This brief video from National Geographic will give you a great overview of hiking the Machu Picchu Inca Trail!

Be sure to scroll down through TONS of PHOTOS!!!

Hike Machu Picchu's Inca Trail and add a little biking and cultural exchange!

Located about 8000′ about sea level on a sheer cliff overlooking the Sacred Valley in Peru, Machu Picchu deservedly claims to be one of the top archeological and architectural gems of the world!

While known by the local people, Westerners didn't discover Machu Picchu until the early 1900's. Happily, it wasn't discovered during the Spanish Conquest or it would have been destroyed for being blasphemous like the Spaniards did other Inca structures (The Incas worshipped the sun).

What is Machu Picchu?

Machu Picchu was built in the mid-1400's and is believed to be a citadel and second estate for Incan emperor, Pachacuti. It was abandoned for unknown reasons during the Spanish Conquest about 100 years later. The Incas had no written language to tell us why or to describe some of its puzzling features.

The star-like stones called the Intihuatana (see the photo below), lines up exactly with the winter solstice so is believed to be a astronomic clock and/or calendar. Incas believed that the sun was a god and that this rock structure tethered the sun, holding it in place. It is sometimes referred to as the “Hitching Post of the Sun”.

The Inti Mach'ay cave is the site for the annual Royal Feast of the Sun, which culminates on the winter solstice. At this feast, royal boys become men with an ear piercing ritual performed as the sun rose. This structure is one of the finest examples of Inca masonry remaining


Click here for FREE Machu Picchu Travel Planner

Machu Picchu has got to be near the top of any hiker's Bucket List!

But be forwarned – it's tough!  Our guest, Harry Dickens, rates it a 5 out of 5 for difficulty.  He says that on his adventure, only the four day trek up the Inca Trail was challenging, and that the rest of his active holiday (cycling and paddling) were fine.

The Inca Trail is virtually all stone, which can be hard on the feet and knees.  Fortunately you can take the train back down which is a blessing for those of us who's knees would rather hike UP than DOWN!  

You can also take the Lares Trail which is not as strenuous.  However, note that you MUST have permits to hike the trails and these need to be arranged far in advance – a year out is not out of the question.

Click the box to get your FREE Machu Picchu Travel Planner which includes the helpful links you'll need to plan your Machu Picchu epic adventure!

How Did They Make It?

This remarkable and magical structure was formed of meticulously dry-stacked stone, chiselled to exacting proportions and shapes without benefit of iron tools, transported without wheels, and set in place without morter.

In this earthquake prone region, much of the buildings and walls of Machu Picchu remain despite the quakes: the stones ebb and bob, and then rest back into their very precise positions when tremors cease. Remarkable masonry craftsmanship!

Most of the Machu Picchu residents were laborers. The sides of the mountains are terraced to capture the ample rain (no need for irrigation), yet with gravel underlying beds, they are well drained and placed to prevent landslides. Corn and potatoes were the main crops and the balance of food needs were imported.

Machu Picchu is naturally a very popular attraction and permits are limited. With difficulty, you can make arrangements yourself, but I recommend you connect with a reputable guide company.

Harry, our interviewee for our Machu Picchu episode used one of my favorite affilitate companies, Active Adventures. They did a trip similar to the “Jaguar” adventure which combines climbing Machu Picchu with multi-sport and a cultural exchange. They not only hiked the Inca Trail, they biked throughout the Sacred Valley, and they boated on Lake Titicaca and hiked, boated and fished for piranhas in the Amazon — PLUS visited with a local family. You can add the Lake Titicaca experience to the Jaguar tour, or if you have the time and money, do the Jaguar AND the Chinchilla tours to add Bolivia and the salt flats , too!  Hey! It's a LONG way away, might as well go all in and do it right!

Make it a multi-sport and cultural exchange!

Exploring Cusco : cultural exchange with locals

Hike Sacsayhuamán forest

Four day hike to Machu Picchu (two trail options): Lares Inca Trail or the Classic Inca Trail

Arrive before sunrise at Inti Punku, the Sun Gate to watch the sun rise on your first glimpse of Machu Picchu

Motorized canoe ride in the Amazon on the Tambopata River, one of the headwaters of the Amazon

Take a wildlife jungle hike and see amazing critters like monkeys and crocs!

Active Adventures is a New Zealand based company that offers small group guided tours to South America, Europe, the Himalayas and of course, New Zealand. They are a top notch organization and I cannot more highly recommend them!

If you decide to use them, please use my links so they know that I sent you — Thanks!  Kit

PS:  These water filters below (also an affiliate partner) are great for hiking AND traveling to areas where the water may be dicey.

The company I recommend to help you do Machu Picchu right is my affiliate partner, Active Adventures (I know that the name is similar to ATA, but we are different entities). They take care of all the logistics for you so all you have to do is show up and hike (or bike or paddle:) There's a good reason that Active Adventure clients are serial clients and start planning their next adventure with AA before they've even finished their current adventure: Active Adventures does it RIGHT!

My new friend, Mary Charleson, aka “Carry On Queen“, has written some great articles on her hike in Peru that I wanted to share with you.  Whenever she slows down from travelling, she'll get her website up and running.  I'll let you know:)
Prepping for Peru

Part 2 of the series 

 What I learned Offline Trekking at 15,170 feet in Peru

Complete transcript of the show:

Kit: 00:00:00 Do I ever have a treat for you today? We're going to the land of the Incas. We will be going to Peru to hike Machu Picchu all the way up in a very difficult hike up to see the sunrise at the Sun Gate overlooking Machu Picchu. We will be kayaking on Lake Titicaca, which is on the border of Bolivia and Peru, we will be hiking through the Amazon jungle and fishing for pirranhas in the river and also biking through the Sacred Valley below Machu Picchu. This is an amazing adventure today and I can't wait to share it with you. This is episode number 14 of the Active Travel Adventures podcast. And I'm your host, Kit Parks. Welcome to the Active Travel Adventures podcast. Can you start by introducing yourself and telling us a little bit about yourself?

Harry: 00:00:59 Harry Dickens. I'm age 65. My wife, Linda and I have three kids and are both retired, living in California where we've been for about two years. We used to own a business in the arts and crafts industry, which we sold and then retired. And so fortunately we have time and opportunity to go to places like Machu Picchu. We love to do something like that every year. That place was special.

Kit: 00:01:19 How did you get into adventure travel to begin with?

Harry: 00:01:22 You know, it's, it's funny, Linda and I usually used to go somewhere once a year, the kids would be at camp and we go somewhere during the summer. What we found out probably about, gosh, about 30 years ago, when we went on a trip to Cancun and were sitting on the beach for about two hours and we realized something: we hate sitting on the beach. And so we pretty much made the decision that from then on, vacations would be something that would be somewhat adventurous, somewhat physical, and so on and so forth. So a couple years later we took a trip to Wyoming and spent most days either horseback riding or hiking. It was great. So what we tried to do, although you couldn't do it every year, was we tried to do our trips that had some type of, like I said, activity/adventure to them rather than just going someplace. Linda's is very active physically. She runs marathons. I was always very active physically and you know, that's just something we enjoy doing.

