Okay, so it’s been a little while since I published part one of my epic trek to Machu Picchu story… and, as ever, I have excuses which I feel are valid. I HAD TO FLY LIKE A MILLION TIMES. I WENT TO SEE MY FAMILY. I MOVED BACK TO AMSTERDAM. I HAD TO GO TO WORK?!?!?!? (Justification rant over…)

On with part two! We left off at the end of day one, after trekking up to almost 5,000 metres, seeing some awesome sights, having an altitude-induced panic attack, recovering, stuffing myself silly with the most beautiful Peruvian food in the world, and then going to bed my tent. So now that we’ve recapped…

We woke up on day two after what can only be described as the most horrific night’s sleep in the history of sleeps. Temperatures – logically – plummet at night in the mountains, and man, I felt every single centigrade drop rapidly from the air. We had the option to upgrade our provided sleeping bags at the beginning of the tour, and I cannot exaggerate how happy I was that we did so. IT WAS FREEZING.

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Kind of reassuringly for me (there’s nothing like finding comfort in communal pain and discomfort), the rest of the group were also full of moans and groans that morning. It seems that finding the rest we all so badly needed that night was out of the question for everyone.

After breakfast, it was time to start day two of trekking. After my slight ordeal the previous day, I was a little apprehensive… and when Reuben suggested I get on the horse for the day, I feel no shame in admitting that I was almost overwhelmed with pure joy. But, at the same time, I was being offered the easy option here. I didn’t go on the trek to take the easy option, I wanted to be challenged and I wanted that joyous feeling at the end of the day when you think about how much you’ve achieved.

My internal dilemma was quickly solved for me. Reuben insisted that I take the horse. And I didn’t really put up a fight. So that was it. Me and the horse, and the rest of the group panting and sweating their way up the hardest part of the trek. At first, of course, this was a pretty good feeling. Who WANTS to feel the pain of trekking when the option is there to climb a mountain on the back of a horse?! That’s an adventure in itself, right?!

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Well, yeah. But after an hour or so, it was pretty hard to not get a bit down about the lack of comradery, the lack of the all important ‘challenge’ and achievement. So I did what anyone would do, and sulked for a bit. I tried to get off the horse. Reuben demanded I stay on. And that was the majority of my day. In fairness, I did get to see some awesome sights which you don’t really take in when you’re trekking because you’re too busy trying not to perish. So, yeah. There’s at least one positive to this predicament.

In the afternoon, I eventually made my way off the horse – for the sole reason that it was more unsafe for the horse to walk down the other side of the mountain with me on the back than it was for me to walk on my own two feet. Dammit.

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It was a pretty hard day for everyone, and by the time we got to our camp that night, I wasn’t the only one who had been suffering with the altitude! Headaches, dodgy stomachs, general feelings of unwell-ness plagued the camp that night, BUT! It was made all the better (at least for the people without dodgy stomachs…) by the glorious Peruvian feast we were served that evening. Complete with a CAKE. A cake that had been ‘baked’ in the mountains, that night. IT WAS STILL WARM. WHAT IS THIS CULINARY MADNESS?!

Afterwards, we stayed outside and looked at the sky. And – cue cheesiness – it really was truly incredible. We saw so many stars that night, miles and miles away from civilisation – and though it was, of course, freezing, it’s one of my favourite memories from the whole trip. In that moment, I was so happy to be there, and full of gratitude that my life had lead me to this exact point… which may sound cliche and a bit fairy-esque, but the sky is an amazing thing at night. Until you’re standing with some of your favourite people in the world seeing the sky without even an ounce of light pollution then blah. You can’t say anything about the soppiness.

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Learning our lesson from the previous night, me, Greg, Brogan and Dylan decided to put all of our sleeping bags in one tent (there was more than enough room for four!). It was blissful. At one point I think I was actually too warm. The luxury. I fell to sleep content that we were all, in fact, geniuses.

This story is a long one, and a whole post has to be dedicated to the grand finale of Machu Picchu so… I’m afraid you’ll have to wait until part 3 to hear the rest of the ultimate Machu adventure story. Make sure you read part one here! Ciao!

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