- DATE: OCT. 13, 2017
- ELEVATION: 2400 M
This was our last day on our Salkantay trek to Machu Picchu. It was still dark when we left our hotel to join the line up for the bus heading to the ruins. We found the rest of our trekking buddies, and together we reminisced about our journey.
The buses started flowing around 5:30 a.m., 20 minutes later we were at Machu Picchu. The bumpy road wound like a snake on the side of the mountain. There was hardly enough room for two buses to pass each other. The driver expertly made his way up the mountain, and after a quick passport and ticket check, we entered the ancient city.
The site was incredible! In front of us solid structures made with giant, perfectly fitted stones stood proudly against the mountainous background. Manuel explained that there were many temples in the site. Some of them had features that lined up with the sun on the solstice. There were also two carved stones that held water. This was used to study the movement of the sun through the reflection on the water. My favourite structure was the Temple of the Condor. It had two giant rocks shaped like condors wings, the beak was made of another giant rock placed on the ground.
After a 1 hour tour, Manuel set us free to explore the site. Everything looked so picturesque. I wish we had more time to explore. But we had our hike up to Wayna Picchu booked for 10 a.m.
There are two hiking options in the site. Wayna Picchu, meaning ‘young peak’, was a steep climb to the most popular viewpoints for the ruins. The other hike is on Machu Picchu, meaning ‘old peak’, it provides a panoramic view of the ruins and the surrounding mountains. There is an extra fee, and specific time to hike both peaks. Alpaca expedition arranged everything for us.
At 10 a.m. the entrance for Wayna Picchu opened, and the line of people slowly moved in. We were required to sign in, and sign out once we finished. It’s an easy way to track how long it took to complete the hike. But also lets the park know, if someone is still in the area.
Wayna Picchu started with a steep ascent. The rocky staircase hugged closely to the side of the mountain. There’s no sugar coating it, it’s a hard trail, with some dodgy areas. But not treacherous as long as you stay mindful, take your time, and respect other people’s space.
We hiked up the mountain, and admired the ruins along the way. It was a hot day and we nearly finished all our water on the climb up. Finally we made it to the peak, there was already a large crowd of people. However, the site is so big, it was easy to find a spot to quietly enjoy the view, and snap a few pics ofcourse.
On the way down we decided to explore the smaller viewpoint Huchu’y Picchu. There were fewer people on the trail. But I thought the view from Huchu’y Picchu was better than Wayna Picchu. It was at a lower elevation, and gave a closer view of ancient city’s layout.
The hike up Wayna Picchu and Huchu’y Picchu took us 2 hours complete. Leaving us enough time to meet our group at the bus stop by 12:30 p.m. We were shocked to see the bus lineup stretching far down the road. It was an hour wait before we got on the bus. But we had a problem. We were missing two members of our group. They were very fast hikers so we hoped that they finished early, and were already in town.
We reached our lunch spot, and realized we were wrong. They weren’t there, and even after our farewell lunch with Manuel, they still hadn’t arrived. Manuel left us with their train tickets, hoping we would catch them at the hotel. Manuel explained that the train would take us to Ollantaytambo. From there a bus would pick us up to take us to Cusco. From Cusco we would transfer to a van to take us to our hotel.
After lunch we walked back to the hotel, and hoped for a miracle. We waited for a bit, and we were so relieved to finally see our two missing members running towards us. It turns out they had hiked Wayna Picchu like us, but they followed the signs to the grand caverns, which took them all the way around the ruins. It was a much longer and harder trail.
We were glad to see them safe, all together we rushed to the train. We boarded and watched the beautiful Andean mountains rushing past the large windows. I could see tons of trails weaving in and out of the mountains, and I wished we had more time to explore Peru.
At Ollantaytambo we were surprised to see Manuel. He guided us onto our bus. The night sky was so clear, that I could see the stars from the bus. We arrived in Cusco around 9 p.m. We were sad to say another set of goodbyes. Before leaving, we asked Manuel about his plans for tomorrow and he said he would message us. Maybe this adventure would continue.
Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu:
- DAY 1 – Soraypampa to Wayracmachay
- Day 2 – Wayracmachay to Camp Loreta
- Day 3 – Camp Loreta to Llactapata
- Day 4 – Llactapata to Aguas Calientes