Kit: 00:02:21 You can listen to Harry's wife, Linda's interview on the Mont Blanc tour at Episode #007. Seems like it's another leap forward in your adventure travel. Am I correct in that or can you tell us a little bit about that?

Harry: 00:02:36 Machu Picchu was new for a couple of reasons. One, it was really the first time we had gone with an organized group. Normally, you know, Linda and I would sit and we'd plan out, ” Let's go to Wyoming, let's do this,” and we'll go to this place and it was the two of us and, you'd meet people there, but it wasn't an organized trip with a group that was planned with a guide and so-on and so-forth. Machu Picchu was the first we did that. Linda, who is very social and very outgoing, loved it. I'm not. I did also, but she loved it from the standpoint of she was with a group of people that she could be with for, a week or two week period, and get to know them and get friendly with them and, and do activities with them. Not that she doesn't love me, but she liked doing it with other people also.

Harry: 00:03:26 So that was our first try at that.

Kit: 00:03:30 In hindsight, how does the group travel work for you or were you pleased with how that worked or what are your thoughts on using guided tours?

Harry: 00:03:39 It was great for a couple of reasons. Linda was definitely absolutely more in favor up than I was. Not that I had any problems with it. It was one of the nice things about it is not only as the whole trip planned, but its planned in such a way that it'd be hard to do it on your own. Something like Machu Picchu, you have to be with a group anyway to actually go on the Inca Trail. If you're just going to Machu Picchu, you can take the train down there, but to hike the inca trail, you have to be with a registered group, a registered guide, so on. Harry: 00:04:10 But something like when we went on the Mont Blanc one, if we had just gone to Europe, it would've been difficult as far as actual hiking because every day they had planned where we were hiking from and to, and they knew the trails. The guide would take you where you were supposed to go. It's hard to imagine doing a lot of the things we did on our own. So the neat thing about it was that you had a guide that knew, not only way he was supposed to go, but had a good background on the area because he was from that area, lived in that area, so they could give you an understanding of where you were, what it was much better than you could on your own. So you achieved a couple of things. One, you were in areas that were places you wanted to go, the beautiful areas, but the background of them, whether it was a history, whether it was where you were, what you were doing, what the area was, were things that I don't think we could've gotten on our own.

Harry: 00:05:09 And also it's a major time saver!   To actually sit and plan and say, OK, we're going to do this on Tuesday. We're going to do this on Wednesday. We're gonna do this on Thursday. Plan the hotels and plan where you're going to stay and planning where we're going to eat it. It's hard when we're not travel agents. I guess you could get it done through that, but again, it'd be more difficult. This way, you basically just say, this is where you're going to go and this is where we're going to start and the trip is on. And it was great. There was never a day where we said, “Oh, you know, we'd rather be doing this. We'd rather be doing that.” Pretty much the group we went with kept you very busy because again, it was Active Adventures. You're active.

Harry: 00:05:52 It's not just like you were spending a couple days and just kind of hanging around doing what you want to. They kept you busy most of the time, on both trips. They did leave a little bit of free time so that you can go on your own and do what you wanted to. We took definite advantage of that on the Mont Blanc trip. We took a trip back to Chamonix, went paragliding and so on, which was wonderful. But even that, a lot of the information from that came from our guides: where to sign up, where to go and so on and so forth. They are always a great point of reference if we wanted to do something and goes somewhere, you just asked them.

Kit: 00:06:35 Let's talk a little bit about Machu Picchu trip. You did the actual Inca Trail? Tell us about the trail and the hike itself up to it and what it felt like when you finally got up there.

Harry: 00:06:43 The Inca Trail, when we got interested in Much Picchu, my daughter and son in law, they're both very active also, they went to Machu Picchu several years ago and said to us, “You've got to go to Machu Picchu one of these years. It was great!” So anyway, so we signed up with Active Adventures for the Machu Picchu trip . My daughter had done the inca trail and she said you got to do the Inca trail and, so what we found was, you have to register for the group early enough because Inca trail, the number of people they let on everyday is somewhat limited because they don't want to overdo the trail. And so if you didn't sign up for the trip far enough in advance, you weren't getting the Inca Trail. So half the group were on the Inca trail, about three of us and the other half were on the, I think it was called the Lores Trail.

Harry: 00:07:29 What's significant about the Inca Trail is, the Inca Trail, from what we understand, was the trail from Cusco to Machu Picchu. That was taken back in the Inca times when the actual Incas, the kings and so on, would go to Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was like their shrine, their temple and so on and so forth, and the Inca trail itself was made by the Incas and so it is pretty much stone all the way. It's a four day trip. Again, Linda and I are in good shape. We trained a little bit more because we lived in Florida at the time and there is no up and down in Florida. Florida is very flat place, so it was hard to get at altitude. Now we actually found hills that were near where there was a park that used to be a dump and it was one of the few hills around and we used to go in and we actually would run up and down the hill to help train for that. What was interesting, it probably, even though we're in good physical shape, the four days hiking the trail to Machu Picchu, probably physically was one of the hardest things we had done. It was hard from a great standpoint. It was fun. It was good to do. It was physically demanding. It really was between the altitude that you're at, between walking up steps and down steps and so on and so forth. It was difficult, but we enjoyed it.

Kit: 00:09:00 Hiking to Machu Picchu is difficult. I'd give this a grade five, and your elevation at Machu Picchu is about 8,000 feet. However, on day two you're actually going up to almost 14,000 feet to get up to Dead Woman's Pass. And so you're about 6,000 feet above Machu Picchu itself. So it's going to be a very challenging hike both in the fact that you're walking on stone. This was the stone path to Machu Picchu, the elevation gain as well as the altitude. So it's something to consider, but it's. This is one of the iconic hikes and sites in the world. I also want to emphasize what Harry said about planning in advance. You should probably plan this trip about a year in advance. How long each day where you actually hiking?

