This is part two of our journey from Soraypampa to Machu Pichhu. If you’re not sure how we ended up in the middle of the wilderness, scroll below!
As you all remember we didn’t exactly take the easy route to get to this point. But I’ll call it the scenic route.
Let me start out by saying that the Ahobamba trek is awesome. If you come to Peru and are looking for a more remote, scenic, and challenging trek to Machu Pichhu, definitely consider this trek. Give Nate a call and he can send you on one crazy adventure. Nate is pretty much the only person in Cuzco with any info on this trek, it’s pretty off the beaten path. I don’t really know too much about the valley but I do know that is named after the Ahobamba river that runs down it. Or maybe the river is named after the valley. Not sure. Lol.
Anyways at this point we’re in the Ahobamba valley. It was pretty cool being able to descend into the start of the cloud forest. We passed many different ecosystems on our descent down into the valley. Incredibly fascinating.
The area where Nate’s friend lives is just incredible. This valley is a whole other world.
This valley is like Neverland- Nate
And yes, Nate is completely right. Expansive landscape with a rushing river, huge glaciated peaks in the distance, and towering jungle mountains right above us.
Oh, and also, and guess what was just across the river where we spent the night.
Unexcavauted ruins of an old Incan town, right in the middle of the jungle. Incredibly cool, and rather eerie. Emil and I had the chance to walk around the ruins alone, nothing other than the sound of the river to accompany us.
Of all the ruins we’ve been to this trip this was so much different. Such a raw way to experience history. I can only imagine what was going on there 500 years ago.
On Thursday, November 2nd we started the hike out of the valley. This hike isn’t for the faint of the heart. It was hard. We’ve could breaken up the hike out into two days-it is a 8 hour hike out, but we went for it in just one day.
The best part of the hike was that it was downhill. Remember, just 30 some hours before, we were at 17,000 feet. At Nate’s friends house I think the elevation was 12,000 feet. By the time we made it out of the valley, the elevation was nearly 5,000 feet. A huge drop in altitude. And when you drop altitude, you change ecosystems. And for this area, that means heading deeper into the jungle.
And I got the bug bites to prove it.
On the hike out we passed a stream nearly every 30 minutes. Always a beautiful naturally symmetric creek, or a stunning waterfall, all flowing down into the Ahobamba.
The trek was longggg. I definitely would have enjoyed it more if I was so tired coming off the climb. At this point it was a rough balance of trying to enjoy one of the most beautiful valleys I’ve ever seen, and also just wanting to stop walking due to pure exhaustion.
So we were supposed to spend the night at another one of Nate’s friends, about a hours walk from the road, but, for whatever reason we couldn’t find the house. That left us with really only one sane option, get a taxi to the town of Santa Teresa.
Santa Teresa is a small town known for their thermal paths and also for the ruins in the district. Although geographically it’s not that far from Machu Pichhu, tourists don’t usually get to Santa Teresa, people usually trek right to the Machu Pichhu town, or take the train. But anyways, it was a really nice quiet town coming off of our trek.
The night we were there we ran into some Americans eating dinner at a local restaurant, they ended up being the only tourists we saw in the 16 hours we spent in town. They were in town for a international kayaking competition. There’s a class 5 river right outside of town!
And strangely enough, one of the guys was from Bethesda, and went to Whitman… For those of you who aren’t familiar, Whitman is the rival of the high school I went to. Absolutely bizzare.
The hostel we stayed at in Santa Teresa was also the cheapest of the trip so far. $4.5 each for the night! And our own room! Pretty awesome.
In the morning we went to the thermal baths in town. Just what the doctor ordered after all that climbing and hiking. And what a sweet spot for thermal baths.
After the thermal paths and some lunch we took a cab to the hydroelectric station, the site of electricity production for much of South Peru, as well as the start of hike to the town of Machu Pichhu, known as Aquas Calientes. Aquas Calientes is a pedestrian only town. Pretty much built for Machu Pichhu tourism.
The hike is scenic and not very hard. You follow the railroad tracks for about 2.5 hours up to Machu Picchu Pueblo, or Aquas Calientes.
I was impressed with Aquas Calientes. It’s more of a town that I would have thought. For sure a tourist trap, but it was a pleasant surprise after coming out of the woods!
After hanging out for a day in town it was finally time to head up to Machu Picchu!
It’s November, which is shoulder season for tourism in Peru, and it made a difference heading up to Machu Picchu. More than 750,000 people visit Machu Picchu each year! I was definitely expecting the tourists to be much worse when we got up to Machu Picchu. We took the bus up to the site at 6:30am after waiting in line for 30 minutes. And yes, it was very crowded but it was manageable. We didn’t do a tour so it was much easier to walk around everyone.
I’ll be honest we didn’t spend that much time there. After one of the biggest adventures of my life, let’s just say we were a little wiped out. We spent about 2 hours walking around and enjoying ourselves. We could have done one of the hikes in Machu Picchu (hiking up one of the peaks on the site) But we were done with hiking for a few days. For the history about Machu Picchu you can read here. I read a great book called Life and Death in the Andes by Kim MacQuarrie which gave me a great description about the discovery of the site. Long story short a westerner named Hiram Bingham from Yale University came to Peru, stole a bunch of artifacts, and claimed the discovery. (Eventhough someone had already wrote their name and signed an earlier date).
I am really happy we went to Machu Picchu. I was apprehensive due to it being described as Disney world but it was still incredible. It was absolutely gorgeous and just spectacular. It’s amazing how a civilization without access to steel or the wheel could make something so incredible.
A great way to end one of the best weeks of my life, and our adventures in Peru.
Today we fly to Santiago, Chile and then a bus to Mendoza, Argentina for our next climbing adventure.
Sad to leave Peru.
But ready for the next adventure.
ps sorry this post is shorter. WordPress on my phone drives me INSANE sometimes. It takes forever to upload media. Couldn’t post all the pictures I wanted to. Anyways, my next post will be from our quick day trip in Santiago, Chile. Adios untill then!