After we left Cusco our adventure really began. We were in for 3 days of walking through the Inca jungle on the way to Machu Picchu. Peru has the most diverse landscapes of anywhere I have ever been. We started in Lima, which is at sea level, flew to Cusco, near 11,000 ft above sea level, drove through a mountain pass at an impressive 15,000 ft above sea level, then biked about 20 miles back down to a little village resting at around 5,000 ft. It was freezing cold at the top of the pass, then transitioned to full on summer heat by the bottom. We were in high alpine terrain above the tree line one minute, then fully immersed in the jungle the next.
Our route to Machu Picchu was also very diverse. We hiked high along mountain walls with sheer cliffs below us, walked along a beautiful river and followed the train tracks. We crossed some very cool old bridges and even used a cable car (of sorts) to cross the same river. Along the way we stopped in little villages, and even lonesome homes that were placed in the heart of the jungle with only walking trails leading there. The people at the houses, and our tour guides, would teach us about their culture and way of life, sharing with us some traditional food and drink. I even tasted some home made liquor with a snake in it! Oh, and another thing, EVERYONE plays soccer, everyone.
After a few days of trekking we found ourselves at Machupicchu Town, also known as Aguas Calientes. This town sits at the foot of the mountains that hold Machu Picchu. Here we would rest for the night before completing the walk to Machu Picchu at 4 the next morning.
Check back next week for the final part, Exploring Machu Picchu.