Harry: 00:09:42 Probably we were hiking seven, eight hours each day. Some days we were on the trail early, Early, like it's dark out… 6:00 – 6:30 in the morning, and you had headlamps on and you weren't getting into to the next camp until later that afternoon. Although we were usually on the trail by eight or 9:00 and we'll get into the next site by usually about four or 5:00, so I would say a six to eight hours at least. Kit: 00:10:09 That's a full day. And you're camping right? Harry: 00:10:12 And we were camping. Yes. You know, it's funny because we said to some of our friends who said, so where did you stay? And we said, well, we were camping. They said, ‘No. Like what hotels are you staying in?” And we'll know when we were in tents and sleeping bags and Linda and I've always enjoyed doing that and but everybody is different. They're like, no, that's not for us, but for us it was great. Basically the groups we would have porters and the porters could carry a maximum of 50 pounds. So the porters would take our additional, any additional a luggage we might have, which was minimal, you know, because we took what they told us to take. And we had day packs on that we would carry each day, that would have water, that would have a change of clothes if you had it and if it was called for… if it was warm and so on and so forth.

Harry: 00:11:01 But the porters took things like the tents, sleeping bags, the food, the grills to cook, and they basically would get to the campground before we got there. And so when we got there, pretty much the tents were set up. We didn't have to do that. They would prepare dinner, we didn't have to do that. But the camping: we were in tents, and it varied, everything from we'd be in place one night where they were pretty much just the three of us plus the porters and the guides. And other times where there were other groups there also, so you'd meet people from, we have people from Australia, from other parts in the United States, from all over that were also camping in that area. And so basically we left, I think like on a Monday morning, let's say so we were camping out Monday night, Tuesday night, Wednesday night, and then I think on the fourth day we got to Machu Picchu.

Kit: 00:11:55 Are you hiking in the jungle here, are you exposed? Can you describe the trail a little bit for us?

Harry: 00:11:57 The trail, again, pretty much is the Inca Trail. In other words, it's pretty much when you hike it, Kit, it amazes you that the Incas actually created this thing because the trail itself is about 23, 24 miles, if I remember right. And it's all stone. It's steps going up, steps going down. If it's level areas, normally it was still stone paths. There are very few areas where the path is just, it was stone and because it's the Inca Trail, it's a trail that that people go on every day. It wasn't overgrown with foliage or anything like that. It was pretty much very clear, well-kept on because it's used most of the year you're up, you're down, you know, there were times where the trail and up to 13-14,000 feet because going over parts of the Andes and then you come down, but even when you went down, maybe got down to 8,000 feet, 7,000 feet and then you're up again over 12,000 again.

Harry: 00:13:03 So you going up and down. But the trail was very accessible from that standpoint. It wasn't overgrown even though we were at times going through wooded areas, they were again, the trail was extremely well kept. And you didn't have to go through trees or around bushes, things like that. You know, and it's funny because not really knowing a lot about the Andes mountains because you're going through the Andes. We know the Rocky Mountains, and know the Sierra mountains, but, the Andes; beautiful area and very high, and up and down. So the trail itself was, was extremely well kept, pretty much you didn't have a choice. You had to have, which we did anyway, walking poles– hiking poles with you and the hiking poles, how to be such that… normal hiking poles, if you familiar with them, usually have, they're almost like ski poles and they have metal tips on them because they've got to get down into the dirt, snow, whatever.

Harry: 00:14:02 You can't hike with metal tips on the Inca trail because the metal does a little bit of damage to the stone. So basically what you do, is you get these when you buy walking sticks, is they actually have like a rubber cover that goes over the metal point on it. And for the Inca trail, you have to keep those rubber covers on them so that you're not putting a metal tip down to the stone because if you've got hundreds of people doing that every day, that's not good for the stone. And the people that are in charge of the Inca trail are smart enough to understand that this is a very, very special place and they want it to stay special for a long, long time.

Kit: 00:14:39 This is a good point to add a little bit of background about Machu Picchu. Machu Picchu was built by the incas back in the mid 1400's and was used for about a century; and abandoned around the time of the Spanish conquest. However, the Spaniards did not find Machu Picchu and thus it's still preserved. Whenever they found any of the inca rituals– because they worshipped the sun, they the Spanish considered that blasphemous so they would destroy it. So fortunately the Spanish did not find Machu Picchu, even though the locals knew about it. Westerners did not discover it until the early 1900's, so it's only been trekked by folks like us for the last hundred years. When you get up there, you'll see the masonry of the Incas was extraordinary in this earthquake prone region. All these dry stack stones, no mortar, and also they had no wheels and no iron tools to do this.

Kit: 00:15:30 They individually hand placed these stones so that even in the earthquakes, they'll jumble and and shift a little bit and then fall right back into place when the tremor stops. It's extraordinary. The Incas had no written language and so we don't know for certain, but it is believed to be a citadel or second home for the emperor at the time. One of the treasures is the Intihuatana, which is a stone structure that lines up precisely with the winter solstice. Remember they did worship the sun and they believed that this stone actually tethered the sun in its place. Very cool. You'll see a picture of this and plus tons of Harry's and Linda's photos on the website

Kit: 00:16:12 Now let's get back to the interview. Is the trail itself beautiful or is it something you'd trudge up the steps and you trudge and true and trudge and then finally when you get to the top you go, “Oh wow, that was worth it!”

Harry: 00:16:27 It's beautiful pretty much the whole time. Maybe when you get to the top of a certain area then you would look behind you and go, “God, we just, did that ?” It's beautiful and you're going to see more than the trail itself because you'll be going through areas that used to be, I guess you'd call them villages. What's very interesting about the whole thing is it's not like when you start, it's one way and then you get to Machu Picchu the other way. You're constantly passing stone places that were villages so on, because like I said, the Andes is so steep. People actually lived in villages at different place in the Andes and they were farming, and an order to farm in a steep place, basically what you have to do is, you can't farm on the slope of the hill, so they created almost, I guess you'd call them plateaus.

Harry: 00:17:13 So you'd have a flat area and then a stone area that went down and then a big flat area. Then a stone area went down so that you could use the flat areas to plant whatever you were growing. So you go through places and you'd see these multiple levels, flat area, flat area going up and working its way up the hill and you see things that were stone walls around what would have been villages… see things or parts of houses in the villages. And again, it seemed that everything was stone. Now again, at this point, if, and I'm not sure what it was like 2-3- 400 years ago, but if anything was made out of wood, then it doesn't exist anymore over that period of time. Whereas the stone still lasts and the stone has been there. So you go to places that were stone areas and again, pretty much because you're in the Andes, it's not like you're way, way, way down in the valleys or something.

Harry: 00:18:11 You're pretty much high most of the time. It's just a matter of how high. The views are always good. The Andes were always beautiful and you went up and down and even when you went to places where it's just stone and there were things surrounding it. You'd look back sometimes at the path that we would come up, and it amazed you how special it was from a standpoint of how difficult it must have been to make it, where the stone came from, their carrying stones put down and make these paths and stairs and the fact that you had just done that. Because some of the stones, it's not like they create a cave, but they actually had to work their way through and around areas. It wasn't like they were wide open areas. Some areas they will close them because they were wooded areas, but they still had the trail coming through.

