Machu Picchu Trek: The Experience of a Lifetime
When is the last time you explored an ancient civilization that laid untouched for centuries before being rediscovered in 1911 by an American historian named Hiram Bingham?
Oh, you’ve never done that? Well then you’ve never been to Machu Picchu!
Machu Picchu, or “Old Peak,” is a 15th century Incan site situated along a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley, only 80 kilometers from Cusco, Peru. It has gained worldwide recognition since it’s rediscovery, being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it was voted one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World.” People from all across the globe travel to see this intact representation of Incan culture, and to hike the exclusive Inca Trail, which has strict limits on the number of people who may make the hike each day. It’s a difficult trek, and the experience of a lifetime for those who get the opportunity to make it!
Read the journal entries below from a GLA student who traveled to Peru this summer on GLA’s “Spanish Service Adventure” Program, and who had the chance to make the incredible journey to the Lost City of the Incas.
June 21st, 2013:
The first day of our trek along the Inca Trail toward Machu Picchu began with the group boarding two vans for a long ride along a winding road (within feet of a daunting cliff!) until we reached Soraypampa, the origin point of our hike. In this town, we had lunch surrounded by the mountains we would soon be conquering. We started our adventure by learning how to breathe and hike correctly at an elevation of over 11,000 feet above sea level! The hike began with a “gradual incline” lasting about 2 hours, including hiking across rocks and crossing many creeks. At Salkantaypampa we set up camp surrounded by towering mountains and gorgeous views, ready to settle down for our first night of camping in the Salcanty Mountains.
June 22nd, 2013:
After a cold night, we woke up at sunrise and packed up our belongings. Next, we ate a scrumptious and “gourmet” breakfast (for camping) of omelets and pan, a type of bread. After a little pep talk, we embarked on our strenuous excursion. We climbed boulders, crossed rivers on unstable stepping-stones and bridges, and used all of our leg power to climb the mountain! After four hours of heavy trekking across frozen terrain, all uphill, we reached the summit. It was breathtaking, literally. We took a quick break at the top of the summit and then started our downhill journey to the campsite. We walked along a beautiful river under mountains shrouded by clouds and snow, and it was a very peaceful and serene walk. It was still strenuous, however, because we had to keep our balance while trudging through loose rocks and mud. Finally, we made it to the campsite, which was already set up for us. Throughout the entire camping journey, a crew of cooks raced ahead of us in order to prepare the campsite for us. The amount of dedication that these men had for their work was inspiring. By the time we got to the campsite, all of our tents were set up and the food was ready. We were all extremely thankful for these hardworking men! Next, we ate a hearty lunch and then retreated to our tents to rest. Later, we had a tasty dinner and bonded a lot by singing various songs. After this incredibly long day, we retired to our tents for some much needed sleep.
June 23rd, 2013:
On our final day hiking, we hiked for four more hours downhill in the mud, and while a little gross at times, the end was quite rewarding when we reached a small farm and had a pleasant lunch. After lunch, we had to hike for another two hours to meet the van that would drive us to a train station. When we got to the train station, we caught a brief fifty-minute ride to Aguas Calientes. We went to dinner at a buffet style restaurant, and afterward had pastries at the bakery next door to our hotel while listening to live music that was playing down the street. After showering up, we went to bed, eager for the next day at Machu Picchu!
June 24th, 2013:
After a wake up knock at 6 AM, and eating a quick breakfast, we left the hotel to take a bus up to Machu Picchu. We arrived early and spent three hours walking around with animated and excited tour guides, who revealed secrets of the lost city of Machu Picchu. During our tour, we walked the path of the original Inca inhabitants, learned phrases of Quechua (the Inca’s original language), maneuvered through dark tunnels and learned the secrets of the Inca’s amazing architecture! It was an indescribable experience. We were also given plenty of time for independent exploration and photo taking in the lost city. Finally, after a long awaited day of exploration, we had a long way home; taking nearly four hours of transportation by train and a direct bus. Through the journey was difficult at times, we persevered to finish the trail and were rewarded with a wonderful day exploring Machu Picchu!
Not only are GLA student volunteers making an incredible impact on developing communities through their service across the world, but they’re also having life-changing experiences, like visiting The Lost City, along the way.
To learn more about Peru, and how you can take your own journey of a lifetime, schedule an appointment with one of our enrollment advisors today.