Acting Macho at Picchu

Woof, that is an interesting blog title and it is a stretch. It is barely even a pun. Actually, it is a pun. Stop doubting yourself and readers, do not doubt my puns. 

To get the the breathtaking Machu Picchu, you gotta head to Cusco first. Cusco is a really cool town but unlike anywhere else that I have been in Peru. I do not think I have ever been anywhere so small that is so touristy (actually Aguas Calientes is smaller and just as touristy but that is the village at the bottom of Maccu Picchu so it is expected). Tourists around the world flock to Cusco to check out one of the wonders of the world. This was my second time in Cusco but this was an ultimately far more satisfying experience. Previously, I literally hopped off the plane, up to Maccu Pichu and then off again. It was a fairly spectacular experience but to trek to the ruins is a much more fulfilling experience. Shock horror, we arrived in Cusco and checked into The Wild Rover. Completing the hatrick. The Wild Rover in Cusco was maybe the most comfortable of the three. Arequipa was great but the bar was quite small. Cusco WR has a huge big bar and a pretty sweet room to watch movies and whatnot. 

There was plenty of casual drinks but nothing too wild before our trek to Picchu. I took the train first time which is fine but pretty boring in comparison to your other options. I have heard the Inca Trail is pretty amazing but it is so expensive and needs to be booked months in advance. We had no idea when we would be in Cusco so figured we would leave it. The Inca trail, historically is very interesting but it is 4 days long and it is just walking. I would recommend the jungle trail. The Jungle trail is awesome. The Jungle trail consists of downhill biking, wild water rafting, ziplining and of course trekking through pretty breathtaking scenery. We had an awesome group for the trek which is a huge bonus. We started off the trek with downhill biking. I actually felt more safe on The Worlds Most Dangerous Road rather than on this. The bikes were in fairly terrible condition and there were even a few crashes on our way down. Nothing too bad though. Downhill biking is pretty sweet as it involves so little peddling but you can get some fairly insane speed on the way down and on a poor bike, it can get quite hairy. I was just delighted to be cycling without needing to shit myself every few minutes. Life is about the small victories.

Diarrhea free, baby

Diarrhea free, baby

After the adrenaline of the downhill biking, we all had a big feed (always glorious, always plain but always glorious) and were ready for the next activity, White Water Rafting. The Rafting was great fun. The water is relatively calm so you do not need to have any white water experience but there are enough bumps to keep you entertained. The rafting was plenty of fun. We had no one fall over board but quite a few hairy moments. A superb addition to the trek. After the first day, I just felt like I was on a very cool adventure trek let alone a trek that end up at one of the seven wonders of the world. Day 1 was finished. Thoroughly enjoyable. The accommodation was more than decent however after all the adrenaline for the day, I think I would have fallen asleep in a ditch. Day 2 began with a trek by some canyons. The views were absolutely amazing. On the trek, you walk awfully close to the edge but I think on South American treks the key is to not think about crumbling to your death and more about the glorious view. However, at one point I was marveling at the view and nearly lost my footing so.....multitask. Enjoy the view but do not die. A brilliant travel tip. Enjoy....but do not die.  