Kit: 00:19:07 A quick comment on the terraces that Harry is talking about: these farming terraces are engineered so well. Here it is over 500 years. They're still standing. They have a rock base for drainage because they get plenty of rainfall there. They didn't have to worry about irrigation. I believe it's like over 70 inches of rain a year and they are set up such that they're holding the mountain in place without landslides. So it's a tremendous engineering achievement. So obviously this is before slide rules and calculators. So it just shows what remarkable engineers they were and what amazing masons. Tell us a little bit about the top when you finally get to Machu Picchu at the top.

Harry: 00:19:44 Basically what happens is they plan the trip this way and it's very different. You know, it's interesting cause we would talk to people said, well we went to Machu Picchu. Yeah, we took the train in from Cusco and we then we took the bus up from the train station and I'm like that's great. It must have been wonderful. But they don't realize you don't want to make people feel bad how special it is when you come from the Inca trail. Because what happens is we basically, the night before we got into Machu Picchu, we are camping out. The campsite is probably about a two hour hike to Machu Picchu. And so basically that last day, they get you a very early, you're going to leave by 3:30 – 4:00 in the morning and basically you pack up. And one of the reasons they get you up early just because the porter is wanting to get everything packed up… the tents and the food and everything, and they want to get to the train where they are and get back to get ready for the next trip. So pretty much what happens is, you then take about a two hour hike to an area called the Sun Gate. And the Sun Gate is up higher than Machu Picchu, looking down at Machu Picchu, and you tend to get the Sun Gate at about 6:00- 6:30 in the morning as the sun is rising. So you actually see the sun rising and Machu Picchu going from nighttime to daytime, which is special. And again, Machu Picchu, probably at that point is several hundred feet below you because you come up above Machu Picchu. So you get the advantage that a lot of people that are on the trail don't get in the morning of looking down at Machu Picchu. Now, what's interesting is you look at people that had gotten to Machu Picchu that then hike up to the Sun Gate, which is about probably about an hour hike. So if I remember right, so they can look down to Machu Picchu, we did it from a standpoint of we started up there and then worked our way down to Machu Picchu. That's how you first see it.

Kit: 00:21:39 What was your first impression?

Harry: 00:21:42 Well, you know, it's interesting because it's not like we had never seen pictures of it. It's not like we didn't know what to expect. It's still pretty magnificent. It's not like you're people that just happened to be hiking this trail and then turned a corner and go, “Oh my God, what is that?” But it was still a pretty amazing because again, it's not something you see everyday. And it was pretty special. And what's neat about it is when you first see it at 6:30 in the morning, it's not like it's covered with people. It's just Machu Picchu and the trains and the buses haven't quite gotten there yet. And so as you work your way down, you're one of the few people there at that point and you're amazed again at the, at the ability of the Incas to have built us because again, it's still exists with walls and buildings and so on and so forth.

Harry: 00:22:34 Probably the only thing that's missing are the roofs of the buildings and having been given some of the history from the guides, it's hard to imagine when you look at it at one point this thing pretty much was buried by dirt and grass and bushes and trees and was unknown that it was there and you know that at that point and then they came and pretty much dug it up and the whole thing exists. So it's kind of like a history lesson right in front of you of how they found it and how they dug it up and how it existed at all when it did and how it was built. It's pretty amazing. And the neat thing is when you see it, it's all down there. So then, well that's what we were going down to. So it's, it's pretty special because it's so different from anything else you've ever seen.

Kit: 00:23:21 Did they allow you to go into all the areas are some blocked off now?

Harry: 00:23:25 Pretty much once you down there, you can go into all areas. One of the things that we didn't do, which I would have liked to have done on there, is a hike across Machu Picchu. There's a high mountain there that actually you can hike up. It's on the other side from the Sun Gate that we came down and a very difficult hike. But I think you have to, I don't know if you have to sign up for a certain time because again, they limit the number of people and go with this thing. But again, it was a type of thing where it was not that we looked at and said, “God, we got to do that” because again, we've been hiking for four days already. So pretty much we were happy just be Machu Picchu and we spent pretty much, I can't remember exactly how many hours but a good part of the day.

Harry: 00:24:09 And you basically just walk around Machu Picchu: you walk up parts of it and down parts of it in buildings and so on and so forth. And there's a lot there to do as far as seeing the things that used to be temples, things that used to be homes. I mean if there was a building, it's still exists because they're made of stone as a building. Like I said, the only thing that really doesn't exist are the roofs because the roofs were not stone. The roofs were made of probably types of wood because the stone wouldn't have worked as a roof. So those basically have not lasted all the years. But there are areas where they, again, they're like long, long, long flat areas where they had used them to farm. There are buildings working their way up the hill, some of them are homes, some are temples.

Harry: 00:24:57 And again, when you walk around with the guide, you pretty much get an understanding of what they were and so on and so forth. So it's a pretty neat place. Now there are some areas where there are llamas walking around and one of the reasons is that helps them to keep the grass from growing, so it's not like they have lawn mowers cutting the grass because there is grass places where they're flat and they used to be parts of farms, that have been parts of grass areas, almost like a front lawn and for some of these buildings, if they've got grass, it grows and they want to keep it so that it's not overgrown or things like that. But it was pretty neat. It was pretty interesting.

Kit: 00:25:40 When you're finished, are you hiking down or are you taking the train down?

Harry: 00:25:53 You then go to a bus stop. And that's one of the neat reasons of coming from down from the Sun Gate because somebody is coming up from the town on a bus. It's almost like going to, I won't say Disney World, but it's almost like going to a specific site where you get there. There's a gate you walk in, you pay to get there, whatever it is, you know, “Welcome to Machu Picchu”, they have bathrooms, they have places where you can buy a lunch. It almost takes away a little bit from the significance and grandeur of Machu Picchu when you come in the first time you see it from the Sun Gate. You don't see any of that. You basically see Machu Picchu and you hike right down to it. So the people that are taking the buses up from the town, I can't remember the name of the town, but that's where the train comes from, from goes.

Harry: 00:26:44 And then the bus comes up the hill because again, it's, it's very, very hilly. The end is a very hilly. The train gets you to the entrance of Machu Picchu, so you get people coming off the buses and going in through the… and again, it may not say “Welcome to Machu Picchu”, but it's almost like that. And then pretty much they're on their own and they can walk around much you pitch you and it's a big area so that they can take as much time as they want or as little time as they want. That's pretty much how they get to Machu Picchu. In our case, what we did is when we were done, we did the opposite. So you walked back down where the buses are, you going to the bus and the bus goes downhill, you know, it's, it's a road that goes down to the town below Machu Picchu and  that's where the train is.

