Day 7 – May 31th, 2012
The day started a bit rough. I woke up with a slight headache from what I assume is a coca hangover\withdrawl. Weird. Besides that slightly rough start, it was a fairly low-key day. I guess the main highlight was the ride to the city that preceded my trek towards Machu Pichu. It’s just so scenic here!
Days 8 through 10 – June 1st through June 3th, 2012
G Adventure offers two trek before Machu Pichu: the Lares Trek and the Inca Trail. The Lares Trek takes you through mountains and local villages, ends up in some Peruvian village and is a day shorter, while the more historical and famous Inca Trail goes through Incan ruins and ends up at Machu Pichu. Because the Inca trail only accommodates 250 tourists per day, it tends to sell out fairly quickly. Because of this, I did the Lares Trek, though I’m glad I did. Also, I heard the Inca Trail has loads of stairs. I hate hiking stairs.
The Lares Trek is an easy 3 day 2 night hike (I’m convinced you could do it in two moderate days or one super hardcore day) through some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever been surrounded by. Giant mountains, deep cliffs, distant snow-capped mountains, wildlife, it was all there. The trek is obviously fully supported by two guides, porters and cooks, so it’s not the most hardcore hike, but there is no way to deny that climbing to 4 600 meters on the second day is a good challenge. For me, it was more of an experience than a true hike. Being in nature, having that fresh air, seeing nature’s awesomeness, that’s what it was about for me. Unlike the Inca Trail, the Lares Trek can allow you lots of solitude, if that’s what you seek. We only crossed one other group during the whole thing. It was so serene. Though I would have enjoyed something a bit longer through the same type of terrain, I have no complaints with the experience. Surprisingly, the food was delicious for something prepared in the middle of mountains. The few treks I’ve done during my travels always have the best food. I think it was even some of the best food I had during the whole trip. Having your private cook while traveling has its benefits.
The only downside was that the nights were frigid, even in a winter sleeping bag with three layers. Thankfully we only slept outside for two nights. On the second night, we woke up to our tents covered with frost. Just thinking about it makes me shiver!
Day 11 – June 4th, 2012
This was the big day for this trip. Machu Pichu! The advantage of doing the Lares Trek is that you get to have a shower before going to Machu Pichu. You arrive feeling clean and reasonable well rested. People who did the Inca Trail arrived directly from hiking to the historical site, while we had a night in a hotel to wash and rest a bit, though the marching band that paraded in front of our hotel all night didn’t help me fall asleep. Still, it certainly is an advantage of the Lares Trek!
Machu Pichu is a spectacular place. It’s practically located in the clouds and it is surrounded by jagged mountains. The skill it must have taken to build that place is mind-blowing. Though for me, the true highlight of the visit was the chance to hike the mountain behind Machu Pichu, Huayna Pichu. Though it’s mostly steps, the view from the peak is breathtaking.
I really need to upload some pictures…
Oh! I haven’t had any coca leaves since the second day on the hike and I haven’t had any 4am headaches! Hurray for not being a coca loaf addict!
We spent about 7 hours at Machu Pichu before making the journey back to Cusco. On the way back, we were treated by a stunning full moon on the horizon over the mountains. I love mountains so much, they make everything seem so much more dramatic.