Stay up-to-date with this summary of the second week in South America for our gap year travellers.
On Jan 22 2017 we began our trek through the Andes towards Machu Picchu. A faint sense of apprehension hung in the air as we neared the mouth of our trail. The challenges ahead were all that were mentioned at breakfast, particularly that of the Incan toilets. No one was sure what to expect, except that we were destined to be sore, dirty, and hungry throughout the days ahead of us.
The first day was simple but challenging, and ultimately very rewarding. A small incline and hours of a flat, winding trail let us marvel at the amazon sights around us, and we had plenty of time to get to know each other that much better and understand what we had gotten ourselves into. The first night was comfortable and warm, and the camping experience was a lot of fun.
The second day of the trek was grueling but amazing. A long hike up to an altitude of 4600 meters and back down to ~3k meters was rewarded by picturesque scenes of stunning glaciers, vast plains, lush forests and rolling mountain tops.
The third day was simple, easy and fun. A short and sweet trek followed by hours relaxing at hot springs and a night by a bonfire with marshmallows.
The next day we ascended, some by stairs and some by bus, to Machu Picchu. We spent the greater part of the morning marveling at the ancient Incan city and the sights around it, and ended our week with a long, comfortable bus ride to Lima.
All in all, we found that this was a heavy but fulfilling week. Challenges, exhausted pants and a little bit of discomfort were in store for us but we made it through. Where there was a challenge we found the elation of success, where there were exhausted pants, gasps of amazement followed, and when we were uncomfortable we needed only look at the sights around us to carry on.
We saw majestic mountains covered with clouds, silver streams winding down their sides. We heard the faint sound of rapids crashing, birds chirping, and enjoyed the fresh Andes air as we made our way down the twisting trails to Machu Picchu, and there we saw a beautiful ruined city amidst the clouds. The irony is that throughout all of this, which we enjoyed immensely, all we could think about was a warm shower.