Biking, rafting, hiking and hot springs (Days 1 and 2)

We spent four days of our trip with Lorenzo Expeditions on a hike that ended at Machu Picchu. It was by far the highlight of the trip and the main reason we ended up in Peru. Ariel suggested the company to me after he used them in September. We loved the team, the food and the itinerary they planned for us. The accommodations were basic, but not too shabby (also we were staying in hostels, so we’re not exactly four-star people). Plus, they were pretty cheap compared to similar companies.

The first day they fed us breakfast and drove us to the top of a mountain. There we strapped on a bunch of protective gear and got on mountain bikes. We rode 34 miles (55k) down the mountain. Everyone else thought this was fun. I do not like bikes, so I will refrain from commenting. I would like to mention it was raining on and off as cars and buses zoomed past us. Not my jam.

If I look miserable and terrified, it’s because I was.

After that, we rode a short distance to our lodging for the night. We had the option to white water raft, which really turned the day around for me. They were class three rapids in the muddy Urubamba river. Even though the water was chilly, we loved the ride and our guides brought us to the beach for some paddle games. That sounds weird, but Will almost won.

We ate dinner back at the guest house with our group in Santa Maria. La Familia as they called us was comprised of the five of us, a couple from Canada, a couple from Argentina, two Brits and a guy from Kentucky. Everyone was young (20-30ish) and well-traveled, so we had a lot in common. We ended up buying bottles of beer and staying up a little later than planned talking about Trump, Brexit, Fast and the Furious and Dolly Parton. Our group made the trip really special, it was nice to chat with different people as we hiked and ate together.

Day two started bright and early since it was our longest hike and the jungle is pretty hot. We were on an Inka Trail, however, it’s not The Inca Trail.  The most famous, commercial one is passport-protected and usually a 4-5 day hike ending at the Sun Gate. The Quechua people built thousands of miles of trail all over South America, and we were on some of that. We stopped along the way for Bruno our guide to explain the local fruits or farming.

We spent about an hour at his friend’s house where he showed us some of the items grown on the mountainside and painted our faces using this mashed up berry. We each got to toast our apu, or the mountain that was watching over the hike, with “Inka tequila.” We called it snake juice because the corn-based drink had a dead snake floating in the bottle. We tried on traditional Peruvian clothes too, and Julie did a full photoshoot.

 

We climbed along a beautiful ridge for a while in the morning, taking photos every seven steps. It was incredible. I look at the pics now, and think, meh. You really have to see it to feel the expansiveness of the mountains are and the thickness of the jungle.  By lunchtime, we made it down the mountain to stop at a house/restaurant for chow.

We ate, stocked up on water bottles and napped in the hammocks as we waited out the hottest part of the day. Did I mention we were eaten by mosquitos? We were.

The afternoon hike was what Bruno lovingly called “Peruvian Flat.” Little up and downs along the Urubamba River between the massive mountains. We crossed the river on a rickety bridge and then crossed back over on a carriage later in the hike.

The gondola that took us across the river.

By the end of the day, we covered 14 miles (23k). When we reached the hot spring near Santa Teresa at the end, we were ready to relax. We started in the most tepid third pool, or third bath as Will called it, and worked our way to the warmest one that was fed directly by the spring. The water felt great and we ate some guacamole before heading to our hotel for the evening to eat.

That night I introduced Roses and Thorns to the group (we called it Rosas y Espinas) and played in English and Spanish. We drank Cusqueno and Pisco Sours with La Familia late again. I worked on my Spanish with our other guide, Gato. Julie discovered that her bladder and hose used for hiking hydration was also perfect for late night drinks if she hung it on her bedpost.

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Shannon