The Inca Jungle Trek

Trip Start Sep 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2011

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Flag of Peru  , Sacred Valley,
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Crossing the border from Bolivia to Peru turned out to be a little more difficult than expected. For the past month indigenous protesters have completely blocked off the highways due to concerns that mining operations by a Canadian company would pollute Lake Titicaca.  It looked like my only option was a $400 flight ticket or four long bus rides back through Chile.  That said, I held off making any rash decisions and upon returning from the Amazon learned that they decided to temporarily re-open the border due to the presidential elections.  I immediately bought the first $14 bus ticket I could find and headed overland.

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.  Can I get a whoohoo?!!

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.
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Caitlin on

This is probably the most inspiring post/set of photos that I've seen. I am so awe-struck by all that you've done, Crystal! Thank you so much for keeping up with this blog so we can all see the incredible things you've seen. I LOVE YOU!!!

Jill Canada Meyer on

Crystal!! It looks like you're having sooo much fun. Miss you!! Can't wait to catch up when you get back.

Miguel on

Hi, can I get Jimmy John's contact info please? Thanks.

awanderluster18 on

Travelpod highlighted your blog as a featured one, so I went about perusing through it. I'm about to head to Peru for a couple of months and was interested if you could pass along Jimmy Johns information. The trek you did sounds pretty much perfect. If you don't mind, could you also let me know how much it ended up costing. I've read so many things about the trips being rather expensive. thanks!!

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