The time had finally arrived for us to visit Machu Picchu – the main reason we decided to travel around South America. We decided to do a four day trek of the jungle as our way to enter Machu Picchu, as the cost of this was pretty much the same as just getting the train/bus there for the day. The Jungle Trek involved downhill mountain biking, rafting, hot springs, ziplining and not too much walking (despite the name), so this was a great option for us.
We booked our tour whilst in Cusco. There are an overwhelming number of agencies in Cusco all offering the exact same itinerary for the 4 day Jungle Trek. We knew there were a few really reputable agencies but couldn’t afford their prices so we looked around in search of a slightly cheaper tour operator but hopefully just as reputable. After visiting a few we didn’t get a good vibe, particularly with the hard salesman type people who asked us how much we were willing to pay. Finally we found an agency that we got a good feeling about and was cheaper, but not too cheap like some of the others. We were swayed by them showing us a video and the guy in before us actually booking the tour.
We were told to wait at a plaza at 8.20 and someone would pick us up, we were a bit skeptical about this as most agencies would pick you up from your hostel. 8.20 came and a guy did turn up, not in a mini bus as we were told, but we got a lift from his friend to take us to the agency. Got there and again no mini buses but were told to get in another car and they would take us to the starting point of the biking. We were feeling very skeptical about the whole thing until a guide who spoke English got in the car and said the mini bus was full and that’s why we had to get a lift in car. We drew a sigh of relief and relaxed until an hour into the drive we started to go up a mountain on some very steep, tight roads and the car didn’t sound like it would make it (pretty sure it was older than me). A couple of hours later we arrived at the starting point of the downhill mountain biking. There were loads of other big groups there about to start too and we thought we might meet our group up there but were told we’d cycle alone with our guide and would meet our group later. A little bit of a shame as it’s always nice to do things in a group on tours like this.
I was pretty nervous about the cycling as we were very high up a mountain with some very steep drops. I took it very steady around the corners whilst Kyle and our guide flew down the hill. I started to get more confident and tried to keep up. We cycled 50km and both loved it. The views were incredible when we actually could look! A great start to the four days.
We then drove a little further to the next town, Santa Maria and finally met the group for lunch. We would stay here for the night. The hostel was actually okay (we were told to expect very basic accommodation on the first two nights). It just lacked hot water. We were told we would be picked up in 10 minutes to go river rafting, but literally a minute later the guy was here to take us. Getting used to getting rushed for things! The rafting was great, we wasn’t expecting too much after doing the Hydrospeed in Chile but the river flowed pretty fast and we hit some big rapids. Kyle and the other guy at the front took the brunt of them but we still felt them in the back. The tour guides were great splashing each raft and making us spin around. No photos, but should have a decent Go Pro video when I can upload them finally.
We got a pretty good meal and a good nights sleep before an early start for lots of walking the next day.
The alarm went off at 6 for breakfast at 6.30. We were treated to pancakes and fruit for breakfast which made a nice change from stale bread at hostels. We needed a good breakfast with 8 hours walking ahead of us. I’m not a hiker by any means (it was pretty obvious when everyone else had proper hiking boots and I had my converse on) but as we liked the sound of the tour I manned up.
The mornings walking was fine and we had a few stops. The first was a ‘monkey house’. The monkey was tied up which wasn’t very nice to see, unsurprisingly the monkey went after anyone close enough and would take anything it could. After a quick sit down we carried on until we reached the second monkey house, which was lacking a monkey! It did however have hammocks, which was a nice treat after 4 hours walking. Lunch couldn’t come quick enough after eating so early. From 11 onwards all the walking seemed to be uphill and after we reached the highest point we had another hour before heading to the village for lunch.
Lunch was good food again, soup as always followed by Spaghetti Bolognese – a nice change! After I had a little siesta in a hammock, so really didn’t want to set off again! The afternoon was a big of a struggle (just for me) but 3 more hours later we got to our next destination – the hot springs! They were so relaxing and in such a nice setting within the mountains. Shame it was filled by some many other tourists doing the same tour. It was time to get out when there were Mosquitos everywhere.
