Inca Trail and Inca Ruins
Trip Start Dec 23, 2010
3Trip End Jan 03, 2011
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Where I stayed
Cusco and Aguas Calientes
From Lima we flew into Cusco. Now this is more like it!
Cusco is a relatively small city out in the country. It is a really nice, relatively clean, and inviting city, with lots of places to eat and areas to walk around. Agriculture is huge here and beautiful farmland is everywhere; but massive mountains and jungles are close by as well.
In Cusco we toured the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the towns of Ollantaytambo and Maras, were we saw ancient Inca fortresses, terraced hill, salt mines, and how Peruvian families are living today. We also had time to explore the neat and unique city of Cusco, order a traditional Peruvian meal, and even try some guinea pig.
(Peruvians usually eat guinea pig on special occasions, and so local families build a home for them in a nice, warm, dry spot by their raised, open-fire stove in their kitchen).
After we adjusted to the 11,000 ft of elevation in Cusco, we boarded a train and headed towards Machu Picchu (only 9,000 ft.). On the way to Machu Picchu, the train stopped in the middle of the jungle along the ragging Urubamba River so that my two cousins, my Aunt, our guide, and I could jump off !
Once we were off the train we crossed a wobbly hanging bridge and began our 6 hour trek up the Inca trail so that we could descend upon Machu Picchu !! Hiking the Inca trail was by far the highlight of my trip. Hiking through the clouds we encountered countless steep stairs, strenuous climbs, rain, and sheer cliffs. Yet we were amazed by the still standing stone walls of the Inca trail, waterfalls, ancient ruins, fortresses and terraces high up on the edges of the mountains. We had lunch at Winay Wayna, an old fortress where their baths and water drainage systems are still working today! And finally we hiked up to the Door of the Sun - Intipunku, where the trail begins to wind downwards towards the phenomenal sight of Machu Picchu.
That night we stayed in the cute touristy town of Aguas Calientes, and the next day we all went on a spectacular tour of Machu Picchu. The whole time, I just could never comprehend or fathom how the Incas were able to accomplish such an amazing feat of size and beauty at the top of this steep mountain, in the middle of the jungle, and in such a short period of time.
Next trip : Back to hike all four days of the Inca trail !