Cusco is one of the most touristic places in South America because it’s the main starting point for all the treks or trips that go to Machu Picchu. Though it’s very touristic we liked its nice little old town and the markets where you can buy almost anything.
If you want to go to Machu Picchu there are a couple of treks or options. The most famous one is the Inka Trail which lasts 4 days/3 nights but this one must be booked at least 3-4 month in advance because there is only a limited amount of tickets to the trail per day. We chose another trek where you cannot see so many ruins as on the Inka trail but which offers spectacular sceneries of snowcapped mountains. We chose the Salkantay Trail which lasts 5 days. Its name comes from the Salkantay mountain (6271m) which we passed on the second day. Salkantay means “Wild Mountain” in Quechua which is the language of the indigenous. The trekking was amazing. On the first day we started our trip at 2800m and hiked around 7-8 hours till we got to 3800m where we also spent the night in tents. The second day was by far the hardest. We woke up at 5 AM and started hiking to reach the maximum height of our journey, 4629m. This is definitely not a walk in the park as the high altitude and the rare air make the hiking very challenging. On this day we walked around 10 hours before reaching our next camping point at around 3600m. The third day was an easy one as we walked only 5-6 hours through the jungle and reached the small village of Santa Tereza where we went to the hot springs and relaxed. On the 4th day we reached the town of Aguas Calientes which is also very touristic as it is the last stop before Machu Picchu. Because of the high number of tourists it’s also called Gringolandia. And then finally, on the last day we went to Machu Picchu one of the most visited places in South America. We woke up at 4 AM and we climbed around 2000 stairs and were at the main gate at 6 AM because we wanted to see the lost city before all the masses of tourists invaded it. In the evening we then took the train back to Cusco which to our positive surprise was very nice and had windows also on the top so you could have a nice view of the jungle and the mountains. But to our disappointment the train’s engine broke after a couple of hours and the train had a delay of 3 hours. Because the last station was 30km from Cusco and because of the delay the driver that had to pick us up there just left so we ended up in a small little town in the middle of nowhere at 11 PM. Fortunately we found another “safe” taxi which took us to our hostel.
One amazing thing we’ve seen or done
Machu Picchu is really amazing as it was for sure not easy to build the city with giant bolders, with a highly advanced watering system and all this on top of a mountain in the middle of the jungle.