MACHU PICCHU ON FOOT
& Other Peru Adventures with Meggan Woody
Meggan Woody has been fortunate throughout her life to have travelled extensively, but one thing stood out on her ever-growing bucket list: Peru adventures.
Sparking intrigue in its history, fascination in its culture and awe in its landscapes, Peru is a captivating country to discover. Brushing off the dust gathered over many months of travel bans, Meggan was finally able to board a plane once more and explore unknown horizons, and the land of the Inca would be her first destination of choice.
Almost anyone can visit Peru, journey to Cusco, board a train and be at the summit of Machu Picchu by lunchtime, but for Meggan – an avid hiker – this was cheating, and foregoing the true experience of what it must have been like to visit the mountaintop citadel many years ago.
For Meggan, there was only one way to travel: by foot.
Taking on the epic Inca Trail and experiencing much more of this wonderful nation, Meggan shares with us her incredible Peru adventure:
As many around the world have felt over the last two years, I had an itch to travel again.
Peru had been a bucket list item of mine for as long as I can remember. When I got the opportunity to not just go to Peru but hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, I gasped at the excitement of this next adventure. So began my journey to visit the ancient ruins of the Incas and the beautiful country that is Peru.
I immediately began dreaming about my travels before they had even begun; what I was going to do to prepare, what experiences I wanted to get out of the trip and even how excited I knew I’d be to return home and tell everyone about how they must travel to Peru.
Peru Adventures: Day 1
Landing in Cusco, where my trek officially began, I smiled, took a deep breath and was ready for this adventure. I couldn’t stop staring at the beautiful mountains that welcomed us when we arrived or the liveliness of the Peruvians living in the city and making it flourish. From the architecture to the older, more rustic neighbourhoods, I was just getting started, with my love growing for this country by the minute.
Spending a day in Cusco, I was able to gauge from the start just how peaceful this potentially exhausting trek was going to be. The Peruvians make you feel at home instantly. Because of this, no matter how tired I knew I’d become on the trek, I also knew they would ensure my time wasn’t ruined and would accommodate my every need.
The city of Cusco had everything you can think of, from local culture to llamas to food markets where the locals go to enjoy their lunches, to historical churches and bars that you can dance in. It was hard to leave but the thing that kept me going was that I had so much more to experience.
Heading from Cusco to Sacred Valley, was astonishing. The minute we made it to the top of the peak where you can see the Sacred Valley, I truly gasped. The views were 360 degrees and stunning in every direction. Here we were able to see the farmlands, the valley, rivers, and where one type of corn grows only here and nowhere else in the world. We traveled through the little town, met villagers in the morning and hiked one of the most beautiful trails to an ancient Inca agricultural site. I truly thought that the trip couldn’t get better after this, and it was only my second day. I felt like I was walking in history’s footsteps and felt truly connected with the experiences and world that the Incas lived in.
Of course, the hike had to end, and although we had probably reached 20,000 plus steps, I could’ve gone further.
Peru Adventures: Day 2
We woke early and began our second day of hiking further along the Inca trail. This trek was going to be a bit more intense than the previous day, but we were ready for the challenge. Somehow the scenery changed from the day before. This was when I learned that Peru has over 16 ecosystems. Of course, it all made sense now. The day before I felt like I was frolicking through Ireland and today felt like I was in Iceland or the Colorado Mountains.
Beginning our journey, we were introduced to Justin. He was a donkey who followed us along to ensure we got where we needed. Halfway through, he decided to have a little fun himself and run directly up the mountain until he finally decided to rejoin our leisurely (but tough) hike. Taking it one step at a time we made it up to the top. We increased our elevation by 4,000 feet making it to 14,000 total. My first fourteener, as they say 😊
At the top we found a series of majestic lakes, and our guide, Gido, began playing a tune on his flute to thank the lands and the culture for allowing us to hike these trails. I had goosebumps for days. Heading back down the opposite side of the mountain, we made it to our next night’s stay; a beautiful lodge that was perched on the side of the mountain.
Peru Adventures: Day 3
The next day we went to meet a family who were gracious enough to let us join in on one of their Incan Ceremonies. Here they thanked the land, mountains and rivers for what they were given and blessed a lamb as a thank you. The Peruvians’ love for their culture was truly felt during this ceremony.
Peru Adventures: Day 4
We made our way to Aguas Calientes where our final trek to Machu Picchu began. Here we had to take the train which ran along the river and gave us views of snow top mountains. We arrived in Aguas Calientes, where we then enjoyed the beginning of the rainforest. Truly I could not believe I had just been where snow had fallen and now, I am in a tropical jungle. I was mind blown.
I, of course, could’ve taken the afternoon to relax and prepare for our hike up Machu Picchu the next morning, but the local sites were too hard to say no to. Our guide had told us of a beautiful botanical garden where you can swim in the river, so of course, we went. Here we hiked along railroad tracks and through rainforests to get to our destination. We climbed over bridges, under fallen-down trees and then made it to a few breathtaking views of waterfalls. This location was truly special. Here more ceremonies are done to bless the lands and thank them for their resources.
Peru Adventures: Day 5
The next day we woke up early again and headed to our final starting point. We were about to climb up the Old Mountain, or Machu Picchu as it is more commonly known. This trek was a bit different, with a combination of steps and trail up the mountain. How steep it got I did not know but I quickly learned to keep looking forward. Up we went into the cloud forest. As we got closer to the top we were above the clouds looking down on the Machu Picchu archeological site below where history had been made. The trek wasn’t easy but was 100 percent worth it. Walking in the footsteps of the Inca’s and of the locals who still use those trails to this day, was a very wholesome and humbling experience.
I will never forget the way this trip made me feel and appreciate all that the world has to offer. Until I get to return I will cheers with a Pisco Sour to the Inca history, Peruvian culture and the land that they were blessed with.