Day 2: Zip Lines and Hike, Getting to Machu Picchu!
Rising early on Day 2 of getting to Machu Picchu was similar to rising on Christmas Day when you were a kid. For the first few moments, you feel your body tell you to just go back to dreamland, but then your first conscious thought is ... "Its Christmas!"
To me, this was Christmas...
Quick shower, some breakfast, and hopping back into the bus with the dread that we would be travelling along a similar road as the day before, but thank goodness, that was put to rest as the horizon showed no signs of an increase in altitude. We stayed in the bottom of the valley, passing through bright, lush, green jungle vegetation to a small parking lot with a hut next to a small road. We hopped out and harnessed up for the zip line portion of the tour! A total of 8 ziplines and a final repel down to finish the excitement, including one zipline almost a mile long!
Travellers Tip: Bring water. The first zip line is a decent trek away, including a switch back trail in the hot sun, to the first launch point. We were travelling with 12 fun Israeli's but they had obviously not done any sort of exercise on this trip and the short but steep walk generated relentless complaining from them. Laughing and leading the pace, Olli and I stepped on the first platform ready to feel the breeze of the first zip!
First Zip Line on Machu Picchu tour, Peru When you depart that first launch point, the feeling is not of adrenaline, but of happiness. That view over top of the jungle, without any civilzation in sight to this day gives me goosebumps when I think about it.
Long Zip Line!
The lines do not pick up a ton of speed, so take it seriously when they tell you to bring your knees to your chest, or you will slow and not reach the final platform, and have to turn around pull yourself in. Again, these fun but out of shape Israeli's we were with, did not listen to that piece of advice and unfortunately, on the long zip line, everysingle one came up short, and what should have taken 20 minutes to get everyone across, took almost 90 minutes. Hard to become impatient with this view though! The longest zip line which is pictured above, is so long, that you cant even see the end point. Also, when you are finished and looking back, you simply hear the humming noise of the cable and only actually see someone appear as they are well over half way across the canyon.
With some enjoyable walking and hiking between the zip lines, you take your last one to a floating platform in the sky. You use your hands with gloves to grab the cable and brake as you approach, and then you switch lines, and jump in a hole in the platform and repel down to the location where you got the harnesses just a few hours prior. What a start to Day 2!
Back in the bus. Short Drive. Lunch Time.
Now begins the trek towards the town of Aguas Calientes which is situated below the peak of Machu and Huayna Picchu. We asked the guide if we could go ahead as the pace of our counterparts was about the speed of someone window shopping, he told us to just stop when we came across the orange bridge. He ensured us we would know what he meant when we arrived so we enjoyed the walk along the raging river bank.
Famous bridge on the walk to Machu Picchu
We came across the bridge and posted up waiting for the guide and the rest of our group. As they arrived, the guide, who was terrific, started into a very deep, almost eerie story about the discovery of Machu Picchu. He spoke about a farmer in the area, who was working every day back in the early 1900's and felt some sort of energy in the area. He was not sure why, or where it came from, but knew there was something special about this area. To save some of the suspense for when you do your Machu Picchu trip (everyone must!) he basically finishes the story with pointing up towards the rock face situated right next to us across the river. "Thats Machu Picchu my friends." We all looked a little bewildered at the rock face. "I dont see any buildings or ruins" someone said. "Exactly!" he exclaimed. The Inkas in fact, were escaping up to the summit for refuge. The whole point was to go unseen. He also pointed out that the green line and ridge that passes across the face, is the trail where the Inkas walked to the top of Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu - The green line is the original Inka Trail
Another few stops, couple hours and bottles of water and we walked into the town of Aguas Calientes for some food at the local market to keep us going until the dinner with the whole crew. Everyone was excited for the next day, but not excited for the 4am wake up.