Harry: 00:27:27 And then you go from that town and I think we had lunch down there and walked around town for a little bit and then we took the train back to outside of Cusco. So it depends how you get there. But the, the neat thing about coming from a hike is one, you've been spending a couple of days to get there so it makes it more special and to seeing it again, it's different. And I think you could imagine that if you just get on a bus and take a bus to get to the entrance and you walk in and it's still, Machu Picchu is still pretty neat, but it's not the same as coming down from the mountains to see it.

Kit: 00:28:02 I love how you get to get the ride back down from Machu Picchu, because even though it is difficult to get up to the top, it would be brutal going down those stone steps on the knees. Your adventure included more than Machu Picchu. Looking at the itinerary, you did some kayaking on Lake Titicaca. Can you tell us about that?

Harry: 00:28:22 Yeah. What we did is basically, so after Machu Picchu, we were back in Cusco. And we did a couple of things. We flew from Machu Picchu over to the Amazon and we spent a couple days on the Amazon and then went over to Lake Titicaca. And again, the interesting thing is we didn't do a whole lot of studying, so well let's read up on Lake Titicaca and so on and so forth. So you get there and you're like, OK, I've heard of Lake Titicaca, but you really don't know necessarily the significance of it. What's special about it is it's the highest commercially navigatable body of water in the world. Basically what that means is it's a huge lake and it's a navigatable basically, meaning there's boats everywhere on it. It's used for a whole bunch of things and yet it's still very high. I can't tell you exactly how high it is, but that's one of the things we didn't realize about the Andes, how elevated they are. I mean, Cusco itself, which is a big city, is I believe at about 8-9,000 feet. So even the city itself, you're already up a ways. And Lake Titicaca, and again, I can't tell you how high it is, but most lakes are close to sea level because that's just how it is. But Lake Titicaca, something like that. It's way up there.

Kit: 00:29:37 I looked at the elevation Lake Titicaca is about 12,500 feet high, so it's super high and it's roughly a hundred miles by 50 miles size wise, which is roughly 200 kilometers by about eighty kilometers. It is near the border of Peru and Bolivia. Cusco, which is the former capital of the Inca empire is at over 11,000 feet.

Harry: 00:30:09 Lake Titicaca was pretty neat. We're on Lake Titicaca, one of the islands on the lake we went to was an island called I believe it was called Amantani? Amantani island. We actually visited a local family. They have it set up where you visit a local family and you actually spend the night with them and so we stayed at their house and we had dinner with them and we had breakfast with them and again we didn't speak their language but they spoke English and there was a husband and his wife and the kids and grandkids and everybody was in the house and we had dinner with all of them. Probably the most amazing thing about the lake was, which we didn't know, again, we went kayaking once we got there and were paddling around in the kayaks and we come up to this island and the island was may totally of reeds that had been pulled up from other parts of Lake Titicaca and they actually made islands out of reeds.

Harry: 00:31:06 It's kind of hard to imagine that and these islands that people live on and that's their home. In other words, it's not an island like you would picture an island that exists. It was made of… if you took a whole bunch of reeds and so on, so forth, and you just bunched them together and you tie them all together and then you added some more and added some more. And you made an island and then on the island made houses out of the reeds and you made boats onto the reeds. That's what these were. And there were dozens of them. They're all over Lake Titicaca. So we actually took the canoes to one of the, took the kayaks to one of the islands and there's a place we can actually stop the kayaks and get out of the kayaks and beyond the island and meet the people that live on the island.

Harry: 00:31:48 It's, it sounds crazy. And I think, I'm not sure if you looked at some of the pictures I sent you or not. And there's one picture, I think I sent it to you with us, like three women, in front of a straw house or reed house wearing the clothes that they wear and one of them, the one them that has like the pink, the one standing up has the pink shirt and the blue dress on this near the door. That's Linda. So yeah. Anyway, you know. And then there's another one, I think of the island itself. We can kind of see some of the people in some of the houses in one of the boats. So that was kind of amazing. I mean, different way of life.

Kit: 00:32:26 Of course I put these photos on the website so you can see it for yourself. It truly is amazing to look at that island and imagine that it's just a bunch of grasses tied together and they made an island out of it. How did the island people support themselves?

Harry: 00:32:43 That's a good question. That's a good question. I would say part of it is fishing part of it maybe that they basically go from the island into the towns around Lake Titicaca, believe it or not, and actually I guess you'd say they commute and maybe work on, again, Lake Titicaca is a big lake and there are towns right around Lake Titicaca so you could have somebody who actually works in the town that lives on these islands and they take the boat in the morning. I don't know if that's the case and I'm not sure exactly what they do with the kids as far as education. It's, it's a different world. It's a strange place.

Kit: 00:33:22 So were you in a regular kayak? Or were you in one of these Saipan boats as you're going around the islands?

Harry: 00:33:28 Regular kayaks. I don't think any of the pictures I sent you of the kayaks. No. They sent you in just the normal kayaks that you would get anywhere that are kind of like plastic. And we were kayaking all over the lake and it's a big lake, so I'm not sure exactly where the kayaks were here. We would put them but you could put them on and get out, and walk around the island. And again, the picture of us coming into the island was probably taking from when we were in the kayak. So I guess there were places where you could paddle kayaks to get to the island where they had set it up so you don't… because it's very interesting. The whole world is a commercial place. I mean even the islands. So there are certain islands is set up so people can come to them. So guess what, and that one picture where you see Linda dressed, they are selling things that they made because they know that they're going to have people come visit and they know that they're going to be tourists. And so they know that they can sell things and the things that make a beautiful. They're blankets and things like that.

Kit: 00:33:28 They're weavers, aren't they?

Harry: 00:34:36 They are, yes, they are. Yes. And they do a lot of that. That's one of the ways they make a living on the islands. They sell things for tourists.

Kit: 00:34:43 When Linda had her picture taken, how did she get these clothes on? Did you buy these clothes or did they?

Harry: 00:34:54 I think I think they were some of the things that they were actually selling. So they were sitting there. So I don't know if Linda said, “Hey, can I put those on?” Or they said, “Would you like to put these on?”. Linda finds a way of communicating with people very easily. So somewhere along the line she basically said, “I'll put them on”.

Kit: 00:35:18 The photo is adorable. And she's so tiny and she doesn't look so tiny in this photo!

Harry: 00:35:26 The Inca people — and this is one of the things that amazed us about everything– I'm not sure whose ancestors they are, but for the most part, regardless, there were small and so when we were going up and down the inca trail and the stairs are very demanding because the stairs going up and coming down and they're big steps and so we're like walking up the trail going, “God, you would think that the incas would have made the steps smaller because there's such small people, you know, what were they thinking?” Because it's harder for us to go up to stairs that are, I mean picture your normal stair when you go up a stairway, OK now make that stair twice as big and now picture you going up and down a lot of stairs. It's harder. And that's how a lot of the stairs were on the Inca trail. They were big, high stairs. And the people in general are very small and on Lake Titicaca, the same thing, people are very small because you're right, Linda is standing next to one of the other women. Linda is maybe 5'2″.

