My Experience Trekking to Machu Picchu Day 3

 

DAY 3

The most intense of it was behind us after day two and from there it was all downhill. Well, flat. We had made it to the base of Machu Picchu and now had to walk all the way around the mountain to the other side, and then there would be nothing left between us and the ruins at Machu Picchu. 

Another day beginning with optional activity, some people went ziplining and the rest of us stayed in the garden of the hotel acting like old men on their porches with beers and relaxing in the sun. When it was time to meet the group we grabbed our packs and headed for a taxi to take us to the beginning of the Machu Picchu train tracks. (Heads up- our guide had told us that this taxi ride was walkable if we didn’t want to spend money, and it’s definitely not so if you skip ziplining, take a taxi). We waited at the starting point for our group to arrive and watched all of the other groups passing through, coming from every different route and now beginning to converge on the final leg of the journey to Machu Picchu. We signed into the guestbook as the town is officially part of Machu Picchu, and the army guards pointed that our destination was just behind the mountains in front of us. It was such an exciting feeling to be so close, yet still have a full day’s journey between us and the ruins. Now we could fully comprehend the anticipation that the trek builds, and the next level appreciation awaiting us at the end of the buildup.

 

The Machu Picchus Crew Inca Jungle Day 3

 

At the restaurant we stopped at for lunch, we saw several other Inca Jungle and Salkantay trek groups at neighboring tables. It was clear who was on the Inca Jungle Trek (those of us eating ice cream, trying to guess which Zac Efron movie was on the t.v., and taking photos of the restaurant’s cats wearing our sunglasses), and who was Salkantay (hiking poles sat propped up against the tables ready to go at a moment’s notice, the trekkers were outfitted in all those cool things at REI that you aren’t exactly sure what they’re for, and no time or energy for cat photos).

 

Read more: How To Get to Machu Picchu

Read more: Before You Go: Things To Know About Machu Picchu Weather

 

After lunch we began the last leg of our journey together as our complete Inca Jungle Trek family. We walked along the train tracks sharing facts about Machu Picchu, learning about the Incas from Henry, and preparing ourselves for finally seeing it. We stopped on one bridge midway where our guide was pointing at a mountain, and then we realized. It was the mountain, and we could see glimpses of ruins peeking out at the top. I felt like a kid on Christmas Eve. From there, more and more ruins slowly appeared on the mountaintop as we circled around to the other side.

Alongside the train tracks the Urubamba river flows, a river sacred to the Incas for the energy it brings. At one point you pass a spot that says “Hidroelectrica”, referring to a wide place in the river. Supposedly, if you bathe or sit in this part the river will completely revitalize you. Maybe it’s a placebo effect or maybe the river and mountain energies really have an impact, but either way walking along the river with the view of Machu Picchu Mountain was incredibly soothing and there was an amazing energy in the group and on the trail all day. We felt good.

 

Getting To Aguas Calientes walking along the Urubamba River

 

By the afternoon, we had followed the train tracks to their end in Aguas Calientes. We could see the stairs and road up to the ruins on the right, and the cozy town of Aguas Calientes snuggled amoungst the hills on the left. The river ran through the little lit up buildings giving a constant calming background noise and people sat on terraces of restaurants advertising cuy and woodfired pizzas.

While it hadn’t been a very long day of walking, we were dusty from the train tracks and my legs had started to swell up in reaction to what was now arguably 200 bug bites (I counted 50 on one ankle alone…), so we all set off to our hotel rooms to be incredibly lazy for a couple hours before meeting for dinner, and take care of whatever we needed to before leaving at 4am the next day. Henry and I wandered to the market on the other side of the river where we found a haven of cheap, delicious hot food to snack on, and I began to experience a very weird phenomenon in which my legs became significantly larger by the end of the meal, like a before and after from a diet pill commerical but backwards. Walking back to the hotel was a struggle, and by the time we met everyone for dinner I had a full on limp going. It was then I realized that I was having an allergic reaction to the monster mosquito bites.

 

Machu Picchu Town or Aguas Calientes Day 3 at night

 

Because skipping dinner is not an option, I stayed through it for our last meal as a group. We nommed on delicious stuffed avocados, grilled trucha (trout from the area), and as always, cold beers. Everyone exchanged Facebooks and the moment we had all been dreading/anticipating had arrived- Cesar wanted us to write reviews. You know when you go into the tour company offices in South America and the walls are loaded with handwritten, 8 x 12 sheet testimonials from all over the world, saying how much they loved the trek and their guide was so much fun and spoke English! I think that’s what he was going for, and a significant amount of awkwardness ensued. My favorite- when several of the people asked if they could write in different languages. We had incredibles memories and a great experience together, but everyone had their share of constructive criticism for our guide…

All in all- I would do the tour a million times over. Our group made the experience, trekking through the jungle made the experience, having Machu Picchu at the final destination made the experience. The way it’s run? Lots of room for improvement. If this is your first time in South America, or you’re not used to this type of traveling, the lack of organization, “overpromising”, and hidden charges might bother you. But when you just go with it, you’ll enjoy the amazing experience that it is, and certainly was for us (to help you avoid these “Why didn’t anyone tell me?” moments, read here), and the disorganization won’t hinder that.

 

Having Lunch after a few hours of trekking Inca Jungle Day 3

 

We wrapped things up shortly after that and said goodbye to our guide for good. What a journey it had been with him, to say the least. Jeff and Raquel kindly supplied me with every med I could need for my swollen bug bites, and the neighboring restaurant gave me a bag of ice to use on the swelling, free of charge. As I sat, icing my poor legs, some local men sitting on the stoop beside me recommended that I use shampoo instead of bug spray, and Vick’s to stop the itch (miraculous, in case you ever find yourself in need.)

Everyone went to bed early and I laid in bed for a couple of hours with my painful feet propped on pillows, desperately hoping I would be able to make it up the hill to Machu Picchu in the morning. I had come all this way, and it would be so like me to have something bizarre like excessive bug bites stop me and I wasn’t going to let it! Everyone, locals and tourists alike, quickly gave me the same response everytime the saw my reaction- “Machu Picchu will heal it!”- and that’s what I was hoping for. We ended Day 3 all going to bed early, and me praying for a Machu Picchu miracle.

 

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