105 Kms from Santo Tomas
Instead of walking over the dozen footprints, I decided to combine downhill biking with hiking on old Inca trails. I started my journey by moving from Cusco, the capital of the Inca Empire. I then headed to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, which hosts many beautiful Inca remains. Moving up into the mountains towards the glacier, I reveled in this place’s scenic beauty. On the way I visited Abra Malaga, which is a habitat of endangered species of birds which live in Andean forest. This high pass has forests with extensive zones of bamboo and straw Andean meadow. This is where I started my downhill biking. The unspoiled jungles imbue you to take your time to immerse in its crude existence. I pedaled further to town of Santa Maria. I took some time to explore this quaint town, and ended the night with a lovely dinner and stay in a small hostel.
227 Kms from Santo Tomas
Spot a Condor in Arequipa: An overnight journey from Nasca will take you to Arequipa. Arequipa is the second largest city in Peru. 4-5 kms south from Arequipa is the the town of Chivay, which is the entrance to the deepest canyon in Peru – Colca Canyon. The hike into the canyon and back up is 2 days (if taken with a guide). Take some time to spot the rarest Andean birds called Condors at the canyon. Alternatively, you could hike El Misti, the volcano, another beautiful hiking trail in Arequipa.
136 Kms from Santo Tomas
Ollamtamybo, one of the more important sites of the Inca era became the last stop in my Inca trail. I arrived here after walking for 4 days from my living Inca trail. This is where I would take the train to Aguas Caliente for Manchu Picchu and return to Cusco after. I returned to Ollamtamybo, wanting to do a short 2 days in this tiny town. After Manchu Picchu, the wonderful ruins of Ollamtamybo seemed a little underwhelming. While visiting one of the ruins, met a very friendly Peruvian and his son who worked with the archaeological digs in nearby areas. He invited me to his home to look at some of his archaelogical finds. This became the highlight of my trip to this town. The house was a typical mud brick construct with guinea pigs running around the mud oven kitchen. Quite a sight by itself to have dinner running around. He took out some Inca burial artifacts from a serious of cardboard boxes, one of the fascinating finds was a tiny desiccated human baby.Then there were others, adult human skulls. Some had broken cranium, a chilling proof that these were human sacrifices. The non-enlongated skulls showed these human artifacts were not from royalty but of normal descent and hence the Inca sacrificial burials for these mummies were for minor events. Still, the artifacts were fascinating and a great opportunity for a close up glimpse which otherwise be viewed from afar in boxed up windows of a museum.
154 Kms from Santo Tomas
5. You can buy your shuttle bus tickets at Aguas calientes (about $24 return as of Sept 2017). Do buy it in advance as the lines could be really long. The bus journey takes about 30-40 mins. 6. Wear long clothing or keep your insect repellent handy as you may find some bugs.7. Always keep your passport with you. It is checked at the entrance. If you don’t have it you will be denied entrance.8. Its no short walk in the park. Be prepared to walk/stand for about 2-3 hours, especially if you are taking a guided walking tour.9. If you haven't booked a guided tour, you can find local guides at the entrance.10. Machu Picchu is always tiring, so feel free to get an Inca massage or relax at the hot springs (about 20 soles) in Aguas Calientes when you're back.11. If you have time, you could visit the Mandor waterfalls which is about an hour walk from Aguas Calientes.12. If you're in need of extra cash, Aguas Calientes is not a bad place to exchange currency, but you may get better rates at Cusco.
129 Kms from Santo Tomas
Following breakfast on the third day, I hiked by crossing the Vilcanota River by hanging in a basket or ‘Oroya’. The river is a segment of the Urubamba River. My next stop was the hydroelectric station village. I spent some time exploring the archaeological ruins of Intihuatana. It is a ritual stone associated with the astronomic clock or calendar of the Inca. After travelling for two more hours I arrived in Aguas Calientes, which is also known as Machupicchu Pueblo. It is the closest access point to the historical site of Machu Picchu. This place is enclosed by stone cliffs, cloud forest and rivers.