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The accommodation for the Inca Jungle Trek Conde Travel offers used to include hotels in Santa Teresa. Santa Teresa is a small town that has been damaged many years ago by a landslide and several floods. Therefore most of the buildings in this town are prefabricated emergency-relief shells, because the town had to be rebuild fast. The accommodation possibilities in there are not the most luxurious ones, and with all this beautiful nature around, there are better places to spend the night. So that is what why we went to explore a different route: Llaqtapata.

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The climb

We started walking from Lucmabamba (2140 m.a.s.l.) at 9.00 a.m. after a freshly brewed coffee. The products they sell there are locally produced and a way for the community to have a little extra income, so being a big coffee fan myself, I bought a bag of freshly ground coffee beans to bring back home. From there it was a climb of 2.5 hours to the highest point of 2850 m.a.s.l. As this was my first long trek, I must admit this wasn’t easy, but the incredible views made it worth every step. I couldn’t wait to get to the top and look over the mountains, reaching as far as you could see. On the way up we took some necessary breaks to rehydrate and admire the views. Even though sometimes my body was telling me I was tired, my mind told me to keep going because it would all be worth it. I felt so small amongst these massive Andean mountains, but somehow more peaceful, disconnected from the busy city life.

So we kept climbing and climbing, some parts a bit steeper than others. The many beautiful trees and high Aloe Vera plants would protect us from the sun for some parts, and along the way we stopped sometimes to look at the wide variety of plants and insects. Even though I’m not a big fan of bugs, and frankly terrified of spiders, there were some incredible species. Black centipedes with bright red legs, huge beetles, and I even attempted to defeat my fears trying to photograph a big spider that was hiding in her web. When we finally arrived at the highest viewpoint, the sight was incredible. The sun was up high at this point and the sky was pretty clear, which made for a breath taking view. After some necessary rest and chewing some coca leaves to energize we were ready to continue. There were some new paths created, so we first walked through the more densely wooded part towards the edge of the mountain with again an amazing viewpoint looking out on Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu.

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Llaqtapata lodge

We started descending from there and after a short break at the Llaqtapata ruins at 2750 m.a.s.l., we descended for another 30 minutes towards the Llaqtapata lodge to check out the accommodation possibilities there. And this wasn’t disappointing: an amazing location with again an insane view of Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. You can enjoy your breakfast, lunch and dinner together at a big table and windows all around the room looking out on the mountains. On a bright day you can even see Salkantay covered in snow. The lodge is ran by a very friendly family who will show you the way of life in the mountains. You can see how they prepare typical Peruvian food, go horse riding around the area and it’s the perfect place to relax with a drink after a long day of trekking. After a good night’s rest, the first thing you’ll see is the magnificent Machu Picchu from the big bedroom windows. Just imagine waking up like that, with the sunrise in the mountains… This is exactly why staying at Llaqtapata makes all the difference for your tour.

The descent

Descending from Llaqtapata was not that difficult. It was only because of the rain that the path had become muddy, but with some improvised trekking sticks from wood we managed to maintain our balance on our way down. After two hours of curvy pathways we reached the river Urubamba where we finished our trek and a car was awaiting us to return to Santa Teresa. After returning to Cusco, I slept for 12 hours straight and my legs had never been so sore, as my body is not used to this type of exertion, but the experience was all worth it. It’s hard to put into words how amazing this area is and I can honestly say: this city girl fell in love with the Andean mountains.

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