40 km on foot and more than 3.000 stairs within 24 h – exhausting but a great experience.
This was the actual reason why we travelled to Peru – to see one of the seven wonders of the world, Machu Picchu. There are many possibilities to visit Machu Picchu combined with a jungle tour or a several-day-trek. As we were a bit limited in time but still wanted to hike there we decided on doing a two-day-tour.
Early in the morning we were picked up in our hostel and drove to a town called Aguas Calientes, where we started the hike. During the drive we could enjoy the landscape and we passed little villages where farmers lived in very basic housing. Sometimes we feared for our lives when we were driving the narrowest possible roads right next to a steep edge, but gladly we made it alive.
When I heard about Machu Picchu before I always thought that it was located in or near Cusco but it’s actually a seven hour drive away. Cusco is just the closest developed city so all the tours start there.
After 20 km of walking we arrived to the hostel where we stayed the night. The next morning we got up at 4:00 am to start the hike to Machu Picchu.
First we had to walk half an hour to an entry gate where our tickets were checked. The gate opened at 5:00 am and all at once a crowd of tourists started the hike. It was raining the night before so the humidity was extreme but luckily the rain had stopped. On the hike you walk curves all the way up and the whole hike consists of just steps – approximately 1.700 in total. I was sweating like crazy due to the humidity. After a while we were already hoping to see the top behind every curve that was next. Once we finally reached it after one hour we made a small break before starting a guided tour though Machu Picchu.
During the tour we learned a lot about the history of the Quechua and their king, who they call Inca in their language. Sometimes it was hard to pay attention due to our lack of sleep, the exhausting hike and the fact that even during the tour we had to walk so many more steps. Nevertheless, it was very interesting. After the guided tour we had some more time to take pictures and explore the site on our own.
Then we had to descend the 1.700 stairs again and walk back the 20 km to Aguas Calientes. After about half of the way back we got really tired. Our shoulders hurt from the backpack, our feet were tired anyways and the humidity made everything worse. We didn’t stop though and step by step we made it back.
My friends got attacked by mosquitos all the way. For some reason they left me alone and not even one bit me while the others had bites all over their bodies.
When we finally arrived to Aguas Calientes my feet were as tired as never before and I was just happy to sit down and relax. We were picked up by the bus again and drove the seven hours back to Cusco.
Within 24 hours we walked a distance of 40 km and more than 3.000 stairs in the humid warm air. Machu Picchu was a great experience and I’m really glad that we decided to hike there and not take the bus or train. It made the experience and the memories much more intense. Even though the hike was exhausting we still had fun doing it.
- Buy your ticket in Cusco. Don’t book it in advance. Online it will say that you have to reserve it in advance but that’s not true. They just want to make you pay more.
- Bring insect repellant. My friends were bitten by mosquitos all the time.
- If you do the two-day-tour and hike there bring as few things in your backpack as you can. It will get heavy.
- Next to the entrance you can get a Machu Picchu stamp in your passport.
Continue reading: Rainbow Mountains – The most exhausting Hike of my Life
Have you been to Machu Picchu? If yes, let me know in the comments how you got there and if you’d recommend it.