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While on the trek, we walked by some Coca Leaf Plantations. Our guide told us some pretty fascinating stories about these plantations. An acre of coca trees produced about a ton of coca leaves, which yields about a pound of cocaine. Coca leaves are apparently extremely easy to transport without detection also. Coca Cola wanted to purchase some of these plantations but the Peruvian Government refused on the grounds that Coca is important to the Andean region however by the sounds of it, the government get a nice slice of the cocaine money so it is more beneficial for them to not sell to Coca Cola who would have offered way more than these fields claim to earn (obviously they would not include profits from the cocaine). I loved that portion of the questions. I just had a million questions about the cocaine industry in South America and how the locals feel about it. The general vibe seems to be that they believe that it is wrong but such an easy way to make good money. Coca can be harvested four times a year (most can only be harvested once) and farmers growing coca earn more than double than those who grow coffee. This trek is about 6 hours before being broken up with some lunch. We sampled our first guinea pig. It was quite tasty but there was so little meat on those bad boys. We walked into a room to find a few cute little guinea pigs running around. I was going to pick one up, name him and give him a hilarious back story but I feared that I knew where this was going. This was not a "pet the guinea pigs" part of the trek. You surely do not want to know how they kill these cute little creatures? Surely not. I shall tell you anyway as I am sure you would rather not look at the insides of a guinea pig anyway. So, basically. To kill a guinea pig, just stretch him. That's right. Just grab his neck and torso and try to pull them apart. Then, when you have pulled him as far apart as possible, snap that little critters neck. It was rather unsavory. Gruesome. Perhaps try it out on your guinea pig back home? See if blood squirts out of that little mouth. Blood squirted out one of the little fellas mouths. Thankfully, none hit me. I would not be mentally strong enough to deal with that sort of trauma.

The insides of a guinea pig. Rather colorful, don't you think?

The insides of a guinea pig. Rather colorful, don't you think?

So, that was guinea pig. Maybe order it in a restaurant as you will not have to watch it die first. I think that ,may be why it was not as enjoyable as it should have been but maybe you would prefer to watch it die. Whatever you are into. No judgements. Let us lighten the mood. We also met this happy little character after the MURDERING OF THE GUINEA PIG. He was a very cute little character. The monkey did very quickly begin to hump the teddy which made the experience slightly less cute. If you are into murdering small animals and watch slightly bigger animals hump teddy bears, then this part of the trek will be amazing. Otherwise, we shall move on.

After this potential trauma, we continue the trek towards the hot springs. The hot springs are to rest your aching limbs ahead of the more trying trekking ahead in the following days. Nothing much to report on the springs. They are very enjoyable and really relaxing. You bathe in the shadow of a huge mountain which is quite cool. Now would be an excellent time to show a picture of the hot springs but I did not take any pictures of it. From the hot springs, you trek to Santa Teresa where we stay the night. On route to Santa Teresa, you cross a cable bridge -

Slow and steady wins the race

Slow and steady wins the race

There is always one...

There is always one...

The cable car was slightly enjoyable. It did not look safe at all so I was just glad to make it over to the other side. We eventually arrived at Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is a very small town. We went for a nice meal in a restaurant before finding a club to drink in. This club night was one of the funnest nights out. I am not sure why but we all had plenty of alcohol so I am sure that is why. My good pal and traveling companion, Cillian had a little too much to drink so I said that I would bring him home. "What a true good pal and all round good guy", I hear you say. Well, hold that judgement for a second. I walked him home to our hostel and he went in to bed. I saved the day. I began to head back to the club. On my way, I found my friends. They were returning. It seemed everyone had called it a night. On our way back to our hostel, we found Cillian wandering the streets. Turns out, that I brought him back to the wrong place. Not only was it the wrong place but it was not a hostel. I seemed to have let him in to a random family home. Lolz. 

Day 3 began very early. The group had a collection of sore heads from the night before. It was time for zip lining through some canyons. This was very cool. I was absolutely terrified before my first one but after the first zip line, you love it but after your third, it gets a bit boring. It is a roller Reacoaster of emotions.

Ready to rock

Ready to rock

Bombs away

Bombs away

Who's next, I wonder?

Who's next, I wonder?

Oh, here comes Emma!

Oh, here comes Emma!

She appears to be stuck...

She appears to be stuck...

She appears to be screaming for help...

She appears to be screaming for help...