Kit: 00:35:26 Can you tell us a little bit about the stay with the local family? Some of your memories from that?

Harry: 00:36:40 So the town we're in, we're in a little town on this island because there were these islands, you know, three or four on Lake Titicaca that are fairly good sized islands and, and have good sized populations and they have schools and they have everything on them from museums, general stores, to homes. And the homes are nothing like the ones on these reed islands, I mean they're mobile homes and so on. So basically we get to the island and pretty much they bring you to certain place and each group stayed with a different family. So literally we were with one family, another group with another family and so on. And pretty much they introduce you to them. And like I said, I don't remember exactly the language is spoken because they're actually different languages. I mean you'd think, OK, they speak Spanish. No, they're different languages.

Harry: 00:37:35 And even within Peru, you know, people that live on certain islands may speak one type of language and people speak in another place, another town speak another language. And it's almost like a combination of what the native language was to Spanish. Because again, before the Spanish came, they were Incas or they were Mayans or whatever and they have languages and then the Spanish came, which wasn't the best thing in anywhere in South and Central America, but they did. And so a lot of languages now are sometimes Spanish, or sometimes combinations. In any case, nothing that we spoke. So they do this enough where they are good enough in English where they can kind of communicate and let, you know for example dinner is going to be at 7:00 and things like that. And if you have a problem, just ask. You know, normal, basic things like that so you can talk to them enough to say, where do the kids go to school, what of kids do, do they have a lot of friends here? What type of food do you eat? You know, things like that. Just general things. And so you don't have like a really deep conversation, but you get to know a little bit about them. And they're very, very nice because they basically do this a lot.

Harry: 00:38:51 The homes have extra room so people can stay there. So I think what happens is at some point the touring groups got together with families and said,”Llisten, how would you like to host a group of people or a couple of people that we have on a trip and here's what you have to do.” And I'm sure that they get paid for that. But I think for them it's kind of a neat thing because they get other people from other places in the world. And again, like I said, a, our trip, we had people, most of the people from the United States, but some were from Colorado, we were from Florida. And one of the guys on the trip was from Australia. I mean, so they get people from all over the world, I'm sure coming, staying with them. And so basically then we went back to our room and set up the room and so on and went back down to their house for dinner and had dinner with them, and the kids, and again it was the whole family. It wasn't just like a man and his wife, it was their kids and their kids' kids or the grandkids were there. And the kids were there. You talk to them and you meet them. Then at a certain time you go back to your room and again, it's not like there are tvs around or movie's going on.  And pretty much they said, “OK, breakfast is at whatever it was, let's say seven,” back down to have breakfast. You thank them very much and say goodbye. And you meet back up with the rest of the group who were staying at other people's homes. It was, it was nice because you're on an island, Lake Titicaca, and you're not staying at a hotel. And even though we never did that, other than in Cusco and in Amazon (and that was interesting, I'll tell you about that one later). But you're on an island in Titicaca and you're staying in a home on the island, which is kind of neat… not camping out on your own. You're not in a hotel on your own, you're on the lake in a person's home. So it was pretty neat.

Kit: 00:40:41 Let's switch gears and talk about the Amazon jungle.

Harry: 00:40:44 So when we get to the Amazon, it's funny because not having been in that area, it's kind of like, OK, what does the Amazon look like? So in your mind, if somebody says the Amazon, you think, OK, this hot buggy place, right? Because that's just it for whatever reason, so I'm in a jungle, and that's how it's going to be. So we get to the Amazon and pretty much you're in an area that there are people there so you can go out on hikes and on boats and so on, which we did both. So went to the Amazon basin and then we took a motorized canoe deeper into the jungle and the canoes are not canoes like we would think about. They're actually boats that are motorized, but they're fairly narrow. And I think one of the pictures I sent you, it kind of happens at sunset.

Harry: 00:41:38 And then the foreground of the picture is one of the, what they call canoes. But it's about, and it can fit probably, I don't know, 12 people or so on the boat when we were there. So the, the, the hotel we stayed at and I really can't tell you the exact name of the place, but what's kinda neat about it is you get the feeling you're in the jungle, so you walk in the room and one of the walls of the room is not a wall. It's just wide open to the outside. It has a railing, but it has no cover. It has no windows and it has no wall. It's just the outside. So you're in a room but not really. And the rooms all have mosquito netting over the beds because the room is wide open. You need to be in the mosquito net.

Harry: 00:42:23 Now again, it's funny, it's not like the mosquitoes are everywhere and they really, bother you. I think when we used to live in Connecticut, the mosquitoes were just as bad in Connecticut in the summer, you know, so it's like almost any place you are in the summer, these mosquitoes. But because the room is kind of wide open, it's not like they have screen windows or anything, they have the mosquito netting over the bed and the rooms are really nice rooms, but the way they design it, again, it gives you that sense that you are in the jungle because the jungle is right out next to you. And so we stayed there and a couple of things we did is one day we're on a boat and we went fishing and of course, what are you fishing for in the Amazon? You're fishing for? [Piranhas]. Linda caught one of those.

Harry: 00:43:08 Yes, exactly. Wow. Isn't you a picture of her with the piranha she caught and then holding the piranha. So you can see the teeth on the piranha is a little fish… like maybe two, three inches long, but they got teeth. I mean, it's very rarely that you open up a fish that little and little sharp teeth, so you don't really want to go swimming there. So you see some of the animals that are native to the Amazon. Piranhas being some of them, types of small alligators being others, and so on and so forth. And so what's neat is sometimes you're in a boat and you're going down to the river and other times you hiking and going down trails basically a good, exposure to what the Amazon's like. And again, it's not a whole different world. It's not something like Machu Picchu were like, you've never seen anything like that.

Harry: 00:43:58 And like the river is a river. The only thing that's different is the piranhas: that is different. But it was, it was very nice, pretty area. And one of the things we went up so he can get a better view as they have a tower that you hike up. I can't really tell you the exact place where the towers and the towers there for a couple reasons, but one of them for us was that you get a good view of the river and have the jungle surrounding and so on because there's only so much you can hike down and, and, and, and, and see on foot. But this kind of gave you a good idea where we were and so on. But it was neat because  being on Amazon was very different from Machu Picchu… was very different than Lake Titicaca and yet they're all within a fairly small area.

Kit: 00:44:46 You sent a picture of some native women dancing in the street. Is that in Cusco or what's going on there?

