Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Salkantay Trek - Day 5 - Machu Picchu finally!

The long awaited day was finally here!

I was up and packed by 4am. The hotel provided breakfast from 4 am to 8am, so we had our breakfast and Alex came and picked us up at 4:30. The gate at the bridge opens at 5 am. By the time we got there, there were already a lot of people in line.

Once the gate was opened, everybody got their passport and ticket checked and then we went up the stairs for 1 hour. Machu Picchu's gates were open at 6 am and the first bus had already arrived so that next to us dripping with sweat, there were people who took the bus up.

Alex gave us a tour of the ruins for about 2 hours and then left us to roam and enjoy the day as we wanted. His job was done, he had to go down and get a train ticket back to Cusco since locals could not book their ticket days in advance like tourists do. We had seats on the 6pm train.

I had secured a ticket to Wayna Picchu, but my comrades on the trek did not. So we parted ways for a few hours, agreeing to meet at noon outside the gate. I decided to go up to Sun gate before going to Wayna Picchu at 10:00. Up and up I went for more than 45 minutes. By the time I got up there, I took a picture and had to go back down and across to the Wayna Picchu entrance. I got in behind a gentleman from Boulder, Colorado and he talked about 2 couples he met and which I also met in Cusco!

Wayna Picchu was steep and the ruins at the top overlooked Machu Picchu. I met the couple from New York up there. People assembled at the top, where there was no railing or anything for safety. One had to go through a crack in the rock to get up there. I carefully made my way down after, having to go down steep steps, barely wide enough to hold my foot, getting to the gate 20 minutes late to meet my fellow Trekkers. The American couple followed us down to Aguas Calientes since the line up for the bus was ridiculous. We went to our hotel and hung out in the lobby for a while after having lunch at a local restaurant. We spent our free time at a bar playing cards before catching the train at 6pm.

At Ollaytambo, we had a cab waiting to take us back to our respective hotels in Cusco. We got in town at around 10pm. That ended the 5 days we spent together going up to Machu Picchu.
One bucket list item could be crossed off for me. Although the trek was in no way easy, I loved doing it. My phone registered an average of 30,000 steps for each of the 5 days we were trekking. The scenery was beautiful and it was the experience of a lifetime. The choice to take a lesser known trail was, I felt, a great decision. The washrooms were not as bad as predicted and the trail, though busy with other groups, were not as crowded as what I imagine the Inca Trial to be all the time. In any case, what an adventure I had in the Andes!

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