The Inca Jungle Trek
Trip Start Sep 15, 2010
29Trip End Jul 23, 2011
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Once in Cuzco, I scoped out options for hiking to the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu. The official Inca Trail books up four to six months in advance, but there are plenty of good alternatives. This includes one known as the Inca Jungle Trek with three days of hiking and one day of mountain biking
As for other matters, securing a good guide can be a bit tricky. From my experience, a reliable guide can make or break a tour so I wanted to take my time. Luckily a friend I met in Bolivia highly recommended a young man she had used named Jimmy John. Although he is only 22, she said he's very knowledgeable and hopes to start his own company someday. After meeting him in person, I decided to take a chance and paid a little extra so that he could organize a group.
The following day we drove through the Sacred Valley and began our mountain biking adventure next to a stunning snow-capped glacier. At 14,000 feet, we geared up with shin pads, elbow pads and helmets and began our 62 kilometer decent. As we weaved through mountain roads and bumpy side paths, a friend in the group commented that it was just like biking Death Road in Bolivia.
The next two days we hiked eight hours each ... up mountains, through valleys and over streams. We stopped for fresh cooked Peruvian food at local restaurants and slept in simple hostels in towns of 1,000 to 3,000 people. Despite my tired limbs and sore muscles (going out dancing didn't help matters), the time passed quickly with four French Canadian guys who constantly had me laughing
We woke up at 3:00 am on the last day in order to be a part of the mad dash of people who hike to the park entrance before the tour buses arrive. Not only can you see the ruins without the hordes of tourists this way, but the first 400 people also receive tickets to hike Wayna Picchu (the famous steep-sided mountain right behind the ruins). I was so exhausted from the past few days that I didn't think I would make a second climb up Wayna Picchu, however after an informative two-hour tour I got a sudden burst of energy and decided to go for it.
The second climb was actually easier than expected. Even though there were some parts that were so steep and narrow that you had to cling to metal ropes and practically pull yourself up, it was a lot of fun. Once at the top I basked in the sun and explored the Temple of the Moon. Seeing the ancient city from above was a beautiful way to end the past seven weeks of free flow travel.