Last week we ended off in Colca Canyon. From there we traveled through Peru’s Altiplano (high plain) to Puno on the edge of Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is in the Andes on the border of Peru and Bolivia, it is the largest lake in South America and is the highest navigable lake in the world, with a surface elevation of 3,812 meters.
While in Puno we visited the floating islands of Uros (also very high on my bucket list) where we visited the Uros (Uru) pre-Incan people. The Uru live on floating islands that are made of reed bundles and are all linked together.
Walking on the island it felt like walking on a waterbed.
We then headed to the UNESCO island of Taquile, where we visited with the Taquileños people who live on the island and are best known for their fine hand woven textiles and clothing. About 2,200 people live on the island, which is 5.5 by 1.6 km in size and at the highest point the island is 4050 meters above sea level.
La Raya, one of the highest points of our journey, surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Andes on the border between the regions of Puno and Cusco. We later visited the Inca ruin, the Temple of Wiracocha which remains the only two-story Inca wall left.
We then arrived in Cusco, the heart of the Inca Empire that is now the modern-day starting point to Peru’s most famous site, Machu Picchu.
The next day we drove to the entrance of the Sacred Valley of the Incas in the Andes of Peru, close to the Inca capital of Cusco and the ancient city of Machu Picchu. Along the way we stopped at both the ancient ruins of Pisac & Ollantaytambo, we hiked to the top of both of them, trying to get ready for our hike to Machu Picchu.
The oldest continuously inhabited town of South America, Ollantaytambo, was our stop for the night before we did the big hike. Ollantaytambo is the last fully-functioning Inca town.
Not being a morning person made the wake up call of 3am a little tricky. But Machu Picchu was my whole reason for this trip so I sucked it up to catch our train to KM104 to start our trek. We stopped for lunch at Wiñay Wayna an Inca ruin along the Inca Trail. It is built into a steep hillside overlooking the Urubamba River. We then continued on the hike on the original Inca stonework path which is very steep and narrow, I’m surprised I didn’t fall, though I did trip enough! We were all anxious, excited and also super tired as we had been hiking mainly uphill for almost 5 hours at that point to get to the altar of the Sun Gate where we would catch our first glimpse at Machu Picchu.
It was another 3 hours of hiking until we arrived at the final steps of the hike just before the Sun Gate. When I say it was like magic coming through the Sun Gate onto the alter and seeing Machu Picchu in the distance for the first time, it really was!
Breathtaking. I was and still am so grateful I was able to see it.
We were all so excited. We finally made it!
Then like most hikes when you think you’re done you’re not. It was only another 45 minutes’ walk down to the Guardian’s House, where we saw the most amazing view of Machu Picchu. We all walked around and explored the site before heading to Aguas Calientes the town at the base of the ruins where we stayed the night and did a fair amount of celebrating as we were very happy we had finished the hike and truthfully did not have to think about it anymore. I was really scared of doing the hike the days leading up…I thought I would for sure be left behind on the trail but it just goes to show you, you have to believe in yourself and everything really can be possible!
We then headed back to Cusco and hung out there for a couple of days before the trip came to the end.
Peru is an amazing country and one of the most beautiful and interesting places I have ever visited. I met some great new friends and learned a lot about a very interesting culture and an ancient civilization.
I am so happy I was able to visit Peru and go on such an amazing adventure! I would highly recommend visiting this incredible country and doing the trek to Machu Picchu.
If you have any questions let us know in a comment.