in the sun before our lunch was served & for a short period after. Amazingly enough I found myself able to try lunch. I managed a couple of spoons of soup then a few bites of the beef & rice dish. Both were lovely I would have liked to eat more than what my stomach allowed!

We then began our trek. Our bag-packs were heavy but as we were only to trek for a few hours it was manageable. We offloaded some of our goodies to local children once their parents approved. We walked along gravel & railway tracks, passing people with a lot heavier loads on their backs. Whilst it wasn’t as taxing as the previous day it was still a long journey. We avoided a few trains along the way too, giving us time to rest.

As we neared our destination of Agues Calientes we stopped for a short break. Another group came along & I was delighted to find that Mary, who I spoke to on the bus after white water rafting, was part of it. We had quick chat, comparing insect bites (some of her group were destroyed!) and giving advice about where to eat when back in Cusco.


As we walked towards the town, our guide pointed out the bridge where we would begin our final trek to Machu Picchu. He told us we would have to be up at 4am to make the opening at 5am. It should take an hour to make it to the top or that we could get a bus. We scoffed at this, stating that we would be cheating if we did that (in hindsight we should have!). 

Agues Calientes is a very pretty town. It reminds me of ski resorts that I’ve seen in movies. We passed the five star hotel and made it to our lodgings above a Chinese restaurant. Out of our three nights this was the nicest stay that was offered. The wifi was great, beds were comfortable and the bathroom was the nicest we had seen since our arrival to Peru. I managed to eat dinner which was also a bonus as I needed my energy for the next day, the final day of the trek ….Machu Picchu 

 

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Jungle trekking to Machu Picchu; Day 2 a long hike

Day two started with me in good enough form, though I was still unable to eat breakfast. I managed a banana & some water to give myself energy. My friend had organized for our bag-pack to be sent on so we only had to share the weight of one. We were transported to the foot of the mountain so we skipped a long enough walk at the start.

I personally had spent the summer hill walking constantly to prepare myself for inclines on this trip but nothing could have prepared me for how much I struggled on this day. It was constant inclines & the heat even in the morning was zapping any energy I had. I held the group back as I had to stop a lot & to be honest the very first hour I was so close to tears. I felt guilt over slowing the others on their journey & I had hit a mental block of where I just wanted to give up.


In the mountains many locals have shops set up for tourists to rest & purchase refreshments. I took this opportunity to rest a lot & drink water. The others dressed up in local garments for fun & took pictures with the monkey that was tied to a post. We spent longer than planned here, probably due to my obvious struggle. In this time I discovered another reason as to why I found it so tough & was so emotional, lets say although it didn’t help matters physically it made me feel more normal!

Peruvian Tequila has a snake instead of a worm

My friend told me she was struggling with the hike too. At first I thought it was just to make me feel better, however as it went on I could see she wasn’t lying. What I found hard was due to altitude & shortness of breath as a result of the climb, I realised that no-one was talking. On my hikes at home with friends its the constant chatter & banter that takes your mind off the journey ahead. This hike however I was constantly in my own head, telling myself I wasn’t good enough, I was holding everyone back, how much I hated the walk etc. When I told my friend this she kindly took my mind off things by asking me trivia about the Kardashians! It was the only topic that came to mind at the time & it actually passed an hour easily enough. This in turn boosted my spirits somewhat so I wasn’t a constant moan-bag for the whole trek.

During this time we reached the part that I was dreading, the narrow part of the trail where you don’t want to look down. When we first arrived here I didn’t think it was as bad as I thought it would be, however I did freak out when I looked at what was in store. To descend from this cliff meant narrow steps, a tiny mistake could mean you plummeting down into the valley below. To help I looked down at my feet & clung to the rocks at the side. I was terrified but we kept conversation flowing to distract both of us from our fears.

You can’t see the drop from here but it’s a big one!!

We continued down hill which really helped my mood. I perked up a good bit & made conversation with the Dutch couple in our group. It was nice getting to know them & for them to get to know me, see that I wasn’t just being a pain for no reason.

The locals are really friendly & we were astounded how they could live so isolated from everything. At one point on our walk we came along a bundle hanging from a tree. We were informed by our tour guide that it was in fact a baby! When the locals need to do errands they leaved the child asleep in a swaddle hanging from the tree.

We stopped for lunch in this nice restaurant where other groups were. We got to rest before & after, in hammocks & on seats in the shade. Lunch was nice however I could only manage a couple of spoonfuls of soup. My main regret about being sick is that I missed out on a lot of good meals in Peru. I am a fussy eater but everything I ate was really nice & the smells of the meals on this trek were amazing.

We continued on our trek, in parts we mixed with the other group. There was a lot more of them but they were always ahead of us. Rain started which cooled us down. We crossed streams until we eventually came to an old Railway bridge. The gaps in the sleepers turned into a blur as I quickly stepped over them to get to the other side.

Not the railway bridge obviously!!

After a rest we moved on to more gravel & rocks that we had to make our way over. Soon enough we reached the cable car. This is pulled by locals on either side to get you over the Urabamba river. I never felt scared on this by the way, it was actually fun. From there we made our way through a tunnel & walked to Santa Theresa Hot Springs.

The trail to Saint Teresa was a gloomy one in this weather

The weather had changed to a drizzle & the sky was covered in grey. The hot springs were a lot nicer than I had imagined. There were numerous changing rooms, shops to buy refreshments & beer, along with sunbeds to chill out by the springs if you would rather that. I chose to get in as I am not sure when I would get the chance again. The temperature depended on which pool you chose, though I never found anything too hot. The smell wasn’t overwhelming either which was good. I enjoyed my time in the baths, talking to my new Dutch friends, taking in the different cultures around me. Thunder & lightening began which was nice for a period until it got closer. I chose to get out of the baths in case any electricity hit the water (which it didn’t but safety first etc).

We got transported to our lodgings for the night, which was like a shed. It wasn’t the most comfortable of surroundings but it beat sleeping in a tent in stormy weather! I went straight to bed without dinner hoping to enjoy the next day more than I did that day. I honestly was fed up of being sick & dragging the group along. I was praying to be better the following day!