Last weekend during my Spanish Immersion Peru program, my roommates and I made the trek to Machu Picchu. Between the three of us, we did quite a bit of research to find out what options we had and the different prices.
None of us brought backpacking gear, so we decided to do a mini trek involving a lot of walking, but sleeping indoors in a hostel. When shopping around, we found options around $300 but after visiting multiple travel agencies and asking our teachers, we found the perfect option for us. It was $66 with a student ID card (or $85 without) for all meals, travel, and the ticket into Machu Picchu. What a deal!
We left Cusco at 7:30 a.m., drove along the most beautiful and semi-terrifying road I’ve ever seen, and arrived in a city called Hidro by 3:30 p.m. From here, we hiked for 2.5 hours to Agua Calientes, a stunning town only a few miles from Machu Picchu. Here, we met our guide, ate a delicious dinner, and hurried to bed so that we could wake up by 4:00 a.m. Initially, we were planning on hiking up to the mountain, but it was pouring rain, so we rode the bus to save energy for hiking around the mountain. We made it to the entrance by 5:30 a.m. and anxiously awaited our adventure.
At first it was foggy and rainy. Our guide explained the rich history of Machu Picchu, reiterating that "nothing lasts forever," and we are lucky to have this experience. Within the last half hour before the 3.5-hour trek back down the mountain and to Hidro, the clouds cleared and this breathtaking site appeared in front of us! We stopped and stared, trying not to solely capture the moment through our camera lenses, but also though our own lenses.
We stood in awe for five minutes before celebrating with a jumping photo. The excitement overtook our faces, though our bodies were sore and tired. (I recommend spending a few days on the stair-stepper if you're planning on trekking around!) If I have any advice, it's not to miss this opportunity. Skip coffee for a month if that's what you have to do to save extra money! It is the most priceless experience you'll ever have!