How to Start an Adventure: Machu Picchu

Tourists travel to Cusco, Peru throughout the year to experience the astounding history, culture, and environment that this city has to offer. However, over the course of the next 11 days, some MEDLIFE McGill students will have the opportunity to not only travel to Peru, but to give back to this community during the MEDLIFE Cusco Brigade this month.
by Danielle Bohonos

Six of us arrived in Peru early, braving the threat of altitude sickness, mosquito bites, and extremely sore muscles on the 5 day Salkantay Trek to the lost Incan city of Machu Picchu. The trek took us through what seemed like every possible terrain from rocky mountainsides to blazing hot jungles culminating in what I’m sure each of us would regard as one of the most memorable weeks of our lives.

The trek began with breakfast in the small town of Mollepata Peru with our guide Freddy, who we quickly concluded must have had a different understanding of time, because every “20 minutes more” was guaranteed to be longer than 20 minutes. This proved to be the hardest day of the trek, as after lunch we were forced to climb nearly 3 hours in frigid wind to the first camp site; at over 4000 meters elevation that made for a bone-chilling first nights sleep! However, the lengthy climb paid off the following morning when we reached the peak of the Apachata Pass at nearly 4600 meters high! There, our guide instructed us in making a rock pillar offering to the mountain and showed us how to use coco leaves, make a wish, and “flow” to the mountain. From that point on, it was downhill into the jungle, to warmer temperatures and smack into the capital of mosquito central!

If the second day’s downhill terrain wasn’t nice enough, the hot springs we visited on our third day was definitely a relief for our sore muscles. The fourth day ended our seemingly non-stop walking through the jungles of Peru and ended at the town of Aguas Calientes at the base of the Machu Picchu Mountain. After a night on the town and a sweet sleep at a hostel, we rode the bus to Machu Picchu on the fifth day where we feasted our eyes upon the incredible engineering, history, and beauty that is Machu Picchu. Freddy guided us around the city, explaining the significance of the Temple of the Sun, the famous Incan stonework, and more. A few hundred pictures later, we took our leave of the ancient city descending from the mountains and headed back to Cusco anticipating relaxation, sleep and the MEDLIFE Clinics to come.

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