Getting High and Going Broke: Cusco, Salkantay Trek, Machu Picchu

Quick Facts:

  • We have never been camping
  • We have never spent a night in a tent
  • The longest hike we have ever done: 6 hours for one day
  • Regardless of all this, we decided to book the 5-day/4-night Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu
  • We’re fuc#@ng crazy!

 

Cusco:

It is hard to describe just how exquisite this city really is. Between its flawlessly preserved squares, charming cobblestone streets and interesting juxtaposition of Inca ruins alongside Spanish Cathedrals it is easy to see why Cusco is one of the most visited cities in Peru. Having this distinction also makes the city unbelievably expensive and unfortunately for us we were broke almost the entire time we visited.

Plaza de Armas main square

Plaza de Armas main square

Because of a money transfer glitch and a federal holiday we were down to 18 dollars in our bank account. We then found out that to visit many of the nearby ruins and some museums we needed to purchase what’s known as the boleto turistico in addition to paying the entrance fees. This tourist ticket costs around 130 Soles per person and is valid for 10 days (partial tickets valid for fewer days can also be purchased).

Festival on the square

Festival on the square

Some of the little performers

Some of the little performers

Since we were gearing up to do the Salkantay Trek in a couple of days we decided the best thing to do was just relax at Hostal Umiña San Blas while saving money. Our host was great and really made us feel at home. He also offered treks to Machu Picchu at reasonable prices and best of all allowed us to pay when we got back. Despite our thin wallet were still able to enjoy a few free sites around town including the Plaza de Armas, the market, Coricancha and did a free walking tour with a local.

Coricanhca

Coricanhca

Beautiful preserved city

Beautiful preserved city

Walking around town

Walking around town

Salkantay Trek:

The Inca Trail was booked until January 2016 so we had to find a different trek to Machu Picchu. According to our fabulous guide Eddy, Salkantay was a harder, more scenic trek and man was he right. The views were astounding and the elevation was HIGH at 4600 meters. Hiking straight up and then straight down on the second day was definitely not a walk in the park.

Our early morning companion before the trek

Our early morning companion before the trek

Sample map of our trek

Sample map of our trek

Just starting out, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

Just starting out, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed

Manu visiting a lagoon on the hike on Day 1

Manu visiting a lagoon on the hike on Day 1

Amazing sites along the trail

Amazing sites along the trail

We hadn’t worked out in months and we’re not really hikers so the trail truly kicked our butts. Regardless, we kept going and would make it camp even if it was an hour after everyone else had gotten there. At numerous times I wanted to quit (including within the first 2 hours of hiking) but after a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears (literally) it was an indescribable feeling to know we had made it to the end.

Close to the peak

Close to the peak

We made it to the peak of the trail and tears started flowing!

We made it to the peak of the trail and the tears started flowing!

We thought downhill would be easy... nope!

We thought downhill would be easy…until it started raining

The hard part was over... or so I thought. Then i crossed this nightmare!

The hard part was over… or so I thought. Then I crossed this nightmare!

Third day: a little fun zip lining

Third day: a little fun zip lining

Animals along our breaks

Animals along our breaks

Third day: The boys relaxing with a little futbol

Third day: The boys relaxing with a little futbol

Fourth day: hiking from Hydroelectrica to Aguas Calientes

Fourth day: hiking from Hydroelectrica to Aguas Calientes

Great scenery along the hike

Great scenery along the hike

Machu Picchu:  

Yes, it is an extraordinary as you imagine it to be. I cannot even fathom how this incredible architectural and engineering marvel was thought up and executed. Our guide Eddy mentioned that to visit this sacred place it was customary to perform some kind of difficult feat or sacrifice. Having just completed the Salkantay trek made the visit to Machu Picchu even more rewarding and remarkable for us. No matter the journey you take to get there make sure to allow yourself plenty of time to take in all the splendor of this astonishing site.

Amazing!

Amazing!

Great views no matter where you look

Great views no matter where you look

Mountains surrounding Machu Picchu

Mountains surrounding Machu Picchu

Great early morning visit

Great early morning visit

Agricultural terraces

Agricultural terraces

Taking it all in

Taking it all in

A moment to breathe

A moment to breathe

A break at Machu Picchu...

A well deserved break…

Our super fun Salkantay group!

Our super fun Salkantay group!