Help at hand

Help at hand

That.....that was embarrassing

That.....that was embarrassing

The zip lining was fun enough. Terrifying at the beginning. Awesome after your first one but fairly boring by your fourth and final one. After the zip lining, we hit the road for our final night on the trek at the wonderful @ Aguas Calientes. The trek to Aguas Calientes will be one that I remember for a long time. As I mentioned earlier, we had a superb group. Everyone was just chatting away for the first few hours but we all grew weary of conversation and wanted to spice things up. Then it happened. We saw at the front of the group, our guide and two Australian dudes on our tour. They were playing rock paper scissors. The loser had to carry the bags for 15 minutes. It was ingenius. We soon got all involved with some hideous but exciting results.

The Joy of victory

The Joy of victory

The tension and the terror

The tension and the terror

The defeat

The defeat

It started off so innocently...

It started off so innocently...

But soon escalated...

But soon escalated...

Game had be called off for fear of serious long term back problems...

Game had be called off for fear of serious long term back problems...

We were all quite disappointed when we finally arrived at the end of the trek which is a rarity but the game had us hooked. Each round, a new person wanted to get involved which increased the baggage. Each round it got more tense. The feeling of not having to carry the bags was unmatchable. I highly recommend this game for any future treks.  Time flies and the pain and misery you can inflict on others while you celebrate with joy is an indescribable feeling. You may be thinking, "Hey Golden Brown, is paper scissors rock not a two person game?"

Well, Billy. Not necessary. Basically, you can play it with as many people as possible. If ten people whip out scissors, and two whip out a rock. It is between the ten people who had scissors and it goes on and on like that until there is a loser who must carry an unhealthy amount of bags.

We arrived at Aguas Calientes which is a really cool little town at the foot of Machu Picchu. We did not do much on our night there but grab some food and rest our sore backs from all those bags. We had an early start at 4.30am to climb to Machu Pichu. It was the easiest 4am start that I have ever had. We had some breakfast before being out on the road to finish the trek by 4.30am. The trek is about an hour and a half long which seems quite easy but it is a steep uphill climb. It was quite a challenging trek. By the time I got to the top, I was drenched in sweat. That view is so worth it.

There are few things in life that really outlive the hype surrounding it. This was my second time seeing Machu Picchu and I was still floored by it. I think it is even more impressive after hours of trekking and sweating. You really feel like you have earned the view. 

Our guide gave us a tour around the Inca ruins explaining different things. It was quite difficult to focus on what the guide says for the majority of the time as you are just so overwhelmed by your surroundings. It is so hard to describe the views. During our previous trek in Sucre to cave paintings, our guide was open to the idea that aliens had something to do with the construction of Machu Picchu and general Inca ruins. 

Our guide here was most certainly not up for the alien debate. I suppose if some idiots kept claiming that one of the most amazing things that your ancestors ever created was actually done by aliens, you may not be too impressed aswell. But still.....the truth is out there.

Perhaps the most beautiful thing we saw in Machu Picchu....that dude

Perhaps the most beautiful thing we saw in Machu Picchu....that dude

Once you get up to Machu Picchu, enjoy the ruins and have a wander around but I insist you climb Huayna Picchu. Huayna Picchu is the big chap that overlooks the ruins. Not enough people that I spoke to climbed this mountain. The view you get of the ruins is unreal. I would recommend as soon as you get into Machu Picchu, head to the mountain. It has a restricted access of only 400 people a day and Machu Picchu averages about 2500 a day. That is the great thing about the trek is by the time you get up there, it is almost empty so you have the ruins to yourself and then when it starts filling up, you head to Huayna Picchu. It is a tricky trek but so worth it.

We climbed all the way down to the bottom and rewarded ourselves with a beer. It may have been the finest beer that I have ever had. It can sometimes be difficult to comprehend something amazing you did or have seen but I had no issue. Doing that trek and seeing Machu Picchu was worth every bead of sweat that was sweated whether it be on the trek, on a ridiculous bus traveling for a ridiculous amount of time or even just the insane amount of hours you worked to just board that plane. It was all worth it. 

This is why traveling is so addictive. Those moments when you are staring at something insane with old best friends and new best friends (if only just for a few days!).