It was onto our next hostel in Santa Teresa, which again was pretty nice. We got another double room this time with an en suite. The tour worked out well for us as we have just been getting the cheapest dorm rooms we can. After dinner (more soup and rice/meat) we had a few drinks and headed to a club. Everyone in our group had got drunk very quickly on what seemed to be very little alcohol, so me and Kyle were far too sober in the club but did enjoy watching the group and our guide hit on every girl! Definitely getting old now!
We were enjoying our breakfast of chocolate pancakes then our very rough guide told us the women outside was waiting for us to take us ziplining and we had to leave now. Didn’t even have time to drink my tea (I drink tea now Mum!). All very rushed and split up from the group again. The ziplining was good, though not as good/fast as the one I’d done in Whistler. Kyle managed to get told off for going too fast and not breaking enough causing him to almost knock over the guide at the other side and do a backflip. I almost did the same when one of the jokey guides didn’t tell me to slow down until the last minute so I came in really fast and flipped up much to his amusement! We did 5 zip lines then walked along a suspension bridge which I did not enjoy. Even though you’re attached to the bridge it didn’t feel very safe. Thanks for shaking it Kyle! As per, GoPro videos to come!
We then had a 3 hour drive to get to Hydro Electric and an hour wait there. We had to wait until the rest of our group arrived until we could eat lunch so we had to watch all the order groups enjoy theirs!
After lunch it was a 3 hour walk along train track to get to Aguas Calientes where we spent the night. The walk was pretty long for me as due to all the mosquito bites I’d gotten in the last few days my ankles on both feet had swollen up and made it pretty painful to walk (they were to get much worse and still not gone down 3 days later). We made it and got to our hostel, the nicest one yet with hot water and wifi! Though, the water decided not to be hot when I had mine but everyone else told me how nice it was! Dinner time came around and this time we got a menu to choose what we wanted…what a treat – not meant to sound sarcastic, it really was!
After dinner we had an early night for our 4am start! By this point I was really struggling to walk and decided that I’d have to get the bus up to Machu Picchu.
When the alarm went off at 4am I was feeling determined and even though I could still barely walk I knew I’d be disappointed with myself for getting the bus. I’d said to myself even if It took me 3 hours to walk up and I missed the guided tour at 6.30am, it would be better than arriving by bus. It was the best and worst thing I could have done but I definitely made the right choice.
We set off a bit earlier than the rest of the group and when they all passed us they couldn’t believe I was walking ‘oh my god Laura you’re walking’ – yes, I’m a hero! We actually made good time and we got to the top in just under an hour, just as the main gates were opening. There was a huge queue at that point from the walkers and people who’d got the bus.
About 10 minutes later we were entering and to be honest didn’t feel particularly wow’d (that would come about an hour later). Our tour guide waited for us at the top and started the tour just in time for the sun rising over Machu Picchu.
The tour was interesting but we were very impatient to go explore ourselves. As we had decided to get the bus back instead of the train (it saved quite a lot of money) we only had a few hours in Machu Picchu and a 3 hour walk to get the bus but with hobbling we needed to give ourselves more time. A big shame as we felt a little rushed. We really wanted to walk up the the Sun Gate to get views from high up. After walking quite high up the views were incredible and we felt we didn’t need to go any higher. We sat looking down on Machu Picchu and had a snack (we are rebels as you’re not meant to eat in MP). That moment made it all worthwhile.
We had paid to climb the Machu Picchu mountain but our tour operator forgot to order the tickets and they sold out! It actually worked out well as I couldn’t have walked any further and we were rushed for time but they did give us our money back.
By the time we’d got back down to near the entrance it had got really busy with tourists to the point you had to wait to get a photo. No wonder people doing the Inca Trail get annoyed that everyone else beats them there after spending days walking!
After a long walk back to our bus in hydro electric we finally made it and got back to the hostel at 8pm.
The Jungle Trek was a great alternative to the Inca Trek or some of the others. An amazing experience that we won’t forget!