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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu

After spending a couple days in Cusco adjusting to the altitude (it's at 11,200 feet), we set out on a four day trek to Machu Picchu (electing the more scenic and challenging Salkantay Trek as opposed to the more touristy Inca Trail).

Kicking off the hike.

When you're with Mexicans, it's always a party.

That face when: your legs hurt and you've got a long uphill climb to go.

Worth it though.

Our "tents" for the first night.

Landslides are a common hazard.

Chewing coca leaves for energy. Also, real men wear pink.

On the third day, it's a long hike along the railroad tracks, which take more sensible travelers directly from Cusco to Machu Picchu.

The final destination for all who visit Machu Picchu is the quirky small town of Aguas Calientes:

After a brief but glorious night in a real hotel room, you get up at 4:30 am so that you can take a bus 15 minutes up to Machu Picchu itself (you can also hike an hour, uphill, to it, but the one couple who did so in our group did not seem satisfied with their decision on arrival. Travel lesson #1: sometimes money really does buy you happiness).

The only problem: it's frequently foggy early in the morning. We couldn't see anything initially.

After an hour or so the clouds began to part.

I was promised llamas, and Machu Picchu delivered.

If you've got the energy, you can climb to the Sungate (which is free, fairly easy, and supposedly has the best views), or you can pay to climb the more challenging Mount Machu Picchu or (in our case) Mount Huayna Picchu. It's a steep slippery hike up that takes about an hour. Also, be warned that if you come armed with a cute llama doll, a group of japanese teenage girls may start screaming and run over to you so that their llama can have a picture with yours. These two became fast friends before kissing goodbye.

Pictured here: Tania making some phone calls for her work. Not a bad day at the office I suppose ;)

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