After a great first day on the Inca Jungle Trail we were looking very forward to the remaining three days! We had two long treks ahead of us, and then of course, the world famous Machu Picchu. Read on to find out about the treks on day two and three and our thoughts on the Reserve Cusco Agency.
An early wake up call, followed by a hearty breakfast containing plenty of fresh fruit, juices and teas sets you up nicely for the long walk from Santa Maria to St Teresa. After stocking up on water, we began our trek following the river we had rafted on yesterday, allowing us to once again to realise how crazy we must have been to set foot any where near its raging waters!
Once again, Juan Carlos, our guide proved himself to be excellent. His knowledge on the area, the Inca Empire, and the plants around us was second to none, and before we knew it we where covered in a red plant that is the basis for a lot of lipsticks. Juan Carlos told us how it is great for helping wounds heal over as it has antibacterial properties, and it helps the body form a natural barrier to infection. Arthur had a couple of cuts and grazes from
biking so we went ahead and covered them in the plant. Sure enough it worked! Within two or three days the cuts had almost completely healed.
As well as the huge number of wild plants around you, one plant you can’t avoid is the sacred and controversial Coca plant. The mountains are lined with Coca plantations and on multiple occasions you will walk through them and get the chance to take a closer look at the Inca’s sacred plant.
Along the length of the trek you are treated to breathtaking views. Like most things, you are required to work for your rewards, and parts of the trek are very steep following winding tracks up through coffee and coca farms. Fortunately, Juan Carlos allowed us to go at our own pace with plenty of stops along the way, and anyway, the hard work just makes the amazing views you see all the more rewarding as you reach them.
One thing you will learn on the treks is that the Inkas were definitely not scared of heights! Some of the paths and steps you follow are surrounded by very steep, and very tall cliffs and drops. For us that wasn’t a problem as none of us are scared by heights, and if anything it added to the awesomeness of the views. At the same time it is completely safe and Juan Carlos kept good care of us.
Halfway through the trek you stop for a lunch, the kind of lunch that would keep you perfectly satisfied if you had it for dinner, complete with a soup a main course and a desert! This sets you up nicely for the second half of the walk and before you know it in a couple of hours time you will be at the second hostel ready to put up your feet and relax after a hard days walking. Awesome!
Another early start followed by breakfast, in our case omelettes! This time you a completing the final part of the walking from St Teresa to Aquas Calientes which is essentially a town right at the base of Machu Picchu.
Along the way we had already come across some pretty awesome bridges, wooden logs carefully wedged between ravines, rope suspension bridges etc but on day three we came across an entirely different way of crossing deadly rapids! Fairly near the beginning of the trek you come across a large raging river that needs to be crossed.
Say hello to the hand operated cable car! Somebody obviously thought a bridge wasn’t adequate in this situation so decided that pulling yourself across the powerful waters in a small basket suspended precariously above would be a much better idea. I agree, this is ten times more fun and interesting than walking across your average bridge!
This trek takes you through some very “jungley” areas and we followed quite a lot of the path that the Machu Picchu train takes through the jungle. There is plenty of wildlife surrounding you but Juan Carlos surprised us by telling us that bears live here too! Best keep walking!
As we came near to Machu Picchu we got our first glimpse of Inca ruins when we found an ancient sacrificial area. Juan Carlos told us about the rituals that would have been held there which only got us more excited for Machu Picchu itself!
Eventually we reached Aquas Calientes which is situated alongside one of the roughest rivers I have ever seen, glad we weren’t rafting down this one. The hard part was done, now we could look forward to the 4:00am wake up call to set of to Machu Picchu the following day. It had been hard work getting there, but it was extremely rewarding and we had had a great time learning about the Incas and Peru and its politics in general from Juan Carlos! Can’t really think of a better way to spend two days!