Harry: 00:44:55 That's in Cusco. We were in Cusco. It's interesting. We were in Cusco the first couple of days and part of the reason was to see Cusco and part of the reason was also to get acclimated to the altitude. Like I said, Cusco is about 8-9,000 feet. So every day that we're in Cusco, before we started the Inca trail, we were going out on hikes and part of the reason was to get you acclimated to the altitude.  And people react differently to altitude. It's very interesting. Now part of that is just to get your body used to the fact that, OK, we're gonna be doing a lot of hiking and the breathing is different because there is just not as much oxygen at 12,000 feet as there is at 200 feet. So Cusco sitting at 8,000 feet gives you a little bit of that exposure.

Harry: 00:45:43 So each day in Cusco we went hiking or mountain biking or doing something where we were doing something physical at altitude, hopefully to build that up. The other thing in Cusco was to kind of give you a tour of Cusco because Cusco is a beautiful city, a big city. And Cusco was way back then, the capital of the Inca people. Now, even though they would go to Machu Picchu and that was like the Great Temple, the capital was Cusco. I think the capital of Peru now might be Lima, but it was Cusco then. And it's still a big city. And the day we got there and one of the things they said is they said, you know, the people that live in Cusco, they love to find whatever they can to celebrate, whatever it may be. So I think that particular day may have been the longest day of the year because we were there in June.

Harry: 00:46:41 It could have been the summer solstice. And so they decided, OK, we're going to celebrate. So this was one of the celebrations where they have all these women dancing and in costume and so on, so pretty much anywhere you were in town, there was something going on and that's what this was. So it wasn't like we, we just happened to stumble upon this and stopped and watched it. But that was like I said, Cusco was the heart of the Inca empire. That's pretty much where everything started. And so if the king wanted to go to Machu Picchu to get to the temple, he basically had to be carried on these things that they would put on their shoulders from Cusco, Cusco to Machu Picchu, which again, is a long way.

Kit: 00:47:23 You also did some cycling, right?

Harry: 00:47:25 Yeah. You know, it's interesting. I think what Active Adventures likes to do is, they like to give you a certain amount of variety. Most of the time you're hiking and, but some of the time it was the same one we went to the Alps. They like to throw in some things a little bit different. And one of those is biking and one of those is kayaking, so it's not like every other day you're doing something different. The majority of it you're hiking. But the thing with the biking, and again I do a lot of cycling on my own wherever I am. And as a matter of fact, I went yesterday. And what's nice about cycling is you get to see a bigger area than when you're just hiking. And we actually went biking a couple of places.

Harry: 00:48:13 We were biking one place… we were cycling in a place called the Sacred Valley that was outside of Cusco. And again, what's neat about it is beautiful area. There are some areas that you might only see if happen to be driving a car or a bus or something like that. And so the neat thing about cycling is you can cover an area that's 20 miles a lot quicker. So a bigger area than if you're walking 20 miles. You know, walking 20 miles will take you hours and hours. Whereas biking, you can do it four or five hours or less depending on where you're going. And again, the cycling was in hilly areas. The bikes that they give you are excellent bikes and they have it set up so that they have a guy that you're following and so you know exactly where you're going.

Harry: 00:49:02 And that's one of the nice things again, about going on a tour rather than going on your own. Because you'd said, “Gee, let's rent a bike today and go…” I wouldn't know where you'd go!  So basically it's set up where you started and where you finished. And what you ended up doing is the Sacred Valley is an area you might not have gone through because it was outside of Cusco. But it was a beautiful area as far as what it was, where it was in the Andes. We went past places such as llama farms and places where women were actually taking the llama wool and making things out of the wool such as a sweaters or blankets or whole bunch of things. So these are things that they do naturally, but they don't live in Cusco. They're in these small little villages around so you get to see a lot of those things.

Harry: 00:49:50 And then you'd pop on the bike and you go to the next one. So the biking was neat because it gave us the opportunity to see places that wouldn't normally see. And Linda who is not a biker, but is a runner and is not crazy about bikes, she was fine and she enjoyed it. When she first started, she goes, “You sure I'm going to be able to do this?” And I'm like Linda, ” It's a bike. you'll be fine.” So that was great. And again it was a nice variation from the hiking because you still out, you're still active, you still going places, you just had a different means of transportation.

Harry: 00:50:34 And it wasn't like you were just hopping in a van and going. You know, it's funny, Kit. We went to Yellowstone. This was many years ago. That year we went to Wyoming. We're hiking around Yellowstone and we got out early one morning, went on a hike where we do those great showing up this mountain and we didn't see a soul the whole time. And fortunately we didn't see any bears either because one of the things you don't want to do in Yellowstone is come across bears. So we're coming down from the hike and we started to see people kind of starting the hike and then we also saw on this road across from this bus, the bus stopped. People get out, people look where we are. People get back on the bus and people go and I said to Linda, I said, “You know, I don't ever want to do that.” And she goes, “Do what?” I said, “Go on a trip where you just on a bus because you know, in my mind, it was always like, you get on the bus, you get off, you look around, and get back on the bus. You go somewhere else to get off. You look around, and get on and now they may do other things than that, but that was one of the times when we decided something: If we're going to go places, we want to be active, we want to go hike and we want to go biking, we want to go boating, we want to do something where we're doing it rather than just being on a bus. Now, that's fine because that gives a lot of people that opportunity to see things they may not see. But for us, that's not how we want to do it.

Kit: 00:51:45 That cracks me up, Harry! I said virtually the same thing, although not quite as politely on the very first episode of the Active Travel Adventures podcast, episode 000. The very first minute says it all.

Harry: 00:52:00 You know, it's different. You know, it's funny because when we were in Iceland, and again, we didn't go over the Iceland trip and all the Iceland was after on our way home from the Alps tour. And there are more buses. You'd get certain places where there are some beautiful waterfalls in Iceland and you could drive down a road and not pass anybody for hours. And then you get to one of the waterfalls and there's 14 buses there and it's kind of like, a beautiful place to see and it's great the people get to see them, but, you know, everybody has different ways of doing things.

Kit: 00:52:43 On a scale of one to five, with five being the most difficult, overall, how has this trip?

Harry: 00:52:53 PhysicallyI would say from all the trips we've done, five.

Kit: 00:52:53 So this was harder than Mont Blanc?

Harry: 00:53:03 That's a good question. That's a good question because I put Mont Blanc as a five also. The only reason I put five on, and again, the trip itself, the only part that was really difficult was the four days going to Machu Picchu. And again, at the end of the time, Linda and I both agreed that this was probably the hardest thing we had done. Not just from a trip, but actually it's like, OK, we're nothing to do today. Let's do something. That was probably the hardest thing we've done because you just basically did it and did it and kept going and kept going. The Mont Blanc was also difficult. The hiking wasn't quite as demanding as Machu Picchu because you weren't going up and down quite as much. And again, you're on trails as opposed to stairs.

