After the difficult hike up to Humantay Lake, we had to make the decision on how we would reach AguasCalientes. Originally we were determined to complete the entire process on our own with only means of transportation being collectivos and a lot of walking.
After the first hike kicked our bus we settled on a decision to compromise: we would take a bus to Hydroelectica and then hike to AguasCalientes. Through our hostel (Pariwana Hostel) we booked the shuttle ($15), rode for 5 hours over the steep cliffs along the Urubamba river, ate lunch, and then began the hike along the train track and river for 3 hours with a group of Mexican girls and one French girl. Remember it is an active train track so don’t get too close to it as it passes by (as Analeise learned when she tried taking a photo of the train and it briefly missed her). By the end of it, Analeise, Ana (the French girl), and myself were the only ones left after taking our time, stopping for snack and water breaks, and taking so many photos.
When you begin Googling, you will see a blog post about the “reality” of Machu Picchu: long lines, crowds, and rain. Unfortunately, this was exactly what we got. We got in line for the bus to Machu Picchu (which I would recommend purchasing the night before- $25 roundtrip) at around 5:15AM and…oh. my. goodness. the line seemed never ending. It was difficult to not get discouraged as we headed towards the end of the- what felt like- mile long line. Thankfully the line went faster than we anticipated. It was probably about an hour later that we were on the buses up the mountain to the entrance of the Machu Pacchu.
We completed the Mountain Hike ($65 with entrance into Machu Picchu) within the 7AM to 10AM slots. Although we stayed much later at the very top in hope that the view would clear up. The hike was definitely bad, but it wasn’t terrible. Its countless steps, slippery when wet, but if you keep a slow and steady pace eventually you will reach the top- which I pray is a clear and remarkable view for you. Unfortunately we were among the clouds, getting drizzled on, and phenomenally cold.
The day wasn’t a loss though, as when we arrived back down we got to witness the Machu Picchu everyone raves about. I’ll let the photos of the remarkable landscape with its constantly rolling clouds and lush greenery do the explaining. Of course I met up with my new llama friend and took some photos of him/her. I think they are some of my favorite photos ever taken!
In AguasCalientes we stayed at EcoPackers ($14 a night) right next to the station we finished our trek at. It was a 6 person coed dorm. Although a little loud due to being right next to the track, it was definitely one of those hostels that you make as fun as you want. There is a bar on the rooftop where breakfast is also served. One of the best nights of our trip was hanging out with Phoebe and George again and our roommates Daniel, a German medical student, and Ahem, an Argentinian father and teacher. We ended up chatting into the early hours, switching between French, Spanish, and English, from everything about how plastic is destroying our environment to following our dreams. Ahem shared with us it had always been his dream to ride a bike throughout South America. “If I don’t follow my dream how can I teach my young students to follow theirs?” That is when I realized how lucky I was to be living one of my dreams at that exact moment: being able to meet people from all over because we share a mutual fascination on exploring the beautiful world we live in.
And man, what a beautiful world we live in.
Until next time, friends!