Harry: 00:53:49 Stairs you would think, stairs sounds great, but they're hard. And especially the big ones, and Kit, like I said: a normal staircase… imagine a going up 20 floors in a building. OK. And the only way to do that is really go through the fire escape so you can get up on the stairway and you'd go up the stairs. OK, you're right, stairs are hard. Now, like I'd said earlier, double or triple the size of those stairs and now do those 20 floors. That's kind of how of trails and I think between the stairs and the altitude being more than on Mont Blanc, because again, there were times on the inca trail where we'd be at 12,000 feet, we be at almost 14,000 feet. And so you better be drinking a lot and breathing a lot because it was demanding that way. So yeah, I would peg the trail at five.

Kit: 00:54:45 Did anyone in your group have difficulties? Where you were worried that they wouldn't be able to complete it or do it?

Harry: 00:54:47 Actually, no. Actually, you know it's funny because there were only three of us from our group on the Inca trail because there were about four or five other people and they were on the Lares trail and one of the reasons they are on that is because like I said, they hadn't signed up early enough for the trip. And Active Adventures (or anybody) has to register a certain number of months way ahead of when you're going to actually secure a position on the Inca trail. And the Lares is not the same. It's not the Inca trail so it's still hiking, but it's not as demanding. It's not as up and down. I asked that same question to the guide: “Let me ask you a question. It's not like you have a fitness test before somebody goes on the inca trail to see if they can do this. What happens if you get somebody that gets to a point like halfway and says, I'm done. I can't do it.” And it's interesting because I kind of got an answer but I don't know if that's ever happened and he basically said they've got to finish. They've got to finish and it's not like they can put you in a car and take you back because there are no roads on the Inca trail. And so he did tell me a story once he goes, “We had a woman once, little older, little heavy and they basically said at the beginning, this is very hard, very difficult”. And she goes, “I want to do this, I will do whatever I have to do to do it.” And what she had to do was she would get up at like 2:00-2:30 in the morning and she did the trail but it just took her much longer cause she did it slower, stopped a lot more and she would leave early in the morning and get to where she was going at four in the afternoon but she still did it.

Harry: 00:56:32 So there are ways to do it. I wouldn't want to do it. I mean I wouldn't want to start hiking it at 2:30 in the morning just so I could take that much time. But when we finished it, Linda and I, you know, said so, who of our friends, do you think would want to do this or if they want to do it and out of everybody we know and people were very friendly with, I think maybe one couple, two couples, could do or would want to do it. So there's both sides to it, Kit, because this type of thing that we know people that would love to see Machu Picchu but they don't want to camp out. We know people that would love to see Machu Picchu, but then I've got a hike for four days and that's OK cause you know, that's how they are. So it's special in that way because when you're done with it you think, you know something what we did was very special, was very difficult and not something that everybody does either because they can't do it or they don't want to do it. So it is difficult.

Kit: 00:57:39 Do you have a favorite memory or a favorite story that you tell?

Harry: 00:57:50 Other than Linda holding the piranha? [Laughs] Let me think. The Machu Picchu trip was two and a half years ago. And there are times where it seems like a long time ago and other things that it doesn't seem all that long. I think for us, the best part about the trip and the most exciting thing was again, Machu Picchu and I think when we got out that first morning and we were at the Sun Gate when the sun comes up over Machu Picchu. That was pretty neat. Because the sun literally is coming up over the mountains because the hills there are, the mountains are so high and not just high, like something in the Rockies, high with their small from a point here to a pointed thing here… big pointed thing there. So when the sun comes up, there's certain things of course, that are in the shadow because it's so big and so high. And so Machu Picchu at the time, there were clouds over it and the clouds kind of moved over and all of a sudden below you is this place that is just special. Because it's not something you see anywhere else. So that would, that was probably the neatest thing about the trip and again, because we also had been hiking for four days and that kind of is like the reward of all of that because again, the hike was difficult.

Harry: 00:59:19 It was hard. At the end of the day, you're exhausted. Tired. Yes. And the group that we had, like I said, there are only three of us that went on it. Phil, who's the other guy with a school from Colorado, Phil handled the trail fine. He was a little slower than we were, but that's fine. The other people, there was one girl when we were in Cusco at 8-9,000 feet that was having problems with altitude sickness. And again, that's not something you can plan on, you know. It's not something you know, you have or you don't have unless you've experienced it somewhere. And if I have no idea why some people get altitude sickness and other people don't, but altitude sickness can cause everything from just being dizzy, to feeling sick to your stomach, to whatever. Just because you happen to be walking around in places at 9,000 feet, it's not that you were climbing a mountain is not that you, you're just an altitude. People's bodies react differently to that. Fortunately for Linda and I, we never had a problem with that, but this one girl did. But fortunately, when she got after a couple of days she get a little bit more used to the altitude and they did the Lares trail and she was fine. Which is great. I mean, you hate to see somebody have a problem with something like that because it looks painful.

Kit: 01:00:39 When you do something like this, how does it make you feel about yourself or how does that change you, if at all?

Harry: 01:00:46 I think it's a, I think it's like anything from the actual physical aspect of it, it's rewarding because you accomplished something that not everybody can do from just the aspect of going someplace that's special like that, like to Machu Picchu. That is, that's very neat. Again, we've talked to people and they said, oh yeah, we went to Machu Picchu five years ago. It's great we did this and that. And again, we may say something about the trail and they said, oh no, we just took the train. So there's two things is just going to Machu Picchu is special because it is. But I think for us it was special for both reasons. One, where we went, was a special place and two, how we got there was special.

Kit: 01:01:30 Our thanks to Harry Cohen for his amazing interview and explaining to us about this incredible adventure of a lifetime to Machu Picchu in Peru. He went with Active Adventures, one of my affiliate partners. If you do choose to go with them as well, please be sure to let them know that Kit at Active Travel Adventures sent you. There's also a link to their site on the web site,

There's plenty of pictures that Harry and Linda provided as well as a video clip from National Geographic– about a four minute video, I believe, to give you a nice overview of Machu Picchu. This is an incredible adventure for any hiker and I can't wait to go myself. I'll probably go next year and I'll give you a little report on that one when I do get back. If you're interested in hiking Machu Picchu, be sure to download the free Travel Planner that you can find at the website, Episode #014, and obviously if you get the newsletter, you know that you'll get these automatically at the end of each month.

Kit: 01:02:25 I'd like to ask a favor, could you please take a minute or two and send me an email and let me know what you think of the program, what you like about it, what you don't like about it, what you'd like to see more of. Your feedback is super important to me. It helps me know what direction that you want the program to go in. You can reach me at That's Kit, K-I-T I appreciate your time. I appreciate your loyalty to the program and spreading the word and I will be back in two weeks with an adventure that I'll be covering on my own trip, my recent trip down to Costa Rica. I'm excited to tell you all about it and I will see you then. Until then, Adventure On!

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